Rendering shows the $1 million track coming to the Pacific Centre for Sport Excellence.

Athletes hit the PISE track running

New regional facility expected to draw more future Olympians

The Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence is adding yet another national tenant, as Athletics Canada the latest to join the modern sports facility.

It’s not just the track that’s bringing them here, though the $1,000,000 four-lane surface is certainly a key factor, says Peter Eriksson, head coach of Athletics Canada.

“PISE is top of the line, and we’re in the planning stages to have an office there, but there is no need to centralize athletes anymore,” Eriksson said.

Under the new model, PISE will be Athletic Canada’s Western Hub, one of two high performance locations that athletes can visit. The other will be at York University, just north of Toronto.

From 1984 until two years ago, Greater Victoria was home to many of Canada’s carded track and field athletes, who would gather here to train.

The new Athletics Canada model is a more flexible one.

“It’s an open policy,” he added. “Carded athletes are free to train wherever they want, and make visits to the Western Hub where they can take advantage of PISE’s services. We’re saying is here’s the hub, it’s available to the athletes for short stays, and they can use their personal coaches wherever they live.”

Athletic Canada’s full time presence at PISE will start with just one office, as endurance coach Heather Hennigar will likely relocate there. It also hinges on the relationship with the Canadian Sport Institute’s Pacific office, already a tenant at PISE.

Among the services at PISE are the soon-to-be-completed world standard track and of course, the building’s leading sports science amenities and high performance personnel.

“I see this growing over time and also see a connection with the universities. It’s not a ‘build it and they will come’ thing,” Eriksson said.

Athletics Canada isn’t the only group excited about the new track at PISE.

UVic Vikes track coach Brent Fougner says there’s so many community events at UVic’s Centennial Stadium, PISE will offer an alternative option.

“There are times when we’d like to have the (Centennial) track for ourselves.”

The Vikes may benefit by adding national level athletes to its roster through partnership with the Western Hub. It has three already in Rachel Francois, Thomas Riva and Tyler Smith.

“It could be a situation similar to Ryan Cochrane’s when he swam for UVic. The athlete would have their long term goals looked after while getting the chance to represent the Vikes,” Fougner said.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com