Calgary sprinter says mental toughness key to recovery
— By Kia Schollar
Sam Effah’s athletic trajectory quickly changed in 2014.
He went from eating, sleeping and breathing track to focusing on staying in shape, as best he could, without being able to use one of his legs. This required adherence to a strict nutritional plan.
The new reality was forced on the Calgary sprinter after he sustained a tear in the labrum of his left hip. Effah had surgery in November of that year.
Although it took a long time for him to feel himself again, Effah says he felt “like a warrior” as he worked on his recovery. Now, the 28-year-old says he’s “stronger than ever.”
This July, Effah will run in the national track championships for the first time since his surgery in 2014.
DEALING WITH PAIN
Through his experience, Effah has learned a great deal about what’s required in recovery.
At first, getting up meant just getting out of bed. As his movements progressed, getting up soon meant getting on an anti-gravity treadmill. Effah says this aided his recovery but notes the pain continued as the process went along and did not stop when he got back on the track.
He gives credit to the work of his physiotherapists, chiropractors and massage therapists and notes the integral role they play in helping him achieve his athletic goals.
THREE KEY WORDS
The injury and his two-season hiatus from track brought some of the “hardest physical and mental demands” he has encountered. He went from clocking a 10.06 over 100 metres in 2010 to intense rehabilitation.
Mental toughness is key, he says.
Effah highlights three words that are important to him: Believe, faith and support.
For Effah, believe means dreaming big and remaining positive. Faith refers to “being sure of things we hope for even though we cannot see them.” Support is both financial and emotional — coming in many forms but all contributing to a superior level of confidence that Effah believes will help catapult his athletic dreams.
Effah acknowledges his great support system, including family, coaches, mentors, teammates and sponsors.
The RBC Olympians program helps financially and with developing a path toward a future career. His sponsor, Crescent Point, has come on board to help with training and competition costs, which alleviates stress, Effah says.
Effah also reflected on the role Classroom Champions and the RBC family have played in building him up. Classroom Champions is an organization matching elite athletes with students with the goal of encouraging kids to recognize their potential and chase their goals.
He says his classroom champions felt like his own 60-person fan club, which was a real confidence booster.
He also appreciated that his RBC family “picked him up” when others believed his sprinting career was likely over. This support — his family, his faith, his community — motivated him and helped him dream big.
Effah returned to competition this season and the comeback is going well. He’s ranked third in the nation in the 100-metre event, and says he’s excited to see where continued training takes him.
Effah’s drive is palpable.
His sights are set on the 2020 Olympic Games.