Who are the fastest pre-teen boys and girls in Ontario?
The question was answered last week when Oakville’s Ibrahim Ayorinde and Brianna Gayle of Scarborough were crowned at the second annual Toronto International Track & Field Games (TITFG) at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium.
Ayorinde, 10, breasted the tape first in 13.24 secs. which was .01 seconds ahead of Nasiir Willabus-Stephen of Ajax.
“I am very happy with the finish,” said Ayorinde who attends MacLachlan College. “It was close, but I am glad I won.”
Ayorinde’s mother, Burhana, shared the proud moment with her son in front of a few hundred fans at the meet featuring several Canadian Olympians and special guest, Asafa Powell, a former world 100-metre record holder who will be representing Jamaica for a third time at the Olympics.
“Ibrahim has come a long way since he started running competitively two years ago,” said the mother of three who migrated from Nigeria 12 years ago. “He says he wants to pursue the sport at a high level and we will just go along with what he wants for now.”
The young Oakville Legion Track & Field Club sprinter has made a big impression on the track since taking up the sport in 2010. A year ago, he secured a gold medal in the 100-metre dash in 13.47 secs., at the Hershey’s Track and Field meet in Pennsylvania.
Ayorinde’s club coach, Ted Neptune, predicts that his protégé, who he has dubbed “Young Bolt”, will soon cover the sprint in 12 secs.
Gayle, nine, won her race in 13.94 secs. which was .28 secs. faster than second place Sydney Clayford. The winner attends Macklin Public School.
Boys and girls under the age of 11 took part in qualifying events in seven regions across the province.
TITFG meet director John Craig said the interest shown in last year’s “Fastest Youth” event prompted organizers to create “The Fastest Boy and Girl” events.
“We want the kids to become engaged in the sport, but we are not trying to put a terrible amount of pressure on them,” he said. “We are not really looking for the fastest trained kid coming out of a track club. We are really looking for some raw talent.”
Craig hopes the events will help introduce more young people to track and field.
“There are so many activities and so many sports around,” he said. “What we are saying is let’s find the kids with the talent and see if we keep them here instead of losing them to hockey or soccer.”
The TITFG serves as the National Track League’s championship finale.
London Olympics-bound sprinter, Justyn Warner and his fiancé Nikkita Holder, were the overall winners in the 100-metre sprint and hurdles respectively while Lemlem Ogbasilassie, who sought refugee status in Canada nine years ago after representing Eritrea at the world youth championships in Sherbrooke, Quebec, finished nine points ahead of Melissa Bishop who is an Olympic participant.
Ogbasilassie, who secured her Canadian citizenship in 2008, failed to reach the Olympic qualifying standard.
BY RON FANFAIR