METRO HALIFAX - As competitive as she might be, Olympic athlete Jenna Martin-Evans has made her main goal as she reaches the finish line of her track career a simple one: “having fun
The former national champion from Bridgewater, who overcame a serious Achilles tendon injury to compete for one last season, will be hitting Huskies Stadium turf Wednesday evening for the 2016 Aileen Meagher International Track Classic. Martin-Evans attended high school in Bridgetown, Annapolis County.
The Halifax meet, which is now in its 23rd season, is the third stop on the 2016 National Track League circuit, and this year marks an important stop for runners on the road to Rio 2016.
“Track has been a love-hate relationship from me,” Martin-Evans, 28, admitted Tuesday morning following a press conference on the Saint Mary’s University campus.
“Especially when the injuries come,” said the Nova Scotian track star, who finished 23rd in the 400-metre event at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London and snagged gold in the same event at both the 2011 and 2012 national championships.
While she was recovering from her Achilles tear, Martin-Evans said she sometimes started thinking she should just hang up her sneakers for good.
“I was taking it so serious,” she reflected. “And I was just like, ‘I’m not having fun; this sucks.’ ”
Yet she knew she wanted to complete her track career while still enjoying what she does best.
“We all know how it feels to try and just stay positive,” Martin-Evans said of her struggle in recent years to get back on track.
“But really, it’s how it’s built your character, going through those situations, and overcoming them. Because we know we’re going through something,” she said. “We’re not going to stay here, it’s through, so (we’re) coming out the other side.”
Martin-Evans was one of four Aileen Meagher Track Classic participants who attended Tuesday’s media kick-off to the event, which also featured 29-year-old hurdler Nikkita Holder of Toronto, distance runner 21-year-old Mike Tate of Antigonish, and 31-year-old wheelchair shot put athlete Pam Le Jean of Cape Breton.
All four will compete in Wednesday’s meet, which starts at 5:15 p.m. with national development events, followed by the opening ceremony at 620 p.m. and the international events at 6:30 p.m.
Martin-Evans almost qualified for her Olympic return at a meet last week in Florida, running 52.38 in the 400-metre, missing the mark by a mere 0.18 seconds.
The Aileen Meagher event gives her another chance to make it to the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“I’m having so much fun with it right,” Martin-Evans said of her own journey, which after this season may include online school for counselling and coaching, as well as spending more time with husband DeQuin Evans of the Montreal Alouettes.
“Knowing that it is my last year, too, I’m just enjoying the process,” she said.
"If you’re not having fun with it, what’s the point?”
Who was Aileen Meagher?
Aileen Meagher was an elite Canadian athlete from Halifax who claimed the bronze medal in the 4x100 metres event at the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin. She was awarded the 1935 Velma Springstead Trophy for being Canada’s outstanding female athlete, the 1935 Norton H. Crom Award as the most outstanding Canadian athlete of the year and in 1965 was inducted into Canada’s Sport Hall of Fame. She was also an original Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame inductee. She worked as a teacher and enjoyed painting. Meagher died in 1987 at age 67.
Visit www.ticketatlantic.com to purchase tickets to the 2016 Aileen Meagher International Track Classic in Halifax. Costs are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and $5 for teens and kids 16 years old and under.