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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Yue

Newman, De Grasse, and Athletics Canada showcase Track and Field in the heart of Toronto

Updated: Dec 22, 2018

Canadian Olympians took over Nathan Phillips Square on Tuesday to show Toronto what the sport of Track and Field is all about.

“Track and field is cool, it’s fun, just be a part of it and you’ll fall in love with it.”

Canadian Olympic pole vaulter Alysha Newman was all smiles at Nathan Phillips Square as she cheered on the athletes participating in the track and field competition held in the heart of downtown Toronto on Tuesday.

With a little less than two months until the Toronto 2018: Track and Field in the 6ix (North American, Central American and Caribbean Championships (NACAC)), Athletics Canada hosted the Nathan Phillips Square Track and Field Takeover, giving fans and visitors a glimpse of what they can expect from their Canadian athletes.

It was also an opportunity for Olympians like Newman and sprinter Andre De Grasse to introduce the sport to the next generation of athletes and give back to the community.

“Community involvement is one of the greatest things, to be able to get a chance to get all these kids to come out here and meet their role models,” De Grasse says the 2016 Rio Olympic medallist. “Maybe that’s something they want to do one day, be an Olympian. They get a chance to meet me and the other Olympians so it’s pretty cool.”

Andre De Grasse
Olympian Andre De Grasse stops to take photos with fans during the Nathan Phillips Square Track and Field Takeover in Toronto.

As the lunch hour rolled around, Nathan Phillips Square began to fill in to take in the world class talent on display. With high jump, pole vault, and the 60m sprint, those in attendance got a glimpse of the talent the sport of track and field has to offer.

For the 23-year-old, Newman believes that events like these are important for the growth of track and field. She hopes to share the experiences that track and field has given her, showing the young fans and athletes that there is so much that the sport can offer.

“I think what’s really important about track and field in general is that you don’t learn about it in school. You go to gym classes, but no one prepared me by saying if I wrote my SATs, I could go to a university in the States for four years, they’ll pay for my degree, I can get my degree, and then turn pro, travel around the world for free while doing something I love,” Newman explains.

“No one can prepare you for a life like that, so I think what’s important about these events and talking to children, and motivating them to stay active allows them to have opportunities like this, to represent their country around the world. It’s important to give back but it’s also important to let people know what’s out there.”

The community involvement was seen throughout the day at city hall. With a chance to win tickets to the NACAC Championships, fans and athletes of all-ages raced in the 60m sprint, with the winners receiving exclusive passes to the event in August.

Anika Newell, Alysha Newman
From left to right: Anika Newell, Kortney Ross, and Alysha Newman pose for photos before the pole vault competition at Nathan Phillips Square on June 12, 2018.

Aside from Newman and De Grasse, many Canadian Olympians also participated in the events at Nathan Phillips Square. High jumper Michael Mason, pole vaulter Anika Newell, sprinters Mobolade Ajomale, Tremaine Harris, and Khamica Bingham were all on the track to showcase their speed and jumps. Even more athletes were spotted as spectators, with Olympic high jumpers Alyxandria Treasure and Canadian record-holder Derek Drouin also in attendance to take in the festivities.

The event will now head over to Calgary where the athletes hope to reach more fans and to share their track and field experience with. With many of these athletes in the middle of the season, they hope to come back to Toronto for the Toronto 2018: Track and Field in the 6ix to even more people in attendance at Varsity Centre.

“Track and field is growing a lot, with the Pan Am Games a few years ago and now NACAC, everyone is coming together as a community and really enjoying the sport,” De Grasse says. “Track is kind of the first things you do. You crawl, you walk, and then you run, so it’s fun to see kids come out.”

© Jonathan Yue
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