Smiley at the front of the national pack

It took Taryn Smiley a bit of time for it to sink in that she is the fastest runner in Canada in her age group.

Smiley won the U18 women’s 100m dash at the Canadian Youth Legion Track & Field Championships in Langley earlier this month, leading the field with a time of 12.22 seconds. She also finished second in the 200m in 25.59 seconds. Her Cowichan Valley Athletic Club training partner Chicago Bains, meanwhile, finished second in Canada in the U18 women’s 80m hurdles and third in the 300m hurdles.

"After I won the 100m, I was kind of in shock," Smiley said. "It didn’t hit me until a couple hours after."

Smiley finished seventh in the 100m a year ago, but set the goal of reaching the podium this year and put in the necessary work to get there. Having had some time to reflect on her success, she’s pleased it all paid off.

"I’m just really happy about it," she said.

"It’s a weight off my chest. Everything came together."

Smiley was ranked second in Canada going into both races, but was more confident about the 100m, where she was still ranked second after the heats. In the 200m, she was ranked sixth after heats, and started the final in lane eight. Initially disappointed with that, she quickly realized it was something she could overcome.

This is Smiley’s last year of youth competition as she moves up to juniors next year. A top-two finish at the junior nationals would qualify Smiley for the world championships, but as she heads into Grade 12 at Cowichan Secondary, she is more focused on landing a post-secondary scholarship.

"That’s my main focus right now," she said.

Bains set the Canadian record in the U16 girls 80m hurdles in 2013, and came close to winning the 100m hurdles in her first year competing at the U18 level this year, her time of 13.67 seconds just 0.31 seconds behind Ontario’s Mariam Abdul-Rashid. While Bains was comfortable competing at Legions, she admits she felt some pressure as the youngest runner in the age group. It also helped to know what she was up against.

"Coming into the competition, I knew who the competitors were," Bains said.

"Our times going in were all very close together."

Bains’s goal was to get under 14 seconds for the 100m hurdles, which she accomplished with a time of 13.98 in the final. Her aim for next year is to qualify for the IAAF World Youth Championships in Cali, Colombia. To qualify, she will have to be under the standard, which she has already done, and among the top two in Canada, which is a pretty realistic aim.

Smiley and Bains were also on the B.C. 4x100m relay team, running the third and fourth legs, respectively. Unfortunately, in the final, the first and second runners missed the hand-off, and the first runner tumbled, knocking B.C. out of the race.

Five other CVAC athletes competed at Legions, including Casey Heyd, who finished 15th in the U18 women’s 100m dash and 24th in the 200m, qualifying for the meet despite coming off seven months of physiotherapy for shin splints.

Ben Williams placed sixth in U18 men’s high jump and 15th in the triple jump, Nicole Lindsay finished 19th in the U18 women’s 400m and helped her relay teams to eighth in the 4x100m and 11th in the 4x400m, Luke Armstrong finished 12th in the U16 boys 800m and 18th in the 300m, and Sion Grifiths placed seventh in the U16 boys javelin and ninth in the hammer throw.

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