Saturday, February 27, 2010
I've been out here in Albuquerque, New Mexico for a couple of days now. I've done a few press conferences and interviews since I've been out here. I didn't have the opportunity to go and talk to the local kids with the Win With Integrity Program unfortunately. That's something I look forward to doing when I come to the meets in the States, but I'll have another opportunity soon.
My mom and Harold made the six hour drive down from Denver and my boys Kelvin and Murph flew down too.
I'm excited to be back at a National Championship event, I miss both the indoor and outdoor championships in 2009. I love the competition that USA Nationals brings out of every competitor.
I have one race this afternoon, and two on Sunday. This event is our qualification for the World Indoor Championships in Doha, Qatar that will be hosted March 12-14. The top two in each event make the team.
Me and Valeria will open up at 3:30 mountain time, in heat one of three. We'll be starting in lane five. I've found myself a breast cancer wristband with the word strength on it, couldn't have found a better word. I'll be racing in it.
This is a video that was played in the area on the news from the press conference.
I will update the blog after the first round, hopefully everything goes as to plan!
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
As one of many athletes that is accessible through many social websites such as twitter, Facebook and my blog, I am never sure what type of messages I may receive. Most are of the congratulatory type or words of encouragement, you get a few that are negative and some that are indecent and lewd to say the least.
While checking my messages on Facebook, I came across a message titled "When You Run". I open it up, not really knowing what it may be about, then I read:
thank you for been an inspiration for many young and old people like me :) I never met you, and likely never will, but I have a favor to ask you.
My life, as i know it, has changed since last month. I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and now as a sequel of my surgery I will not be able to be as active as I used to be.
I miss the outdoor, the hiking, the cycling...but such is life.
One day, when you run will you think of me? so that for that one day I will be running too :)
When I finished reading these few sentences, I felt a wave of different emotions.
I felt sorry because Valeria is going through a life changing event.
I felt proud because she viewed me as being an inspiration, that in turn changed my feeling of being sorry for her, in to that of being in awe of her strength.
I felt surprised that she would think of me out of all of the people to ask to fulfill her very simple request.
Most of all, I felt an elevated sense of responsibility. That feeling came from me sitting back and realizing that we as public figures (i.e. athletes, entertainers etc) no matter how minor or how major have an responsibility, whether we like it or not, to the masses. When I go out and run a race, which is very minor in the grand scheme of life, the way that I present myself and act on and off the track, somebody is watching me. I may not be a big time NFL or NBA star or even a Usain Bolt in my sport, but I realize that I have a lot of fans and am viewed as sort of an inspiration to them in one way or another and I do not want to jeopardize that.
I responded back to Valeria with this:
I have no problem with running for you! I am competing at the USA Indoor Championships in New Mexico and I will definitely run for you there!!
So, I will be doing just that! My races that I am blessed to run out in Albuquerque, New Mexico will be run for Ms. Valeria Pagnon and I will find a pink breast cancer wrist band to wear in her honor! I appreciate her for making me aware of the unique situation that I am in as well.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Chat with David Oliver
Welcome to SportsNation! USA Track and Field Olympian David Oliver stops by to chat as part of ESPN.com's tribute to Black History Month.
Oliver competes in the 110 meter hurdles during the outdoor track and field season and the 60 meter hurdles during the indoor season. At the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, David took home the bronze medal in the 110 hurdles with a time of 13.18 seconds.
As a four-time MEAC Outdoor Champion (2001-04) in the 110m hurdles, Oliver became Howard University's first ever two-time NCAA 1-A All-America selection and their first All-America selection since 1989 (Calvin Branch).
Send your questions now and join Oliver Monday at 12:30 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (12:02 PM)
David Oliver will be here at 12:30 p.m. ET to take your questions! Send them in now!
Buzzmaster (12:23 PM)
David is here!
Jay (new york)
When and how did you become a hurdler?
David Oliver (12:25 PM)
I became a hurdler by chance in high school. We ran a shuttle hurdle relay and I did well. My coach came up to me and said I had a new event to compete in. I was just running track to be with my friends. I took it serious and got pretty good at it and I am who I am right now.
did you feel pressure from your family to get into track? Having an Olympian as a mother must have been motivating.
David Oliver (12:26 PM)
No, I never felt pressure from my mother. I didn't know anything about her competing in track and field until later. I found a box of her stuff and asked her about it. She said she was pretty good at track and I forgot about it. I was into football and basketball. But when I told her I was going into track, she was pretty happy about it.
I heard you designed your track shoe with Nike. How much fun was that? Did you like the end result?
David Oliver (12:27 PM)
It wasn't a track spike, it was a training shoe for after the Olympics. I liked the end result. It's always nice to get a few things recognized. I liked the process. It's something that the athletes do regularly in the sport. I still wear them. It's cool.
Where do you keep your medal? Do you ever wear it?
David Oliver (12:28 PM)
I never wear my medal around. It's sitting in my dresser in the box. It's got some dust on the box. It's never going to be too too far away from me. It was good winning it and getting to reflect on where I've been and how far I've come. It's not posted up anywhere, just on my dresser collecting dust.
do you feel that track is a young person's sport? How do like your chances in 2012?
David Oliver (12:30 PM)
In the sprint's the 100, 200, it's probably a young person's event. With the hurdles, it takes a while to master it. If I stay healthy, then I think 2012 is a prospect. One guy on our team is 30 now and in 2012, I will be the same age.
Being from Colorado, Washington, D.C. is far away. How did you decide that Howard was the place for you?
David Oliver (12:30 PM)
Howard was the place for me, because I wanted to attend a black college, first and foremost. I did some research my sophomore year in high school and decided that Howard was the one for me. I needed the small class sizes. THat was probably the best choice I've made in my life.
David Oliver (12:31 PM)
Being far the family, that was worse. I only went home in Christmas time and that was it. You learn about yourself if you don't go home. You learn to fend for yourself. Getting used to life as an adult.
Alicia (New Jersey)
I was a year behind you at Howard and I am so proud that you are doing big things
mathilde (douai, france)
how do you choose the meets you compete in?
David Oliver (12:33 PM)
I sit down with my agent and my coach and see how training has been going. We pick and choose based on the phases of training we're in. For the indoor season, we picked a few. For the outdoor season, we'll see if I need to take a week or two off and see how the training is going. When I go to competitions, people are watching you. If you do bad, they'll talk about you, when you're expected to win. It's no longer acceptable to go to a meet and get 6th.
Carnegie Tirado (Howard University)
Whas poppin Dave,like you I also play football and run track here at Howard and I have the same hurdle coach as you did when you were here (Grigsby) what was your favorite thing about her. On and off the track.
David Oliver (12:34 PM)
My favorite thing was that she was young at the time, but she was very knowledgable. She knew exactly what I needed to do to improve on things. She gave me the building blocks to make sure I wasn't doing too many things bad. Her knowledge of the event and how to be good. She was into learning the event and trying to get better. That's what I was doing too. Now she can probably help you a lot more because of what she went through helping us learn.
Kenny D. (Eugene, Oregon)
What kind of off season cross training do you do, if any?
David Oliver (12:35 PM)
I don't do any cross training. In the offseason, the most training I do is getting out of bed and walking to the kitchen. We only get a few weeks off. You're going for so long. When I'm taking time off, I'm turning my six pack into a keg. I'm not doing anything.
who was your favorite athletes of all time? and i like your speed.
David Oliver (12:36 PM)
Oooh, man. That's a good question. I'd probably say a Muhammed Ali. He was trancedent of the sport. He was an entertainer and a social activist. A guy like him for not just his in the ring qualities. I really like hearing his stories. I watch him all of the time.
How did going to a black college help you?
David Oliver (12:38 PM)
It helped for one, because we weren't working with top notch facilities as far as my athletic career. When I moved down here to Florida and had the facilities I have now, I really appreciate it. I know it's not a birth rite to have what I have now. That definitely helped me. And just the focus that you have to have in order to make it on this level. I learned how to do a lot of losing at first. Whenever you learn how to lose, you appreciate the winning. It taught me how to appreciate everything in life and not take it for granted.
Jason (Denver Co)
How tall are you and is your height an advantage or disadvantage in your event
David Oliver (12:39 PM)
I'm 6-3 and I weigh 208. The height is a gift and a curse. The gift is that I don't have to spend very much time on hurdling, but the curse is that I can not go full speed in between and I can't get too close. I have to really contain my speed as opposed to smaller guys that can flat out sprint the entire way. I take being tall over being short any day of the week.
David, What is your favorite winter olympics event?
David Oliver (12:40 PM)
It's the speed skating on the long track. I like Shani Davis. I'm a fan of his. It was good to see him win the gold. That's one of my favorite events. Along with the ice hockey. USA beat Canada last night. That was exciting.
Jay (new york)
If you werent a hurdler, what other sprinting and/or field event would you do?
David Oliver (12:41 PM)
If it wasn't for the hurdles, I wouldn't be in the sport. I'm not fast enough in the 100 or 200. No one would ever pay me to watch me run the 100. If I wasn't in hurdles, I'd probably have a regular job. What I wish I could try? The decathlon. But I don't know about the pole vault.
Carnegie Tirado (Howard University)
Do you miss anything about Howard? If so what?
David Oliver (12:42 PM)
It would probably just be the environment. Getting to hang out with my friends all the time. We don't get a chance to hang out a lot these days. That was the best aspect of college. They are friends that I had for life. I talk to them still, but we don't get to spend time together like we used to.
David Oliver (12:43 PM)
Check me out at the U.S. Indoor championships this weekend. It's on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. on Sunday. Thanks for supporting me.
Monday, February 22, 2010
USA Track & Field Spots Strength and Beauty with Olympic Medalists
Jan 19, 2010
Photo by Harold Lee Miller
Stanton recommended advertising photographer Harold Lee Miller of Chicago, Illinois. "I've been a fan of Harold Miller's work for many years, and I've worked with him numerous times. He's flexible, creative and always delivers amazing images," says Stanton. When USATF saw Miller's Web site, they knew they found the right photographer and team player for the job. Miller is known for imagery that is dramatic and employs interesting lighting. His work shows emotion, strength and power, combined with beauty - all the attributes needed for a series of photographs of Olympic-medal winners.
Needless to say, the job presented quite a few challenges to Miller. Cropper and his marketing team selected the athletes to be photographed and handled all the schedule coordination. Miller photographed the athletes while they were in Indianapolis for the December 2009 USATF Annual Meeting. The client needed to walk away from the shoot with graphic images that were simple yet bold, and they had to be versatile for outdoor and print for event-promotion usages. They also needed images that could be used for selling team gear and fan merchandise.
Miller had only four hours to shoot multiple images of the athletes. Hair, makeup, wardrobe changes all had to done very quickly. He and his production team shot the athletes on a white sweep in different groupings and then individually and had to pose everyone for various images that the clients wanted. Cropper of USATF wanted the billboard images to show strength and dominance, but he also wanted versions for their Web site that would project a sense of fun and friendliness. This meant that Miller had to direct both the posing and facial expressions to achieve all the required attitudes. He tried to shoot them in such a way that he could marry them with backgrounds that would work with the athletes' expressions and poses, and create a compelling image - not just a bunch of pictures stripped into stock backgrounds. This meant a variety of expressions, camera angles and poses to give him some flexibility in post production. Stanton adds, "We found the athletes relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera as we experimented with a variety of poses and expressions. Harold did a great job capturing both their serious competitive spirit and their lighter side."
Miller had the studio shots CGI'd with backgrounds he shot in Arizona and altered color, contrast and brightness between the studio and background images to create the low-key, dramatic images he had visualized.
"These athletes are conscious of their own, personal 'brand' as champions, and they were definitely interested in how they looked, as well as how the images portrayed them," says Miller. Collaboration among everyone was a must during the shoot in order to achieve the desired objectives, while also keeping the athletes comfortable with what was being asked of them. Miller managed it all and met everyone's expectations with great success. A true team effort and his magic can be seen in the final images.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
She represented the USA out in Beijing, China in the summer of 1980, the year the USA Olympic Committee decided to boycott the Olympic Games in Moscow, Russia. The USA was protesting the Russian war in Afghanistan, how funny.
A guy by the name of Barton Williams, a hurdler on the squad, forwarded me a couple pictures of my mom from the team's time out in China.
Dolly Fleetwood, Linda Forda, my mom and Barton Williams
The current President of USA Track and Field Stephanie Hightower, Gwyn Loud, Forda and Bren
Bren out in the streets of Beijing stuntin' lol
These pics are real old school, I was two years away from being born yet, I wonder if my mom has ever seen these!
Too bad I don't have any racing photos!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
They hit me with a faulty false start and I didn't even move in my blocks! After the gun went off the first time and they called us back, nobody got put out. The second time the gun went off, they kicked me out and I was totally incredulous. Usually when you false start, you know you did it, but I thought to myself "I wonder who that was on" then they put me out, I couldn't believe it. There was another false start and no one got put out, then on the fourth try, the race went off.
Everybody I saw after that, Robles coach, agents, meet people, people that watched the telecast were asking me why I got put out. They all said the same thing, "But you didn't move", they were as confused about the situation as I was.
People were saying that they would be pretty pissed if it were them, but I'm not tripping. At the end of the day, there is no recourse of action that I could have taken and there is nothing that I could have done, once a decision is made, then that is final. I don't waste my energy getting mad over stuff I can't control, just gotta shake it off and move forward. Sweden just wasn't a good look for your boy this season.
I am still in support of the new ruling that the IAAF has made. I just wish there was some sort of protocol the starters had to adhere too. In championship events, I wouldn't mind if they went back to the old ruling either. But all in all, I know what happened and I wouldn't look for it to be an issue again, but I guess I can't control that either, I HOPE that this situation will not arise again.
That was only the start of the downward spiral today.
Aub hits me up before I head to the track to inform me that the people who come to clean my pool, inexplicable broke the water sprinkler off the side of my house! So water was flooding the yard and they had to cut off the water to the house. I feel sorry for Aub and Joel because they are still training and have to find a way to take a shower. They still haven't come to fix it yet.
I then get an email stating that Continental Airlines has changed my flight from tomorrow to Sunday the 14th due to weather in Newark. I'm thinking to myself, what next? There is no way I am going to be chilling in Stockholm until the 14th, so hopefully I will find my way home on Friday because Thursday seems out of the question at this point. In the morning I will have some information I hope.
I'm glad February 10, 2010 is over and I don't have to revisit this day again. I handle adversity very well, another key trait in being a professional athlete. I treat things like this the same way I treat those 400s I have to run at practice, I just put my head down and think to myself "This can't last forever, it's got to end at some point and time!"
Things progressed as we had hoped, so my coach and I decided to cut the trip a little short. The most important thing was for me to get back out and get the competitive juices flowing and knock some of the rust off.
If you've been checking out the blog, you know that so far after every competition, I've produced a new season's best and I hop to continue the trend out here and leave Europe with a bang.
The key will be for me to get a very aggressive warm up. This competition is just a one off race, no prelim heats before, just a straight final. Sometimes, warming up for indoor meets are usually hit or miss. Occasionally I'll be able to get over some hurdles in the warm up area, most times all you have is a small room to jog around in. Improvisation is a key, but to me a characteristic of a professional athlete is having the ability to make adjustments on the fly and I always find a way.
The field here will feature another match up between myself and Olympic Champion Dayron Robles. I think that the world leading mark will probably be lowered again tonight and hopefully, unlike in Stuttgart, it will be lowered by me!
Last time I raced in Stockholm's Globe Arena was three years ago, finishing second to...you guessed it, but it wasn't that close, 7.48 to 7.61. At the time, that was one of my best performances indoor. Clearly, I'm not the same runner now as I was in 2007.
IAAF PREVIEW HERE
Wish me well! I will update after the competition
Monday, February 8, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Dear Mama, a song by one of my favorite artists 2pac, is my favorite song of all time and it reflects my sentiments exactly.
For a woman it's not easy to raise a man on your own, but you did a hell of a job! I am thankful for the way you raised me and what you instilled in me. Back in '05 when it seemed I was hopeless and unsure about doing this track thing, you said the words that got me back in focus.
"Everything will be alright if you hold on, everyday is a struggle gotta roll on."
There's no way I can pay you back, but the plan is show you that I understand, you are appreciated! Place no one above you, sweet lady, don't you know we love you Bren! Happy birthday!
I am pretty happy with my performance out there last night. Here's the rundown of what happened:
The night started out with the Presentation of the Stars, myself along with a other top level athletes such as Dwight Phillips, Robles, Lolo Jones, Meseret Defar to name a few, were brought out and introduced to the fans. The down side of the event was it was 30 minutes late, so instead of being at 5:30, it started at 6, and I hadn't started my warmup yet and had to be back to the track at 6:45! So instead of getting my normal hour and half or so, I had to cut it down severely. I definitely don't mind doing those presentations at all! I remember when nobody wanted to invite me to anything.
I hit a quick warmup and the luxury of having rounds is that I could just get the kinks out in the race. In the heats, I finished second, coming across the line in 7.63, behind Svoboda who ran 7.57. One of my goals was to run a good time in both rounds, but I figured that wasn't going to happen. I didn't care too much, at the end of the day, I never thought I was in doubt to make the finals, so maximum effort wasn't needed.
In the finals, Svoboda, the fastest in the heats, was in lane four, Robles in five, myself in six, Dwight Thomas, who ended up finishing third went in seven.
Clearly that side of the track was going to have the heat.
The gun went off, and I was looking at Robles back already at hurdle one. I never panic when situations like that arise, that's a position that I've found myself in plenty of times and I know how to handle myself. I slowly started making up ground during the course of the race, but we're only racing over five hurdles, so my time runs out sooner rather than later. It came down to the lean, and I caught an L by one hundredth of a second....again. I lost in '08 12.97 to 12.98 in Zurich.
I love when I race against him because we always put up good performances and you've got to be on your A game to win. 7.48 and 7.49 are the top two times in the World so far this season. I didn't accomplish everything I set out to try to accomplish but I am happy with the performance. We meet again in a few days out in Stockholm, should be another good one.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
In a few short hours, I'll be lacing up the racing spikes again, this time in Stuttgart, Germany.
I enjoy racing in this city that contains so much history within the sport. I won the last outdoor race in the historic Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which has been converted into a soccer only stadium, back at World Athletic Final in '08.
Where I am competing at tonight is the venue that I was able to produce my personal best time last season in a great race. I was also named MVP of the meet.
This year's race will be of the highly competitive variety. In the race this year will be the outdoor world record holder and Olympic gold medalist Dayron Robles from Cuba (7.33), 1996 Olympic gold medalist Allen Johnson (7.36), the current second fastest indoor hurdler in the world Peter Svoboda (7.50) and of course me (7.45).
Here, I will again have two races, prelims and finals. I have changed a few things up with my starting blocks in an attempt to get in a better position on my exit out, so I will try it in the first round and see what happens.
We will see what happens at the end of the day, but I'm shooting for the win of course, a quick time in both rounds and most importantly, to clean up some technical things that I can build upon and will carry me through the season.
I'll update with the result!
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Things out in Gothenburg were truly up and down. I went out after having a positive practice the day before to perform a task and I didn't get the opportunity to do that to the full extent.
The positive was, in the prelim heats, I ran a seasons best time of 7.57. I was very relaxed and didn't push it, just tried to work on some technical things as I figured it wouldn't be very hard to make it to the next round. The second fastest time out of the heats was 7.72. I was very pleased and very excited to get the final race underway.
Here's where the bad comes in. The final gun goes off and I never get a rhythm or the chance to produce due to a fellow hurdler hitting my trail arm over the first three hurdles, knocking my balance off and I fought an uphill battle from the start. Hurdlers out there know that trail arm is where you get that power for momentum to the next hurdle and that's your balance arm.
I ended up finishing second, running 7.72 with the winner running a time of 7.70. I think it might have been early in my senior year of college the last time I had a time that slow come up next to my name. Of course extenuating circumstance existed in this race, but when we run, our results are just like a painter signing his or her name at the bottom of a painting, you have to own that no matter what happened.
I was extremely upset at the end of the race and those that know me personally know exactly how I get. I just hate wasted opportunities. If I would have run that time on my own accord, then I would have no problem with it. Even though the Samsung Galan isn't the end all, be all, I think it is important that I treat every race like it may be my last. My experiences last year made me enjoy being able to compete even more. I'm not tripping off of it any longer and my focus is now squarely ahead on my next competition.
But like I said in the opener, it's on to the next one, that next one being in Stuttgart, Germany, a place that I have had a lot of success over my career. I will blog about that probably tomorrow.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
This is my second appearance at this competition, last year I was able to produce a 7.56 performance. This time around I feel that I am prepared to have a better time than last year.
This picture was from the race last year, where me, Joel and Aub came 1-2-3.
I haven't done much since I got out here. It's real cold outside and snowing, so you know what that means for me...inside, in the warmth of my bed watching Slingbox all day!
I had a press conference yesterday before I went to training, that was pretty interesting. I enjoy the media for sure. Practice went extremely well yesterday, Brooks is putting a load on me though, I guess he was serious when he said we are going to train right through these indoor meets. He has a plan and as long as I stay the course and follow it exactly, it always works. I can see a lot more clearly now what the plan of action is, opposed to a few months ago.
I like being here because it is located near everything. I made a couple late night runs to 7-11 which is a 3o second walk and of course McDonald's is right next door. I don't know what it is about the food over here, but it doesn't stick to my ribs like when I eat at home! I'll eat a nice dinner, then a few hours later I'm starving like I never ate.
I also like this competition because I have a chance to run two rounds, a preliminary heat and then the final. The preliminary goes off at 6:30 local (12:30 eastern) and the final is at 9pm. I would have liked the races to be about an hour or less apart, when it is spread out like this, you tend to loose the effect of running a prelim because you have to completely warm up again and the elasticity and lubrication you got running the prelim is lost. At the end of the day, you deal with what is presented to you and make your adjustments.
I will update after the competition, wish me well!