Olympic hurdler seeks out Raleigh coach
Posted March 19
Updated March 20
Raleigh, N.C. — Numerous athletes are gearing up to go for the golden ticket and the chance to represent their countries in the 2016 Olympic games in Rio, but few are willing to make the sacrifice of leaving a home country more than 700 miles away just to practice in Raleigh.
Jeffery Gibson, a 25-year-old 400-meter hurdler and native of the Bahamas, is making that sacrifice.
Gibson grew up loving the game of soccer, but his family moved to another island and a new school where soccer was not available to him. He needed something else to occupy his time, and that something was track.
Gibson says it was George Williams, coach of the St. Augustine's University track team, who attracted him to Raleigh to train. The duo met at a track meet in Moscow.
"I was first introduced to him at the world championships in Moscow, Russia, in 2013, and he told me about his program here and the different athletes that he has had under his belt," Gibson said.
Gibson, a bronze medalist in the IAAF World Championships in Beijing in 2015 and Bahamian record holder for the 400 hurdles, knew that he could possibly go further in perfecting his craft.
"I realized that I could go some place with this, and I want to be a better athlete, and the Bahamas are known for their 400-meter athletes, but not for their 400-meter hurdlers," Gibson said.
He packed up his life and joined Williams’ track club, G.W. Express.
"Being an (Olympic) hopeful from my country, a lot is expected out of me," Gibson said. "I’m expecting to make Bahamian history. I want to be the first Bahamian athlete to win a gold medal in the hurdles."
G.W. Express Assistant Coach Sandy Chapman had hoped that he would one day see himself on an Olympic track, but now his goal is for his athletes to take that spot.
"My dream was to always go to the Olympics, but I came up short," Chapman said. "I got a bone stress fracture on my heel, and the doctors said I could never run again, so I try to put that into somebody else, see somebody else go. That’s my biggest goal."
Gibson says that he has steadily seen improvement during his work with G.W. Express Williams, and he is anxious to get to this year’s Olympics in Brazil.
"I am nervous, but I think it’s more so along the lines of anxious and what I am going to do and what I’m expected to do," Gibson said. "You know, being from the Bahamas, I am a potential medalist."
Kendra Douglas is a senior Broadcast & Electronic Journalism major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is involved with Carolina Week, Sports Xtra and multiple organizations and non-profits on campus. Kendra mentors first-year student athletes and is a member of the UNC Track & Field team.