Sun | Sep 19, 2021

Mental game

Russell tapping into brainpower to drive medal hopes

Published:Sunday | July 25, 2021 | 12:12 AMAndre Lowe - Sports Editor

Janieve Russell winning the women’s 400m hurdles final at the National Junior and Senior Championships at The National Stadium on Friday, June 25, 2021.
Janieve Russell winning the women’s 400m hurdles final at the National Junior and Senior Championships at The National Stadium on Friday, June 25, 2021.

TOKYO, Japan:

National champion Janieve Russell is nearing her best, just in time for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The reigning Commonwealth Games champion returns to the Olympic stage with renewed confidence and mental fortitude and is eager to improve on the seventh-place finish from her appearance in the 400m hurdles final at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Russell told The Gleaner that she has been paying special attention to her mental conditioning ahead of the Games, and pointed to this new approach for her return to the form which saw her winning at the National Senior Championships in a season’s best 54.07 seconds.

“The major factor for my improvements is my mental state,” said Russell. “I have been doing a lot of work on my mental preparation. I am physically ready, I have been putting in the work in training and I know that a lot depends on where the mind is and who wants it more. So recognising this and making the necessary improvements has been a major thing for me this season.”

FASTEST TIME

Russell’s 54.07 seconds run at Trials was her fastest time since September 2018, and it has pushed her confidence in the right direction, ahead of her first-round competition at the Tokyo Olympics, which starts on Saturday, July 31 at 9:00 a.m. (Friday, July 30 at 7:00 p.m. Jamaica time).

“I started to focus a lot more on myself. I worked a lot on building up the confidence I have in myself, as well as the confidence I place in the training programme,” Russell said. “I really do feel like I am getting back to my best.

“I am in good shape and I think I can run a personal best at the Olympics. I just need to work on the latter part of my race and, if I can fix my technique there, I know I can get a good result,” Russell added.

The 2012 World Junior Championships gold medallist says she is excited about competing at her second Olympic Games and is particularly proud that she won her spot at Trials this time around, having benefited from a medical exemption to compete in Rio.

“I’m really grateful for it. I’m happy. This is my second Olympic team and my first time earning my spot at the National Stadium. The last Olympics I was a wild card because of a medical exemption, but I am pleased with this,” said Russell.

Russell has finished in the top three in eight of her nine starts this season, including third-place finishes at the two Diamond League meets in Gateshead and the Hungarian Grand Prix.

andre.lowe@gleanerjm.com