Sunday, September 19, 2010

Top 5, Greatest of All TIme

I had an interviewer recently ask me a question that I really could not answer, which is a first I must say. I was asked "Who is on my list of top five 110 hurdlers of all time?" I really didn't have an answer. I know who I feel are number one and two, but I felt like I needed to do more research and find out who I could fill my list out with.

After doing my history project, I decided that my top five list would consist of these five great individuals:

#5 Greg Foster
Foster was never one of the fastest hurdlers ever timewise, never held the World or American record, but his championship record is simply amazing. He won three consecutive World Championship titles during an era when they were held once ever four years, contrast that to today where we have them every two years. That's 12 years of dominance at the Championship level. He very well could have had six World titles if he ran under our current system. He also has an Olympic silver medal to his credit as well as 11 U.S.A. championship titles.

#4 Liu Xiang
Former World Record holder at 12.88 and 12.91 seconds. He won the 2004 Olympic gold medal in a equal world and Games record of 12.91 and won the 2007 World Championship title in a phenomenal performance, winning out of lane eight. He has run down other hurdlers running all-time great times of 12.90 (Arnold, Lausanne '06), 12.95 (Trammell, NY '07) and 12.99 (Trammell, WC '07), simply amazing. I don't think anyone has done that before. You know if he touches down over ten close to you, he will win. If he's able to return to form, he could easily ascend this list.

#3 Colin Jackson
He held the World Record of 12.91 solely from 1993 to 2004. He won four World Championship medals, two of them gold ('93 and '99) as well as an Olympic silver in 1988. In my opinon, Jackson's biggest accomplishment was he went 32 straight outdoor races without taking a loss! That is major. He also holds the world indoor record and is a legit flat sprinter. His career longevity is another reason he's high up on the list.

#2 Roger Kingdom
This is the one and only guy that I watch film on to try to better myself. I watch races of every hurdler, but to me, it never made sense to try to emulate an Allen Johnson or Terrance Trammell or Colin Jackson because I don't posses the same skill set or style as those guys, but in Kingdom, I have always seen a guy that reminded me of myself.

He's at the number two slot because these stats don't lie: Two time Olympic gold medalist ('84, '88), held the world record from '89-'93 and his name was listed as the American record holder either solely or jointly from '89 all the way until 2006! He also was the first man to run under 13 seconds at the Olympic Games. In 1988, he also had an undefeated season. Those two Olympic Gold medals is what puts him near the top for me. Winning the most important event of our sport twice is a feat that hadn't happened since Lee Calhoun 20 years prior and hasn't been seen since.

#1 Allen Johnson

I did a blog post on Allen when he announced his retirement back in July. I said it then and I'll say it again, he is the G.O.A.T. in my opinion. An Olympic gold medal, four World Championship gold medals, countless U.S.A titles, it goes on and on. He has the record for the most sub 13 performances with 11 as well. Although he never held the World Record like the previous four individuals he's listed ahead of, I think titles and wins are greater than a solo performance.

When I was trying to compile this list, I tried to get Dayron Robles and Renaldo Nehemiah on my list because they are greats as well. Nehemiah going to play in the NFL cut out his best years or he no doubt would have been in the top three easily I'm sure, I rank him number seven.

Robles is the current World Record holder and defending Olympic champion. He also is second on the list of sub-13 performances with eight. He accomplished all eight in a period from World Athletic Final in 2007 to Zurich in 2008. He only misses this list due to the fact that his career is essentially based off the 2008 season, which in my opinon is the greatest season in 110 hurdles history but Foster and Liu have displayed dominance over multitude of years. Once he displays the durability and longevity, he'll no doubt be on the list, right now he's holding down the number six spot.

I personally feel like I'm in the top 20 somewhere, of course I'm biased lol. I'll have to do some deep research to figure out for sure.

I think I will start a little top five segment on the blog regarding different aspects of the hurdles.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


In the part of the world I am in currently, it means finished.

That's exactly the word to describe my 2010 track season and man it was a hell of a good one!

Out here in Annecy, France, a city not too far from the French Alps, the curtain came down and I went out with another win in 13.11 seconds at the sixth edition of the DecaNation meet. The French guy who finished second at the European Champs finished second in 13.65.

I love this competition, in 2005, it was the first time I got to put on the USA national team colors and represent us in a minor competition. I ended up second to the World Champion at the time, Ladji Doucore from France.

I don't think people understand the feeling you get when you put on a jersey and it has "USA" across the front. I still get the same feeling now, after being on several USA teams, as I did that first time in 2005.

I took this competition very seriously. It's always a meet such as this that you can end up taking a loss or taking the competition lightly and you give your competitors just an inch of hope. I believe that's what happened back in '05. It was my first year on the professional circuit and in the DecaNation competition, I finished just four hundredths of a second behind the world champ, might not have meant much to him, but it meant the world to me.

My race wasn't the best, as I made a few more mistakes than normal, but I was very happy with my performance. I know very well that I don't have to run all out every time to win, but it is very helpful in my development for the future. In '08 I was closing out the season running low to mid 13.20s, but now I'm over a tenth better in '10.

This whole trip was made even better because my family came out with me. Being in Paris with them for three days before coming out here was so cool. Walking the Champs Elleyse, visiting the Arc de Triumph, eating on the Eiffel Tower, visiting the Mona Lisa and the Louvre, it was great! They also got to experience traveling and eating in Europe and my mom gives us major props for being able to last out here for all these months we're over here because the food from the meet was not good at all. I really don't think these European athletes understand how good they have it on the circuit in certain regards.

It's a bitter sweet ending. I love to compete so much and now there are no more competitions, I'm battling a slight bout of depression about that. Now I have to wait for months to compete again. Worse than that, I'll have to train for months with no end in sight once my break is over. It's sweet because I need to take a break, I was running about once a week, so that's not very much, but with the quality of the races I ran, it's time for it to end.

I toed the line to run 19 110m hurdle races (including rounds) and my name came on top of every single race, every single time. Finishing undefeated for a season in this event is big. Never clipped a hurdle and fell or clip a hurdle and knock myself out of a race (which we see often) or false start or DNF, nothing.

Being undefeated is a great accomplishment in and of itself, I will have to check to see the last hurdler to do that, I believe Allen did it in maybe 1996, but I am not sure. I definitely know Colin Jackson did it for a long period of time, 32 races before Allen ended it in 1995. Needless to say, it's been a very long time since we've seen a feat like this.

I will now go back to the house and post up and kick my feet up and probably spend a lot of time sleeping!!

I appreciate you guys going on this ride thru the season with me, checking out the blog and stuff, I really appreciated every last comment I got. But trust, I update this thing year round, so stay tuned

Monday, September 6, 2010

Continental Cup, Almost Won It!

Our America's team couldn't pull out any last minute heroics in Split last night to pull out the championship unfortunately. I had been scouting the European team and knew we would need some great performances on day two of the competition to win, we got some, just not enough, as we came up short, losing to Europe 429 to 419.5.

I was extremely disappointed when, by my calculations, we needed Europe to basically DNF in the 4x4 to win and I realized the likelihood of that happening was slim to none.

I really like to win, no matter what it is, but I got over the loss pretty quickly.

As for my personal race, I went out and had a good, technical race. I won with 13.11 (-1.1w) and secured the eight points for the team.

I had an excellent warm-up, short and right to the point. The way I warm-up varies depending on how I am feeling at the time and last night I felt very good. I'm not an athlete that over analyzes or over thinks what is going on, I just go out and rely totally on what I've been trained to do. Since I was feeling good with my starts in the warm-up, I just stopped and sat around and waited to go to the call room.

I was actually kind of nervous because I was thinking I can't go out here and mess something up and lose these eight points. My team is depending on me bringing that home.

I brought it home in style, winning by a good amount, but I wasn't too much concerned with that, my eyes went right to the scoreboard to see where the European runners places. I saw second and fourth and I was like "Damn!"

I went on my victory lap and it took me about 15 to 20 minutes before I finally got back to get dressed. People always laugh at me because it takes me forever to get around the track, but I always tell them, you've got to embrace this and enjoy it because you never know when that carpet will get pulled from right under your feet. So that's exactly what I do and the fans love it!

After my victory lap ended, I went right back into cheerleader mode LOL, I was out on the field waiting to do an on field interview and saw my teammates Nicole Edwards (CAN) and Christin Wuth-Thomas have great performances in the woman's 1500.

After my interviews, photo stuff, press conference and mandatory doping test, I was right back down at the mixed zone watching the races and congratulating my teammates when they came off the track. I even had to learn a bit of Spanish as well.

One of the press people asked me about the importance of being captain and to me it's easy. You can't underestimate the power that a few encouraging words coming from an individual such as myself, spoken to someone who may not be a favorite in an event or may be slightly unsure of what they are bringing to the table, has on them.

When top people in the sport use to come up to me back in the day and say "keep working at it, it'll come" or "good job out there today", I couldn't believe they were even paying attention to what I was doing at the time. I looked at it as a source of inspiration.

Our team had a few inspirational performances as well:

Bernard Lagat ran 8,000 meters over two days, bringing America's home 16 points. He had a pretty good weekend for sure!

Wallace had a great run in the men's 200, he won by probably half a second and was ready to pick up a relay stick for the 4x4 which was not too long after the deuce if they needed him.
Our women and men's 4x4 teams both took home the maximum 15 points in thrilling fashion to close the show! I was out on the track, hollering and everything, reminded me of my days back in college. We definitely went out in style.
In the end though, it wasn't enough as I saw two of my friends, Andreas Thorkildson and hometown super star Blanka Vlasic hoist the championship trophy.
I enjoyed every moment of this competition. It really got the competitive juices flowing and was great for the team aspect of track. I was paying attention non-stop to events I wouldn't turn a blind eye to in the past. I found out a lot about different athletes, athletes I more than likely wouldn't have said more than two words to during the course of the season. You better believe I will be the first one in line to get back on this team next time they have it.

The organization of the meet was top notch! I loved being in Split, it was a great city to host a meet like this. At the post meet dinner, they sent us off in style with a firework display that was off the chart.

Now I'm chilling in Paris, getting ready for the last meet of the season this upcoming weekend. I'm not looking forward to the meet persay, but I flew my mom and step-dad out here from Denver to hang out for the week. They had never been to Europe, so there is no better place to make your first stop than Paris! I've been looking forward to this since before I left Orlando to go to London. I was doing everything I could to make sure nothing happened to me that would preempt us from kicking out in Paris!

While checking out of the hotel, a gentleman came up and gave me this great oil painting of none other than myself. I definitely wasn't expecting that. It's very beautiful work and I greatly appreciate it. Only downside is this thing is gigantic in size and carrying it around the airport was no easy task.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Captain America Is What They Call Me!

Captain America is my nickname on the team, a name I am very proud of! It's been a great honor being nominated by our contingency male captain of the America's team out her in Split for the Continental Cup.

This is a VERY big deal to me, you talk about crunk level going up!! On the teams I've been fortunate to be apart of, the captains that were chosen have been people that were leaders, the type of people others on the team wanted to strive to compete like. It's big because this isn't just a Team USA thing either, it's the who North American, Central American, South American region.

Of course I don't have any real duties, but I've just been encouraging my teammates and having a good time enjoying my captaincy. I am trying to find a "C" to sew on to my jersey for my race tomorrow!

Split, Croatia is one of the most beautiful cities I have been in! It's definitely a great European hideaway. It's very French Riviera-like. This is the view I have right now as I type this, looking out my balcony window.
We had a training camp here as well, going to practice was well worth it just for the views alone! This is a very refreshing, relaxing spot.

I was an invited guest to the athletes press conference, it was one from each team. Along with myself, it was high jump queen and hometown hero Blanka Vlasic representing Europe, Olympic champion shot putter Valerie Adams represent the Asia Pacific team and 800m world record holder David Rudisha representing Africa.

I was also grateful to be graced with the presence of two legends in the sport, former 800 world record holder Wilson Kipketer and 2000 Olympic 400m gold medalist Cathy Freeman of Australia. I had no idea she was so small, but she had MAJOR fight out on the track.

I was not all that familiar with either one of these individuals, but thanks to youtube, I now have an appreciation for how great they really were.

I believe that in order to be great, you need to immerse yourself and surround yourself with greatness. In order to be great, you have to see greatness in action. No matter what the sport, what the event may be in track and field, when greatness happens, you better believe I will find a way to watch it. Whether that means youtube or interrupting my warm-up for a minute or two.

I had a couple of great training sessions, but remind me never, ever, ever, ever to run warm-up strides with Jeremy Wariner! He doesn't even look like he's moving that fast, but he's got great speed. His name goes right up next to Dwight Phillips as the two guys I won't make the mistake of warming up with again!

Wallace Spearmon was striding it out with us, but I was giving him the business, so he's cool LOL

I did block starts over a few hurdles with Andy Turner, the European hurdle champion, it was a great session. Reminiscent of some pracitices we had a couple of years ago, although I am right up there with him now! Maybe he'll come back down to Florida, I tell him all the time that if he came more consistent, he'd easily be down in low 13.1's at least! We both are ready and should finish 1-2.

Competition gets started today, day one of two. This is the stadium we will be competing in and it will be 35,000 fans strong going crazy! I'm really in to that! I don't run the hurdles until tomorrow evening, so I'll sit back and cheer my teammates on today.

This meet is a great concept, it's been cool being on the same team as the Jamaicans, Cubans, Brazilians etc and they make our team strong in events where if we were just the USA, we would be slightly weaker in.

I expect from myself to hold up my end of the bargain and bring home maximum points for the squad. I really hope that on Sunday evening "America's Team" will be hoisting up that trophy!