For Immediate Release
July 2, 2012
Courtesy of the UMass Lowell Athletics Communications Staff
Lowell, Mass. – Ruben Sanca, who starred for the UMass Lowell track and field and cross country teams from 2005-10, will represent his native country, the Cape Verde Islands, at the 2012 Olympic Games in London later this summer.
"It hasn't sunk in yet," said Sanca, who enjoyed a milestone career and is now the business manager for the University's Office of Student Affairs. But he believes it will when he's marching in the opening ceremonies with the Cape Verdean contingent at London's Olympic Stadium July 27th.
He will run the 5,000 meters preliminary Wednesday, Aug. 8. The 5,000 meters final is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 11.
"Basically I would like to get back to my (personal record, 13:56.46) and to just be in the race for the majority of the race," Sanca said. "It's going to be difficult because all of these people are a lot faster than my PR. I just want to go out there and give myself a shot and qualify for the next round."
Sanca, 25, who immigrated to the U.S. from Cape Verde when he was 12, received his Olympic bid through a "wild card" system in which a country is allotted a certain number of entries for their top athletes. He is currently one of three athletes from Cape Verde to qualify for the 2012 Games, which includes 17-year-old female sprinter Lidiane Lopes (100 meter dash) and Adyzangela Moniz in women's judo.
Sanca and UMass Lowell's director of cross country and track and field Gary Gardner will leave for London on July 23.
It was his aforementioned 5,000 meters result, achieved at the 2010 Boston University Terrier Invitational, which drew the attention of the Cape Verde Athletics Federation.
"They've looked at my performances from 2010 to 2012," Sanca explained.
Since graduating, Sanca has enjoyed a successful career which includes several impressive titles and appearances in three international competitions, all of which contributed to his selection. He is Cape Verde's record holder in the 3,000 meters (8:07.50) and the marathon (2:18.43).
His international appearances include representing Cape Verde at the 2011 IAAF World Championship in Daegu, South Korea, at which he placed 48th in the marathon in 2:34.40; and the 2009 Lusophone Games, an "Olympics" of sorts for Portuguese-speaking nations, at which he won the 10K in 31:16 and placed fifth in the 1,500 meters in 3:55.
On May 18, Sanca ran the 5,000 meters at the Oxy High Performance Meet in Los Angeles where he went up against defending world champion Mo Farah of England, who won the event in 13:12.87. Sanca took 18th in 14:26.49.
"That was the fastest time in the world at the time," noted Sanca, who fell ill the day before the meet. "Unfortunately I fell back. I think I would've PR'd. I ran through the mile at 4:19, then 3K at 8:19, so I was already six seconds under my PR pace. My sickness made it really tough for my last mile. It was a very competitive field."
Sanca also has several road race titles this season: the James Joyce Ramble 10K in Dedham (30:19) and the Shamrock Shuffle Two-Mile in Manchester, N.H. (9:05.77). Most recently, he captured the Newton 10K in 30:15.4 on June 10; and placed 13th overall and third among American runners at the Boston Athletic Association 10K in 30:10 on June 24.
"I'm healthy and I've got time to get in even better shape before I go," said Sanca, who is logging between 110-120 miles per week. "I've been doing quite a bit of road races to work my strength. In the next month we're going to pick things up and hit the track more.
"I know it's going to be very difficult," he added. "The people I'm going to be racing against have better PRs than me. Mo Farah is No. 1 in the world."
Sanca is one of several former UMass Lowell athletes to compete at the Olympic level. Former rower Shelagh Donohoe ('88), now the head rowing coach at the University of Rhode Island, was a silver medalist in the women's four at Barcelona 1992.
UMass Lowell's list also includes a handful of former hockey standouts, including Mark Kumpel ('83), a member of the U.S. hockey team in Sarajevo 1984; as well as Yorick Treille ('02), Laurent Meunier ('02) and Baptiste Amar ('03), who played for France in Salt Lake City '02; and David Delfino ('88), who represented Italy at Albertville '92, Lillehammer '94 and Nagano '98.