Olympic hopefuls in middle distance running Rob Denault (far left), Sarah Macpherson (second left), and Laurence Côté (far right) with coach Geoff Harris (second right) at ŁÁU, WELNEW tribal school. (Sophie Heizer/News Staff)

Olympic hopefuls bring inspiration and prizes to WSÁNEĆ tribal school

Visiting athletes talked to students about pursuing their passions

Olympic hopefuls in middle-distance running paid a visit to more than 200 students at ŁÁU, WELNEW tribal school on the Saanich Peninsula Monday morning. The athletes came to introduce students to sport and talk to them about pursuing their dreams. The athletes also brought 15 pairs of sneakers, a big box of reusable water bottles, and other sports gear to give away.

The group of athletes from Vic City Elite, a high-performance middle-distance track team based out of Victoria, are training for the 2020 summer Olympics. The runners wanted to give back to the community where they train by sharing their expertise, passion and experiences with sport.

The event kicked off with a short presentation by 1500-metre runner Mariah Kelly. “No matter what people see in you – if they think you’re small, or not strong – that doesn’t matter, what’s important is what you see in yourself,” Kelly said to the students.

The presentation included information about how the Olympic hopefuls train, goal-setting, building confidence and persisting when the going gets tough.

Kelly encouraged the kids to believe in themselves and persevere. “You’re going to experience failure,” Kelly said. “You’re going to cry, but the moments of success are going to keep you going, you’ll hold on to those moments for the rest of your life.” She talked about what pursuing a passion – in her case running – can give a person: a sense of fulfillment, the potential for scholarships to study in post-secondary education, and perhaps someday a professional career.

Next, the kids headed outside to participate in running drills and game stations with the athletes. The athletes ran around with the kids, sprinting, playing games and doing drills on the agility ladder.

WSÁNEC School Board administrator Curtis Olsen said having the runners come in to speak to students was great for the kids. “It’s just great to have these inspirational people come in and talk to the kids, they really enjoy it,” Olsen said.

sophie.heizer@saanichnews.com

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