Braeden Picek, 16, brought home a silver medal from last week’s track and field meet in Hay River.
The Grade 11 student from East Three Secondary School said he wasn’t expecting to win anything at the event, which took place June 6 to 9.
“I didn’t have any expectations because I didn’t train year-round for this,” said Picek. “I won my 800 metre, which was pretty exciting … I was top three in everything else that I competed in. I won silver with 30 points, the gold winner had 32.”
He said it felt good to win.
“It was so exhausting, it was one of the worst pains I’ve ever felt in my life, but it felt really good,” he said. “After the first day, I figured I wouldn’t even get on the podium because I came third in what I thought was one of my better events, but from then on, I did really well and had some good performances that pushed me up to second.”
He said he won first overall at a previous track and field event, and hopes to go for gold again at next year’s meet.
Kenzie MacDonald, support assistant at East Three Secondary School and co-chaperone for the track and field event, said Picek is a great athlete and role model.
“He pushes people to do better. They see that he can win this medal, so the kids strive to be like him. He’s a good role model for the team as well,” he said. “He’ll be back next year. He’s been with the track and field program at the school since he was in Grade 7, and he hasn’t once indicated that he’s stopping. He’s not done.”
MacDonald said the track event went well for all 14 Inuvik students who participated.
“It was a great week overall, the weather was nice … everybody had a great time,” he said. “The kids in general did quite well, ranging from first place ribbons to second, third, fourth. They all tried their best and we’re all very happy with how they did.”
He added that this is the largest outdoor track and field meet in North America, with 1114 athletes competing.
He hopes all the Inuvik athletes that participated this year will return next year to continue to build on the skills they learned this year.
“So we can build on what they learned this year and hopefully progress them in their strength and their speed and their conditioning and their fitness,” he said. “I think it’s important because track and field is one of those things where it can give you the fundamentals for all sports … track and field gives you a really good skills base, even just for going through life and trying to be fit as an adult.”
Another impressive athlete from East Three Secondary School, according to MacDonald, was AJ Abba.
“The 100-metre dash for the midget boys was particularly interesting. [AJ Abba] came within less than half a second of winning the 100-metre final over a national-level athlete here in the territory,” he said. “It was really intense to watch the whole race from the start of the gun to crossing the finish line. “He really surprised me with how fast he was. I didn’t think it was going to be that close, so that was a memorable moment for sure.”