Surrey track prospects take a run at older competition

NEWTON — Jasneet Nijjar hasn’t had to memorize her locker combination, find her classrooms or carry all of her textbooks home yet, but she has already beaten high school students at the national track and field meet.

Nijjar, who just graduated from Cindrich Elementary, took home a silver medal in the 300-metre dash at the 2014 Legion National Youth Track Field Championships at Langley’s McLeod Athletic Park.

And despite being just 13 years old, Nijjar competed in the Under 16 division and was able to capture second-place with a time of 40.59. She was a second-and-a-half behind gold medalist Victoria Tachinski and eight-tenths of a second ahead of Sarah Bellemare-Ferland, who finished third.

Nijjar said she feels more challenged competing with older girls at the national championships.

"Usually at these track meets, it used to be me running alone. At nationals, it was a new experience. A lot of people (were) the same speed, so it made for a battle at the end.

"It’s pretty tough, but you get new (personal bests) running against older girls. When you’re talking to them, you can ask them a lot of questions and you just get used to how it’s like to compete at a high level," she said.

Nijjar, who will be attending Queen Elizabeth Secondary next year, won eight gold medals for Universal Athletics Club (UAC) at the 2014 B.C. Junior Development Championships. She entered eight events.

Two of the medals were in relay races, while the other six where in the 100 metres, 200 metres, 300 metres, 80-metre hurdles and 200-metre hurdles.

Katarina Vlahovic, one of Nijjar’s teammates at UAC, also stood on the podium at the national championships, which took place from Aug. 15 to 17.

The Fraser Heights Secondary Grade 8 student won two bronze medals in the 200-metre dash and the 80-metre hurdles.

Vlahovic edged the bronze by fourhundredths of a second with a time of 25.82. She only lost to gold medalist Xahria Santiago by three-tenths of a second.

She won her 80-metre hurdles bronze in similar fashion, beating out the pack by five-hundredths of a second with final time of 11.82. Arielle Bykovskaia-Domin took the gold, beating Vlahovic by half-asecond.

Vlahovic was also competing against girls older than her, but notices that her training helped give her an advantage.

"We train almost every single day," she said. "Some days are harder than other days, but I really do enjoy it because I can notice the progress in my speed and my form."

Jessie Dosanjh, the head coach of UAC, said their training requires discipline and persistence but they are enjoying their time with the club.

"It’s not easy when they’re getting up in the early morning, 5:30 in the gym," said Dosanjh.

"They are really talented kids. We are lucky to have them. They are very easy to train. They are very dedicated. They’re having fun. They’re improving every day," he added.

Dosanjh also said the reason for his team’s success is for putting athletes on individual training programs.

"Each individual progresses if you have a program for them. Every single kid enjoys it if you have an individual program for (him or her). Each kid needs special attention," Dosanjh said.

Both Nijjar and Vlahovic were a part of UAC’s relay team that finished in sixth at the national championships.

For more information, visit UAC’s website at Universalathletics.ca or call Jessie Dosanjh at 604-763-4232.

kyle.benning@gmail.com

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