Armed with binoculars, Peter and Ann Withers were among the spectators in the stands on Thursday as the men’s and women’s 100 metre competition got underway at the Bell Canadian Track and Field Championships at Langley’s McLeod Athletic Park.
The Abbotsford couple’s reason for attending was sitting next to them – their grandson Ethan Wilkie, who competed in the men’s 400 meter earlier that morning.
“I made my semis, so I race tomorrow [Friday] morning,” Wilkie said.
Wilkie grew up in Langley and Abbotsford, attending St. Catherine’s Elementary in Brookswood and St. John Brebeuf Regional Secondary in Abbotsford.
Raised in Langley and Abbotsford, Wilkie is now a masters student at the University of New Brunswick, competing for the St. John Reds.
Coming home was a great opportunity for his grandparents to watch him compete, but also let him check out all the changes to McLeod in recent years.
“It’s definitely surreal,” said Wilkie, who recalled seeing the track and field complex being built when he was a child. “It’s great to see how much money they have put into the stadium.”
Ann and Peter Withers were excited to get to see their grandson race.
“With COVID, we haven’t been able to visit very much,” Peter noted.
Ann said Wilkie has always been athletic.
“He’s been doing it for a long time,” she said.
Peter noted that he wasn’t quite so tall when he started out, though.
There were multiple events taking place at the McLeod Athletic Park track and field complex on Thursday, including finals in several events for the decathlon and heptathlon, finals in 100m wheelchair races, and javelin finals for both senior and para-athletes.
There were also qualifying heats for the 400m and 100m for both adult and U20 athletes, and qualifiers for the U20 1500m and the senior men’s and women’s 800m races.
The competition began Wednesday and wraps up Sunday, June 26.
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