1 a.m., April 6)
hurdler shares keys to success with Sir Wilfrid Laurier
By Fred Sherwin
at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School got a special
visit from a local Olympian on Wednesday who brought with
him a message that they can overcome any barriers put
before them and ultimately succeed.
a hurdler, Sekou Kaba knows all about barriers. Hes
been trying to master physical barriers ever since he
took up the sport of track and field in 2001.
Olympic hurdler Sekou Kaba addresses a group
of students at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary
School. Fred Sherwin/Photo
of training and sacrifice have brought him to the pinacle
of his sport in Canada and the starting blocks of the
110-metre hurdles at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de
Janiero last winter.
was expected to make it through the heats and into the
semi-finals when a combination of a rain-soaked track
and poor footing caused him to clip the second to last
hurdle with his lead foot, lose his balance and very nearly
fall to the track before righting himslef and crossing
the finish line in seventh place.
Kaba described it to his young audience, 13 years of training
culminated in a race that took just 13 seconds to complete
and he had come up short in his goal thanks to circumstances
he was unable to control.
I crossed that finish line in seventh place, I was left
with a choice to make. Yes, I was upset and cried a few
tears, but I could either feel sorry for myself and pout,
or I could snap out of it and join my buddies in the stands
and enjoy the rest of the Olympics, which is exactly what
I did and I guarantee you that it changed the course of
the Olympics for me. It was the most fun I ever had and
I wouldnt change what happened to me for the world.
journey to the Olympics started after he had immigrated
to Michigan from his native Ghana at 10 years of age.
He had difficulty speaking English and was often bullied
by the other kids.
one such altercation, a friend's father told him that
one day he would do something that the other boys would
be incapable of doing. Little did he know at the time
that the one thing he would be better at was hurdling
over eight barriers spread out over 110 metres.
Michigan, Kaba's family moved to Georgia where his fear
of being bullied caused him to give up track for two years
from the age of 14 to 16. When he finally resumed hurdling,
he qualified for the Georgia state championships twice
and placed fifth in Grade 11. The next summer the Kabas
moved to Ottawa where Sekou won the city and regional
high school championship in 2009 competing for Sir Robert
2012, Kaba became a Canadian citizen and just missed out
on qualifying for the Summer Olympics in London by a tenth
of a second. The disappointment of not making the Olympic
team motivated him to train even harder and eventually
realize his Olympic dream.
says the secret to his success has been to follow four
key rules which he calls the KABA Keys to Success -- Kindness,
Asking, Believing in yourself, and Adjusting to lifes
you apply the KABA keys to your life, youll do great
things, Kaba told his young audience.
the end of his presentation, Kaba jumped oved a 42-inch
hurdle he had brought with him as a prop, to a loud ovation.
says he speaks to students about the powers of the KABA
Keys to Success in conquering bullying and overcoming
hurdles every chance he gets.
discovered my purpose through sports. I didnt have
this growing up -- Olympians sharing their stories. And
storytelling, when done well, can have an amazing impact,
by the impact he seemed to have on the students who hung
on his every word at Sir Wilfrid Laurier, he is having
a positive impact on students one school at a time.
1 p.m., March 28)
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