The first gold medal to be awarded at the Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships, held from August 17 to 19 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, was presented to pole vaulter Samuel Burton of Ormstown. The athlete, who will be starting Grade 10 this fall at Chateauguay Valley Regional High School, managed to out jump a number of competitors to land on the podium at his first national championships, and as a relative newcomer to the sport at fifteen-years-old.
“It was a great experience,” says Burton, recounting his time in PEI and his very fast ascent to the top of the standings in the U16 pole vault. “You are basically doing every event,” he says, describing why he loves the sport. “You have to be half sprinter and half jumper at the same time,” he adds, noting that he also enjoys being up in the air.
It was CVR track and field coach Brian Woods who first introduced him to the pole vault at practice. “He asked me one day if I wanted to try. I said “why not,” he says, adding that he kept going after his first attempts at the interscholastic track and field meet that year were successful. He has gone on to compete in meets across Quebec, including regionals, where he placed first last year and again this year in his age category. He was a top the podium earlier this summer at the Jeux du Quebec finals in Shawinigan, where he competed in the Juvenile competition. He then went on to place first at the provincial level, where he jumped a personal best that matched the gold standard of 3 meters 50 centimeters, which qualified him for the Quebec team and the nationals.
Of course, he says, none of this would be possible without his dedicated parents who have played a huge role so far in propelling his career. “They are always there to help out and are always there supporting me,” he says of their commitment.
He trains twice weekly with the Montreal International Club and a group specialized in the pole vault at the Claude Robillard Sports Complex in Montreal, where he pole vaults at practice with much older, university age athletes. He is also starting to take gymnastics lessons to improve his agility as he flies through the air, propelling his body upwards and over the bar.
“There is a lot of training I have to do, and I have to start training much more,” says the all-round athlete, who also plays AAA soccer. He admits however, that after this summer he is allowing himself to start thinking about one day competing on the world stage at the Summer Olympic Games.
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