With the 2009/10 track season approaching, Dinos sprinter Sam Effah undertook an extraordinary training regime -- racing against Usain Bolt and the fastest athletes in the world. While he has made a name for himself the last two years in university competition winning gold in the 60 metres and silver in the 300 metres at the 2009 Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships, he is progressing from national competition to the world stage. Effah competed in the 12th IAAF World Championships in Berlin, Germany. This competition drew the fastest sprinters from around the world, but despite the talent pool, it was business as usual for Effah.
"I would have thought I would be more nervous," he says. "I went to the World University Games and that was the first big meet that got me into competing against high class athletes. It was normal, didn't feel out of the blue or anything. Competing against Usain was big, but it wasn't anything I'm not used to."
This competition is a massive step-up from racing against CIS athletes. At the world championships athletes face constant media and personal distractions and the potential pitfall of hero worship -- it's not everyday you get to compete against runners you used to watch on television.
"I kind of had to shut everything out and focus on why I was there, being more of a competitor than a spectator," says Effah. "I wanted to go and watch, but realistically I was competing and I had to do what was best for me."
One larger than life distraction was Bolt, the incoming world record holder in the 100-metre and 200-metre sprint events. Bolt shattered both of his own world records and on the way Effah raced against him in the 200-metre heats. In fact, he was in the next lane to Bolt. The young Dino learned some very important things about self-proclaimed legends.
"I learned not to get caught up, everybody is human," says Effah. "As crazy fast as Usain Bolt is, you have to realize . . . anybody can do it. I learned to not get caught up in your competition, just run, do what you've been training for and know what you're capable of and don't forget that."
Dinos track and field head coach Doug Lamont feels this was a positive undertaking for Effah.
"As an athlete it moves your career and gets the experience at a higher level," said Lamont. "It makes him more comfortable at the university level. It makes him more confident to succeed at the university level."
After racing at the highest level, Effah will take the lessons he learned with him when he competes for CIS gold.
"It definitely gives me a lot of confidence. I've raced against the best in the world and now I'm racing against people on the national scene. World championships are a whole new level. I'm not going to be nervous for any race anymore."