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Team Canada places fifth in 26th Summer Universiade track tournament

“IT HURTS ME,” said second-year sprinter Oluwasegun Makinde with a smile.

His good mood did not falter after placing fifth in the FISU 200-metre final competition. Having defeated his personal best three times throughout the tournament, Makinde doesn’t see his lack of a medal as a downside. Having competed internationally in India, the Czech Republic, and the United States, he was one of the few athletes not fazed by the large crowd in the stands.

“The atmosphere is more exciting; there is a lot more pressure, especially because you are representing your country and you want to do well,” he explained. “The whole stadium could fit about 60,000 people every single night. And for me, I end up running better [with a] bigger crowd.”

The semifinals saw Makinde place with a final time of 20.74, shredding two one-hundredths of a second off his personal best. He was only four one-hundredths of a second behind the semifinal winner of the competition.

“The goal going in was, of course, to run some personal bests. I actually made a bet with my coach. I didn’t realize until after that I had won,” said Makinde.

“I mean, the main goal is to get a medal, but I was top three in every single round. I thought I had a good chance, but in the final I was just tired. Personal best, after personal best, after personal best—it takes its toll. It’s unfortunate, but my time will come.”

When asked about his most memorable experience while competing in FISU, Makinde spoke not of the meet, but of his interactions with the tournament volunteers—young kids and aspiring athletes. He focused on one particular event where he promised a Canada hat to one of the kids.

“Seeing the smile on his face, him [acting] like it was such a big deal. And he asked me to sign it like I was some sort of superstar … That was a new experience for me,” he said of the incident.

“I know people are watching me as an athlete, [and] I know that as an athlete you have a responsibility to kids and people who are younger than you. I like doing things like that—to inspire people— especially kids.”

Over the next year, Makinde will focus further on his training and the Gees-Gees track season in hopes of making the final cut for the 2012 Olympics in London.

—Katherine DeClerq