Young athlete leaps 41-year-old record

By Geoff Lee

June 2, 2016 12:00 AM

Winston Churchill School Gr. 4 student, Shemar Whittaker, set a new long jump record of 3.88m in May, breaking the 41 year old long jump mark of 3.85m set by Darren Saunders in 1975 when he attended Winston Churchill.

Ten year-old Shemar Whittaker is breaking local athletics records in leaps and bounds.
The Grade 4 Winston Churchill School athlete was feted Tuesday during a school assembly for breaking a 41-year-old long jump record set by former student, Darren Saunders in 1975.
The young phenom set a new mark of 3.88m in the long jump in May, bettering Saunders’ standard of 3.85m.
“I was excited and a little shocked that I could do it at the same time,” he said with Saunders on hand to present him with a certificate.
Saunders, who’s the brother of Lloydminster Mayor Rob Saunders, didn’t expect his track record to last so long.
“No, it’s pretty amazing, but I understand my brother stills holds some records from 1969, so I guess mine isn’t as good as that,” he said.
Being able to present Whittaker with his certificate meant a lot to Saunders who recalled his days of athletics at Winston Churchill being lots of fun and a big part of his life.
“I think it’s really important that we set some benchmarks for other kids to be inspired to so they can try to do their best,” he said.
Saunders also holds some longstanding records in the Alberta provincials for swimming.
He went to on to say he thinks people today should realize that play or recreation of any kind of sport is so essential in the development of people.
“I am a little afraid that sometimes it’s not as prevalent in the public school system as it should be,” he said.
That’s not an issue for Whittaker who also set a new record this year in the 75m run in a time of 11.06 seconds breaking the old record of 11.12 seconds dating back to 2001.
“That one’s great, I love running,” said Whittaker, who also plays soccer.
The track star will get another shot to improve on both of his records at the City Twilight Track Meet at Lloydminster Comprehensive High School on June 7.
Whittaker is coached by Jeff Torry and Christine Thiessen who spoke about the youngster’s accomplishments.
“It’s really cool because he worked really hard at it,” said Thiessen.
“He’s a very coachable kid and if I told him to do anything—a little tweak in either his running stride or the way he’s going to jump, he did it.”
She added it’s been kind of neat to see him improve based on what she asked him to do.
Thiessen also said Whittaker is a good role model on the track,  with some of the older students pushing themselves to be as good as him.
Whittaker said the long jump record didn’t just come. He knew what is was and he was trying to break it. “I was just trying to keep on improving until I got there,” he said.
As for who or what motivates him to run, the Jamaica born kid said, “because there’s this guy named Usain Bolt—he’s a Jamaican; he’s the fastest in the world.”
Whittaker emigrated to Canada with his parents two years ago and took up long jumping in Lloydminster with his running speed helping him gain distance in the pit.
Asked if anyone else in his family runs, Whittaker said, “I think it’s just me. I’m not sure about my mom and dad.”
Whittaker said he’s not digging Canadian winters and he has no plans to take up bobsledding like his   former countrymen did in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Canada.

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