McDonald hurdles her obstacles for Champs glory
For Gabrielle McDonald, lots of prayer and her strong faith in God was the recipe that has seen her succeed at the recently concluded Girls' Champs.
The 19-year-old, who represented Edwin Allen in both the 100-metre and 400-metre hurdles won gold in both.
She ran 13.52 seconds in the sprint hurdles heats to set a new record, and then she ran an even faster time in the finals to set another record of 13.12.
"I felt elated after winning, especially knowing that I am coming from Holmwood Technical, which is one of Edwin Allen's biggest rivals for Girls' Champs," she said.
McDonald said running in the same races as Holmwood athletes was a challenge because she knew some of them.
For her, Edwin Allen has a more rounded track programme than Holmwood and that, coupled with injuries and a lack of motivation, fuelled her decision to transfer to the top girls' school in track and field.
Originally from Portmore, St Catherine, McDonald matriculated to the St Andrew High for Girls after GSAT, but her passion for athletics and wanting to better her talent as a track athlete, she left after three years for Holmwood and spent three more years.
Injuries hampered her development but McDonald, now a sixth-form student at Edwin Allen credits her faith for her success.
"I always put God first. I invite his presence into whatever I do because without him nothing is possible so I prayed about it. I prayed, prayed, prayed about it" she emphasised. "Eventually, God came through for me because I started to feel better as the days went by. The girls on the team also made me, feel comfortable as they motivated me, and eventually I gelled with the team.
McDonald said she likes obstacles and so she chose the hurdles as she realised she was good at overcoming obstacles as they presented themselves as she sees herself as a naturally determined person.
"The love I have for hurdles is just overwhelming. I thank my hurdles coach Kirk Douglas and head coach Michael Dyke for spending the time to work with me so I could go out there and represent and be successful," she said.
She wants to become an aeronautical engineer and has already secured a scholarship and hopes to attend Texas A & M university after high school, where she plans to continue as a track athlete with hopes of making it to the 2020 Olympics.