Less than a week ago, Alysha Newman was running at top speed and launching herself over a bar 4.65 metres in the air.
That put her into contention for a medal and instantly earned her even more recognition as one of the best pole vaulters in the world.
Less than a decade ago, Newman was just learning what her sport was all about, after trying it for the first time when an injury took her away from hurdles.
Now, in less than a year, athletes who hope to be at the heights Newman has reached will be coming to London for the 2018 Ontario Summer Games.
Newman had a chance to stand inside TD Stadium and look around at the venue that will be home to the athletics competition next August and think back to some of her first competitions.
“To think it’s been eight years since I’ve been doing this — it literally feels like yesterday that I came to Western,” Newman reminisced. “This is where I pole-vaulted. This is where I hurdled. This is where I became someone who I am today.”
Athletics will be one of 21 different events at the Games, which will welcome over 3500 athletes, coaches and officials.
“We have everything from archery to volleyball,” said Games general manager Dave De Kelver. “The unique one will be women’s ice hockey, which is happening in the middle of the summer, but it fits better with their schedule.”
Athletes at the Games will range in age from 12 to 18. For some, it is the pinnacle of their competitive career. Others might find themselves taking a road that mirrors Newman’s. At only 23, she has already become an inspiration to other young Canadian athletes.
Kylie Buchan of Saskatoon listed Newman as her personal role model in her bio for the 2017 Canada Summer Games that just wrapped up in Winnipeg.
“It’s a great feeling,” Newman said, “but I want them to know that they have the potential. As long as your heart and your mind are focused on what you want to be, you can do anything.”
Newman has hit a high point in her sport that very few ever realize.
“I jumped 4.65 over eight times this year. I have finished school, and now all I am doing is training and focusing on pole vault.”
Newman’s next competition is a Diamond League track event in Birmingham, England, where she’ll join fellow Londoner Damian Warner.
More information about the 2018 Ontario Summer Games can be found at london2018.ca.
The four-day event, which runs from August 2 to August 5, is expected to need approximately 1000 volunteers. Organizers say applications will be accepted in the coming weeks.