Speed Academy sending five athletes to World Championships

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.

Canada's Morales Williams riding with confidence as NCAA indoor 400m champion Morales Williams riding success with confidence.

Christopher Morales Williams

Christopher Morales Williams, of Vaughan, Ont., is seen in action for the University of Georgia during the NCAA Southeastern Conference indoor championships, in Fayetteville, Ark., in a Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-University of Georgia, Wesley Hitt, *MANDATORY CREDIT* GAC

The switch flipped for Christopher Morales Williams in the time of the 2023 outdoor season.

Last spring, the runner from Vaughan, Ont., learned to control his negative thoughts, discovered that it was OK to feel nervous before races, and built his confidence.

Morales Williams credits the change in philosophy for the recent addition of NCAA national champion to his growing resume.