Lake Country’s Taryn O’Neill ran to a silver medal at the Pan American U20 Championships in July. -Image: Contributed

The Year in Sports: International breakthrough for O’Neill

Taryn O’Neill wins silver medal in 3,000 metres at Pan Am U20s in Peru.

A personal best, a new B.C. record and her first international medal.

Lake Country track athlete Taryn O’Neill won’t soon forget her journey to South America for the Pan American U20 Championships in the summer of 2017.

Competing for Team Canada, the 16-year-old O’Neill set a PB in the 3,000 metre event en route to capturing the silver medal in Trujillo, Peru.

“I was really going into it hoping for a podium finish, anywhere in the top three would have been good,” said O’Neill, a member of the Okanagan Athletics Club. “The race started out quite tactical, then really turned into kind of a sprint towards the finish. The other Canadian (Sevanne), we really pushed each other, so that helped a lot. I’m very happy with the result.”

O’Neill’s new personal best also broke the B.C. youth record for the 3,000 metres which had stood for 30 years.

A Grade 12 student at George Elliot Secondary and the top-ranked U20 athlete in the 3,000 metres in Canada, she made amends for a disappointing sixth place effort at nationals in July.

“I was looking for redemption,” O’Neill said. “I’m not sure if I wasn’t mentally ready but (nationals) didn’t go the way I wanted. But with our training and preparation, we wanted to be peaking for the U20s anyway, so it worked out well.

“It meant quite a lot to me, coming off nationals.”

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