I wanted to make my first ELITETRACK blog a memorable one and it certainly was that for me. I interviewed someone who has become a good friend of mine, Kerron Clement. For those who don’t know much about Kerron, he is the current 400 hurdles World Champion and Silver medalist at the 2008 Olympic Games, he is also the indoor 400m world record holder. His personal records include 10.23 (100m), 20.40 (200m), 44.48 (400m) and 47.24(400H). He is young and set to be one the best sprinters in the world for a long time to come. I hope you enjoy.
A) Background and Track history
1.Describe your exposure to sports when you were a child.Well from what I can remember; I used to compete for my church in Trinidad at a very young age. It’s nothing like how it is today; I never trained or took it seriously. I was just a kid that loved to run.
2.What were your favorite past times as a child?Every summer I would go visit my brother, Charles, and we would race each other on the streets. I could have never beaten him because he was always faster than me.
3.How did you get into Track and Field? What times did you run while young?When I moved to the United States in 98′ that’s when I got into Track, and by then I took it seriously because I knew their were going to be older kids that were better than I was. In High school my time for the 400m were 48 seconds. And I ran 35.42 in the 300mH.
4.When did you realize Track was more than just a hobby for you? What were some times you remember running at an early age? Describe your progression up until college. I would say I realized it was not just a hobby when I got to college, because when I was in High school, I never thought about going to college and compete at that level. I was just a kid that loved to run and win his races. I was the most sort after kid coming into college. I had the fastest times in both 110mH and 300mH and ranking #1 in the country. After I graduated high school I got tons of letters from universities wanting me to come to their school. As a child I was happy because those big name school such as Princeton and Harvard were asking for me. All I knew was they we’re Ivy league schools. My progression while competing is a natural one. I would drop a second every year in the 400 hurdles. I once realized that when my birthday came around I would tell myself that I’m getting stronger and I would PR because of it, and I often did. But as you get older you get to a point where your performance becomes consistent. And you then drop a hundredth of a second, instead of a full second.
5.Which athletes did you admire most as a child?I honestly did not admire any athletes as a child growing up. I didn’t know the history of the sport back then. When I got to college that’s when I learned to big names in the sport, because that’s what other athletes amongst my peers talked about constantly. Comparing themselves to whomever they like at that particular moment.
B) Training at Florida and with Bobby Kersee
1.Describe the different training philosophies of these two coaches.There aren’t really much of a difference in both coaching philosophies. One is just a sprint coach and the other is a technical coach. They both do a lot of distance training, and both are great motivators.
2.While at Florida you broke the indoor 400m WR, can describe the day and the race? Did you expect it? How did it feel? Well leading up to the race I felt really good. I knew I was going to run under 45 seconds, but never thought I would hit the world record mark. Week’s prior to the NCAA meet my friend LaShawn Merrit ran 44.9. By him doing that it motivated me to do the same thing. When I crossed the line, I was just overwhelmed because I knew right away I had broken the record. I was extremely happy that weekend.
3.Describe a usual training week with Bobby Kersee (Include: who you train with, how often)Well first my training group consist of; Shawn Crawford, Brandon Johnson, Craig Everheart, Rodney Martin, Allyson Felix, Michelle Perry, Dawn Harper, Natasha Hastings, Virginia Powell. And a typical weeks training with Bobby would be 4x150s (Monday), 2×450 and 3x200m (tuesdsay) Wed (off) 4x300s(Thursday) 500m, 450m, 300m and 2x 200m (Friday)
4.What is your favorite workout on the track? (talk about some times you run in training compared to competition)I love doing 150s and 200s in practice. I would hit 15.3-15.8 in practice. It’s all for speed. I have a fascination with speed like the 100m and 200m, although I do the 400m. I secretly wish I ran the 200m (laugh). And in competitions it shows when I do a lot of speed work because I post fast times etc.
5.What is your least favorite workout on the track?My least would have to be 600m and 500m in practice. I don’t think athletes like to do over the distance they compete in.
6.Why do you focus on the 400 hurdles over the open 400m?I’ve been asked this question many times; I have been introduced to the hurdles first and foremost. And I would like to master the hurdles and break the WR then I can solely concentrate on the 400m.
7.What do you feel is your biggest strength as an athlete?I would have to be my endurance in the longer races. I ran cross-country in high school for 4 years. And I think it helped me tremendous till this day. And other strength of mine would have to be overcoming obstacles (but that in itself is another story)
8.What do you feel is your biggest weakness as an athlete?Honestly a professional athlete would never admit their weakness publicly because they do not want their competitors to get the upper hand in any way. People will use that information for their advantage.
9.Do you have any testing numbers you could share? (Clean, Squat, SLJ, 40y dash, VJ)I’m really not too big on lifting etc. Although, this year I’ve been serious in weight room reverting back to my program when I was at Florida. During training I maintain my weight about 195lbs. But when I start competing I drop down to 185lbs, which is not that much of a difference.
10.What kind of mental Preparation do you use before a big race?What I normally do is just stay in my room, I prefer to have my own room, and just listen to music that would calm my nerves before the race. And I just pray to God.
11.Can you describe any self cues you use while running a race?I recently use this cue “Open” while I’m running the hurdles. But only at a particular part of the race I say that.
12.Can you tell us about your diet and supplement regime? Well my diet is simple; I do not eat junk such as Fast foods, fried foods, sodas etc. I mostly eat baked foods, chicken, fish, potatoes, veggies, fruit juices and lots of water. As far as my supplement regime, I take Zinc, CoQ10, Vitamin C and D, fish oils etc.
C) Olympic Games
1.How was the overall experience in Beijing? What is your best memory of the games?I enjoyed every moment for the Olympics; it was my first games so I had to soak everything in. I didn’t visit the Great Wall of China because it would have interfered with my training. But the Olympic Village had enough of excitement, from seeing Michael Phelps, Nadal (Tennis), and Lindsey Davenport to name just a few. I enjoyed my stay and meeting new and interesting people from other countries. I personally didn’t do both opening and closing ceremony because for one; the opening ceremony were too close to the starting of my 400h race. And after the 4x400m relay which is the last event for track and field, I had to fly straight to Zurich for another international competition which meant I couldn’t do the closing ceremony either. It surely wouldn’t be my last.
2.Describe the day of your final race during the 2008 Olympic Games?The night before I was a nervous wreck, I stayed in my room all day, only got out to eat lunch and dinner. Just staying in my room listening to my IPod and visualizing my race. I had placed a call to my spiritual advisor that night, so she can pray for me and give me motivation. So after that phone call my nerves had subsided and I knew everything would be all right. The day of my finals I tried to stay off my leg as much as possible. And avoided any contact with my other competitors before we got on the line of the race. I wasn’t nervous at all, I knew of the hard work I had put in for the year and this is the moment I have been wanting all my life and it’s down to this one race. And I kept saying, that God wouldn’t leave me now. He’s right by my side no matter what.
D) Future Aspirations and Goals
1.Can you tell me some specific goals for the 2009 outdoor season?My goals are to defend my World Championship title, Break the world Record in the 400mH, and run lower than 44.4 in the 400m. And to stay healthy.
2.Who do you see as your biggest rival?I see myself as being my biggest rival and competitor. I am in no way a cocky person, I am very confident in my athletic abilities. And I have to push myself to the limit every time. If I lose a race is because of technical mistakes. And I take note of that and try to fix it.
3.Will you run some open 200m and 400m races this year?I do plan on running both 200m and 400m races this year, but it will probably be in Europe. I think I will be running the 400m in the Golden League meets.
4.Will you one day try to challenge the outdoor 400m world record?(Laugh) well well well…that record would stay where it is. I am not insane to say yes I will attempt to break the record because for me it’s not possible. I know people say; yes anything is possible, but not right now.
E) Tid Bits
1.Away from Track and Field what does Kerron Clement like to do?Now this is the good stuff, I love going to the movies, bowling, and just hanging out with friends laughing and having a good time.
2.If you weren’t a Track athlete what would you be doing? I would pursue my singing career. And or be a full time professional model.
3.If you could describe yourself in 5 words what would they be? Sexy, fun, flirtatious, charming and humble (laugh)
4.Finally can you give words of advice to any young athletes our there who wish to one day follow in your footsteps and compete in the Olympic Games?I would just say, follow your dreams, you can be whatever you put your mind too. And never let anyone discourage you. Their will be times when obstacles come in your way and you think there is no way out, just hang on and pray and you will see the light and the end of the rainbow. Because after every storm there is always a rainbow, always remember that. I honestly was just blessed to just be apart of the Olympics, not many athletes can say they have competed yet alone say have a medal from the games. I do not take anything for granted. Dream big and you will see big results.