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When 12-year-old Andrew Kirk arrived at his first 100metre heat at the Golden Ears Classic in Maple Ridge in early May, he had no idea what he was doing.

It was his first track meet with the Chilliwack Track and Field Club, and Kirk had yet to attend a training session w ith the team since his dad had only just signed him up.

While the other runners at the start line were working through their pre-race routine, Kirk stood with his hands in his pockets, wanting to go home.

I had no clue how to start, he said, and you have to wear spikes, and I thought I was going to fall in those.

Pushing visions of humiliation aside, however, Kirk stepped up to the line and -ignited by the starter's gun-blazed down the track with raw power, if, unorthodox style.

He won that heat, and hasn't looked back since.

This year the young runner collected 21 gold medals and won every 100-metre, 200-metre, 300-metre and long jump event he entered.

He capped off his season last weekend with four gold medals at the BC Junior Development Championships in Kamloops.

There isn't too many kids who can do that, said Chilliwack Track and Field Club coach Ron Wichman. Rarely have I seen that happen, where they've won everything like that.

Not only did Kirk win every race he ran; his personal best in the 100-metres (12.98) is just one 10th of a second away from the all-time top 10 fastest times recorded in B.C. for his age group since the 1970s.

But Kirk, a straight-A student at Highroad Academy, wouldn't even have joined track and field if it hadn't been for the bagpipes.

Korean on his mother's side and of Scottish descent on his father's, Kirk took up the pipes a year and a half ago and plays with the Fraser Valley Youth Pipe Band.

(A blue belt in taekwondo takes care of the Korean side of things.)

To accommodate the pipes, Kirk, who has played soccer since he was nine years old, sacrificed his spring soccer season this year.

Last year the multi-sport athlete was a defender with the U12 Gold squad in Chilliwack and won team MVP.

Next year he'll be playing for Abbotsford's Magnuson Ford Mariners in the EA Sports B.C. Premier League.

To keep his son in shape for soccer, Kirk's dad, Merlyn, signed Kirk up for track since the Tuesday and Thursday practices would work with his bagpipe schedule.

But his phenomenal season on the track has now created another dilemma.

Although he won't have to decide next year or maybe even the year after that, he knows he will eventually have to commit to one sport if he is to pursue university scholarships.

It wouldn't an unrealistic goal for Kirk on the track, according coach Wichman, who has seen a number of athletes in his program earn scholarships-if the young runner is willing to put in the work, that is.

He's young; he's got a lot of potential. Hopefully he'll stick with it, he said.

cnaylor@chilliwacktimes.com © Copyright (c) Chilliwack Times

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