Feb. 3, 2009
RUSTON--Former Louisiana Tech track star Nina Gilbert has recently taken an unsatisfactory showing in the U.S. Olympic trials this summer and has turned it into motivation to make it "her time in '09".
After suffering the heartache of a poor showing this summer the Houston, Texas, native has recently run the second fastest time in the world at this point in the indoor track season in the women's 400 meter dash with a time of 52.28 seconds.
"I ran my career best time in my first meet of the year two weeks ago in Arkansas," Gilbert said. "I feel like if there was more competition at the meet I could have been pushed to run even faster, maybe even a 51."
The former All-American moved to Shreveport, La. to train after graduating from Tech in May of 2007. However, while in Shreveport Gilbert believed her training was not vigorous enough and decided to come back to her roots in Ruston and train with Louisiana Tech associate head track coach Shawn Jackson.
"In Shreveport I was training for the Olympic trials, but I felt like I wasn't being pushed hard enough," said Gilbert. "Coach Jackson is always going to be honest with me and push me to be my best. That's what I needed."
Gilbert began training with Jackson in January with the Olympic trials quickly approaching in June, leaving her with little time to get into "Olympic" shape.
"When Nina came to me in January she was not in the shape she needed to be in," said Jackson. "That left us with little time to train hard and she was only able to compete in one meet before she had to go to the trials. To be able to compete at your highest potential you have to run in more than just one meet."
When the Olympic trails came around in June of 2008, Gilbert found herself in Eugene, Ore., watching other athletes run through the semi-finals and into the finals as she failed to qualify to move out of the first round of the 400 trials.
"She ran probably the slowest time of her career since I've been working with her," said Jackson. "I felt so bad for her because I know how much she is capable of and she knew it too."
"After the trials Coach Jackson was like ok you did your best now let's take a break," said Gilbert. "I couldn't do that though. I had just started training hard and had only competed in one meet before the trials. I was fresh and ready to go and I just had so much more to give. I wasn't ready to quit."
This is where Gilbert coined her phrase of the 2009 season, "I'm going to make it my time in '09."
In Gilbert's first meet of the 2009 season she certainly made it "her time" as she ran the second fastest time in the world in the 400 meter dash and defeated the 2008 indoor champion, Shareese Woods of the University of Charlotte, by over a second, a very large margin in track.
Gilbert is making it "her time in `09" off the track as well as she is scheduled to graduate from Louisiana Tech Grad. School in May of 2009.
While training in Ruston as well as studying in grad school, Gilbert has somehow found time to coach the boy's and girl's cross country teams as well as helping in coaching boy's and girl's basketball at Ruston Elementary School this year where she has also had success. Her boy's cross country team won the state cross country championship and her girl's team finished as the state runner-up.
The month of February will be an important one for the former WAC champion as she will get to see if all of her hard work will pay-off. Gilbert will be going to Germany to compete in a meet before traveling to Boston to compete in the U.S. Indoor Track and Field National Championships on the last weekend in February, a perfect chance for her to prove to the nation that it is Nina Gilbert's time in 2009.