Since the link was broken, I’ve cut and pasted the article from the IAAF website below:
Wariner – ???one year at a time, a week at a time, a race at a time??? – exclusive interview
Tuesday 11 January 2005
When athletes resume their training regimens after their post-season breaks, the typical muscle aches and pains are part of the job. When Olympic 400 metre champion Jeremy Wariner returns, he???ll add another item to the malady department: a sore, swollen jaw.
Besides being under the weather with a lingering cold in December, he also had his wisdom teeth removed last month, ensuring that his return to the practice track as the 400 metre standard bearer will be far from a glamourous one.
Jeremy Wariner of the US takes the 400m Olympic gold
???When I get back to training next week,??? Wariner said last week, with the slightest hint of laughter, ???it???s going to hurt a little.???
Yet despite the discomfort, the 20-year-old Texan who capped a phenomenal breakout season with a stunning victory in Athens, is eager to get back to the business at hand.
???Everything???s calming down now,??? Wariner said after reciting a list of post-Olympic engagements that claimed much of his time over the past three months. Speaking in a tone that appeared as relieved as it did businesslike, he added, ???I???m just getting back to being another college student and getting ready for another season. I can???t slack at all.???
Americans Wariner, Harris and Brew celebrate going one-two-three in the men’s 400m
Making the obvious comparisons
For Wariner, whose rocket-like ascension in less than a year from ???just another hopeful??? in the deep American talent pool to the potential heir to World record holder Michael Johnson, ???slack??? is not –and indeed cannot be– in his vocabulary. Those legendary golden shoes are simply too large to fill.
But the comparisons to Johnson, the only man to successfully defend an Olympic 400 metre title and the event???s dominant force for a decade, have been bandied about since Wariner???s win at the U.S. Olympic Trials, more than a month before his 44-flat dash in Athens.
Jeremy Wariner – US Trials
Both are Texas natives, both are products of Baylor University, and both were coached by long dash guru Clyde Hart. With his world-leading 44.00 at Olympic Stadium, the fastest performance the world has seen since Johnson???s retirement from the event in 2000, Wariner succeeded the World record holder as the Baylor record holder. While individual career progressions are difficult to compare accurately, it is important to note that Johnson didn???t dip under 45 seconds until his final season at Baylor; including heats, Wariner broke that barrier on eight occasions in just his second collegiate season.
A working relationship
The comparisons quickly evolved into a working relationship. Johnson himself was so impressed with Wariner???s talent and potential that he agreed to represent the Olympic champion after his decision to bypass his remaining collegiate eligibility to join the professional ranks. He is the only athlete that Johnson, now a consultant to federations and sport organizations, manages.
Jeremy Wariner wins 400m – US Trials
???It???s great,??? Wariner said of his relationship with Johnson. ???He can help me in lots of different ways. He told me it???s a lot harder to stay on top than to get on top, and that everyone will be watching me. If I slip up, they???ll take advantage. He knows I just have to take it one year at a time, a week at a time, a race at a time. He knows the ins and outs of the European circuit: which races to go to and which ones not to go to.???
No time to slack
Despite winning the ultimate award available to him five months before celebrating his 21st birthday, Wariner said finding the motivation to ???stay on top??? won???t be particularly difficult. And he won???t need to turn to his manager, who is also a motivational speaker. He believes he won???t have to look beyond his own practice track at Baylor and training partner Darold Williamson.
???I can???t slip up. If I do, he???ll see me slip up,??? he said of Williamson, his former teammate and a close friend who will be finishing up his career at Baylor this year. ???There is no time for me to slack off,??? he said again, noting that Williamson, who missed a spot on the Athens start list by just one one-hundredth of a second after a fourth place finish at the U.S. trials, was the only runner to defeat him in 2004. He even thinks his days as the school???s record holder are numbered. ???Yeah, I got the record, but there???s a chance it???ll get broken this year, he???s (Williamson) going to go for it.???
Talent visible early on
As the Olympic year dawned, a discussion over whether Wariner could even threaten Johnson???s 44.21 school record – let alone be crowned Olympic champion – would have bordered on folly. Yet unlike Johnson???s formative years, signs of Wariner???s potential were visible early on.
A two-sport standout at Arlington???s Lamar High School – American football was his other love – Wariner began his track career at 16, focusing solely on the 200 and 400 metre races; despite his tall, slim physique, he never raced beyond the full lap. By 2001 he was already among the fastest high schoolers in the nation, clocking a 46.68 best. He attracted national attention as a senior the following year, lowering his PB to 45.52 – the second fastest among preps that year- and with a fourth place finish at the national junior championships to his credit. He then made the move to Baylor and Hart where he would soon begin the chase the shadows of Johnson.
In 2003, he improved to 45.13, but finished a distant eighth at the NCAA Regional Championships, keeping him from the collegiate finals. He bounced back with a runner-up finish at the national junior championships and a silver medal showing at the Pan American Junior Championships.
Blocking out the nerves
But things were rapidly falling into place after a solid indoor season in 2004, where he lost just one race and ran to a 45.39 win at the NCAA Indoor Championships, the fastest of the year indoors. Suddenly, Athens entered the picture. He improved to 44.80 in just his second race of the year, and in finals, has stayed in sub-45 territory since. He cruised to 44.50 and 44.71 wins at the NCAA Regional and National Championships before taking a break to prep for the Olympic Trials. The full collegiate season behind him was not a major concern.
???Coach [Hart] knows how to prepare for that,??? he said. ???I didn???t run a couple meets, and took a whole month off before the trials.???
His ride continued in Sacramento where he dominated the field en route to a world-leading 44.37 win, beating back the challenge of runner-up Otis Harris by a massive three-tenths of a second.
Once in Athens, the grand stage didn???t particularly faze him either. ???I learned to block out all the nervousness,??? he said. ???I just did what I did all year at other meets.???
In the final, he found himself trailing Harris just beyond the midway point, the only part of the race he clearly remembers.
???At 350 metres, when I was neck and neck with Otis, he seemed to be trying really hard. I just stayed relaxed while he was looking for another gear when he was already at top speed.???
With the 4×400 relay next, Wariner had little time for reflection or celebration. That came after his 43.98 third leg and the U.S. team???s 2:55.91 victory.
???I was shocked by how we beat everybody out there, and being so close to the Olympic record. I was shocked by the speed we ran.???
An Outdoor Recreation major, Wariner will bypass the indoor season to focus on his studies full-time in the winter, but will reduce his class load in the spring to focus more fully on the 2005 season. He will continue to travel with the Baylor team, acting as a volunteer coach. ???It???ll still be a little like it was the past two years, except that I won???t be competing with them.???
With Hart, Wariner said nothing will change. ???We???ll be working on the same things we???ve been working on: strength and speed especially endurance strength. I will put on a little weight, but won???t really be bulking up.??? The two have no particular time goals on their chalkboard either. Those will come. ???The goals are just to stay focused, and stay comfortable in each race, and in each 200 of my race.???
Listening to Coach
Wariner said the primary difference between his 2004 campaign and his previous ones was his psychological maturity.
???It was mainly my mentality, not letting anyone get in my head. And just listening to what coach Hart tells me.???
Even more comparisons to Johnson may be on the horizon. Wariner has a 20.41 wind-assisted PB in the 200 that dates back to his last year of high school, along with a legal 20.59 from last June. He said he plans a gradual return to the half lap beginning this year.
???We???ll slowly move into it,??? he said, adding that his plans include four or five half-lap races in 2005 with perhaps a few more the following year, until he hopes to be competitive force in that event as well by 2008.
With a near full second improvement in 2004 prior to becoming the eighth fastest ever after his Athens win, did he shock even himself with his 44.00?
???No, I wasn???t surprised. I knew sooner or later I???d get that low. Fortunately for me it came at the Olympics. The race felt very comfortable throughout, so I can definitely go faster.???
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
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