By Jordan Ercit
Kitchener Post staff
Success has come fast and furious for Chris Green.
Well, the excitement of participating in his first world junior track and field championships has yet to hit the 18-year-old Kitchener hurdler.
“It’s like, ‘Holy crap, man,’” said the Grade 12 Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute student before boarding a plane earlier this week for the July 10-15 meet in Barcelona, Spain. “We’re leaving on (Wednesday) and it still hasn’t hit me yet. Maybe it will when I get on the plane and start thinking, ‘Oh, I’m going to the world championships in Spain.’
“But when I get on the track there and the crowd is screaming, it’s just going to blow me away.”
Green isn’t the only Kitchener athlete making his world junior debut.
Two other locals, including Supreme Athletics teammate Devon Rittinger, a recent Forest Heights Collegiate Institute grad, and Laurel Creek’s Calvin Arsenault, a former St. Mary’s High School student who set school records at the University of Louisville this season, will also be competing for the first time.
However, Green may be the biggest surprise of them all.
Heading into the 2011-12 season, the hurdler had yet to win an OFSAA track and field medal in his three years at Cameron Heights, and his top result at the West Regional was a third place finish as a junior in 2010.
When he did break through this year for a pair of provincial podium finishes, his best result was a gold medal in his secondary event — the 400-metre hurdles.
It was that result, plus a lot of hard work, that landed Green on the Canadian world junior team after missing his shot in 2011. He normally puts in two hours of training per day, five days a week for 11 months of the year, with the only down time coming in August after the Canadian junior track and field championships.
But this year, Green focused on added weight training and endurance, and noticed an improvement early in the season.
But it wasn’t a breeze by any means.
Right before the CWOSSA championships at Resurrection Catholic Secondary School in May, Green contracted a virus and lost five pounds before the OFSAA West Regional meet.
“I was so sick that I couldn’t move,” said Green, whose dad, Stuart, had to help him walk to the events. “I couldn’t even warm up, it was that bad. I had to sit there and wait for the race to come, and then I got in the blocks and went for it.
“I was lucky to make it through.”
Rittinger, meanwhile, also dodged a health scare at the West Regional and OFSAA championship meets, pulling out of the provincial 100-metre final with an adductor injury after winning his heat in Brockville.
But the 19-year-old is feeling 100 per cent ahead of his world junior debut, which he said “means everything to me.
“I put my heart and soul into track this season and put aside everything else,” said Rittinger, who qualified for the world juniors in the OFSAA West senior boys 100-metre preliminaries with a record time of 10.56 seconds.
“I had to stop doing a lot of things . . . but it was all worth it in the end.”
The national team nomination was also a bit of redemption for Rittinger, who left home in Grade 9 to live with a family friend before moving in with his grandmother, Joyce Campbell, of Kitchener.
Rittinger said he still has a good relationship with his mom — “she’s really supportive of me” — but his dad is no longer part of his life.
“It’s been a source of motivation,” he said. “I struggle with it at times, but not as much as I used to.
“So to be here, going to worlds, I’m kind of surprised I’ve been able to pull it off. If you told me it was possible three years ago, I would have thought you were crazy.”
As for expectations, Rittinger just wants to perform at his best.
“I’m not expecting to break any records or even win a medal,” he said. “I’m just looking to beat my personal best, and get some D1 offers.”