So, later this week in London, the Ontario track and field championships will take place for high schools - a time for athletes to strive for personal best times and distances in a variety of events. And, if there is perfect weather, there will be many great performances.
It's not the biggest high school track meet in Canada, but it does lend importance for more reasons than bragging about accomplishments in grade school. It`s another opportunity for youngsters to qualify for international events. But, despite their up-coming successes at OFSAA, many of the track achievements may not count for much at all.
This year, the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) World Junior championships are in Moncton, N.B., The best athletes in this age bracket from around the world will come to Canada. And, it makes sense that the best Canadians compete.
But, a communication mix-up could prevent that from happening. I am not pointing the finger at anyone other than to say the IAAF has made changes to rules. Athletics Canada and Athletics Ontario accept the changes. OFSAA, the school association, likely does too - but hasn`t incorporated the changes quickly enough to affect the high school finals in a few days.
In short, that means problems.
Here`s what it says on the Athletics Ontario website.
``...our members were advised that Athletics Canada and the IAAF will not accept performances in which IAAF rules are not followed, including the newly-adopted no false start rule. The OFSAA organization, has, this year, decided to apply the old start rule in which the entire field is charged with the first false start in any race. What that means, with the exception noted below, is that no track event performances from any high school meet held this year in Ontario will be recognized by Athletics Canada for any purpose.``
Some good news, and that`s what is meant by exception, is that un-named Athletics Canada and OFSAA people apparently pulled a late deal that allows for athletes in senior track events to get special treatment. Confusing? It is to some. Unfair? It is to some. I can just imagine how junior and midget-age athletes feel about this? Not even mentioning the vibes from coaches and parents.
I have also learned that all times at Ottawa meets, and there were six, have also been approved.
Athletes like Aaron Brown, from Birchmount Park, are alright. He's the speedster, and a senior, who set outdoor standards last year. He's also run 100 metres in 10.36 seconds - faster than the existing Canadian Interscholastic times set by former high schoolers Desai Williams, Carlton Chambers and Hugh Spooner. All three were Canadian Olympians.
OFSAA is not run by IAAF rules. OFSAA does provide an opportunity for students to participate. It doesn't have an obligation to provincial, national or international associations. That said, any track athlete, other than seniors, won't have their times count by the national track and field group according to Athletics Ontario President Bill Stephens. And Athletics Canada, again according to Stephens (who has coached many great athletes like Brown), will not recognize records or times - for getting on National teams - based on the OFSAA meet.
Athletics Canada and Athletics Ontario can not expect a school association to make immediate changes to meet their standards. OFSAA does look like the bad guy on this, but isn't. Dig deeper and no one really loses, as athletes - many who compete on club teams - can still meet the standards with those club meets. But time is running out. It just won't happen at the so-called big Ontario high school event.
Some athletes are faced with a decision: what's more important - compete at OFSAA or try make the Canadian team for the world championship?
Back to communication. It would be nice if people did just that more efficiently so that student athletes benefit. That would be a record in itself.