Triathlete Joanna Brown (centre) poses with Matthew Fost and Dana Davidson during her visit to Huntley Centennial Public School April 5. She was there to encourage students to participate in the Diefenbooker Classic April 30

EMC Sports - While Huntley Centennial Public School staff and students were just beginning their school day on April 5, Joanna Brown hurried from an early morning, two-hour training session in the pool with the Ravens, Carleton University's swim team, to arrive back across town at the school for an 8:30 a.m. assembly.

Recognizing the importance of an active lifestyle, and appreciating where sport at an elite level can lead, Brown shared her motivational story with the kindergarten to Grade 8 students. Only 18-years-old, this Carp resident holds the bronze medal from the September 2010 Junior World Triathlon Championships held in Budapest, Hungary. It was the icing on the cake for the 2010 season that saw her win gold at the Junior Triathlon Championship in May in Ixtapa, Mexico and a second gold medal at the Canadian National Championships in Kelowna, British Columbia in August. Brown is looking forward to the 2011 triathlon season and the championships in Beijing.

Like every student attending the assembly, Joanna Brown, a former Huntley primary student, had sat on the same gym floor during assemblies and attended classes in the same rooms. Only a decade later, she is now a world-ranked triathlete. Students raised their hands as she asked, if they liked to swim, bike or run.

You can join my triathlon club, Brown invited.

The young athlete had a clear message to share about the importance of physical activity and advice about how to have fun in the process. Based on her own experience with competitive sport and the rewards it has brought to her life, Brown encouraged students to try new things, find inspiration, encourage others, be creative, and do your best. Triathlon has allowed Brown to travel the world, meet new people and test her own limits of physical endurance.

You see how hard other people are pushing, it inspires you, she said.

As a frequent participant in the local Diefenbooker Classic, Brown encouraged students to walk, run or cycle with their friends or family and have fun. Her favourite part of the five kilometre run is blasting through the tunnel at the Diefenbunker.

Huntley Centennial Public school staff, students and their families are strong supporters of the Diefenbooker event. Putting words about promoting health through physical activity into motion, they walk, run or cycle at the community event. Last year, staff member, Michelle Windsor, participated in the five kilometre run for the first time. Chatting at the start line with a student, they shared their personal goals for the race. The student hoped to finish in 25 minutes and Windsor set her goal at 30 minutes. In a reversal of roles, the student waited at the finish line so he could cheer on Windsor, and take the time to congratulate her on achieving her goal.

The time is now to dig out your running shoes and pump up the tires on your bikes. The 15th Annual Diefenbooker Classic is on April 30. There are events for all fitness levels. Enjoy running, walking or cycling in the country. Details of the event can be found on the website: http://diefenbookerclassic.ncf.ca/Diefenbooker2011/index.html.

Online registration is now open at: https://eventsonline.ca/events/diefenbooker_classic/.