Nothing was going to prevent Bolade Ajomale and Leya Buchanan from being crowned the fastest senior boys’ and girls’ high school sprinters in the province.
Not even injuries.
Coming off a hamstring pull suffered two months ago, Ajomale staved off seven contenders in the men’s 100-metre final at last weekend’s Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) track and field championships at St. Marcellinus Secondary School ground in Mississauga.
“I got a good start, but in the middle of the race, I felt the hamstring tightening,” said the Alexander Mackenzie High School Grade 12 student. “I just relaxed a bit and was able to breast the tape ahead of the surging field.”
Ajomale’s time was 10.59 secs. which is 0.18 secs. off Carlton Chambers’ record set 20 years ago.
“I thought I could have gone a bit faster if there was a tailwind, but a headwind most of the day prevented that,” said Ajomale.
Though pleased with the win, he was disappointed that he just missed the 10.55 secs. qualifying mark for the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) world junior championships in Eugene, Oregon from July 22-27.
“I didn’t get it this time around, but I know I can reach the qualifying standard with a little bit more training,” said Ajomale, who will attend the University of Alabama on a track scholarship.
He has until the national junior track and field meet from July 4-6 in Sainte-Therese, Quebec to reach the qualifying standard. The talented young athlete also completed the OFSAA double, winning the 200-metre final in 23.14 secs.
Ajomale has come a long way in a short time in the sport.
Just five years ago, he was considering playing rugby in high school when the school’s track and field coach, Gary Freedman, stepped in.
“Coach called my mom and told her that rugby is a dangerous game,” said Ajaomale. “She agreed and requested I run. I had no choice.”
Finishing sixth in the OFSAA 100-metre final that year, he started training with Flying Angels Academy. In the span of four months, his time dropped from 11.25 secs. to 10.60 secs.
Born in England and raised in Nigeria, Ajomale came to Canada at age 11. He plans to study kinesiology in university.
Buchanan felt a twinge about 10 metres from the finish line.
“It started to hurt, but I was not going to let that keep me back,” said the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Secondary School graduate, who will attend the University of Oklahoma on a track scholarship. “I just kept running. This was a great opportunity for family and friends to see me run live in my home city and I was not going to let them down.”
Despite a slow start, Buchanan pulled away to win the event in 11.73 secs.
“I was a bit nervous and I know I have to work on my starts,” she said.
Buchanan, who broke the Region of Peel Secondary School Athletic Association 100-metre record last month, got her first taste of international competition last July at the World Youth Games in Ukraine.
“That opportunity really opened my eyes to see what it takes to compete at a high level,” the five-time OFSAA gold medallist said. “I know I have to work hard if I want to be in the same class with the world’s elite athletes.”
The aspiring Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent will pursue criminology studies in university.
Eastdale Collegiate & Vocational Institute’s Mariam Abdul-Rashid established a new record – 58.38 secs. – in the senior girls’ 400-metre hurdles. London’s Nadia Schmiedt’s 58.65 secs. mark held up for 19 years.
Abdul-Rashid also won a gold medal in the senior girls’ 100-metre hurdles final in 13.37 secs. and a silver medal in the 200-metre final in 24.46 secs.