You don’t see his legs flopping, or even arms wiggling, when Evan Karakolis, with a javelin in his right hand, steps up to do his thing.
The Scarborough teen knows what he’s doing.
Karakolis, a bright and congenial individual, has a game plan – and in a summer when people are talking Olympics – this Scarborough native is thinking four years down the road.
His plan is to compete on the same world stage – but this time at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Karakolis is resilient and, when you watch him throw the 800-gram spear, he has this instinctive ability to do something special.
His personal best is 67.51 metres – no easy task.
Then again, using a 700-gram spear, he threw it 68.53 metres – good enough to qualify him for the World Junior Track and Field Championships which began Tuesday, July 10, in Barcelona, Spain and continue until July 15.
Now a graduate of the Exceptional Athlete Program at Birchmount Park Collegiate, the 18-year-old Karakolis is focussed on reaching distances far greater than the one he did at a provincial high school final in June.
In fact, by his own admission, this is going to be one hectic few months for Karakolis before finally settling down at Rice University in Houston, but one that has granted him a scholarship to pursue dreams in athletics and a career in mechanical engineering.
Joking the other day he might need a personal assistant for his travel plans, Karakolis was in Calgary for the Canadian Track and Field championships at the end of June – nothing serious, but a tune-up for a busy few months coming his way.
Now he’s off to Spain. Then, not too much time for a breather before shuffling off to Winnipeg for the Canadian Junior Nationals and finally to Houston for university.
“Busy times, but not much fun – lots of hard work,” said Karakolis, who has the physique of a football player at 6’1” and a muscular 215 pounds.
“I want to be one of those individuals who can achieve a goal and not just dream about it. For me, it’s the Olympics – but that will take a huge commitment, dedication and more.”
When injuries can take a toll on an athlete, especially one who needs power in his arm, Karakolis fought back from partial tears in his elbow suffered last summer at the world championships in France.
“It was during a practice, one throw and I heard a snap,” he recalled. “It was a terrible pain, got inflamed and I was worried. I wanted to throw and thought – how many more times will I get a chance at the world championship?”
Karakolis, after icing the injury and getting help from a physiotherapist, made the decision to throw. He missed the final after a throw of 64.95 metres.
“I know it was a gamble, but fortunately for me, the injury wasn’t as bad as I had first thought and I then did the smart thing – took time off to rest,” he said.
Having visited the University of Nebraska and the University of California at Berkeley, schools also interested in having him, Karakolis finally settled on Rice.
And that’s where he’ll be taking his javelin – including the one he bought for $700.
“It becomes part of you,” said Karakolis, who was chosen male athlete of the year at Birchmount Park and also finds time to work as a lifeguard at nearby Variety Village.
“You practice with it, carry it on a subway and get strange looks from people even though it’s in a big tube and I try to avoid bumping in to people.”
A four-year academic honours student in high school, Karakolis said throwing the javelin isn’t as easy as some people may imagine.
“I have seen people throw it like a football,” he chuckled. “You need to have a straight arm and mental preparation is very important. You have to stay focussed throwing it and avoid distractions.”
Karakolis, who trains at Birchmount Stadium, won the Toronto Regional (55 metre throw) and Metro Regional (56 metre thow) titles at the same location, also recalls the time when he almost hit a dog back in Grade 10.
“I still think about it – this dog was out of my field of vision and I threw (the javelin),” he said. “When I let it go, I saw the dog running and I got worried. It landed a few metres form the dog.”
A multi-sport athlete, Karakolis gave up basketball as a point guard with the Scarborough Blues to devote all his time to javelin. With his 20-year-old brother Adam doing well in the discus at Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C., the sibling rivalry is not there.
“Different events and (Adam) has been a huge influence on my success,” said Evan Karakolis. “We both want to excel, but right now my plan is to get to the biggest stage in the world, compete against the best guys and, hopefully, if I continue to train and work hard, that dream will become a reality.”
2012 HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
(Chosen by their respective schools)
Names of athletes of the year at Public and Catholic high schools in Scarborough. List includes participatory sports.
AGINCOURT – Larry Leung (football, swim, baseball) and Janet Wong (basketball, field hockey, flag football)
ALBERT CAMPBELL – Alfred Gan (volleyball, badminton) and Jia Yi Feng (volleyball)
BENDALE – Kodi Hanlon (rugby, football, basketball, swim) and Kristine Laidlaw-Allan (soccer, volleyball, basketball)
BIRCHMOUNT PARK – Evan Karakolis (track and field, volleyball) and Brittany Crew (basketball, volleyball, track)
BLESSED CARDINAL NEWMAN – Michael Bunting (ice hockey, badminton, volleyball) and Heather Brown (soccer, basketball, volleyball)
BLESSED MOTHER TERESA - Ose Akioyamen (basketball, track) and Oladunni Aladejebi (track, volleyball)
BLESSED POPE JOHN PAUL– Nicolas Saurer (volleyball, swim, baseball) and Samantha Nicdao (rugby, basketball)
CEDARBRAE – John Lauzon (rugby, swim) and Katie Combaluzier (swim, rugby, badminton, field hockey)
DAVID and MARY THOMSON – Ryan Turley (ice hockey, rugby, cross country running) and Chantel LaPierre (field hockey, curling, rugby)
DR. NORMAN BETHUNE – Edmond Lee (basketball, volleyball, track) and Carmen Liang (basketball, volleyball, softball)
FRANCIS LIBERMANN - Stephen John (volleyball, basketball) and Jorell Miller (volleyball, basketball) and Roxanne Alyssa (volleyball and soccer)
JEAN VANIER – Ira Villanueva (badminton, soccer) and Malcolm Smith (basketball, volleyball)
L’AMOREAUX – Jonathon Lam (basketball, soccer, track, volleyball) and Ajaney Nadarajah (volleyball)
LESTER B PEARSON – Roshan Vethakiri (soccer, cross country run) and Aateka Rajab (volleyball, badminton)
MAPLEWOOD – Tristan Carr (basketball, soccer, cross country run, track, volleyball. softball) and Vinitha Jayanath (volleyball, badminton, soccer, track, softball)
MARY WARD - Caitlin Cosgrove (curling, soccer, cross country run) and Roldan Bartilet (basketball, volleyball)
R.H. KING – Nirsan Kunaratnam (basketball, volleyball, track) and Rachel McWhinnie (basketball, hockey, soccer, flag football)
SATEC/PORTER – Caleb Upshaw (football, hockey, baseball, rugby) and Kelyang Tenzin (volleyball, swimming, badminton, cross country run)
SENATOR O’CONNOR – Julia Zupo (soccer, volleyball) and Edward Cadougan (football, rugby)
SIR JOHN A MACDONALD – Jeff Miller (football, baseball, hockey, track) and Olivera Dragojevic (basketball, soccer, volleyball, rugby)
SIR OLIVER MOWAT – Korey Brand (rugby, hockey) and Erica Lem ()field hockey, swim, lacrosse)
SIR ROBERT BORDEN – Lionton Mills (football, rugby) and Tasha Errico (soccer, baseball)
SIR WILFRID LAURIER – Nathaneal Cameron (football, rugby) and Portia Boateng (volleyball, basketball, track)
SIR WILLIAM OSLER – Aaron Sarjoo (volleyball, basketball, badminton, soccer) and Daunte Alexander (basketball, soccer, track, volleyball)
STEPHEN LEACOCK – Jawid Abdul-Hashim (soccer, volleyball) and Kaira Santos (volleyball, tennis, badminton)
WEST HILL – Chris Moy (volleyball, badminton, soccer) and Jahneisha Stephenson (basketball, flag football, volleyball)
WEXFORD – Jeff Pindar (soccer, basketball, volleyball) and Julia Wong (golf, soccer, volleyball)
WINSTON CHURCHILL – Akino Farquharson (basketball, soccer) and Victoria Boone (field hockey, volleyball)
WOBURN – Ragul Sriskandarajah (soccer, volleyball, basketball) and Maddie Brown (volleyball)
Neil McNeil did not provide the name of its athlete of the year.