By Ottawa Sportspage, For Ottawa Lions Track-and-Field Club
With many having developed from a young age in the Ottawa Lions Track-and-Field Club’s youth, foundation and aspire programs, more than 2 dozen Lions are now set to tackle the next stage of their athletic careers with university programs.
Among them are Doyin Ogunremi and David Adeleye, who earned their fair share of the nearly 200 provincial and national medals won by the Lions’ class of 2020 during their high school years (before this season was wiped out).
Much like a pair of Lions legends who fuelled her running journey, Ogunremi will keep Ottawa as her home base and compete for the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees.
The dancer of 10 years first tried track in Grade 9, inspired by her elementary school gym teacher Stuart McGregor, the 3-time Paralympic medalist.
“I thought he was an amazing athlete and amazing runner,” recalls Ogunremi, who attended Redeemer Christian High School. “Being able to watch him from a young age, since Grade 4 even, watching him run and compete, despite his setbacks and injuries, that definitely encouraged me.”
Another source of motivation was family friend Segun Makinde.
“He’s gone to the Olympics twice,” notes Ogunremi. “Watching both those men, that’s really the incentive that drew me into the sport.”
An Ontario U16 bronze medallist in the 300 metres, Ogunremi now has her eyes on a Team Canada spot for the Pan American Junior Championships. Lions U18 program director Zach Quevillon believes Ogunremi’s perseverance will serve her well in that quest.
“I find some athletes, the work ethic or the intensity of their training regimens sometimes decreases during times when their performances aren’t improving as fast as they would like,” highlights Quevillon, remembering Ogunremi’s struggles to crack the 1-minute barrier in the 400 m before she eventually clocked under 59 seconds. “For any other athlete, it would have been easy to say, ‘You know what, this isn’t working for me, I gotta try something new.’ But she stayed the course, she trusted herself and trusted her training.”
Trust in her coaches was one of the main reasons Ogunremi elected to join the Lions-powered Gee-Gees team. Ogunremi credits Quevillon for teaching her the proper mindset and preparation for competition, and she’s keen to continue training under Lions coach Normand Séguin at uOttawa.
“I learned everything I know about track basically from Zach and Normand,” signals the future biomedical sciences student. “Training with Normand has been a very good experience for me, and I definitely think that staying with Normand is my best bet at accomplishing what I want to do.”
Lion leaps onto U of T track & football teams
Quevillon also helped shape Adeleye’s track journey, having launched the Ashbury Colts football runningback/slotback down an unexpected but exceptionally fruitful path 2 years ago.
“I asked him sort of randomly once if he had considered running hurdles, and he was like, ‘No, no, no way, I don’t need to. I’m just a sprinter,’” recounts Quevillon, whose club encourages Grade 9 and 10 athletes to try out a variety of events. “There are commonalities between all the events that are useful to just build your athleticism, but for me, it’s also an opportunity to maybe find the diamond in the rough.
“That’s where Dave’s story comes into play.”
In Adeleye’s first sprint hurdles race, he beat everyone by about 30 m. Six weeks later, he was suddenly 3rd in the province. A U18 national title followed in 2019.
The future University of Toronto kinesiology student is now eager to test himself against seasoned university competitors, his sights set on a nationals berth as a rookie.
“That means I have to try harder to get better,” underlines Adeleye, who will also play football for the Varsity Blues. “I feel like I’ll be more motivated if I come in as the worst person, whereas if I came in as the best person, I’d be complacent.”
Adeleye, who grew up in England, found the Lions’ culture was much more welcoming than his experience back in London.
“We just went there, came home, no real communication,” reflects the past Ontario rugby team player. “I’d never really had a close relationship with my coach, but with Zach, he’s so friendly. If I need something, I just call him.”
Hats off to Lions university-bound grads
With COVID cancelling the scholastic track season, it certainly wasn’t the ideal sendoff for the Lions’ high school seniors, but the club is nonetheless proud to salute its graduating athletes set to begin their post-secondary education:
David Adeleye – Toronto
Rosalyn Barrett – McMaster
Zachary Bryant – Algonquin
Hervey Chateau – Algonquin
Kate Collings – Dalhousie
Carter Demars – Ottawa
Joe Fast – Princeton
Colby Frost – Ottawa
Jeremy Fortier – Ottawa
Vanessa Lu Langley – McGill
Shea McHale – Algonquin
Erin McInerney – Ottawa