Steffensen talks it up

Athletics: Steffensen warns of 'shock and awe’DANIEL LANE

December 13, 2009

A ROGUE nerve crippled his Beijing Olympic and Berlin world championship campaigns, and while it threatens to disrupt John Steffensen’s start to the Australian track season next month, he’s ecstatic a Sydney surgeon has solved a three-year-old mystery.

The epicentre of Steffensen’s pain was identified as an ailment that won’t take much fixing for him to get back on the track. And while he is reluctant to elaborate too much on it - except to say the diagnosis of a nerve problem has answered many questions - he aims to make up for lost time.

Steffensen, who will defend his Commonwealth Games 400 metres title in New Delhi next year, has categorised the ruins of 2009, which followed the disaster of Olympic year '08, as his time of ‘‘rebuilding’’. Now, with the prospect of his being free from pain for the first time in three years, he has warned his opponents to brace themselves for ‘‘shock and awe’’.

''We all know 2008 was a horror year, that 2009 was focused on my rebuilding and 2010? Watch me fly,’’ he said during the week. ‘‘Now we’ve worked out what my problem has been, I’m going to make 2010 count. It is about making my mark and building on my legacy. I’m ready to rock. I’m ready to roll. I’m not going to waste anyone’s time, especially the fans and those who have supported me.’’

After winning the nationals in 2006, Steffensen missed the 2007 championships through injury and in 2008 and ‘09, while he was underdone and injured, he was force-fed his opponents’ dust. The diet didn’t agree with the Perth-born runner.

‘‘It sucked, man,’’ he said. ‘‘It was frustration with a capital F.’’

The injury took its toll on Steffensen’s aspirations to win gold at Beijing and Berlin.

''I can run with this injury and still be Australian champion, but I can’t run and be No. 1 in the world with it. It’s been a frustrating time knowing you’re taking a knife to a gunfight … It’s like boxing against the great Danny Green with one hand tied behind your back. It’s not sexy, it is annoying and that is what the last couple of years have been about - me just putting on a brave face.’’

There were times when it was hard for Steffensen to hold that face as his career stalled and started and stalled again through injury.

‘‘No crocodile tears,’’ he said. ‘‘I was training well, but the injury bit me at the same time each year. Setback comes with the territory and while I didn’t complain at the end of the year when my team and I would evaluate my performances, I couldn’t help but to ask myself ‘what if’. I ran 45.99 on one leg from lane eight in Rome and I thought ‘this is wicked’ because I figured if I could run like that on one leg I could do anything. But it didn’t happen at the world championships.’’

Steffensen became a household name in Melbourne in 2006 when he became the first Australian since Darren Clarke [CLARK …respect…kk] 20 years earlier to win the Commonwealth Games 400 metres final. With Cathy Freeman long retired, the gregarious runner from Perth provided hope that Australia still had a blue-riband track performer.

The 27-year-old said the mysterious pain led to a series of everyday problems. He could not bend down to tie his shoelaces. His hamstrings would seize and cramp.

‘‘I never wanted to make excuses,’’ he said. ‘‘My view is if you step on the track, you give 100 per cent and don’t say this was wrong and that was wrong. Excuses suck. At Berlin [the world championships] my coach and the team doctor were saying not to run but I’d put myself up for selection so I persevered. Though it was frustrating, so frustrating.’’

Now that Steffensen - a member of the Australian team that won world championship bronze last year - can get the ailment treated he believes it won’t be long before his times make him the talk of the track again. ''It hurts when you see someone win the world champs in a time of 45.1 and think ‘I opened the season with that.’ I will be the best in the world, believe me man, I will be unbeatable when this injury rights itself,’’ he said, the pitch in his voice rising with each excitable word. ‘‘They’ll [his opponents] need to rely on me not being 100 per cent fit to have any chance of beating me.’’

While there appears to be a sense of dread from many athletes about the prospect of competing at next year’s Commonwealth Games, where press reports have detailed horror stories about stadiums being a long way from being completed and predictions of food poisoning and illness, Steffensen is marking down the days.

‘‘It will be my ninth national team and I am proud of that because it’ll mean I have made nine national teams since I started athletics in 2003,’’ said Steffensen, who also represented Western Australia as an amateur boxer. ''To be honest I don’t think there are too many people excited, performance-wise, about going to India. But in terms of experience they are looking forward to seeing how India might showcase itself … I know people are panicking about infrastructure and food and other things but I remember there were the same things said about Melbourne and they were a great games. A killer games.

''I’m not worried about all that, I’m focused on running. I don’t care if we run the 400 metres on a goat track in the hills. The king is back, I am hungry and you mark my words, I will feast.’’

Ok buddy (steffenson).

Yawn. He’s becoming more and more like Anthony Mundine!

You mean he’s guilty of crimes against humility

My sentiments exactly!!!

[QUOTE=Neospeed;229075]Yawn. He’s becoming more and more like Anthony Mundine![

Good answer.

Humility is something he will have to learn the hard way.

If I didn’t know him than I would think he was bit of tool by that article. Its definitely not good PR.

It’s funny how those that can’t run fast need to run there mouth in order to be relevant. :stuck_out_tongue:

Happy New Year to all!

Does this include retired former champions who have a big mouth? :slight_smile:

LOL! Sure…:smiley:

Steffensen is actually a nice guy. He’s just trying to drum up some business and keep his existing sponsors, I guess.

By no means am I trying to be judgemental. I wish him well as I do believe when he’s healthy and at his best he can be a formidable competitor. I surely can not blame him for trying to drum up and keep existing sponsor…At this point I say just let the legs do the talking :cool:

I’m not sure which world champs he’s been watching.

Who said such things about Melbourne? Last time I checked it wasn’t exactly known for danger of food poisening or a lack of sporting facilities, infrastructure and security.

Steffenson said:
'I can run with this injury and still be Australian champion, but I can’t run and be No. 1 in the world with it

Sorry Steff but you have ‘apparently’ run with the injury and been beaten in the Australian Champs for the last two years.

You front up at the Australian Champs and drop your blocks then you are fit to run. Save the excuses and give credit to those who were better on the day. :rolleyes:

Firstly having briefly met Steff in the past he is certainly a likeable bloke, always upbeat and willing to have a yarn…but as the summer rolls on, what is going on?

There’s been more sightings of of the Loch Ness monster in Sydney Harbour than Steffenson at a race meet this summer.

It makes one wonder why would anyone want to sponsor Steffenson? :rolleyes:

I was looking forward to seeing him run in the Sydney GP meet on 27th Feb, but once again it’s a no show, even with the enticing appeal of running against David Neville (USA) and David Rudisha (KEN) as well as local guns Sean Wroe & Ben Offereins.

Hope he runs some time this summer, otherwise, once again, Steffenson fails to support the local domestic calendar, not only letting down his sponsors but the sport itself.