People at Play

STEVE COAD, FREE PRESS SPORTS REPORTER

, Last Updated: 6:50 AM ET

Motorcross champ Jolene Van Vugt said it with emphasis.

"Second place is good. There's nothing wrong with second," said the 26-year-old Londoner, who recently roared to her first women's title at the national amateur motorcross championships in Walton, an hour north of London, after taking the runner-up spot six times since 1997.

"It's just that you train, and you try so hard, and you give the races everything you've got that it's nice to win. I've been a bridesmaid enough times," Van Vugt said. "I have a lot of trophies, but this is something I've been chasing for a long time."

She's been racing motorcross since age 11 and riding brilliantly with the top amateurs in Canada for the past 10 years.

Her path to the national title has strong family ties.

"My family, my friends and my race family," Van Vugt said. "They've been there all along. It made for a very emotional celebration."

Proudest of Jolene are her parents Tina and Bill Van Vugt -- "Just like me, they've put their time and money into this," she said -- brother Billy, Uncle D and fellow racer Kristina Fundal of Pickering.

Fundal, the winner ahead of Van Vugt at nationals from 1997-99, has been injured in recent years but remains a "big pillar" in Van Vugt's racing career.

"She sends me instructions and inspirational messages during races. She's been unable to race, but she's been a big help to me."

It's Van Vugt's aim to make a career out of racing, but there are bills to pay, too.

Hence her other, more financially grounded, pursuits: freelance graphics (using the degree she gained at Humber College in Toronto), merchandiser at a bicycle store and stunt woman, which recently took her to Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park. Watch for the DVD.

Wiley Collins of the London-Western Track and Field Club absolutely annihilated the Royal Canadian Legion national record in boys' javelin at its championships mid-month in Oromocto, N.B.

Collins' giant heave of 74.35 metres flew more than six metres beyond the previous record of 68.29, set by former London-Western star Ryan Matejcek. It also travelled nearly 25 metres farther than the second-best toss of 50.37 metres.

Collins wasn't done there, either.

The Westminster secondary school student also mined a pair of silver medals -- in discus with a throw of 48.89 metres and the hammer throw with a heave of 60.24 metres.

Three other locals -- Shauna Malek, Gabriel Tesfaye and Andrew Graham, all competing under the colours of the London Legion Track and Field Alliance -- reached the podium as well.

Longtime Londoner Dave Hyman Jr. now has a tale his fishing buddies across the area will struggle to match.

Hyman, a lifelong sports enthusiast, recently won the Chantry Chinook Classic fishing derby, a 15-day event contested along the Lake Huron shoreline from Stokes Bay to Nine Mile River at Port Albert. The weigh-ins took place at Southampton, Port Elgin, Kincardine and Pike Bay.

The catch that cooked all others in the 1,700-angler field was a 33-inch beauty that weighed 17.76 pounds. It came with just a couple of days left in the derby.

Hyman's brother-in-law, Mike Patterson of Ingersoll, made winning a family affair. His 10.96-pound catch on opening day held up as the derby's largest catch at the Kincardine weigh-in station.

These days, Hyman, retired after 30-plus years on the job at 3M Canada, and his wife Lynda are living the good life at Point Clark, 16 kilometres south of Kincardine.

The news of Hyman's victory came from proud daughters, Kim and Sheri Hyman.

London tennis ace Nikki Budai and partner Emma Onila of Bonita Springs, Fla., combined to capture the girls' doubles championship at the Canadian under-14 tennis championships which wrapped up Sunday in Aurora.

But when the pair locked horns in the singles' final, everything went Onila's way.

She jumped on the 14-year-old Budai early, taking the opening set 6-1. In the second set, Budai fell behind 5-1, rebounded mightily to get to 5-4, then bowed out 6-4.

"She got off to a rough start, she was tight I think," Budai's dad Carman said. "Her coach (Doru Murariu) counted and she had 40 unforced errors to 10 winners, so it was a rough day."

Budai, a player known for her grit, showed it in spades during her quarter-final match. Down 4-1 in the third and deciding set, never-say-die Budai smashed her way to victory.

Nikki, about to begin high school, and sister Sami, 12, going into Grade 7, will attend the Niagara Academy of Tennis in Vineland this year.

London recently lost a sporting star from the 1950s and '60s when Vi Yarrow died this month at age 84.

Yarrow, a native of England, won three City of London women's singles badminton titles and four doubles crowns between 1957 and '63.

Many people were also saddened to learn of the death at the end of July of Sandy Harrison, for decades the public address announcer at Delaware Speedway as well as at Western Mustang football, hockey and basketball games.


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