Andrew Binns will compete in the biggest competition of his young speed skating career this weekend.
The 13-year-old Stratford native is part of the 12-athlete Prince Edward Island contingent for the Canada East Short Track Championships Saturday and Sunday at the Eastlink Centre.
"It's pretty exciting, my first (time at this) meet, so I'm excited to skate at a big competition," Binns said after Monday's practice.
He said having the opportunity to compete at home provides more comfort.
"You get to sleep in your own bed and be around people you know," he said. "My goal is just to skate my best and get a few PBs (personal best)."
Binns has set numerous provincial records this season and recently set a new PB of 40.3 in the 400 metre.
During the race, there can be lots of noise, but he said he is fortunate to have a coach like Sarah Taylor letting him know his time and encouraging him.
"It keeps you going," he said.
Taylor said Binns is dedicated to the sport. She noted he has been training hard for a couple of years to get to the competition and has attended a camp in Riviere-du-Loup, Que., the past two summers to improve.
She said he has a good understanding for the technical adjustments of his skates and is a "gutsy" competitor.
"He's a fighter," she said. "He won't give up. Even if he's exhausted, he still goes to the end and tries to set up that last pass."
Binns has been involved in the sport for eight years, starting when he was five. At first, he didn't think he would like it, but that quickly changed.
"It took a few practices, and I made some friends and it got pretty fun after that," he said.
More than 120 of the best 11- to 15-year-old skaters from Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada and Nunavut will compete on Saturday and Sunday. Racing begins Saturday and Sunday at 8:05 a.m. Action continues until the medal ceremonies Saturday at 5:40 p.m. and Sunday at 5:10 p.m. Admission to the event is free.
Taylor said with the countdown to race day nearing its final days, excitement is building.
"They're skating some fast laps in practice, so we're just hoping to translate that into good races on the weekend, which will hopefully result in some PBs for them."