TRURO, N.S. – Legion national championships have provided Martha Yiridoe the opportunity to push her physical and mental limits, overcome adversity and find out exactly where she stands among the country’s greatest track and field athletes in her age group.
Along the way, she’s forged countless friendships and has created memories she’ll cherish long after her days in the sport are over.
Next month, Yiridoe will compete in her third and final Legion competition Aug. 9 to 11 in Sydney.
“It is especially bittersweet,” said Yiridoe, a member of the Truro Lions. “It’s such a fun time every year that I’ve gone and you make memories that last a lifetime. It will be great having it in Nova Scotia; a lot of people will likely drive up just to see friends and family, so it will be great to have that much support there as well for my last year.”
Yiridoe, 16, will compete in long jump and triple jump in the U18 division for the Nova Scotia/Nunavut team. She set personal-best marks during her two previous national competitions in Brandon, Man., and looks to continue that trend in Sydney.
“Honestly, I’m just hoping to get another personal best for both events and see how far that takes me. If it takes me to the podium, I wouldn’t say no to that,” she smiled.
Yiridoe, who lives in Valley, recently completed Grade 11 at Cobequid Educational Centre. At the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation championship in Wolfville this spring, she won gold in the long jump and was third in the triple jump. Last year she nabbed bronze in the long jump and silver in triple jump – not too shabby for an athlete who took up horizontal jumping just four years ago.
“I felt like I was always kind of a little bit fast, so I was going to do sprints. But then, I don’t know, I just kind of loved jumping into a pit so I tried it out. I tried long jump originally and I liked it and my coach said you might as well try triple as well and it just kind of took off from there.”
Dave Galloway is Yiridoe’s coach, and attributes much of her success to being mentally tough.
“Her determination, her ability to overcome obstacles, whether it’s an injury, something mental, other competitors stepping up their game … she just has that ability to react to it without changing a whole lot of what she’s already built and just go with the tools that she’s had,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed watching her overcome. You get down into finals and somebody bumps her and puts her into second place and just how she handles getting back and going and attacking that board and getting the mark she needs to get to get through.”
Yiridoe will lead a contingent of eight Truro Lions at Legion nationals. Being a veteran jumper, she wants to help younger athletes who may be getting their first taste of national competition, the same way others helped her in past years.
Yiridoe hopes to compete in more national age-group competitions in coming years and at the university level following high school. Galloway says her future is extremely bright and the sky’s the limit.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if you see this girl get into the international meets and possibly the Olympics some day – she has that ability.”
Following is a list of Truro Lions athletes who will attend Legion nationals in August as members of the Nova Scotia/Nunavut team: