A lot of high school athletes break two records at the provincials. With Makinde, you picture his fellow runners being doubled over gasping for air like the cop character played by Seth Rogen in Superbad ... "He's a freak. He's the fastest kid alive." Friday, Makinde became the first Canadian high schooler to ever go under 13.5 seconds in the 110-metre hurdles, running 13.36 to break the record by almost a half-second. You have to feel for the runner-up, Gregory MacNeill from London Mother Teresa, who became the second Canadian high schooler to run a sub-13.5 110 hurdles ... and lost. On Saturday, Makinde ran the second-fastest 200 metres by a Canadian high schooler (20.99 seconds). He was only four-100ths of a second off the 25-year-old record held by Atlee Mahorn, the former Olympian.
By all indications, there's going to be a day when high school records seem like pretty small cheese to him (case in point: Makinde passed on the 100 metres since he'll run it an another event). This is a Canadian summer sport athlete whom one hopes will get the economic and personal support he needs to realize his potential as a hurdler or sprinter. It is also a thrill as a journalist to have been able to chronicle his progress back in 2008, when at age 16 he was already assured enough to say the O-word, Olympics.
Makinde on track to accomplish great feats (May 15, 2008)
Oluwasegun Makinde is just scratching the surface.(There's a story to be had about about the bargaining high school coaches have to do when they have great athletes who have commitments to their club programs.
The Colonel By standout is gunning for an OFSAA gold medal this spring to add to the one he won in the junior boys' 200 metres in his hometown last June.
"I've come pretty far," Makinde, 16, says matter-of-factly. "Last year, I was able to win OFSAA and represent Canada (at a world youth meet in the Czech Republic). In the two years since I was in Grade 9 just starting out, that's a pretty big improvement. I'm just hoping it continues."
Specifically, what would that involve?
"Hopefully, the Olympics and world championship," he says.
Makinde, who trains under Glenroy Gilbert with the Ottawa Lions, has a skill set to pursue sprinting, hurling or long jump — his coach wants to "spread him out," take it slow and learn what best suits the athlete. Still, when a young man who's still in Grade 11 runs a wind-aided 10.68-second 100 metres, as Makinde did at the National Capital Classic last week, it's hard not to feel excited for him.
"It's really hard to tell how good Segun will be at this point, because it's fairly early," says Gilbert, the Olympic gold medallist and newly minted member of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. "Like I always say to Segun, half the battle is surviving, having a good time, learning how to execute when it counts. You can always do things in practice when you're on the track alone ... He's talented from the standpoint that he can pick up things fairly easily.
"It's a little too soon to tell, but if you look at the charts, he's definitely on the higher end."
There's a second Makinde burning up tracks in the capital, too. Tolu Makinde, 14, has flashed some potential as a Grade 9 this spring. He broke two of his brother's Louis-Riel Dome records during the indoor season and proudly notes he set a meet record in the midget boys' 400 — that one was also Oluwasegun's — at the University of Ottawa Invitational two weeks ago.
"Tolu will say, 'I'm going to beat you,' and I say to him, 'No, you're not,' " Segun says.
The brothers count on each other.
"If one of us goes down, we're not afraid to step down and help the other person," Tolu Makinde says. "I mess up a race, he's going to be there for me. He messes up a race, I'm going to be first person to tell him, 'Hey, you mess up a race, there's always going to be another race.' "
Oluwasegun Makinde will still be a junior at the national level for two years beyond this summer. Gilbert, who has his protege on a path toward the 2010 world junior championships in Moncton, notes his role as a coach with the Lions is to keep Makinde "on pace with his development."
"He wants to be good, there's no two ways about it," Gilbert says. "He's intense — I keep telling him he can relax sometimes."
That seems easier said than done when you're known for being the fastest one around. It's still fresh in Makinde's mind what it was like to win at OFSAA last year, beating his rival, Phillip Hayle of Brampton.
"It was a pretty big feeling," Makinde says. "There were a whole bunch of people I knew there because it was in Ottawa, a lot of teachers of mine came out. It was a feeling of relief because I did it."
No doubt he wants to keep experiencing that feeling this spring and beyond.
Makinde likely would have broke Carlton Chambers's Canadian intermediate 100-metre record, but it was better for him to run the 100 at an upcoming meet, outside of school competition. Similarly, Louis-Riel, which won the AAA girls soccer banner, had to make do without one of its best players, since she was playing for her club team. It's a balancing act.