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Record Gold

Russell, Watson strike gold for Jamaica at World U-18 Champs

Observer writer

Saturday, July 15, 2017

De'Jour Russell delivered on his prodigious talent in the 110-metre hurdles with a championships record and Antonio Watson upset the field in the 400m as Jamaica struck gold in the last two events on yesterday's third day of the 10th IAAF World Under-18 Championships at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya.

After a tough morning where two favourites failed to get past the first round, Jamaica ended the day on a high, climbing out of 12th place and into fourth on the medals table. They have four medals, including two bronze won in the boys' and girls' 100m earlier.

There were fifth-place finishes for triple jumper Owayne Owens and quarter-miler Shaqueena Foote, while high jumper Janique Burgher was a disappointing eighth.

Russell, who has promised much over the last 12 months, lowered his personal best to 13.04 seconds (0.1m/s) as he destroyed the field to win the sprint hurdles. He beat the 13.08 seconds he had run in the first round and now holds the top four fastest times in the world in the Under-18 section.

Hao-hua Lu of Taipei was well back in second in 13.41 seconds, while France's Thomas Wanaverbecq was third in 13.55 seconds.

In the semi-finals earlier, Russell, who becomes only the second Jamaican to win the event after Jaheel Hyde in Ukraine in 2013, had won his heat in 13.16 seconds. The other Jamaican Brithon Senior failed to get past the second round, placing seventh in 14.05 seconds.

In the boys' 400m finals, Watson, who looked out of contention with 100m to go as his teammate Anthon Cox battled for the gold medal, finished like a runaway train to get to the finish line first in a personal best 46.59 seconds.

Cox finished fourth in 46.77 seconds as a photo finish camera gave the bronze to Colby Jennings of the Turks and Caicos, behind silver medal winner Daniel Williams of Guyana.

Watson is the third successive Jamaican to win the event after Martin Manley in Ukraine in 2013 and Christopher Taylor two years ago in Cali, Colombia.

Foote, who just made it into the girls' 400m final, never threatened and finished fifth in 54.05 seconds as Barbora Malikova of the Czech Republic won in a lifetime best 52.74 seconds.

Owens, who won the triple jump at the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association Championships, was a pleasant surprise as he battled for fifth with a personal best 15.55m (2.0m/s) finishing behind two Cubans and two Venezuelans.

Cuba's Jordan Diaz had arguably the performance of the week, breaking the championships record with a sparkling 17.30m after he had set the standard with a 17.00m jump earlier.

Owens, who went into the championships with a personal best of 15.16m, jumped 15.52m on his opening jump and 15.37m on his second jump.

Burgher, who was expected to challenge for a medal in the girls' high jump, could only manage 1.75m good for eighth place.

It was a difficult morning session where discus thrower Daniel Cope and female triple jumper Lotavia Brown failed to advance, but 200m Xavier Nairne made easy progress to today's semi-finals.

Cope, who has a personal best over 60.00m, could only get one legal throw of 49.61m and finished 18th overall.

Brown just missed the top 12 on the count back as she had a best jump of 12.45m, same as the 12th placed Emma Mastalirova of the Czech Republic, while the 10th- and 11th-placed jumpers both had a best of 12.46m.

Nairne ran 21.59 seconds to place second in his 200m heat, while girls' 100m bronze medallist Kevona Davis, who was injured in her race, did not show up for the 200m yesterday.

Jamaica will be seeking to add to the medal count today with two representatives in the 400m hurdles. Sanique Walker will go into the girls' finals with the best time at the championships of 57.27 seconds, while Rovane Williams is expected to battle for a podium place.

In the morning session, female sprint hurdlers Britany Anderson, who is top ranked in her event, and Daszay Freeman will contest the first round. The semi-finals of the mixed 4x400m will also be contested.