Kamryn McKean’s main rival in the BC women’s U18 javelin competition had just delivered the final spear of her day and the official measurement was short of McKean’s best. It was at that moment that McKean, a Port Alberni track and field athlete, realized that she had just won a provincial title.
Champion or not, McKean still had one more throw to go. She allowed herself an internal “Yippee!” and then set about focusing on one more effort. The pressure was off so she was just going to go for it.
The 2019 BC Athletics Championships Jamboree in Kamloops, BC (July 5 – 7) was the sports’ championship for the year and the selection trials for BC Teams going to national championships later in the summer. McKean and her Alberni Valley Track Club (AVTC) teammate Isabella (Bella) Hall were trying to make the Under-18 and Under-16 teams going to Sydney, Nova Scotia for the Legion National Championships taking place Aug. 11-13.
The best way to guarantee inclusion on the team was to “win in standard”: each event has a performance standard based on medal winning performances at previous national championships and spots on the BC Team are reserved for athletes achieving that level of performance or better.
McKean was competing in the shot put, hammer throw and—her favourite—javelin events in Kamloops, while Hall was competing in the shot put, discus and her favourite event, the hammer throw.
By Sunday morning, July 7, as McKean was focusing in on her final javelin throw, the two Alberni athletes had already had great weekends. They had already secured two provincial championship titles. Hall had finished fourth in the shot put with a personal best of 10.43 metres. She was second in discus with a throw of 28.62m (her second best ever) and won the hammer event to become BC champion with a best of 45.55m, a win in standard. She had done everything she could to secure a team spot.
For Hall, the hammer throw title added to a growing list of championships. In the past 12 months she has won the hammer event at the 2018 BC Summer Games, the 2019 BC High School Championships and now the BC Athletics Championships Jamboree. It has been quite a run.
McKean went to sleep Saturday night having logged personal best performances in both the hammer throw (38.79m) and shot put (10.67m). It had been a great day. All that was left was the javelin.
She slammed home her left leg block, coming to a sudden stop to transfer all her energy and momentum into her javelin, launching it out into the lush grass at the Hillside Stadium throwing theatre. Looking on from a position up the banks of the unique competition venue, Kamryn’s father Steve knew it was a good throw, landing past everything else he’d seen so far. Mom Angie was nervously tapping her foot, repeating the mantra “win in standard”. Track club head coach Darren Willis knew it was long too. But how long?
So far McKean was BC champion, but at stake was a spot on the BC Team. McKean had thrown a personal best of 40.34m in Round 3, but it would take something over 41.87m to give herself a chance at the provincial team. Officials waited for the electronic measuring device to triangulate the distance and finally the announcement came.
She threw 42.49m! A massive new personal best, a definitive win in standard and the perfect way to close the show.
BC Athletics posted the official BC Team lists for the U18 and U16 teams on Thursday, July 11 and both McKean and Hall will be representing Team BC at the Legion National Championships in Sydney, Nova Scotia from Aug. 11-13.
(Darren Willis is head coach of the Alberni Valley Track Club)