Bolting quickly from the
starting blocks, there is absolutely no deviance in
the route that 17 year old Track North Athletic Club
sprinter Christina Robert travels prior to crossing
the finish line, either 100 or 200 metres down the track.
The same could not necessarily be said
for her attempts to maintain a steady progression in
the sport. Like so many sprinters, Robert has been forced
to endure far more peaks and valleys, specifically in
terms of results, that many others might encounter in
a team sport setting.
Thankfully, the bulk of the spring and
summer of 2018 has been one to remember. Certainly not
without hurdles, to be sure, but far more good than
bad along the way.
Following a disappointing performance
at the 2018 OFSAA Track & Field Championships, a
meet at which she did not final in spite of showing
every indication that she would, the grade 12 speedster
at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School not only dusted herself
off to get back in the race, metaphorically speaking,
but began breaking new ground in terms of personal best
A bronze medal performance at the provincial
Legion championships showed signs of a rebound, with
Robert racking up clockings of 12.53 and 12.35 in back
to back races. Just one week later, solid showings of
12.40 and 12.44 easily advanced her to the final, where
the best was yet to come.
Not only did Robert finish second only
to highly touted Whitby sprinter Makenzy Pierce-Webster
at the Athletic Ontario Outdoor U14, U16, U18 Track
and Field Championships to claim silver, but her time
of 12.16 seconds is the stuff that SDSSAA and NOSSA
records are made of.
Through it all, the outgoing and talkative
teenage girl feels the contradictions prevalent in this
most high profile event, attempting to deal with the
factors that can pull an athlete between being driven
by the intense motivational fuel needed to succeed in
the sprints, versus maintaining a likeable, more relaxed
personality that can find friends in all.
Certainly the drive was evident, even
from an early age.
"When I was just five or six years
old, I remember I loved to run," said Robert. In
fact, she recalled her first races, a very young competitor
at Kiwatin School in Notre Dame du Nord (PQ), besting
all other runners, but one, from the youngsters who
were three, four and five grades her senior.
There is a pride in the accomplishment
that is undeniable. The offset lies in trying to maintain
equilibrium. "I just did it because I loved it,"
said Robert. "It's not about winning. Of course,
I enjoy the competition, I'm not going to lie. But I
really just wanted to run. I can't kick a ball, I can't
shoot, but I can run."
That much was evident as she first burst
on to the scene in Sudbury as an elementary aged runner
at St Benedict. It carried directly through to a very
strong showing as a high school freshman, when the then
Lockerby Composite runner came within 2/100th of a second
from hitting the podium in her first year of OFSAA competition.
"I went to OFSAA in grade nine
and did not really worry about it," recalled Robert.
"But the next year, I didn't like all the attention.
Everyone looked back at what I did the year before."
Combine the heightened expectations with a lingering
bout of mononucleosis and one has the elements of a
year to forget in 2017.
"You know, when you're at that
level of competitiveness, you know when you're not able
to perform," she said. "Even running indoors,
I was running half a second slower than I was the year
before. I didn't have the power."
Enter the 2017-2018 high-school season
and the mixed feelings remained. "I wasn't sure
I wanted to do track this year," Robert admitted.
"I didn't want to go through another bad season."
On her other shoulder, however, sat the voice of her
conscience reminding her why she took to track in the
"I love the speed, I love to race,
I love to push myself." An indoor meet at York
University provided the first glimmers of hope for 2018,
as Robert lowered her 60m dash time from 7.95 to 7.80
over the course of just three races.
"I kicked it at York," Robert
smiled. Still, the emotional teeter-totter swayed. "I
was in a lot of pain. We had to adjust my warm-ups because
I was in so much pain before the race. I've kind of
gotten used to it. I think I have some of my dad's willpower,
and my doctors have said that it's not going to get
Things were looking good, heading to
OFSAA. Unfortunately, a key technical error proved disastrous,
as elements combined to leave Robert on the outside
of the finals, looking in. "I was ahead for 75,
80 metres, but got caught and started to panic."
For as much as Robert suggested that
she runs solely for fun, her drive to be the best would
get the better of her. "That was really, really
hard for me," she said. "I sat on the couch
for an entire week and did nothing."
Her emergence on the other side of the
OFSAA setback, specifically at the AO meet, was more
than just a little encouraging. "My start was bad,
but from 40m to 60m, I just went," she said. "I
remember dipping at the finish line and thinking that
I had hoped I came third, I thought I had came third."
Her coach, however, traced the beginning
of her turnaround to the Canadian Track and Field Championships
just two weeks earlier. "I actually just brought
her there for experience, to see what the national teamers
do for warmups and to feel the supercharged atmosphere,"
noted Dick Moss. "However, she made the final,
finishing eighth, and competed in front of a full house,
just three races before Andre DeGrasse."
"She was able to share a therapy
room with DeGrasse and warm-up in the same area as former
Olympians like Crystal Emmanuel and Olympic finalist,
Phylicia George. I think that experience helped her
in the provincial Legions and Nationals."
For her part, Robert is absolutely convinced
that a sub-12 clocking is a very realistic goal. She
knows where the tenths of a second can be shaved. "Being
a sprinter, you need speed, power and endurance,"
"My start is usually exceptional.
Then you need to drive and keep going. The last part
we have been working on is the endurance. Dick has me
running 120s, 150s."
More highlights, for Robert, are almost
a given. The interesting test might well lie in how
well she deals with the races that do not live up to
expectations. "In sprinting, you have a short window,"
she stated. "If you stumble, you can't make up
"I definitely haven't perfected
it yet, but I need to remind myself that I run because
I enjoy it. Dick doesn't put any pressure on me, my
parents just want me to do my best, to do it because
I love it."
And if she can remember all of that,
Christina Robert should remain on the straight and narrow,
in lighting fast speed.