Petersfield's Foote redeems herself at Carifta Trials after Champs letdown

Thursday, April 18, 2019

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Shaquena Foote is a name that resonates at the junior level of track and field in Jamaica. The middle-distance athlete has been a dominant force in the last few years, especially at 800m.

This season has seen the 17-year-old expand her horizons to the challenging 400m hurdles, something she is apparently enjoying at the moment, but she has already learned that it isn't a walk in the park.

After winning the 400m in 52.79 at the Carifta Trials, Foote faced the starters in the finals of the 400m hurdles with memories of Champs still fresh in her mind.

She had gone into the final of the event at Champs as one of the favourites, but hit the second hurdle and suffered a bruised shoulder in the spill.

The challenge for the youngster from the West was to banish the memories from the week before as she pursued the chance to represent Jamaica in that event for the first time.

Foote had a very tentative start to the race and appeared to be out of the reckoning, but seized an opportunity when Lashana Graham, who was the gold medallist at Champs, hit the final hurdle and lost her rhythm.

Using her superior strength, the Petersfield athlete stormed past both Graham and Johnelle Thomas of St Catherine High in the final few metres to win 58.63s. Thomas was second in 58.77 and Graham third in 58.92.

The Carifta Trials double winner explained her strange race strategy that brought her success.

“I know that I am not that good as the other girls in getting over the hurdles, so I knew I had to pace myself throughout the race... as long as I don't hit any of the hurdles I know that I would be good for the race.”

It was more than unusual for Foote to compete at Champs and leave without a gold medal and so the wins at Trials, and especially in the 400m hurdles, were very important to her.

“I know that I had to redeem myself, so I just came out here and did my best,” she said.

For those who are accustomed to seeing Foote run the quarter-mile and half-mile and are wondering what is really in her future, they may be looking at it.

“I am not sure, I kinda like this hurdles, so maybe I will just give it a try also,” she said after the win.

She also explained that it was not particularly difficult to get over the fall at Champs and all she had to do was trust her race strategy to win at the Carifta Trials.

“It wasn't that difficult because I have a very good coach who always motivates me, so I just listen to him and I know that I will be good.

“I know my strengths so seeing them in front of me I wasn't that worried, I know I would catch them back.”

Foote has been selected to represent Jamaica in both the 400m and 400m hurdles at the Carifta Games in Cayman this weekend.

– Dwayne Richards

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