Bazil Spencer keeps setting the bar for success higher and then leaping right over it.
The 17-year-old track and field athlete won a gold medal at the Under-20 Canadian Track and Field Championships in Montreal this weekend.
Surrounded by the nation’s top athletes, Spencer upped his game to clear 2.03 metres on his first try to best University of Toronto’s Scott Hall for the gold medal.
The victory is made all the more impressive considering Spencer’s condition leading up to the meet.
“The whole three weeks before, I was resting and doing physio and healing because I have a knee injury,” he says.
“I have patella tendinitis on my jumping knee,” he adds. “It’s right at the front of your knee, so whenever I would load to jump, it would just give out right away, so I was resting it.”
Coming into the competition, he says he thought he was either going to jump really well, or come last.
As he was one of the higher-ranked U20 jumpers competing, he was afforded the luxury of getting a bypass to the finals, which helped considerably.
Spencer started off the meet by attempting 1.82m, the lowest he was allowed to.
He says he faulted the first attempt.
“I cleared it by a lot, but I hit [the bar] with my heels, so I thought, ‘Oh no, this isn’t going to be good,’ but on my second attempt, I cleared it.”
For his next jump, Spencer set the bar five centimetres higher and needed a pair of leaps to clear that.
On his third, he cleared 1.92m on his first attempt, and things were starting to look up. Spencer says he felt like he was finding a groove and feeling a little better.
At 1.96m, he missed his first two attempts, and a seed of doubt was planted. He decided to draw some energy from the crowd to help him with the leap.
Spencer raised his arms up and clapped, waited a moment and then clapped again. The knowledgeable track and field audience saw what he was doing and reciprocated. The claps slowly picked up the pace, and more people joined in.
“It gets faster as you do your run up, and the whole crowd does it,” says Spencer. “There was probably hundreds of people doing it, and I got amped up and cleared the bar.”
He says it was his first time doing the clap, as he has always been too scared he would miss the jump.
The timing was perfect.
His next jump was at two metres, and he needed three jumps to clear that too.
It was looking like trouble as he got higher and higher into the jump count and his main competition, Hall, who had the highest jump in his category, was still hanging around.
“A high jumper is typically good for probably nine good jumps in a competition, and by that time, I was already at 11 jumps,” says Spencer.
Despite the pressure, he was able to clear 2.03m in his first attempt, which put him in the lead. Hall was able to clear the height too but needed two attempts to do so.
They both failed to clear 2.06m, so Spencer was declared champ.
Looking forward, the young leaper will try to continue to rest his body after the difficult few weeks he has put it through.
He is back in Quesnel for the coming months and will be shutting down all activity for at least a few weeks.
The name of the game is visualization now. Spencer will try to qualify for Team Canada so that he can compete at the World Junior Track and Field Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, next summer.