Star girl Gaskin
Seventeen-year-old Sonia Gaskin arrived at school yesterday to the heroine’s welcome she deserved.
The Parkinson Memorial Secondary School fifth form student was not only the victrix ludorum in the just concluded Barbados Secondary Schools Athletics Championships (BSSAC), but the first female athlete to win gold in the 400 metres, 800 metres, 1 500 metres and 3 000 metres races, setting two meet records, as well as two personal bests in the process.
To make matters better, she has also received at least ten scholarship offers to universities in Minnesota, Kansas, North Carolina and others, although Gaskin said she had not made any decisions.
The celebrations started when Gaskin, along with other members of the athletic team, arrived at school in a limousine, courtesy of Exquisite Limousine Services, to loud cheers from fellow students who surrounded the vehicle.
After some gift-giving and picture-taking, the group spoke to the WEEKEND NATION. They described the experience as “overwhelming” and even “scary” while Gaskin said she was speechless.
“Words can’t express,” she said, adding it was one of the best moments she spent at the school.
Gaskin, who is also the school’s headgirl, said she was sad to leave Parkinson, as this was her final year, but excited at the prospect of running overseas, especially in her pet event, the 800 metres.
She said everyone at the school had been supportive, but revealed she was not considering a career in athletics.
“I want to be a paediatrician so I am using track and field to get scholarships so I can continue studying and get into my occupation,” she said.
Another star athlete was 17-year-old Shavonté Bradshaw, who has won both the pentathlon and javelin for three years in a row. This is also her last year at Parkinson and she has three scholarship offers to mull over.
The youngest member of the group was first form student, 12-year-old Tia Lewis. Both principal Orson Alleyne and coach Raymond Rudder said Lewis had similar focus and talent to Gaskin so they had high hopes for her.
“At first I was in shock; I can’t believe I ride in a limo. I want to do as well as Sonia,” she said, adding the 400 metres was her favourite event.
Alleyne said Gaskin’s sporting endeavours had taken her to Tortola, St Lucia, the Dominican Republic, Cayman Islands the Isle of Man and Miami, and she is eligible to compete in the upcoming CARIFTA Games in Bermuda.
In addition, he said Gaskin not only performed on the track but in the classroom as well as she had been placing first in class for the past five years and gained CXC passes in three subjects while entered to write five more.
“It is important to note that Sonia is a Christian who doesn’t flaunt her Christianity, but will be the first to tell you that her exceptional performances have all been achieved through the inspiration and help of Almighty God,” Alleyne said.
He predicted that she would reach the Olympic Games.
“Sonia will continue to perform well. She will continue to break records. She will do us proud; she will do Barbados proud. She is our hero, let’s celebrate her today!” Alleyne said.