You can call it Yukon’s athletics team or Yukon’s track and field team. In 2009 only the former was apt.
The track team Yukon is sending to the Canada Summer Games next month in Sherbrooke, Que. is the biggest in decades, contains past-Games athletes, and has individuals that will compete in field events. At the 2009 Games in P.E.I. Yukon athletics team members only competed in track events.
“It’s a more experienced team, but we also have some absolute rookies,” said head coach Don White. “It’s nice that the kids that are not runners see that there’s something else they can do – it’s not called track, it’s called field. So we have some throwers and some jumpers out there.”
Next month will be the first time Yukoners compete in field events since two athletes competed in long jump at the 2005 Games in Regina.
Emily Oettli and Max Clarke will be the first from the Yukon to compete in throwing events – javelin and discus – in over a decade at the Games.
“Don (White) talked to me – I had done a camp with him a few years ago where we tested out everything and he said I was good at javelin and asked if I wanted to continue,” said Clarke.
“I’m not the greatest runner, I was a gymnast,” said Oettli, whose father Hans was a national level javelin thrower in Switzerland. “I just wanted to try discus – I have a lot of power. I learned it about a month ago and am starting to get better. Don is teaching me and I train every Monday to Friday.”
With 15 athletes on the roster, it is also the Yukon’s largest athletics team since the 1989 Games in Saskatoon.
Of the 15 athletes, four are competing at their second Canada Summer Games, which is uncommon outside the territories.
“Because we don’t have the talent pool, if I can recognize someone with talent at 15 years old … then I’ll take them and go for it,” said White. “If you’re in a larger province, even a talented 15-year-old isn’t going to get picked up because they have too many talented 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds.”
Returning for a second Summer Games are distance runners Logan Roots and Brittany Pearson-Smith, and sprint sisters Anna and Odette Rivard. Anna will also compete in long jump.
Roots, Pearson-Smith, and teammates Logan Boehmer and Aidan Bradley also competed at the 2011 Western Canada Games in Kamloops, B.C.
“My times have improved a lot, so I’m feeling good about that,” said Boehmer. “I’m feeling pretty good, I’ve been putting in a lot of work and feeling focused and prepared,” said Boehmer. “We’ve been training six times a week with Logan (Roots) and Kieran (Halliday).”
Roots, Bradley, and teammates Kate Londero and Sara Burke-Forsyth also competed in snowshoeing at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse, winning a total of 14 medals between them.
The team also has a pair of multi-sport athletes who will compete in another sport in the first week of the Games before switching to athletics in the second week.
Kieran Halliday will compete in tennis in week one while Clarke will compete in men’s volleyball.
Halliday competed in tennis at the 2009 Canada Summer Games and the 2011 Western Canada Summer Games.
Competing in two sports at the Games is another rarity reserved for small talent pools like the Yukon.
“You can do that in the Yukon and it’s good to take advantage of it,” said Clarke.
Logan Boehmer (1,500M, 5,000M)
Sam Bonar (400M, 800M)
Aidan Bradley (200M, 400M)
Max Clarke (javelin, discus)
Kieran Halliday (steeplechase)
Katie Londero (200M, 400M)
Karter Kazakoff (100M, 200M, long jump)
Emily Oettli (javelin, discus, long jump)
Scott Peterson (100M, 200M, long jump)
Logan Roots (1,500M, 5,000M)
Brody Smith (800M)
Sara Burke-Forsyth (800M, 1,500M)
Brittany Pearson-Smith (1,500M, 5,000M)
Odette Rivard (200M, 400M)
Anna Rivard (100M, long jump)
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com