Sport

Hurdles Queen

Russell keeps Jamaica's Gold Coast gold rush going

BY DWAYNE RICHARDS
Observer writer

Friday, April 13, 2018



GOLD COAST, Australia — The Jamaican gold rush at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games continued yesterday as Janieve Russell became the latest athlete to win a final inside the Cararra Stadium for the country.

Russell finished first in the women's 400m hurdles final and that win, along with a bronze for Jaheel Hyde in the men's equivalent and silver for Shericka Jackson in the women's 200m final, meant another suite of medals on consecutive nights for Jamaica.

For a third night in a row, the first final contested on the track was won by a Jamaican as Russell, the 2014 Glasgow Games bronze medallist, ran a perfectly timed race to win in 54.33 seconds, ahead of the 2014 silver medallist Eilidh Doyle of Scotland in 54.80 and the South African Wenda Nel, who finished third in 54.96.

Russell was level with Nel, who was on her outside coming off the final turn, and took the lead heading into the straight away. She surged to the front and kept opening up a gap on the field before coasting home to victory.

Doyle earned her third silver medal in a row at the Commonwealth Games after she passed Nel, while the South African secured the bronze medal when she edged out another Jamaican, Rhonda Whyte, out of the medals. The fast-finishing Whyte had to settle for fourth in 55.02s.

The 2017 World Championships bronze medallist Ristananna Tracey finished in eight place in a time of 57.50s. Tracey had suffered from chest pains following her run in the heats two days ago.

For Russell, winning gold at the games made up for the disappointments she suffered in 2017.

“First of all, I have to give God thanks because if it wasn't for Him I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't get the chance to train hard and come back this year. From 2014, I was just fresh out of high school. It was my first senior team and it was a surprise bronze medal for me because I was just going through the motions preparing for World Championships in 2015, so that bronze medal was a surprise.

“This year I just came back to say that I had a downfall in 2017, not making the World Champs team. So I am really focusing on learning to be patient, listening to my body, listening to my coach, my teammates, managers, family and friends; that is what helped me today to get that gold medal,” she noted.

Russell's time in the final was slower than the heats, but she explained just why that happened.

“Tonight I wanted to go a little bit faster, not finding any excuses — but I was feeling a little cramp in my hamstring, so that really threw off my race plan. I wasn't really attacking my hurdles how I wanted to attack them, but when I felt that contraction coming on I just wanted to secure that gold medal for myself and my country,” she said.

Hurdler Hyde overcooked it in the first part of his race and paid the price down the home stretch. Running out of lane three, the former schoolboy star closed the stagger on the field very quickly and kept going all the way through.

He was on the shoulders of the race winner Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands on the final turn, but faded badly after clearing the final hurdle. He however, managed to hold on to bronze in 49.16s as the field eventually caught up with him.

Hyde admitted to getting his race strategy wrong, but vowed to learn from the experience.

“When I came off the last hurdle I felt a little grab in my right hamstring, but I don't think it is anything serious. I think I misjudged the race. When I went out and I caught them, I should have just relaxed, but I kept on pushing. But it's a learning process,” he stated.

McMaster created history for his country as he decimated the field to win its first-ever Commonwealth Games gold medal in 48.25s. Jeffery Gibson of The Bahamas came storming through for second in a season best 49.10s as he caught Hyde near the tape. The other Jamaican in the race, Andre Clarke, finished seventh in 50.08.

There was a mild upset in the women's 200m final as Shaunae Miller-Uibo of The Bahamas won the race, while Shericka Jackson was a surprise second ahead of her teammate, Olympic double gold medallist from Rio, Elaine Thompson. Dina Asher-Smith of England spoiled a Caribbean 1-2-3 when she grabbed the bronze medal in 22.29.

Miller-Uibo won in a games record 22.09, while Jackson ran a personal best of 22.18 seconds for her silver medal. Thompson, who was edged out of the medals, was fourth in 22.30. Shashalee Forbes, who was across the line in fifth, was later disqualified from the race.

Jackson said that competing at the games was fun for her.

“It's a great feeling. It was just great out there, my first time competing at the Commonwealth Games… so it was just a lot of fun.”

Meanwhile, Thompson admitted that these games came a bit too soon for her, based on where she is currently in her season.

“This year was a quick and fast year; it's only April and the training still goes the same. I came out here, my first Commonwealth individual race over the 200m. I took it step by step because it was a season opener for me in the heats, then the semi-finals, then the final,” she explained.

The men's 200m produced no medals for the country as the lone representative, Warren Weir, finished in eight place. The 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallist was in the thick of things for most of the race, but faded badly over the last 50 metres as the field ran past him. It was the only final that Jamaica contested on the night and failed to win a medal.

Jamaica also had a good day in the events leading up to the track and field finals in the night.

In the morning session of track and field, all the field event athletes advanced to their respective finals. Fedrick Dacres (66.20m) and Traves Smikle (64.69) advanced with the two longest throws in the men's discus, while Danniel Thomas-Dodd advanced in the women's shot put with the fourth-best throw of 16.89m.

Clive Pullen, who was the other field event participant, advanced in the men's triple jump final with a leap of 16.15m.

It also went well in the women's 100m hurdles as Megan Simmonds was third in heat one in 13.17. In heat two Danielle Williams, with 12.69s, ran the fastest time of the day with her teammate Yanique Thompson second in the heat in 12.95. All three women advanced to tonight's final.

Natoya Goule had to survive a few bumps and bruises in heat two in order to advance to the final of women's 800m final. She was blocked twice as she attempted to pass on the final lap, but eventually finished second in 2:00.74.

Jason Brown, who ran in the T-12 100m, was fourth in 11.49s in heat two and failed to make the final.

Yona Knight-Wisdom, who just missed out on a medal in the 1M springboard dive on Wednesday night, was back in action in the 3M springboard yesterday. He advanced to the final in which he finished in 9th place with a score of 377.30.

In squash, the men's doubles pair of Chris Binnie and Lewis Walters got the better of the Cayman Islands pair of Alexander Frazer and Jacob Kelly in straight sets, 11-3, 11-7.

In women's singles badminton round of 16 action, Katherine Wynter lost in straight sets to Michelle Li of Canada 21-10, 21-7. In the men's singles, Dennis Coke also lost in straight set, 21-10, 21-10, to Jason Ho-Shue, also of Canada.

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