Dinos look for strong individual performances at CIS championships

By Cam Cotton-O’Brien

Despite failing to claim a Canada West team title in Edmonton this past weekend, the Dinos have high hopes for their individual athletes heading into the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships in Windsor, Ontario March 11-13.

The stars of the show were Amonn Nelson and Sam Effah, who both swept their individual events. Nelson won both the 60- and 300-metre races, coming close to the Canada West records in both events. Given her training this year, that is an impressive feat.

“This year I haven’t really been doing any 60-metre training,” says Nelson. “I’ve just been focusing on the 300-metre training. I’ve only ran one 60-metre race before heading to Canada West, and that was in December.”

Strong performance notwithstanding, Nelson is unlikely to race the 60-metre at CIS, focusing instead on crushing the competition at the 300.

“For me on my 300, I’m at the place to win. My ranking time is about a second faster than all the rest of the athletes.”

Effah also turned in a solid weekend, which isn’t too surprising for the potential Olympian. Effah has held the Canada West record for the 60-metre event since last year and came within four hundredths of a second of setting a new 300-metre mark in Edmonton.

“I have ran faster than the CanWest and CIS records, just not at the meet,” he said. “Come CIS, I think I’ll be ready to break the CIS record.”

Effah, who is heading to a national relay camp after CIS, is also looking beyond university sports to the Commonwealth Games in India in October, the 2011 World Championships in Korea and then the London 2012 Olympics, where he hopes to compete in the 200-metre event and on a relay team. Effah placed fifth in the last World Championships and ran against Usain Bolt and the Jamaican relay team last year.

“The year before I watched the Olympics on TV, wanting to be there, and a year later I was running against the fastest people in the world.”

From his success at this level, Effah has drawn much confidence to carry on.

“For London you’ve got to be optimistic, so I want to medal. That’s a huge statement, but you’ve got to aim somewhere. I want to medal in the 200 and in the relay.”

As well as excelling in their individual events, both athletes run as members of Dinos’ relay teams. Track and field head coach DougLamont noted that this is the second year in a row that the Dinos have qualified all six of their relay teams. This isn’t necessarily because they have focused on it in training, though.

“We kind of do some practice work occasionally, especially with the 4×200, but really they all do their individual training programs and then they come together and manage to get a stick around the track as quick as they can,” says Lamont.

It’s the sense of camaraderie that sets the relays apart for Nelson.

“Track and Field as a whole is more of an individual sport, so having the relays is a good thing — different from what I usually do,” says Nelson. “There’s definitely more of a sense of a team when you run a relay. And it’s funner, it’s a lot funner, because you have three other people running the race with you that you have to pass the baton to.”

Heading into CIS, Lamont is confident that Nelson and Effah will turn in strong performances. Despite this, he feels it is unlikely that the Dinos have a shot at the team titles in Windsor. One of the reasons for this is the Dinos absence of dominant competitors in the field events. The program is coming along in those areas though, notes Lamont.

“The field events take a lot of work to develop technically, and they take time, and that’s where the challenge is, is that athletes have to be willing to put in the time and the effort to become good at them,” says Lamont. “Take for example a pole-vaulter. Not a lot of people are inclined to do pole-vault. And it’s not like you can take a sprinter and turn them into a pole-vaulter.