hurdler shocks track fraternity with gold, silver at OFSAA
By Fred Sherwin
Leewinchell Jean is the latest phenom to come
out of the east end. The 15-year-old won a
gold and silver medal in the 100- and 300-metre
hurdles at the recent OFSAA provincial championships
in Windsor. Fred Sherwin/Photo
the name Leewinchell Jean. There's a good chance you will
be hearing a lot about the Grade 9 Gisèle-Lalonde
high school student in the future.
Saturday, the 15-year-old hurdler shocked his fellow competitors
and many observers when he won the gold medal in the midget
boys 300-metre hurdles at the OFSAA provincial track and
field championships in Windsor.
went into the final as the third seed after winning his
heat in a personal best time of 42.60 seconds. The favourite
to win the gold medal was Wilson O'Neill from Country
Day Prep School in King City who won his heat in 41.67
The two young men drew lanes six and seven, with Jean
getting the outside lane. After running the first 100
metres in a blistering pace, he settled down thorough
the back stretch and into the final turn. Jean was coming
out of the turn when noticed someone gaining on him on
saw the guy in lane five was gaining on me, so I put into
an extra gear and he was already gassed out," says
Jean who won the race in a jaw-dropping 40.43 seconds,
nearly six seconds faster than his winning time at the
National Capital East Conference championships five weeks
Jean took up the hurdles in April after watching a race
during an Ottawa Lions sanctioned event at the Louis-Riel
Dome. Jean was competing in the 100-metre dash and placed
his first ever 300-metre hurdle race at the uOttawa Invitational
meet on April 29, Jean placed fifth in a time of 46.59
seconds running in a pair of cross-trainer sneakers. Later
on at the same meet, he showed a flash of things to come
by winning the 100-metre hurdles in a time of 17.07 seconds.
was really happy to win that race and really excited,"
the East Conference championships on May 12, Jean lowered
his time in the 100-metre hurdles to 16.22 seconds and
46.26 in the 300-metres, in winning both events.
first real test of Jean's abilities came a week later
at the city championships. Running head-to-head against
the West Conference champion, Kevin Adeli from Bell High
School, Jean won the 100-metre hurdles in a new personal
best time of 15.03 seconds and he came second in the 300
despite lowering his personal best time over the distance
by more than a second to 45.10.
incredible progress and the success that came with it
made a believer out of Gisèle-Lalonde track and
field coach Paul Carrier, who bought him a pair of track
spikes prior to the East Regional OFSAA qualifying meet
went into the meet seeded first in the 100-metre hurdles,
but seventh in the 300. Having replaced his cross trainers
with a pair of racing spikes, he blazed his way to a 14.50
in the 100 and a 42.65 in the 300 to win both events and
earn a ticket to the provincial championships.
stiff as the competition was in Belleville, the OFSAA
championships are at another level entirely. His first
event in Windsor was the 100-metre hurdles. Only two other
competitors had a faster time than Jean heading into the
competition. Jonah McPhee from Waterloo Collegiate had
run a 14.27 and Adam Exley from Resurrection Catholic
in Kitchener had a 13.83.
won his heat with the fourth faster time among the eight
competitors who qualified for the final. Fortunately,
he drew lane four in the final between Exley and Seth
Robertson from Jacob Hespeler Secondary School in Cambridge,
who had run the fastest qualifying time with a 14.13.
getting off to a good start, Jean was leading the pack
heading into the final hurdle when he was caught by Exley
who crossed the finish line in 13.86 seconds, Jean was
able to hang on to second place with a new personal best
time of 14.05 seconds -- three-tenths of a second faster
than his qualifying time and nearly half a second faster
than his winning time at East Regionals.
loved the time, but I hated the position," says Jean
who was determined to redeem himself in the 300-metre
event on Saturday.
member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Jean normally
wouldn't compete on Saturday, but his parents allowed
him to make an exception if he qualified for the final,
which he did.
his parents watching a live stream of the event at home,
Jean blazed to a gold medal to go along with the silver
he won in the 100-metres.
so much raw talent and a personality that can light up
the entire track, Jean has already been approached by
the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club which has invited
him out to the Twilight Series of races at the Terry Fox
Athletic Facility. He plans to join the club, but not
until next spring. For now he trains in his parent's large
back yard which is about 100-metres in circumference.
he were to join the Lions, qualifying for next year's
World Youth Championships for athletes 18 and under is
not out of the question. He also has his eyes set on next
years provincial high school championship and the record
want to win more gold medals and get in the record books,"
says Jean who has the potential to do both for many years
6:30 a.m., June 8)
www.orleansonline.ca's main page