Effah Running Down a Dream

CALGARY – Setting up in the starting blocks next to Tyson Gay, Sam Effah suddenly realized he’s a lot like the U.S. 100-metre record holder.Sure, the Calgarian hasn’t broken the 10-second barrier yet, but during a recent camp at the U.S. national track and field centre in Clermont, Fla., Effah noticed he’s not much different from one of the world’s fastest men.

Heading into the Canadian championships in June and London Olympics in August, it was a valuable experience for the 100- and 200-metre sprinter. “When you train around them, you see that they are just regular people,” Effah said. “They eat the same food I eat. “I get into the mindset that those are the people I will be competing against, so I might as well be training around them.”

The main difference Effah has is finding the money to do that. For the trip to Florida, he picked up the tab out of his own pocket. So the 23-year-old is in the process of finding some sponsorship, enlisting a company called Action Talent Sports Management to help his cause.

Even if he doesn’t get extra funding outside of what he gets from the Canadian Sports Centre, it won’t affect his preparation for London. Effah won’t make excuses either way. “Sometimes, to get to that next level, you do need the support,” Effah said. “If you have support to go down to warmer weather training camps, then you are going to be able to pull out the better performances.

“If you are able to always have the right people around you, you can pull out better performances. It’s a tricky situation, but I’m making the best of it.”

Over the next few weeks, he’s heading to Louisiana State University for a meet, then to the Penn Relays for a preview of the world’s best. Some of the best relay teams in the world (Jamaica and Trinidad) will be there and it should give Effah and his Team Canada pals a chance to see where they stand.

At least the Canadian championships will be on his home turf. That competition at Foothills Athletic Park from June 28-30 will decide the Olympic team.

Considering Effah just started in track and field in 2006, he has high hopes this summer. In 2008, he sat on his couch and watched Jamaica’s Usain Bolt stun the world by sprinting to gold in the 100 metres. A year later, Effah lined up against Bolt at the world championships in Berlin, which was a life-changing experience for him, as well.

Effah is trying to take this year in a step-by-step process, but the end goal is to get into the featured event at the Olympics, likely racing against Bolt and Gay. “Once I make the final, then I shoot for a medal and hopefully it’s gold. I’m not training to come fifth. I’m training to win,” Effah said. “I watched the 100 metres in Beijing thinking, ‘I want to be there.’ Now, this is my opportunity.

“Four years ago, I was just sitting on my couch watching, dreaming. Now, I’m making this dream a reality.”