If Lucca Agate follows one philosophy in life, it seems to be “work hard, stay humble.”
After less than a year and a half as a runner, the once self-confessed sugar fiend has taken on not just a healthier new diet, but a training regime with incredible results.
In the recent Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) track and field championships, 16-year-old Leasider Agate took home gold in each of the 100 m, 200 m, 400 m, and relay distances. The Loretto Abbey student led her school to win the OFSAA championships for women’s teams in the Junior division.
Qualifying to compete in four events at OFSAA is already a massive accomplishment. But to earn golds in all of them? Even Usain Bolt only got Olympic golds in three distances.
In her drive to acquire outstanding training on top of that gained from her high school track coach, Lucca joined the Flying Angels Track & Field Academy, which trained six runners who participated in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Under the tutelage of several coaches, including head coach Earl Letford, Agate quickly embraced the club’s principles of team, learning from, and encouraging, those around her. According to Letford, “Lucca is really dedicated and takes instruction really well. She is so humble, just training and trying to get better.”
The club has given Agate the opportunity to compete in international meets, run against top-level athletes, and learn to adapt to the challenges of high-level events.
Not only has she rocketed to the top of her grade level in Ontario in her extremely short career as a runner, she has also rocketed to incredible rankings in Canada. Agate now ranks second in the country in the 200 m and 400 m distances, and third in the 100 m.
With such huge achievements under her belt, one might expect the 16-year-old to be just a little boastful about her success. But when the national rankings were mentioned to her mom, Peggy Tilbenny, even she was unaware of how successful her daughter was against other runners from across the country. Agate gently brushes off her success with soft and quiet humility.
Tilbenny and Agate are a tight-knit duo who spend a lot of time together. Tilbenny speaks about the life lessons she constantly instills in both her daughters. She speaks of facing and overcoming challenges and of the importance of connection and conviction. While she describes Agate as “disciplined, focused, and motivated” in her athletics, she also speaks proudly of her daughter’s academic success.
In terms of personal idols in the running world, Agate has been inspired by Allyson Felix, who, like Agate, competes in the 100m, 200m and 400m distances, and fellow Torontonian Andre De Grasse, who holds the Canadian record for medals for a sprinter in the Olympics. Agate had the opportunity to meet De Grasse at the OFSAA meet this past June and still seems to be beaming from the encounter.
Agate’s future certainly looks bright. According to coach Letford, “everything I have seen in her leads me to believe that if she continues on this path, she could be an Olympic runner.”