Amid a lingering pandemic, ubiquitous social unrest and persistent wildfires, the holder of six Canadian records Gabriela DeBues-Stafford is quietly growing stronger in Portland, Oregon.
Few Canadian athletes can say they've enjoyed a year of running quite like DeBues-Stafford enjoyed 2019. The Toronto runner started the year by training in Scotland with world-class miler Laura Muir and under coach Andy Young. Months of hard work transformed the 2016 Olympian and 4:03.55 1,500m runner into a finalist at the 2019 World Athletics Championship in Doha. There, she ran to a sixth place finish in 3:56.12 - it made her the 21st fastest woman in world history. It's a performance she will not soon forget.
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Since then, however, DeBues-Stafford has relocated to Portland, Oregon, to prepare for the 2021 Olympics with the Nike Bowerman Track Club. Much like when she became the first Canadian woman to break the 4 minute 1,500m barrier, she currently waltzes into the unknown. A new group, a fleeting indoor season, and the still-uncertain status of the Olympic Games is turning her training into a guessing game. Yet, she approaches each day as if the opportunity to challenge the best runners in the world is just around the corner. Because, for all she knows, it might be.
Today, the Canadian talks to Alex Cyr about her move to the States and first months with her new club, her transformation from top Canadian runner to international medal threat, her thoughts on how the 2021 Olympics can safely take place (and if they even can), why she's not on Strava, and why she is getting the short end of the stick with her new coach Jerry Schumacher's "Jerry Miles."