It wasn't exactly a warm September weekend, but that didn't stop Western Canada's track and field athletes from converging on Kamloops for the second annual Bondarchuk Cup.
On Sunday, despite the wind and cold temperatures, about ten athletes worked on discus and javelin technique with Anatoliy Bondarchuk and his grandson Oleg. Anatoliy, a former Olympic hammer throw champion, is the head coach of the Kamloops-based National Throws Centre.
"I just wanted to improve my technique a little and I came out here because he is one of the best coaches in all of Canada," said 17-year-old Manpreet Grewal, who came from Abbotsford. "I feel that since he trained so many Olympic athletes that there's a lot that I could learn from him."
Grewal, who competes out of Abbotsford's Valley Royals Track and Field Club, is working towards competing at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Oregon in July, in both hammer throw and discus. She competed in the World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine, earlier this year.
"There's a lot of things that I knew that I was doing wrong but its just the way he explains it, it kind of makes me focus more upon it," she said.
The Bondarchuk Cup was a two-day event, which included competitions in the mornings (hammer throw and shot put on Saturday, javelin and discus on Sunday) and training clinics in the afternoon. The event has been going for two years now in its current form, originally existing as the Kamloops Throws Festival.
Each athlete in attendance was given the opportunity to work one-on-one with Anatoliy - known affectionately as Dr. B - and receive feedback from the world-renowned throws coach. As his grandson Oleg said, Anatoliy is doing what he loves to do - just as he has been for more than 60 years.
"Yes, have good talent, need lots of time, need lots of training, three, four, five years more," Anatoliy said of the athletes who attended. "Good talent."
Oleg, the head coach of the Kamloops Track and Field Club, said the Bondarchuk Cup used to exist back in Ukraine as well. It was a much bigger event than the current incarnation in Kamloops, but he and his grandfather are hoping they can grow the local event a little more each year. This year there were about 30 attendees; next year the goal is 50.
"All my life, just learning everyday," Oleg said, of working with his grandfather. "You go to the house, you have nothing to talk about except your work, about the athletes, about that, about this. It's awesome, I love the job, I love to coach."
And athletes love to be taught by the Bondarchuks. In Sunday's training sessions, athletes wearing track and field gear from the University of Calgary, the University of Regina and Summerland Track and Field were among those working with Bondarchuk.
"It's not so much that it's going to have a crazy impact right now, since the season hasn't started, but I feel like these little, simple points are going to make me do better throughout the season," Grewal said. "It takes progression to get better.
"I'm really glad I came out and it's been a great experience so far."