Island youth named top male national athlete at Legion match

LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA—Evanville’s Joseph Maxwell competed in the under 16 division at the Legion National Youth Track and Field Championship in Langley, BC earlier this month where he not only broke two national records, but was awarded the Jack Stenhouse award for the top male athlete overall at the event.

“I’m quite happy with how I did,” Joseph told The Expositor last week. “I was very honoured to be presented with the Jack Stenhouse award which is named after a WWII veteran who was responsible for the early development of what is now the Legion Nationals. I really didn’t expect to win, so I was very surprised when my name was announced.”

Joseph broke the national four kilogram shot put record with a throw of 19.66 metres, beating the national record he set the previous year at the national meet in PEI. In the one kilogram discus competition, he threw 63.3 metres, beating the previous national record of 58.70 metres set in 2001.

“Joe’s mother and I are pretty proud,” Joseph’s father Steve Maxwell said.

Over the last few years, Joseph has emerged as a rising star in the Canadian track and field world breaking provincial records and representing Ontario for the past two years at the national level.

He credits his success to hard work and dedication. He is home schooled and trains at his homemade, regulation-sized training facility built by he and his father. While the cement pads are outdoors, the 15-year-old can practice year round using a snow blower to clear the area in the winter and has a tarp shelter which he places over the pads. Since last year, he also trains and attends Ontario meets at York University in Toronto over the winter.

“I’ve done online training with discus and shot put coach Matt Ellis, but for the past season I’ve been doing my own training and writing my own schedule,” Joseph explained, who told to The Expositor in a previous article that he trained with Mr. Ellis of Primal Athlete Training Center in Rhode Island over the Internet, sending weekly videos of his throws. “I’ve been doing a lot of research on YouTube, watching videos, noting form and technique and comparing and analyzing videos I make of myself. It’s a lot of changes in angles—small technical elements that make a big difference. I might work with Matt again this fall—you can always use help and I am always open to acquiring more knowledge.”

The Expositor spoke with Mr. Ellis on Monday about Joseph and his track and field future.

“He is a very gifted athlete,” began Mr. Ellis. “Beyond his ability, his speed and understanding of what his body can do is impressive.”

Mr. Ellis also noted that it was equally impressive just how much Joseph has improved over the past few years. “When an athlete moves to a bigger weight there is normally a huge drop off, but Joseph hasn’t had that. He is ahead of the curve.”

When asked if the Olympics could be in Joseph’s future, Mr. Ellis responded that it was a possibility, adding “he is definitely going to be around in this sport for quite some time to come.”

As for Joseph, he said it is definitely a dream of his to go to the Olympics.

“It is only at dream at this point,” said Mr. Maxwell. “The Summer Olympics are in 2016. You have to finish in the top three in Canada during the trials at the Canadian Track and Field Championships.”

“I am going to keep training, working hard and trying to improve,” the athlete added, noting that he took a small break from training when he returned from the nationals to fish, dirt bike and visit with friends.

Robin Burridge