Relay duty for Salmon?
Faced with a depleted men’s team at last year’s Olympics, Jamaica called on 400 metres hurdler Jaheel Hyde to run the 4x400 metres relay. In like manner, if called upon, Shiann Salmon will take up the baton in the long relay in Eugene, Oregon, at...
Faced with a depleted men’s team at last year’s Olympics, Jamaica called on 400 metres hurdler Jaheel Hyde to run the 4x400 metres relay. In like manner, if called upon, Shiann Salmon will take up the baton in the long relay in Eugene, Oregon, at the World Athletics Championships.
Salmon clicked off two personal bests in the 400 metre hurdles to book her spot on the plane to Eugene. However, she hedged her bets by running the flat 400m as well. The former Hydel High school captain reached that final but left her lane vacant after a season’s best of 52.24 seconds in the heats.
“I knew I had it in me to make the team in the 400m hurdles, which is my pet event, but then also I’ve been taught not to put my eggs in one basket, so I just thought the best thing coming forward was to enter in both and just see what happens after the 400 hurdles,” she explained recently.
With her hurdles team spot in the bag, she almost stepped away from the 400m.
“I already made the team in the 400m hurdles, and my coach was telling me, you know, don’t run. Everybody was saying you don’t have to, but I just wanted to run for the enjoyment. I wasn’t planning to run the final,” she recalled of the advice she got from her coach, 1996 Olympic 400 metre hurdles bronze medallist Tonja Buford-Bailey.
“But I haven’t run a 400m all season, so I was just saying I just wanted to feel how going around the track without barriers felt again,” she added.
A 4x400m fixture for Hydel, Salmon ran a 50.8 seconds leg at the 2018 World Under-20 Championships and won a relay bronze to go with her silver medal from the hurdles. Asked if she would run the relay in Eugene if needed, she replied: “Most definitely, for my team. I really enjoy 4x400m, to be honest, and I’d love to be a part of the relay, you know. I’ve always done it, 4x400m all my life, and yes, I’m definitely looking forward to running a leg if I’m called upon.”
When she ran that 50.8 leg, her personal bests were 55.78 seconds in the hurdles and 52.05 for the flat 400 metres. Now her benchmarks are 53.82 seconds, which makes her the sixth fastest hurdler worldwide this year and 51.74 seconds from last March.
If Salmon is called to serve Jamaica’s relay effort in Eugene, she might not be the only hurdler to do baton duty. National 400m hurdles champion Janieve Russell is a reliable relay runner and in March helped Jamaica to win the World Indoor Championships gold medal in Belgrade, Serbia.
Last year, the men’s team finished sixth in the Olympic final, clocking two minutes 58.76 seconds. Hyde chipped in with a steady leg timed in 45.2 seconds. Russell won a bronze in the women’s 4x400m with a 50 flat run.