By Diana Foxall
Laura Dickinson is no stranger to the podium, having found it on the international stage at the Pan Am U20 Championships in July. Her 5,000m in Peru was not only a personal best of 16:39.50, but good enough for the gold medal and a new record for New Brunswick female athletes across both junior, U23 and senior categories.
“[Pan Ams] was just a super cool experience,” Dickinson said. “I’ve always wanted to make a national team so that was just awesome getting to fly to Peru with the team and then I ended up having a great race there and the whole experience was just a dream come true, it was so much fun.”
Her time at the top didn’t stop there. This past week in Winnipeg, she took home two silver medals in the Canada Summer Games, an event held every four years, similar to the Olympic format, while representing her province – one in the 3,000m steeplechase, and the other in her favourite distance, the 5,000m.
In the steeplechase on Tuesday, she took the lead early, but couldn’t quite close it out in the end.
“There were a lot of girls in it – there were 16 of us – but I just tried to settle in with the first few,” she said. “There was a pack of five of us that stayed pretty tight for most of the race and then with about three laps to go, Grace, the first place girl, did a little acceleration and I just wasn’t able to stick with her at that point. I thought maybe come the last lap, I’d see what I had left in my legs and maybe kick it into first place at the finish, but it just wasn’t my day. But I’m happy with the second place – it’s been quite a long season.”
Come Friday, she had another chance for a medal in the 5,000m, and she made the most of it. Leading again – this time until the last lap – she couldn’t quite keep up with winner Natalia Hawthorn’s powerful kick, and took the silver.
“It started a little bit slow, so I didn’t want it to be too much of a kick to the finish so I tried to take it out a little bit faster at my pace, and there was a good group of girls that followed,” said Dickinson. “And same thing – the last 300m I didn’t quite have it in my legs but I’m really happy with my races, I knew I gave it my all.”
The season may be over for the Maritime athlete, but she’s got big things ahead as she starts her first year at the University of Guelph this fall.
“It’s going to be a big step up. They changed it to 8K cross-country this year for girls,” she said, stating she’s looking forward to the extra course length. “This year was my first year moving up to the 5K distance on the track and I’ve found it’s really played to my advantage having the longer distance rather than the 3K, so I’m excited for even longer next year, and I think I’m ready for it.”