Kitimatian Ben Thorne represented his home country well at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Outdoor Track and Field National Championship.
The competition took place at Indiana Wesleyan University in Indiana.
The Mount Elizabeth Secondary School graduate kept the University of B.C.’s winning streak at the event alive in the Men’s 5,000m Race Walk event with his time of 22:41.13. His team, the UBC Thunderbirds, posted to their website that this is the fifth consecutive time a UBC race walkter won the outdoor men’s title.
Thorne was more than ready to greet second place winner Cody Risch, who trailed 16 seconds after Thorne.
Thorne’s first place win even earned him a spot on the 2012 NAIA Men’s Outdoor Track Field All-American Team list — the irony of a Canadian making that roster is not lost on Thorne, who spoke to the Sentinel following his win.
In the 5,000m Race Walk category, he is the only Canadian on the All-American, joining athletes from Michigan, Missouri, Indiana and Kentucky.
The race walk event is similar for the most part with regular racing but he says there’s the added element of judging by four or five people who watch you race.
Race walkers must always have one foot on the ground and your leg has to be straight from the point it touches the ground to when it passes under your body.
Thorne has been battling some minor foot injuries which have been affecting his technique. When he competed in Indiana he said that he “hid” in third place for the majority of the race before booting it in the final laps to earn his first place.
His foot injuries have cost him some opportunities for other advancement, but nothing that he’s sour about.
A few weeks ago he was in Russia for the World Race Walking Cup, which is a qualifying event to get to the Olympics, but the race didn’t go well for him then.
“It’s not really a big deal because I’m quite young and I hadn’t really planned on going to the Olympics until last fall so I didn’t get my hopes up too much,” he said.
He added that he probably wasn’t ready for that event anyway.
Next for Thorne is competing at the Harry Jerome track event in Burnaby.
“There’ll be lots of big names coming from the states, a couple of world champions,” he said.
Thorne keeps close to his workout regime, which involves race walking up to 140 kilometres a week, plus a few sessions at the gym working on his core strength and lifting weights.