It's a Dream-Come-True For Graham
July 16, 2010
CHICAGO - Matthew Graham is in for the run of his life.
DePaul's All-BIG EAST Conference cross country athlete will realize a dream-come-true on Monday when he participates in the Opening Ceremony for the 13th IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton, Canada.
Graham, who is from Glasgow, Scotland, will be among the 45 athletes representing the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team walking onto the newly built Stade Moncton 2010 Stadium surface.
"I was really excited when I got the phone call (July 6) saying I was on the team," Graham said. "The UK (United Kingdom) standards are so much harder than other countries.
"It has always been my goal to compete in the World Junior Championships. Reaching this goal is just an amazing feeling. I'm here with guys who are ranked No. 1 in the world."
The Blue Demon junior who won every regular-season race in cross country last year as a sophomore becomes only the second DePaul athlete to be selected for the World Junior Championships. Chris Stafford competed in the long jump at the 1998 Paris World Junior Championships.
Graham opens up on July 23 with a qualifying heat in his event, the 3,000-meter steeplechase. In the junior division, he is ranked No. 11 in the world. A dozen athletes will advance to the July 25 finals.
"I've got a chance to make it to the final race," Graham said. "A lot will depend on who is competing in my heat. There are nine athletes from Africa who are ranked ahead of me."
His parents, James and Alison Graham, won't be able to watch their son. They will be attending the college graduation of Matthew's older sister, Caroline, from St. Andrews University in St. Andrews Scotland. That town is also the site of the British Open.
Cross country coach Pat Savage couldn't be prouder of Graham.
"I am just unbelievably excited," Savage said. "I'll never forget when it happened. Matt was supposed to get a phone call at 12:30 p.m. (Chicago time) informing him if he had been selected for the team. Then, he was going to call me right away from Scotland.
"Well, it got to be 12:55 and still no phone call. I started thinking he didn't make it. Then, the phone rang and it was Matt with the good news.
"That was pretty darned exciting."
Savage said DePaul assistant coach Andy Craycraft designed the workouts that helped enable Graham to win the steeplechase event at the Great Britain Championships in June.
Savage believes Graham's World Junior Championships performance will have a big impact on the Blue Demons' program.
"We have already established a strong academic reputation," Savage said, noting that DePaul's men's team was named an All-Academic Team by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association after compiling the fourth-highest GPA of all Division I cross country programs in the nation. The women's team was also named an All-Academic Team with the nation's third-highest GPA.
"Now, having Matt compete at the World Junior Championships is just super for us. More and more people will be looking at our program."