Royal takes first steps on road to Olympics

Ruky Abdulai took her first steps toward the London Olympics on Wednesday night at the Lafarge High Performance meet

Ruky Abdulai

Ruky Abdulai

Ruky Abdulai took her first steps toward the London Olympics on Wednesday night at the Lafarge High Performance meet, which ran at the Swan Track at Rotary Stadium.

Abdulai, a member of the Abbotsford-based Valley Royals and a world-class athlete in the heptathlon, qualified for selection to the London Olympics last summer by scoring 6,212 points in placing 13th at the World Championships in Daegu, Korea. The native of Ghana is 26, lives in Coquitlam, and has been a Canadian citizen since 2008.

Unfortunately, she hasn’t done a heptathlon since Korea.

The stress of a rigorous training routine resulted in her suffering a foot injury that required surgery. The operation was supposed to remedy the pain she was experiencing, but she even after a recovery period Abdulai was still in severe discomfort. Finally, doctors suggested she take six weeks away from training in hopes that with the aid of treatments the scar tissue resulting from the injury would dissolve.

The Olympics are less than two months away, beginning on July 27, so Abdulai now has precious little time to get back up to speed. She needed to get going, or give up on her Olympic dream, which led her to Abbotsford.

She finished second in the 100m hurdles on Wednesday night, and her Simon Fraser University track coach Brit Townsend was delighted. Townsend held her breath through the entire run – with all that Abdulai has been through, any finish would be a step forward.

To qualify for London, she must finish in the top three in the Heptathlon at the Canadian Championships, set for the end of this month in Calgary. Two other Canadian athletes, Jessica Zelinka and Brianne Thiessen have scored 6,393 and 6,253 points respectively, so Abdulai needs to be well prepared for Calgary.

There were almost 200 athletes at the Lafarge meet. They came from B.C., Alberta and Ontario, and there were also members of the U.S. national team’s visually impaired athletes, who will compete in the Disabled Olympic Games,  which are held immediately following the main Olympics.

The Americans set the standard on Wednesday, said meet organizer Gerry Swan.

“They were impressive indeed.”

Royals athletes will not compete in the Harry Jerome Track Classic on Sunday at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium, as well as other Lower Mainland club meets, before going on to Calgary.