- BC Games
Have track will conquer?
With a new international-standard track completed right outside its doors, Burnaby Central secondary is hoping to return to its glory days of track and field.
Under the guidance of legendary head coach Ken Taylor, Central came in first place at the B.C. High School Track and Field Championships a record 15 times. The school has placed in the top three 30 times since 1967.
But the last time Central cracked the top three was in 2005. In the last few years, that hasn't been surprising.
After all, how's a track-and-field powerhouse supposed to train without a track and field?
The previous facility was a casualty of the project to build a new Central school, starting in 2009.
"One of the first things they did to start construction, before they even touched the building, was they dismantled three-quarters of the field," said Central teacher and track-and-field head coach Randy Kamiya.
The last few years, "out of the way" was a common refrain heard in the school during the spring as dozens of students practised their baton hand-offs and sprints in the hallways.
While Kamiya describes that experience as "hilarious," he noted that meant the runners rarely got to practise while wearing their spikes, leaving them much less prepared for races than they'd like.
Often the students would trek over to nearby Gilpin elementary to practise discus or shotput on their field, and used the pea gravel in the playground area for high jump and long-jump training.
With the new facility ready for use, Kamiya has high hopes for future track-and-field seasons.
"We have hands down the best track facility in Burnaby."
The facility will not only make it easier to teach students the finer points of athletics events, it should go a long way to recruit Central kids for the team, said Central track coach Wes Stinson. When the entire facility was gone, the team dwindled to about 30 members, compared to the 65 or so that joined last spring when runners were at least able to train on the infield.
And if, by chance, a meet is held at the new facility under the watchful eye of certified officials, any world records set will count towards the record books.
That's because the eight-lane, rubberized-surface track has been built to international standards, oriented north-south like all other such tracks to account for winds.
The $5.9-million facility, including the track, artificial-turf infield and lights, was cost-shared between Burnaby city hall, which contributed $2.9 million, Burnaby school district ($2 million) and the federal government ($1 million).
When Central isn't using it outside school hours, it's open for bookings from the general public, said Burnaby parks and recreation director Dave Ellenwood.
He expects it to be just as popular with recreational runners and walkers as the new track at Confederation Park has proven to be. The artificial-turf infield will be home to Burnaby girls soccer.
Track-and-field clubs like the Burnaby Striders are anxious to return to Central and Fortius Sport & Health has contacted Burnaby's parks department about bringing the elite athletes it works with to train at Central, Ellenwood said.
Burnaby is centrally located for elite athletes living in the Lower Mainland and Central itself is aptly named, he said, noting giving youth the chance to watch elite athletes train right outside their school is likely to "facilitate development of homegrown athletes."