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Paterson ends season with Legion gold

After a summer of winning performances, the local heptathlon star races toward an ambitious goal.
Gabby Paterson wears her gold medal after winning the heptathlon at the Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships in Sherbrooke, Quebec. VANESSA PATERSON/ Supplied

Gabby Paterson has once again made St. Albert proud — this time by winning a gold medal in the heptathlon at the Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships. 

The prestigious event took place in Sherbrooke, Que., Aug. 11-13, and saw over 900 young Canadian athletes compete in Canada's only comprehensive track and field championships for the under-16 and under-18 categories.

Paterson, who recently added four gold medals to her collection at the North American Indigenous Games in the 100-metre, 200m, high jump, and long jump, has had an impressive summer season on the track.

In the lead up to the national championships, Gabby attended a qualifying meet in Calgary from June 16-18. At this event, she had to come in first or second place, as well as meet the qualifying standards to make the team. The young athlete did not disappoint, taking top honours and setting herself up for her incredible performance at the Legion Nationals.

Reflecting on her successful season, Gabby attributed the positive outcomes to her commitment and dedicated coaching team. 

"I think I had a successful summer season because I trained and put a lot of time and effort into it,” Paterson attests. “Also, my coaches supported and helped me to be prepared.” 

While maintaining the ability to run and jump with the best in the country is an unending process, Paterson said spring sessions leading up to the peak months can be especially critical. In anticipation of the busy summer season, Paterson upped her workout frequency and made sure she was in the best possible position to edge out her rivals.

“I definitely had to train more frequently to get ready for the busy season,” she said.

The immensity of the opportunity to compete against some of the top young athletes in the country is not lost on Paterson; the gratitude expressed by the rising young track star is accordingly immense. 

"I feel honoured to be able to compete at such a high level," says Paterson, recalling the thrill of sharing the track with other top competitors. 

Quickly becoming one of the top youth track prospects in Canada, Paterson observed the increases in speed and skill are markedly higher at an event like Legions.

"I find at a national level the amount of good competitors gets larger," she said.

In addition to her stellar performance in the heptathlon, Paterson also competed in the 400m hurdles, where she finished in a commendable 12th place. She was originally scheduled to run the 4X400m relay as well, but had to withdraw because of the strain of the physically demanding heptathlon and hurdles events.

With summer drawing to a close, Paterson is finished with major events for the remainder of the year, but is already looking forward to competing in 2024. As for her more distant goals, Gabby is chasing big dreams: heading stateside to compete in track and field for a Division 1 school. It would be a massive achievement, but it is one that seems more than doable given her talent and tenacity.

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