Thursday, August 4, 2022
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
BIRMINGHAM, England — Despite not feeling 100 percent, Alonzo Russell was able to muster enough energy to power from behind down the home stretch to earn a lane in the semi-final of the men’s 400 metres at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
As the first Bahamian athlete to compete on day two of the track and field competition before a jam-packed 30,000 seating at the Alexander Stadium yesterday, the Grand Bahamian native emerged out of the fifth of seven heats with a third place finish in 48.41 seconds.
That enabled the 30-year-old national championship runner-up to claim 15th place overall to ensure his spot in the semi-finals on Friday when he will run out of lane nine in the last of three heats when the first two in each heat and the two fastest times will book their ticket to the final on Sunday.
“It was rough because I’m battling the flu right now,” said Russell, who is in his third appearance at the games. “I am just taking it one round at a time and hope that I can come back in two days (one to be exact) and advance again. But it’s been rough.”
Running out of lane four in his heats, Russell got left coming out of the first curve, but started to make up some ground on the back stretch. As he came off the final curve, he was in fifth place, but negotiated his comeback on the home stretch for the third place.
Zambia’s Muzala Samukonga had already built up enough real estate to surge out front as the heat winner in a personal best of 44.89 with Jamaica’s Jevaughn Powell taking the second spot in 48.14. While Samukonga had the fastest qualifying time, Powell was pegged at number eight.
With the crowd cheering loudly for everybody, Russell said he was motivated a little more in staging his comeback.
“I was kind of surprised. The race was amazing. There were a lot of people out here for a morning session, compared to the World Championships,” Russell said. “The crowd was just so much bigger. It was amazing.”
At the World Championships two weeks ago in Eugene, Oregon, Russell didn’t compete in the 400, so he’s hoping to take advantage of this opportunity here, regardless of how he feels physically.
“I hope to go for a personal best. That’s the goal,” said Russell, who has done a lifetime best of 45.25 on June 26, 2019 at the Bahamas National Championships at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium.
In analysing his environment here, including the games village at the University of Birmingham, he indicated that he couldn’t ask for anything better.
“Everything here is pretty good, so I shouldn’t have any problems accomplishing my goal,” he summed up.
If he achieves his goal and he advances again, Russell will be in the final to be contested on the final day of competition on Sunday at 5:45 am EST. He also has two silver medals from the games on his résumé, having ran on both the 4 x 400m relay teams at the Gold Coast, Australia in 2018 and in Glasgow, Scotland in 2014.
However, he’s still looking for his first final in the individual 400m at a major global competition. He is the lone competitor for the Bahamas in the one-lap race in the absence of Steven Gardiner and Shaunae Miller-Uibo.