By Charlie Pinkerton
One of Ottawa’s most promising high school athletes reclaimed double-gold at OFSAA this year because of a no-brainer: she learned how to hurdle.
Even prior to this year’s provincial high school track and field championships Sharelle Samuel had an OFSAA resume that would trump most.
But for Samuel to match the two OFSAA gold medals she won two years ago, it took adding a neglected skill.
“I didn’t have hurdle technique before,” the Ashbury College student said with a laugh. “I learned how to hurdle basically.”
She said she nearly dropped the hurdles as an event altogether after last year’s nationals.
At that event she won bronze in the U20 women’s 400 m hurdles. She also won gold in the 4×400 m relay, silver in the 4×100 m relay and bronze in the 400 m.
“I thought… this is not working for me,” Samuel said.
But instead she opted to stick with the hurdles and after last year’s Commonwealth Youth Games decided to dedicate herself to properly learning the skill.
“I was like, ‘okay,’ maybe if I learn how to hurdle properly then I’ll race,” Samuel said.
She’s certainly never lacked the necessary spring for the event: one of Samuel’s two golds at the 2016 OFSAA Track and Field Championships was in long jump. Her other 1st place finish at that meet was in the 400 m.
She decided to drop long jump because she found that it often conflicted with her running events at meets.
Samuel won silver in the 400 m, placed 5th in the 400 m hurdles and 200 m at least year’s OFSAA. Because of the toll that so many events in one day took on her she dropped the 200 m as well, finding the perfect combination in running the 400 m and its hurdling equivalent.
The Grade 12 student won gold in both at the 2018 OFSAA track and field championships, held June 7-9 at York University.
“I haven’t been able to push myself fully, but I feel like in the future that hurdles is probably going to be my better race,” Samuel said.
Ashbury track and field coach Michelle Holman called Samuel’s stride “effortless,” and praised the Grade 12’s leadership ability, calling her a “fantastic role model and leader… for our track and field athletes and program.”
“She has made an incredible impact over the past four years,” Holman said in an email.
Samuel said her finish is the best part of her race, but she never needed to completely kick it into gear at OFSAA. She said she realized that both races were hers to lose after coming around the track’s final bend.
“I just ran my hardest, well almost my hardest,” she said.
Samuel said that going into OFSAA she had a goal greater than gold in mind: running a fast enough time to crack Canada’s team for the 2018 IAAF World U20 Championships.
Based on her national ranking following high school provincials Samuel is expecting to make the roster for the world junior meet in Finland.
If things don’t work out, she says she won’t mind competing at track and field nationals here in Ottawa.
“It would be another good meet to compete at,” she said.
The Canadian Track and Field Championships will be held at Terry Fox Stadium July 3-8.
Ottawa’s 2018 OFSAA Track-and-field medallists
Joe Fast – Ridgemont (JB 1,500 m)
Madison McLean – St. Pius X (Girls’ javelin)
Joshua Foster – Longfields (JB triple jump)
Emma Betty – Lisgar (JG 3,000 m)
Andre Alie-Lamarche – (Boys’ 2000 m steeplechase)
Annabelle Gagne, Kadiatou Wann, Megan Roy and Kayla Vieux – Louis Riel (Girls’ 4×100 m relay)
Jeremy Elliott – Sacred Heart (JB shot put)
Brandon Ovington – West Carleton (Boys’ discus)
Joe Fast – Ridgemont (JB 3,000 m)
Caroline Poirier – Louis Riel (Girls’ pole vault)
Jeremy Elliott – Sacred Heart (JB discus)
David Adeleye – Ashbury (JB 100 m hurdles)
Emma Betty – Lisgar (JG 1,500 m)
Sophie Barber – Gloucester (Girls’ javelin)
Marty Van Reenen – St. Patrick’s (MB javelin)
Eliezer Adjibi – Louis Riel (Boys’ 200 m)
Annabelle Gagne – Louis Riel (Girls’ pole vault)