Fighting injury for most of the season, Andre Ford-Azonwanna knew he had to be at his best in the 100-metre senior final at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) track and field championships in Oshawa last weekend.
The James Cardinal McGuigan Catholic High School student delivered, defeating archrival Bolade Ajomale of Alexander Mackenzie High School, who tumbled several times after crossing the finish line in the exciting contest.
“I had a leg injury earlier in the year and I wanted to come back as strong as possible,” said Ford-Azonwanna, who clocked 10.43 secs. which was 0.02 secs. off the OFSAA record set by Carlton Chambers 19 years ago. “I knew this race was going to be close and he pushed me right to the end. I was ready for the challenge.”
For Ford-Azonwanna, it was his sixth OFSAA gold medal. He won the midget 100-, 200- and 400-metre events three years ago and the junior sprint double in 2011. The 5’5” sprinter also holds three provincial records.
Ajomale rebounded in the 200-metre event, winning in 21.71 secs.
Cameroon-born Charifa Labarang’s long wait to ascend the OFSAA podium is finally over. The Ottawa high school student captured the sprint double in the senior girls’ 100- and 200-metre finals in 11.93 secs. and 24.56 secs., respectively.
“This means the world to me because I have tried to win a provincial high school event for the last four years,” said the bespectacled East region champion. “This season, I trained four times weekly for three hours each time just to get to this level. The hard work has paid off.”
Eastdale Collegiate and Vocational Institute student, Mariam Abdul-Rashid, also completed the sprint double. She won the junior 100- and 200-metre finals in 11.94 secs. and 25.03 secs. respectively.
Without long-time coach, Cyril Sahadath, who succumbed to a heart attack last March, Pickering High School was unable to repeat as boys champions. With Sahadath at the helm for 23 years, the Durham school won a record 13 boys titles, including four straight up until last year and four girls championships since that program was created six years ago.
Last weekend, Pickering finished sixth and seventh in the boys and girls divisions, respectively.
To honour Sahadath’s memory, Pickering High School has organized a “Pull The Trail” scholarship five kilometre run and a one kilometre walk for June 23 at the school, 180 Church St. N., starting at 9:30 a.m. Funds raised from the road and trail run will be used to establish a scholarship in Sahadath’s memory.
Individuals can register online at www.onlineregistrations.ca//pullthetrail. After accessing the website, fill out and sign page three of the registration form before enclosing a cheque payable to Pickering High School.
The entry fee ranges from $15 to $60.