Golden time at Legion Games for Harrison
A silver medal at last year’s Legion youth national track and field championships left Joel Harrison determined to not be a runner-up once again.
“I have been striving for gold the whole year and to finally get it is a great reward,” said the 15-year-old.
Harrison won gold on Sunday in the men’s midget (15 and under) pentathlon at Langley’s McLeod Athletic Park.
It was the third and final day of the Legion championships.
The pentathlon consists of five events — 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and the 1000m — and Harrison was dominant.
He won the two running events, the hurdles in 14.26 and the 1000m in 2:44 and was tops in both jumping events, winning the high jump with a leap of 1.77m and the long jump in 6.14m. He came second in the shot put at 11.12m.
All five scores were personal bests and he also set a new Legion meet record with 3,399 points.
That was well ahead of silver-medalist Dominic Luccock, who had 2,837 points.
Harrison was representing his club team, the Langley Mustangs, at the meet.
At last year’s Legion competition, Harrison said he stumbled during the hurdles.
“So this year, I was focused on composing myself and doing my best throughout the competition.
“It is a national championship and you just have to be ready for everything and ready to go out there.”
An event like the pentathlon suits someone like Harrison perfectly, says his dad Kevin, who also doubles as his coach.
“Joel is a naturally gifted athlete,” Kevin Harrison said. “He is able to learn quickly in terms of whatever sport he is doing.”
He developed his athleticism at a young age through track and field and he was drawn to the pentathlon because it offered up the best of all the sport: running, jumping and throwing.
“When I was young, you got to do all the different events at the track meet and have a lot of fun,” he explained.
“Now the pentathlon allows me to do five very different events and still have a chance to win.”
In addition to track and field — which Harrison has done since he was about nine — he is also a high-level soccer player. Most recently, he was a member of the Surrey United U16 team in the B.C. High Performance League.
He also took up organized basketball just a few years ago, and this past season, was named the top defensive player at the B.C. high school junior boys basketball championships for the Walnut Grove Gators.
He is set to enter Grade 10 at Walnut Grove Secondary when school resumes.
His busy schedule also meant Harrison didn’t begin seriously training for the pentathlon until about three weeks ago.
And that’s where his versatility and general athleticism come in handy.
“Although he hasn’t trained a lot, he has a good (athletic) base,” Kevin Harrison said.
What also helps is the fact he is coachable and competitive.
“In the heat of the battle, Joel is able to take pointers and execute them quite well,” he said.
“And he responds to pressure and competition; that has been his way.