Here’s a sampling of the exciting stuff you'll find in the April issue of T&FN, which just rolled off the presses. For the full stories, the fantastic photos, and much more… you’ll have to buy the magazine.
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Wariner’s Need for Speed
With his eyes on a 200/400 double in Beijing, the world’s top quartermiler needs to work on getting faster at half the distance
Finally, Jeremy Wariner can slow down.
No, not on the track. The reigning Olympic and world 400 champion has the usual lofty goals for the upcoming outdoor season, aiming to improve on his PR of 43.93 and win a share of the $1 million Golden League Jackpot.
But this year’s pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is simply that—a pot of gold, not a gold medal. And with no Olympics or Worlds looming in the distance, Wariner, who shot from obscurity to stardom to the verge of dominance in two short years, is ready to take a breath and use ’06 to consider a shift in his young career.
“This,” says Clyde Hart, Wariner’s coach, “is the year to work back into the 200.” Already being compared to his role model and agent, the incomparable Michael Johnson, because of his Baylor background and his rapid rise in the 400, Wariner is ready to take a deeper plunge into the other event Johnson made his own.
Johnson’s stunning World Record of 19.32 at the ’96 Olympics was one of the most electrifying performances in the sport’s history, and in ’04 was named by USATF as the sport’s greatest moment of the previous 25 years. And while Wariner isn’t anywhere near that league at the moment, he is taking the first step toward an attempt to match Johnson’s historic Atlanta double.
That, Wariner says, is the objective: double gold in Beijing in ’08.
“That’s what I want to do,” Wariner says. “Michael and I believe that if I…
Dreaming of Medals
Adam Goucher’s 6th was a great start, but U.S. dreams of a short-course team medal didn’t quite come to pass
Scoring a men’s team medal at the World Cross is one heck of a tall order in the current marketplace. Knowing this full well, the U.S. men’s short-course squad took a shot in Fukuoka.
They didn’t quite succeed, but Adam Goucher charged through the last kilometer of the madness that is world-class 4K cross to finish an ecstatic 6th—just 8 seconds behind Kenenisa Bekele and the highest finish by an American since Pat Porter’s 6th 20 years ago.
Trading on his greatest fitness yet, Goucher did what many said couldn’t be done in 4K cross. He moved up throughout the race: 28th at the kilometer, 21st at 2K (with four of his five teammates within 2 seconds of his 5:28 split) and 13th at 3K…
Goucher targeted Fukuoka like a laser. “This stint of training was for the World Champs in cross,” Goucher reported from Portland, where he trains under coach Alberto Salazar. “Everything we’re doing now is focused and geared toward that. We’re getting ready to run the fastest I possibly can.”
Salazar, the 2nd-place finisher at World Cross in ’82—after two years of U.S. victories by Craig Virgin—prepared Goucher with the unique characteristics of 4K cross in mind.
World-class men race 4 kilometers (c2.5M) on grass in about 11:00—roughly the human body’s upper time limit for sustaining maximum oxygen uptake. The 4K isn’t a really long race, but it hurts a lot, and the margin for error on pacing is paper thin.
With more than 100 runners on the line for a world championship, 4K cross at the elite level is never tactical.
“The thing with the 4K is it’s balls to the wall from the gun,” Goucher told T&FN. “There’s not much…
T&FN Interview: TJ World Champ Walter Davis
Walter Davis seems to have found his rhythm internationally. The LSU alum’s rise to triple jump world champion both outdoors and in suggests as much. An Olympian since ’00, when as a junior collegian he made the Sydney squad in the triple and long jumps (choosing to contest only the triple), Davis’s trajectory on the world stage stalled out thereafter. Stalled out, that is, until on a rainy night in Helsinki last summer he finally reached a global title place higher than 5th.
It was a gratifying win. The Louisiana native, who is guided by Bayou Bengal jumps coach Boo Schexnayder, had looked like a breakthrough waiting to happen for so long that casual observers had given up on their expectations.
Those who kept a close eye on Davis’s high velocity but often low-percentage approach knew that long leaps were possible. For instance, on his final jump at the ’04 Olympic Trials, Davis flew 57-101/4 (17.63) into a slight negative wind.
But for a stray left foot that touched down early, Davis, according to the careful video analysis of kinesiologist and track fan Jesús Dapena, might have soared just over 59ft (18m) on the jump.
T&FN touched base with Davis about his new penchant for winning when it counts. During the phone interview Davis multi-tasked, whipping up a plateful of pork chops and black-eyed peas as he answered questions:
T&FN: Nice work! Two world titles in less than a year. What do you attribute that to?
Davis: I’m just starting to study the triple jump more. I’m starting to watch film and read a couple of books on people. Before, I’d just look at somebody’s jump and stuff like that. Now I’m really starting to understand the triple jump. Also…
Leonard Scott: Two Meets, Two Titles
Leonard Scott made the most of limited racing opportunities, winning the USATF and World Indoor dash titles
Quality, not quantity. That sums up new world champ Leonard Scott’s short-but-high-level indoor campaign—even if he didn’t intend for it to go that way.
A week before the undercover season kicked off in earnest in late January, Scott felt a hamstring tighten in training. That stalled preparations and it looked like his indoor goal—running faster than ever—might not happen.
“Leonard wasn’t happy with me when we pulled him out of both Boston and Millrose,” says agent Emanuel Hudson. “Before the strain, he was really ready to go so he didn’t want to sit out. And as he saw other guys improve, he got anxious.”
A month later, Scott was fully fit and ready to debut at the USATF Indoor. “But I felt very afraid,” admits the 26-year-old Tennessee grad. “I was used to racing and gauging myself off competition. So I had to rely on John. He knows me and has been there before with several great sprinters. I had to believe in what he said.”
“John” is renowned HSI sprint coach John Smith, who says of Scott, “Leonard knew he’d be trying out his leg at Nationals. but I also told him he was ready for prime time. I told him to win on mechanics, not on sharpness.”
So the muscular Louisiana native won the USATF and World 60s, twice bulling to world-leading 6.50s.
Scott also displayed competitive maturity for an athlete not that far removed from pro football. He had to run his heat twice after…
New High School 400 Sensation
Francena McCorory is faster on a half-sized track than most have ever been on a full-sized one
There’s a lesson Francena McCorory can share with her 6th-grade Social Studies teacher, Earl Holmes: it’s possible to rewrite 400-meter history on a flat track.
Thanks to his turning her towards the oval six years ago, her future is bright. Says McCorory, “He said, ‘You’re a runner, go to practice.’ He made me go every day, so it’s kind of his fault.”
That “fault” led to McCorory’s huge breakthrough in the 400 at the Nike Indoor Nationals (see p. 46). Her High School Record 51.93 to supplant Sanya Richards has been surpassed outdoors by only 9 preps ever. And the time was a quarter-second faster than the winning NCAA time—in Fayetteville.
While people looking for fast quarters gravitate.…
Collegians Crank Up Outdoors
Rhodes Scholar Shot Champ Garrett Johnson
Shot champ Garrett Johnson wants to make up for not qualifying last year in either the shot or disc by leading Florida State’s challenge for the ’06 team title.
“Last year has been a motivator,” he says. “The cliche is true that you can’t appreciate victory without tasting defeat.”
Johnson, just a junior athletically, wants to achieve all he can in this, his final track season at FSU—he has already achieved plenty in the classroom, graduating in three years with degrees in Political Science and English. He’s now in grad school in Public Administration. This autumn, the Tampa native heads to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, planning to pursue a master’s in Migration Studies.
Last year he worked in the office of Florida governor Jeb Bush and spent two weeks working in Haiti on a disaster relief task force. “It was a life-defining series of experiences; catastrophic, traumatic events,” Johnson says.
Seminole coach Bob Braman calls Johnson someone with…
Aries Merritt On The Commandments
As one who attends church on Sundays and bible study Wednesdays, Aries Merritt is keen on the commandments of NCAA Championships. In particular, “He who false starts is lost.”
Tennessee’s junior hurdle star proclaims that his strict observance of this tenet is the reason he has a slower reaction time than his peers: “Normally, I have a fear of false starting, so…
Chris Solinsky’s Minimalist Race Schedule
Chris Solinsky’s 3K win (and 3rd in the 5K) capped a minimalist seven-race indoor campaign crafted by Wisconsin coach Jerry Schumacher. “Jerry knew what he was doing,” says Solinsky. “We’ll be taking the same approach for outdoors—racing very little, training very hard, and hopefully getting the same results.”
This time around, though, Solinsky hopes for better results than his outdoor 8th in the 5000 (and a PR 13:37.55 at USATF). “Last year was tough on me in the 5K,” he says, “so this year I’m focused on getting strong enough to finish the race well, and I hope to cut my PR a bit.”
After becoming only the fifth American ever to win the indoor 3000 twice in a row, Solinsky realizes…
Sprint Champ Jacob Norman Glad to Be There
Jacob Norman’s win in the NCAA 60 was not his greatest victory. No, his most cherished triumph came some six months earlier, when he finally enrolled at Baylor as a fully qualified student-athlete.
“My GPA was so low coming out of high school—it was like a 1.6—I had to practically take every core course over again from my freshman year to my senior year,’’ he says. “So it was like cramming four years of high school into one year.’’
Just as difficult was the emotional toll on a young man coming off a state title and expecting college success only to find himself left out.
“There’s this barrier you’ve got to cross, and.…
Shalonda Solomon Back To Winning
Shalonda Solomon took a slew of sprint titles and records with her to South Carolina from her high school days in the high-powered program at California’s Long Beach Poly.
So expectations were high for Solomon to scoop up college titles right away. She came within 0.01 of winning the ’05 outdoor 200, but had to wait until this winter for her first individual win.
“I really do feel so blessed to have won. It’s an honor,” The 20-year-old nursing student says. “It was…
Michelle Carter Joins 60-Ft Club
Michelle Carter had plenty of reasons to be excited about her big shot put in Fayetteville.
First of all, she was the champion with a mammoth PR. And just as importantly to her, she helped Texas to the national championship.
What can get lost in the original metric measure of 18.56, though, is what it meant to take her PR from 59-11 to 60-103/4, making her just the 7th collegian (and 16th American) to join the 60-foot club.
”I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a 60-foot throw, especially after the 59-11 last year ,” says the Longhorn senior.
“I really wanted…
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