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General News Sackville, Nova Scotia, Canada

Future 800m star in Nova Scotia? – World Athletics Day

For anyone else, it would've been a complete success. But not for Jenna Martin.

She trotted to the finish more than eight seconds ahead of her nearest competitor in the 800 metres as the IAAF celebrated World Athletics Day on 6 May at Metropolitan Field in Sackville. But after her winning time of 2:12.47, she didn’t sound like a comfortable winner.

“Things didn¹t go as well as I would've liked, but it was my first 800 metres in a long while,” said Martin. “I wanted to break 2:08 today, so I was off a bit. It just wasn’t one of those days for me.”

When mixed with her athleticism, that desire for improvement serves Martin well. The 18-year-old Bridgewater resident is Canada’s top-ranked runner in the 400 metres, owns 42 provincial records, and recently competed at the prestigious Penn Relays in Philadelphia.

The race’s other big name, Heather Hennigar of Halifax, wasn’t out to win the event. In fact, she wasn’t even there to finish. Hennigar, who has several victories in the 800 metres, pushed Martin for about 600 metres in the event before shutting it down.

“I wanted to run here, but I have a few minor health concerns so I was only going to run about 400-600 metres,” said Hennigar. “I wanted to be here and support Jenna and all of the kids running here today, but I didn’t want to risk an injury with the summer season coming up.”

Hennigar recently trained with Martin in Florida, and expects a bright future for the teenager at any distance.

“Jenna is a phenomenal natural athlete,” said Hennigar. “She’s put so much together in the last year. If you take her anaerobic strengths and her aerobic capacity, she has huge potential in the 800 metres.

“Training with her has helped me with my speed and I’m able to give her some pointers in this distance. If she concentrates on it, I have no doubt she'll run this distance in less than 2:05 someday.”

Sarah Deveau finished second with a time of 2:21.36. Yesterday’s event was Canada’s East Coast portion of World Athletics Day, with the Western version taking place in Abbotsford, B.C. More than 156 nations compete in the event, which is designed to celebrate and raise awareness for amateur athletics. With the field filled with a few hundred children, some trying events for the first time, Hennigar says the World Athletics Day may help bring along the next Nova Scotian track star.

“I was just telling the coaches how nice it is to see young faces out on the track,” she said. “I’m nearing the end of my career and I get a warm feeling from seeing this.

“We need more of these events and have to involve the older athletes (as) mentors, but it bodes well for the future of track and field in Nova Scotia.”

Adam Richardson (The Daily News) for the IAAF