PICTOU LANDING – There was much more to be proud of than the medals won last week at the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in Regina.
Although three of six Pictou Landing athletes brought home medals from the week-long event, Team Nova Scotia track and field head coach Christena Dykstra said that wasn’t what she was most proud of.
In preparation for the games most track and field athletes were preparing in their various regions throughout the province and in many cases met their teammates for the first time at the airport on the way to NAIG. Dykstra looks back at the event, in particular the final day of competition on July 26.
Selena Denny, who won silver in the U-19 4x100m relay, was running her 3k cross-country event. Denny had been battling injury all week with the coaches having to tape and massage on a regular basis.
Roughly 1k into Saturday’s race she knew she couldn’t push any farther due to injury, but her teammates were there for her.
“She put her heart and soul into the first kilometre, but was injured and couldn’t finish,” said Dykstra. “Then our entire team surrounded her and gave her a big group hug. That’s the kind of thing that is most important, not the medals. To have team-building events five days before the Games and have a team come together like that for a group hug showed how much they came together in a week.”
She said this was the most proud she has been of a track and field team in her eight years of coaching. Having coached at Canada Games last year it was part of her coaching dream, but this year at NAIG was just as special.
“It was a privilege to be chosen to coach these kids,” she said. “They didn’t let me down at all.”
Brianna Francis was also part of the same silver medal-winning 4x100m relay team as Denny. She also competed in the U-14 80m, finishing 14th with a time of 12.90 and long jump, a seventh place finish at 3.79m.
“I didn’t think I would do too well,” said Francis. “I was pleased with my jumping, but not with my sprinting.”
The silver medal win was also news to Francis. She ran the first portion of the race, but then had to run, literally, to the U-14 long jump finals. Events didn’t conflict by age category, but since she was called up to the U-19 level there was a conflict and therefore she never found out about the medal until after finishing her long jump.
Also bringing home some hardware was Tracey Denny, a bronze medal in the U-19 javelin with a throw of 26.05m. This was her lone event at the games.
“It was really great meeting new people from different tribes from everywhere around North America,” she said. “It was a great experience.
“I kind of expected to medal because I was practising a few days before with my competition and felt confident I would be able to medal.”
The final three athletes who attended the Games were Myles and Shaylee Bernard and Shawna Francis.
Myles finished fourth in the U-19 high jump with a best jump of 1.60m. Shaylee was 11th in the 800m (3:16.93).
Francis finished 13th in the U-16 100m (16.43) and 12th in the long jump (3.38m).
The games are held every three years. The location of the 2017 event had yet to be announced.
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