CHARLOTTETOWN -- When it comes to his track and field career, Akeem Haynes of Calgary has barely left the blocks. But he's already taking the Canadian junior sprint scene by storm.
The 17-year-old raced to gold in the men's 100 metres at the Canada Games on Monday, in just his first full season in the sport.
Haynes ran 10.47 seconds on a track still slippery after a day of rain. Tyrone Halstead of Mississauga, Ont., won the silver in 10.62, while Carlisle Stanford, also from Mississauga, took the bronze in 10.77 on the first day of track and field at the Games.
"I just wanted to go out and place top three, and happily I did that. I guess I surprised some people this year," said the unassuming sprinter. "It's been a good year, I'd say."
Noelle Montcalm of Windsor, Ont., won the women's 100, claiming the gold in a photo finish of 11.82, edging Loudia Laarman of Lethbridge, Alta., who was also timed in 11.82. Chantal Grant of Winnipeg was third in 12.04.
Haynes, who's five years younger than the age limit for track at the Canada Games, ran track in high school last year, but didn't take it seriously until he hooked up with Calgary coach John Cannon. He won the Alberta high school championships this year, and went on to capture gold in the 100 and silver in the 200 at the Canadian junior championships.
Haynes made the Canadian team for the world youth championships last month in Italy, but couldn't go as the athletes have to foot the bill for that trip.
Cameron Levins of Black Creek, B.C., won the men's 5,000 in 14:23.01 to cap the night. Stephane Colle of Quebec took the silver in 14:27.26, while Matt Brunsting of Stirling, Ont., won bronze in 14:35.57.
Jessica O'Connell of Calgary easily won gold in the women's 5,000 in 16:39.33, in only her second time racing the distance.
"It's really exciting, I've never won a national event before so I'm really happy," O'Connell said.
Valerie Belanger of Chicoutimi, Que., won the silver 16:56.78, while Rachel Cliff of Vancouver took the bronze in 16:59.79.
O'Connell normally runs the 1,500 metres, and will be one of the favourites in that event here. She stuck in a lead group of three runners before pulling away with two kilometres to go, and was never challenged again.
"The 5,000 is really nice and relaxed because it's such a slower pace than the 1,500, so it always feels good in the beginning," said O'Connell, who attends the University of West Virginia. "It feels long though, there's a lot of time to think about whatever you want."
O'Connell said she thought about a song.
"I just kept repeating it, repeating it," she said, laughing. "Third Eye Blind -- `Never Let You Go."'
Despite the win, O'Connell said she has no sudden urge to move up to the longer distance.
"Don't really want to, it's so long."