Jessie Dosanjh had a vision almost 20 years ago.“What if we started a track and field club to create an opportunity for the youth of our community to participate in a positive environment to develop their potential through sport. “
That community was North Surrey and Jessie’s vision has been fulfilled as his Universal Athletics Club has produced dozens of BC award winners. In 2017 his athletes have reached new heights with both national and international honours.
How did this happen?
“We have a fun program trained by young coaches” Jessie says. “We teach overall skills then bring in the specific coaches for jumping, throwing, sprinting and more.”
“We never thought it was going to be this big,” said Dosanjh. “Kids need the opportunity to develop skills”
Seventeen year old, Katarina Vlahovic is a perfect example of this system. She started track and field at age 12 and has participated in the shot put, long jump, sprints and hurdles. In 2017 she focused on hurdles and sprints. Her results are a credit to the Universal Athletics Club philosophy.
This past season, Vlahovic won gold at the BC High School Championships, U20 Canadian National Championships in Ottawa and took the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games Youth Championships in Nassau, Bahamas. She won the hurdles at the Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome Track Classic last June. Kat is ranked #1 in U18-100m hurdles (76.2 cm) in Canada with 13.58 seconds and #3 in U20-100m hurdles (84cm) in Canada with 13.63 seconds. Note that Brittany Stenekes (13.57) and Nina Schultz (13.60) who rank ahead of Kat in the U20 list are 2 years older and sophomores at Cornell and Kansas State.
What lies ahead for Kat? Coach Dosanjh was confirmed that she will run the 60m hurdles at the Harry Jerome Indoor Games presented by TELUS on Saturday, February 3rd at the Richmond Olympic Oval. Her best indoors over the 60m hurdles (76.2cm) is 9.07 seconds. The meet record for 60m hurdles (84cm) is 8.37 by Tiana Davis of Los Angeles in 2016. It should be noted that converting Kat’s 2017 outdoor performances to her potential this indoor season, would suggest a time of 8.43 seconds.
Sixteen year old, Jasneet Nijjar responded to her one year older teammate’s performances, by having a break out season herself in 2017. Like Katarina, as an 11-year-old Junior Development athlete, Jasneet participated in multi events including the Vancouver Sun Run. In 2016 she won 3 gold medals in the Legion Youth Nationals
This year she focused on the sprints. Jasneet won the gold at the BC High School Championships in both the 200m and 400m. She went on to win the silver in the 200m at the Canada Summer Games with a personal best of 23.83 seconds and a gold in the relay.
On her experience of winning two medals at the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg, Jasneet said,
"I'm pretty happy. It's been great. I was here as the youngest competitor in track. So, it's more about fun than actual results. But, I've got the experience and I am walking away with a smile now and two medals. It's like a cherry on the top. I am proud."
Coach Dosanjh was also confirmed that Jasneet will run the 60m at the Harry Jerome Indoor Games presented by TELUS on Saturday, February 3rd at the Richmond Olympic Oval. The U18 60m record is 7.85 seconds held by Diana Volishin. Jasneet has a personal best of 7.98 seconds but extrapolating her 2017 times, her potential could be 7.50 seconds.
It looks like Universal Athletics Club is ready for an even greater 2018 season