Deon Clifford gets his feet wet after stepping over a hurdle during last weekend’s 2

Clifford shines in steeplechase

Ocean Athletics runner qualifies for World Youth Championships next month in France

Last weekend in Langley, Deon Clifford didn’t let a little rust get in the way of clocking a good time.

At the Langley Mustang-hosted Pacific Invitational, Clifford, a South Surrey resident and Ocean Athletics club member, finished first in the 2,000-metre steeplechase (boys 16-17-year-old division) despite not having trained for, or competed in, the event since last year. In the meantime, he has mostly focused on middle-distances races, including the 1,500-m, which he also won in Langley.

But it was his impressive steeple performance that caught the eye of national team staff, who named the Earl Marriott student to Team Canada for next month’s World IAAF World Youth Championships.

His time, six minutes, 2.9 seconds, was enough to rank him second in the country for his age group, thus meeting the standard for entry into the world championships, slated for Lille, France, July 6-10.

“It went good overall. I’m really happy with the steeplechase, (despite) not having practised much, and I also had a good 1,500 race,” he said.

And while Clifford has clocked his fair share of medal-winning performances in recent years, his impressive performance in the steeplechase did surprise some onlookers.

“I think Deon expected to do well, but the rest of us, we probably weren’t quite as confident – he hadn’t done it in so long,” said Jim Clifford, Deon’s father and a coach at Ocean Athletics.

Deon’s form was not perfect, Jim said, pointing out that rather than jump over hurdles in the steeplechase – as most do – Deon simply stepped onto and then over them. His speed on the track, however, made up for any lost time.

“Doing it that way, it slows you down but it also just really drains your energy. Deon’s working now to get his hurdling (skills) back, so he should be even better,” Jim said.

Deon’s showing in the 1,500-m was enough to win gold at the Pacific Invitational meet, but his time, 3:59.73 only placed him fourth in Canada; athletes need to be in the top two to make the roster for next month’s world meet.

Jim said the scheduling of events during next month’s meet makes it difficult for athletes to compete in dual disciplines, anyhow.

Deon decided earlier this month he’d compete in the steeplechase in Langley; even though he was out of practice, he figured it gave him a better shot to qualify for the world youth event.

“It was just a bit easy to hit the standard. It’s a more challenging race (than the 1,500-m), but I like it,” he said.

Clifford will be the third Ocean Athletics member to compete at an international event, joining Sam Walkow and Luc Bruchet.

“I’m ecstatic, excited, but not nervous,” the teenager said.

Also this week, four other OA members were named to Team BC, which will compete in July at Junior Nationals in Winnipeg.

Runners Jack Williams and Jake Bruchet, and throwers Ryan Sommer and Del Ingvaldson will all take part.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dozens of Canadian venues to light up red in support of entertainment workers

Local facilities among dozens across Canada to participate in Light Up Live

Horgan’s election call ‘nakedly opportunistic,’ political scientist says

Premier says campaign will ‘fully comply’ with public health directions

Canada West Golf Championships cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

UBC, UBC-O, UFV and UVic athletes will not hit the links this year, Kelowna was set to host

Earl Marriott grad adjusting to NCAA life amid COVID-19 restrictions

Jeremiah Mackie joins older brother Jaxon on Gonzaga University cross-country team

COVID-19 exposures at Surrey schools: An updated list

Fraser Health has created a new webpage listing COVID-19 cases in schools

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Most Read