Former Weaver High Star Daundre Barnaby Qualifies For Olympics

Hartford Daundre Barnaby will represent Canada in the Olympics, qualifying in the 400 meters. (Reuters)

When Daundre Barnaby won the Canadian championship in the 400 meters at the Canadian Track and Field Trials two weeks ago, he was met with the typical parade of well-wishers.

Some wanted to compliment him on his impressive finishing kick, which he used to push past Daniel Harper in the final 70 meters. Others wanted to tell him to enjoy the title and to thank him for putting on a show in Calgary.

But each of them needed to know something too — they needed to know who the heck he was.

"Everyone was saying 'good job but what's your name,' " Barnaby said Monday by phone from Brampton, Ontario.

Calgary may not know him. But the world soon will.

On August 4, Barnaby will run at the Olympics in London just three years after graduating from Weaver High School as a much-decorated high school runner.

"I've thought about this for a long time," Barnaby said. "My parents raised me to never give up on anything. We didn't have a lot but they taught me that anything in life I can get but I have to work for it.

Barnaby, who won the 400 meters at the Canadian Olympic Trials on June 29 with a time of 46.00, was selected for the national team last week by the Canadian Olympic Committee after taking the national title and meeting the Olympic B standard as a junior at Mississippi State.

The former Weaver standout and current Mississippi State athlete, who was born in Jamaica, can run for Canada because he has dual citizenship. He grew up in Brampton, Ontario before moving to Hartford when he was 9. He is currently training in Brampton before he heads to London then Germany on the 21st before showing up for the opening ceremonies.

"It is just the next track where you have to go out and compete," Barnaby said about London.

For Barnaby, the London experience will certainly be surreal but not unexpected.

"I told [The Hartford Courant] four years ago I wanted to be an Olympian," Barnaby said. "I always had the confidence."

Still, confidence is just one part of the puzzle and Barnaby knew that.

So after taking the Connecticut track scene by storm his senior year when he won a national indoor title in the 400 in just his second competitive season of track (he played soccer before making the switch), Barnaby committed to Mississippi State.

Turns out, he made the right choice.

Barnaby ran 45.67 this year in the NCAA Championships to get the Olympic B standard (45.90) and put himself in a position to earn a spot on the Canadian team. But maybe more importantly, he's also matured as a person.

Barnaby, who was an All-American this season in the 400 and 4x400 meter relay, says he's no longer the kid he once was. He is focused and hungry. And more than anything ready to put his unique talent to use.

That determination and will was clearly on display in Calgary at Foothills Athletic Park.

Moments after beating Philip Osei and Harper in the 400 meters by .29 and .36 seconds respectively at the trials, Barnaby stared intensely at the scoreboard to see his official time only to turn away with disgust. He wasn't happy. He wanted to run the standard again and wanted to continue to push the limits of his ability.

"I was kind of upset with myself," Barnaby said. "I got out of the box slow."