Mike Mason @ Harry Jerome Classic – profiled in Vancouver Sun

Harry Jerome Classic to showcase youngsters

Harry Jerome Classic to showcase youngsters

Michael Mason, Athletics, Team Canada Olympic athlete.

Photograph by: Courtesy Team Canada , PNG files

VANCOUVER – The last time Mike Mason was inside the Richmond Olympic Oval, it was still configured for long track speed skating.

That was before the 2010 Winter Games and before it was converted to a busy multi-use facility that now features a couple of hockey rinks, basketball and volleyball courts, badminton areas and a running track and field event area.

On Saturday, Mason, a two-time Olympian who just missed a high jump bronze medal in London last summer, will be trying to soar not score and attack the bar not the rim.

Mason, 26, will be one of a handful of featured senior athletes at the Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome Indoor Track Classic, a third-year event established primarily for age-group athletes 12-and-up and as a showcase for some of the province’s top junior performers.

“I think it will just be so much fun,” says Mason, who grew up in Nanoose Bay and who now lives in Abbotsford. “There’ll be a lot of kids out there, a lot of people there.

“It’ll probably be a bit chaotic, but that’s how indoors is. That’s what I love about indoors. It’s so condensed. It’ll be interesting to see.”

The meet has almost tripled in size from last year, with more than 320 athletes registered for 60-plus events, most of them on the facility’s 200-metre, five-lane plastic/rubber track and an adjacent five-lane sprint straightaway. In addition to high schoolers, UBC, SFU and Trinity Western have entered several athletes in open events.

“I like to call it the Road to Rio, where we’re going to see kids who are hopefully going to be on the Olympic team in the next three to four years,” said Clement.

Unlike the annual and well-established Harry Jerome outdoor meet at Swangard Stadium, which Clement said appeals more to “a general sporting audience,” the indoor is more about families. There is seating for about 1,000 and he expects plenty of parents and grandparents to be in attendance.

“It’s a great atmosphere inside the oval and this year it could be a zoo, people all over the place.”

Mason tied for the 12th best jump in the world last season at 2.31 metres. He cleared 2.29 at London, the same height as Canadian bronze medalist Derek Drouin of Corunna, Ont., but had to settle for an eighth-place finish.

Ivan Ukhtov of Russian won gold with a jump of 2.38, with Erik Kynard of the U.S. taking silver at 2.33. Six other jumpers cleared 2.29 and missed at 2.33, with Drouin and two others earning bronze medals for clearing 2.29 on their first attempt. It took Mason three tries to make that height.

Mason jumped in four European meets right after the Olympics, then took two well-deserved months off.

“I definitely needed it, I think mentally more than physically, although physically I needed it too. I competed four times at some pretty high profile meets and was getting pretty burned out by the last one. So it was definitely time to get some rest.”

Right now, he’s in the middle of some heavy training ahead of his outdoor season and the IAAF world championships in Moscow in August, so he’s not sure what to expect on Saturday. The training has mostly been gym work, focusing on getting stronger, and he’s done little in the way of actual jumping or technical work.

“It’s always hard to say that first meet. I am feeling good, but I really haven’t done too much jumping, so what does that mean? But I know I’m healthy and I’m stronger than I was at this point last year.”

There are nine other men entered in the open high jump, mostly local university students, but none have cleared better than 1.95 in their careers.

Mason’s career indoor best is 2.30 set five years ago in Seattle, but he rarely competes indoors, in part because the season is so short and because there are just so few opportunities. Athletics Canada does not even hold a national championship indoor meet anymore.

Mason, who needed to overcome a serious ankle injury to compete in London, one that cost him much of 2011, says he’s committed to making another push for an Olympic medal at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

“I’m only 26 now. In terms of peak years of high jumpers, I think the next few years will definitely be good years if I’m healthy and keep training well.

“It’s always tough to finish a four-year Olympic cycle and automatically be thinking about the next one. But it’s definitely a long-term goal.”

FINISH LINE: The Jerome meet starts at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday . . . The men’s high jump is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. . . . for more info, go to www.harryjerome.com.

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© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun


Olympian Jessica Smith to be Guest Speaker for Banquet

Jessica Smith, a semi finalist at last summer’s London Olympic Games, has accepted an invitation to act as guest speaker at this year’s Valley Royals Awards banquet .  2012 was a break though year for Smith and one that saw her create a personal best for 800-meters and qualify for Canada’s Olympic Games team.  Jessica’s personal best came at last year’s Harry Jerome meet where she fought and won the 800-meter event in 1:59.86 in an exciting drive to the tape.  During her university running career at Simon Fraser University, Smith won national titles in both track and cross country.   At the Olympic Games Jessica was a semi finalist in the 800-meters.  In her talk Smith will highlight the ups and downs that an athlete will encounter in the path to athletic success.

This year’s Valley Royals banquet is scheduled for the Legacy Centre on Wednesday, February 13.  Let your coach know that you will be in attendance to enjoy an a great dinner and awards presentation that will see every athlete in attendance recognized.   

Alex Siemens Recipient of Frank Reynolds Bursary

Valley Royal middle distance runner Alexandra Siemens was named as one of three  recipients of the Frank Reynolds Bursary.  The other two finalists were North Vancouver’s Jess Hooton and Kala Stone of Kamloops.   Following are the citations for each of the three winners.  Frank Reynolds in his youth was an outstanding middle distance runner and as an adult he coached and produced a series of outstanding runners for the NorWesters Club.  

Jesse Hooton – only began running just over a year ago and this past fall won the 2012  BC Junior Club Championships as well as  placing  4th at the 2012 BC High School Cross Country Championships. He is now training seriously with Hershey Harriers Athletics Club under the tutelage of Cindy O’Krane and Darcie Montgomery showing immense dedication, leadership and talent.  Jesse attends Handsworth Secondary School, with plans to attend either the University of Victoria or UBC to study Political Science or Business.

Alexandra Siemens – has been running virtually all her life and is an Honours student at WJ Mouat in Abbotsford.  Alex won the BC High School Cross Country Championships while only in Grade 9 and has represented BC Athletics on both Track and Cross country teams over the past 3 years. Alex is a keen coach of younger athletes and hopes to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a PE teacher. Coached by Sue Northey of the Valley Royals Track and Field Club, Alex plans to attend SFU or head south to the USA on scholarship to continue to improve her times and run XC for her school. 

Kala Stone – a South Kamloops Secondary School Honours student is a dedicated athlete, volunteer Track Rascals coach, and meet official with the Kamloops Track and Field Club. After winning the BC High School Championships 1500m in Grade 11, this fall Kala won the BC Junior Club Cross Country Championships and the following week placed 7th at the BC High Schools, and represented BC Athletics at the National XC Championships.  Kala hopes to attend an NCAA Division 1 school to compete and study Biology towards a future career in Physiotherapy.

The Whistler Spirit Run is the realization of the late coach Frank Reynolds’ vision to have a mass participation cross country event while encouraging and supporting British Columbia High School and University athletes through charitable donations and scholarship programs.

“I believe that sport teaches you what is really worthwhile in life and how much you can get out of hard work, sacrifice, and commitment”. – Frank Reynolds

Annual Awards Banquet Wednesday February 13th

On Wednesday evening, February 13 the gala Valley Royals Awards Banquet will be held at the Legacy Centre (adjacent the track at Rotary Stadium). Always an evening to be remembered, it begins with a scrumptious dinner and is followed by the ceremonies.

Every athlete that is a member of the Royals and attends the banquet will be honored and presented with an award for his/her accomplishments during 2012. All members of the Royals, their parents, brothers, sisters and friends are encouraged to mark February 13 on the calendar as a date set aside for this occasion.

Coaches will be taking the names of athletes and family members in their group that will be attending the banquet. More details will be forthcoming within the next two weeks.

Workouts for 2013 Have Started…

Christmas and the New Year celebration for the year 2012 are now both part of history
but we trust that all Valley Royal members had a great holiday season. It’s now time to get back to basics and that includes gearing up for the coming track and field season.  Individual coaches have been in contact with present members of the club and you are undoubtedly aware of the time and place for winter practices.

We can report that Ziggy’s speed/power group is holding practices from Monday to Thursday at ARC and on Saturday’s at Rotary. Sue Northey’s middle distance group will meet @ ARC on Tuesday (Tuesday, January 8 will be the first practice) and Thursday’s (3:45 p.m.) and Saturday (10:a.m.) at Rotary Stadium. The mid week practices will consist of running outdoors for the first hour and conclude with weight training indoors. Members of Sue’s group are asked to bring a change of shoes for the weight lifting part of the workout.

James Meehan will hold workouts for JD athletes 12 years to 14 years of age at ARC. James has sent out notices to athletes in this age division but if in doubt, give him a phone call or email.

If there are newcomers interested in being a member of one of the above groups, please email head coach Gerry Swan ([email protected]) or contact the individual coaches—all email addresses can be found on the web page.

Ruky Abdulai Expecting in the Spring

Heptathlon athlete, long jumper, sprinter, and wife will soon be able to add the title of mother to her many accomplishments. This coming spring Ruky will give birth to her first child and both mother and father are very excited about the prospect. Congratulations to the happy couple.