Russell a fantastic athlete - Hyde
Despite being a major doubt due to injury, Jaheel Hyde, the past World and Youth Olympic 110-metre hurdles champion, thinks Dejour Russell is heading for big things at the 2017 staging of Boys and Girls' Championships (Champs), should the 16-year-old compete this week. Speaking at the recent Carifta Trials, Hyde described the Calabar Class 1 athlete as fantastic.
Hyde and Russell were teammates at last year's World Under-20 Championships, where the former defended his 400m hurdles title and the latter stunned with a time of 13.20 seconds in the 110m hurdles preliminary round before placing fourth in the final. That time is 0.04 faster than the Champs record set by current Olympic champion Omar McLeod while he was at Kingston College (KC) in 2013.
Though a slow start doomed Russell in the World Under-20 final, he had rarely hurdled over the 36-inch height used for that age group. As a Class 2 athlete last year, he negotiated hurdles set at a height of 33 inches, the same as those which Hyde flew over to set the world best of 12.96 seconds in 2014.
Hyde revealed, "I actually spoke to him last week," the former Wolmerian said, "and, you know, I gave him some pointers because, you know, they are records and records should be broken, and if anybody should be breaking a record, I think it should be him."
Describing Russell as a friend, he asserted, "So I think he's a fantastic athlete and I think he will get it this year." Not only could Russell break McLeod's Champs record, but at this year's World Under-18 Championships, he could make a run at the 13 second barrier.
'BEST IN THE WORLD'
Hyde isn't the only one to see the potential in the Calabar boy. Earlier in the season, veteran hurdles coach Raymond Graham offered the same sentiment. He labelled Russell 'the best in the world in his age group' and likened him to McLeod, whom Graham coached at KC. "I worked with Omar at KC", he said, "and he's now a World champion, Olympic champion and I see Dejour in a few years reaching the same pinnacle."
So far this season, Russell has run 13.31 seconds in the under 18 event and 13.45 with the barriers set at the Under-20 Class 1 height. Unfortunately, reports have emerged on the eve of Champs of an injury niggle that will rule Russell out of the class 1 110m where he was also favoured for a medal.