McLaughlin-Whilby happy to be an Olympian

August 03, 2016
@Normal:Ristananna Tracey (right) stretches as she sits alongside Jamaican teammate Anneisha McLaughlin-Whilby at the pre-Olympic training camp in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.

Anniesha McLaughlin-Whilby is excited to be an Olympian. Now 30, the former Holmwood Technical High school standout says it was the only achievement missing from her career. Even though she won't be running an individual event when track and field competition starts at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 12, McLaughlin-Whilby is ready to give of her best.

Speaking just before her departure to Rio, she said, "That's the only achievement I didn't get even, though it's not an individual race; the fact that I'm an Olympian, I'm very excited for that." McLaughlin was fifth in the 200 metres final at the 2009 World Championships and reached the 2014 Commonwealth final as well.

Given her focus on the 200m, it was a surprise to some observers that she abandoned that event for the 400m at the National Senior Championships. The switch was actually influenced by a bout of the mosquito-borne Zika ailment. "I didn't really start out the season thinking that I would end up running the 400m, honestly," she confessed.

"I had the Zik-V a few weeks before Trials", she detailed, "so coach was like, it's easier to get stronger as opposed to getting back the speed I missed.

"So that's how I ended up doing the 400," she concluded.

McLaughlin, who took last season off and moved from the MVP Track Club to the Sprintec Club, run by her former Holmwood coach Maurice Wilson, set personal bests of 51.35 and 51.03 seconds en route to fifth at the National Championships.

Those times follows a run of 51.40 earlier in the season and are superior to her previous 400m lifetime best of 51.89, which was established in 2012.

She thinks that with Wilson's help, she can go faster.

"I have all the faith that he will get me to the next level", she offered hopefully, "so next season I'll be focusing solely on the 400 metres."

As things stand, her role in the Olympics will be to run in the 4x400m heats. Even so, her ambition is lofty.

"I'm just hoping to go out there and run a great leg in the heats so they'll select me for the final four for the finals", she projected.