White’s back from injury, and away from volleyball
Friday 27 June 2003
Oslo, Norway - A year ago America’s Kelli White had a foot injury so bad that it forced her to miss the whole of the season and contemplate the question of when she would be back on the world stage again. Tonight in Oslo is proof of her dynamic answer.

White will take her place in the 100 metres as the IAAF Golden League starts again, as one of the stars of the summer.

“I can see this season as being the best of my career,” she says. “But it is just fantastic to be out there running. I trained hard last year, I had an injury, it put me out and that is tough to take. Now I have some small injuries but none that would not allow me to run. I am hoping nothing is going to stop me this season.”

Tonight, as the famous Bislett Stadium sees an era ending with the last Golden League meeting to be staged in the old stadium, White is ready to create a new period in her life, and women’s sprinting. With no Marion Jones on the scene this summer because she is due to give birth to her first child on July 21, the prospect of who will be crowned World champion in Paris next month is intriguing.

A few pointers might be found tonight as Double Commonwealth champion Debbie Ferguson, the athlete who was this season’s fastest until White’s sprinting campaign at her nationals defending meets the American, who has had the best eight days of her life.

White won both the 100m and 200m at the USA trials, performances which led to her being named as America’s Athlete Of The Week. So what is new about a woman who won World bronze in Edmonton in 2001 and was part of the triumphant 4 x 100m relay team?

“You become determined when you are out to be back and do well when you are there but the most important thing for me is be consistent without problems,” said White, 26. “I know there will be much pressure and expectation on me. I am a shy person. It will be tough but it is great to be running as well as I am.”

It is hardly a surprise she has emerged into a world class sprinter because her mother was a member of the Jamaican 4 x 400m relay team at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich and her father was also a college athlete.

Victory was all the more rewarding last week because it took place in California, her home state. And impressive with it. Her time of 10.93 for the 100m is a personal best (also has a wind assisted 10.79 2.3m/s in 2003) and the quickest in the world this year, while her victory in the 200m in 22.21 was also a personal best and only teammate Allyson Felix, with 22.11, has run faster in 2003. But the way she reacted is as much an insight into why she is so determined to make her mark this summer.

“I was down from that high fairly quickly,” said White. “It was not hard to do because the job goes on. That is the important thing. There are many more races to run. It was one of the biggest weekends of my career and these are great times but you have to look what comes next.”

Remy Korchemny, the coach who helped advise Valeriy Borzov to the Olympic men’s sprint double in Munich, ironically at the Olympics where her mother competed, trains her. They live about 15 minutes apart and she has been working with him since she was 11. She took a five-year break to attend college but returned to Korchemny, who helped her break onto the world scene two years ago.

She has yet to beat Jones but in a comparison to her, she switched from a different sport. Jones won the national title as a basketball player before moving into athletics and White could easily have chosen volleyball.

“I was more into it,” she said. “But I used to train for track and I did not live in the area of my high school (where she played volleyball), so I could not do both. I chose track and field.”

She knows what she has achieved at the USA trials will make her one of the athletes to beat - particularly as Jones is not competing.

“There are still the same pressures even though Marion is not around,” she said. “I have to win races.”

by an IAAF Correspondent