UPEI Panthers running at nationals tonight in Winnipeg
Running indoors has made Bailey Smith a better runner.
The 22-year-old Ten Mile House sprinter competed in the 100- and 200-metre distances outdoors growing up but has taken a liking to the 60-metre dash since joining the UPEI track team.
Some in the running world were unsure if she could get up to top speed quick enough to compete in the shorter distance. She has proven them wrong, winning the last three Atlantic University Sport (AUS) championships.
“Typically, I am not the best at starting,” Smith said following a recent practice.
“In the 100 and 200, you kind of have a little bit of room to make up for a bad start. In the 60, if you have a poor start, there’s not a lot of ground to make up for it.”
But she has worked on it, and the results speak for themselves.
“It made me focus more on my starts, which has been a great thing because it has translated to outdoor (competitions) as well,” Smith said.
Colin MacAdam was coaching Spencer Smith about a decade ago when his younger sister, Bailey, started coming around. She was a good kid and runner, but even MacAdam couldn't have predicted her rise.
“I wouldn't have bet $1,000 she was going to be where she is today. She’s earned every bit of that,” MacAdam said. “She just keeps improving. She’s had major improvements last year and she’s had major improvements again this year.”
Smith, who broke Heather Moyse’s Prince Edward Island School Athletic Association record in the 200 metre in 2013, has improved physically but also mentally.
A sign of her inner strength was on display during her recent victory at the Subway Atlantic University Sport (AUS) track championship in Moncton.
Smith, chasing her third straight conference title, felt great running the final. No one was in her periphery and she knew she had won, but how quick was she? Did she break the conference record of 7.59 or her own record (7.48), set earlier this season in Halifax?
“As soon as I crossed the line I looked over at the clock and they had the time from the previous race,” Smith said, explaining the technical glitch wiped out what she knew in her heart was a great run. “I knew the time that they didn't get – that was a record. . .It would have been really nice to see the time.”
Smith had already run a heat to get into the final and knew a third race would be necessary. She was tight and sore and questioned her ability to do it again.
“I was thinking, ‘Uh-oh, I don't know how my legs are going to get me through this next race’,” she said.
A masseuse helped get her body ready and an hour after running the first final, Smith was back at the starting line.
7.58 seconds later, she was again an AUS champion, after breaking Olympian Adrienne Power’s AUS record of 7.59 set in 2004.
“(She had) a great performance in that second final, even though it was a little slower than the first final,” MacAdam said. “The fact she was able to come back and set a record speaks volumes.”
Smith trains on the indoor walking track above the gym at the Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre on campus. It’s not ideal, as there’s only about 20 metres in which to train, but the team makes the most of it.
The AUS female track athlete of the year raced Thursday night at the U Sports national track championship at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. It is her third trip to nationals, where she previously placed ninth and seventh.
Smith said she, and the rest of the track community on campus and around the province, are grateful for all that MacAdam has done for them throughout their careers.
Smith has accomplished it all while studying in the demanding bachelor of nursing program.
“I’ve definitely had a lot of support from my nursing program to be able to do this,” the fourth-year student said.