Promising Manitoba athletes (from left) Carly Paracholski, Melissa Kitching, Meagan Paracholski, Michael Aikens and Rob Fitkowsky are all preparing for the Canadian Junior Track and Field Championships, to be held July 8-10 at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
Michael Aikens would not be the first to juggle chasing both the Olympics and a pro football career.
In fact, he would have to look no further than the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who had a starting guard named Bob Molle not that long ago. After the Bombers drafted him, Molle delayed his CFL career to compete in the 1984 Olympics where he won a silver medal as a wrestler.
Aikens is still wrestling with the choice of either pursuing an Olympic dream as a sprinter or taking a shot at football. Both? Well, maybe.
How Aikens performs at the 2011 Canadian Junior Track and Field Championships, to be held at the University of Manitoba, July 8-10, could go a long ways towards making that decision.
“It’s hard to say, I’m still new to football but I am enjoying the learning process,” said the 5-foot-10, 180 pound defensive back, who helped the Oak Park Raiders win the provincial championship last fall.
Then again, the speedster boasts a personal best of 10:87 in the 100 metres, and he’s only 17.
Those showing well next month could become part of Canada’s Olympic Development Program and be groomed for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
“This is the embryo of Team 2016 in Rio de Janeiro,” said Canadian Olympic team head coach Alex Gardiner, who believes Aikens could be among Canada’s reps in ’16.
“Well, 2016 (Olympics) would be a dream,” admitted Aikens, who has been trying out for the University of Manitoba Bisons football team. “Like, that’s one of the goals — to get to the highest level you can possibly be at for any competition. But I’ll continue the process over the next few years and I will continue to push myself to be on top of my sport, to be the best in Canada. So, 2016 would be a dream and hopefully, I can achieve it.”
Aikens, who led the Winnipeg High School Football League in interceptions last season, won the gold medal in the 100m at the 2010 Western Canada Youth Games. He is ranked fourth in Canada in the indoor 60m, but has yet to be ranked for the outdoor 100m.
The best performers here will be asked to compete at the Pan American Junior Championships in Florida two weeks later.
Aikens will not be the only promising Manitoban among the 600-800 athletes expected to descend upon the U of M campus from across the country.
Twin sisters Carly and Meagan Paracholski will also be expected to make some noise with their rabbit feet. Gardiner suggested that Carly may be the most promising “just for the fact that she has the Canadian record 800-metres for the youth division (2:05.99) … Both of the Paracholskis are awesome and I’m looking forward to them racing really, really well …
“Melissa Kitching, huge breakout event at the provincial championships (set 400m record),” Gardiner said. “And she’s 400 hurdling. There could very well be a place for her in 2016.”
Kelvin’s Matthew Fitkowsky, who specializes in the 400m and 200m, is still recovering from a stress fracture, so he may take it a little easier at this meet, Gardiner said.
“But he’s among the best runners in Canada at his age.”