Airdrie sprinter Princess Roberts will finally get her chance to compete on the world stage, after being named to the Athletics Canada roster for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
On Aug. 23, Athletics Canada nominated the 15 track-and-field athletes from across the country who will attend the YOG from Oct. 6 to 18. Roberts, 16, will compete for Canada in the 200-metre (m) dash. Ranked first in Canada in the 200-m sprint for U18 women, Roberts is one of only two athletes from Alberta named to Canada’s YOG roster.
“It’s sort of scary, in all honesty…only because I feel so honoured to be representing Canadian youth athletes with this many other youth athletes,” said Roberts in an email to Airdrie City View from the Netherlands, where she recently spent two weeks.
“It’s also terrifying and very exciting to be able to represent Canada in what I believe is [only]the third annual Youth Olympics ever. It’s also very nerve-wracking because it feels like, through all our hard work and goal striving, we have been given a chance to leave our mark on Canadian youth history.”
The sprinter is coming off a successful 2018 outdoor track season. Her summer started off with a gold medal for Bert Church High School in the 200 m at the Alberta Schools Athletics Association provincial championships June 1 to 2.
At the club level, Roberts sprinted for the Airdrie Aces. Her first big meet of the summer was the provincial track and field championships in Calgary, July 14 to 15. She won the 400-m sprint for U18 women with a time of 57.35 seconds.
She saved her best performances for two weeks later, at the Western Canadian Track and Field Championships July 27 to 29 in Sherwood Park, where she took home three gold medals. Roberts won the 400-m race with a meet record and personal-best time of 56.29 seconds, before dwarfing the competition in the 200 m with a time of 24.52 seconds.
Most recently, she won the gold medal in the 400 m and silver in the 200 m at the National Youth Track and Field Championships, held Aug. 10 to 12 in Brandon, Man. Though she underperformed in the 200 m – her preferred event – at nationals, Roberts earned a personal best in the 400 m with a time of 56.18 seconds.
Following nationals, Roberts traveled to the Netherlands with Aces sprinting coach, Jan Lips, for two weeks of training and competition.
“My coach suggested this to get ready for the Youth Olympics, because there are no track meets from now until October in Canada,” Roberts said. “Also, he used to live here, so it worked out pretty well.”
The only blight of the Airdronian’s summer was missing the Jamaican invitational in early July, due to a hamstring strain she suffered in June. The invitational would have offered Roberts her first chance to compete internationally.
“The strain has affected my season as it…made me lose a bit of hope,” she said. “I think it only did this because I had never had an injury like this before.
“Though, throughout July and the beginning of August, when I began to compete again, I began to find confidence in myself and realized that it was not a failure but rather a very minor setback. It allowed me to realize that overall health is better than instant success at this age.”
Considering the YOG will be Roberts’ first trip to South America, she said the competition isn’t the only thing she’s looking forward to.
“When I first heard about the YOG, I first watched a bunch of videos from past [games], and then a ton of travel videos about South America – specifically Buenos Aires,” she said. “I hope we take time in the trip to explore the culture.”