Leanne Sanders hits her target at national competition

Huskies runner emphasizes team’s support in a strong cross-country season

While runners like Usain Bolt and Carl Lewis are known as much for their accomplishments on the track as they are for their flashy hijinks, Leanne Sanders, the best performer on George Brown’s cross country running team comes off more like your typical humble, team-first hockey player.

Despite her individual success this year, including two Huskies athlete of the week honours, a top ten finish at the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association’s provincial championships, and being the only George Brown runner to compete in the national championships on Nov. 12, Sanders still focuses on what her team has done for her.

“My teammates still come out to all our practices and they cheer me on, and they help me run through more difficult parts and they’re always saying at the end of practices, ‘now you have to go first, you have to beat everyone.’”

When Sanders claimed her two athlete of the week honours, she said she appreciated it, but didn’t broadcast the news.

“It’s kind of a nice feeling, it’s not something that I really tell everyone. It’s fun to tell my family.”

Maybe Sanders looks to avoid the spotlight because she laces up her shoes to run and also laces up her skates to play hockey, one of several sports the Huskies athlete plays.

At the national college championships, Sanders placed 38th, out of 103 competitors. Her time was 21 minutes flat over the five kilometer race.

Finishing in the top 40 was the goal of the race according to Michael Lavigne, head coach of the George Brown’s cross country and indoor track team.

“Leanne’s performance at Nationals was exactly what we had aimed for. Going into the week we had projected a top-40 finish, and she ended up crossing the line in 38th place. We are very happy with this result.”

The Huskies’ cross-country team had significant roster changes from 2015, as all the runners from last year graduated. Lavigne said that the team was pleased to have Sanders on hand help lead the new team.

Lavigne complimented Sanders’ determination to train hard even while missing the summer team practices due to work obligations in Nova Scotia. Many athletes would be less motivated without teammates to train with, and a coach only available by email and text, but Sanders made it work.

“It was obvious that she did all the work, as she came into the season in solid shape. She continued to improve during the season and had great results,” said Lavigne.

Sanders is in her second year in the prosthetic-orthotic technician program. As an athlete, Sanders has interest in the field of prostheses and orthotics because of the anatomy, exercise science and biomedical aspects of the of the program.

But for Sanders the best part of her field is the potential to work one-on-one with someone and have an immediate impact.

“Everyone is very individualized so small tweaks to a brace or a part of the prosthetic can make a huge difference in a person’s life. I think that’s a huge thing for me, making the difference and working individually with a client and seeing what we can do.”

Sanders hopes to come back to George Brown after her she’s done her technicians program and take the clinical methods in orthotics and prosthetics post-degree program.

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Leanne Sanders hits her target at national competition