The brightest star in the universe

By Corinna Callsen

Imagine a coach introduces one of his athletes better than anyone else. What would he say? Maybe this:

"As an athlete and as a person she is a wonderful young woman to work with. There is nothing that has to be changed."

The coach is Les Gramantik, the athlete is Samantha Anderson and together they’re a very successful part of the Dinos track and field team.

Didn’t know there was a track and field team at the University of Calgary? Well, you’re certainly not the only one. Here are a few secrets for you.

Anderson started her track and field career at the early age of 10 and stayed with it through junior high and high school.

"I decided to stay at the U of C where Les was the head coach, because he is the top coach for the combined events in Canada," she says. "I didn’t even look anywhere else, because having Les in Calgary worked out quite well for me."

A third-year Engineering student, Anderson has trained with Gramantik for four years now. He describes her as an athlete with "tremendous physical abilities."

The tricky thing about track and field is the long-term commitment. Gramantik explains that abilities have to be nurtured. He says it takes about eight years to solidify an athlete and that it can’t be rushed.

"How much time are you willing to invest to go where you want to go?" asks Gramantik, who adds a caveat. "After eight years, I can’t promise you a gold medal."

This won’t be a problem for the Canada West Athlete of the Year, who has already been very successful in competition and will postpone an engineering career for a few years.

"After university I want to continue for sure," says Anderson. "That’s the time when I can decide what I really want."

Track and field athletes generally don’t peak until their late twenties resulting in a longer career but also delaying competition at the international level.

"I put a ton of effort into the sport and I want to go to the Olympics eventually," says the Canadian Interuniversity Sport pentathlon silver medallist.

Gramantik is sure that she can be one of Canada’s best athletes and calls the 2008 Olympics in Beijing a realistic goal. Thanks to challenging teammates and an inspiring coach, Anderson is sure she won’t lack motivation in the pursuit of her biggest goal.

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