'De'Jour Russell will learn Down Under'
Gillian Russell, the 1998 Commonwealth Games 100 metres hurdles champion, says her young namesake De'Jour will learn a lot from competing at the 2018 Games in Australia. She sees great things in his future and describes the current World Under-18 110m hurdles king as raw talent. Her advice to the 18 year-old prospect is to "go in there and mix it up with them".
Given that the lad has run at the IAAF World Under-18 and Under-20 Championships and the senior National Championships, the 1997 World Indoor silver medal winner doesn't think he will be overly awed by the atmosphere at the Commonwealth Games.
"It is raw talent, but he has competed at some of the biggest meets around as a junior," she surmised, "so this is not necessarily the biggest step for him."
Russell's advice to him is simple. Speaking on the eve of the Games, she counselled, "He just has to go in there and mix it up with them." Even though the Commonwealth field is filled with quality, she said, "You're going to learn when you have guys like Roger Kingdom who would lean on you when he is running, be all over your lane line."
The 110 metre hurdles field includes England's World Indoor champion Andrew Pozzi, Jamaica's Olympic and World Championship medal winner Hansle Parchment, and 2016 Olympic finalist Milan Trajkovic of Cyprus.
"He's going to learn to run in that kind of traffic and he's a big kid," said the 1995 World Championships finalist. "He's going to be able to absorb some of that, and he's going to learn from that, and he's going to grow," she predicted.
The Calabar High School student-athlete has impressed many by breaking Omar McLeod's Boys and Girls' Championships Class One 110m hurdles record and by placing fourth, ahead of 2014 Commonwealth champion Andrew Riley, at the 2017 National Senior Championships. In that race, won by McLeod, the youngster raced to a lifetime best of 13.35 seconds.
"You see great things in his future because of what he's been able to do," Russell exulted.
Last year, he successfully navigated through competitions with hurdles at three different height settings. For races in the Under-18 age category, the height of the hurdles is set at 36 inches. For under-20 and senior competition, the hurdle heights are 39 and 42 inches, respectively.
"It's just been kind of eye opening, mind blowing," Russell concluded, "so a lot of good things are going to happen for him."