'I think I can run fast again'
Three years after he surprisingly crashed out of the semi-finals of the 400 metres at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, after running a brilliant 43.93 seconds in the preliminaries to erase Jermaine Gonzales' national record, Rusheen McDonald has been working hard to prove that his sub-44 seconds effort was no fluke.
"That was a good race, but it could have been better. Something went down - a technical error before the race - that caused me not to run faster in that race and caused me not to run fast in the semi-final," McDonald said as he cast his mind back to that record-breaking memorable day.
But a car crash he was involved in three months after the championships and the injuries he sustained are the biggest obstacles in his bid to correct that 2015 error and silence the naysayers.
In January 2016, while on his way to a track and field meet in Kirkvine, Manchester, McDonald almost lost his life when his teammate lost control of the car they were travelling in and crashed into a median on the Bushy Park leg of Highway 2000.
His 2013 Nissan Skyline burst into flames moments after the crash, but the quarter-miler had enough time to crawl out of the jaws of death with small burns and fractured vertebrae.
The burns have long been healed, but the fractured bones in his back have become McDonald's worst nemesis.
"The back has been on and off ever since," the 25-year-old McDonald told The Sunday Gleaner. "When I run the longer distance, I feel it, but when I am running the shorter distances like the 150 metres, I do not feel it."
The quarter-miler was sidelined for the majority of the 2016 season and was not able to record a sub-45 seconds race in the 2017 season.
According to McDonald, this season, he has learnt to work with the discomfort from his back injury, and he is confident that he can get back to the days when running under 44 seconds was easy for him. "Based on training, I think that I can run fast again," McDonald said. "Coach has me doing some things in training, and I like it."
McDonald has been provisionally selected to be a part of the Commonwealth Games team but knows that he will have to run faster than the 46.19 he recorded yesterday at the G.C. Foster Classics if he is to land a spot in the flat 400m.
"Before the Commonwealth Games, I just want to get a better race out there, but I am not putting myself under any pressure. I just want to follow the instructions that coach gives to me," McDonald said.