A D.C. track star has blazed his way into the history books. Eric Gregory has become the first athlete from Gallaudet University to win a national championship.
Gregory, a sprinter, took home the title in the 400-meter dash over the weekend at the NCAA Division III outdoor track and field championships.
So much of running is about where you’re going, but for Gregory, it’s also a reminder of where you’ve been.
“I’ve been running since I was five, so it’s a long process,” he said. “It’s not easy.”
Gregory has hearing loss, which makes it difficult to hear the starting cues for a race.
“I did feel negative about myself before,” he said. “But eventually, we’re all human beings. There’s nothing different between what’s going on.”
Each of Gregory’s meets is a testament to teamwork. His coach, Byron Moore, leans next to him and gives him hand signals when it’s time to set.
“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here,” Gregory said. “He believed in me a lot, and I told him, I believe in him too.”
Moore said of the sophomore sprinter: “He works so hard. He’s working when people are not seeing him work. He’s alone running, doing workouts; he’s running hills in the middle of the night.”
Over the weekend, all that hard work paid off. Gregory sprinted past the competition in 46.19 seconds to win the national title in the men’s 400-meter dash. He posted the eighth fastest time in NCAA Division III history and improved on his own school record, Gallaudet University said.
“When I first arrived there, I was really nervous,” Gregory said. “But I knew if I stayed focused and put my head in the game, I would come out the way I should come out.”
Gregory is the first athlete at Gallaudet win a national championship. The school held a ceremony Tuesday in his honor.
“Whatever’s on your mind, or your journey, that you really want, put your faith in it; believe yourself in it,” he said.
Gregory also placed third at the NCAA championships in the 200-meter dash.