Best foot forward
BUDAPEST, Hungary – Rusheen McDonald, Jamaica’s national record holder and the country’s fastest man in the 400m this year, says he is “thankful” that he is on the team to World Athletics Championships set to start on Saturday.
He was originally named as part of the mixed relay team seeking Jamaica’s first medal of the nine-day championships. But he was later listed as an alternate for the men’s 400m despite not running in the final at the national championships in early July at the National Stadium.
Only two weeks after he pulled out of the semi-finals at the national championships, McDonald ran 44.03 seconds at a meet in Hungary in mid-July. That clocking is his fastest time of the season, third best in the world, and his second fastest ever.
Sean Bailey, who won the event at the national championships; runner up Antonio Watson; and Zandrian Barnes, who was sixth in the final but had achieved the World Championships standard at the Racers Grand Prix in June, have been named for the men’s 400m.
The rules for selection to major senior championships say that the athletes must finish in the top three in the final and attain the qualifying standard to be considered for the team.
The quality of McDonald’s performance post-championships ignited a firestorm of conversations, but the runner seems unperturbed.
Asked directly by the Jamaica Observer, following a training session Wednesday afternoon at a brand new training facility in Budapest, McDonald shrugged of the controversy, saying he is satisfied to be running the relays and if given the choice would like to run the lead-off leg.
“I am going to give it my all, try to win a medal, try to win, try to do my best to represent Jamaica,” he said.
“[I am] not putting anything on my self right now. I just want to just run and get through the World Championships and to focus on myself.”
He is not looking too far ahead, he said, and despite already having made the qualifying standard for the Olympic Games next year, noted that, that takes care of itself.
He said that after the World Championships he wants to finish the season strong.
“I’m focusing on the Diamond League, trying to run even faster. I am not trying to put any time on my head or anything like that… I appreciate [this chance] and I am here for Jamaica, my country.”