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Gabriela DeBues-Stafford withdraws from outdoor season due to injury

The seven-time Canadian record holder will miss the World Championships in July

Two-time Olympian and multiple Canadian record holder Gabriela DuBues-Stafford will not be competing at the World Championships in Oregon this year. DeBues-Stafford announced on Instagram Wednesday that she has a stress reaction in her sacrum.

The distance runner had started the outdoor season off in phenomenal style with a third-place finish at the Prefontaine Classic in May. She had hoped that would set the precedent for a record season ahead, she says: “My 1500m in Pre this year showed us we were ready for some big things this year. I was so excited to see what those big things would be, can we make a podium? a PB? North American record?”

DeBues-Stafford had a record-shattering indoor season, with multiple new Canadian records over 3,000m and 5,000m and a new North American record in the 5,000m of 14:31.38. She holds seven Canadian indoor and outdoor records.

While stating that she feels thankful for her team, DeBues-Stafford expressed shock and devastation, and said she has never had a bone stress injury until now. “To go from feeling in the best shape of my life to barely walking in less than a week is gut wrenching,” she said.

DeBues-Stafford recently left the Bowerman Track Club, where she had trained for almost two years, citing  her former teammate Shelby Houlihan’s doping ban and the stressful aftermath as the reason.

Stress appears to have played a part in DeBues-Stafford’s injury. She says that along with her husband, Rowan DeBues-Stafford, she has dealt with “one stressful situation after another” since the beginning of the pandemic. DeBues-Stafford explains that the injury seems to be “partly mechanical/strength related, partly some underfueling, not enough consistent sleep/recovery, and also lots of stress. Stress does crazy things to the body.”

DeBues-Stafford’s news follows a similar announcement by Canadian half-marathon record holder Andrea Seccafien, who revealed a week ago that she will undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus. “What hurts the most is that I did absolutely everything I could to put myself in the best possible situation to have a great year,” Seccafien said.