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University of Phoenix alumna heads to international track and field games

Track star TraMayne Gillyard

Most people have big dreams, but few people have the chance to turn their biggest, most ambitious dreams into reality.

TraMayne Gillyard is one of the lucky ones.

The University of Phoenix alumna, who received her MBA degree this year from the University of Phoenix Central Florida Campus, is in Toronto to compete in the 400-meter race at the Toronto International Track & Field Games. She's been training about six hours daily in Clermont, Fla., with three other female track-and-field hopefuls who have similar dreams of winning medals and eventually making the Olympic Games.

“When you have a goal, you block everything out, [including] the pain that you feel,” Gillyard says, shortly before heading into a grueling session of running and weight training.

Now 25, Gillyard began running at age 11 in a summer track program in Jacksonville, Fla., where she was raised. Talent runs in the family: Gillyard’s mother was an Olympic hopeful in the 1980s, and Gillyard’s sister was also a track star.

When you have a goal, you block everything out, [including] the pain that you feel.

“To be honest, the only reason that I decided to run track was because my sister was good at it,” Gillyard says. “I was so horrible, but I decided to stay with it.”

She quickly improved and still holds the 400-meter record at her middle school in Jacksonville. In high school, she won the state title as a member of the 4 x 400-meter relay. She was also a National Junior Olympian in the Amateur Athletic Union from 1999 to 2005 and a USA Track & Field Junior Olympian from 2000 to 2001.

Gillyard eventually received a full track-and-field scholarship to Middle Tennessee State University, where she was a standout. She graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 2009.

Gillyard is now being coached by Gary Evans, who has helped train others for the Olympic Games. “TraMayne is a very humble athlete,” Evans says. “When she comes to practice, she puts in 110 percent. She really goes over and beyond to try to accomplish what she needs to accomplish.”

While attending classes at University of Phoenix, Gillyard worked two part-time jobs and maintained a demanding training schedule. Now she is focused exclusively on her running career.

Gillyard may eventually study for a doctoral degree, but not within the next two years. “Right now I want to do something in human resources,” she says, “but ultimately I want to be a sports agent.”

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