Braden Kowlachuk is a 15-year-old Grade 10 student of Hafford Central School who qualified to compete in the annual Royal Canadian Legion Youth Track and Field Championships in Ottawa Aug. 6 to 8 at the newly renovated Terry Fox Athletic Facility.
Kowalchuk has participated in field events of discus, shot put and javelin at the local school level and in 2010, Kowalchuk advanced to provincials in Moose Jaw. Encouragement from a fellow athlete, Keenan Kohut, Kowalchuk was convinced to attend the Royal Canadian Legion Sask, Command Track and Field training clinic June 30 to July 4 at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. This event highlighted the athletic abilities of over 150 youth who aimed to meet qualifying standards to advance onto nationals. Kowalchuk was one of 25 athletes in Saskatchewan who qualified to advance to the Ottawa meet.
"I was nervous yet excited about being chosen to represent the province," said Kowalchuk, who admitted he was proud to have the honour.
Despite his nervousness and knowing his parents, Denise and Bruce, were in the crowd, Kowalchuk was able to focus on casting the one kilogram discus over 38 meters. Although the throw did not get him in the top three standings, he was extremely proud to have placed 10th overall.
Approximately 400 Canadian youth, coaches and chaperones attended the week long event which has been held at select locations across the country since 1976. The Royal Canadian Legion Youth Track and Field Championship program, involving more that 500 Legion branches, co-ordinates the national championships for 12- to 17-year-old athletes who have progressed through the local and provincial competitions to qualify.
Kowalchuk credits his farm chores to assisting him in building the muscle to throw and he contributes his balance and spin technique to his Ukrainian dance classes. He is appreciative of Kohut, who convinced him to attend the Royal Canadian Legion clinic and to the local Royal Canadian Legion branch.
Kowalchuk offers this bit of advice for fellow athletes: "always try your hardest and stay focused on your goal."
Kowalchuk plans to continue to compete in field events in high school while striving to beat his personal best. Three more years of competition at the high school level combined with practice and perseverance will provide an opportunity for Kowalchuk to improve his technique and distance.
Who knows, maybe we'll see him at the Olympics!