Praise Aniamaka, a Cloverdale resident and Grade 12 student at Pacific Academy in Surrey, leaps over fellow track athletes with the Vancouver Thunderbirds club. (submitted photo)

Praise Aniamaka, a Cloverdale resident and Grade 12 student at Pacific Academy in Surrey, leaps over fellow track athletes with the Vancouver Thunderbirds club. (submitted photo)

TRACK AND FIELD

Record-setting Surrey athlete triple-jumps his way onto Purdue track team

Indiana university-bound Praise Aniamaka ‘was highly recruited and is an excellent student’

As Canada’s top junior triple-jumper, Praise Aniamaka is set to make the leap to NCAA-level competition with Purdue University’s track team.

The Surrey athlete, 17, has been recruited by the Indiana-based Boilermakers program, for training and studies starting next fall for the current Grade 12 student at Pacific Academy.

Aniamaka, who lives with his family in Cloverdale, has excelled with the Vancouver Thunderbirds club in recent years, and is as much of a standout in the classroom as on the track.

At Purdue’s West Lafayette campus, he intends to major in integrated business and engineering, for a future career as a financial advisor or project manager.

“Praise is the No. 1 junior triple jumper in Canada,” notes Purdue track coach Norbert Elliott in an announcement posted to purduesports.com. “He was highly recruited and is an excellent student. He chose Purdue because of our strong engineering program and the recent triple jump success that we’ve had with Jah Strange and Tamar Greene, both recent NCAA Championships qualifiers. Praise exhibits all the raw tools necessary to be a really good triple jumper, and we are excited to have him come to Purdue.”

Coached by Iuliana Kroeger with the Thunderbirds, the 2003-born Aniamaka holds the U-18 Canadian indoor triple jump record, with a mark of 15 metres set last February, and is a three-time provincial champion in the triple jump. He’s also a three-time provincial runner-up in the 300-metre hurdles.

Kroeger first saw Aniamaka on the track during a school meet seven years ago, in her role as a volunteer track coach at Pacific Academy, and recruited him to the Thunderbirds.

“He wasn’t the best when we got him, the first couple of years, but he worked very hard and improved and became national champion,” Kroeger said.

“We started with training him in the fundamentals, in events like hurdles, long jump, pentathlon, all those events, and he jumped more than a metre longer than others when he first did triple jump,” she recalled.

“I was very happy to have him and I’m proud of him,” Kroeger added. “He was obviously a talented athlete and his strength is hard work, commitment and dedication.”

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Ranked fourth in the world as a triple-jumper in his age group, and first in Canada, Aniamaka has trained on the track at North Surrey Secondary with other Surrey-area athletes of the Thunderbirds club.

Last May Aniamaka was named BC School Sport’s Subway Athlete of the Week for the South Fraser Valley, according to a post on thunderbirdstrack.org.

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t allowed Aniamaka to tour the Purdue campus yet, and scrubbed training and competition opportunities this year.

Still, he’s motivated to get to the next level in the triple jump event.

“I just really like trying to be the best I can be, and it’s a real test of physical ability, with the sprint and jump,” Aniamaka said. “I like pushing myself.”

With an eye on the Olympics one day, Aniamaka’s more immediate goal is to compete at the junior world track championships as a member of Team Canada.

“He still has lots to learn, he’s very young for this event, and hopefully he will one day represent Canada,” Kroeger said.

Aniamaka says he choose Purdue because he’s confident the university is “more than capable of supporting me to reach both my athletic and academic goals.

“The coaches here have the athletes’ best interest in mind and are as passionate about the sport as I am. Academically, Purdue speaks for itself, as it nears the top of the ranking year after year. All that being said, I know Purdue will equip me to be the best I can be in every area of life.”

Aniamaka’s parents are Precious and Jasper, and his two siblings include younger brother Divine, also a Pacific Academy student who trains with the Thunderbirds track club.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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