Sudbury’s gold medal Olympian helping to train the next generation of athletes

It’s been nearly 25 years since Sudbury Olympian Robert ‘Blastoff’ Esmie and his team ran the 4x100 metre relay and brought home gold.

Now his days look a little different, as he helps train the up and comers.

“I’ve always said a healthy mind and a healthy body can produce a lot of recovery, speed, and makes you faster and stronger,” said Esmie. “Once they become an athlete, they can transfer those skills and what I’ve taught into other sports to become great hockey players, great basketball players and sprinters.”

Rain or shine, Esmie and his students line the track working toward the next big goal.

“I want to get more gold medals,” said Nehemiah Esmie.

That thought was echoed by his friend Davie Dale.

“I want to get more gold medals, too,” she said.

They were soaking in every piece of advice and training that they can get from their gold medal coach.

“Just keep working hard and if you really push yourself, you can really get somewhere,” said Isabelle LeClair.

“He has this like quote, ‘I can, I will, I must’ and he makes us repeat it,” said Gracie Dale. “He helps us with all kinds of things, like running and just personal things. Like if we ever need to talk, he’s there.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, training was put on hold, but the athletes said they’re excited to be back training in person as a team.

“I feel like definitely having a coach helps you push yourself other than just being by yourself,” said LeClair. “So I feel like if you’re by yourself, you can just give up very easily, but Robert definitely pushes us to keep going.”

Runners of all ages were at the Laurentian University track Tuesday night for a group training session and no matter the age, the students said Esmie is a great coach.

“He taught me to always work together when it’s difficult and I love working as a team,” said Ava Bebawi.

“He taught us how to be a good team and to trust one another,” added Nehemiah Esmie.

Now with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in full swing and Esmie’s days still spent on the track, he said it is all worth it.

“All the sacrifices, all the challenges that we had, the obstacles that I had to come over, and that it’s worth every bit of it to go out and give it your all," he said.

"Try something that’s never been done. Beating the Americans in 100 years and being part of that legacy.”

His students are also inspired by the accomplishments he’s brought home.

“It’s great, he’s inspiring, it’s great that he’s from Sudbury and he won an Olympic medal,” said Karly Kero.

“It’s very inspiring to have him as a coach," added Jonas Petroski. "Seeing him take home the gold medal and he’s a great coach. He knows how to train us and he’s very great.”

Right now, the Airblastoff Lions are training for more competitions this summer, with Emsie warming up along \side them on the track.

“If you do not do any track and field, athletic type of behaviour, you’re not putting yourself to be the ultimate superstar in your sport,” he said. “Track and field provides the base that you need to become successful.”

Although watching from home this year, Esmie said he’s still following the 2020 Olympic Games very closely.

“I get up every morning -- my alarm goes off at 6:10 because I also do a blog at 9:30, so I have to make sure to watch everything so I can comment and give my expertise critique and my feedback based on the analyzation of what I see happening,” he said.

“Overall, I feel like it’s going to be a great success for Canada and yay for the ladies. The ladies are killing it. I call this year the mental games and the ladies games. Hopefully Beyoncé can throw them a free party because they’re just tearing up the place right now.”