The former Canyon Crest Academy runner, now an online student at Classical Academy High School in Escondido, clocked 4:07.12 in the 1,500-meter run, equivalent to a 4:27 mile.
Gomez, 16, ran in a combined T12-T13 race for visually impaired runners that resulted in a world record for Australia’s Jaryd Clifford, a 20-year-old who finished in 3:47.78.
“Taking into account the long season and a rest month off after Lima, which gave me only six weeks to incorporate a base period as well as a competitive phase, the race went pretty well,” Joel said Friday via email in a brief Q&A (see below). “I’m excited to have a base training period coming up for next year’s season.”
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Joel Gomez dominated from start to finish to cross the line in the 1500m T12 in 4:09.40. The United States athlete celebrated his 16th birthday on Monday and here he talks about his World Para Athletics Junior Championships debut, playing four musical instruments and his YouTube channel. #JuniorWorlds #Nottwil2019 #ParaAthletics
Weeks earlier, Joel’s won golds in the World Para Athletics Junior Championships in Nottwil, Switzerland — taking the 400-meter dash in 53.68 seconds and the 1500 in 4:09.40 in his first trip to Europe.
The 1500 was his only race in Dubai.
The 5-foot-8, 130-pound son of Rynn Whitley Gomez and Carlos Gomez was born with a rare genetic disorder called blue cone monochromacy, which he likens to the blindness one briefly experiences walking out of a dark theater into bright sunshine — except his affliction is constant.
He’s missing 98 percent of his cone photoreceptors and also has a rare form of color-blindness — “which means I can’t distinguish red from black, orange from green and blue from pink,” Joel told Times of San Diego last year.
More than 1,400 athletes from 120 nations are competing in Dubai through Nov. 15, including David Brown, 27, of Chula Vista, the world record holder in the 100-meter dash and the only totally blind runner to break 11 seconds in the sprint race. Jerome Avery is his guide. Also on the 63-member Team USA is Paralympian Joshua George of San Diego, entered in the T53 800, 1500 and 5000.
Last May, Joel took fifth in the CIF San Diego Section championships in the 1600-meter run with a 4:21.69 — the top sophomore in the county. His season included an 800 meters in 1:58.66 and a state-meet record 53.37 in the 400 in the ambulatory division.
“This has been such a positive experience for Joel at his age!” his mother said Thursday via email from Dubai — 12 hours ahead of San Diego time. “He is sincerely enjoying every race and learns something from each one.”
What. A. Final 😲#ICYMI the final 100m of the men's 1500m T13 where Jaryd Clifford storms to a new WORLD RECORD to claim the world title! Anton Kuliatin 🇷🇺and the Paralympic champ Abdellatif Baka 🇩🇿complete the podium.@BP @AUSParalympics #Dubai2019 #ParaAthletics pic.twitter.com/EdQC3NH2kp
— Para Athletics (@ParaAthletics) November 7, 2019
She praised Team USA and her son’s coach — Joaquim Cruz (1984 Olympic champion at 800 meters), who began training him after the last track season.
“We are taking a week to tour around Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” Rynn Gomez said on the meet’s opening day.
Andrew Corman, Joel’s former coach at Canyon Crest Academy in the Pacific Highland Ranch area of northern San Diego, said he was excited to hear that Joel placed 11th.
“I hope for him nothing but the best and continued success in running,” he said via email. “Perhaps next year after the Para Worlds are done he will come back to CCA and we will be happy to have him again.”
On Friday, Joel responded to questions from Dubai:
Times of San Diego: Why were T12 and T13 combined?
Joel Gomez: T12 without a guide and T13 are very similarly sighted. To have a bigger race with more competitors, I guess they just combined the two. My teammate, Noah Malone, a sprinter, who is a T12 without a guide, and I agree that instead of three blind categories, there should be two: one for those who need a guide and one for those who don’t. It would simplify this confusion. In the world, T12 and T13 are separately ranked.
Were you happy with 4:07? Any injuries or other challenges in race?
I’m not too happy with the overall time but moreso the splits. I went through the 400 in 61, 800 in 2:04-2:05, and 1200 in 3:10. I’m happy with these splits, as it shows I have the speed. I just have to work on gaining the strength in order to sustain that speed. It got a little hectic before checking in to the call tent (finding credentials and doing strides), so in the future I need to prepare for that a little more. Otherwise, the race went smoothly.
How were you treated by other entrants as such a young runner?
Everyone was very quiet before the race. A couple “good lucks” were exchanged. After the race, everyone went on their way. Overall, everyone was friendly.
What are your goals for 2020?
My goals for 2020 are to make the U..S Paralympic Team and attempt to podium at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. This world championships was a good test run, and I’m excited to tweak a couple things and go from there!
Updated at 10:18 a.m. Nov. 8, 2019
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