Local 10-year-old Matthew Erickson was on a winning streak at the Junior Development Track and Field Championships, held July 12 to 14 in Nanaimo.
He won five gold medals in his first five events before getting shut down by a knee injury. Gold medals were captured in the long jump, 600m, discus, 60 metre dash and 60 metre hurdles.
Seeded first in the long jump, Matthew was the last to jump in each of the three rounds. The outcome in competition was anything but predictable, as Mason Lavasseur of Kamloops and Matthew were outjumping each other in consecutive rounds. It came down to the final jump in the last round, where Matthew responded to the challenge to take the gold. In the 600m run on Saturday morning, Matthew was looking for a personal best, in hopes of bettering his existing BC record in the event set earlier this year. He front-ran the entire race, finishing 4.5 seconds ahead of the pack. It was a solid race, but he was unable to maintain the blistering pace he set in the first 200m of the race, and ended up one second off the BC record pace for his age group.
In the discus, Matthew was not favoured to win, and judging by the warm-up throws, a win in this event looked unlikely. But Matthew had really been working on his technique in practise, and all of the training seemed to have paid off. His first counting throw went straight down the middle, in an impressive throw of 20.25m, a personal best, and a BC all-time top 10 performance. The favourite, Charanjit Nijjar of Universal Athletics, finished in second place, throwing a very respectable 19.37 m.
Matthew’s first place finish in the 60m dash was also convincing. At 8.7 seconds, he was over half a second ahead of Xavier Kristen of the Vancouver Thunderbirds and Sidhu Harjoven of Ocean Athletics, and just 5/100ths of a second behind the existing BC record which Matthew set four weeks ago in Kelowna.
The 60m hurdles was a particularly exciting race. Cameron Slaymaker of the Coquitlam Cheetahs was ahead after the last hurdle, but Matthew closed the gap in the last 15 metres and outstretched Cameron at the finish line, winning the race by 1/100th of a second. Both Matthew and Cameron had BC top ten finishes in their age category.
It was a tough pill to swallow on Sunday morning, when Matthew injured his knee in the high jump on his first counting jump. He cleared the bar easily, but his jumping leg was injured seriously enough to prevent him from competing the rest of the meet. Matthew trained hard and had his sights on setting the BC record in the 1,000m, but that will have to wait until the next opportunity after he recovers from his knee injury.