Four pillars will stand strong for David Thompson Secondary School at the BC Summer Games in Nanaimo next weekend, and Invermere teen Matt Swallow from the four-man quad will be competing in three separate events.
Last spring at the qualifying tournament in Trail, each student was allowed to test their ability in three different events. Matt chose the running long jump, and the 800-metre and 2,000-metre running races — and he qualified for each one.
Multiple athletes from each event could advance from Trail. Matt was the runner up for the 2,000-metre and long jump, and not only did he finish first in the 800-metre, but he beat the existing course record by five seconds.
“So I’m hoping to do well in that one,” he said.
Placing second in two events (he fell just five centimetres short of another student in long jump), Matt said the first-place finishers will be in Nanaimo and he’s motivated to be the one to finish first there.
“They’re even going to be on the same plane,” he added.
While he has to keep some of his strategy private, Matt shared a taste of his winning style with The Valley Echo.
“In the 800, if you sprint, you won’t make it. You’ll be too far behind by the finish, but yet you still have to keep a fast enough pace that you’re with the leaders when the final break begins. Suck it up and go as fast as you can. There’s not too much pacing because it’s such a short event.”
However the 2,000-metre race requires runners to pace, he said, but it’s important to save some energy for the last two laps.
“It’s basically just who has the most left in the tank at that point.”
When it comes to the long jump, there’s no margin for error. Pace out your steps, and try to launch as close as possible to the boundary without crossing the line.
“Aside from that it’s just getting every bit of technique right,” he said.
Matt’s never been to the BC Games before, nor has he visited the City of Nanaimo. He says he’s most excited to see the calibre of competition at the Games, but with three sports to compete in, he’s not counting on having much free time to explore. The Games are held in a different venue each year, and at next year’s event, Matt hopes to find himself there. He has his sights set on earning a scholarship through running. He keeps fit by participating in many trail running races, but refrains from activities too extreme.
“When I do too much crazy ninja stuff I get injured.”
Winning at the BC Games is a heck of a title, said Matt, and demonstrates the capability of going to the next level.