UMass Lowell grad to compete in Olympic Games
UNDATED (WHDH) -- A runner from a little island off the coast of Africa is making a big name for himself. The UMass grad is going to the Summer Games.
7's Anne Allred caught up with him on the track.
Ruben Sanca of Dracut has run his way right to the Olympic Games.
“Last calendar year I ran over 6,000 miles, that’s 150 miles a week, throughout the year, snow sleet rain,” Sanca said.
The 25-year old UMass Lowell graduate has been named an Olympian by his birth country, Cape Verde. He is one of just three athletes going to the games.
“Cape Verde is a very small nation. We’re about 1/2 a million, just to put in perspective, how many people from the city of Boston going to Olympics, it’s kind of about the same population,” said Sanca.
Ruben got his Olympic bid through a "wild card" system, but he also earned it the hard way.
“All the work just didn’t happen overnight, it was years, of just putting in the consistent work, I set up mini goals then as the Olympics came around the corner, next thing you knew I was getting into some of the bigger goals,” Sanca said.
The youngest of three boys, Ruben and his family immigrated from Cape Verde when he was just 12-years-old.
“Then I came to U.S. so no one knew me as a runner. I went back and won a national championship in college. So then people start to take notice,” Sanca said.
Ruben, who also has his MBA, was a four-time All-American at UMass Lowell and a three-time New England champion runner.
The soft spoken 6-foot-2 athlete will compete in London in the men's 5,000 meters.
And while he knows he is up against stiff competition, Ruben says his goal is much bigger than just winning.
“My goal to go in is not so individually, it’s more as for my country, to help athletics develop,” Sanca said. “I feel like I’m just a small piece, doing my part, contributing for my country.”
Ruben will run the 5,000 meter preliminary on Wednesday, Aug. 8. The 5,000-meter final is set for Saturday, Aug. 11.