For years, whenever she’d look over her shoulder during races, Courtney Inman would see her arch rival Malindi Elmore.
All the achievements and victories in her storied high school and college running career have become a blur to Inman, but battling Elmore for years is still fresh in the Abbotsford native’s mind.
“I remember Malindi,” she said. “I competed against her since Grade 8 and all the way throughout my career … She was my main competitor back then, and we’re still friends to this day.”
Inman is one of two inductees into the Abbotsford Sports Hall of Fame this year, and that rivalry helped fuel her passion for running.
Inman began attending W.J. Mouat in Grade 8. She and Elmore, who attended Kelowna Secondary, duelled throughout high school in the 400 and 800 metre races. Inman won provincial gold medals at the B.C. high school championships in her Grade 11 and 12 year, beating out Elmore.
Inman went on to win silver at the Canadian Junior Nationals in 1997 and 1998, earning the right to represent Canada internationally. She also competed at the Pan Am Junior Championships in 1997 and the World Junior Track Championships in France in 1998, making it to the semifinals at the latter event.
She graduated high school in 1998, earning a track scholarship to the University of Washington, and quickly realized her battles with Elmore were far from over.
“She went to Stanford and I was at Washington,” Inman said, noting they would continue to duel in the 800 and 1500 metre events. “One would always finish one spot ahead of the other; we were always so close at the end of the race.”
From 1998 to 2003, Inman wore the colours of the Huskies and excelled. She broke the school record in the 1500 metres, and garnered All-American honours following a fourth-place finish in the 1500 metres at the 2003 NCAA Div. 1 championships, a result she said was one of the highlights of her career.
Following university graduation, Inman continued her running career as a carded athlete with Athletics Canada, and was part of the Canadian women’s relay squad which won a bronze medal at the 2004 IAAF World Cross-Country Championships. It was Canada’s first-ever medal at the cross-country meet.
Elmore also became an All-American, and represented Canada at the 2004 Olympic Games and the 2006 Commonwealth Games. The rivalry brought out the very best in both runners.
But it was her formative years at Dunach Elementary and at Mouat that helped form Inman into an eventual hall of fame athlete.
“An elementary gym teacher basically told my parents, you should probably put Courtney in track due to the fact I was running all the time and seemed to run well against the others.”
At Mouat, Inman met track and field coach Gerry Swan, who would prove to be an integral part of her development.
“He informed my parents that I had a talent. He was the track expert, so I knew I was pretty good when he said that.”
The years at Mouat transformed her into an elite athlete, and Inman kept in touch with Swan, who helped her out in her final year in college.
“I wouldn’t be here without coach Swan. There were a lot of ups and downs at Washington, and in that final year he was still sending me workouts and that was the game changer for me. He basically coached me that last year.”
She also credits her parents for her success.
Inman said her main regret is not having the chance to represent Canada at the Olympics or as a senior athlete at the World Championships. Her time wearing the red and white was a dream come true.
“It’s hard to explain how much it means,” she said. “You don’t make much money, especially as a female, when you become a pro runner, but representing your country is what keeps you going. It’s such an unbelievably proud moment to wear the colours.”
Following graduation, Inman went into coaching track for a few years before moving into the world of human resources.
She now lives and works in Vancouver as the HR manager at Eastside Games, an independent game-designing company.
She’s also on the board of Komera Canada, an organization that supports girls’ education and empowerment in Rwanda.
On top of everything else, she has a four-year-old daughter and a two-year old son.
She gets her athletic buzz from playing soccer nowadays, and doesn’t really miss the track.
“I love what it gave me, but it was time to move on to other things,” she said. “Now I can play other sports; I don’t have to get up at 7 a.m. for practice and spend my time planning my diet and workouts. There are a lot of other things out there.”
Inman officially enters the Abbotsford Sports Hall of Fame on April 30 during a banquet at the Legacy Sports Centre.
For more information on the event, visit abbysportshalloffame.com.