Janieve Russell eyes national 400m hurdles record

Observer writer

Friday, June 08, 2018

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If you ask Janieve Russell what is the one thing that she would want for the year 2018, she probably couldn't answer you, not with the number of targets she has set for herself.

Luckily for the 2018 Commonwealth Games 400m hurdles gold medallist, she has a fair idea of all the major things she wants to accomplish, how she wants to accomplish them, and when.

Winning gold on the Gold Coast in Australia was beyond the expectations of the 24-year-old before she left the island for the Commonwealth Games, but her confidence has soared since then and her times have come down as much as her confidence has headed in the oppositr direction.

One of the main objective for the MVP athlete this season, however, is to break through the 53-second barrier.

“This year I really want to go sub-53. I have been training very well, running with some great girls who are running really well on the circuit, so these ladies are pushing me and I am feeling very confident in myself being injury-free and I just want to go sub-53 this year,” said Russell, during a visit to the Jamaica Observer Kingston office for a Press Club moment.

Perfection is key on achieving that objective, which would push her into a new bracket with some of the best female hurdlers to represent the country.

“I am trying to get a perfect or near-perfect race plan,” she said.

Russell recently put down a new personal best of 53.78 at the Shanghai Diamond League and says that being on the circuit helps to condition the body in ways training alone cannot do.

“On the Diamond League circuit you get to compete with different people every time and you get to travel very far so you need to condition your body. Sometimes you are on a 12-hour flight, sometimes you are on a three-hour flight, so this is helping you to test your body, see how well your body can compete after being jet-lagged,” she noted.

The sweet taste of success in Australia has her wanting more and being number one in her event is providing “Jelly Fish”, as she is affectionately called, with all the motivation she needs.

“My personal objective this year is to really run fast. For me, running on the Diamond League Circuit is not really about the money — but yes you want to get paid — but I just want to see myself on top,” Russell told editors and reporters on Wednesday.

“How will I compete against these ladies? What time will I produce? How strong am I? How consistent can I be? I have been struggling with that for the past three years. This year I see myself being very consistent and I am really liking how I am moving along,” she said of her season so far.

They say diamonds are a girl's best friend, and indeed Russell is looking to add one to her collection this year.

“I didn't expect to run so fast at Commonwealth in my first round because it was very early in the season; you are not peaked yet, you are just running to compete for your country.

“So I am using this Diamond League scene right now to just see how fast I can go and hopefully win the diamond to put more money in my pocket,” Russell noted.

Driven by the Jamaican Olympic and world champions of the past in her particular discipline, Russell is extremely motivated to keep going after more.

“I really want to run fast to be on top with the likes of Dionne Hemmings and Melaine Walker, who I look up to. I just want to be there with the likes of them,” she said with a genuine tone.

The national record is held by one of her heroes in the sport and that is 52.42 set by Walker at the World Championships in Berlin, Germany in 2009.

“I believe I can break the national record. You can look at my stats I am very strong in the 400m, I am getting faster this year,” Russell said with confidence.

“The 400m hurdles race is about rhythm, so I just have to get that right. You have to pace yourself and have a good rhythm and I believe if I get that, the record can go. If it doesn't go this year, I am running for it next year,” she added.

There is very little between that of the Jamaican record held by Walker and the world record of 52.34 held by the Russian Yuliya Pechonkina, set way back in 2003. But for Russell, it is one record at a time.

“The world record is in the chase as well, but I am taking it one step at a time. I want the national record and... I can get it so I'm working towards it,” she explained.

Russell has enjoyed a major technical breakthrough in her running this season, something she thinks will have a big impact on achieving her goals and dreams in the 400m hurdles.

“I am very happy with myself. I don't know if anybody noticed, but I never usually hurdle with two legs, I didn't alternate before, but I am alternating this year,” she beamed.

Flashing her trademark smile, the Manchester-born athlete, who has a personal best of 51.14 over the 400m, says that at the moment she is a happy camper.

“I am very happy where I am at now. I am working with Bridgette Foster-Hylton technically on getting the stride patterns right and from there on, it's all about the records,” she concluded.

Russell will be competing at the Racers Grand Prix for the very first time tomorrow, and she hopes to put down another fast time as she continues her pursuit of the national record in the 400m hurdles.

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