Sonia Gaskin: A Teenage Prodigy

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??Sonia (far right), with her fellow medal-winning CARIFTA athletes on their return from the recent CARIFTA Games in Jamaica.

Academics and athletic prowess are two areas that ignite a competitive spirit among young people, particularly when they pursue them with much fervor. Each school year, children study hard, attend after-school lessons, or train for athletic championships; all for the sake of reaching the ultimate goal – of being the best.

At the Parkinson Memorial Secondary School, there is one such student who has spent the last five years focusing on her goal and ensuring that nothing or no one gets in her way. Sixteen year old Sonia Gaskin is slender and soft-spoken, but has big dreams and has spent her whole life aiming for nothing short of success.

A silver medallist in this year’s CARIFTA Games, which took place in Jamaica, Sonia is no newcomer to the track. Since her entry into the Pine, St. Michael school, and through the advice and support of the school’s coach, she has participated in numerous track and field events including Interschool Sports, the Pacers Track Meet, Young Olympians and Nationals.?? ??

Despite her shy appearance, Sonia adapts and does well during these meets which usually attract large crowds. "When you go into competition you just have to forget about the crowd, and forget about what people may say or think of you. Just do what you have to do and do your best," she firmly asserted.

However, success does not simply drop in a person’s lap, and for Sonia three to four hours of hard work each day are her requirements to achieve her goal. "I have to train every day. Training is very hard and very intense, but I am committed. I have to maintain my diet and eat mainly ground provisions and some carbohydrates, to build up on my energy," the Parkinson student stressed.

But, what makes this outstanding athlete so different from her counterparts? Sonia is also a top achiever, academically, and has placed first in class each year of her secondary school life, with an above 70 per cent average.??????????????????????

She points out that her athletic training has never affected her schoolwork, and stated "no matter what time I get home after training I always get into my books. It has been a habit."

The nature lover highlighted Biology as her favourite subject and modestly observed that she usually attained top marks in that field. Sonia’s passion for the sciences, in addition to her love for children, has sparked her determination to enter the medical profession.?? "I want to be a pediatrician…I will do everything to become a pediatrician, that’s how much I want to pursue that specialty," she emphasised.

Armed with high hopes of obtaining a scholarship to study medicine, Sonia will continue to strive for the best.

"I have qualified to go to France in July, and I hope to qualify to go to CAC Seniors. I also want to go on to PANAM Juniors, and from there to Ireland," Sonia outlined.

This aspiring teenager credits the encouragement of her parents, family and teachers for her success, and expressed gratitude for their input during those times when her self-confidence was a bit low.

Sonia encourages other young people who may be interested in athletics to put their all into it. "Just go after your goal, and don’t let anybody derail your dreams. The only obstacle that can make your dream impossible is the fear of failure," she advised.

sharifa.medford@barbados.gov.bb

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