Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Pullman, Wash.)
|Ayesu-Attah to World Juniors|
MOSCOW, Idaho – University of Idaho freshman sprinter Benjamin Ayesu-Attah broke out on the track for Idaho this season and helped lead the Vandals to a pair of men’s Western Athletic Conference titles. Now, he’ll try to do the same for his home country in July.
Ayesu-Attah, of Coquitlam, British Columbia, was selected to the Canada roster for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Junior Track & Field Championships on July 10-15 at Barcelona, Spain. He will compete in the 400m dash at the meet.
The selection marks Ayesu-Attah’s second career national team representation. He was a semifinalist at the 2009 World Youth Championships in the 400m dash.
“It means a lot to me – I’m blessed to have an opportunity like this,” Ayesu-Attah said on Sunday. “I've worked hard to get to this point and all that work has paid off. I can't wait to represent Canada at World Juniors.”
With a freshman season that rivaled many in recent Idaho history, Ayesu-Attah was an NCAA qualifier in the 400m and walked away with two WAC titles, two First-Team All-WAC honors, two Second-Team All-WAC honors, the highlight moment of Idaho’s WAC indoor title and a key galvanizing moment at the WAC Outdoor Championships.
The anchor leg of Idaho’s indoor 4x400m relay team, it was Ayesu-Attah, arms raised in celebration, who crossed the finish line first to clinch Idaho’s first men’s WAC team title in any sport. At the WAC outdoor meet, his amazing one-second personal-best time to win the 400m dash set the home crowd on fire and started Idaho’s final-day charge to 219.5 points and a big win at the meet to complete the indoor-outdoor team title sweep.
Ayesu-Attah’s 46.86 at the WAC Championships is the second-fastest by a Canadian junior competitor this year and ranks seventh overall among all Canadian men this year. It also ranks ninth in Idaho history on a top-10 list that includes several Olympians, All-Americans and national record holders.
“If you look at Ben’s career, he kind of has a knack for big performances like that,” Idaho director of track and field/cross country Wayne Phipps said. “He saved the best for last with that huge run at the WAC Championships to win the title, qualify for NCAAs and qualify him for the World Championships in that one race.
“When he sees a goal in front of him, it’s pretty hard to keep him from attaining it.”
The career-best race also clinched an NCAA bid in his first season, which makes him the freshman NCAA qualifier on the men’s side since 10-time All-American and Olympic bronze medalist Joachim Olsen in 1999.
Ayesu-Attah said that being able to compete and meets like the NCAA West Preliminary, the WAC Championships and several large-scale meets throughout the year have prepared him well for his competitions ahead, which include the Canadian Olympic Trials this weekend and the World Junior Championships in July.
“These other big competitions have helped me gain a lot of experience,” Ayesu-Attah said. “They’ve helped me perform at an international level and compete at a high level. Everything, just the whole experience of my first year, has really been great and I'm looking forward to bigger and better things.”
Ayesu-Attah will start the first round of the 400m on Tuesday, July 10, followed by the semifinal on July 11 and the final on July 12. First, he’ll have the qualifying round of the 400m dash at the Canadian Trials on Wednesday, June 27, at 5:55 p.m. (PT). The semifinal round will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday, while the final will be at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 29.