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Ibarra hoping to compete in Europe

April 09, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

IMPERIAL — A few months ago Imperial High School track and field standout Gabriel Ibarra received a letter from International Sports Tours.

The letter read: "We would like to invite you to be one of 120 track and field athletes from across the United States to participate in a USA Track and Field-sanctioned international competition and European tour next summer."

As soon as he read the last word he knew one of his dreams was close to being realized.

"I've been waiting for something like this to come up ever since I started running," said the 18-year-old senior. "I am really excited about this. This is an opportunity I may never have again and I'm really looking forward to it."

This is the 16th year International Sports Tours has sponsored the event — to run this year from June 24 to July 11 — which gives track and field athletes and cross country runners from the U.S. the opportunity to travel to Europe and participate in the 18-day event.

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Ibarra will compete in two track meets, the first in Innsbruck, Austria, on July 1 and the second in Olten, Switzerland, on July 5.

Ibarra and his U.S. teammates also will tour the Olympic Stadium in Munich, Germany, visit the Swiss Alps, watch a Grand Prix meet in either Switzerland or Germany and visit the Arc De Triomphe, the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Ibarra was given the opportunity to participate in the event based on performances his sophomore and junior seasons.

Competing in the 400 meters, 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and triple jump, he qualified for the CIF San Diego Section post-season preliminaries and finals the past two seasons. He is a two-time all-Desert Coastal League selection and was the Southern Conference champion in the triple jump and 110 hurdles last season.

Said Imperial track and field coach Wolfgang Horner: "This whole thing is a great opportunity for him to see other talent and learn different training techniques to better himself. This is a good learning experience for Gabriel.

"I'm not surprised at all that he was contacted about this because this is something that he's really worked for. I just wish he could've done this last year because it would've been more helpful to him and his teammates this season."

While just getting an opportunity to be invited to compete alongside some of the best high school talent in the country and go abroad is an accomplishment, it comes at a price.

The total cost of the trip is $3,500. Ibarra has been working diligently to raise the money but is still about $1,900 short.

"I've been trying to get as much help as I can going to local businesses trying to raise the money, but I still need more help," said Ibarra. "I'm real excited about going, but it would be a disappointment if I couldn't go because I couldn't raise enough money."

Ibarra can be reached at 353-9037 or 335-9037.

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