Pembroke's Track & Field Champ Sets Sights On Olympics

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A Pembroke track and field star is setting her sights on the Olympics next year, now that she's won a national championship.  

Madeleine Kelly, a Fellowes High School graduate, won the national 800-metre race over the weekend.

She's now turning her focus to trying to qualify for the world event in Doha, Qatar this October, and going for another personal best in the nationals next year.

Both could help her earn a spot in the 2020 olympics in Tokyo, and Maddy tells us it would be a dream come true.

"There are a few women in my event in Canada right now who are Olympic material, so it's far from a done deal", Kelly told Pure Country 96.7's Tony Grace.

"But, it's a real confidence booster knowing that I can absolutely be, at a minimum, in the mix next year, and a consideration for that team".

Kelly says her win over the weekend only really started to sink in on Wednesday of this week.

"When I crossed the finish line, I wasn't actually sure if I'd won; that's how close it was. It was basically, disbelief", she said.

"I got home, jumped back into work, jumped back into real life and training, and I think yesterday was the first time I had to myself to think about it all.  I think yesterday is when it really hit me:  the magnitude of what I'd done, and this big goal for myself that I'd accomplished", Kelly added.

Kelly says she should find out by August 26th whether she'll qualify for October's world event in Qatar.

Hometown Pride 

There's plenty of hometown pride this week for Kelly, and the Valley's other track and field athletes who achieved big wins at the national level.

Coming in second to Kelly in that 800-meter national event was Eganville's Melissa Bishop-Nriagu.

Bishop-Nriagu, of course, is no stranger to success, having competed in the Olympics and finshing fourth, and medalling at world championships.

Austin Graham of Petawawa, meanwhile, had success in a visually impaired category.

And, Mac Douglas came 4th in the Under 20 javelin, breaking his personal best with a throw of 59.24 m.

Maddy Kelly's former running club coach Rick Schroeder from the Courers De Bois Running Club in Petawawa, says it was a thrill to watch all of the athletes, but particularly Kelly, who has never tasted a victory such as this one.

"Maddy's always kind of felt like the bridesmaid and never the bride", Schroeder said.

"To see the look on her face after the race, and how excited she was to actually be number one, was very exciting to see.  I'm very happy for her", her added.

Schroeder says Bishop-Nriagu, Kelly and others are all true role models for the young athletes who work so hard with passion and perseverance.

"Watching these kids grow up, coming out as Grade 8 runners every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday during the summer, and working very hard ... seeing the culmination of their work over 10 years at a national championship is very, very exciting", Schroeder added.

"To have something like this happen, it justifies it for the kids, saying: look what they did.  I can do that too.  I think it's very exciting for these young athletes coming through the systems".

Maddy Kelly will join us on Pure Country Mornings on Friday, August 2 to discuss how her training years in the Pembroke-Petawawa area helped shape her journey toward this national championship.