After realizing her potential as a sprinter, Ponoka’s Isatu Fofanah is a strong contender for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Raised in Ponoka, Fofanah, 20, is now working to realize her dream of becoming an Olympic athlete. She has been training with coaches in Edmonton and said she was working on transferring to San Diego, CA to further her career.
She feels the best way to gain experience is to continue competing at track meets. “If you really want to run with the best athletes, you have to travel either nationally or internationally,” she said.
While this gives her valuable experience — Fofanah recently placed first in the 100m sprint at the Canada Summer Games this year — it is also costly. Expenses add up when she has to fly, eat, get transportation, get accommodation and pay for entry to races.
“There’s a lot of fees related to track meets,” she said.
Getting to this level requires a lot of work; Fofanah is supposed to train five days a week but does minor workouts on her days off. So seven days a week, she is training and some days are more intensive than others.
To help pay for these meets Fofanah and her coach have started a fund for travel expenses. She is seeking assistance to help her continue her training. Direction from her coach is to travel to California and St. Kitts as the weather and tracks are better.
Fofanah is ranked seventh in Canada in the 100m sprint and third in the 200m race and feels she has potential to make it. “In the 200m, I have a really good chance.”
Her love of track and field developed in high school in Ponoka. Fofanah said many people encouraged her to pursue the sport as she was good at it. After some time, she realized how much she actually thrived at running.
“Not only am I good at it, but I enjoy it,” she said.
Getting up early in the morning to train is seen not as work but as a fun experience that keeps her strong mentally and physically. Fofanah wants to continue working towards the Olympics.
Her goal is to raise $5,000 and has collected $1,125, all from her Ponoka family and friends. “I think, ‘Wow! They remember me.’”
Seeing the support from Ponoka has made her want to do even better.
To support Fofanah check out the website: http://www.gofundme.com/5nyaas. On the website is a video of Fofanah at the Canada Summer Games where she wins in the 100m race.