Jeffery Gibson looking for redemption this season

After he surged to the forefront of Bahamian track and field in 2015, national record holder in the men’s 400 meters (m) hurdles Jeffery Gibson failed to capitalize on that success in 2016, as he was hampered by injury, and had a disappointing showing at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

Gibson said he suffered a torn labrum in a practice session in London, England, just before the Müller Anniversary Games meet, and had only a few weeks to prepare for the Olympics.

Although he tried to “gut it out”, Gibson’s performance showed that he wasn’t at full strength at the games. He finished eighth in his heat of the event in 52.77 seconds, and failed to move on to the next round – a far cry from the 48.17-second national record he set at the 2015 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Beijing, China.

Along with the injury, Gibson said that a number of off-the-track distractions hindered his performance last season as well.

“This year could have been one of my best seasons, but I didn’t build off of the success I had in 2015,” said Gibson in an interview with The Nassau Guardian yesterday. “I got distracted and I think that happens when you see a bit of success in certain areas. You just lose focus, and I think that it’s unfortunate to pay such a big cost to get a reality check that you need to focus.

“After my race in Jamaica I felt I was at a place where I could redeem myself and recover, but it didn’t play out. Then I fell down in London, and that really put the nail in the coffin. I felt as if I had no options, and I thought to myself that I really hadn’t done nearly as much as I should have this season. I returned home for about two weeks ahead of Rio, and I used that time for recovery. I was at a point where I couldn’t run. I couldn’t even stride, and although I had a few good days of training, my legs were gone.”

Now looking to rekindle that magic he had in 2015, Gibson has already begun his offseason training, but this time, things are a bit different. For the first time in his career, he’s dealing with rehab, while trying to balance his regular training on the track.

“It can become a bit frustrating at times, starting off slower than I usually do,” Gibson said of his new routine. “Training started back up in October for me. I wasn’t completely healed when I began, but it was a start. I started off way behind the group, but now I’m pretty much up to par. Right now, it’s still mostly the basics, but in January, things are expected to shake up a little bit. I’ve been seeing my doctors, therapists and chiropractor regularly to ensure I’m in good shape headed into the new year.”

As for now, Gibson doesn’t plan to compete in any indoor meets, but does have two early-season outdoor meets already on the agenda – the IAAF Diamond League opener in Doha, Qatar and the Grenada Invitational in April.

“Coming into the season, I have changed my entire mindset,” he said. “I cut off a lot of social distractions, and right now, I’m all about training and resting. It’s just about finding a balance between my public relations and my work on the track. As for now, I don’t think the indoor meets fit in with what I’m trying to do, but I know Chris Brown is pushing for the Grenada Invitational. Our coach wants us to go to Grenada, and after that, I’ll probably go to Qatar. There’s also a chance for the world relays as well.”

The IAAF World Relay Championships is set for April 22–23 right here in The Bahamas, the inaugural Grenada Invitational is two weeks earlier, Saturday April 8, in St. George’s, Grenada, and the IAAF Diamond League opener will be held May 5, 2017, in Doha, Qatar.

In 2015, Gibson won a historic 400m hurdles bronze medal for The Bahamas at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China. It was the first senior global medal of any color for The Bahamas in the hurdles. That year, he also won gold at the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada.