Espanola native Caroline Ehrhardt takes a great deal of pride in the fact she has now captured four consecutive women's triple jump titles at the Canadian Track and Field Championships, a crown that she has held since 2011.
She takes even more pride given the manner in which the past two were won.
In June 2013, Ehrhardt trailed University of Western Ontario teammate Alicia Smith by exactly one centimetre as she took the runway for her sixth and final jump. Her leap of 12.71 metres was enough to squeeze out a slim victory over Smith, who topped out at 12.67 metres in her very first attempt.
Fast forward 12 months and the OUA tandem are at it again. For the second straight year, Smith had set the bar, recording a jump of 13.06 metres on her second attempt. Sitting in third place with three jumps to go, Ehrhardt soared 12.73 metres, good enough for second, but still well back of Smith.
As Smith looked on, the Northern Ontario wonder stretched out the tape, posting back-to-back jumps of 13.02 and 13.06 metres. With the ladies sitting deadlocked with their further distance, it was Ehrhardt's second best jump on her second last attempt that ultimately retained her crown.
"It feels good to know that I'm a fierce enough competitor to be able to perform in high-stake situations like that, because that's something that can't be taught in practice," said Ehrhardt in an email a few days after the wrapup of competition in Moncton.
"It's just something that is either within you or it's not. Being an athlete is all about being able to perform your best on demand — being able to do better than you ever have before at any given moment. I definitely am proud that I was able to do that this past weekend."
In fact, that self-drive provided Ehrhardt with some of her best performances of the season, rewarding enough, even if Smith had bettered her distance of 13.06 metres.
"I have been jumping 12.60s all season, so to hit 13 metres twice at nationals feels really good," said Ehrhardt. "It assures me the breakthrough I have been waiting for is here. Sometimes it just takes the right situation to untap what someone is really capable of.
"Now that I know I can do it, I am looking forward to competing again."
While her jump of 13.06m cannot be used for official purposes given a positive wind reading of 3.3 at the time, the distance of 13.02m (legal 1.1 wind reading) did establish a new personal best for Ehrhardt.
She does have a prior wind-aided jump of 13.07m on her very impressive resumé, but 12.94m was her official PB heading into the 2014 nationals.