Vivian Stavrakos: Gifted and hard-working

Pascal LeBlanc
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Some people are born with a natural talent. Unfortunately, many of those people will rely uniquely on their talent and won’t fully reach their potential. It’s certainly not the case of Vivian Stavrakos, who, at 14, is already one of the best hurdlers in the country.

Vivian Stavrakos is currently the fastest hurdler of her age in Canada. The future is already looking really bright for the 14-year old who’s working really hard to even get better. (Photo: Martin Alarie)

Vivian first started running tracks at the age of 10 after her physical education teacher noticed her speed. She then joined the St. Laurent Select track club and from that moment on she’s been under the guidance of her coach Jelena Lalic.

Like all young members of the club, Vivian is training in various disciplines, but according to her coach, she had a gift for one in particular since the very beginning. “I immediately saw she had a talent for the hurdles, but what’s most surprising is that even if she has a natural talent, she still works hard to get better.”

However, Vivian said it was pretty tough at the beginning. “I was not very good when I first started running hurdles, but my coach told me I just had to work on a few things to get better. That’s what I did and I quickly became a lot better,” explains the young athlete.

One of the reasons why Vivian is so good at rapidly making the necessary adjustments to reach the next level is perhaps because she participates in many sports. Karate, swimming, tennis, javelin, high jump, long jump and running are all on the 14-year old’s schedule. “I like staying active, it keeps me in shape and I think it helps me be more disciplined at school,” says Vivian. “I think I’ll stop karate and swimming soon because I want to focus on track and field and it’s a lot of work.”

Her hard work paid off last August at the Canadian Legion National Championships when she won the silver medal in the 15-and-under 80-meter hurdles. This second place makes her the fastest Canadian hurdler for her age and since she was only in her first year of eligibility, the future looks very promising.

The relationship between Vivian and her coach probably explains why the young hurdler is able to perform better than the other competitors of her age. Both are calm and seem to know what the other is thinking without saying a word. “Her motivation and desire to improve are displayed every time she practices. To me, it shows a lot of maturity, plus she works very hard,” says Ms. Lalic. Vivian feels that her coach is a big reason why she has so much success. “She’s very supportive and she understands me. She’s also very patient and she’s at all my competitions.”

Vivian adds that Jelena helps her manage her stress and taught her to visualize the race right before the start. “I picture myself running and it keeps me calm for the race.”

After a short break at the end of the summer, Vivian is back on the track working out for an important competition in Toronto and then for the indoors provincial championships at the end of February 2009. Vivian hopes to go to the Olympics one day and even though she’s still young, we can already say she has a head start on the competition.

Organisations: Canadian Legion National Championships

Lieux géographiques: Toronto

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