2003 COMBINED EVENTS REPORT
The combined events has not traditionally been a strong event group for our senior athletes, and 2003 was no exception to that. What has changed, however, is the outlook for the future. Our developing athletes have had a particularly successful season, with two consecutive Canadian Junior records, multiple medals at Canadian age group championships, and encouraging results in the high school age category.
Of the 2002 BC High School Combined Events medalists, all three males are participating in post secondary athletics. The three men are: Dan Mezheritsky, Edward Nelles (after one year off), and Ward Milligan (no longer in combined events). Of the 2002 female medalists, at least two are still participating. The three women are: Jodi Schaufelle, Jayde Quilty (competed again at the 2003 BC High Schools but unknown about her club participation), Kristen Ridgeway (grade 9 in 2002 and still active).
Of the 2003 BC High School Combined Events medalists, none participated in club track and field combined events in the summer, though at least two of the women and two of the men are expected to be back in 2004 participating in other event groups. Retention should be a major focus for improvement for our event group, and something that we will look at working on in the coming year.
This was an outstanding year for expanded opportunities for the combined events group. Ron Parker and the Victoria Track and Field Club in conjunction with Oak Bay High School ran an inaugural combined events meet in April. This is the first time in recent memory that athletes could attempt a heptathlon or decathlon prior to the BC High School Combined Events Championships and was a good prelude to that competition.
The BC High School Combined Events Championships itself has always been a very good competition, and 2003 was no exception. Many athletes who are not combined events specialists use this meet to hone skills and to see if they might have a knack for the 'multi's'. Because of the limited number of opportunities in this event, the meet director, Alex Reed, opened the meet to post secondary athletes who wanted to attempt to make provincial and national standards. While this became a contentious issue when athletes in the two different age groups were mixed in races, I am confident that this meet will continue to be an opportunity for combined events athletes of all ages with some agreement to run separate flights.
The first annual West Coast Invitational Decathlon Championships was held in August in Abbotsford. The meet was an opportunity for all athletes, regardless of event specialty or ability, to compete in the ten-event discipline. Five women and eight men participated, and the meet was seen as a great success by athletes and officials alike. This event will be run again in 2004, with big hopes for growth.
There is unquestionably room for improvement in the combined events area, and while our quality at the younger ages tends to be very good, our ability to retain athletes after high school needs to be better. There will be an examination and subsequent action to this end in 2004. The opportunities for our athletes this year was much improved, and I would suggest that the events calendar this year provided the perfect number of opportunities. Better publicity of the three added opportunities is a key factor in improving participation.
Insofar as outlook is concerned, our juvenile and junior-aged athletes show promise to go on to national and international competitions. It is up to us to keep them in the sport and to continue to recruit the best young high school talent into the club system - this is, after all, where our talent pool lies.