Sports

Salmon defies critics to make World Championships team

BY DWAYNE RICHARDS
Observer writer

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

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One year removed from high school and Shiann Salmon has qualified for her first senior international championship.

The G C Foster College athlete finished second in the women's 400m hurdles in 55.39s at the JAAA/SVL National Championships at the National Stadium on Friday.

She was well within the World Championships standard of 56 seconds, finishing runner-up to first time national champion Rushell Clayton, who won in 54.73s.

A dominant force for Hydel in her final year in high school, Salmon has transitioned nicely to the collegiate ranks where she was the champion in the event at the intercollegiate championships earlier this year.

But as she clicks through the gears in her athletics career, the 20-year-old has already had to handle the challenges of naysayers.

“They were saying that I wasn't going to get any better, that I was burnt out and things like that,” she revealed in an interview following her attaining her main target for 2019.

On the positive side of things, Salmon was left almost dumbstruck about her achievement against a quality field that included Olympic and World Championship representatives.

“I don't even have the words to express the feeling, if I'm to be honest. It's just a marvelous feeling.”

The words of her coach in training are what got her over the line and onto the plane to Doha, Salmon explained.

“At one point in time, coming towards that last flight of hurdles, we were all bundled and I was like, this is going to come down to the finish, so I just remembered when coach (Maurice) Wilson had taught me to run off the hurdle and to keep my composure,” she said.

“I think I realised I was going to make it when I executed that last hurdle clearance as expected.”

As a senior athlete in high school Salmon ran the 400m as well as the 400m hurdles, and she credits her flat speed as a key component in her qualification.

“I definitely think my flat 400 has played a part in me doing so well. As the name suggests, it's 400 hurdles — you must be able to do a decent 400 in order to do as well as you'd like over the hurdles,” she suggested.

Maintaining her composure and her race plan proved vital to making the team.

“Going into this final, I knew that I was going to go head-to-head with the nations' best 400m hurdle athletes, who all have greater experiences than me. so my aim was to just go out there, get to that first hurdle as relaxed as possible, and to keep with the race pace.

“I definitely think I executed my race well, not exactly as I wanted to but it worked, so I'm grateful,” reasoned Salmon.

Understandably, she was overcome with emotions upon realising her 2019 dream.

“I was bombarded by tons of emotions. I was very happy and relieved to know that after all those hitches and glitches throughout the season I delivered when it mattered the most, irrespective of what the critics were saying.”

Salmon's teammate Ronda Whyte, who was third in the final in 55.41, also punched her ticket to Doha, and was delighted to do so.

“It feels awesome and satisfying knowing that I was nursing a slight strain in my hips before.so I am grateful to God that I was able to pull through,” said Whyte, who was making her second World Championships team.

Whyte was also delighted for her training partner with whom she will be jetting off to Doha, Qatar.

“It feels amazing to know that my training partner and I are on this trip to Doha. Shiann has been training very, very hard since the start (of the season) and she's a very talented athlete. She is one who doesn't believe in the mediocre behavior. I am sure this will build her confidence even more to do great things,” she noted.

Whyte is a graduate of G C Foster College and now a member of the Sprintec Track club, which is based at the institution.


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