Four years ago in Beijing, Andretti Bain became the first ORU Olympic medalist in any sport, winning a silver medal in the 4x400m relay. This year, ORU could potentially have four current students and three alumni competing at the games scheduled to take place July 27 to Aug. 12 in London.
One of those athletes is junior Jeffery Gibson, a recreation administration major.
Currently the national champion for the Bahamas in the 400-meter hurdles and six-time Summit League champion, Gibson started running track and field in 2005 to stay in shape for competitive swimming.
“When [my coach] first met me, he told me off the bat ‘you’re going to be a 400 runner’ just based on my height, legs and open stride, so he worked with me a lot on the 400 meters,” said Gibson.
Working with his coach, Frederick Bastian, and the Kenyan Knights track club based out of Nassau, Bahamas, Gibson quickly made strides and in just two years had qualified for the 2007 World Youth Games held in the Czech Republic. He placed sixth in his semifinal that year and competed the next year in the World Junior Championships held in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
ORU was the first school to offer him a full ride, and despite later offers from LSU and many powerhouse schools along the East Coast, Gibson came to ORU where he met fellow national Bain.
“Once I start something I tend to finish it no matter what, and I knew no matter where I went, my speed and time would progress the way I wanted,” said Gibson. “[Bain] really helped me in training. I really like when there is someone of his caliber who can run with me and give me a challenge at practice.”
Gibson is looking to qualify for the 400-meter hurdle this summer and currently holds a personal best of 50.82 seconds, which he ran last summer. To qualify, Gibson must run an Olympic B standard of 49.80 anytime between now and his national trials June 22.
Whether he qualifies, at 21 years old, Gibson still has some running left to do. Gibson wants to make a career of track and field, being paid to do what he loves.
“I’m proud and happy to be able to represent my country,” Gibson said. “I feel that not too many people are able to do so, and I just want to make my people proud by doing what I can do and that is run.”
Of the seven ORU athletes looking to represent their nations this summer, only Clive Chafausipo and Prince Mumba have punched their tickets to the Olympics.
ORU alumnus wins Olympic silver medal in ‘08
Hometown: Nassau, Bahamas
ORU graduation: 2007, Master’s 2008
Personal record: 44.62 in 2008
2008 NCAA champion in both the indoor and outdoor 400 meters.
11-time Summit League individual event champion
Nine-time Summit League Track Athlete of the Week award winner
Holds the league’s all-time indoor 400-meter record with a time of 46.80 set in 2005
• Multiple Summit League Athlete of the Week and Year awards
Won a silver medal in the 4X400-meter relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics for his native Bahamas
Competed in the 2004 World Junior Championships where he placed sixth in the semifinals