Ajax's Wesley Best on the run for Lincoln

Sprinter accepts track scholarship to Illinois university

AJAX -- Wesley Best recognizes a good opportunity when one is presented to him.

That's one of the main reasons the 18 year old accepted a track scholarship offer from Lincoln University in Illinois, without having set foot on the campus.

"The coach has produced some pretty good sprinters, so it seemed like a pretty good opportunity to me," he said before departing earlier this month to enroll at the school, where he will be studying business administration.

Best is a member of The Speed Academy, based out of Pickering, that is starting to churn out athletes who are moving on to the next level. The head coach of that group, former Olympic medallist Tony Sharpe, described Best as someone with a lot of natural talent who is a leader among the club members with his work ethic.

Sharpe added that Best is the kind of athlete that epitomizes what the club is all about.

"We are focused on leveraging their athletic ability to get them a higher education."

Best began to consider his university options entering his Grade 12 year at J. Clarke Richardson. At the time he was undecided about what path to take, debating on whether to stay local or pursue a scholarship to the United States.

"Coming into my Grade 12 season I was trying to make up my mind if I wanted to go to a Canadian or U.S. school, and what would work out better for me. I just thought with the scholarship money, there would be no debt," he said.

He worked hard over the summer and returned to J. Clarke for an extra semester in the fall. Turns out the extra time served him well. As he continued to build on his impressive resume, which includes representing Canada at the World Youth Athletics Championships in France, the offer from Lincoln materialized.

A sprinter, Best expects to compete in the 100m and 200m as his primary events, with a chance to also run for the 4x400m relay team.

While he will be a long way from home, there will be a familiar face at the school and on the track team. Best's teammate from The Speed Academy, Shaquan Williams, a middle distance runner, also enrolled on a scholarship this month.

"Just seeing someone I'm comfortable around," will be a benefit, said Best. "I see him every day at practice. I can check with him with stuff like academics, practices. It works out better that way."

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.