Mt. Brydges Decathlete Has High Goals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Jeffrey Reed, Editor, LondonOntarioSports.com

Like every elite athlete, decathlete Owen McDonald of Mt. Brydges lives as much for the competition as he does for stepping up onto the winner’s podium.

And although the London Western Track and Field member settled for silver in senior boys pole vault at the OFSAA championships in Guelph last Saturday, he quickly regrouped for his next event: the June 15-16 Ontario combined events championships at the University of Toronto.

McDonald, 17, a Grade 11 student at Strathroy District Collegiate Institute, is the defending Canadian U18 decathlon champion who excels in pole vault at the high school level. His successful first-attempt jump of 4.1 metres pitted him against three other vaulters vying for OFSAA gold in Guelph, but he failed to clear 4.2 which Knapp Wyatt of Brockville jumped to claim top prize.

That personal-best jump of 4.1 was identical to the jump McDonald registered at OFSAA West in Cambridge, where he also finished second. He jumped 3.9 to win gold at WOSSAA, and a previous-best 3.95 to win TVRA, both at TD Stadium in London.

Photo: London Western Track and Field.

Also at WOSSAA, McDonald finished seventh in senior boys 400 m hurdles, an event which he said keeps him sharp for decathlon.

“As a decathlete, 400 m hurdles really helps with my endurance and my speed,” McDonald said. “I still play soccer, which I started playing at age 4. I even got into karate, but since Grade 9 I have really focused on track and field.”

In 2018 as a junior high schooler, McDonald won pole vault gold at TVRA and WOSSAA, finished second at OFSAA West and was third at OFSAA. As a midget pole vaulter, he finished third at OFSAA.

McDonald’s meteoric rise in track and field, and in particular pole vault, is nothing short of amazing, according to his London Western coach Liz House.

“As a decathlete, it makes it difficult for him to practice pole vault – he practices just once a week. So the fact that he does so well against athletes who train just for pole vault is good,” House said.

“He’s very fast, and has really good core strength so he’s able to use his body well. Typically his strongest events are 400 m hurdles and sprint (110 m) hurdles, but it varies. Sometimes his jumps are really good. Like many decathletes, he goes in cycles.”

At 5-foot-8, McDonald doesn’t boast the prototypical pole vaulter frame, but both he and House said he more than makes up for it with speed, strength and determination.

“When I joined London Western, they figured I should try pole vault because I had the natural athletic ability to do well,” McDonald said.

“Since Grade 9 I’ve trained once a week. But there is still so much I am learning about it, and I am still trying to jump as high as I can. It’s creepy to think that there is a lot more I can do with pole vault, and to think I can go even higher. It’s pretty amazing. And my coach thinks so, too.”

McDonald is already eyeing an athletic scholarship, and thinks it “would be very cool” to attend a U.S. school. As for his post-secondary school academic focus, McDonald said like his pole vaulting skills, it, too, is a work in progress.

“I’m excited about the future,” said McDonald, “and I’m looking forward to competing against the best.”

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office http://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and https://londonontariogolf.com.

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