Canada’s most successful long-distance runner, Mohammed “Moh” Ahmed, was presented the Key to the City by St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik yesterday (September 13).
Those who remember last year’s Tokyo Summer Olympics might recall how coming into the final 100 metres of the 5000M, Ahmed was in fourth before turning on the jets to finish second and capture Canada’s first medal ever in long-distance events.
In the end, he was only 0.46 seconds behind gold medalist Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda. Cheptegei finished in 12 minutes 58.15 seconds followed by Ahmed at 12:58.61.
Ahmed was already been honoured for his achievements after his old alma mater, St. Catharines Collegiate Secondary School, named their track in his honour – the same track where the Olympian started running all those years ago after moving to to St Catharines from Somalia with his parents at the age of 11.
Now he has the Key to the City also embossed with his name on it.
“The Key to the City is presented to individuals whose contributions in their career reflect positively on our hometown,” said Sendzik.
“We are proud to honour Moh’s accomplishments and the pride he brings to our city with his continued success on the track.”
Ahmed was also recently recognized as co-recipient of the 2021 St. Catharines Athlete of the Year Award alongside rower Kristen Kit, who won gold for Canada at 2021 Olympics. Kit received the Key to the City in August.
Kit may have received her Key a little earlier than Ahmed but the 30-year-old runner can always lay claim to the fact he’s getting the last Key to the City ever from Sendzik, who won’t be running in next month’s municipal election.
“Moh’s journey has been an inspiring one. From his family’s passage from war-torn Somalia via Kenya to St. Catharines, to his journey to the Olympic podium, he has blazed a trail that young athletes can aspire to follow,” said Sendzik.
“He never rests on his laurels, striving to be better every time he takes to the track. And each step of the way he always keeps our City close to his heart, recognizing it as the place where his illustrious track career had its humble beginnings.”
Ahmed joins a prestigious list of recipients of the Key to the City, including Doug Hamilton, Kristen Kit, Tim Hicks, Dr. Dan Patterson, Norm Foster, Edward Burtynsky, Dr. Jack Lightstone, Tom Rankin, Robert Cooper, Fergie Jenkins, Mary Ann Edwards and Dr. Rosemary Hale.
When his old alma mater, St. Catharines Collegiate Secondary School honoured Mohammed Ahmed by naming their track after him last autumn, Mayor Walter Sendzik finally got to see the runner’s Olympic silver medal up close