Tarboro hurdler Todd Gurley was faced with an unlikely decision for any soon-to-be high school senior Wednesday.
Walking off the track at the World Youth Trials in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Gurley had the chance to represent his country.
A new personal-best — 13.88 seconds — won the 110-meter hurdles and earned him a chance to compete at the World Youth Championships in Lille, France next week.
Gurley received an invitation to the Nike football camp in Oregon that same time period. He had to chose one. The choice was difficult.
“At the end of the day, it’s France,” Gurley said. “Just the chance to go over there and see other countries and just get U.S.A. uniforms and just represent this country is the reason why I really picked it.”
Gurley will leave for France today and will run in the 110 hurdle preliminary race Thursday. He could qualify for the semifinals and finals on Friday.
“It (has) just made me appreciate my country more and will make me start supporting the people who do represent the country,” Gurley said. “It’s just a special moment for me.”
Gurley will land in Paris, but won’t have much time for sightseeing — although he’d like to catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. Lille is roughly two hours outside of Paris.
Gurley turned down the opportunity to be spotlighted on the football field and to be coached by NFL players to run for the United States.
“I just felt like this opportunity was better,” said Gurley, who didn’t think that missing the camp would hurt his football status.
Gurley edged out Christopher Williams by .06 seconds in the finals race in Myrtle Beach after losing to Williams by .05 seconds in the preliminaries.
Despite the new personal record, Gurley still felt that he could run faster. He said the lanes at the youth trials were very narrow and he was bumping into his opponents.
“It kind of threw my technique off,” he said. “I just used my speed as an advantage.”
Gurley also finish fifth in the 100-meter dash at the meet.
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.