By RON FANFAIR
While many Torontonians are preparing for this weekend’s annual Caribana celebrations, 13-year-old Aurea Gordon and her family will be heading south of the border to Pennsylvania for the Hershey Track and Field North American finals meet.
Launched in 1975, the meet attracts nearly 400,000 young people – ranging in ages from nine to 14 – from about 3,000 communities, including Canada which joined the program nine years ago.
This is the second time that Gordon is taking part in the Games, having secured a silver medal in the 4 x 100-metre relay three years ago.
“The competition and exposure was great when I went there in 2006 and I am looking forward to going back there and doing well again in the relay,” said Gordon who will compete in the 13-14 age category.
Jamaican-born parents Wayne and Sharon Gordon encouraged the elder of their two children – seven-year-old Rachel plays soccer and is a gymnast – to take up track and field after noticing her speed on the soccer field four years ago.
“She was quite fast for her age running up and down so we figured she might do well in athletics,” said Sharon who grew up in Ottawa and ran track in high school as did her husband who was a top sprinter at George Harvey Collegiate. “So far she has done very well in the sport.”
The Vaughan resident was exposed to her first taste of international track and field athletics last March when she took part in the 33rd annual Gibson Relays at the National Stadium in Jamaica.
Nearly 30,000 spectators attended the one-day meet that honour the memory of late Kingston College founding headmaster Bishop Percival Gibson. The relays, that included 38 events and eight championship events this year, have grown to become the hallmark track and field meet in the Western Hemisphere.
Gordon and Bramalea Bullets minor track club teammates Kendra Prince, Miriam Adul-Rashid and Jadyn Skeen finished fourth in the 4 x 100-metre relay.
“It was the first time that I have ever run before so many people, but I was not intimidated or afraid,” Gordon said. “It was also great because Usain Bolt was there and I got a chance to meet him.”
Gordon singled out Bolt, the world’s fastest man and Shelly-Ann Fraser as her track and field idols. Fraser won the gold medal at last year’s Beijing Olympics, leading an unprecedented medal sweep for Jamaica in the 100-metre sprint final.
The two-sport athlete from Elder’s Mills Public School maintains a hectic schedule.
She still plays soccer in the Vaughan Soccer League and trains three times a week on the track after completing her homework when the school day ends.
Gordon admits that even though she loves track and field, she does not like the training because “its hard work”.
“My goal is to compete in an Olympics and then get out of the sport to do what I really like which is pediatrics,” she said. “I love babies and caring for them.”
Gordon is also an accomplished singer. She’s a choir member of the Bethlehem United Church of Jesus Christ that her family attends and she has sung at two Jamaica Day celebrations.