A record jump for Tsawwassen decathlete

Aidan Turner is taking his promising decathlon career to new heights and setting records along the way.

The 15-year-old South Delta Secondary student happens to thrive in the pole vault where he recently broke a 22-year-old provincial record for his age group with a leap of 4.00 metres at a meet in Abbotsford. It also has him currently ranked number one in Canada at the U18 level.

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The feat was especially satisfying given it was an erratic season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a number of cancelled events and regular training being put on hold for nearly four months.

That’s when Turner at least benefited from his mom Michaela Colluney being a high performance coach and a member of the Ocean Athletics coaching staff. He regularly trains at the South Surrey-based track and field club.

“I was lucky from that standpoint,” said Turner. “We were doing what we could for strength and conditioning and also went out to the SDSS track and did some hurdles' work.”

“The main thing was keeping up his speed and mobility,” added Colluney. “It’s easy to pick things back up. What was missing was the technical side of the sport and meets.”

Turner was introduced to pole vaulting two years ago and enjoyed immediate success by making the standard at his first meet. He has been working with Ocean’s pole vault coach Len van Ryswk.

“He has sprinter jumper body type and the quickness too,” he said. “Aidan also has the ability to learn new skills and that’s a big thing for decathletes.

“As a pole vault athlete you are a sprinter, long jumper, triple jumper for the first half. The second half is more gymnastics type. It takes those two attributes and also being comfortable being inverted which is something to learn at a young age. Just being mentally strong enough and being able to take the risk, being adventurous.”

Turner is fortunate the club makes its pole vault program a priority with a designated training area and investing in new equipment. He typically brings seven poles to a meet, which reflects the conditions and his steady progression as an athlete.

“Aidan has probably had three or four growth spurts since I have been coaching him,” added van Ryswk “These guys get faster and stronger very quickly and technically better and more confident. This year he has moved through seven poles. That is the big growth spurt in technical vaulting.”

He will continue his training over the winter indoors at Trinity Western University that has graciously opened its doors to young vaulters. Pre-pandemic, he was making the trek to Bellingham and Western Washington University.

“I pretty much liked it my very first year,” said Turner. “A lot of my gym work is body weight strength. You have to maintain the speed and movement. Once in the air, it’s having the awareness to move your body the right way.”

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