Rushell Clayton sets new goals; aims for faster times and podium finish at Paris 2024

By May 09, 2024
Rushell Clayton sets new goals; aims for faster times and podium finish at Paris 2024 Rushell Clayton Instagram

In an exclusive interview prior to her 400m hurdles debut at the Jamaica Athletics Invitational in Kingston on Saturday, World Championship 400m hurdles bronze medalist Rushell Clayton has revealed her ambitious new goals for the upcoming season, setting her sights on achieving faster times and securing her first Olympic medal at the Paris 2024 Games.

Clayton, who impressed with a personal best of 52.81 to claim bronze at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest, kicked off her season with a lifetime best performance, clocking 51.81 in the 400m at Gainesville, Florida, in early April.

When Clayton won the bronze medal in Doha in 2019, Dalilah Mohammad won in a world-record time of 52.16. Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone won the silver medal in a time of 52.20. Since then, McLaughlin-Levrone has gone on to dominate the event while lowering the world record to a seemingly impossible time of 50.68 at the 2022 championships in Eugene, Oregon.

During that time, Clayton was busy rebounding from injury and has been on a pathway of improvement ever since. She was sixth in Eugene in 54.36.

Reflecting on her journey and setbacks, Clayton, who has never made an Olympic final, expressed determination to surpass her previous achievements and target even faster times. "Yes, I have a new goal. Getting into the finals and getting onto the podium, you will have to run fast," Clayton affirmed. "I am more focused on placements than time. I know it may take 51 to get on that podium (in Paris) and I will be ready to run that but I don’t want to focus so much on time because a lot of times when you focus on times you forget about every other thing."

 

Acknowledging her growth and progress, Clayton emphasized her physical and technical improvements over the past seasons. "I think over the last two seasons, I've got faster, got stronger," Clayton remarked confidently. "I used to be strong but I think I am way stronger now and I have been doing a lot of speed work. When you do speed work, it doesn’t come right away but I am starting to feel like I am getting faster because of my stride patterns now and how I am able to distribute around the track. My training is focused on all aspects needed to run fast."

Clayton's dedication to enhancing her performance includes strategic adjustments to her stride patterns and race tactics. "I have changed my stride pattern between the hurdles," she revealed. "A few people have asked me if I was running a particular stride pattern. The two fastest ladies in the world (McLaughlin-Levrone and Femke Bol), they’re doing 14 strides and I had to try it out and so far it has been doing good. I am learning stride patterns. I am learning more about the event and I am super-excited about my new race pace."

Looking ahead to the national championships in June, Clayton outlined her strategy of preparing through targeted race participation. "I am feeling good. I don’t normally open my season this late but then I remember I ran all the way to September (last year) and I had a PB in my first run (this season)," Clayton shared optimistically.

 "I think I am on the same schedule as I did last season. We ran a certain number of hurdle races before trials and that was maybe four so I leaning towards that. There are not a lot of four-hurdle races around the globe and when you line up it’s like a World Championship final so we pick the races; my team and I, we sit down and decide we’re going to run three or four races and we’re leaning towards about four hurdle races before trials and it kicks off at the Jamaica Athletic Invitational."

With a renewed focus on podium placements and faster times, Clayton seems poised to elevate her performance to new heights and make a compelling bid for Olympic success in Paris this summer.

 

 

 

 

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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