Wed | Oct 4, 2023

‘Trials is going to be fire’

Jamaica’s 400 hurdles team the toughest to make, says Clayton

Published:Wednesday | April 27, 2022 | 12:12 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 400-metre hurdles bronze medallist, Rushell Clayton, says her event is going to be one of the most competitive at this year’s National Championships. She expects to contend for a spot on Jamaica’s team to Eugene, Oregon, host city of the Worlds this year, and in her estimation, the women’s 400 hurdles team will be one of the hardest to make.

Speaking on Saturday at the National Stadium during Velocity Fest XI, Clayton shared her excitement over the prospects for Jamaica over the one-lap obstacle course.

“All these ladies, they are running and the competition is great and I can see everybody coming out and giving their all and it’s so good to see that the competition is out there,” said Clayton.

“Trials is going to be fire. It’s going to be one of the best Trials ever. It’s going to be one of the hardest to make, but I’ll be ready,” added the woman who hurdled to a personal best of 53.74 seconds to secure the bronze in the 2019 final where American Dahlilah Muhammad clocked a world record of 52.16 seconds.

The record fell twice in 2021, with Sydney McLaughlin breaking the 52-second barrier ahead of Muhammad at the US Olympic Trials and surging to a new mark of 51.46 at the Games in Tokyo, Japan.


“Four hurdles right now is one of the greatest events on the track, no doubt about it. You see what the ladies are doing across the world, and here in Jamaica it’s gearing up to be good too,” Clayton surmised.

The University of the West Indies graduate is readying herself for the challenge in new surroundings. After years at the Swept Track Club, she is now a member of the Elite Performance Club and is coached by former STETHS head coach Reynaldo Walcott. Training, she reported, is not what she’s used to.

“I’m doing so many things different. It’s been weird. My body has to be adjusting in so many different ways. There are days when I’m getting it. There are days when I’m not getting it, but I’m enjoying the process”, Clayton revealed.

She was smiling on Saturday, having just lowered her flat 400-metre personal best to 52.29 seconds at the latest meet in the Velocity Fest series. Two weeks earlier, in Bermuda, she faced two other contenders for the team to Eugene, Olympic finalist Janieve Russell and 2019 semi-finalist Shian Salmon clocked 55.89, ahead of Russell but behind Salmon.

Some of her joy comes simply from being able to compete. In 2021, injury locked her out of the Nationals.

Her training partners now include the likes of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Rasheed Broadbell.

“There’s a lot more sprinting, a lot more speed stuff because I’m in a camp where everybody is fast, so you’ve got to get with it,” the 29-year-old said.

“I’m in a group where everybody’s just aiming to win so day in, day out, I just gotta go.”