Track star Klippenstein a dual threat

Pondering her dual passions of art and athletics, Aisha Klippenstein draws an interesting parallel between them.

At last year’s provincials

At last year’s provincials

Pondering her dual passions of art and athletics, Aisha Klippenstein draws an interesting parallel between them.

“You have an idea, and you plan it and try to make your vision happen,” she mused. “Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Where Klippenstein is concerned, the outcome tends to be successful.

The 18-year-old might be Abbotsford’s brightest medal hopeful for the B.C. High School Track and Field Championships, which run June 3-4 at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium.

At last year’s provincial meet, Klippenstein won a silver medal in the triple jump and bronze in the 100-metre hurdles. She’s got a realistic shot at upgrading to gold in both events this year.

But while Klippenstein excels on the track, that doesn’t mean she’s got a one-track mind. Far from it, in fact.

The Grade 12 student is also a gifted visual artist who has been developing that skill set at the Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts (ASIA).

“I like making stuff, and I’ll use almost anything,” she explained. “I like to paint, I like sculpting, I like making things with paper. I can knit and sew a bit, I do photography. Just little bits of stuff for fun.”

In both art and sports, it’s tremendously rewarding for Klippenstein when vision comes to successful fruition. The creative process, so to speak, is somewhat different.

For instance, Klippenstein put in copious amounts of time working out during the fall and winter – five nights a week at Abbotsford Recreation Centre under the supervision of Ziggy Szelagowicz, power/speed coach with the Valley Royals track club.

The hard work has yielded a marked increase in explosiveness, and early in the spring season, she’s already nearing her personal bests – 11.60m in the triple jump, and 15.19 seconds in the 100m hurdles – that she established at the end of last season.

Szelagowicz is quick to point out Klippenstein hasn’t even peaked yet, and predicts she’ll breeze past those marks as the season progresses.

“She’s had some triple jumps where she had a very small fail on the board, that were over 12 metres,” he said. “And in the hurdles, she’s running the (district) high school meets almost by herself, because the second girl is usually five or 10 metres behind her.”

In contrast to her athletic pursuits, Klippenstein feels that the nature of artistic inspiration is more mysterious, and the correlation between initial vision, execution, and finished product isn’t so direct.

“You don’t train for art – you just do it,” Klippenstein said. “But having goals, in that way, they’re the same. You think of something you want, and you try to make it happen.”

As graduation approaches, Klippenstein’s goal is to find a post-secondary destination that allows her to develop both of her passions. She’s garnered interest from the track program at Simon Fraser University, and she’s also heard from an arts school in San Fransisco.

“There’s a lot of stuff I’d like to do, and it’s a challenge to try to combine them,” she said. “But I think there’s ways to do it – maybe doing something artsy next year, and still being able to train for track.”

Szelagowicz sees a huge athletic upside for Klippenstein, who has only been training seriously with the Royals for two years. The World Junior Championships are in Barcelona next summer, and he believes his star pupil could make a major impact at that event.

“She’s very talented, and she hasn’t been doing track as long as other kids,” he pointed out. “She’s so strong, she’s increased her speed this year, and now it’s only a matter of learning technical things.”

Klippenstein’s artistic inclinations also seem to influence her approach to sports – she doesn’t so much set concrete goals, as she desires to explore the limits of her potential.

“It’s fun to think about – I’d love to do that,” she said, pondering the possibility of qualifying for the World Juniors. “I want to keep going, just to see how far I can take it.”