As Varsity Blues track star Gabriela Stafford gained success, her career aspirations and her confidence grew. But even after she earned a spot at the 2016 Olympics, “I still felt like an imposter,” says Stafford, who’s in her final year of a psychology degree. “I had doubts about my ability to race the best in Canada. Now I truly feel like I belong.”
Going into the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in London this summer, where she came in 12th in the 1,500 metre semi-final, Stafford was calmer and was focused on executing her race. “Qualifying for worlds wasn’t any different than what I had to do to qualify for the Olympics,” she says. “I had successfully gone through the qualification process once, so I knew I could do it again.”
Her family was on hand to cheer her on, including her father – U of T professor Jamie Stafford, a former world-class cross-country runner – and sister Lucia, a 2016 junior Pan Am champion in the 1,500 metres.
Stafford credits U of T Varsity coaches Terry Radchenko and Ross Ristuccia and the track and field program with making her the athlete she is today.
Watch: Gabriela Stafford and sister Lucia compete in a thrilling end to the OUA Indoor Track and Field Championships, 1,500 m, Feb. 2017.