CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Gabbi Cunningham finished fourth in the women's 100m hurdles semifinals with a score of 12.67.
The Charlotte track star competed in the 100m hurdles finals Sunday at 10:50 p.m. ET., she placed 7th. Cunningham advanced to the semifinal after placing third in her heat in the first round at 9:45 p.m. ET Friday night.
Cunningham did not get to take her victory lap at U.S. Team Trials last month. So Charlotte and her Mallard Creek family gave her one.
A few weeks before she departed for the Olympics in Tokyo, Cunningham received a surprise send-off on her old high school track.
"Just to see everybody come out means a lot," she said. "To know that I have all this support."
The Mavericks put the party together, along with Gabbi's family.
"Everybody knows she didn't get that opportunity to take a lap at the trials so we figured we would give that back to her," Ramona Cunningham, Gabbi's mother, said.
At Trials, Cunningham missed out on making Team USA in the 100-meter hurdles by literal milliseconds.
"I didn't know exactly how to feel, but I was kind of happy with the result because I had (set a personal record) three times in a row at the trials so just to be able to accomplish that for me was a big thing."
Her positive attitude paid off. Weeks later, another runner lost a suspension appeal, and Gabbi was next in line for a trip to Tokyo.
"It was a crazy feeling," she said. "This was something I was dreaming about ever since I started running track."
She now dreams of running in the Olympics but wasn't so sure about running in her younger days.
"I absolutely hated it," she said. "I would just stop and be like, I just want to go home."
Her father, Gerald and brother, DeAndre' were both track athletes, and tried to take her for runs around the neighborhood.
"Actually Gab used to hate to run with her brother and Dad but after she saw her brother doing hurdles she kind of got that itch," Ramona said.
Safe to say Gabbi learned to love it. She became a state champ at Mallard Creek, and an All-American for the Mavs and the NC State Wolfpack.
This spring she signed with Nike as a professional.
Her dad was beaming with pride and fighting back emotions at her surprise rally.
"I went from being her Dad to affectionately being known as Gabbi's Dad," he said. "People walk up and say 'hey you're Gabbi's Dad,' and I love it."
Her brother and former runner is happy to see her hard work pay off.
"To see her dreams come to fruition and those goals I remember running to make it to the Olympics and see it in the first person, it's crazy," DeAndre' Cunningham said.
Competition in the women's 100-meter hurdles is scheduled to begin Friday at 8 p.m., ET.
"It's crazy to hear it. It still hasn't fully hit me. I don't know when it will," she said.