Track : Canadian roots provide Owusu-Agyapong with solid base for strong sprinting career at SU

first_img Published on April 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Jacob: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+ Flings Owusu-Agyapong began running track in elementary school. She started training seriously by 15 and discovered her passion for the sport soon after she met Toronto track coach Earl Letford.Owusu-Agyapong credits Letford for refining her talents to help her catch the attention of the Syracuse coaching staff.‘He just told me I could go a lot faster because I wasn’t doing well at the time,’ Owusu-Agyapong said. ‘He was a really good coach, and he got me pretty much to Syracuse.’Since coming to Syracuse, Owusu-Agyapong has established herself as one of the premier sprinters in the country. She finished 20th in the 100-meter dash at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last season and won the 60-meter dash at the Big East championship this indoor season. Drawing on her experiences growing up in Canada and running for the Ghanaian national team in recent years, Owusu-Agyapong has carved out a successful career at Syracuse.The graduate student continues her final season at Syracuse at the Larry Ellis Invitational in Princeton, N.J., this weekend. She will compete in the 100-meter dash.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFor Owusu-Agyapong, her Syracuse career goes back to training under Letford in Canada.Assistant coach Dave Hegland said Letford runs one of the best track clubs in Canada. Owusu-Agyapong ran for a club called the Flying Angels, which maintained a small group of runners during her time with the club. She said the runners and the coach kept a close relationship, which enabled them to receive considerable hands-on training.Canadian track is centered upon club teams rather than high school teams. Coaches in Canada typically keep runners in their system for long periods of time. Smaller club teams and long-term, personal relationships with coaches give Canadian runners a unique experience that gives them advantages over their American counterparts.‘Usually, Canadian kids are a little bit more polished,’ Hegland said. ‘They’re a little bit more advanced technically than American kids. A lot of times they’ve had really competent coaching.’Persuading her to sign with Syracuse, though, was a challenge. Head coach Chris Fox said many Canadian coaches are against the U.S. college system. Hegland alleviated the concerns of Owusu-Agyapong’s coaches during the recruiting process and sold them on the quality of the program.‘Dave had to convince the coaches that he does it right, that our program treats kids correctly,’ Fox said. ‘The big thing in Canada is that they think we over-race our kids in the United States as a whole.’Owusu-Agyapong moved from Ghana to Toronto when she was 8 years old. Though she lived an ocean away from her birthplace, Owusu-Agyapong never felt disconnected.‘In Toronto, where I live, there are a lot of Ghanaians around,’ Owusu-Agyapong said. ‘So I feel like I’ve never left.’Owusu-Agyapong has stayed close to her roots, maintaining Ghanaian citizenship and running for the Ghanaian national team, which has further developed her skill set and passion for the sport. She and the rest of the Ghanaian team spent the majority of last summer in Finland at a training camp, followed by a trip to Ghana to compete in a grand prix.The team then traveled to the All-African games, an event that takes place once every four years. Owusu-Agyapong competed on a relay team that won a silver medal in the games. It was a moment that she said was a great personal achievement.In the coming months, she will turn her sights toward qualifying for the Ghanaian national team in the 2012 Summer Olympics.It will be a tough task, but Hegland said she has what it takes to achieve her goal. He said her steadying influence and consistency has contributed to her success.‘We preach this all the time to our kids that consistency is what great success is built upon,’ Hegland said. ‘And I think she demonstrates that very well.’[email protected]center_img Commentslast_img read more