Heath Miller has tentative plans for the summer of 2021.
“That’s the goal that I have – the Canada Games in two years,” says the Merigomish native, who travelled to the Canadian track and field championships in Montreal last week, where she competed in the javelin event (Junior division) and collected a bronze medal with a best throw of 42.31 metres, finishing only behind two Ontario athletes.
“I was proud of myself, that I got up (on the podium). I was competing against a strong group of girls who all throw very well,” she said during an interview at the Pioneer Coal track, which was bathed in the light of a blistering summer sun.
“You feel good just to be there, the medal was just icing on the cake.”
Competing against athletes from across Canada may seem like a scary proposition, but Miller keeps it simple, and tries to go into such events without pre-conceived notions.
“Anything can happen at any of these meets, so it’s important to not let where you’re ranked before it affect you. You just need to go in thinking everyone’s starting at the same measurement – which is zero.”
Iain LaPointe, who helps train Miller (he also works with the Truro Lions track and field club), said his student is highly coachable.
“She asks a lot of questions and she’s willing to try new things. Some athletes don’t want to try something new, because what they are doing… it kinda works… (but) she trusts me, and she trusts the work that she puts in,” he says.
“She’s explosive, she’s got fast-twitch muscles, but she has an attention to detail – a nice combination of technique and athleticism.”
The 18-year-old Miller, who is heading into her second year at Dalhousie University (she’s taking science classes and hopes to get into the pharmacy program), started out in track and field six years ago mainly as a runner, but gravitated toward the throwing events when a coach asked her if she wanted to try something different. From there, she eventually began focusing solely on the javelin.
“I always did track, but I never really got to throw. I was really excited to try because it was something different than running. There’s so many little aspects of technique that you have to master, so it took quite a while to get it figured out.”
So how does she get from here to the Canada Games in two years, when the national event will be held in the Niagara Region of southern Ontario?
With the same approach that got her this far.
“Keep hitting the gym, keep training how I normally do, and just try my best.”