Olympic medallist who grew up in Yellowknife heads to CFL

Akeem Haynes pictured in 2017 - Akeem Haynes-Instagram
Akeem Haynes pictured in 2017. Akeem Haynes/Instagram

Yellowknife Olympic bronze medallist Akeem Haynes could make the transition to football this summer.

The 25-year-old, who served as lead-off runner for Canada’s 4x100m men’s relay team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, has signed a contract with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

“Football was always something that I wanted to do, especially coming out of high school,” said Haynes. “I always knew that I was going to come back to it, it’s just a matter of when, and this is that time for me. I’m 25, I’m not getting any younger, and I want to pursue that dream of playing football.”

Haynes was born in Jamaica but lived in Yellowknife from 1998-2004, where he attended Weledeh Catholic School, before moving to Calgary.



In Calgary he played quarterback, running back and served as a kick returner in high school. He now hopes to become the fastest man in the CFL by cracking the Tiger-Cats’ opening-day roster. Haynes will first report to the team in May for mini-camp.

“Probably the playbook, learning the playbook and the movement,” he says when asked about the biggest challenges facing him in his transition between sports. “But I’m a fast learner, so I think I’ll be able to catch on to those things fairly quickly.”

Haynes is not the first Olympic sprinter to attempt to make the move to the CFL, Disgraced former Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson reportedly tried out as a punt return for the Toronto Argonauts but was never officially signed to the team.

Haynes received the first-ever “key to the city” from Yellowknife mayor Mark Heyck in 2016. His mother and siblings still live in the city.

The Tiger-Cats are set to begin their 2018 pre-season against the Argonauts on June 1, before the regular season begins against Calgary on June 16.