Western Mustangs track and field athlete Natalie Thirsk and head coach Vickie Croley are in Birmingham, England, this week as part of Team Canada competing in the Commonwealth Games.
The international multisport event runs from July 28 to Aug. 8. Thirsk will be competing in the T38 100-metre race on Aug. 2.
“This is my first time on Team Canada and I am super excited and a little nervous as I learn how to take the next steps as an athlete and compete internationally,” said Thirsk. “I am very thankful for the outstanding support of my Western coaches Vickie Croley and Taylor Ehrhardt, who have helped me push through barriers allowing me to compete at U Sports Nationals and set two records this past year.”
Thirsk is a second-year nursing student, just completing her first year with the Mustangs track and field team. She was among 11 para athletes who received the 2022 Petro-Canada FACE grant in February.
“The flexible support of Western, including my nursing academic counselor Denice Litzan, has also been invaluable in helping me reach both my academic and athletic goals,” she said.
This is the second time Croley is coaching the national team at the Commonwealth Games, having previously been at the 2014 Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
“I believe it is important to have women represented as coaches on national teams,” said Croley, “There really is nothing like the feeling of representing your country and I’m truly excited to experience this sense of pride.”
In addition to her performance at the national championship, Thirsk also took a gold medal in the 60-metre ambulatory race at the OUA Championship this year.
“I am super pumped for this fantastic opportunity to compete on the world stage against some of the fastest athletes in the world,” said Thirsk. “After the Commonwealth Games, my next goals are to represent Canada at the 2023 World Championships and the Paralympics in Paris 2024.”