Who is Earl Connor? He is the man who presently holds the World Record in track and field's 100m, 200m, and 400m outdoors as well as the 50m and 60m indoors. Now, before you start screaming Maurice Green, keep in mind this man is a left leg amputee.
"I was the kind of kid who played every sport growing up," Connor explained. "I was always really athletic even though I had a disability, and I think it carried over to track."
As a young boy he was drafted into the Western Hockey League as a goaltender. "But," Connor said, "it got to the point where other kids knew I was a left leg amputee so they would aim to my left when taking shots at goal."
So, he decided to look for something else to fullfill his natural athleticism.
The Para-Olympics first appealed to Connor when he caught one of the events on TV-the 100m dash in the '96 Games in Atlanta.
"I noticed the guy that came in 8th place had to work really hard to finish in 17.5 seconds," Connor said. "They all had racing legs on, whereas I just had a basic walking leg. I told myself right then and there that I wanted to be in that event at the next games."
So, two weeks later he was on his way to Hamilton for his first event-the 60m dash-and the snowball effect began. On Nov. 16, 1996, he not only won that first race, but set the new world record for that event.
"No one had heard of me when I showed up," Connor said proudly. "But everyone knew who I was when I left."
His career as a serious runner took off from there. On Aug. 29, 1997, he broke the 100m World Record with a time of 13.18 sec. in Beterstat, Germany. From there he went on to compete all over the globe. In 2000 he did what he said he wanted to do-compete in the Para-Olympic games held in Sydney, Australia.
The question for Connor now is, what is left to work towards in the future? Like every athlete he'd like to improve his times. Ultimately he'd like to run the 100m dash in 11.99 seconds. But besides that, Connor says he still feels relatively new to the sport, so he's still learning new things all the time.
"I think it's an honour to do what I do," he remarked. "But it has happened pretty fast so I don't realize what I've accomplished so far."
Connor says the competition is what drives him.
"The bar is constantly being raised, everyone keeps running faster and better every year, in every event," he explained. "It's a good thing though because if I don't have people pushing me it's hard to push myself."
Connor presently trains here at at the Olympic Oval under Dinos Head Coach Les Gramantik. He chose the University of Calgary for several reasons.
"The facilities are great and everything is really close," he said. "I was also blown away by Gramantik. When I first met him, he told me he'd make me faster than anyone ever thought that I could be."
Gramantik hasn't had to adapt much in the regular training program for Connor. The only thing is, he gets a little more of a rest between runs, because it takes 25 per cent more energy to run with a prosthetic leg than with two normal legs.
"It's also really difficult running the 400m," Connor said. "The corners are too tight, and it causes a problem with stability because I have to run the track with my amputated left leg on the inside."
It looks like that leg hasn't hampered him too much so far. And this World Record holder shows no signs of ever slowing down.