Rickiann Russell faster than ever after diet change
This year’s version of Rickiann Russell is slim and slick and faster than ever. A change of diet and a devotion to training put the Holmwood Technical High School captain in the spotlight at last Saturday’s Grace Jackson/Queens Invitational, where she smashed her 400 metres lifetime best and announced her return to the front line of high-school athletics.
A surging run at the National Stadium not only outdistanced her rivals, but also lowered her personal best from 53.46 to 52.88 seconds. As she caught her breath, Russell said, “I feel great because I haven’t been in the best shape for the past few years.”
She’s right. Class Three 400m winner at the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships in 2018 and second to Oneika McAnuff of Hydel High in 2019, she has missed the podium in 2021 and 2022. Her time slowed to 56.28 in 2021.
The 2019 Carifta Under-17 bronze medal winner moved forward last year with a season’s best of 54.36 and a place in the semi-finals of the 400m at the World Under-20 Championships in Cali, Colombia, where she got a medal for her role in the 4x400m heats.
One reason for her resurgence is a new approach to nutrition. “I decided to change my diet and everything,” she revealed after her big run. The combination of better eating habits and work on the training track produced a result that surprised Holmwood head coach Dave Anderson a little. “We’re at the place we wanted to be now,” he assessed from the National Stadium grandstand. “It’s not that I didn’t know this was possible, but this time in January I wasn’t expecting this 52, but I knew it would be coming. I was expecting her to get back to her very best this season but not so early.”
As her body matured after her win in Class Three, the pounds arrived.
“I sat down with her after last year’s Trials and told her that eventually, she had to make her mind up to decide if her track and field future is going to be remain bright,” Anderson recounted.
Spurred on by her win in the under-20 400m at the 2022 National Championships, Russell has sped into 2023. At the recent Central Hurdles and Relays, she won the 4x400m relay for Holmwood with a strong anchor leg. Now, she is ready for her last season of high-school running.
“I’m going to dominate,” she resolved.
That won’t be as simple as A-B-C, with McAnuff clocking 54.35 seconds on the grass in Santa Cruz while Russell raced on the synthetic track at the National Stadium.
Nevertheless, when asked if the Class One record of 51.13 by Sonita Sutherland was one her targets for this season, she replied: “Yes, sir. It is.”
– Hubert Lawrence