Canada’s Fastest Woman who is finding strength through tragedy.
“I made a promise that day that I was going to do everything that he wouldn’t get the opportunity to do”
That day was March 27th 2015 after a week-long training camp in St.Kitts with Canada’s top runners. Khamica, alongside 5 of her teammates went swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, a common post training activity to soothe their legs and aid in recovery. That swim would have deadly consequences. Amongst calm waves a strong undercurrent was present and teammate Daundre Barnaby quickly found himself unable to feel the ocean floor beneath his feet. As Daundre screamed for help so did Khamica and her teammates while a few people nearby tried to swim to him. As multiple attempts were made to rescue, Daundre was dragged further away. After 4 hours divers rescued his lifeless body. Shock, overcome with heartache, anxious, confused, helpless his teammates grieved the devastating loss of a dear friend, teammate and someone who Khamica described as her brother. Daundre was only 24-years-old when he drowned, a horrific accident that profoundly impacted Khamica and many of her teammates. Through their own Olympic journey’s, they have used this tragic accident to keep Daundre’s memory alive. Daundre was known for his strong finishes in the 400m, for never giving up and for fighting until the end which is what would propel Khamica to some personal best performances in the coming months as she pursued Rio 2016. “He taught me to finish strong in the races and in the race of life.”
Only a month after Daundre passed, Khamica anchored Canada’s 4x100m relay team to a national record time and subsequently qualified the team for Rio. Canada hadn’t reached the Olympic finals in 32 years in this events. At the 2015 Pan Am Games Khamica ran 11.13 seconds in the 100m final earning the title as Canada’s fastest women for the first time in her career. Poised and on track for an incredible performance in Rio injuries struck, keeping her out of competition until a month before Olympic trials. Going to the line at trials was really difficult knowing she wasn’t 100%, she finished fourth, and was completely devastated that her Olympic dream had slipped away. However, one week before the Games were set to begin Khamica was given a second chance to qualify, she would have two attempts to run 80m in 9.10 seconds, if she did, she would become an Olympian. It came down to her second and final attempt and with everything on the line Khamica hit the mark and would be named to the 2016 Olympic team. Whenever she faces adversity, injuries, or feels like giving up she thinks of Daundre and what he would do.
The quadrennial between Rio and Tokyo would be plagued by nagging injuries that she fought to overcome and as the 2020 Games approached Khamica was running some of her best races ever. She had finally gotten back to the sprinter she was when she had earned the title of Canada’s fastest woman. But four months before the Games Khamica lost her biggest supporter. Her mom passed away from an auto-immune disorder. “Shocked and broken, I returned to Canada for 3 weeks, mourning and planning and funding funeral costs for my mom. Mentally and physically it was challenging to continue the season but I knew my mom wouldn’t want me to give up. I remembered my why and my mom’s words gave me strength. I made the Olympic team for Tokyo, ran my 2nd fastest time ever, and became a semi-finalist at the Olympics in the 100m.”
Paris 2024 will be her third and final Games. Leaving no stone unturned she now trains full-time in Louisiana where she has warm weather year-round in an elite environment with 8 Olympians and medalists. Unable to work on an athlete visa Khamica faces mounting coaching and travel expenses and has applied to CAN Fund to offset her costs to train and compete for Canada.
Support now in the crucial years leading up to the Games will help Khamica qualify for 2024 and when she comes to the starting line in Paris with her two guardian angels by her side, she can finish like Daundre!