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Almost sidelined by an injury, Wade Embury wins two OFSAA medals instead

June 9, 2013

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

OSHAWA — Wade Embury gave everyone in the Sydenham High School entourage a scare Saturday afternoon, when he limped off the Civic Fields track, favouring his right ankle after finishing his 200-metres heat at the provincial high school track and field championships.

“I was in some serious pain,” Embury recalled. “I couldn’t walk for probably an hour after the heat.”

The turn of events presented a number of problems. Embury actually qualified for the final four hours hence and he couldn’t withdraw from that because that would have meant scratching from the cherished 1,600-metre relay as well.

“It was a scary day,” Sydenham coach Leslie Lawlor said. “He was in extraordinary pain. We got ice, physio, and it did settle down. The pain had gone away but he said it feels weak, it doesn’t feel 100 per cent. We were trying to make sure that we weren’t going to hurt him.

“He was more worried about the 4×4 than he was about his 2, but because he couldn’t scratch, he was trying to decide how to run the final. He wanted to make sure he was OK for the 4×4, which is also a testament to his commitment to the other three runners.”

All of this made it that much more remarkable when Embury not only answered the bell for the 200 metres final, he won the silver medal. Barely another hour after that he ran a splendid anchor leg to help Sydenham to the silver medal in the 1,600-metre relay.

“I was not feeling confident,” Embury said of his frame of mind approaching the 200-metres final. “I was out in Lane 8 and I don’t usually run very well blind so I was a little nervous. I just tried to run my own race and do the best I could.

“The time wasn’t the greatest but I’m super happy with the medal. It’s more than I could ever hope for. It’s above and beyond my expectations, for sure.”

It was also the first medal by a senior boy from Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association in the 200 metres. Only a handful of local athletes — Cheryl Thibedeau, Taryn Turnbull and, most recently, Bayridge midget Dan Brando in 2000 — ever won an Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations medal in the event.

If his injury woes weren’t enough to distract Embury at the start of his sprint, there was confusion at the start line when two finalists were disqualified for failing to report for check-in on time. The rare and dramatic twist created quite a buzz.

“It was distracting for everybody,” Embury said. “Nobody would stop talking and it’s kind of hard to not pay attention to what they’re saying. I couldn’t get in the zone so that probably hurt the time but the result came out fine.”

Embury came off the bend fifth or sixth, “but I knew if I stayed calm I’d definitely be up there with the top three (at the end),” he said.

“I knew I had the best finish of anyone there because all those guys are 100-metre guys and I’m a 400 guy, so my specialty is the last 100 metres.”

Embury’s three-medal performance is only the second by a Kingston-area athlete in OFSAA history, and the first in 20 years, since Danielle Froese of Loyalist won three medals in 1993, co-incidentally the last time the meet was in Oshawa. Though Embury’s high school career is finished, his athletic career is likely only beginning, Lawlor said.

“He’s not nearly done,” she said.

Lawlor is confident in saying so because much of this year was spent managing an injury Embury suffered last summer at a club meet — an injury, by the way, of which he never spoke all season — that likely prevented him from even better things.

“We’ve had to make sure that we were healing it, getting rid of it, but we would back off and start again (with his training),” Lawlor said. “He’s been very patient. He’s been a bit sad, occasionally, thinking, ‘Why?’”

Why, indeed. Embury was running a 400-metres race when he was hurt. He was in Lane 8 — no wonder he doesn’t like it — when an inattentive official riding in a golf cart backed into him.

“I thought he pulled his hamstring,” Lawlor recalled. “He stopped dead, and then all of a sudden he was going again. It was just such a bizarre thing. He was, like, ‘Why would that happen to me?’”

She said Embury does plan to return to the club circuit this summer.

“He still has potential because we haven’t worked a lot on strength yet,” Lawlor said. “He can get stronger, which means he’s going to get faster. His 4 is going to get better but with his body type, who knows? The 800 might be his future race.”

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