Sprinter Jeremiah Lauzon was among track royalty on the weekend and he soaked up every moment of the experience.
The 18-year-old Red Deer runner made his national debut at the Canadian Track and Field Championships from July 5-8 in Ottawa.
He rubbed shoulders with the likes of Olympic runners Andre DeGrasse, Aaron Brown and Damian Warner, who were all competing in different age categories at the meet.
Lauzon was hoping to medal in the U20 200-metre race and run a personal best in the 100m.
He just missed out on the 100m final running 11.25 seconds putting him in 19th place, and ended fifth in the 200m final with a time of 22.02 seconds.
“If I had run to the top of my ability, I could have gotten second or maybe even first,” he said.
Lauzon said he was battling a cold, which held him back but the experience will be one he will remember for a long time.
“We got to see a bunch of Olympians. My nieces got to meet Damian Warner. That was a really cool experience for them. It was overall just a great experience,” he said.
“Seeing all of (the Olympians) around, you may not be able to get to their level, but it gives you something to hope for.”
In only his second full season of club track with the Red Deer Titans, Lauzon said he had reason to believe he’s among the top runners in Canada at his age.
Lauzon raced to a 22.01 second time and a bronze medal in the senior 200m at the recent Alberta Schools Athletic Association Track and Field Championships earlier this summer at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School.
The two runners that finished ahead of him were Calgary’s Sheldon Louza and Malachi Murray from Edmonton.
Louza is currently representing Canada at the U20 IAAF World Championships in Finland. Murray, won gold in Ottawa with a time of 21.81 in the 200m. The trio of Alberta runners have three of the 10 fastest U20 200m times in Canada this year.
“Alberta has some pretty good runners right now. This kind of thing hasn’t happened in a while. Most of the good runners come from the warmer places in Canada and they generally have more people in the province,” Lauzon said.
“It is nice knowing that if I’m doing well (in Alberta) since I am racing against some of the fastest in Canada, I know I’m going to do Ok at least at the national scale.”
On top of the bronze medal at high school provincials, Lauzon raced a 21.76 this year in Calgary, a time he hopes to consistently reach the rest of the season.
Lauzon hopes by next summer he will run closer to 21.5 seconds in the 200m. If he were able to run that this summer, it would be the second-fastest by a runner his age this year.
“Back when I started school track in Grade 7, I was doing it because my teacher suggested it. At that time I was doing better than most people. So decided to stick with it,” he said.
“Last year I started club track and I still wasn’t expecting to get to this level. At that point, I was still finishing fourth or fifth in Alberta. I never expected to get here.”
He hopes to earn a track and field scholarship to an NCAA Division I school so he can continue his running career.