Greene to coach Charlton and Russell

Masai Russell and Devynne Charlton draped with their American and Bahamian flags respectively.

Masai Russell and Devynne Charlton draped with their American and Bahamian flags respectively.


Chief Sports Editor


After coaching them in college, the World Championships and the World Indoor Championships, Rolando “Lonnie” Greene can now add the Olympic Games to the list of achievements for Bahamian Devynne Charlton and American Masai Russell.

Both are coming off victories in their specialties in the women’s 100 metre hurdles at the Bahamas Nationals and USA Olympic trials this weekend. 

And they are both considered two of the favourites to watch at the games in Paris, France, from July 27 to August 11.

Greene, a Bahamian former athlete turned coach, who coached Charlton at Purdue University and Russell at the University of Kentucky, said the two ladies, who are professional athletes he’s training in Lexington, Kentucky, are just fulfilling the plans that God has in store for them. 

Charlton, 28, was fifth in the NCAA Championships in her final year at Purdue in 2017 where she left her name on every hurdles record.  

Last year, Russell, 24, graduated from Kentucky as the NCAA champion and record holder adding to all of the school records she rewrote as well.

“That was our objective from the beginning, but I’m just grateful to the Lord,” said Greene about coaching the two at the same time. “I think both Masai and Devynne can get close to the world record. It’s just a matter of who does it. I told both of them that at the beginning of the season, Devynne broke the world record indoors. I told both of them that they can threaten to break the world record, so they just have to decide who will.”

The world record of 12.12 was set by Nigeria’s Toby Amusan at the 2022 World Championships in Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, the same venue where Russell posted her lifetime best of 12.25 for an Olympic trials record. 

At the last World Championships last year in Budapest, Charlton lowered her national record to 12.24. Charton won the Bahamas National Championship title on Thursday in 12.62.

As far as their preparation goes, Greene said he will have them back in Lexington on Wednesday to get ready for Paris and as usual, there won’t be any discrimination.

“There’s no level of separation between the two. We steer the course. We just do what we’ve been doing and there is nothing that will divide us or not allow God to do what he’s doing for us.

“They are good friends. This is not their first rodeo. They were both in Budapest (at the World Championships last year) and they were there for the World Indoors. So it’s up to them to bring the dream that God has shown them to a reality.”

Budapest was somewhat disappointing for both athletes as Charlton finished where no athlete liked to be, sitting in fourth place just missing getting on the podium, while Russell failed to complete her semifinal race.

Forward to the World’s Indoors in Glasgow, Scotland where they both redeemed themselves, only this time it was Charlton that emerged as the “Queen” of the corp with her world record breaking performance for the gold and unfortunately, it was Russell who ended up in that dreaded position in fourth place.

“It’s up to them,” said Greene on how both competitors will write their script in Paris. “I tell young people all the time, God will always show you a vision. When God shows you your dream, you have to be able to walk it out.”

Greene said the good thing about the pair is that they are the “perfect training duo. They push each other. They hold each other accountable. They do it all together,” he insisted.

“I’ve told them both that they can threaten the world record. They just have to let it all out of them,” he proclaimed. “It’s just a matter of waiting to see if what God gave me will manifest in their lives and I believe it will.”

Charlton, the Bahamian national record holder, said it speaks volumes for Greene as a coach and that is the reason why she made the move from West Lafayette, Indiana after she graduated from Purdue to Lexington to continue to train with him at the University of Kentucky with Russell. 

“When both Masai and I came to him as freshmen in college we were not running anywhere close to the times we are running today,” she pointed out.

“The potential was there, but he definitely tapped into it and developed us as elite world class athletes.”

Now as pro athletes, Charlton said it’s a lot of fun competing with and against Russell.

“We train together and we have that friendship together,” she stated. “But when it’s race day, we put that aside and we do what we do in practice and that is push each other.

“I think because she’s such a good competitor, it’s something that I strive for. I love being pushed and she has been able to push me and I’ve pushed her in practice and in competition.”

Reflecting on Greene’s claim that either one of them could challenge for the world record, Charlton said it was quite evident in Glasgow where she was able to put her race together and come out on top, while Russell had to endure a slight mishap that denied her a spot on the podium.

“I think if that didn’t happen for her, we probably would have been trying to out-lean each other at the line,” Charlton said. “So I expect the same thing outdoors as we look forward to the Olympics.”

Nobody l;ikes to lose, but Charlton said she feels that whoever comes out on top, they will both respect each other because of the mutual relationship that they enjoy.

“When you witness the work ethic and the hours somebody puts into perfecting their craft, you can understand the results that she gets,” Charlton said. “But the good thing is that we support each other no matter what happens.”

As they head into Paris, Greene said there’s always work to be done and he will safeguard their strength and weaknesses to his heart until they are done with the competition.

“There’s always work to be done. The hurdles is an event where you run it ten times. more than likely ten times you will have different results,” Greene pointed out.

“It’s that competitive. So any given day, it could be either Devynne or Masai. I would prefer not to say anything about their preparation because someone could counteract that on the day.”

The first round of the women’s 100m hurdles will take place on Wednesday, August 7 with the semifinals on Friday, August 9 and thed final on Saturday, August 10. 

Before they head to Paris, Greene disclosed that both competitors will go head-to-head in a pair of meets in the US at the Holloway Invitational in Gainesville, Florida and War Murphy in Memphis, Tennessee before they head to Paris. 

He noted that it’s less taxing on them to travel to and from Europe before they have to go back to Paris for the games.

Greene, who is expected to be in Paris as a coach, whether with the Bahamian team or not, said it’s going to be a great event for the duo at the games.

“That’s my belief,” he summed up.

Meanwhile, Charlton said she thoroughly enjoyed her trip home and competing in the Nationals where she held off fellow Bahamian Olympic-bound team-mates Charisma Taylor and Denisha Cartwright.

“It’s always great to be back home because I got to see all of the people who have been supporting me and thanking them in persohn for everything,” she said.

“It’s also good to be able to compete in front of the home crowd, It’s not something that I always get to do so I just don’t want to take those types of moments for granted, so I just want to go out there and perform my best every time I do.”

Hopefully, Charlton will give the Bahamian public a lot more to cheer for when she competes at the Olympics next month, win, lose or draw against her training partner and of course her Bahamian team-mates.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment