Times Staff Reporter
A Northview High School track standout recently showed off his gifts on an international stage with great success.
Joel Whittington, who will be a junior at Northview in the approaching school year, was one of hundreds of international competitors chosen to represent the U.S. in the Down Under Sports Track & Field International Games. The event was conducted July 3-5, in Brisbane, Australia.
Whittington didn't disappoint, earning a gold medal in the 300-meter hurdles with a personal best time of 40.97 seconds. He also earned a bronze in the 110-meter hurdles at 15.98 seconds, and qualified for the finals of the 200 and 400.
A soft-spoken Whittington expressed pleasure in the high level of competition he put forth at the games.
"It was an honor just to compete" Whittington said. "Winning was great."
The victory in Brisbane capped an eventful year for Whittington, who was voted MVP of the Northview squad after becoming a regional qualifier in the 110 and 300-meter hurdles and as part of the 4 x 400 relay team during his sophomore year.
Whittington was one of four competitors from the state to qualify for the games. He said there were competitors from all 50 states, as well as runners from Australia and New Zealand. Competitors are selected by a panel of coaches from the Down Under organization, in cooperation with coaches around the state, who choose competitors with a combination of high-level performance and high character.
Whittington said the event taught him to "be more aggressive and to get out of the block quicker" when he runs. He was unsure of his specific prospects for being invited back, but said he met several competitors who had run in the games for multiple stays, and would welcome the chance to compete again.
"I got to see a lot of different stuff, and got to experience a different culture," Whittington said. "I would definitely go back."