© â Submitted photo
Deer Lakeâs Melissa Hardy.
DEER LAKE Melissa Hardy keeps setting goals and knocking them off the list.
It appears the running sensation from Deer Lake has no plans to slow down as she pursues excellence in track and field with the St. Francis Xavier X-Women cross-country running team in the Atlantic University Sport.
The Deer Lake native capped off a stellar cross-country running season by claiming the gold medal in the six-kilometre race at the AUS championships in Moncton in October. She then went on to place 25th overall at the Canadian Intercollegiate Sport (CIS) championships in London a few weeks later.
Traditionally, Hardy donât get to show her form in track and field until January, but this year the athletics season actually got underway with the first meet in November, only a week after competing at CIS.
She was quite impressed with how she did in her first test, especially since she was competing so close to the gruelling cross-country nationals that saw Hardy crawl to the finish line for 25th spot.
âI ran the 3,000 and I had a pb (personal best) by 13 seconds. I ran 10 minutes flat,â Hardy said while taking time away from a workout while home for the holidays. âSo that was pretty cool so it started off the season setting the bar pretty high so I have to make sure Iâm pretty fit when I go back in January to be able to maintain that and improve on that.â
The daughter of Deer Lakeâs Peter and Beverly Hardy is the AUS defending champion in both the 1,500-m race and 3,000-m event. Her performance in November is a great start to a season where her main focus is getting to represent the X-Women on the national track and field stage at nationals in Alberta in mid-March.
She never made it to the national stage last year, but this time around sheâs willing to work that much harder to see if it all falls into place.
Coming home to Deer Lake at the holiday season as an AUS champion is something that makes her beam with pride. She has taken the time to reflect on how she developed into a champion, a far cry from her first meet when she admits she wasnât all that good, but decided to put in the work to see where it could take her.
Itâs safe to say it paid huge dividends. But, sheâs not somebody known for resting on her laurels. It seems no matter how much success she finds, she wants to challenge herself to be even better and knows anything is possible if you put in the work.
âIâm just proud, but I donât think Iâm going to end here. I think I still have lots to accomplish,â she said.
Hardy finished up the first segment of her dietic internship Dec. 6 and then headed home to Deer Lake to enjoy the festive season with family and friends. She embraced having a full month to share with family, even though her dad Peter wasnât home this year because heâs working in the Gulf of Mexico during the holiday break.
âOh yes,ââshe replied when asked if Santa made an appearance at her family home.
But, she was quick to point out her favourite gift wasnât found under the tree.
âSpending time with my family was the best one,â she said. âI donât get to see my family very much. I was fortunate that my mom came up to a few races this semester, but I havenât been living home since last summer so having a month home is pretty awesome.â
The only thing missing this year was her father, but she understands there are sacrifices in life for those who want to provide for their family.
âMy father isnât home for Christmas so I definitely miss him. But, I will catch up with him in the new year,â she said.