Benjamin Visser soared into the record books earlier this month, breaking a 36-year-old regional high jump record.
The Northwest Zone 200-metre hurdles record was felled by Visser as he crossed the finish line in a time of 29.23 seconds. Visser placed first in the long jump with a leap of 4.78 metres.
The Prince Rupert Middle School student was already on the sports radar after landing a top three high jump of 1.57 metres at last year’s regionals, and another third place finish in the 100-metre run. This time, Visser went above and beyond with a leap of 1.65 metres to set the new standard.
Originally from South Africa, landing in Prince Rupert by way of Manitoba and Invermere, Visser took up the sport two years ago when teachers informed him that his performances were close to record numbers. Dighton Haynes, track and field coach, was able to begin work with Visser to enhance his skills, much of it through refining of technique.
“When he first noticed me running, he noticed that my knees weren’t going high enough,” said Visser. “And my starting position, I wasn’t leaning too much forward and I wasn’t throwing my hands enough. I’m a lot faster than I would be if he hadn’t instructed me on that.”
On event day, Visser had already knocked off the hurdles portion in record fashion. Starting with a 1.50-metre mark in the high jump, he was later clearing 1.60-metres. That’s when Visser became aware he was close to a historic mark.
“I focused, I watched myself jump: go off my right foot, bring my left foot, throw my hands up, look over the bar, and then I went, and I did it,” he said.
The record had previously been held by another of Haynes’ former student athletes, Jimmy Pegg, who set the record in 1983 while at Skeena Junior School in Terrace.
Visser is now off to Kelowna for the Provincial Championships this weekend, where he will compete in the high jump and 200-metre sprints. As for his future in the sport, Visser will continue to work with coach Haynes when he joins the Charles Hays track and field team next year. Visser hopes to turn his talent into a track scholarship to a good college or university upon graduation.