It wasn’t an easy task to get to the Legion Canadian track and field championships, but Alexander Savage ended up right where he wanted: atop the podium with a gold medal draped around his neck.
The 15-year-old from Langley leaped a personal best 6.66m — bettering his previous mark by 35cm — to take gold in the midget (16 and under) long jump at McLeod Park. The championships ran Aug. 9 to 11.
Not bad for an athlete who had to be convinced by his father, Mike, to pay the entry fee and give it a shot at the Legion championships.
“He told me I had put so much time into it, I should go do it,” Savage recalled.
Savage’s hesitance to enter stemmed from the fact he had gone to Kamloops last month with the intention of earning his way onto the Team B.C. roster — which would have waived his entry fee for the Legion championships.
To earn a spot, Savage needed to finish top-two in his event, and he thought he had with a leap of 6.00m.
But when the roster was later announced, the teen found out his best jump had been deemed illegal and voided.
Savage said he was shocked at what had transpired, but finally agreed to pay the entry fee and compete on his own. He trains with the South Fraser Track and Field Club and coach Robert Esmie, although it was just Savage and his father working on his long jump out at McLeod.
He also credited Flip City Gymnastics owner Rusty Pearce, who helped him work on his jumping technique and get used to rotating his arms while he was in the air and to keep his balance.
And it all came together on Sunday, the final day of the Legion championships.
Jumping with what he called “a little chip on my shoulder”, Savage won the gold with his personal best leap. The silver medal went to Team Quebec’s Ivan Nyemeck (6.57m) while Team Manitoba/Northwest Ontario’s Thomas Walser (5.99m) won bronze.
“I performed well; I was happy (with my jump),” Savage said. “It felt great.”
Savage is a newcomer to the sport, only taking up track and field seriously, this past May.
He also plays basketball with the Walnut Grove Gators junior boys’ team.
Entering Grade 10 next month at Walnut Grove, Savage plans to pursue both sports to see where they will take him.