Building on the Legacies of the 2010 IAAF World Junior Championship: A lasting impact for sport in our Province
Courtesy of the Times & Transcript
This is the seventh and final article revisiting the 2010 IAAF World Junior Championship in Moncton, NB, by Alex Cyr for Athletics New Brunswick
A full decade has passed since Moncton hosted the IAAF World Junior track and field championship in July 2010. It is still the largest junior-level sporting competition Atlantic Canada has ever seen.
Between July 19 and 25, local athletes broke records, future world beaters showed flashes of brilliance, and the championship’s organizing committee ran a show smooth enough to make then-IAAF President Lamine Diack fall in love with Moncton. But now that ten years have passed, it is evident to many of Athletics New Brunswick’s involved actors that the event’s benefits extended far beyond its show. Here, coaches and administrators reflect on the championship’s far-reaching impact on Moncton’s track and field community.
Steve Leblanc, Director of High Performance at Athletics New Brunswick, said that still to this day when he approaches the Medavie Croix Bleue Stadium, he sometimes feels awe and disbelief.
“To have a facility like that was out of the realm of what we thought was possible. It has allowed us to hold events in Moncton at a much higher level than we could have ever dreamed of.”
Since the IAAF championship, Moncton has notably hosted CFL games in 2011, 2013 and 2019, and games of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2014, and The FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015, not to mention its hosting the 2013 and 2014 Canadian Senior Track & Field championships.
Leblanc said that, even though the stadium was conceived for track and field, many groups in the city want to use it for other purposes, and that can sometimes be a challenge. In 2014, the track’s infield grass had to be replaced with artificial turf to accommodate the Women’s World Cup soccer games, delegating athletics field events to a separate upfield grass pitch.
“The Stadium is a popular venue and it does take a bit of compromise to keep growing our sport,” said Leblanc, “but we make it work.”
Leblanc hopes to see Moncton continue to host large track and field events, once the COVID-19 pandemic simmers. He said that the community’s volunteer base and proven ability to host world class meets makes it a prime candidate to attract national and international championships in the next few years.
“The point of having this facility is to host again and again,” he said. “And now we know there is an enthusiasm for track and field around here.”
Peter Stuart, the head coach of Moncton-based track club ASEA agrees with Leblanc that the 2010 championship and Stadium have helped create a constant buzz in the city’s athletics community. Where he notices it most, is in the young population.
“2010 changed everything,” he said. It’s given athletes a tremendous place to practice and compete, and it’s changed how people view the sport in southeastern New Brunswick.”
Stuart, a long-time coach and former teacher, said that the world class installation has led any young athletes to the track in the last decade. “Young kids and students come into the stadium for the first time and say ‘wow, this is cool, I want to try this,’” he said. “As a result, the number of people who are active in track from 2010 to now is much bigger.”
The excitement leads to Marc Lalonde, ANB’s President, to add about the championship: “The 2010 leadership team and everyone who was involved as volunteers have provided us an incredible legacy that we are building on. Through our club system, many partnerships including strong support to the varsity programs at UdeM and UNB, we have increased both the quality and quantity of youth training in New Brunswick and our plans are now focused on rendering our Province a premier location for all athletes to train and develop right here from their early youth all the way if they wish and have the talent, to the Olympics. That of course requires ongoing efforts, support and the hosting of equally inspiring events in the future. We are indebted and so grateful to all who were involved in 2010 for helping put us on this course.”
Alex Cyr is a journalist from Prince Edward Island who has written for The Globe and Mail, The XC, and Canadian Running Magazine. His first book Runners of the Nish, was published in 2018.
Opening event - 3000 metre final at World IAAF 2020 Juniors - Courtesy of the Times & Transcript