Kajaks junior development athletes are beginning their 2023 season after returning to full competition last year.
Tyler (left) and Oliver Ly were among 22 Richmond Kajaks junior development athletes who received special crests from BC Athletics.
Kajaks junior development athletes begin winter session
By Hannah Scott
Published 2:27 PST, Fri January 13, 2023
Last Updated: 3:34 PST, Mon January 30, 2023
Richmond Kajaks Track and Field Club junior development athletes are continuing to compete, although moving inside for the winter season.
The junior development program, for athletes aged nine to 13, provides a gradual introduction to the sport of track and field and cross country, says Kajaks executive board member Lanie Man.
“Training in groups based on age, athletes are introduced to the various disciplines within our sport: sprints, hurdles, relays, jumps, throws, endurance, and walks,” says Man. “Once comfortable, athletes are encouraged to test their new skills in competition. The goal of this program is for athletes to gain a general understanding of track and field events and to reach their personal goals through quality coaching and competition. Ultimately we hope they develop a lifelong love of fitness and sport, recognize the value of being part of a community, and have a lot of fun along the way.”
Winter sessions, which run from January through March, are held in an elementary school gym twice a week from 4:45 to 6 p.m. Kids work on drills, skills training, strength, and conditioning to prepare for the spring competition season.
“The 2022 season had almost 70 members, both annual and spring/summer members, with the addition of 22 fall track and field and 16 cross country members,” says Man.
While annual membership for junior development athletes begins in January, there are also seasonal intakes for winter, spring/summer, and fall. The program’s capacity is 30 in the winter and 60 in the spring.
“Highlights (in 2022) are that competition season came back in full swing, the first since 2019,” says Man. “From the club perspective, we were able to host our biggest meet, the B.C. Elementary Track and Field Championships (BCEC), again after two years. For most junior development athletes, this is the first time they are competing in a track and field meet, some (for) the first time in three years.”
The BCEC returns to Minoru Park this May. Man says it’s beneficial to keep kids engaged and active year-round.
“Starting an active lifestyle at a young age builds a lifelong love for physical activity. The athletes learn foundation skills for physical literacy which are transferrable to other sports,” she adds.
Additionally, 22 Kajaks junior development athletes were recognized with special crests from BC Athletics for their performance in spring and summer of 2022.
"I love Kajaks Track and Field. You get to connect with the community while having fun and getting fit. Competing against kids from other clubs at track meets, aiming for a personal best while winning medals and ribbons,” says nine-year-old Kayden.
The Xiao family, whose 13-year-old sons Robin and Michael participate in Kajaks programs, highlighted some favourite events: “The most memorable event would be BCEC, which let the boys realize that they run fast, track and field is actually more fun than what they thought before, and they want to join a track club after BCEC.”
Robin and Michael also participated in the junior development pentathlon competition in Kelowna, their first pentathlon, where they placed third and fifth respectively and met athletes from other clubs.
“The boys are looking forward to the next season to improve their technique in various events, learn to run faster, build muscle, build confidence, get to know more athletes, and compete in as many meets as possible,” say the Xiaos. "The benefits of joining track and field include mental toughness, perseverance, dedication, teamwork, physical strength, inspiration from the masters athletes and other high performance athletes, and the coaches (who) are always there to support them."
The Ly family’s two kids, Tyler (12) and Oliver (10), have been part of the Kajaks for a number of years.
“One of the most important aspects for us selecting a sports club for our children is not only technical skills development but also one that contributes to their overall growth as a responsible member of the community. Since joining Kajaks’ Track Rascals program (for those aged six to eight), we were touched by the amazing staff who were professional, engaging, and caring. The leadership opportunities for young adults who graduated from the junior programs played a big part in creating the sense of community as well as setting an example for younger athletes. We are so thankful to be part of the Kajaks family,” say the Lys.
For more information about the Kajaks, visit kajaks.ca/.