Gabby's last chance
Herb McKenley won his first Olympic gold medal in his very last Olympic race, the 4x400 metre relay final in 1952. This week, Gabrielle McDonald will be attempting something similar in the class one 100 metre hurdles at Boys and Girls Championships.
Now at Edwin Allen Comprehensive High School, McDonald is an outgoing senior, down to her last chance to win an individual Champs medal.
She bounced back from a surprise loss at the Carifta Trials with victory at Central Championships.
"My focus for Champs is just going out there, representing my new school, Edwin Allen the champions, go out there and just execute, focus."
She started her Champs career at St Andrew High and placed fifth in the 2014 class three 80-metre hurdles. A move to Holmwood saw her finishing eighth in the class two 100 hurdles and fourth last year in her first year in class one.
Close wins at the Central Hurdles and Relays in 14.11 seconds, and the Youngster Goldsmith Classic in 13.55, over former Holmwood teammate, Nicolee Foster, and Amoi Brown of Vere, respectively, made McDonald the favourite for Champs. That status was disturbed at the Trials when she placed third to Brown and Janeek Brown of Wolmers.
'Gabby' has put that loss behind her. At Central Champs, she got back to basics.
I listened to my coach's instructions," she revealed when the race was over, "and just went out there and executed as planned."
The directions from Edwin Allen hurdles coach Kirk Douglas were succinct.
Just get out, lean, attack. Run to the line," she repeated.
The diminutive hurdling prospect reveres Sally Pearson, the 2012 Olympic champion. Her voice became wispy when she mentioned the Australian.
"She's a great hurdler and I really admire her," McDonald stated. "She's really quick," she said with emphasis, "and her technique is awesome."
McDonald is planning to take up a US track scholarship later this year but for now her focus is on Boys and Girls Champs. She will need to be at her very best as Brown of Vere logged the fastest time of the season - 13.33 seconds - at the Trials. Brown of Wolmers, 13.52, is also ahead of McDonald who clocked 13.57 seconds.
Those times threaten the record of 13.56 seconds set by Peta-Gaye Williams of St Jago in the 2015 preliminary round, possibly when the field lines up in tomorrow's semi-final.