Guts and faith: Russell braves heel injury to secure spot on third Olympic Games team

By July 02, 2024 is very satisfying because the injury that I have is a really serious that I competed with. is very satisfying because the injury that I have is a really serious that I competed with. McNamee Sports

Despite not being at peak fitness, Janieve Russell was determined to secure a place on Jamaica’s team to the upcoming Paris Olympic Games, and so the 400m hurdler knew she had to demonstrate resilience and tenacity to achieve the feat.

In fact, Russell’s second-place performance at the JAAA National Senior Championships this past weekend was a testament to her unyielding spirit, as she soared above her injury concerns with precision and speed, crossing the finish line in 53.33s –a time that marked her fastest ever run at the National Stadium. Rushell Clayton won in a brisk 52.51s, with Shiann Salmon (53.71s) in third.

Having had her season fraught with challenges and injuries, raising doubts about her ability to compete at her usual high standards, Russell believes her performance dispelled any doubts about her readiness to compete on the world stage.

“I am a very strong-willed person, so I came in determined to punch my ticket to Paris and I did that so I am really grateful. I have a good support team in terms of family and friends and of course, I have to give God thanks because my faith has been carrying me through,” a jubilant Russell said after catching her breath.

“This is also a confidence booster for me because it is the fastest I’ve ever ran in Jamaica and the other competitors can say the same. So this was the first phase, make the team to Paris, now, it's all about staying healthy and continuing to train hard so I can be healthy enough to challenge for a medal at the Olympics,” she added.

With a focused mindset and an unwavering determination, Russell, a multiple Commonwealth Games gold medallist and World Championships relay silver medallist, has shown that once healthy, she is a force to be reckoned with.

The 30-year-old's performance is particularly inspiring given the high level of competition she faced at the National Championships, and her ability to push through physical pain and still deliver a top-notch performance is a testament to her mental strength and athletic prowess.

“It feels really great to know that I am now on my way to Paris, I'm already considering myself a three-time Olympian, which is really a wonderful feeling. So, I just have to give God thanks because trust me, my journey has been a rocky one, I am not 100% in terms of fitness, so I basically came out here with guts and faith to achieve this objective,” Russell, who was a part of the bronze medal-winning 4x400m relay team at the 2020 Tokyo Games, declared.

“So it is very satisfying because the injury that I have is a really serious that I competed with. I have a crack bone in my heel, so to come out here and to run against a fine field of ladies, I'm really, really happy because I was lined up with medalists at World Championship, medalists at Commonwealth, NACAC, finalists at World Championships, so again, it's really good feeling knowing I’m on my way to another Olympic Games,” she noted.

As she looks ahead to the Paris Olympics, where she is expected to also face the likes of Dutchwoman Femke Bol and American World record holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, Russell is more motivated than ever. Her recent performance has reinforced her belief in her capabilities and her potential to possibly stand on the Olympic podium.

“The goal and expectation is just to remain healthy and as long as I am healthy and fit then I know I can vie for a medal for Jamaica in Paris. This performance has shown me that I'm on the right track, and I just need to keep pushing forward,” Russell ended.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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