Five Surrey athletes are among 71 chosen to represent Canada at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games, which begin in Argentina this weekend.
Jasneet Nijjar, 17, a student at Queen Elizabeth Secondary, will run the 400-metre race at the Games, which get going Saturday (Oct. 6) in Buenos Aires and continue until Oct. 18.
She’ll be joined there by fellow Surrey athletes Dolly Gabri (discus), Emma Misak (dance sport), Seraphim Hsieh Jarov (fencing) and Arjun Hothi (field hockey).
Nijjar, among the fastest junior sprinters in Canada, is excited for what she calls one of the biggest events of her athletic life.
“I’m pretty excited to represent Canada,” she said enthusiastically, with rapid-fire diction. “It’s always been a goal of mine to represent Canada, especially at something like the Youth Olympics, which is, like, a huge deal, and to be chosen out of those 15 (track athletes) in Canada, that’s big.”
All that Jas! Q.E.'s Jasneet Nijjar brings rare skills and grit as she chases track's tricky triple-triple on Saturday! https://t.co/ocCahxzAl1 @bchstrackfield @queenesec @Surrey_Schools @BC_Athletics @LaurierPrimeau @ubctbirds @SFUTrack @TWUSpartans @LangleyEvents @LangleySS pic.twitter.com/0qdNZYeEys— Howard Tsumura (@htsumura) June 2, 2018
In the 400, she’s hoping to beat her career-best time of 55:37.
“This would have been my off-season right now, and I’m hoping for results, but I won’t be that disappointed if that doesn’t happen,” Nijjar said Monday during a dinner-hour workout at Bear Creek Park. “The experience counts, and seeing different countries, cultures, it will be good.”
“She’s a well-disciplined kid, the first one always at training, and she never misses training, and very focused,” Dosanjh said. “Right now she’s training nine times a week, but she manages. Not only is she a great athlete, she’s a great role model for young kids also.”
Nijjar is due to board a plane for Buenos Aires on Wednesday morning.
“She’ll be in the gym at six o’clock that morning, because she said she would be,” assured Sue Kydd, president of the track club.
Last spring at the B.C. high school track and field championships in Langley, Nijjar won the rare triple-gold in the girls 100-, 200- and 400-metre races.
“Only a couple of girls have done that in 50 years,” noted Dosanjh, a longtime North Delta resident who is pushing to have an IAAF-standard track built in that community.
“She’s such a talented athlete,” he added. “She’s a hurdler, a jumper, a distance runner, she’s a sprinter, and last season we focused more on her pure speed for the future plan.… This year I’m going to change her events into multi-events, the heptathlon, to use all of her talents. In the future I see her to reach the world-class level, and she has the potential to be in that.”
Nijjar, who once attended Cindrich Elementary in Newton, is now student council president at QE, and she has a world of post-secondary options in front of her at the moment.
“I’m still looking at my options,” she said. “Most likely I’ll go to the States, just for the competition, and in Canada, funding is less than in the United States…. It should be a good experience, wherever I go.”
In Buenos Aires, nearly 4,000 athletes, aged 15 to 18, from more than 200 countries will compete at the Youth Olympic Games, across 32 sports and 36 disciplines.
Surrey’s Emma Misak, along with Mathiew Du Ruisseau, will be the first Canadians to compete in breaking on an Olympic stage. Breaking is a dance sport that incorporates one-versus-one “battles” graded on creativity, personality, technique, variety, performance and musicality.
Team Canada will be led by this year’s Chef de Mission and four-time Olympian, Bruny Surin, known for his success at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.