Sanchez wins at competition
LAUGHLIN — For on Laughlin High School student, the trip to Australia proved to be a “once in a lifetime” experience.
Gonzalo Sanchez, who was invited to by Down Under Sports to compete in track and field events for Team U.S.A. in July, not only experienced a whole new country but continued to succeed in track with earning three medals.
Sanchez earned two bronze and a gold medal in races he usually runs in track in Laughlin. Sanchez ran in the 400 meter, 800 meter and in a 4x400 meter relay race. He even reached a new personal record for the 400 meter with a time of 51.72.
In the 800 meter, he finished with a time of 2:03.22. In the relay race, the team finished with a time of 3:25.44.
Sanchez said he ran with teammates Kyle McGuire, Winston Short, both of California; and Kelly Taahir, of Washington. He practiced with that group for a few days prior to competition, Sanchez added.
While Sanchez enjoyed the competition, it was the overall experience he loved, he said. More than anything, it was the people he met and the friends he made that he loved the most, he added.
Sanchez said the trip got to an inauspicious start with a delayed flight out of Los Angeles. But that didn’t deter him from enjoying the flight. It was his first time flying and what he liked a lot was taking off, he continued.
It was fun going from slow to real fast quickly, Sanchez said grinning. From the time he boarded the plane to go to Australia to when he disembarked in Los Angeles at the end of the venture, he was busy.
Sanchez said right when they landed he and the rest of the US team went sight seeing and grabbed lunch. From there they went to practice and had some free time that evening, he continued.
The next morning meant more practice, Sanchez said. But it wasn’t all work. The team then headed to the Kangaroo Fields where plenty of the marsupial could be seen lounging and hopping along. They could also see koalas in the trees, he added.
He said it was time to go back to the hotel for dinner and some free time. He spent a lot of time walking around and enjoying the sights. He enjoyed seeing how clean the beach was and the clear water, he added.
The third day included going to the wildlife sanctuary, Sanchez said. The team saw plenty of wildlife there, he continued.
Then it was more practice and three days of competition, Sanchez said. His team went up against New Zealand and Australian track teams.
Some elements he enjoyed the most were yet to come. Sanchez said after the competition there was a free day. He opted to do the 4x4 off-roading as his first activity and then he went kayaking and snorkeling.
The kayaking became really tiring but was well worth it, Sanchez said. Then the snorkeling provided him a chance to see marine life such as fish and crab, he continued.
No one, it seemed, wanted to see the trip come to an end. Sanchez said he and friends stayed up late and while some went to sleep, he remained awake longer than he should’ve. He woke up with about 15 minutes or so to get ready to leave for the airport, he laughed.
Sanchez spoke of the competition with fondness but the things that brought the biggest smile to his face were the people he met along the way and the activities he had the chance to experience.
The one thing he lamented about was jet lag. Sanchez said going to and coming home was a bit rough trying to adjust to the big time change but none of that changes his mind about the trip.
He said he’s really excited about the idea of traveling some more and hopes to do more in the future. The competition has him anticipating the spring track season already, he added.