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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Speed Academy sending five athletes to World Championships

PICKERING -- When Tony Sharpe started The Speed Academy track club based out of Pickering, he had a long-term vision of where he wanted the club to go and an idea of what he wanted his athletes to accomplish.

It’s safe to say his athletes are exceeding those expectations.

The club continues to thrive, and its most recent achievement includes having five girls named to the Canadian national youth team that will compete at the World Championships in the Ukraine from July 10 to 14.

“I could never imagine that seven years ago when we started that we would be at this level now,” says Sharpe, a former Olympian.

Included in the mix of athletes that qualified for the Canadian team are Mariam Abdul-Rashid (400m), Leya Buchanan (100m), Taylor Sharpe (200m), Emma Li (pole vault) and Juliana Puopolo (100m hurdles).

Only the top two results in an age class from across the country received an invitation to be on the team, provided they had met an international standard time, height or distance.

The local contingent making the trip actually grows from five to six when you include Sharpe, who is the sprint/relay coach for the team.

He views his role as more of one of support and addressing the mental approach than providing technical knowledge.

“These kids are there because they are well coached, they have a great routine and they are extremely talented,” he said. “My role is not to change anything they are currently doing, it’s one of support. I think of myself as a go-fer. You tell me what you need and I will go get it for you.

“I don’t want to interfere with anything their coaches might be working on.”

While the club is ecstatic about the opportunity, Sharpe remains frustrated at the lack of financial support for the athletes making the trip, who are responsible for raising the $3,200 needed to represent their country.