A natural-born competitor, 13-year-old Airdronian Tristan Manuel is involved in many sports - from football to basketball and volleyball to jujutsu. So when he decided to try out high jumping at a track-and-field even at his, on more or less of a whim after a friend mentioned that he should, he found himself excelling.
Manuel, a student at Ecole Airdrie Middle School had initially signed up for nine events during the try-out day, including the high jump, long jump, discus, and shot put, as well as the 80, 100, 200, 800, and 1500-meter hurdles. The one event he didn't sign up for was the triple jump.
"When I got there, they were putting all the stuff away, but when I was practicing the coach liked what he saw. He pulled all the equipment back and let me do a couple of jumps," Manuel said. "I ended up beating the kid that was in first [place], by quite a lot."
After the surprising finish, he would go on to qualify for divisional and would qualify for seven events and competed in five at Ed Eggerer Park on May 15. The divisions were a competition that saw students from across the Rocky View School division compete, with the top two students from each school advancing to the zones competition that was held on Tuesday, May 30.
In the divisional, Manuel competed in the triple jump, high jump, and discus, the 200 and 4 X 100 meter relays. While he came in sixth place in the high jump, ninth in the discus and placed third in the 200-meter relay, it was the triple jump competition that saw him soar. Manuel placed first in the triple jump.
"The hardest one [competition] for me was probably the 200 meter [relay] or the high jump because there's a lot of really good competition there and it was a little difficult for me to keep up," he said. "My favourite was probably the triple jump because I found out that I was pretty good at it and winning is always fun."
But Manuel's success at divisionals was only a preview of what was to come next. This past week on Tuesday at the zone competition at the Foothill Athletic Park, he once again proved that his success at track and field isn't fleeting. During his first jump, he set a personal record with 10.6 meters. However, Manuel's mother, Nicole Manuel, said that since his competitor managed to jump 10.96 meters, Tristan, even the competitor wanted to surpass the distance.
"He tried a few different techniques that didn't yield the results he was looking for but was determined to do it. With his very last attempt, he hit 11.02m and won first place," she wrote.
His parents, who are some of his biggest cheerleaders and supporters said that while their son has a knack for fierce competition, he is an extremely hard worker.
"He puts a lot of work in. As soon as he realized that he was good with the high jump and that he was going go to the divisional - he was still putting in the extra work," said Nicole said.
Tristan's father, Doug Manuel said that both her and Tristan's mom have always tried to instill in him the drive to try out different sports and find passion in trying everything and anything.
"I also do a lot of coaching different sports as well and there are a lot of crossovers between the different skill sets that make athletes great," he said. "There are lots of different opportunities that open up when you don't get stuck into one shoebox."
With his newfound success, he is hoping that he can continue to pursue track and field through high school, though he underlined that football does have a special hold on him, especially since when asked who his all-time favourite athlete is, Manuel said that retired NFL Green Bay Packer Jordy Nelson was his football hero.
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