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Powerhouse Heald has big dreams

Manitoba's top high school thrower aiming for worlds

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Taylor Heald will be in Saturday�s junior varsity girls shot put final after qualifying with a throw of 12.06 metres Thursday.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Taylor Heald will be in Saturday�s junior varsity girls shot put final after qualifying with a throw of 12.06 metres Thursday.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 6/6/2015 (1358 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Taylor HEALD seems to have a touch even King Midas would be jealous of.

At 15, Heald is already a provincial champion in shot put and added a national title on her last throw in 2014. She holds a high school record and a Manitoba record. She's been to the nationals as a basketball player with Team Manitoba. And she's done all of it within the last two years.

And with the Manitoba High School Athletic Association Track and Field Championships underway at the University of Manitoba, Heald once again has her sights set on the record books and the world stage.

"I'm fighting with two other girls from Ontario, only two girls get to go to worlds," said Heald, who is a Grade 10 student at Grant Park High School. "I'd like to throw over 45 metres for sure in discus. And to beat Susan Dandenault's record (39.70 metres) would be amazing."

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 6/6/2015 (1358 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Taylor HEALD seems to have a touch even King Midas would be jealous of.

At 15, Heald is already a provincial champion in shot put and added a national title on her last throw in 2014. She holds a high school record and a Manitoba record. She's been to the nationals as a basketball player with Team Manitoba. And she's done all of it within the last two years.

And with the Manitoba High School Athletic Association Track and Field Championships underway at the University of Manitoba, Heald once again has her sights set on the record books and the world stage.

"I'm fighting with two other girls from Ontario, only two girls get to go to worlds," said Heald, who is a Grade 10 student at Grant Park High School. "I'd like to throw over 45 metres for sure in discus. And to beat Susan Dandenault's record (39.70 metres) would be amazing."

Dandenault, who set the MHSAA record in 1986, shares a little in common with Heald. They're both special talents and both share the same coach, Bruce Pirnie, a two-time Olympic shot putter and inductee into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.

"She's ahead of her time. I don't think I was anywhere near the kind of athlete she is, and I competed in two Olympic Games," Pirnie said. "She knows how to compete, and one of the things I did well as an athlete was competing."

Heald ranks third in Canada in the three-kilogram shot put and second in the discus.

Her throw of 14.48 metres is a provincial record, and her personal best is 14.98. Her goal for the weekend is to lock up a spot in Colombia, the locale for the worlds event. To do so, she needs to throw over 15 metres.

"The only one who can beat her is herself," Pirnie said. "That's just a reality, she's head and shoulders over everyone else."

Heald's success hasn't come without its hiccups. At an indoor high school meet last winter, she was beaten by others. She admits she overtrained for the event. She was tired, she said, and it ate her up inside.

"I hate losing," Heald said. "Every time we would lose in basketball, I couldn't blame it all on myself. Out here, it's all on me if I don't do well. Everything is magnified. I missed that practice, I didn't go to the gym that day — it all adds up."

Losing is one thing, facing adversity from her peers is another.

Heald hasn't escaped bullying. Built for power, she is one of the strongest and tallest kids in her grade. A frame that enables her to excel has also sometimes drawn cruel taunts.

"It bothers me," she said. "I go to school and it bothers me there because I'm unique in my own way, and I'm bigger than a lot of the other girls and even the boys."

It's at places like University Stadium where she finds solace. She's in her element, and the words and the giggles only provide additional motivation.

"They look at my size out here and some of them wish they could throw like me," Heald said.

"It's not so much, 'Oh, look at you,' there's less of the negative. And when I think about where I could be and when I get onto the podium, it just helps me keep my mind on what I'm doing."

The biggest podium in track and field is what keeps Heald's dreams sweet at night. The 32nd Olympiad in Tokyo in 2020 is her ultimate goal.

"There's a long way to go between standing here and being on that stage," Heald said. "Getting a scholarship in the United States is the next step after high school, and then we will see where I go from there."

Heald will be in Saturday's junior varsity girls shot put final after decimating her qualifying flight with a throw of 12.06, besting her nearest competitor by a full metre. But like last year's nationals, she said she's saving the best for last.

scott.billeck@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Friday, June 5, 2015 at 9:46 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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