Defiant Cunningham races into 400m hurdles semifinals

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London 2017,Ricardo Cunningham,Jaheel Hyde,IAAF World Championshps,Kemar Mowatt,

Photo: Ricardo Cunnimgham finishing third behind Jaheel Hyde and Kemar Mowatt in the  400m hurdles finals at the Jamaica Senior Championships in June.




With numerous travel hicupps and delays along with limited preparation time, Ricardo Cunningham was well aware that it was going to take a whole lot of mental strength and fortitude to survive his first London test at the IAAF World Championships on Sunday morning.

Cunningham accepted that he would be stepping into the unknown in the British capital but managed to claim the fourth automatic qualification spot in heat four of the men’s 400m hurdles, booking a semi-final place at his first World Championships.

Technically, he said it was a horrible race, but things can be fixed to match his fitness.

"I am not satisfied, it was not as how I was getting it in training. I floated a bit over a few hurdles, but also jumped a few. I got thrown off by the false start and went out really slow. I picked up to the 2nd and 3rd hurdle, got the 4th one and it threw me off badly,” he explained.

The 35-year-old, who is far from the form which fired him to a spot on Jamaica's World Championship team, faded midway the race, before clawing his way in the home straight to come home in 49.91seconds.

He had initially come home fifth, which would have left him relying on a fastest loser spot, but moved up a place when USA’s Michael Stigler was disqualified.

The winner was Dominican Juander Santos in 49.19 seconds ahead of Norway's Karsten Warholm 49.50 and Agrentinian Guillermo Ruggeri 49.69 seconds.

Cunningham said: "I've had a tough few weeks. As you would know I've not been able to do as much hurdling and it showed a bit at the end. My legs still feeling a bit light and I have not really gotten acclimatized at all," he revealed.

The cold London weather didn't help his situation, compounding the no post-national trials races.

"My chest felt extremely tight during the run. Definitely the lack of racing since trials has accounted somewhat too." 

Ricardo who has endured a torrid season, stated that it's all or nothing as he prepares to line up in Monday's semifinal.

"I will have to get a solid first 200m to stay in touch and punch home. Only a personal best will carry me into the finals, so I will have to just run outside of myself,” he acknowledged. “The first 4 hurdles will make a huge difference, if I get them right, the finals is within my capability,” he told Yardie Sports

Jamaica's other two entrants, Jaheel Hyde and Kemar Mowatt also made safe progress to the semifinals which gets going at 2:20 local  time.

The final of Men's 400m hurdles is the penultimate event, scheduled for Wednesday August 9, 2017.

Foot note: This interview was conducted by Oshae Hudson.