Some argue that we have some 80,000 people living in Dominica and while others doubt that figure it was hard to doubt the numbers that filled the Olympic stadium tonight.
It was her first international appearance and she was going up against the fastest woman on the planet. Number 1557 in Lane 3 of heat 6 was Luan Gabriel of the village of Bioche. A Student of the Isaiah Thomas Secondary School and member of Aspire Athletics Club lined up against the best sprinters in the world. As a matter of fact she was standing next to the 100m women Champion of London 2012. She had hoped for this moment and she intended to relish it.
The 2012 200m heat was going to be her toughest challenge yet. So far 2012 had been a good year for her. Gold at Carifta and qualification to the CAC Juniors along with her trip to the World Junior Championship had culminated with her inclusion in her national team for the London Game.
With the wind blowing colder than usual the young lady from the west coast showed a bit of inexperience as she warmed up on the track. The other athletes were clearly more versed in their routine and after all, it must have been a bit intimidating to stand in front this much people. Then the moment came!
The Announcer requested silence, called out the names of Shelly-Ann and Anthonique and off they went.
|Athlete||Country||Age||P/B||S/B||Results / Rank|
|Crystal Emmanuel||CAN||20||22.90||23.13||23.10 / 5|
|Shelly-Ann. F-Pryce||JAM||25||22.10||22.10||22.72 / 1|
|Luan Gabriel||DOM||16||24.09||24.09||24.12 / 9|
|Viktoriya Zyabkina||KAZ||19||22.92||22.92||23.49 / 7|
|Anthonique Strachan||BAH||18||22.53||22.53||22.75 / 2|
|Nelkis CasaBona||CUB||28||22.97||23.59||23.82 / 8|
|Marielis Sanchez||DR||23||23.02||23.26||23.20 / 6|
|Evelyn Dos Santos||BRA||27||22.99||22.99||23.07 / 4|
|Elyzaveta Bryzgina||UKR||22||22.44||22.69||22.82 / 3|
According to Luan she was determined to get her time down to 23.8 but that did not happen.
A broad smiling Gabriel came into the mixing zone (the only place athletes can mix with the media) still breathing heavily and with a broad grin she echoed “Well I did my best, I was a bit concerned about my hamstring but I can say that I feel very proud to have been out there”.
Asked if she was disappointed she again responded positively “I got out of the blocks slower than I would like, I was a bit surprised at the pace they started with and had to work really hard to overcome the poor start”. Gabriel seemed excited to have participated and exclaimed quite gleefully “at least I can now say I am an Olympian”. She continued “I would have preferred a better time but the experience was good”.
Shortly thereafter her coach Joel Hamilton showed up. After exchanging an encouraging hug she again mentioned the hamstring. That seemed to have been on her mind a bit. I asked if she had received treatment for it and she said yes. She then said to her coach “Today they got a glimpse of me but in 2016 they will get to see me in Rio”.
I then asked her what it felt like being next to Fraser-Pryce (100m champ) and her response was as usual confident and brave, “well she help me pin on my tag and that was it”. There appeared to have been very little intimidation. “My intention was to stay focused on doing my best for my country and to put all the negatives aside” said the confident Gabriel. In the end she felt she lost a race but gained tremendous experience.
This young athlete deserves great commendation. She possesses raw talent, needs a lot of support and has the correct attitude for the creation of a champion. Her country needs to respond and we will explore that later this week.
She did her best. Usually your best should make yourself and your country proud. Tonight let the focus be on letting her know how proud we are of her efforts. The other stuff we can explore later in the week.
From the finish line In London England at the 2012 Olympics
Caribbean Sports Connection
On Behalf of the Olympic Committee
With the Compliments of Lime Dominica.
See video of the race below.