HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - From the streets of Port Gibson to international grounds, Diandrenique Gaines has left the competition in her rear view mirror. Ahead of her is a future with limitless possibilities.
"Diandrenique is one of those special athletes that every coach wishes they have," Hattiesburg High School track and field coach Charles Green said. "They don't come around every day. They're very gifted. They make their teammates better."
Although she's just a sophomore, the Hattiesburg speedster is already a record setter and world traveler. The shy Gaines has certainly come a long way from when she first discovered her ability to outrun the opposition.
"I was 10 years old," Gaines said. "I was just outside street racing. Just outrunning rocks."
Green doesn't shy away from his high praise of the rising star.
"She's one of those type that when we're in a race, especially in our relays if we're behind, that she can provide that extra go that can pull us out of a hole," said Green.
Gaines is still in the early stages of learning her craft. This hasn't stopped her from building an already decorated career. Gaines holds the school mark in the 100 and the 200 meter runs. She's also competed abroad in China and Europe. This is in addition to junior Olympic competitions.
"When I went to China, I won the gold there," Gaines said. "And when I went to Europe, I set a record over there in Europe, and I won again. I'm a two-time international champ."
The magnitude of Gaines' travels isn't lost on Green.
"Kids in Mississippi, they don't travel like that," Green said. "So, it's great to be exposed to different cultures. See different athletes. Competing with them. Doing well. Competing against them. You get your confidence up."
The state and worldwide acclaim hasn't stopped Gaines from enjoying the moment. That's something her fellow Tigers can attest to.
"Not only does she bring a lot to the track, she has a very uplifting spirit," senior McKenzie Patterson said. "She's a very goofy person."
Though she comes off as reserved in public, Gaines is in her element on the track.
"She a little goofy," senior A.J. Woodson said. "She likes to play a lot. But, it should take her a long way. I can see her in the Olympics in 2020 or 2024. Both of them."
You can definitely say that Gaines is on the fast track to success, but it continues to be an ongoing process.
"She gets frustrated sometimes when she can't get things right, so I try to remind her Rome wasn't built in a day," Green said. "We're not going to get it the first time. It's not going to be perfect. So, we're just continuing working on those things. We see improvement from each meet, and that's the goal. Each meet, we want to get a little bit better than we were the previous meet."
In the near future, Gaines is looking forward to the college experience. She hopes to run for one of the nation's storied track programs.
"To go to college and to be an Oregon Duck," Gaines said of her future plans. "I just like their school and their track team."
Those witnessing this journey envision Gaines joining her track heroes, Tori Bowie and Allyson Felix, as Olympians.
"She's not an Allyson Felix or a Torie Bowie," Woodson said. "She's a Diandrenique Gaines."
With so much more room for growth, Green feels Gaines could soon join Bowie as a Mississippi sports hero.
"I think Diandrenique can be an Olympic caliber athlete," Green said. "Olympic medalist. Someone that you see on commercials and inspire other younger girls to I want to be like Diandrenique. Just like you have girls in Mississippi now. They want to be like Tori."