C'wealth Games champion Russell eyes 400m national record
Janieve Russell of Jamaica motors away to win the women's 400m hurdles final during the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, on Saturday. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

BIRMINGHAM, England — Emboldened by the successful defence of her 400m hurdles Commonwealth Games title, experienced Jamaican Janieve Russell says she is more motivated than ever to lift her performances going forward and is backing herself to challenge the national record.

Russell, who was winning her third-straight medal in the event after also securing gold four years ago in Gold Coast, Australia, and bronze in Glasgow in 2014, clocked 54.14 seconds to lead home a Jamaican one-two in the event, with Shiann Salmon taking the silver medal with a 54.47 run.

South Africa's Zeney van der Walt, 54.47, produced a late surge to clip another Jamaican, Rushell Clayton, 54.67, to the bronze and prevent the first-ever podium sweep in the event at the Commonwealth Games.

"This means a lot to me. I was very disappointed with not making the final at the World Championship based on the form that I'm in and I just kept on talking to myself at the warm-up track and continued to remind myself who I am, the reason why I'm here, what I've been doing for the past couple of months and I just knew I could pull through," Russell told the Jamaica Observer.

"I think I could have run 53.9 or 54-low but this just shows me that I'm very talented, very hard-working, and persistent and I shouldn't let one mistake determine the whole season or my life."

The 28-year-old finished third in her semi-final at the World Championships and failed to progress to the medal round in Eugene.

Russell says she is determined to push herself to the next level of performance and is targeting the national record of 52.42 seconds which was set by Melaine Walker at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.

"I am learning to not be afraid, don't back off, we have seen Sydney McLaughlin, Dalilah Muhammad, and Femke Bol prove that you can run fast with the obstacles in your way and it is up to the person running to motivate themself and I think I have been afraid to push myself to the limit and I am going to change that for next season," said Russell.

Meanwhile, Salmon, competing in her first senior international final, was thrilled with her performance.

"I'm very happy with my performance and I'm very excited…I knew it was a possibility to get on the podium regardless of the colour of the medal. I just stuck to my race strategy and it held up and I ended up pulling off the silver medal and I'm just really elated," said Salmon.

— Andre Lowe

Andre Lowe

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