J.J. Bergamin went into the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations track and field championships in Etobicoke as the No. 1 seed in the junior boys javelin but that was the one piece of information he didn't want to know.
After being informed of his top seeding, the 15-year-old from Sir James Dunn collegiate felt like crumbling right there but after gathering himself, he methodically went out and devoured the rest of the field, winning the gold medal by throwing nearly eight metres farther than his closest rival.
After tossing a personal best 56.21 in the preliminaries, Bergamin displayed poise under fire in the final, throwing 58.39 metres en route to the gold. Finishing second was Yanick Mulder from L'Escale with a throw of 50.78 metres.
The win was the lone gold medal for Sault athletes at OFSAA and, according to Bergamin, it marked the first time a Sir James Dunn athlete has won gold in the boys javelin.
"I was seeded first which made me extra nervous," said Bergamin. "I almost threw up after I found that out.
That just added to the pressure and when I first got there, I was just there for a good time and then a teammate told me to go check the computer, that I was ranked first."
After all, a season ago, the five-foot-11, 177-pound Bergamin failed to qualify for OFSAA as a midget and the last thing he expected this year, particularly with moving up a division, was coming home with a gold medal.
But after an impressive performance at the Northern Ontario Secondary Schools Association meet in North Bay last weekend in which he set a new record with a throw of 55.99 metres, Bergamin came into OFSAA oozing confidence.
He immediately alleviated a lot of pressure during the preliminaries with a solid first throw and said the jittery nerves may have actually helped him when it came time to toss.
"I threw 56.21 on my first throw and that was my personal best so I was happy from the start," Bergamin said. "It was awesome and I wasn't expecting it. I was really nervous and maybe the extra adrenaline helped me."
Bergamin credited his improvement this year to a lot more practice and to the coaching he received from Andre Robidoux, a former SJD student and athlete, who has been helping him with his technique. He also said he was spurred on by Bawating coach Jeff Boissoneau, who was nearby and proved to be one of his biggest cheerleaders.
"Mr. Boissoneau was there cheering me on and that really pumped me up," said Bergamin, an excellent all-round athlete who also plays hockey, basketball, badminton and football. "I was pretty surprised. My coach (SJD teacher Richard Heino) said that was the first time an athlete from SJD ever won a gold medal in the javelin and to think about that, it's pretty mind boggling."
Bergamin was the lone Sault and area athlete to win a medal at this year's OFSAA but several others did finish in the top eight on Saturday. They included:
Reg Peer from SJD was eighth in the midget boys' 800-metre run in a time of 2:04.12 seconds;
Andrew Baziuk from St. Mary's was sixth in the junior 200 metres in 23.67 seconds. Baziuk, last year's 100-metre gold medallist, did not qualify for the final this year after clocking the 10th fastest time in the preliminaries;
Jeremy Hodgson from CASS was eighth in the junior javelin with a throw of 47.3 metres;
Holly Maskell from White Pines was fifth in the senior girls' shot put with a throw of 10.86 metres;
Ben Warnock from SJD was seventh in the senior long jump with a leap of 6.61 metres.
Other area athletes to break the top-12 Saturday were Meghan Juuti from Elliot Lake (ninth in the senior girls' 3,000 metres); Danielle Seaton and Tessy Igiewe from St. Basil (tied for 10th in junior girls' high jump); Dan Kennedy from SJD (ninth in senior shot put); and Cassandra McCaig from Korah was 12th in the midget triple jump.
In addition, Kelsey Wilson, who was inadvertently identified as being from St. Basil, is from St. Mary's and finished sixth in Friday's senior boys' javelin throw.