May 28 2008
City’s true track stars shine

GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Departure Bay elementary track and field teammates Jenaya Pynn, front, and Alanah Bury hug after a trying 800-metre race last week at the zone championships at Rotary Bowl.

Winning isn’t everything.
Sometimes, that’s a difficult lesson to learn, but it’s one that Nanaimo’s Jenaya Pynn seems to understand. Because there was a moment last Wednesday at Rotary Bowl stadium when the 10-year-old runner made a snap decision that winning wasn’t everything.
Pynn is a pint-sized Grade 5 student at Departure Bay elementary school. She participates in fitness every morning alongside her peers, and it’s clear to her coaches, like Wendy Ehman, that she has an aptitude for the track.
“Jenaya’s always been a terrific runner; she stands out at the fitness runs,” Ehman said.
So Pynn easily qualified for the 800-metre peewee girls’ race at last week’s zone championships, where she lined up at the start line alongside her Departure Bay Dolphins teammates Alanah Bury and Hannah Currie.
There were 12 other girls in the field, too, plus 20 boys, all trying to earn a top-four placing to earn a spot in the district championships in June.
Now, winning isn’t everything, of course, but Departure Bay has captured the district title two years running and Ehman said her athletes were “really excited” at the prospect of advancing to the big meet.
“They’re all very keen to support their school,” she said.
So 35 keen young runners brought their game faces to the start line that afternoon at zones, and at the sound of the starter’s pistol, 35 pairs of legs burst into action.
Maybe 35 was too many. Because seconds into the race there was a hard fall as Pynn and Bury got tangled up. Bury, hurt and teary, couldn’t get up right away. Long before any coach could get there, there was Pynn, checking to see if her fallen teammate was going to be OK.
And the field pulled away. And Departure Bay’s fastest peewee found herself tied with Bury for last place.
Pretty soon adults arrived to attend to Bury’s nasty track burns. There was nothing for Pynn to do but run on, and finish the job, and complete those last 700 metres.
“I think she was upset the rest of the race,” said her dad, Greg Pynn. “I think she was maybe thinking she should have stayed longer.”
Once the race was over, Pynn caught up with Bury as quickly as she could and the two shared a hug, and a good cry. And anyone who saw the 800m peewee race that day at Rotary Bowl saw the kind of sportsmanship that truly defines winners.
“It wasn’t so competitive that you couldn’t stop and look after a friend,” Ehman said. “Winning wasn’t everything.”
No it wasn’t. And little Jenaya Pynn didn’t win that day.
But I think it’s worth mentioning that over those last 700 metres, she did pass 11 girls, come third, and advance to the district championships.
Greg Sakaki is the News Bulletin’s sports editor.

© Copyright 2007 Nanaimo News Bulletin