At just ten years of age, Dario Beljo is not yet at the stage where he needs to narrow down the focus of his sporting involvement. Good thing, because for now, the grade 5 student at MacLeod Public School appears to excel at most everything he undertakes.
The eldest of four children in a family with a distinct love of sports, Beljo has enjoyed both hockey and soccer for a few years already, named as captain of the Bulldogs Atom “AA” team last year and recently selected to the Sudbury Minor Peewee “AAA” Wolves.
Throw in an invitation to hook-up with Brian Ashton and the regional training soccer program as an underage player, and you begin to understand the natural talent that Beljo possesses.
Despite all this, his success in representing his school at cross-country races over the past two years still came as a surprise. “Last year as my first year trying it,” Beljo said. “In my first race, I came in second. It just kind of happened.”
Extremely driven for his age, the articulate young man undertook the challenge to improve. “I trained by myself, running around the block every second day and it worked,” Beljo added.
By the time the Laurentian X-Country Challenge rolled around last fall, Beljo had ascended to first place. Yet it is the manner in which he produces these victories that speaks volumes of the fire that burns within him.
“I have been in many close long distance races where I’ve barely won, and I’ve usually come from behind,” he explained. “For cross country, you don’t have to be the fastest, you just have to have willpower.”
It’s an attitude that carries over into everything that Beljo does. In fact, he points to the majority of his school sport involvement, via the likes of basketball, floor hockey and volleyball, as providing a helpful counter-balance.
“For me, school sports are a lot less pressure,” he stated. “As the captain (in hockey), I put a lot of pressure on myself, sometimes a bit too much. For a school meet, I have a lot of fun with them.”
When it comes back to the more competitive side, Beljo provides an insightful self-assessment. “I’ve accomplished a lot with soccer and hockey, but I think I’m a bit more successful with running.”
Yet despite his clear-cut talent on the track and the trails, Beljo echoes the sentiments of most Canadian youth. “I love running, but I’m kind of edging towards hockey,” he said. “I kind of wanna make it with hockey.”