Jeremy Wariner - profile

Jeremy Wariner adds Golden League Jackpot to impressive resumé - IAAF Magazine
Monday 5 February 2007
Already the reigning World and Olympic champion, 22-year-old Jeremy Wariner grabbed a share of the 2006 Golden League Jackpot and moved up to fourth on the all-time world lists in the process. His phenomenal 43.62 from Rome’s Golden Gala is the best performance since his mentor and agent’s Michael Johnson’s World record seven years ago!

By Paul Gains

As he stood on the starting line of the Berlin Golden League meeting Jeremy Wariner knew that a victory would guarantee him at least a share of the IAAF Golden $1 Million Jackpot. Yet there was no sign of tension. If anything the young Texan was the picture of cool.

Instinct told him to block out any negative thoughts like the additional pressure the purse might place on his shoulders. One false step and he would miss out on his just rewards.

It wouldn’t be the first time a star falters - delighting the ubiquitous critics. Wariner though was brimming with confidence, understandable since he had already registered five Golden League victories over the world’s best 400m runners.

“The money was an extra incentive but I still went out there to run my race and win,” he explains. “I knew that LaShawn (Merritt) or somebody was going to try whatever they can to stop me from getting six. LaShawn took it out real fast for the first 200m but I knew I saved something for the finish.”

Ultimately he won the race in 44.26 seconds earning $249,999. It was a fitting conclusion to the Golden League competition for this young man who unbeknownst to many was not at his best.

Earlier in the season he had felt a slight problem in his hamstring and visits to his physiotherapist were frequent. Yet, he bravely lined-up in Brussels, Stuttgart and Berlin ready to tackle the best one-lappers on the circuit. It is this stoic approach that has catapulted him to the upper echelon of the sport.

Wariner holds both the Olympic and IAAF World Championship 400m titles yet he is still just 22 years old. Heck, he has yet to graduate from Baylor University’s Outdoor Recreation programme spacing out his classes so as not to interfere with his career as a professional athlete. So when does he plan to graduate?

“I am still working on that. I have no idea,” comes the response.

Looking back on the 2006 season, aside from the monetary windfall he has plenty of reasons for optimism. Three times he ducked under 44 seconds finally lowering his personal best to 43.62 seconds in Rome’s Golden Gala meeting. That moved him to 4th on the list of all time fastest performers behind World record holders Michael Johnson, Butch Reynolds and 1992 Olympic champion Quincy Watts. That’s pretty exclusive company. The only blemish on the year was a September trip to Shanghai, China where he felt the hamstring tighten and was forced to pull up half way through the race.

“I was running with a bad hamstring and trying to finish off my season,” he recalls. “I came home and got worked on a little bit and did a couple of days of practice. I went back over to Europe but it was still a bit tight. I tried to keep it loose but when I warmed up I could feel it cramping up on me.”

“We found out that my hip was out of line making my hamstring cramp a little bit. At the same time my legs were getting a little weary from the whole season. But the main problem was my hip being out of line and I hadn’t been taking care of my body the way I should have.”

Once the 2006 outdoor season was finished he returned to classes at Baylor where he is also a volunteer track coach. Texas born and bred he belongs here. Certainly he is surrounded by positive influences - his parents for a start - to whom he owes his single mindedness and conservative lifestyle. Then there is long time Baylor coach Clyde Hart who puts the athlete first and foremost.

Wariner turned professional two years ago after winning NCAA titles for Baylor. It was a decision reached through discussions with coach Hart who realised the young man needed to be released onto the world stage. Muzzling his potential by having him run in places like Norman, Oklahoma and Prairie View, Texas might not be in his best interests.

Two months after the NCAA championship he won the Olympic gold medal in Athens. Could there be any better way to underline Hart’s approach?

Professional athletes require management. Michael Johnson started up a management company and signed both Wariner and his training partner Darold Williamson. He hired another former Baylor quarter miler, Deon Minor to handle the day to day duties insulating the pair from anything that might interfere with progress. Not that Wariner has any trouble focusing.

“I just relax stay at home. I don’t really do much I am just a real quiet person. I don’t really do anything wild or anything people would care about,” says Wariner, unashamedly. Pressed to reveal any other details about his life he finally concedes.

“I like to play pool. I guess that is one thing.”

On a recent trip to the adidas headquarters in Germany Wariner found himself playing pool with the adidas representative, coach Hart and Minor.

“Jeremy is competitive when you have athletes at that level they like to win,” Minor reveals. “We played on teams - Clyde Hart can play some pool, I can play some pool, I have a pool table at my house. Jeremy would admit he is o.k. but he can’t beat me!”

Minor laughs at this.

“I am usually with Jeremy on all his trips and we just hang out, after the meet we just socialize, hang around the hotel, call home, call his family, when they travel with him we go out to dinner after the meet. There’s no clubbing.”

With little to distract him Wariner enjoys hanging out at the track advising the young Baylor athletes. He has a playstation at home. And, Minor reveals, he also takes pride in driving around in his black Mercedes S600, one of the few luxuries he has allowed himself since turning professional. Presently he is renting a house and once he gets over the stress of house hunting he will buy one himself.

There seems to be no limit to Wariner’s talent. Staying motivated might be a problem for other champions but he is wary of the talented athletes waiting in the wings and he has also set his sights on another major prize - Michael Johnson’s World 400m record of 43.18 seconds. It is a performance he has envisioned but at the same time he also realises it is a formidable target. Time is on his side and the recent outdoor season has obviously boosted his confidence tremendously.

“It’s not hard to stay motivated. A lot of people in track and field have a goal of staying on top, remaining number one, and that is what I am trying to do, to go undefeated as long as I can,” he declares.

“Like I said before, I went under 44 seconds three times - almost five times (he ran 44.02 in Stockholm and Stuttgart) this season, I was consistent with my times. I know that the potential to get the World record is better now than before the season. It just means I have to work hard and get to the next level.”

Wariner was recently presented with the Jesse Owens Award by USA Track and Field in recognition for his outstanding achievements in the 2006 season. Standing alongside training partner Sanya Richards, who was also a recipient of the award, Wariner declared: “I was extremely happy when I found out that I won the Jesse Owens Award. I worked so hard this past season to stay focus and win all my races. I was fortunate to win the Golden League this year, and to run a great race in Rome with my personal best. This award just tops off a great season, and I’m hoping I can run even faster next season.”

Published in 2006 Yearbook

man, 20yrs old and winning the 400m Oly… Kind of thing you hear from pool swimmers.
Anybody know of his progression? It must have been a pretty steep rise in performance since he was like 17?

it might be on his iaaf profile

He ran like 20.4x (wind aided I believe, though not sure how much) in high school in his 2nd year of running I believe.