Some of the top athletes in the country will be in Port Alberni next month for a high performance track and field competition.
Three high performance throwing events will be taking place on Vancouver Island in May, and Port Alberni will be one of the host cities on May 15. The other events will take place in Duncan (May 12) and Nanaimo (May 16).
Port Alberni will be hosting around 12 to 15 hammer throwers from around the province. Hammer throw is one of four throwing events in track and field competitions. The hammer consists of a metal ball attached by steel wire to a grip.
Although provincial travel and competition is currently restricted due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, high performance athletes are exempt from these restrictions.
“These are athletes that hope to reach the Olympic standard,” explained Darren Willis, the head coach and director for the Alberni Valley Track Club. “Everybody is nationally ranked. It should be a really interesting event.”
One of the competitors will be Port Alberni’s own Bella Hall, who is ranked No. 1 in Canada in the U18 women’s group. Hall is currently 17 years old and in Grade 11 at Alberni District Secondary School. She has been involved in track and field since she was 10 years old, but she latched onto hammer throw as an event when she was in Grade 8. In that year—despite starting the season with a broken arm—she won first place in hammer throw in the BC Summer Games, high school provincials and BC Athletics championships.
“She just feeds on it,” said Willis. “She loves the event.”
Hall says her goal during the upcoming High Performance Throwing Series is to finally throw farther than 60 metres. Her current record is 59.38 metres.
Willis says the City of Port Alberni and Willa Thorpe—the city’s parks, recreation and heritage manager—have been “instrumental” in helping to prepare the venue for the event. The hammer cage at Bob Dailey Stadium has been undergoing some construction, and city staff has been re-working the landing area to make sure it’s flat and legal for the event.
“We have one of the best cages here on Vancouver Island,” Willis explained.
Although most competitions at the Alberni Valley Track Club have been halted due to COVID-19, athletes are still training and practicing at Bob Dailey Stadium.
“We’re lucky because our sport is individual and outdoors,” explained Jessica Hall—Bella Hall’s mother and president of the Alberni Valley Track Club. “Still, we have fewer kids and there are quite a few guidelines to follow.”
More information about the Alberni Valley Track Club and how to get involved can be found on their Facebook page.