In less than a month, Miana Griffiths will be busy preparing to showcase her skills to the world.
The Oakville track and field athlete will be competing at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, with a Canadian delegation of over 470 athletes – more than the 2007 edition in Rio de Janeiro.
Specializing in the 50, 60, 100 and 200 meters, as well as the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relays, it will be Griffiths’s first time participating at these Games.
“I was selected two weeks ago, and I was full of joy! It’s always a pleasure to represent my country,” said the 20-year-old in an interview with the Toronto Observer.
Griffiths, who is ranked in the top 20 in the world and considered Canada’s best — had one of the best performances by a runner during the 2011 indoor season at the Athletics Ontario Youth Senior Championships held in Toronto, where she clocked a time of 7.25 seconds in the 60m event.
Despite injuries, Griffiths also placed third in the 100 at the Toronto International Track and Field Games last July.
The Pan American Games are a valuable and timely experience for Griffiths and her young teammates as they represent a huge stepping stone to qualify for the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
“It’s a great experience to compete amongst the best in the world, and get used to the atmosphere of competing internationally,” said Griffiths, who started track and field at age 10 in the backyard of St. James Catholic Elementary School in Oakville.
Athletics Canada has the same vision.
“With most of the team being young athletes, we expect that they will gain valuable experience by competing in a large Games atmosphere and hope they will thrive in that environment,” Mathieu Gentès, Director, Corporate Services and Public Relations told the Observer.
“For them, it’s all about observing, learning and taking things back, which will aid and further their development,” he said.
Athletics Canada selected a total of 17 athletes to be on the Canadian track and field team that will be led by Dylan Armstrong, silver medalist at the 2011 world championships in South Korea. Along with Griffiths, three other athletes from Toronto and 10 in Ontario are headed to Mexico.
Even with only three athletes out of 32 that made it to the finals at the recent IAAF world track and field championships, Griffiths doesn’t think Canada is struggling in the sport.
“We have some great athletes now and upcoming that can truly put Canada on the map,” said Griffiths, who is in her third year studying Psychology and Law at Ryerson University.
“The more exposure and experience from these international competitions will be highly beneficial for us to dip our feet in the pool, and get a sense of reality.”
She doesn’t only have the 2012 London Olympics in mind, Griffiths also wants to become a successful lawyer or psychologist, and design sportswear clothing for athletes.
“I want to be a role model out there that people can look up to. Nothing in this world is impossible,” said Griffiths, who is on the International Association of Athletics Federation’s top list in 60m for women’s sprinters.
Chances are that she will be around for a while.
She even came up with her own saying.
“Life is like a basketball, you have to bounce back harder. What good are you contributing to your life if you stay deflated?””