Salmon, Clayton move into 400m hurdles semi-finals, Whyte out

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

DOHA, Qatar — Young Shiann Salmon ran her lifetime best of 55.20 and joined Rushell Clayton in the semi-finals of the IAAF World Championships women's 400 hurdles here. But there was no luck for Ronda Whyte, who was eliminated at the first hurdle.

The 20-year Salmon, who won silver at the 2018 World Under-20 Championship, ran well from lane nine and finished third in heat one in a new personal best of 55.20.

American prodigy Sydney McLaughlin, herself a 20-year-old young gun, won in 54.45 with consummate ease. Lea Sprunger of Switzerland was second in a season's best 54.98.

Salmon, beaming from ear to ear, was clearly pleased for more than one reason. She had lowered her personal best from 55.39 and also qualified for the semis in this her first attempt at the senior level.

“I am feeling very good. I was struggling with a little injury and I was able to pull through this round, and I am just very grateful for that,” said Salmon.

The former Hydel High School star said although she wasn't performing well in training at times, she got it right when it mattered.

“This is the highest level of competition that I have ever been at and of course you would expect to do your best. Not getting it right in training is a bit demotivating, but my coach motivated me and told me I had nothing to lose, so I went out there with that and got it in my mind to come through the first round as comfortably as possible,” she explained.

Salmon has been placed in semi-final three alongside McLaughlin and Sprunger once again, and she is looking forward to the clash.

“I am just trying to do what it takes to get through the rounds, and tomorrow (Wednesday) I will be trying my best to get in the finals. I don't have a specific time but my goal is to get to the final,” she noted.

“I think I fell asleep in the third 100 metres and I will be looking to push a little harder when I get there and finish as strong as I did not too long ago,” she added.

Jamaica's world leader Clayton is the best bet for a medal and she cruised home in 55.23 seconds in heat five ahead of Sage Watson of Canada who clocked 55.57 and Meghan Beesley of Great Britain who placed third in 55.97.

Clayton, who has a Diamond League victory, is bubbling with confidence following her relaxed win.

“It was a very comfortable run. It's the first time I am running on the outside all season. I thought I needed to get out and hold composure and run home but I didn't need to do much because I was out front so I just had a comfortable stride going home,” she pointed out.

“I am in great shape. I feel good. My last race was two months ago, but I feel pretty good. I got the jitters out because I was a little bit nervous,” she revealed.

Clayton has been paired with veteran Zuzana Hejnova of Czech Republic and Ashley Spencer of the United States in semi-final two.

“It will take a lot of running to get to the PB but let me get into the finals first,” she added.

Jamaica's third entrant Ronda Whyte, running in heat two, was never in the hunt and struggled to sixth in 56.37. Anna Ryzhykova of Ukraine won in 55.11 ahead of Hejnova in 55.33. Jessica Turner of Great Britain was third in 55.72.

— Howard Walker