Runner Fofanah tunes up for Youth Olympics

Isatu Fofanah is striving to be one of the best in Canada and she is busy participating in some major track meets.

Isatu Fofanah is striving to be one of the best runners in Canada and will participate in the Singapore Youth Olympic Games Aug. 14 to 26.

By Adam Eisenbarth

It takes incredible dedication and focus to be an Olympic athlete, and one young Ponoka athlete certainly has those attributes.

Isatu Fofanah is striving to be one of the best in Canada and she is busy participating in some major track meets.

The 16-year-old competed in Winnipeg for Westerns, July 24 and 25. She dominated the competition in her events, the 100 m and 200 m races, finishing first in both. She also assisted a relay team to the top of the podium.

“This weekend I tied my personal best in the 100 (metres) which was 11.98 (seconds.) I’m really excited.”

While her dedication to running made the success possible, her focus is what will keep her moving forward. Fofanah doesn’t use the competition to motivate her; instead she works to improve on her own game.

“The 200 I kind of fell short (of my personal best) so I was a bit disappointed,” she said, despite winning the event.

At press time Fofanah was shifting her focus to Nationals in Ottawa. She was preparing to compete in the 100 m and 200 m races, as well as the relay.

The competition won’t stop there for the busy athlete however. Straight from Ottawa, she’ll head to the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games, from Aug. 14 to 26.

More than 120 countries will compete in the event and Fofanah’s dreams are quickly unfolding as she prepares to compete among some of the best young athletes in the world.

“It’s really an honour. I never really imagined being where I am right now. I’m just going to take every day one step at a time.”

While her talent and focus come naturally, she says the real challenge happens off the track.

“I think my biggest obstacle would just be transportation,” she explained with a laugh. “Living in Ponoka and training in Edmonton, it’s hard sometimes.”

Fofanah typically trains five days a week in the Alberta capital and while her training involves weightlifting, speed and endurance training, she takes the rigorous workouts in stride. “It’s not really tough. I’m used to it now.”

While her goals are serious, Fofanah finds ways to enjoy herself at competitions.

“During warm-up before my races I concentrate but usually I’m just there to have fun. You can’t really be too into it, then it’s not really fun.”

Moving from Sierra Leone in 2001, Fofanah has quickly adopted a Canadian pride that could be demonstrated more often in this country.

“Coming from nothing and trying to be a somebody here, it’s really amazing. I’ve had great opportunities since coming to Canada.”

Fofanah will represent Canada in her favourite race, the 200 m, at the youth Olympics.

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