By: Pippa Norman
A fierce competition is descending upon the Terry Fox Athletic Facility this weekend, as athletes from North America, Central America and the Caribbean arrive to compete in the NACAC Combined Events Championship.
Hosted by the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club, the two-day championship will feature women competing in the heptathlon and men competing in the decathlon.
Leading the American contingent are former NCAA Champions Ashtin Mahler and Michelle Atherley. The pair are coming off a 2-3 finish at last weekend’s USA Championships in Arkansas and looking to finalize their spot in this summer’s World Championships.
A win this weekend in Ottawa will provide either woman with an automatic World Championship qualification that comes from being an Area Champion. The other will be looking for valuable performance points to improve their world rankings and find their way in to the global top-24 ranking to secure a spot on Team USA for the upcoming championships.
Donning the maple leaf this weekend will be Team Canada athletes Nicole Ostertag, Rostam Turner, Maddison Lawrence and Shawn Beaudoin.
Ostertag, a university senior and member of the Saskatoon Track and Field Club, won silver in the indoor pentathlon at the 2020 U SPORTS championships. More recently, she garnered multiple PBs and a new personal best of 5443 points in the heptathlon at the Bryan Clay Invitational in California.
Coming off a heel injury that put Ostertag out of commission for close to a year, she said she’s excited for the chance to compete this weekend.
“Because I’ve been injured, I haven’t been able to train as much as I’d like,” Ostertag said. “But in the past month or so I’ve been able to do more training and get some technical work in, so I’m excited to put that practice to use in competition.”
Unlike Ostertag, who was named to Team Canada in April, this won’t be Turner’s first time representing Canada on an international stage. A member of the Okanagan Athletics Club, Turner competed for Canada at the 2017 Francophone Games, in addition to winning the heptathlon at the U SPORTS championships that same year.
Representing Canada this weekend adds another layer of adrenaline to the competition, Turner said.
“It’s super exciting and fun to represent Canada,” Turner said. “I guess [there’s] a little more pressure, but I feel like sometimes it can be a good thing.”
Turner said his goal for the weekend is to take it one event at a time and put up a “big score at the end” for an overall personal best. Turner’s current personal best is 7601 points in decathlon.
Alysha Newman, two-time Olympic pole vaulter, is another Canadian athlete with something to prove this weekend. Newman recently added heptathlon to her skillset after a concussion last year forced her to take a break from pole vault.
“[The plan] wasn’t really to take [heptathlon] up, it was to stay in shape and get ready for when the doctors cleared me to pole vault again,” Newman said. “I happened to just end up falling in love with it and being pretty good at it.”
Heading into her first ever heptathlon competition, Newman said her goal is to finish an entire two days of competition with a score in every event.
“I just want to make sure I can get through the whole thing,” Newman said.
Competition kicks off Saturday morning at 10 a.m. tomorrow and concluded Sunday around 6 p.m.