Sport

Golden rebound! Russell lands hurdles gold at WJC

Ja’s men grab sprint relay silver

BY PAUL A REID Observer writer

Sunday, July 15, 2012    

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BARCELONA, Spain — Janieve Russell won a gold medal in the women's 400m hurdles in a new personal best and world junior-leading time as Jamaica bounced back with a good day on yesterday's fifth and penultimate day of the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships at the Montjuic Olympic Stadium.

The men's 4x100m team, meanwhile, erased the six-year-old national junior record on their way to a silver medal behind the United States.

Russell, who came into the event with a leading time of 57.04 seconds, lowered that to 56.62, making her the third fastest Jamaican junior of all time, behind Ristanana Tracey (54.58) and Kaliese Spencer (55.11).

The men's sprint relay team closed the day by blazing to 38.97 seconds to erase the 39.05 set in Beijing six years ago.

After Friday's disastrous day, it was a welcome return to respectability as the young Jamaicans recovered from what could have been a crippling blow, coming up empty-handed on Friday after placing six athletes in five finals.

Yesterday's medals pushed Jamaica's tally to four to go along with a gold in the men's discus by Fedrick Daces on Thursday and Odean Skeen's bronze in the 100m on Wednesday.

Jamaica also rose to sixth in the medal tables and ninth place on 48 points.

The medal hunt continues today with Jamaican athletes taking part in four more finals: Chanice Porter in the Women's high jump, Clive Pullen in Men's triple jump and both 4x400m teams which won their semi-finals yesterday.

Interestingly after protesting their disqualification from the female 4x400m, the IAAF's jury ruled that the USA will run in a race all by themselves at 11:00am today and must run faster than 3 minutes 39.44 seconds to get into the final later as the ninth qualified team.

Both the USA and Romania were disqualified for a breach of rule 170.7 — changing the baton outside the exchange zone — but the European team refused the invitation to run again, a release said late last night.

The talented Russell, who has competed in and won medals in six events, including the heptathlon where she won a silver medal at the Pan-American Juniors in Florida last year, got the ball rolling when she delivered in the 400m hurdles after starting the event just two years ago.

With bright pink socks matching her nail polish and clashing with the neon green spikes, Russell took charge of the race from the first hurdle and except for a failed challenge from the USA's Shamier Little, who hit the 10th barrier and did not complete the race, was in total control all the way.

Russell appeared shocked at first as she crossed the line, then covered her face before sinking to her knees to say a silent prayer.

"It feels good to win a gold medal for Jamaica," she told reporters and said she felt she had executed well after failing to get her rhythm in the semi-finals.

Russell, who is the second Jamaican to win gold in the event after Spencer in 2006 and the 10th overall, said a talk from high school coach Maurice Wilson also helped as he told her "to run from the heart".

The athlete, who said her track and field idols are Olympic champions Deon Hemmings McCattty and Melaine Walker, also dedicated the win to teammate Julian Forte who led the men's 200m final on Friday before an injury thwarted his gold medal bid.

France's Aurèlie Chaboudez was second in a national junior record 57.14, while American Kaila Barber was third in 57.63.

In the final event of the night, a brilliant anchor leg from Jazeel Murphy powered Jamaica to silver in the 4x100m to give the country its third straight silver in the event, all behind the USA, who won in 38.67.

The team of Tyquendo Tracey, Odean Skeen, Jevaughn Minzie and Murphy just failed to catch the US quartet, while Japan was third in 39.02.

Murphy, who was fifth in the men's 100m on Wednesday, got the baton in fourth before running past the anchor leg runners from Poland and Japan and later said he felt good as he would not be going home without a medal.

Skeen was happy with the medal, but said he wanted to beat the Americans.

"I felt if the baton had passed quicker on the third exchange we would have caught them tonight," he said.

Tracey replaced Senoj-J Givans in the team that ran in the semis, while Minzie, who led off then, was switched to the third leg.

Meanwhile, both 4x400m teams won their respective heats and will contest today's finals.

The women's team of Sandrae Farquharson, Olivia James, Genekee Leith and Shericka Jackson ran 3:34.96 to win their semi-final.

Farquharson, the former Manchester High runner now based in the United States, led off with a fine 52.26 seconds-leg, handing over to James, who was a finalist in the 400m and who went directly to the front. Leith and Jackson, a 200m finalist, did the rest.

The men's team of hurdler Shavon Barnes, who led off with 46.33 seconds, Omar McLeod, Jermaine Fyffe and Lennox Williams won their heat in a season's best 3:08.83.

It is expected that Javon Francis and hurdler Javarn Gallimore will come in for the Men's team in the final, while Chriss-Ann Gordon and Russell should come in for the girls.

Also yesterday, both women's 100m hurdlers crashed out of the semi-finals, finishing third in their respective semi-final heat.

Chrisdale McCarthy clocked 13.65 seconds after hitting the ninth hurdle and almost coming to a stop, while Samantha Scarlett ran 13.88.

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