Name: Sarah Wells
CAN Fund Recipient Since: 2015
Sport: Athletics (400m Hurdles)
2015 Pan Am Games Silver and Bronze Medalist
4x National Champion
Hometown: Unionville, ON
On The National Team Since: 2005
How does being a CAN Fund Recipient make a difference for you?
Being a CAN Fund recipient helps with so many aspects related to training as training camp and competition expenses can be a huge financial burden. However, since receiving CAN Fund more of these essential opportunities will be possible. The other major difference these funds will make is in my recovery. After losing funding from my federation I could no longer afford rent and was forced to house hop between my sister’s couch and my grandfather’s basement. While I am thankful that those are even options for me, receiving this funding means the possibility to find a permanent housing arrangement where I can live and recover better for training. Of course funds would be used towards other training essentials such as food, travel and therapy needs but after a year of inconsistent living arrangements I am really hoping to have a room where my recovery time can be at its full potential.
Think of someone who has impacted your life. Share 3 words on who they are to you.
Dave Hunt – Patient, Encouraging, Supportive
Dave was my old school teacher who then became my coach for nearly 10 years. Because of Dave I realized my potential in the sport of track and field. Dave nurtured my talent from a young age and helped shape who I am as a person today. Track has been the greatest constant in my life and I have been so fortunate to be able to take so much with me from sport. Thanks to Dave, I was able to see how track could be used as a vehicle for so many other opportunities and have had some incredible life experiences because of it.
What is the biggest hurdle you have overcome to get to where you are today?
The biggest hurdle I have faced so far in my career has shown up more than one time. The first time I faced it was just over one year before the London 2012 Olympics. In February 2011, as I was training for the upcoming season, I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my left femur. The injury would sideline me for nine long months. Every morning during my recovery I woke up and visualized the interval training that I could no longer do. I went to rehab to do my corrective exercises and maintain whatever strength I could. And I did deep water running for hours each day to maintain my aerobic fitness.
With the Olympic year fast approaching, I was eager to get back on the track following my recovery and rehabilitation program. Considering London was only eight months away and I not only had to regain my fitness level and then improve upon it to hit Olympic standard, few people believed I would be able to compete in the Games. However, I surrounded myself with an integrated team of physicians, coaches, family, and friends, which enabled me to train, perform and remain realistic about this seemingly impossible dream. Fortunately, through hard work, perseverance and an unwavering belief in myself, I ran the Olympic standard, won the Canadian Championships, and was named to the 2012 Canadian Olympic team.
While I thought I had overcome this devastating obstacle and learnt all my lessons, 2 years later I was diagnosed with the same stress fracture that would take me out once again. Rehabbing for months for the second time was exhausting since I felt I had already suffered enough. While I initially felt sorry for myself, after some time I changed my mindset and looked in to all the options I could to try and ensure it would not happen again. I was motivated again and I was ready to come back stronger than ever. Heading in to the 2015 Pan Am Games I felt I was ready and couldn’t wait to show the home crowd what I had been working so hard for. After a bumpy road to qualify I finally made it to the start line and not only came home with one medal but two! I was overjoyed to have overcome this injury twice and refusd a victim’s mindset on my way to my goal.
Share 3 words to describe what CAN Fund is to you
Support, Dependable, Caring
What is the best part about representing Canada?
The best part about representing Canada is being able to represent all the people who helped you get there. It is about showing the world how Canadians can come together to foster incredible talent and to celebrate together.
How did you get involved in your sport?
My highschool teacher Dave Hunt spotted me and recommended I start training for track. While I was initially indifferent about the idea, I quickly fell in love with the sport and was coached by Dave for nearly a decade. Together we made World youth, World Junior, Pan American, NACAC, World Championship and Olympic teams.
Share 2-3 things you are grateful for
My Family – They’re my favourite people to celebrate my successes with.
Being Canadian – Our country is beautiful, our people are incredibly kind and our values are admirable.
Best advice you have ever received?
The best advice I ever received was to control what you can control and write your own fairytale. There will always be bumps in the road and no matter how badly you want things to go your way you can only take care of what is in front of you. Dealing with so many injuries in my career, this advice has helped me manage my stress and in times of despair has helped me to re-focus and make sure I am the best version of myself. It has also been helpful in races where conditions are not ideal or competitors try and play mind games. There is nothing I can do but execute my race plan regardless of the variables and allow the time to come.
What advice would you give to young kids or teenagers about following their dreams?
The advice I would give to kids about following their dreams is to be relentless in their pursuit. There will always be bumps in the road and obstacles that make it hard to achieve your goal, but if you keep going for it, you’re going to feel a greater sense of reward after you have gone through the hardships.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment would be making the 2012 Olympic team after a year of injury when I didn’t think I was going to make it. The feeling after winning the National Championships and being named to the team, is one I will never forget.
What do you value most in your friends?
Friends who can make me laugh even when I don’t want to.
What is your favourite quote or words to live by?
What is your favourite movie?
What is a healthy snack you eat before or after training sessions?
I love avocados
What is your pre-game/pre-competition meal?
Peanut butter and banana sandwich