Samir Rehmtulla is kicking dirt at the old stereotype that jocks are dumb.
The Grade 10 Sardis secondary student was awarded an exemplary scholar award for being the top Grade 10 student at Sardis with a 4.0 grade point average for the year – in courses that included science 10 honours, math 10 honours, pre-calculus 11, computer programming and French immersion.
And this after coming off a successful, sweat-filled weekend at the provincial high school track and field championships where he finished within his personal best times for the 800-metre and 3,000-metre distances (2:11:85 and 9:57:40 respectively).
How does he manage it all?
“Sometimes I wonder about that myself,” the soft-spoken teen smiles. “There’s not a ton of free time … being organized helps a lot.”
A typical week day for Rehmtulla includes school, followed by either track or soccer practice until 4:30, and then six to seven hours of studying in the evening.
“I work in 45-minute chunks,” he says.
In between each session, Rehmtulla takes 10-minute mini breaks where he squeezes in a quick run or piano playing to “relax” his brain.
His competitive nature is what largely propels him forward.
Rehmtulla has been playing an assortment of sports since elementary school. He’s dabbled in basketball, volleyball, tennis, and has played both recreational and rep soccer, as well as track and field.
Next year, he plans to focus solely on track.
“I like the intensity of it,” he says. “With some sports, you don’t have complete control, but in running, everything comes down to every step you take, every little step counts – it’s all up to you.”
His competitive flare is not limited to the sports field.
Academically, Rehmtulla came in third and fourth place for the Chilliwack spelling bee competitions in grades 5 and 8 respectively, and qualified for the Vancouver Sun Regional Spelling Bee in Grade 8 where he placed eighth overall.
This year, he was part of the Sardis secondary math team to place first in the Fraser Valley for the internationally renowned University of Waterloo Cayley Contest. In that, Rehmtulla had the top score for the entire Fraser Valley zone.
“I always want to finish as high as I can,” he says.
In total, Rehmtulla averaged 99 per cent for the school year.
It doesn’t come easy.
Somedays Rehmtulla would prefer to stay in bed over school. He doesn’t enjoy exams, nerves often overwhelm his stomach, but he pushes all that aside, focusing only on his future goals.
He wants to attend post-secondary. He wants to be a better runner. He wants to be on a university running team.
So, he attends classes, he studies for hours on end, opting against TV time and often social gatherings with friends. On the track, he pushes his body to the extreme, using every ounce of gas in him for those 10 minutes or less to ensure he finishes knowing he gave it his all.
“I know I want to go to university, and to do that, I’ve got to work hard for it, I’ve got to do well,” he says.
“Sometimes it’s not enjoyable. Sometimes it is.”