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Cloverdale athlete named 2021 Masters Track Athlete of the Year

Cindy O’Brien Hugh recognized for setting new Canadian record in the women’s over-60 heptathlon
Cloverdale’s Cindy O’Brien Hugh clears the bar during women’s high jump at the BC Masters Track & Field Championships at Bear Creek Park Aug. 22, 2021. O’Brien Hugh was recently named a 2021 Masters Track Athlete of the Year. (Photo: Aaron Hinks)

Cloverdale’s Cindy O’Brien Hugh has been named a 2021 Masters Track Athlete of the Year.

B.C. Athletics made the announcement Jan. 26 recognizing O’Brien Hugh from Surrey’s Greyhounds Masters, David Guss from the Kelowna Running Club, and Mark Pinckard from Ocean Athletics.

“It was surprising and quite exciting,” said O’Brien Hugh. “We didn’t have a lot of competitions (in 2021) and a lot of people weren’t able to compete as much as they normally do. But I was very fortunate.”

O’Brien Hugh set a new Canadian record in the women’s over-60 heptathlon in August, beating the previous record by 1,062 points. The performance also elevated her into a third place world ranking. It also happened to be O’Brien Hugh’s first heptathlon competition.

She said her club put on two track meets and she’s just thankful that she was able to take part in them. She added there were a lot of outstanding athletes around the world that, for various reasons, didn’t get a chance to compete last year.

“It’s a different kind of world right now,” she said. “I felt very fortunate to be able to compete and to have a couple of results that were favourable for me.”

PHOTOS: BC Masters Track & Field Championships at Bear Creek Park

O’Brien Hugh said she was familiar with six of the seven heptathlon events.

“800 (metres) was a completely new and a little bit of an unwelcome challenge,” she said with a laugh. “That’s something I need to work on.”

She added she’s very grateful to be a part of the Greyhounds Masters Track and Field Club as they have excellent coaching and a lot of support for athletes.

“You get great help with your running technique, jumping, throwing. So again another fortunate part is all the support we get and all the great coaching that we get.”

Athletics is in the blood for O’Brien Hugh. In 1976, she was named Female Athlete Of The Year at Lord Tweedsmuir. In 1948, her dad, Larry O’Brien, was named Outstanding Athlete Of The Year, aslo at Tweedsmuir.

Larry was a volunteer firefighter at Hall 8 in Cloverdale. He tragically died when he was on his way to call in 1974.

O’Brien Hugh said her dad supported her in all the sports she played growing up. And her dad still inspires her when she competes.

“My dad was quite athletic,” she said. “I lost him when I was just short of 16, but there’s hope there that he’s still watching me. Sometimes I talk to him for a few minutes before a race and sometimes after the agony of defeat.

“There’s certainly some inspiration there and all my family are so very supportive.”

Next up for O’Brien Hugh is a track meet in Kamloops at the end of February. Later in the year, she’ll compete in the B.C. Championships and the Greyhounds will host a multi-event meet in August.

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Malin Jordan

About the Author: Malin Jordan

Malin is the editor of the Cloverdale Reporter.
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