January 19th, 2021

Evans doesn’t let pandemic slow heptathlon aspirations

By Woodard, Dale on August 6, 2020.

High school athlete Ryan Evans just completed his first heptathlon, gaining a number of personal bests in the process. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Dale Woodard

Lethbridge Herald


He just ran his first heptathlon and has yet to run a decathlon, but Ryan Evans is already measuring up.

The 17-year-old multi-sport athlete and quarterback for the LCI Rams football team completed a locally-arranged heptathlon by coach Bertil Johansson last week at the Civic Centre track and the University of Lethbridge Stadium.

After winning the high school provincial pentathlon championship last year, the Grade 12 student kicked it up a couple of sports in his heptathlon debut and racked up some personal bests along the way, posting times of 11.19 seconds in the 100-metre dash, 52.34 seconds in the 400m and 4:59.00 in the 1,500m as well as a throw of 44.24m in the javelin.

Evans also leapt 6.30 metres in the long jump and recorded throws of 13.65m in the shot put and 37.30m in the discus for an overall points total of 4,553, another personal best.

In all, not too bad for a heptathlon debut with another one looming at the end of the month.

“It was difficult, especially with the 1,500m at the end,” said Evans, working out with Johansson Wednesday at the Civic Centre track. “It’s something people with a decathlon body type aren’t used to running. I broke a personal best in the 100m and the long jump, but it really wasn’t all I was hoping for. The 400m I was able to break a personal best.”

With his goal of eventually competing in a decathlon at the American college level, the numbers are already adding up in Evans’ favour even if he wasn’t able to compete in the hurdles, pole vault and high jump last week due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“We compare that to the Swedish heptathlon, their heptathlon for 17-year-olds was last weekend. He would have medalled,” said Johansson.

“It all depends on the other three events, high jump, pole vault and hurdles. But he would be quite comparable in the hurdles, and pole vault is something he hasn’t done, so how do you compare? But if you compare his heptathlon event-by-event, he would have medalled, if not won, at Swedish nationals.

“In the 100m he’s pretty much 11.1 (seconds) and 52 seconds in the 400m. He can’t practise hurdles, but he would be good in hurdles. His shot put and 100m sprint would be equally as good.

“We’re looking at the tables to see how we compare. He’s scoring a lot of points, between 650 and 750, (but) we need to get to the 800-point per event level because that’s 8,000 points and that’s what the international level would be. So he’s 100 points below, 700 per event instead of 800. In some events, like the 100m, he would run just as fast as the international guys, the shot put as well. He has two events in which he would maintain international levels.”

The results were solid considering Evans only had eight weeks of training after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the sports world in mid-March, including the local basketball season in which he also stars for LCI.

“He just did his own training and lifting at home,” said Johansson. “(He had) football before Christmas and then he was in basketball and then they cut basketball season off (due to COVID). Then he was basically on his own in March and April and then in mid-May he and I started with masks. So I’ve coached him since mid-May twice a week. Now we’re doing three times a week because the next heptathlon is three weeks from now.”

On Wednesday, as the hot noon sun beat down on the Civic Centre track, Evans and Johansson were back to work.

“I’m definitely excited,” said Evans. “(Wednesday) was my second session back since the heptathlon because I’ve been resting a little bit because the 1,500 sort of destroyed me.”

It didn’t seem to affect Wednesday’s practice.

“Today I broke a shot put personal best and it looks like I just broke a discus personal best,” said Evans, who threw 14.30 metres in shot put. “I feel strong. I just got back working out again after resting. I didn’t work out three days before the heptathlon because I was resting, but I definitely feel stronger.”

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