Stafford competes in relay earlier this season. MARTYN BAZYL/VARSITY BLUES

Former U of T psychology student Gabriela DeBues-Stafford has launched herself to fourth place in the world rankings for middle distance runnners. Stafford is hoping that this rise in prominence will lead to success at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, which will run from September 27 to October 6.

During her time with the Varsity Blues, Stafford came in first in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Cross Country Championships, and second in the 1,000-metre race at the USPORTS Cross Country Championships, both in 2015. She finished first in seven different OUA track and field competitions, and five USPORTS competitions.

As of September 25, 2019, Stafford has broken five Canadian records, including the mile and 1,500-metre indoor races, and the outdoor mile, 1,500-metre, and 5,000-metre races. She was also the first Canadian woman to break the four minute mark in the 1,500-metre race.

She believes she can medal in the IAAF championships, and now has a very realistic chance to do so. She will be Canada’s most prominent athlete in the competition. Stafford is also hoping that this competition prepares her for tough competition in the Tokyo Olympics.

“I think it’s a reasonable goal to break all my Canadian records again in the lead up to Tokyo,” Stafford wrote in an interview with the CBC. “As for the Olympics themselves, anything is possible. I’m not comfortable saying outright what I want, but everyone on the start line has the same goal in mind. It’s not a secret what our goal is.”

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