Wed | Dec 12, 2018

Jamaican hurdlers set to shine - Russell

Published:Saturday | April 7, 2018 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
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Twenty years ago, 100-metre hurdler Gillian Russell won gold for Jamaica at the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

Reflecting on that victory, Russell-Love says it validated a career that was marked by triumph at the Junior level and on the US Collegiate circuit.

Now a respected media analyst, she believes that the 2018 Games could bring glad tidings for Danielle Williams, Megan Tapper and Yanique Thompson, who will run the 100-metre hurdles on the Gold Coast of Australia.

Russell arrived in Kuala Lumpur for the 1998 Games with two World Junior titles, three outdoor NCAA crowns and the 1997 World Indoor silver medal, but felt something was missing.

"I found it a little more difficult when I came to the senior level to break through,"said the 1995 World Championship finalist. "Yes, I did have that silver, but I was really disappointed in Atlanta," she reminisced of her quarter-final elimination at the 1996 Olympics.

"So I was always sort of hungry and wanting a little bit more", she explaine, after outracing luminaries including Jamaica- born Canadian Katie Anderson.

"It was by no means a giveaway gold medal, but I was hungry for more and wanted to do well for my country."

The searing heat forced her to fight off dehydration but all was well in the final. "You have one of those ones when you feel that everything is going your way, everything is coming up roses, and it did", she recalled.

Russell-Love won the gold medal in the Games record time of 12.70 seconds.

She wouldn't be surprised if Jamaica does well in her pet event, when track action starts in Australia at the 2018 Games. Speaking about Williams, Russell opined that the 2015 World champion has good days ahead.

"I think there is a lot of hope and upside for her," she indicated.

A win, Russell believes, would restore confidence that may have been damaged in tough seasons since Williams' surprise World Championship success three years ago.

"Megan is right there," she said of Tapper, a 2016 Olympic semi-finalist.

"Yanique is right there," she said referring to the 2017 World semi-finalist, "... And I think this stage, where we don't have the American superpowers who are locked into this thing, is going to give them an opportunity to shine."

With Australia's reigning Commonwealth champion Sally Pearson out due to injury, 2014 runner-up Tiffany Porter of England and US based Nigerian Tobi Amusan will be gold medal contenders. Now in her first season as a professional, Amusan has been coached at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) by Jamaica's 2002 Commonwealth 100-metre hurdles winner Lacena Golding-Clarke. Lacena's husband, 1998 Commonwealth 4x400m gold medallist Davian, also coaches at UTEP.