Pickering Speed Academy's Tony Sharpe, Xahria Santiago honoured by Athletics Canada

Former club member Andre De Grasse recognized for Olympic performance

AJAX — The Speed Academy in Pickering has been rewarded for another excellent year, dominating the annual awards given out by Athletics Canada.

Head coach Tony Sharpe, a former Olympic medallist, has been named the development coach of the year for the second time in three years, while one of his current athletes, Xahria Santiago of Ajax, has been honoured as the youth athlete of the year.

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Big event on tap this weekend across the border

PICKERING -- Tony Sharpe believes he has a trio of sprinters who can look forward to an awfully bright future in the sport if they so choose.

Pickering residents Stefan Lamanna and Yazin Joseph, along with Brandon Bobb of Ajax, will all enter high school this fall, and Sharpe believes it won't be long before their names are being mentioned among the best high school athletes in the province.

"They have OFSAA medalist written all over them," said Sharpe, who trains the trio at his club, The Speed Academy. "All three of them, they'll be OFSAA medalists, if not champions. I don't think they know the significance though until they go through it once, but it's realistic for these kids to win OFSAA."

But first things first for the three, along with fellow club member Nathaniel Rodney-Scarlett, as the local quartet of sprinters are in Hershey, Pennsylvania for the North American Youth Track and Field Championships this weekend, where Sharpe has the highest of hopes for the group that will be competing in the 4x100 metre relay event.

"This is the third year The Speed Academy is going down and we've had a fifth and a fourth and this year we believe we have the right guys to actually pull this thing off," said the 48-year-old Sharpe, who won an Olympic bronze for Canada at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles in the 4x100m relay.

Prior to heading to Hershey, Lamanna, Joseph and Bobb brought home some hardware from the Minor Track and Field Association Provincial Championships, with Lamanna winning gold in the 400m race, Bobb gold and silver in the 100m and 200m events and Joseph gold and bronze in the 200m and 100m.

Considering those results, and the future that lies ahead, Sharpe couldn't help but rave about the three.

On Lamanna, 13, Sharpe notes: "I have worked with hundreds of athletes, if not thousands over the last few years in the Pickering, Ajax, Whitby area and I have to say Stefan is probably the most athletic of all of them that I have seen."

Lamanna will attend St. Mary High School in Pickering.

As for the 14-year-old Bobb, who will attend St. Charles Garnier in Whitby in September, the future is limitless.

"Brandon Bobb is the most explosive sprinter I have seen at that age. He competes with the Grade 9 sprinters already and he is a year younger. If he gives track any bit of attention at all he could be a scholarship athlete," says Sharpe. "The guy is by far the most natural, gifted speedster. Gifted beyond belief. You dream of running into a kid like this."

And Joseph?

"He moved over to us this year from a long distance club to work on his sprinting and is the hardest worker by far," explains Sharpe of the 14-year-old. "He is dedicated and he's seen the results of the hard works. He is going to Pickering High next year, and we all know about the track program there."

Pickering High won both the boys' and girls' OFSAA team championships in track and field this past year.