Russell, James poised for gold
Sprint hurdler Dejour Russell and quarter-miler Tiffany James registered massive personal bests in their respective semi-finals yesterday and will lead Jamaica's hopes for medals today at the IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Russell, who celebrated his 16th birthday in April, sped to victory in the men's 110 metres in an age-group world-leading 13.20 seconds, the seventh-fastest time ever at these Championships.
He also became the second-fastest Jamaican ever in the event, behind Tyler Mason, who won silver two years ago in 13.06 seconds in Eugene, Oregon.
Russell had to keep his nerves after enduring two false starts and having already seen his teammate, Damion Thomas, crash out in the preceding semi-final.
"Firstly, I must thank God and the people around me who have been motivating me. When I saw Damion crash out of the event, I did not let this affect me as I kept my concentration and, hopefully, I can continue with another big performance in the finals," said Russell, who was only competing over the
Under-20 hurdle height for the second time in competition.
His first outing was the National Junior Championships in June.
Thomas, who failed to negotiate the first hurdle, said: "I am very disappointed in not completing the race as I have been training for this all season."
James, whose previous best was 52.06, also ran a big personal best, 51.77 seconds, to win her semi-final and emerge the fastest qualifier heading into today's final.
"I came to the Championships with two things on my mind - to get a personal best and to be on the podium in the event - and I have achieved one so far and, hopefully, in the finals I can achieve the other," said James.
Her countrywoman, Junelle Bromfield, finished second in her semi-finals to also seal her place in the final.
"Being an 800-metre runner, I waited too late to make my move. But I am quite satisfied and my legs are very strong and I am ready to do something special in the final," she said.
Earlier, Raheem Chambers could only manage sixth in the men's 100m final in 10.40 seconds. He got a flying start and led for 70 metres, but failed to hold off the pack.
Noah Lyles of the United States won in 10.18 seconds.
Jhevaughn Matherson failed to advance after finishing fourth in his semi-final in 10.40 seconds, the 10th fastest time overall.
Shannon Kallawan finished second in her heat of the women's 400m hurdles in 58.23 seconds to be the fifth-fastest qualifier for today's semi-finals. Nicolee Foster also advanced after a fourth-place finish in 59.19.
Only Veneisha Pusey advanced to the semi-finals of the women's 100m after finishing fourth in her heat in 11.69 seconds. Patrice Moody was sixth in her heat in 12.02 seconds.
Janelle Fullerton also placed sixth in her group and 10th overall in the women's shot put, with 14.33 metres, but failed to advance.
Christopher Taylor and Sean Bailey are through to the second round of the boys' 400m. Taylor won his heat in 46.73 seconds, while Bailey clocked 46.83 for second.
Triple jumper Jordan Scott qualified for the final after placing third in his group with 15.99m for sixth overall.
Javier Lowe failed to advance after a 15.38m jump.