The pole vault and triple jump are uniquely different – but surprisingly similar – when New Westminster’s Kairo Chiang is concerned.
The Royal City Track and Field Club athlete took to the two events as a 13-year-old this past track season and made them his own.
Already a talented sprinter, hurdler and long jumper, Chiang impressed his coaches with a new-found passion for the pole vault and triple jump, and a series of personal bests as the season progressed.
His first year resulted in meeting the B.C. Athletics Award standard criteria for his age group, and was front-and-centre when the provincial organization held its banquet a month ago.
“It was a fantastic year, that’s how I’d describe it,” remarked RCTFC coach Cristina Weir, who oversaw Chiang’s progress in the two events.
In his first year in both disciplines, Chiang proved a quick learner, escalating his personal bests by the end of the season to 2.40 metres (pole vault) and 10.81m (in triple jump).
“He’s very athletic and has been running sprints – 200, 300 and 400m – the hurdles and long jump, and this year he also competed in the pentathlon,” said Weir.
“With the pole vault, he started it and really enjoyed it, and he was very focused on improving.
“He’s just very, very strong and very, very fast and that helps in both events.”
As part of the training, club members have weekly training sessions at the Omega Gymnastics Club in Coquitlam, where they work on flips, balance and jumps.
“The vault is definitely one of the tougher ones to learn,” said Weir, who once held the junior national record. “Technical events have a long learning curve, but (Chiang) seemed to grasp it quickly.”
She noted he has a good, friendly rivalry with clubmate Ella Foster, 15, who finished third at the junior nationals in pole vault.
“He’s kind of chasing her right now but they encourage each other.”
Chiang currently ranks fourth in the all-time provincial pole vault list for 13-year-olds, and is top-13 for triple jump.
“I always saw the potential, but at his last meet he competed in seven events, posted seven PBs including two standards, four medals and three fourth-place finishes,” recalled Weir. “It was pretty impressive, and just points to an all-around athleticism.”