Wesley Best gets a mulligan on the track

Ajax sprinter heading to world youth championships

AJAX -- It's a term more commonly associated with golf, but Wesley Best is hoping the IAAF world youth track-and-field championships will serve as a mulligan for him.

Back in March, the 16-year-old sprinter ventured to an indoor meet in New York, where he stepped into the starting blocks against a higher level of competition in the 60-metre run. It didn't turn out too well.

"I had the mindset and I was ready to run, but once I got into the blocks, it was new people, new environment, your perspective of things changes your race. I lost focus and was overwhelmed by everything," says the Grade 11 student at J. Clarke Richardson.

He is hoping to take that experience and learn from it this time around for the 100m and 200m races he has qualified for in Lille, France. The championships will be held from July 6-10.

"You just have to run your race. You shouldn't be focusing on the people next to you," he says. "They're focused on their race and aren't worried about you. You just have to do your own thing."

Best has the proper mindset this time around, looking to run a personal best and not worrying about finishing in the medals. That's exactly the kind of attitude that his coach at the Speed Academy, Tony Sharpe, wants him to take.

"The first time you get to something on the international level you are really there for the experience of the event," says Sharpe, whose experience running for Canada included a bronze medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles as a member of the men's 4x100m relay team.

"The intention is to go there and be the best you can be and not set too high of an expectation. If he goes there and runs his best, in terms of time, we'd be ecstatic with that."

Sharpe adds that Best qualifying for the world youth championships is a direct result of his work ethic and attitude in training sessions.

There is a cost associated with making the trip for Best, who is responsible for coming up with $2,000 to cover expenses. His club has set up a trust account to help alleviate the cost. Donations can be made at any BMO branch, with cheques made payable to either 'Brian Rodrigues in trust for Wesley Best' or 'Connie Ono in trust for Wesley Best'. The bank transit number is 29972-001 and the bank account number is 8989-175

Tony Sharpe helps score scholarships for track and field stars

tony sharpe

Sharpe, the former Canadian Olympian, runs the Speed Academy, a developmental track and field club in Pickering, which has helped dozens of athletes get NCAA scholarships.

The club was founded in 2006 and Sharpe left his corporate account manager’s job at Bell to track athletes full-time a few years later.

“I’m a full-time coach, you know, not something people do often in Canada,” says Sharpe, 59, adding about 50 Speed Academy athletes have received scholarships.