Athletics High Schools

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Earl of March’s Amelia Van Brabant a runner for all seasons

Amelia Van Brabant won the girls’ senior 3,000 m in under 10 minutes. Photo: Dan Plouffe

By Martin Cleary

When it comes to the weather, distance runner Amelia Van Brabant has seen it all during her track and field season this spring.

But despite the stifling heat and the bone-chilling cold plus a rewarding ideal day for taking a few hard laps around the track, the Earl of March Secondary School student/athlete has managed to find success in her National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association track and field campaign.

At the two-day city championships, which ended Friday at the Terry Fox Athletic Facility, she won the girls’ senior 1,500 metres under almost perfect conditions – sunny and a refreshing breeze.

Van Brabant recorded an impressive win in four minutes, 38.83 seconds, which left her 14.18 seconds ahead of runner-up and open 2,000-metre steeplechase winner Elizabeth Vroom of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Gillian Porter of Franco-Cité placed third in 4:54.05.

On Thursday, Van Brabant went to the 3,000-metre start line on a cold, rainy and overcast day. The Celsius temperature never hit double digits. But Van Brabant achieved a personal goal by breaking 10 minutes with a winning time of 9:59.01.

At last week’s NCSSAA West Conference championships, she survived running the 1,500 and 3,000 metres on the hottest May 11 in more than 100 years as the temperature reached 27°C. She captured the 1,500 metres in 4:48.51 and the 3,000 metres in 10:08.38.

“Last week, I was dying in the heat. It was definitely a lot cooler (Thursday). It was a great day to race,” said Van Brabant, who had an even better day to run on Friday.

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Amelia Van Brabant running at the 2021 Canadian XC Championships. File photo

At least, it wasn’t like the 2021 Canadian cross-country running championships in Nepean last November, where she ran on a snow-covered course in minus 15°C. But she persevered and was 12th in the girls’ U18 4,000-metre race and helped the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club win the U18 club gold medal by one point.

Aided by Lions’ coach and championship PA announcer Kirk Dillabaugh, who was noting her split times and projected pace during the 3,000-metre race, Van Brabant achieved her small goal and came close to her personal-best time of 9:57.

“What I was really hoping to do was to break 10 again and make sure I have the same amount of cardio I had last year,” added the Grade 11 student. “I told my teammates, I’m gonna do 9:59, so I’m really happy.”

The next stop for Van Brabant and the rest of the NCSSAA qualifiers will be the OFSAA East Regional meet Thursday and Friday at the Terry Fox Athletic Facility.

“I really want to make OFSAA, so I’m hoping that at (the) regionals, I’m able to put in another race that can get me there,” said the Ottawa Lions Track-and-Field Club athlete who’s also eyeing the June 22-26 Canadian under-20 championships in Langley, B.C. as a peak point in her season.

Isabella Chiumera (right) competing at last fall’s NCSSAA cross-country running championships. File photo

Isabella Chiumera of St. Pius X was the only athlete to break a NCSSAA championship record Friday, when she won the girls’ novice 1,500 metres in 4:49.28, which was one one-hundredth of a second better than Bell runner Mary Jane Richards in 1991.

Meanwhile, two senior athletes achieved the rare feat of recording four wins – three individual and one relay – at the city championships.

After finishing first in the girls’ senior high jump at 1.40 metres and running the third leg of Merivale’s winning effort in the 4×100-metre relay on Thursday, Audrey Goddard was untouchable in the 100-metre hurdles in 14.73 and the 400-metre hurdles in 1:08.18 on Friday.

Luca Nicoletti of Paul-Desmarais posted his wins in the 110-metre hurdles in 14.81 and the 4×400-metre relay as the lead runner in a team performance of 3:35.21 on Friday as well as the 400-metre hurdles in 55.64 and the 200 metres in 22.74 on Thursday.

The city championships also produced five triple champions and 10 double winners:

· Connor Fraser, Immaculata, boys’ senior, javelin (44.71 metres), discus (46.86 metres), shot put (13.67 metres).

· Dustin Coldrey, Colonel By, boys’ junior, discus (33.77 metres), shot put (12.13 metres), javelin (35.51 metres).

· William Sanders, St. Mother Teresa, boys’ junior, 400 metres (51.63), 800 metres (2:02.82), 1,500 metres (4:18.05).

· Timeo Atonfo, Gisele-Lalonde, boys’ novice, 100-metre hurdles (15.79), 300-metre hurdles (44.51), long jump (6.05 metres).

· Danica Mulvihill, Louis-Riel, girls’ junior, 100 metres (13.38), 80-metre hurdles (13.98), 4×100-metre relay (54.41).

· Isabella Chiumera, St. Pius X, girls’ novice, 1,500 metres (4:49.28, record), 3,000 metres (10:31.44).

· Alexa Chase, Sacred Heart, girls’ novice, 200 metres (27.81), 300-metre hurdles (52.57).

· Lauren Alexander, Glebe, girls’ junior, 800 metres (2:24.51), 1,500 metres (4:50.49).

· Callia Bickmore, Osgoode Township, girls’ senior, shot put (8.95 metres), discus (24.12).

· Daniel Cova, Louis-Riel, boys’ novice, 1,500 metres (4:25.30), 3,000 metres (9:53.53).

· Ibrahim Domiati, Louis-Riel, boys’ novice, 400 metres (53.24), 4×100-metre relay, (48.99).

· Mukhtar Raji, Colonel By, boys’ junior, 100-metre hurdles (17.54), 4×100-metre relay (46.96).

· Ladi Ogunmekan, Colonel By, boys’ junior, long jump, (5.82 metres), 4×100-metre relay (46.96).

· Nolan Legare, John McCrae, boys’ senior, 400 metres (49.86), 800 metres (2:00.30).

· Kyle Porter, Sir Robert Borden, boys’ senior, 1,500 metres (4:15.08), 3,000 metres (9:24.26).

– with files from Dan Plouffe

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at

Martin can be reached by e-mail at and on Twitter @martincleary.

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