TRURO – While most athletes are forced to take a day off from the rain, Iain LaPointe takes advantage of the facilities at hand.
The Cobequid Educational Centre teacher, and javelin competitor, took to the gymnasium on Thursday afternoon to get in a few practice throws. LaPointe will be heading off to Moncton this weekend for the Canadian track and field championships.
The national senior event will be a first for LaPointe, who hopes to break some personal bests in the process. Having been away from competition since high school, LaPointe got back into things while coaching at CEC.
“About five years ago I figured if I’m out here with the kids throwing, I might as well be throwing myself,” he said.
He set a goal to reach 50 metres after five years. Now in the final year of his goal, LaPointe is poised to break the benchmark after throwing 49 metres last year.
“I’m really shooting for it now,” he said. “I’m going all out for it this weekend.”
LaPointe will be in good company at nationals, in a field of the nation’s 10 best throwers. Among them is Clifton native Jared Baird.
“I’m excited to throw with Iain this weekend,” Baird said. “I really like him and he cares a lot about the sport.”
Baird, a former thrower at the NCAA’s Winthrop University, has been focused full-time on javelin this year. After trying to balance work and training the previous year, he decided to go all-in and moved to Saint John to train with Caleb Jones, the third-ranked thrower in the country.
“We train for nearly 40 hours a week over there, so it’s kind of a full-time job itself,” Baird said.
Without help from Sport Canada, Baird has been paying his way on his own.
“Money is an issue with any sport,” he said. “But if it’s what you really want, there’s always a way to make it happen.”
Baird heads into the event ranked fifth in the nation, but a nagging groin injury has held him back as of late. With just one competition under his belt this season, the ranking doesn’t mean much to him.
“All it takes is one good throw. Nobody asks what your second-best was.”
This weekend will be a big one for Baird, who is taking javelin on a year-by-year basis. If the performances don’t lead to something bigger this season, he could walk away from it.
“It’s kind of now or never,” he said. “If I don’t finish where I want to this year, realistically I probably couldn’t continue.”
For the meantime, Baird is giving it his all with the ultimate goal to reach the highest level.
“I think every athlete has a major championship in the back of their mind,” he said. “If you’re a hockey player, you want to win the Stanley Cup…For us, it’s the Olympics or the World Championships.”
It’s a distant goal, but not unattainable, he said.
“I tell people it’s my ultimate goal, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a grind each day to get there.”
While Baird has Olympic aspirations, LaPointe’s motives come from a different place.
Heading to nationals for the 400-metre will be Truro’s Lucas Watson, a student of LaPointe’s. Competing with students, current and former, is a driving force for the math teacher.
“I find it motivating because these are kids who you can see the athleticism in them and the work they put in,” he said. “It motivates me to get better as well.”
Also competing in the nationals will be Truro natives Peter Millman and Kayla Gallagher. Millman will compete in hammer and shot put, while Gallagher compeytes in hammer. Both are members of the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns.