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Tuesday, Jul. 17, 2018
Sixth title extra special for Caroline Ehrhardt
by Randy Pascal

Caroline Ehrhardt may not have been born blessed with a great deal of patience.

It's a virtue that has developed, somewhat out of necessity, over the course of an illustrious track and field career that now spans more than half of the life of the long-time Espanola native.

And now, her patience is paying off.

The story of the recent 2017 Canadian Track and Field Championships in Ottawa was not that Ehrhardt, once again, laid claim to the senior women's triple jump crown. That's old hat, as the 25 year-old graduate of Western University has showed the way in every year since 2011, with the sole exception of 2015.

But after years of trying to break through to a new level, Ehrhardt has been rewarded this summer. Her final five jumps all exceeded 13.26 metres, including a new personal best mark of 13.53m. It's been a long time coming.

"This has been a bit of a fairy tale season in terms of the improvement that I've been seeing," Ehrhardt suggested on Monday evening, taking time to wind down, just a little. "I've had a stagnant few years. I started off the season with a personal best, my very first meet of the season, and since then, I feel that I've kind of been building up to this."

"At provincials in Windsor, I set my most recent PB at 13.41m," Ehrhardt continued. "I was ecstatic about that, not just because of the distance, but because immediately after that jump, I had a fault that I knew was even further."

"I knew that in the right conditions, at nationals, I could go even further." In fact, she would twice top her new standard, leaping 13.53m and following up with a jump of 13.47 metres.

The million dollar question, the exact impetus behind this latest surge, has Ehrhardt baffled, to some degree. "People keep asking me that and I don't really have an answer," she exclaimed. "I just think that after so many years of tireless work and putting everything I have into this, finally things are starting to click."

"I think people sometimes fall short of their goals because they don't wait long enough to reach them. You put in all the hard work and expect immediate results, but it takes a long time."

"If I had to say just one thing has been the difference maker this year, I would point to my speed," Ehrhardt continued. "My 100m (dash) personal best has improved by more than half a second this summer. I think I'm getting a lot stronger, and as a result, a lot quicker. But am I doing anything much differently in training, I'm really not."

A very familiar face around the Laurentian University venue from her early training days with coach Jim Taylor and the Track North Athletic Club, Ehrhardt has but one meet remaining to close out the summer, leaving next week for the Ivory Coast to compete at the World Francophone Games.

"I believe, in Africa, I'm capable of even more," she said. "I know that eventually, something has to give and things are going to slow down, but I'm feeling really good about where I am at right now. I just want to keep riding this wave of improvement."

In a career dotted, with an element of frequency, with national caliber accomplishments, this most recent feat remains special. "It's easy to say now, because I'm sure that I've felt this at any point where I've had success, but I definitely feel that this is the most excited I have ever been about a performance, for a number of reasons."

"For starters, it's taken me so long to get here. Plus, coming into this season, I was number ten on the Canadian all-time list - this jump puts me at number four. And my goal, since the very beginning, is to make the Olympics, and to do that, I need to be jumping over 14 metres."

"To be closer to 14 than I am to 13 is very exciting to me." Ehrhardt easily outdistanced both second place finisher Anegla Mercurio (13.19m) and bronze medal winner Divyajyoti Biswal (13.02m).

Other Sudbury Notes: Ehrhardt was not the only Sudbury connection gaining notoriety at the national championships. Recently named to the Ontario team that will compete at the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg, Ryan Taylor won gold in the U20 triple jump (14.76m) and added a silver medal in the long jump (6.98m).

Brendan Costello won his heat in the U20 800m race, clocking a time of 1:56.97, but did not qualify for the final in a field that would see the top ten runners squeezed in between times of 1:54.61 and 1:56.88. First place in the final would go the way of Marco Arop with a time of 1:49.95.

Dealing with some recent health issues, Ross Proudfoot battled his way to a fifth place finish in the Open Men's 5000m event, crossing the wire in 14:15.55, just a hair back of fourth place finisher Evan Esselink (14:15.18).

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