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Russell should go - Byfield encourages Calabar hurdler to compete at Commonwealth Games

Published:Friday | March 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMMarc Stamp

If De'Jour Russell isn't sure about accepting his selection to Jamaica's Commonwealth Games, there is at least one person, who would advise him to go.

That's Debbie Byfield, who made the 1972 Olympic team as a schoolgirl. She believes youngsters with the ability to make the senior team, should go for it.

Weeks before the Commonwealth Games team was announced on March 7, Russell, the star hurdler and sprinter at Calabar High School, had indicated that academic pursuits would lead him to bypass the Games and last week's World Indoor Championships, if he was selected.

In an interview published in STAR Sports after the Camperdown Classic last month, the World Under 18 110 metre hurdles champion said, "It is strictly academics for me as those meets will clash with my preparation for CXC examinations and that is a priority now."

"Boys and Girls' Championships is enough for me", he concluded.


Similar situation


Byfield was in the same situation in 1972.

She was a star sprinter at Excelsior High School when she earned a place on the Jamaican team to the Olympics in Munich, Germany.

Speaking at the Jamalco Development Meet where she was honoured last month, she shared the advice she got from her mother when she was balancing her GCE O Level studies with athletics.

"She said you can go to school anytime but you can't run anytime - forget everything and go for it", Byfield reminisced.

Russell is likely to be in good form when the Games begin on April 1 on Australia's Gold Coast since it is the week after the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Athletics Championships, which is set for March 20 - 24 and the Games take place on Australia's Gold Coast from April 4 - 15. That's a time period when high school student-athletes are often in peak condition.

Reminded of a Daily Gleaner story that recorded her focus about her studies, she recalled, "I was worried and I was concerned, however at the end of the day, I mean, I went back and graduated from college and started grad school in my forties, so I could do that today at 64."

Russell was fourth in the 110 metre hurdles at both the 2016 World Under 20 Championships and the 2017 National Senior Championships.

Editor's Note: De'Jour Russell is provisionally listed on Jamaica's team to the Commonwealth Games