Sat | Oct 19, 2019

Salmon is a unique athlete – Bennett

Published:Thursday | October 10, 2019 | 12:19 AMKavarly Arnold/Gleaner Writer
Jamaica’s Shiann Salmon clears a barrier in the women’s 400m hurdles heats at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday, October 1, 2019.
Jamaica’s Shiann Salmon clears a barrier in the women’s 400m hurdles heats at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday, October 1, 2019.

Western Bureau:

Hydel High School track and field coach Corey Bennett has described his former athlete Shiann Salmon’s transition to senior athletics as unique.

Salmon, who captained Hydel to consecutive second-place finishes at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Girls Athletics Championships (Champs) in 2017 and 2018, ran a personal best time of 55.16s to finish third in her semi-final of the women’s 400m hurdles at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

“Shiann is a unique person, generally,” Bennett said. “She is like a daughter that I never had, so there are many reasons for me to want to see her do well. Having lost her father at a very tender age, and probably seeing her mother maybe once in her high school life, we had to step in and be that parent.”

Vision bearing fruit

Bennett, who advised Salmon to switch from the high jump event to the 400m hurdles in 2015, is happy to see his vision bear fruit.

In 2018, her last year of Champs, Salmon finished with three gold (400m, 400m hurdles, and 4x400m) and one silver medal (4x100).

“At Class Four, Shiann wrote as part of her entrance essay that she wanted to be the greatest 400m athlete in the world, and I will never forget that. We wanted her to feature in another event and she excelled at high jump. We introduced her to the 400 hurdles, and in her first year of doing it, she placed second at Champs,” Bennett said.

“She had some ups and downs because of the combination of the 400m hurdles and the high jump at Champs. Ironically, in her last year in school, we had a deal that we were basically going to drop the event to focus on the 400m hurdles. We went straight for the 400m (flat) and 400m hurdles combination. She broke the [400m hurdles] record and the rest is history. It’s a good feeling to know that you start somebody from scratch and really her them blossom into what she is now.

“The 400m hurdles doesn’t get any easier, as Sydney McLaughlin (20 years old), who got the silver medal [at the World Championships] is the same age. She just has to put in the work to be amongst the best in the world.”