The Canadian Paralympic track and field team is expected to be announced in early July, and Charlotte Bolton from Tillsonburg is aiming to be on it.
If successful, that would mean competing at the Tokyo 2021 Paralympic Games, Aug. 24-Sept. 5.
This past week Bolton, soon to be 18, competed at two meets in Toronto – the Royal City Inferno Track and Field Festival on Wednesday and the Toronto High Performance Twilight on Friday – high performance meets to help athletes gain world athletics points leading up to the Olympics.
This week, Bolton is competing at the 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Track and Field Trials in Montreal, June 24-27, in discus and shot put. Javelin is not an Olympic sport in her classification. The four-day Trials will be a no-spectator, no on-site media invitational for aspiring Olympic athletes.
“Things are a little weird this year and you don’t actually have to go to nationals to be chosen for the Olympics or Paralympics, because of COVID restrictions and stuff like that,” said Bolton, competing in the F41 classification.
“Currently, it’s based almost entirely on world rankings. I’m not actually sure how much weight this nationals has, other than them more likely to choose you if you do well at nationals.”
As of June 15, she was in a four-way tie for the third spot on Athletics Canada’s rankings list.
“It’s really close. They think they’ll probably get around five or six spots for women’s para-athletics. So I’m trying to get out of my four-way tie.”
As of Monday, Bolton ranked seventh in the world in her F41 discus classification.
Her goal this week in Montreal is to “throw some personal bests” and bump up her world rankings.
“Do well so that the Paralympic Committee sees that I can do well at important, high-pressure meets.”
Through 10-or-more years competing in both track and field (internationally at the 2013 and 2017 World Dwarf Games) and alpine/freestyle skiing (including the 2019 Canadian Junior Freestyle Skiing Championships), Bolton has learned to handle pressure in sports.
“I’d say sports is one thing in my life that I’m usually fairly confident about. It probably comes through years and years of competing, but I always like to go into competitions thinking ‘I am the best.’”
Bolton currently holds three Canadian records in her F41 throwing class.
“I am the only athlete in Canada that throws in my classification. So any PB (personal best) I throw is a new national record.”
Two years ago, when she was competing at provincials and nationals, her discus record was around 15 metres. On June 16 at the Toronto meet she smashed a new discus record at 29.5 metres.
At nationals in Montreal this week, Bolton will not be competing against anyone in her classification.
“I will be competing against people in other classifications, then they do some scoring and they do the rankings based on that.”
Not going head-to-head this week doesn’t bother her.
“You have to focus on what you’re doing in the circle, not how far it’s going.”
In 2018 Bolton joined the Woodstock Legion Athletic Club, started trained with a ‘throw coach,’ and had great success.
When not in-person at Glendale High School due to the pandemic, she was able to drive to Toronto three to four times per week to train with national throwing coach Richard Parkinson.
“At least four hours a day,” said Bolton. “And I’ve been training four days a week since November-ish. Just in the past six months, part of my training has been in a weight room with a trainer, so I’ve put on some muscle mass, that’s for sure.”
In addition to throwing and fitness coaches, Bolton has a mental performance coach and nutritionist. She also has physio and massage support in Toronto.
Bolton also trains with Canada’s elite women javelin, shot put and discus throwers.
“It’s so great to watch these girls throw. They look so good and they are changing like the smallest things, and it (shot put) is going like 18 metres. It’s a huge, huge inspiration. I am pushing myself … even though I am not anywhere close to them, but I can see them throwing so far and I just want to throw farther too. I always joke, ‘I’m catching up!’”
As for a favourite event, Bolton is unsure.
“Discus used to be my favourite, but then I learned the spin in shot put too. I used to do what is called ‘the glide’ but I like the spin so much more, it’s so much fun. So now I’m not sure.”