Russell will run - JOA, JAAA explain absence from entry list
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil:
Officials from the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) have moved to settle the confusion around the absence of Janieve Russell's name from the 400m hurdles list of entrants, confirming what The Gleaner reported yesterday afternoon that the athlete had passed her fitness test and will be duly entered accordingly.
When the IAAF released its list of entrants for the women's 400m hurdles, Russell, the leading Jamaican in the event this year, was the notable absentee.
Russell's name was also missing from the event on the IOC's system, with the IAAF's communications director, Anna Legnani, also confirming that the athlete was not entered.
The IAAF had also informed that in order for the athlete to be added, a letter would have to be sent from the Jamaican authorities requesting the addition.
Russell was given a medical exemption from competing at the National Senior Championships after suffering a prior injury. She was given, by the JAAA, until yesterday to prove her fitness, which she did, according to team leader Ludlow Watts.
"She is certified fit. She will compete," Watts said late yesterday.
Chef de mission of Jamaica's contingent at the Olympic Games, Vishu Tolan, provided further clarification on why Russell's name was absent from the IAAF final list of entries and underlined that the system allows for her to be added at the appropriate time.
"When we looked at the entries system, the Olympic system, it asked for three athletes. The three athletes submitted by the JAAA for the women's 400m hurdles were Leah Nugent, Kaliese Spencer and Ristananna Tracey," said Tolan.
"We were also able to submit an alternate athlete, which would have been Janieve Russell, based in the JAAA submission to us that she had received a medical exemption until she has proven fitness. On entering the Rio 2016 Olympics Local Organising system, they would not have her entered until she is moved from that medical exemption or she is changed to one of the three; then the IAAF would not pick that up until she is named as one of the three, because she is seen as an alternate athlete," said Tolan.
ALL SYSTEMS IN PLACE
"At this point, if the JAAA comes to the JOA and said they want to make a change, that Russell is fit and ready to compete, all the systems are in place to put her on the list as one of the three (to compete in the event)."
Each country has up to 24 hours before the event to confirm their three athletes for each event.
In explaining the situations of Elaine Thompson, who is entered in the 200m along with the top three finishers at trials, despite also receiving a medical exemption, Tolan noted that her entry in the 100m made it possible for her to be entered into the system despite technically, at this point, being an alternate in the 200m - even though, like Russell, she was largely expected to compete here.
"If you're already a member of the team, then automatically your entry will be shown, so we had Elaine as a reserve for the 200m, but she was already listed for the 100m, and therefore she came up (in the system) as the number four athlete on the team," added Tolan.
Russell's 53.96 is the fastest time by a Jamaican this year and the fourth fastest in the world.
Her coach, Stephen Francis, had told The Gleaner last week that she had recovered significantly and was looking good in training.
That form has carried through, with information pointing to an impressive showing by the athlete at her fitness test.