'I really loved long jump' - why three-time national champ Russell is convinced 400mh was her destiny

By Javid Bryan July 07, 2021

 On reflection, three-time Jamaica national 400m hurdles champion Janieve Russell can’t help but think that it was her destiny to compete in the event, after the fortuitous circumstances that led to her moving away from the long jump, a discipline near and dear to her heart.

After a superb run that led to her blowing away the country’s best athletes, in a season-best of 54.04 seconds, to claim the Women's 400m Hurdles title at the Jamaica National Championships, it was clearly a great choice but for a long time, one that wasn’t even on the cards.

In fact, Russell spent the majority of her junior career as a long jumper and competed successfully at the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships for her high school, Holmwood, in the event.  The 2019 World 400m hurdles silver medalist now believes wholeheartedly that the track itself called her to her destined event after the unexpected way she ended up competing in it.

"I believe the track was choosing my destiny for me because I really love long jump; that was my main event back in high school and by some chance, I was entered to the 400m Hurdles because someone on the team had to pull out. And then, I just continued, went to MVP and the coach said you are going to stick to the hurdles, not the long jump,” Russell explained.

Russell has had a solid career, and in addition to the three national titles, has picked up wins at the Commonwealth Games and World Cup.

Winning her third national title was a special moment for Russell, who admitted that she fully expected to be up against a challenging field. Her top priority though was to finish in an automatic spot, then channel all her energy to focusing on Tokyo.

"It is a tough field in the 400m hurdles event this year, so I am just using these trials to work on my mental state and I am just really happy to come out on top because my aim was just to be in the top three and just be on the Olympic team,” Russell said.

Off the back of a rectus femoris injury (acute tearing injury of the quadriceps) that she suffered in 2016, Russell insists that she has gotten stronger physically and mentally. 

"My MVP team and I have been working hard on our mental training, been working on my physical (fitness), ensuring that I am not injury prone, because, trust me, two weeks or one week before any trials I have always had an injury. I have been very careful this year, I have been eating properly, I have been doing everything by the book and I am just really grateful again to be out here by the grace of God to compete injury-free and to be on top."

Though she is a decorated nine-time gold medalist at the CARIFTA Games and a double gold medalist at the 2012 World Junior Championships, Russell’s ultimate aim is to match the feats of Deon Hemmings and Melanie Walker who both won gold medals for the country at the Olympic level.

"I will definitely try, as I said before it is a very tough field. I am just going out there with guts and to just represent my country, come out with a personal best and just do the best I can."

The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will run from July 23 to August 8.

 

Related items

  • Half centuries from Reifer, Greaves consolidate Barbados Pride advantage, Hinds fights back with five-for Half centuries from Reifer, Greaves consolidate Barbados Pride advantage, Hinds fights back with five-for

    Enterprising half-centuries from Raymon Reifer and, Justin Greaves, underpinned the Barbados Pride’s early advantage as they surged past the first innings total of T&T Red Force on day 2 of the West Indies Championship, at Tarouba, on Thursday.

    Resuming the day on 87 for 2, Reifer picked up where he left off overnight and went on to add another 45 to his total before being dismissed for 79, caught and bowled by Bryan Charles.  Not before he had played the chief role in a destructive partnership with Jonathan Carter who added an even 50 as the pair put on 101 for the third wicket.

    Roston Chase briefly joined Reifer at the crease but only managed to add 28 before being bowled by Terrance Hinds.  Greeves and Akeem Jordan then added a valuable 59 for the 7th wicket before the innings wrapped up at 294 all out, a lead of 161.  Hinds did his part to stem the damage after claiming best figures of 5 for 32.

    In their second time at the crease, T&T closed the day at 51 for 3. Keagan Simmons and Jason Mohammed are the not-out batsmen at the crease.

  • 'I've done it before and can do it again' -  Blake hasn't given up hope on returning to top of men's sprinting 'I've done it before and can do it again' - Blake hasn't given up hope on returning to top of men's sprinting

    Former 100m World Champion and world’s second-fastest man Yohan Blake has not quite given up on the idea of returning to dominate sprinting, despite an underwhelming performance at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

    The 32-year-old Blake was once considered the heir apparent to celebrated compatriot Usain Bolt.  In fact, it is Blake that still holds the second-fastest times over both the 100 and 200m sprints.  Devasting injuries, which happened to the sprinter in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, however, largely curtailed that promise and left the sprinter unable to step into the void.  In a barren stretch of results, Blake has gone without a medal since the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

    Since the 2012 Olympics, the athlete has finished outside of the medals at the last four major championships and failed to make the final at the last two. 

    Despite the lack of success in recent seasons, however, Blake is feeling confident of a late-career revival this season, on the back of a decent showing at the Birmingham Diamond League last week.  The Jamaican finished second in the men's 100m, clocking 10.18 behind Canadian Aaron Brown who took top spot in 10.13.

    “I think I took it too easy at the end and didn't see the guy in lane 8. I was focused forward. It was challenging because it was cold. The two false starts were tough but I am used to dealing with these things. I am feeling good after coming back. I want to stay hard to beat and move from being second fastest in the world to be fastest,” Blake said following the race.

    “I have been here before and I am used to the pressure. I am looking forward to the trials and getting back to my best and challenging the American top sprinters. I have done it before and can do it again.”

  • Timing very important to Thompson-Herah's success at World Championships this summer Timing very important to Thompson-Herah's success at World Championships this summer

    Though pleased with her ‘workout' at the National Stadium in Kingston last Saturday, Derron Herah, coach and husband of Olympic champion, Elaine Thompson-Herah believes the next six weeks of preparation will be crucial.

     This is especially true if she is to realize her goal of winning her first World Championship title this summer.

    The triple-gold medallist at last year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, ran a smart 10.94s to win the 100m dash running into a headwind of -1.8m/s and then less than an hour later clocked a decent 22.55 to complete the double.

    “Her performance is good,” her proud husband told Sportsmax.TV after the 100m final where had there been no headwind, Thompson-Herah’s time would have been 10.81.

    “Today (Saturday) was mainly a training run; didn’t know she was going to run this fast. She was not necessarily pressing the gas, just basically the first 30 and trying to maintain and maintaining brought her 10.94, so we are right there. We just need to lighten up because we’re still heavy. So when the time is right we will lighten up and then go when we need to go.”

    Lightening up, as Herah puts it, involves getting Thompson-Herah to approach her peak at the National Championships from June 23-26 but be at her best at the 2022 World Championships that begin in Eugene, Oregon on July 15, just over two weeks later.

    He explained that with the two championships so close to each other, everything comes down to timing.

    “The timing is very important. After the National Championships, we have two weeks before World Championships, so we almost have to peak in the championships and maintain that into the World Championships. We have to be very careful and very and very selective with races and how we approach races,” he said of Thompson-Herah’s preparation.

    “What we are trying to do is getting her to peak for Oregon, not necessarily the trials. We will have to be in some kind of shape to indicate what we are going to do in Oregon so we have to be on that cycle now, six-seven weeks out, so by the time trials come around then we would have to be in similar shape as to what we would be in Oregon.”

    The delicate nature of this phase is partly why they decided against flying to Birmingham, England last week for the Diamond League meeting after Thompson-Herah suffered some discomfort during training.

    Herah explained.

    “Even our decision to not go to Birmingham, we had everything in mind because we knew what the weather was going to be like and she was feeling some type of soreness. It’s not like we would go and then not run,” he said.

    “We decided on the day not to go and as the week went along she started to feel a little better so I decided we would come out here today (Saturday) because we would have had a training session today anyway, so we got in two competitive runs but what we saw today was good enough.”

    Thompson-Herah is down to compete at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday, May 28. She lines up against some of the fastest women in the world including Dina Asher-Smith, World 60m champion, Mujinga Kambundji, Olympic gold medallist Briana Williams, Shericka Jackson, Marie Jose Ta Lou and Twanisha Terry.

     

     

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.