CALGARY - Everybody, it seems, is chasing Sam Effah.
During a promotional event Wednesday afternoon, a gaggle of elementary school students tried to keep up with Canada’s fastest man.
Next month, the Calgary-based sprinter will defend his 100-metre crown — and his turf — at the national track and field championships at a refurbished Foothills Athletic Park.
“You want to be that guy that people are chasing,” Effah grinned. “I know people will see what meets I go to and sometimes, they’ll come to those meets to try to race me. Obviously, it’s a good feeling, because that means you’re doing something. But if they want to come race me, then let’s race.”
On Wednesday, Effah’s challengers were wide-eyed students from Westmount Charter School. During the upcoming national track championships, which runs June 22-25, he’ll be trying to fend off his teammates on Canada’s 4x100-metre relay squad.
The 2011 Canadian Track and Field Championship is a selection event for this year’s world championship, while the top sprinters, jumpers and throwers from across the Great White North will return to Foothills Stadium next June for the 2012 Olympic trials.
“I went to Sir Winston Churchill high school, just around the corner from the track, and now to have nationals here, it’s big,” Effah said.
“It’s where my career started and it’s where it’s going.”
Effah, 21, is the poster-boy for the national meet, but he’s not the only Calgary-based athlete with a shot to celebrate a national title in front of family and friends.
Jessica Zelinka will compete in the heptathlon, while former University of Calgary Dinos star Amonn Nelson is a contender in the 400-metre dash. World-champion hurdler Perdita Felicien just relocated to the Stampede City to continue her preparations for the 2012 London Olympics.
Effah covered 100 metres of synthetic rubber in 10.06 seconds last July, clocking the best time by a Canadian sprinter in seven years. Only four other Canucks — former world-record holder Donovan Bailey, Harry Jerome, Nicolas Macrozonaris and Bruny Surin — have ever registered times in that stratosphere.
Effah won his first national crown a few weeks later in Toronto, and he’ll arrive at Foothills as the favourite to claim another.