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

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

Related items

  • Olympic dream in jeopardy, attorneys to file urgent appeal for hammer thrower Nayoka Clunis Olympic dream in jeopardy, attorneys to file urgent appeal for hammer thrower Nayoka Clunis

    Attorneys representing Jamaica’s hammer thrower Nayoka Clunis are set to file an urgent appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ad hoc committee if the uncertainty surrounding her participation in the 2024 Olympic Games remains unresolved by 5 pm today, Wednesday, July 16.

    Despite achieving a National Record of 71.83 metres in May, ranking her in the top 32 in the world this year, Clunis's dream of competing on the world’s biggest stage is now hanging in the balance due to a blunder from the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA).

    The 28-year-old, who placed second at the JAAA National Senior Championships, initially believed she was on her way to the Olympics. However, her excitement turned to dismay when she learned that her name was omitted from the JAAA’s official list submitted to World Athletics.

    “Following the Jamaican Olympic Trials, I was elated to receive notification of my official selection to Team Jamaica. Unfortunately, I have since found myself in a difficult position. Due to an omission made by the Jamaican Athletics Administration Association, my name was not officially submitted to World Athletics. As such, I do not have a position in the Olympic Games,” Clunis shared in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

    However, after no word forthcoming from the JAAA, attorneys representing the frustrated athlete - Dr. Emir Crowne and local attorney Sayeed Bernard – have written to the JAAA informing of their intended action.

    "Mr. Bernard and I act for Ms. Nayoka Clunis, an athlete who should be well-known to you by now. As is also common ground, the JAAA’s admitted negligence (gross negligence, in some jurisdictions) has put Ms. Clunis’ Olympic dreams in jeopardy. In the absence of any updates as to Ms. Clunis’ situation by 5 p.m. today, we have been instructed to file an emergency appeal to the CAS’s ad hoc division."

    The letter continued, "Indeed, we are hopeful that an appeal to the CAS is not necessary, but the JAAA’s negligence and radio silence since July 7th has left our client with few options, not to mention the irreparable damage this has done to the mental and emotional well-being. Athletes deserve better."

    While Clunis awaits a resolution, her plight underscores the importance of strong administrative leadership, as the oversight by the JAAA could potentially rob an athlete who has shown remarkable dedication in her sport of the opportunity to achieve her dream on the global stage.

     

     

  • Jamaica’s Williams, T&T’s Richards secure wins at Spitzen Leichtathletik in Luzern Jamaica’s Williams, T&T’s Richards secure wins at Spitzen Leichtathletik in Luzern

    Jamaica’s Stacey-Ann Williams and Trinidad & Tobago’s Jereem Richards were the only Caribbean winners at Tuesday’s Spitzen Leichtathletik Meet in Luzern, Switzerland.

    Williams turned back the challenge of Dutchwoman Lisanne de Witte and Switzerland’s Annina Fahr to win in 50.58, her second fastest time this season, trailing behind her 50.56 to finish second at Jamaica’s National Championships in June.

    De Witte and Fahr’s times in second and third were 51.99 and 52.08, respectively.

    Richards, the 2017 World Championship bronze medallist and two-time Commonwealth Champion, all in the 200m, won the half-lap event on Tuesday in 20.19 ahead of the Zimbabwean pair Makanakaishe Charamba (20.42) and Tapiwanashe Makarawu (20.48).

    The 30-year-old Trinidadian will also compete in the 400m in Paris. He won gold in the distance at the World Indoor Championships in 2022.

    Another Jamaican Olympian, Lanae-Tava Thomas, was narrowly beaten by the Ivory Coast’s Jessika Gbai in the 200m.

    Gbai’s winning time of 22.57 just beat out Thomas’s 22.60 while Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji was just behind in third in 22.61.

    Kemba Nelson ran 11.21 to finish third overall in the women’s 100m behind New Zealand’s Zoe Hobbs (11.17) and Kambundji (11.20).

     

     

     

  • The best shot: Jamaica's shot put queen Thomas-Dodd targets Olympic finals in Paris The best shot: Jamaica's shot put queen Thomas-Dodd targets Olympic finals in Paris

    As Jamaica's shot put queen, Danniel Thomas-Dodd, has achieved much over the years. But she is not entirely satisfied, and as such, intends to once again etch her name in the annals of the country’s track and field history in Paris.

    Fresh off her ninth national title win at the JAAA National Senior Championships, Thomas-Dodd has her sights set on at least making it to the finals in what will be her third Olympic Games appearance, as she hopes to build on her legacy in the circle.

    The experienced campaigner, whose journey is characterized by relentless dedication and a drive to succeed, launched the instrument to a season’s best 19.32m—to win ahead of Lloydricia Cameron (17.62m) and Danielle Sloley (13.55 m)—at the National Stadium, a performance she described as a confidence booster ahead of the global multi-sport showpiece.

    This, as her previous best performances were a 19.12m throw for sixth at the World Indoor Championships in Scotland and a 19.00m throw at the Harry Jerome Track Classic in Canada.

    “I would say it's definitely a huge confidence booster. We've been trying to piece the puzzle together going into the Olympics, so with this throw, I think we're a little bit closer to being ready to compete with the (proverbial) big dogs,” she told SportsMax.TV.

    Thomas-Dodd's path to the Paris Olympics has been one marked by both triumph and challenge, as such, her recent victory at the National Championships not only solidified her dominance in the event but also served as a testament to her consistency and resilience.

    “Coming into the championship, I was struggling a little bit to piece together the technique. So my coach asked me to give him a 19.3 metres throw because he knows I have what it takes, and if I could give him that distance in the National Stadium, then it's a right step in the right direction. So I trusted him and delivered, which makes me more comfortable going into Olympics with that level of confidence knowing that what we've been doing has been working,” Thomas-Dodd shared.

    With World Championships, World Indoor Championships, Commonwealth Games, and Pan American Games medals to her name, Thomas-Dodd is no stranger to the pressures and expectations that come with representing her country on the world stage.

    In fact, with the disappointment of the 2016 and 2020 Games in Rio and Tokyo, when she placed 25th and 13th, respectively, still fresh in her mind, the 31-year-old’s sights are firmly set on breaking into the finals on this occasion to once again demonstrate why she is regarded as one of the best in the business.

    “The number one aim is to ensure that I make it to the finals to give myself a fair chance of putting together something nice and possibly challenge for a medal. I know for sure it's definitely going to take over 20 metres to get on podium, but I've learned so much from my past experiences, and I believe that with the right preparation and mindset, I can achieve this,” she declared.

    “I have been trusting the process more, in previous years, I would have had far better throws earlier in the season, but this year we have kind of tapered to ensure that I get it right when it matters most. Like I said, I am much more motivated now, and my mental game is up, so hopefully it will all come together in Paris,” Thomas-Dodd added.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.