Sport

Whyte on time! National 400m hurdles champion says record effort in keeping with developmental goals

BY DWAYNE RICHARDS
Observer writer

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

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Rhonda Whyte has developed quite a love affair with the Milo Western Relays.

The National 400m hurdles champion won the event for the fourth year in a row on Saturday, breaking her own record of 58.21s by more than a second in the process, as she set a new mark of 57.01s.

Whyte made her major championship debut at the World Championships in London last year for Jamaica and has made a strong start to the new season.

“I am not feeling so bad. I just came out here to see where I am at this point. I have a lot of things to work on, like my first 200m — it is normally slow and I am working on that. I think I got that done today. It feels good to break my own record but I am not pleased with the time — nonetheless, I have to be grateful,” she said.

In addition to the first part of her race, Whyte has another area that she is working on if she is to continue her rapid improvement in the event she was told she would never be good at.

“I still have a lot to work on, like my technique. I think that my clearance of the hurdles still needs a lot more work, and improvement in that area will help me to shave seconds off of my time,” she explained.

As expected, she was happy with her finish as she won going away from the field.

“My finish was strong enough; my finish is the strong part of my race so overall I am pleased with my first race of the season. I am going back to the drawing board because every time I go out there I want to better my time,” she insisted.

Whyte marks herself harder than anyone else, so despite opening the season with a record, there is still a whole lot left to be done.

“I believe in never to settle for mediocrity because there is always room for improvement. My aim this year is to stay focused and healthy and train hard. Once I do that, I know that the results will definitely come,” Whyte noted.

She was coy when pressed about targeting a particular time to run this season.

“I am not someone to state time... I have certain goals in mind and I just work towards them. This is the fastest I have ever opened though, so it is a boost in confidence, for sure,” she explained.

By virtue of the time she ran on Saturday, the 27-year-old has made the 'B' qualifying standard for the Commonwealth Games that takes place in the Gold Coast in Australia in April. That is good news for someone whose appetite for representing Jamaica just keeps growing.

Running against the big guns last year has helped her to mentally take on the challenges going forward.

“The experience has helped me a lot mentally because I was a 'nobody' in track and field and always wanted to know how it feels to run against the best of the best in the world. It showed me that once I am focused and keep my goals in mind, I can do this and... with hard work anything is possible, (and) I can also be the best,” aserted Whyte.

“It shaped me mentally and helped me make positive changes in my life. It's like an experience that opened my eyes and to see deep within myself. Once I stay focused and healthy and listen to the instructions of my coach, it will only get better. Perhaps the most important thing is that it has helped me to focus, not on my competitors, but my lane and the clock,” she added.

The holder of a bachelor's degree in physical education and science, Whyte says that her World Championship experience in London has taken her to a level from which there is no turning back.

“I am willing to push harder as running at the World Championships is like going over a bridge that seemed impossible to cross because of doubt and lack of confidence, but when you cross over it's like everything changes. I always believe that when your mindset changes, everything else will fall into place,” she reasoned.

Jamaica has a strong tradition in the women's 400m hurdles, an event that has become extremely competitive locally. Whyte's Sprintec club-mate Ristananna Tracey mined bronze in the event in London and runner-up spot for the Sportswoman of the Year at the National Sports Awards in January as a result.

So with the bar raised and the tone set, a lot is expected of the “new kid on the block” this season.

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