‘I’ve seen God work’: Mississippi’s National champion shares testimony of how she overcame injury

Published 9:06 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Hinds Community College’s Diandrenique Gaines, an Adams County Christian School alumnus, won a national championship in the 200-meter dash and 100 meter dash recently. She cried tears of joy after taking the title in the 200 meters with a time of 23.28.   Her prayers had been answered and God’s hand had played a role in the victory.

Three years ago, Gaines was graduating from Adams County Christian School and opting to attend Hinds instead of a D1 program because she felt she was not ready for all the people and classes yet.

In 2021, COVID shut down the athletic season but she did not lose a year academically. At the same time, her hamstring was having some problems as the result of an old injury. Last year, she missed out on the majority of the season with an injured hamstring. Asthma attacks have nearly killed her and sent her to the ICU.

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In 2022, she took second in the NJCAA indoor championships and eighth in the outdoor championships.  Before the 2022-2023 season, the recurring injuries weighed on her mind.

“I asked God what was going on. I told him ‘I am going to trust you. I know it all happens for a reason’. I never gave up. I kept the faith and kept training hard,” Gaines said. “I went to the doctor last summer and discovered I had an old tear in my hamstring. Every time I tried to run fast it was a scar and didn’t allow my blood to flow properly so it felt like I was pulling it as I tried to turn over. I got a shot in November, and it fixed the issue.”

Over the summer, she prayed about her decision to come back to Hinds and trusted God’s will to return for one last season. Going into track season, Gaines set goals to make history and do something no one had ever done before.

The indoor season went well but she kept thinking about her leg and the injury. She said she continued to trust God and even gave up her phone during the week of the Indoor Championships to put all of her focus on God.

Gaines finished second in the 200m and 60m races and set two indoor track school records with a 7.42 60-meter dash and 23.98 200-meter dash. Going into the outdoor season, she laid out a plan. Her coach Reginald Dillon trained her by running the 400-meter relays until he felt like she would be ready to sprint.

Before races, Dillion told the team “We aren’t here to put on a show but we are here so we can run faster on the big stage,” Gaines said. The track team trained and trained for nationals. Two weeks before the championship meet, the team was blessed with oil by a local pastor.

Gaines said she began to anoint her body with oil every morning before breakfast and decree her Bible verses for the day. Her Bible is filled with highlighted verses.

The week of graduation, her mom suggested she go on a fast because she had been blessed so much this year. Gaines was the first female athlete to be awarded the Eagle award. She decided to fast starting after graduation by giving up her phone.

“It was tough because I didn’t have a phone. I was bored and couldn’t get on social media. As I did that, the days went by. Day, evening, and night I was praising God and reading the Bible,” Gaines said. “I learned more about Him through reading his words. Nationals came and I felt God’s presence.”

The national meet began with a delay due to storms. While Gaines’ teammates complained about the delays, she reminded them they do not know God’s plan.

In the prelims, Gaines asked God to allow her to place first. She set school records with an 11.3 in the 100-meter dash and 23.08 in the 200-meter dash. Through the night, she prayed and prayed. On the day of finals, she asked God to run the race with her.

Going into the race day, she had some doubt about her legs after feeling some pain in the 100m dash and finished second. She finished with an 11.53 100m to place second and a 23.28 200m to take first and the national title.

“I trusted Him and I knew he had better plans for me. I said, ‘without you I am nothing.’ I was talking to Him like he was my friend,” Gaines said. “When I finished, I was like ‘I’ve prayed about this, and you made it happen.’ No matter what, don’t give up, you never know what God has in store for you. He has a plan for you. I thought it was over when I was hurt. It was what He wanted me to do. I made history at Hinds.

“If anyone out there doesn’t believe in God, I’ve seen God work in my life.”

Last Monday night, she returned from nationals and Tuesday evening she had returned home to Port Gibson. This past week, she has relaxed and taken the time to spend it with family.

Next week, she plans to pray and focus on where she is meant to go next. Gaines said she has some D1 offers but is not sure yet where she will end up. She is currently majoring in biology and hopes to become an OB-GYN because she loves kids and babies.

“I want my decision to have God’s will in it. I am waiting on a decision with Him,” Gaines said. “All of the glory belongs to Him.”