Wed | Aug 15, 2018

Russell chasing her father's dream

Published:Sunday | January 21, 2018 | 12:00 AMAkino Ming
Carrie Russell

After 15-year-old Carrie Russell surprised her competitors and won a bronze medal in the 100 metres at the World Junior championships in Beijing, China, in 2006, her father, Hesant, told her that he wanted her to become a great athlete.

By great, he meant winning an Olympic medal, Russell told The Sunday Gleaner.

And so the native of Cedar Valley, St Thomas, embarked on a quest to realise her father's dream.

She switched high schools from St Thomas Technical, where she started out, to The Queens School to enhance her development.

After high school, she joined the Stephen Francis-coached MVP Track Club and seemed set to achieve her father's objective when she had what many track and field experts described as a break-out season in 2013.

That season, she won a gold medal as a part of a relay team at the World Athletics Championship in Moscow, Russia, made the final of the 100 metres, and ran under 11 seconds.

But after that season, things started to go downhill.

"I did surgery in 2015, which ruled me out of the track and field season completely," Russell said.

And then the big blow; Russell lost the man whose dream she was working hard to achieve. "It was a tough phase of my life that year because after I had that season-ending injury, I lost my dad," Russell remembered. "He had a brain tumour, and six months after he removed it, he died."

She said: "I was depressed, gained excess weight, and Stephen Francis got the opportunity for me to do bobsleigh. He said to me, 'I think this can get you down to where you need to be because the sport has a weight regulation'."

But apart from using bobsleigh as an opportunity to get back to track and field, Russell also saw it as a window to achieving her dad's dream.

Her qualification to next month's Winter Olympics Games in PyeonChang, South Korea, gave her the hope that she can make her dead father's dream come true.

 

COMPETITIVE FOCUS

 

"Overall, our focus is to be very competitive at the Olympics, and being very competitive at the Olympics will put us within the medals," Russell told The Sunday Gleaner as she looked ahead to the February 9-25 Games.

"We know the track. I have been on it six times already since it opened in October," she said.

Winning a medal at the Winter Olympic Games will not only realise Russell's father's dreams, but also put her among the few athletes who have garnered major accomplishments in two sporting disciplines.

Fellow sprint hurdler-turned bobsledder, American Lolo Jones, is one of those athletes.

"Being able to compete at a high level in two sports shows that I can do well in any sport I put my mind to," Russell said.

She is hoping to return to track and field after the Winter Games.

"When I am finished with the Winter Games, I will talk to Stephen Francis, and he will tell me where we go from there," Russell said.