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From Canada With Love with Gabriela DeBues-Stafford


This week’s guest is Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, fresh off setting two Canadian records in two weeks in the indoor 3000m and 5000m. Even before her big breakout at BU this past weekend, Gabriela has been one of the world’s best middle distance runners, finishing 5th in the 1500 meters at the Tokyo Olympics, with personal bests of 14:31 for 5k and 4:17 for the mile.

We had a super engaging, fascinating conversation. She reflected on her Olympics performance, talked about her experience joining Bowerman Track Club in 2019, and the secrets to her success in her relationship with her coaches Jerry Schumacher and Shalane Flanagan. We also talked about her identity as a proud queer athlete, her reflections on the tragic 2021 death of Agnes Tirop, and, because it’s Valentine’s Day, the story of how she met her husband Rowan.

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On being an out and proud bisexual athlete:

“Being bisexual comes with certain straight-passing privileges when I navigate the world, but on the flip side, there’s a lot of bisexual erasure. When people see me and assume that I’m straight, they don’t see me in my fullest sense. So I like to be loud and proud for all those young queer kids, to be a role model that I didn’t necessarily have growing up, especially for people who are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, seeing somebody who’s more fluid in the way they identify is really powerful.”

Reflecting on the Tokyo Olympics:

“I’d give myself an A. A+ would’ve been a medal probably [….] with those top three, it was gonna take a really special day for me to get a medal. I just had to overcome so much self-doubt and so many health issues. It felt like the whole year I was playing catchup adapting to the program at BTC and dealing with my relapse of Graves’ disease, and I don’t think I realized at the time what a big ask that was.”

On her relationship with BTC head coach Jerry Schumacher:

“It’s definitely a very healthy, very positive, even nurturing relationship. Jerry gives what every athlete needs and when I came to him I was very broken – mentally, emotionally, and physically scarred. He always holds me accountable, but I’m able to be very open with him and he’s a very positive person.”

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