Glastonbury’s Donn Cabral is hoping to go to his second straight Olympics in the track and field event called the steeplechase.
The 26-year-old first started dreaming of the summer games when he was a little kid watching Michael Johnson win gold in the 1996 Olympics.
“Thinking I want that to be me one day, I want to be on the Olympic stage one day. I want to race for my country,” Cabral told NBC Connecticut Sports Director Kevin Nathan.
Cabral achieved that goal in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, finishing 8th in the steeplechase
“I think if you had taken my personal best time compared to everyone else in the meet, I should have made finals, I shouldn't have been top 8, but when it counts I'm gonna show up and I'm gonna run well,” he said.
But that wasn’t always the case when Cabral started playing soccer in high school.
“I was also one of the slower sprinters on the squad so I did track to hopefully make varsity team the second year,” he recalled. “Didn't end up getting any faster at sprinting but ended up getting a heck of a lot better at distance running.”
Cabral went on to dominate mid-distance running at Glastonbury High and was an eight-time All American at Princeton, where his coach saw his athleticism and suggested he try steeplechase.
The track and field event is often confused with the horse race that goes by the same name. The events are similar – both involve obstacles like hurdles and water pits.
“It’s 3,000 meters just under two miles,” Cabral explains of his event. “On the track not on field or in roads, on the track and each lap has five hurdles and one of those five hurdles has a water pit after it so you jump onto the hurdle through the water pit, keep running with shoes that are not that wet which is always the next question.”
Cabral has his sights set higher than just competing this time around.
“Being a one-time Olympian versus a two-time Olympian, small distinction. It’s either a medalist or you're not. I would prefer to be a medalist instead of an 8th place finisher at the Olympics so I'm doing whatever I can,” he said.
Cabral trains by running more than 100 miles a week but his biggest run will be this Friday in the steeplechase finals. If he finishes in the top three, he goes on to the Olympics.