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Galbraith hopes Commonwealth Youth Games will be the first of many international meets

By Anne Duggan

It was a breakout summer for Ottawa Lions athlete Emma Galbraith (right), who finished fourth as one of the younger competitors at the Canadian junior championships and recently competed internationally for the first time in her career at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Isle of Man. File photo.

This summer Ottawa runner Emma Galbraith ticked off international experience from her list of things to do. She is hoping to put it back on the list for next year.

After qualifying for the Commonwealth Youth Games 800-metre event with a time of two minutes, 10.78 seconds during an early-summer twilight meet at Terry Fox Athletic Facility, the Grade 12 student from Collège Catholique Franco-Ouest headed for Scotland’s Isle of Man and her first international race. 

The multi-sport games were held Sept. 7-13, and Galbraith says the location made the event unique. 

“Trains and old castles and they are really big on their symbol of three legs,” the 16-year-old recounts. “It’s really just an old Scottish island.”

However, the historical location included some technical challenges. The track was in great condition, Galbraith notes, but it only had six lanes rather than eight.

“That changed things for the finals,” she explains, adding that weather came into play. “The weather was not nice at all – super windy and cold. The New Zealand guys said, ‘You are Canadian. You should be used to this’. But I wasn’t.”

Galbraith considers her preliminary race a strong one – when she won her 800 m heat in two minutes, 16.42 seconds – but she felt her 2:16.08 performance in the finals was disappointing despite the faster time.

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“With the finals, the weather wasn’t so great and I was five seconds off my PB,” the fifth-place finisher notes.

As well, the first-place athlete from Uganda was disqualified for cutting off another runner. Next time, Galbraith plans to start off much faster.

Galbraith has come away from her Commonwealth Games with two things: an appreciation for all things international, and a plan.

“Yes, my final was disappointing but overall the experience made up for it,” she says.

Galbraith is hoping that trading team clothing and pins, experiencing other cultures, hearing different accents, and running against new competitors will all be repeated in her future.

The Ottawa Lions athlete is already focusing on next year and qualifying for the Pan American or world junior championships.

“If my times are good enough – if not, then nationals,” Galbraith says. “I\’d love to do this international stuff again. It’s amazing. What a way to finish off the track season.”

Galbraith’s Lions teammate, sprinter Denray Jean-Jacques, won a bronze medal as a member of the Canadian 4×100 m relay team.

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