A Parksville athlete came within two seconds of qualifying for the Tokyo Summer Olympics in the 3,000 m steeplechase event earlier this month.
Alycia Butterworth decided to donate $1,000 of her second-place prize money from the Harry Jerome International Track Classic to the Oceanside Community Track project, currently being fundraised. “I was hoping that it would help it gain a little more awareness,” she said.
The six-lane rubberized track will cost an estimated $1.5 million and replace a 40 year old track, which is in poor condition, according to the fundraising committee.
Butterworth said she went into the event hoping to finish with a time under the Olympic qualifying standard of 9:30 and knew she would be close because she kept an eye on the clock. She finished a close second behind her training partner, Regan Yee.
“It was definitely a sprint finish,” Butterworth said. “She chased me down in the last 100 [metres.]”
There are two more opportunities for her to qualify for the Olympics, including the national championships in Montreal from June 25–28.
Butterworth lives and trains in Burnaby, but trained on the old track while she was in high school.
“This incredible young woman trained on the Ballenas track over one homemade steeplechase barrier and never had the opportunity to practice the water jump except at competitions,” said her high school coaches, Kim and Randy Longmuir, in an email.
“We would set up the barrier and hurdles around the track for her and more than once she fell on the unforgiving gravel, brushing herself and never being discouraged.”
Recently, a group called Team Red launched a campaign to raise $250,000 towards the community track through a fitness tracking campaign. It aims to collectively travel 40,000 km, or 100,000 laps of a running track.
The group said it encourages anyone to join, including parents with kids, pet walkers, joggers and hikers.