Ronda Whyte, the Mauricio Wilson-coached athlete defied the odds, creating a major upset to win the finals of the Women's 400m hurdles and be crowned new National champion.

She came into the final as a ranked outsider, as the event included three finalist at last year's Olympic Games, in Janieve Russell, Ristananna Tracy, and Leah Nugent. The experienced Kaliese Spencer was also in the mix.

Whyte, who has never broken 54 seconds before coming into the Championships, only had a personal best of 55.58 seconds done last year. However, in the first round of the event on Friday, she showed signs that she was ready for something special. Running out of lane one, she finished strongly for second behind Russell in a then personal best of 54.93 seconds, the first time going sub-55 seconds in her career.



 An athlete who has been plagued by injuries since her days at Maggoty High and G.C. Foster College, Whyte shocked the fair-sized crowd on Friday night, as despite not being in the pack early, she made a decisive move very late to score a runaway win in the end in a new impressive life best of 54.29 seconds, which put her at number six on the IAAF World Top list.

Naturally, she was very pleased with her performance and was over the moon when she spoke to The Gleaner minutes after her biggest achievement so far in her career. "This victory is sweet," she said. Asked about her race strategy going into the final, her reply was: "My plan was just to attack the hurdles and finish strong. I was very confident of doing well as I was motivated by my run in the first round," she said.

"Injuries had slowed me down over the years and once I knew that I was injury free, I was very confident of doing well as I never gave up. You don't know when it is your time, and once you work hard anything, is possible," she continued.

"Being National champion means a lot to know that I competed among the best and came out victorious. This is to show you that you should never give up and don't stop doing what you are doing because one day, you will succeed," she said.

Coach Wilson weighed in on his charge's success, saying: "I am happy for her performance having watched her in training. I told her she was just as good as her training partner and she could win. She is very disciplined and a committed athlete. I am also happy that she is one of the athletes we developed at GC Foster College."

- R.G.

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