Sunday, June 27, 2010

2010 USA Champion! The Champ Is Here!

Well I came out to Des Moines with one goal in mind and that was to go out and win the Championship.

I did just that, to the tune of 12.93 seconds (1.7w). It's a new personal best for me and moved me a few spots higher on the all time performance list. I am very happy about the performance and if you look at the time in a vacuum it's a hell of an effort.

I'm more happy with the process than anything else. Although I ran 13.25 (-0.1w) in the semis, was probably THE worst race I had run in a very long time. Once again the adjustments that me and Brooks made in between the semi and final along with the cussing out I got for running the prelim yesterday with poor technique was classic athlete/coach adjustment.

He was noticing problems with my lead leg mechanics, so we just focused on doing nothing but work on 36'' hurdles really in between the semi and final. I think my lead leg mechanics is something that is a strong point for me, so I can't afford to be losing that aspect of my race.

I feel it definitely got fixed for the final race. After watching the race, I was pretty satisfied with what I saw. One thing that was not good was the fact that I was hitting the first hurdle in both races today. I don't know why that kept happening, but you better believe we will get it straight for the future races.

I was hoping to be the Visa champion too, Bershawn Jackson ran 47.32 in the 400 hurdles so I had to run 12.97 or better to overtake him. Of course I ran 12.93, which everybody thought was enough, but I guess I had too much tailwind and they took points away, therefore I lost it by one point. It's ok, I'm just going to go to the USA Track and Field offices and get me one of them good ole reimbursement checks, probably call Doug Logan in the process and see if he can't put a little funds in the pot too.

So I came to the Championships and took care of business. Now I will travel to Portland tomorrow in preparations for the Prefontaine Classic out in Eugene, Oregon this upcoming Saturday.

I found the video of the final race on Universal Sports website and the NBC telecast was great, they had my mom on it and she was super crunk! I put the link at the bottom of the page.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

First Round Down...Two More To Go!

I've been having a great time out in Des Moines, interacting with the fans and really just celebrating the fact that I'm at the US Championships. I had a pretty full day yesterday, a great interview with NBC, talked to a group of kids with the Win With Integrity program, an on-air interview with a local radio station, an autograph signing session and of course practice.

My family drove nine hours from Denver to Des Moines and arrived yesterday. An RV full of the clan, you know my number one fan, my mom was excited to be here as always.

Today though, it was time to get to business. I ran the first of three rounds today and it is blazing hot in Des Moines, reminds me of being home in Orlando.

I was in the third of four heats and the gameplan for today was to go out and use as minimal amount of effort as possible to make it to the next round. I also noticed that all day the starter seemed to be holding the runners in the set position longer than usual, so I made it my point to sit in the blocks and not worry about trying to get out. They had to restart the previous heat a couple of times and a runner was thrown out the race for a false start, so I definitely wasn't going to be a dummy and not learn from someone else previous mistake.

The gun went off and I just got in to a very comfortable hurdling rhythm and survived without any mishaps and advanced on to tomorrow's semi final. The race was probably one of the easiest and most relaxed I have ever felt. We are running into some very stiff headwinds, but that's never something I concern myself with. Like I've said before, I prefer it this way as opposed to with a tail wind. I ran 13.58 (-2.1w) and have the fastest time going in to the semis.

Tomorrow at 12:30 central time, I will go off in one of two semi final heats, looking for a spot in the final. If all goes well, I'll be in the final looking for a shot at regaining the crown of national champion.

The semi final will air on ESPN from 1-2:30pm eastern and the final will be televised on NBC from 3-4pm eastern. Tune in!

Check out the race from the preliminary heat here:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

2010 US Championships On Deck!

This is a competition that I have been looking forward to for quite a while. Many people have asked me why would I be looking forward to running at the US Championships in a year when it's no Olympic or World Championship team to make. The answer is always very easy to for me to answer and it's actually quite simple, I want to be the champion of THE best 110 hurdling country in the world, regardless of what the calendar year is.

I've been the US champion in the biggest of all years, the 2008 Olympic Trials as well as indoor that season with qualification for World Championships on the line. I didn't get the chance to defend my title last year as I was down with a well documented calf injury, so I am going to try to get my title back. I'm just as ready this year as I was in 2008. I'm feeling good, clearly my races leading up to this point have gone well, practice has been going great and more important than anything, I am 100% healthy.

A lot of athletes are choosing to skip out this year due to the perceived "off year" status. I don't subscribe to the "off year" notion at all. I'm a professional athlete, this is my job, so I feel that as long as I'm healthy, I should be celebrating every opportunity I get to compete. This job has afforded myself a great living and the ability to do what I love to do. If athletes are suffering through injuries or setbacks then by all means, sit this one out.

As track and field athletes, we often gripe about the coverage of our sport, so this is an opportunity to get a little TV time on some major networks, so you know I'm all over being in attendance for that!

I'm heading out on Thursday, going up to Des Moines, Iowa. I've never been to the state of Iowa, so it will be a first for me. My family is coming out to the Championship of course, I can't wait to get it going!

Check It Out On TV:
ESPN- June 25 8:00-10:00 pm eastern
ESPN- June 26 1:00-2:30 pm eastern
NBC - June 26 3:00-4:00 pm eastern
ESPN- June 27 1:00-2:30 pm eastern
NBC - June 27 3:00-4:00 pm eastern

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Own Your Performance!...

That's the slogan of my newly acquired supplement sponsor Rival-US, a sports nutrition company based out of Canada, formed by Dr. Darren Burke. Dr. Burke is a well respected scientist that has had many papers and research distributed world wide.

I have been with the company for a little over a month and it has been beneficial on both ends. Rival-Us has been in existence for a while now, but now they are entering in to the market in the United States. Several athletes over a variety of sports ranging from ice hockey to cycling. I'm happy to be apart of the team.

It is funny how the deal actually came actually came about. A former training partner of mine, Adrienne Power, a Canadian sprinter, contacted me out of the blue asking if I would be interested in a supplement deal. Of course I said yes.

As a professional athlete, I spend a lot of money on supplements, probably upwards of $2,000 a year, so securing a supplement sponsor has always been something I was interested in, I just didn't know the avenue in which to get that accomplished. It's funny how things work out. The compensation package they worked out for me was a big plus as well.

Dr. Burke and I emailed back and forth for a few days, he sent out some product to see if it was something I could see myself using. There are two very important things that this company possesses that other supplement companies I've used can't compare. One is the fact that I am always able to contact Dr. Burke directly at any time. If I have any issues or questions about a product, he's always a phone call or email away. The most important and critical, value added element Rival-Us brings to the table is the fact that every last batch of every last product is clinically tested and cetified not to contain any banned substances per World Anti Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee standards.

As an athlete that is tested very frequently (I've provided about 11 urine samples and three blood samples in 2010), it is imperative that I keep a clean record and with the other products I have been taking thoughout my career, I could have been playing with fire. I don't know what's really in this stuff I was taking. For every drug test I take, I'm always nervous, not knowing if maybe something I took could mix with something else and cause and adverse finding in my sample, I just never knew. I know I wasn't doing anything illegal, but I didn't want to be one of those athletes you hear about testing positive and they say they didn't know how, because 100% of the time I hear somebody say that, I think they're lying.

I work very hard and if that happened, that would not only be devastating, but very embarrassing, not only to me but my family. I think embarrassing my family is one of the worst things I could possibly do. I'm not the only one that's going to have to answer "What happened to David?". My mom and grandma champion me at church so much, how is that going to look when they have to answer questions about me being a dirty athlete? Then it will give all the naysayers and pundit's who think I am on some performance enhancement anyway (trust me, I've heard that, I just take it as a compliment) the "I knew it!" they are waiting for.

Now enters Dr. Burke and Rival-Us. I've taken three doping tests since I've been on their products and I don't even think about the test once the USADA sample collectors walk out of my front door.

It's amazing how Dr. Burke is revolutionizing the supplement game. Any time you order a product, you can look on the bottle for the lot number, go to the website and look up the "Certificate of Conformance" where it has been guaranteed certified by the SAEF. You talk about having a piece of mind now!

The products work great and I'm hoping this is a partnership that will continue throughout the course of the remainder of my career. Hopefully you'll see me soon in some advertisements for the products, you all know how I love being in stuff LOL.

This is a picture they desgined to commemorate my performance and they used it for an update on the website, check RIVAL-US out!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Track and Field News Interview

Out at the Sacramento Relays, I had a chance to sit down with Jon Hendershott, a reporter for Track and Field News, one of my favorite websites to visit.

Here's the link:

Track and Field News Interview Click Here

I told Jon I need to do something to get the cover of the magazine! I guess if I can accomplish this mission of 12.85 that might be enough LOL.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Happy Retirement To A Great Man

The man who gave me my shot at running Division I track and field at Howard University has announced his retirement from coaching.

I still vividly remember the first time I held a conversation with Coach Merritt. It was the week before the state regional championships and he called my house. I was pretty excited because I had sent Howard no less than four letters and never got a single response back. I figured they must have been good and really didn't need me.

Unbeknown to me, they didn't have a coach in place and they weren't good at all! At the conference meet spring of 2000, they only scored one point! so the first thing Merritt did when he was hired and read the letters was call me up. He flew out to the regional championship where I won the 110 hurdles in 14.14 as well as the 300 hurdles in 38.52 and anchored the 4x4 to a second place finish.

That 4x4 was pretty embarrassing because it was my first time running the event and my team was winning until I got walked down with 150 meters to go by the guy I beat in the 300 hurdles. I split about 51, that was the first time I had ever run around the track completely.

Me getting walked down at regionals

I was still named MVP of the region, it was also the day of my senior prom and Coach Merritt offered me a full scholarship right then and there. At that point, it was the happiest moment in my life.

I am still shocked that Howard was the only school to offer me a full scholarship. I ran 13.25 and 38.84 at the state meet a week later, then University of Colorado and Colorado State upped their offers from 50% to full, but it was too late. These college coaches better do some homework! Considering I was in Denver where we had probably two meets where it wasn't snowing or cold, I think the other 14.1s and 38 mids I was running were pretty good times.

Going out to Washington D.C. was a great experience. Coach Merritt was a cool, reserved kind of guy, but he also didn't play. I learned that the hard way my sophomore year when I called myself knowing the ropes or whatever. I decided I was going to attend practice when I wanted to, more often than not, I was hanging out on the Yard chilling. So he kicked me and my good friend Lance off the team altogether. He called our parents as well. I was shocked and completely embarrassed because I'm 19 years old and my coach is calling my mom. It was the first time I had any disciplinary problems

The only reason I ended up back on the team was Coach Merritt had a phone conversation with the coach from the University of Maryland and he convinced my coach to give us another chance. That ended up being the best thing that happened to me in my collegiate career. I ended up being suspended for some meets to start my sophomore season and I had to start training with his group which consisted of the long sprinters and mid-distance guys. That helped me in getting stronger with my hurdle race and my relay splits started getting faster as well. It was a great boost in helping me attain the four outdoor conference titles I won. I guess you can say that I have always been able to finish a hurdle race strong.

MEAC Champs my freshman year

He always had my best interest in mind as well. When it came time for me to leave school and prepare for the professional side of track and field, he explicitly told me "If you want to make it happen, you have to leave here. You've exhausted everything I can offer you as a coach." He was a very self aware individual and didn't have the vision of living in the potential reflective glory I could have provided if I became successful. You see it often with these other coaches.

The runners that came to Howard from 2001 to present also have to champion Coach Merritt's efforts. I remember as a freshman, I qualified to attend the USA Junior Championships that were being hosted in Richmond, VA in 2001, it was like a two hour drive from D.C. The school wouldn't allow me to go because it wasn't an NCAA sanction event so we had to fight with compliance and eventually they started allowing us to attend meets like USA indoor and outdoor championships, Olympic Trials, USA Juniors etc. I guess they never had people qualify for those type of events so they had no experience with the process, so I couldn't fully fault the compliance department.

What really upset me about the whole thing was during my freshman year, I was running down in the 14.1-14.2 range consistently all season long and ran windy 13.9 twice. 14.38 and 14.50 ended up making the Junior Pan Am team. Not to say that I would have made the team because in the hurdles, you never know, but I do feel that I had a legitimate shot to make it on the team that represented the U.S. down in Argentina that year.

They say things happen for a reason, at least in future years, it was never a problem. Several athletes after me have been able to attend such big meets and display their talents. We all have Coach Merritt to thank for that. It was important for me because we didn't have the biggest budget in the world, so I rarely had great competition to race against, so outside of the NCAA championships and USA championships, I was generally winning races by half a second on average. That's a main reason I am a proponent of the NCAA regional system (not the one they have now, but the old system).

Howard spring sports MVP banquet '04

The ten years that Michael Merritt spent at Howard University had a lot of ups and downs, but the ups far exceeded the downs, we went from a program that was scoring one point at conference to always finishing in the top half at the Championships during my time there. I don't keep up too much with what's going on up there any more, but I'm sure they aren't scoring just one point anymore!

The University just lost a good man today. I am forever grateful for Coach Merritt, you'll be missed!

I was going through my old photo albums getting pictures for this post and came across this from the Track and Field News, April 2004 edition, whoever Dwight A. Love is, he definitely had a hell of a foresight!