The super talented Janieve Russell continued Jamaica’s rich tradition in the 400 metres hurdles when she won gold in the event on Saturday at the 14th staging of the IAAF World Junior Championships at Spain’s Montjuic Olympic Stadium in Barcelona.
Russell’s medal brings to 10 the number that Jamaicans have won in the event at the junior level, with six of the previous being bronze and two silvers, while Kaliese Spencer captured gold at the 2006 staging in Beijing, China.
The other World Junior female medal winners were: Wynsome Cole, Tanya Jarrett, Allison Beckford, Melaine Walker, Camille Robinson and Sherene Pinnock.
Russell, who entered the championships with a junior world leading time and personal best of 57.04 seconds, lowered that to 56.62, making her the third-fastest Jamaican junior of all time, behind Ristananna Tracey (54.58) and Spencer (55.11).
“I am thankful for the time, I wish it was lower but I am grateful,” Russell said, while paying tribute to her coach, Maurice Wilson.
Grateful to coach
“I did it also for my head coach because he has been with me from Class Four. He has put in all the work and now I have reaped from his good work and I have shown it out on the track.”
The 18-year-old Holmwood Technical head girl looks up to two of her compatriots, who have replicated the nation’s success at the junior level on the senior stage.
“I have two idols, Deon Hemmings-McCatty and Melaine Walker,” she expressed.
Hemmings-McCatty won gold at the 1996 Olympic Games and silver at the 2000 Olympics, as well as silver at the 1997 World Championships and bronze at the 1995 and 1999 World Championships.
Walker captured gold at the 2008 Olympics and 2009 World Championships, to go along with silver at the 2011 World Championships.
Russell, only two years ago, took up the 400m hurdles and only recently settled on it as her pet event. She is now hopeful that her success can influence other young athletes to realise their full potential.
“You don’t see people so-called for the country being on the circuit like this and I am so pleased that I went out there and did it,” the Manchester native said.
“I just hope that kids who are in track and field can follow my footsteps and just soar in it,” she added.
The multi-talented Russell has represented Jamaica in several different events, including the long jump at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Italy in 2009, the 400m at the 2011 World Juniors in Canada and the heptathlon, where she won a silver medal at the Pan-American Juniors in Florida last year.