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This 11-year-old is setting world records in track and field. He aims for two more this weekend.

Gunner Hammett was recently asked, “When was the last time you lost a race?”

After a long pause and much thought, the 11-year-old track phenom couldn’t recall quickly.

“It’s been a couple of years,” he finally said. “But that motivates me to keep on pushing and not let anybody beat me.”

Hammett, a Williamsburg resident and sixth-grader at Queens Lake Middle School in York County, has set two age-group track and field world records. Last summer, he won gold medals in the 200-, 400- and 800-meter runs at the AAU Junior Olympics in Iowa. In the 800, he ran 2 minutes, 7.45 seconds to break the record he set earlier in the year at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals meet in Philadelphia.

Then in January, he ran 2:04.47 in the 800 at the Virginia Beach Sports Center to add another world record to his resume.

“I knew the time that I wanted to run and I broke it. It felt so good,” said Gunner, who won the race by more than 30 seconds. “It just motivates me to keep on moving and keep on pushing to break more world records.”

Gunner’s best time in the 800 would have won last year’s Class 2 Region A high school meet, and would have placed in the top eight in the Virginia High School League’s largest-school region competitions in Class 3, Class 4, Class 5 and Class 6.

This week, he’ll travel to Boston to compete in the New Balance Nationals Indoor Championships. He’ll compete in the 400 and 800 and aims to break two more world records.

But running track was the furthest thing from Clinton Hammett’s mind when his son was born.

“When he was younger, he had asthma and was on nebulizer albuterol treatment around the clock,” he said. “But through the grace of God, he overcame that. To see where he is now, I already knew he was a fighter.”

Clinton, a former football player at Wagner College, got his son involved in sports early, beginning with football. Noticing his son was blessed with speed, he introduced him to track.

Success didn’t come right away. At his first AAU Junior Olympics, Gunner placed 56th in the 800 meters and didn’t qualify in the 200 or 400.

“When I first started track, I guess I was pretty decent, but I was nowhere as good as I am now,” said Gunner, now an 18-time All-American and five-time national record holder. “I wasn’t winning every single race.”

He stuck with it and continued to grow under the leadership of his father and track coach Marioky Scott, who competed in cross country and track at Christopher Newport University.

“I started with him when he was 6 years old. I just saw a little kid full of energy,” said Scott, who still competes in masters events and was the U.S Track and Field Association’s 2018 Virginia Female Athlete of the Year. “I didn’t know it would take off to this point, but I definitely saw something in him that attracted me to him. It just kept going from there and I continued to pour into him.”

But there were growing pains along the way between father and son.

Hammett thought he was doing the right thing in trying to get Gunner hyped up for each race, but it was actually hurting his son as he would get so worked up before a race that he would get sick and vomit.

“When he kept getting sick before the race, I decided I would try to do something different and let him do his own thing,” the elder Hammett said. “When I did that, there was no more vomiting. So that was gut check for me and a humbling moment for me. It was time to back off and help him find his way so I don’t lose him for the future.”

Hammett said he doesn’t want to be like other parents who live through their kids, then that kid burns out or falls out of love with their sport.

That’s why Hammett and Scott put an emphasis on making sure Gunner remains a kid.

“I told his parents that it’s important for him to have fun,” Scott said. “When it stops being fun to him, it’s not going to go over well. So we primarily train three times a week. And to have him not run on the days that he’s off. We want to make sure that he’s well-rounded.”

His dad agreed.

“It’s important for him to be a loving kid who enjoys eating kid foods and playing video games,” said Hammett, who is chief executive officer at Colonial Virginia Council, Boy Scouts of America. “Sometimes, parents can put too much pressure on their child, and unfortunately not get the best out of them. So it took growing pains that I had to experience to help him get to where he is today.”

Gunner doesn’t run for a track club, but trains by himself, which could be difficult for some athletes.

Scott recently moved from Hampton Roads to the Washington, D.C., area, but she sends workouts to Hammett. They carefully go over everything that needs to be done.

“I would write up the workouts and explain to him what he was required to do, and he would actually be tougher on himself than me. If he didn’t make the time I asked, he would want to do it again,” Scott said. “He just demands so much of himself and at times I have to pull him back because he wants to do so much. Those types of athletes are hard to come by.”

Gunner said his drive comes from his family, including his mother, Symone, and 7-year-old sister, Harlow.

“I think about my family and about everything they do for me,” he said. “And that gives me the drive to keep on moving.”

His mother isn’t surprised by what he has accomplished.

“Not at all. He’s just an all-around amazing kid, and not just because he’s my kid,” Symone said. “There’s greatness inside of him, and there’s more to come from Gunner. God has touched him and he will continue to succeed.”

Gunner has loftier goals ahead.

“I’d love to go to the Olympics,” he said. “It just motivates me to keep on pushing so I can be there.”

Larry Rubama, 757-575-6449, larry.rubama@pilotonline.com