Steffensen "You'll ruin my Beijing chances"

By Mike Hurst
November 22, 2007 AN emotional John Steffensen has pleaded with Athletics Australia not to wreck his Beijing medal plans - claiming he didn’t want to risk injury by racing in Australia this summer.

“If they force me to race (in the) nationals I won’t make it to the Games,” Steffensen said.

After a difficult year which led to his announcement of a switch from one controversial coach to another, Steffensen said his plans to compete at next year’s Olympics “have been rocked” after AA overlooked him for pre-selection for Beijing.

Five other key athletes - including Jana Rawlinson and Craig Mottram - were given saloon passages into the Games team.

Steffensen, 25, the Commonwealth Games 400m champion, said: "I just resumed training last week.

"My body is still healing (from a back injury which caused alternating hamstring problems in both legs).

"Racing in February is too soon for me. Making Beijing, or winning medals in Beijing, is gone for me if I have to run nationals.

"I did that their way last summer and that’s why I got injured, trying to race too soon in my preparation.

"It’s not like I’m sulking. They (AA) said, ‘You have to do it our way or you won’t go to the world championships’.

“I tried their way and I got stuffed up. If I have to do it the way (AA) want me to do it, Beijing is a wrap. I may as well stay home.”

But AA chairman of selectors Peter Fitzgerald said the pre-selected athletes had not been given dispensation to miss the nationals.

The national titles, which double as the main Olympic team trials, will be held in Brisbane from February 28 to March 2.

Fitzgerald said Steffensen had “not spoken to anyone” from AA’s high-performance unit. The Olympic criteria makes participation compulsory in the Sydney and Melbourne meets and in the nationals.

“I haven’t heard of any application from John to be excused from those three meetings,” Fitzgerald said.

"But as I understand it, no one at AA knows the status of his injury. All I had was a conversation with his father (on Wednesday). Are we supposed to guess how his legs are?

“Unless three other runners prove they are clearly better than him or he breaks his leg, I would have thought John will make this team.”

Steffensen finished ninth at the world championships, missing the final by one place.

Steffensen revealed he had parted with legendary US coach John Smith and would now be guided by one of Smith’s disciples, former 110m hurdler Larry Wade who served a two-year ban (edit).

“Larry’s past has got nothing to do with me,” Steffensen said. "Larry is a friend.

“I don’t kick people when they’re down - and he has the ability to get me some medals.”

And John Didnt?? :confused:

Don’t think Steffenson said, JS couldn’t get him medals. I don’t see no real change in the training system under Larry.

AA dismiss Steffensen fears
Posted Thu Nov 22, 2007 1:02pm AEDT

Panic attack … John Steffensen (File photo) (Getty Images: Mark Dadswell)

Athletics Australia (AA) says Commonwealth Games 400 metres champion John Steffensen will not be forced to compete in next year’s national championships so as to qualify for the Beijing Olympics.

The US-based Steffensen has expressed concern that if he has to run in the national championships - to be held in Brisbane from February 28 to March 1 - it will ruin his chances of competing in Beijing.

He has only just started training following a back-related injury and feels he will not be fit enough to compete in Brisbane.

Athletes seeking Olympic selection must compete in the national championships unless it is proven they are medically unfit to do so.

AA chief executive Danny Corcoran said Steffensen could still be selected for Beijing if he missed the national championships because of injury.

“He would need to be assessed by our medical team and then put a case to the selectors that he was medically unfit at the time of the selection trials,” he said.

“I think everyone is aware that John’s a very important athlete to Australian athletics. We’re here to help him not hinder him.”

If AA clear Steffensen of having to compete in Brisbane, it is unlikely he would miss Olympic selection as he has already dipped under the ‘A’ qualifying standard for Beijing that took effect at the beginning of the year.

Steffensen, a world championships semi-finalist in Osaka in August, has posted numerous ‘A’ standard times, including a trio of sub 45-second performances for the one lap this year.

Meanwhile, AA granted five athletes pre-selection status for Beijing based on their recent international performances - Jana Rawlinson, Steve Hooker, Craig Mottram, Nathan Deakes and Luke Adams.

Corcoran said the five athletes would still be required to compete at the national championships and on the local grand prix circuit.

“Part of the condition of the pre-selection of the five athletes is that they also commit to the Australian series,” he said.

“It’s not giving them an exemption not to compete. Part of their condition of acceptance is that they support the Australian series and compete in our domestic season.”

It’s just a little bit cheaper to be coached by Larry than John!

in response to the title of the thread, what bejing chances?

Prob the real issue is that he wants to stay in LA to train during that period.

Sorry mate, money has nothing to do with it. Contrary to popular opinion, JS doesn’t press his athletes for $.

He’s a quality runner, man, and if he can stay healthy I see no reason for him not to be on the podium in Beijing.

Are we talking about the same Steffensen and the same event (400m)?

Gold and silver are pretty much wrapped up barring injury with Merritt and Wariner having run sub 44 and then you have another bunch of US guys, including Taylor if he has a similar season, Rock if he gets healthy, and Carter if he does the 400m, and many others that all have better PRs than Steffensen.

Why did he “leave” John Smith for Wade if it really isn’t a money issue. Was JS his coach when he placed 9th at worlds? I don’t understand.

Wasn’t he the guy who was scheduled to be in HSI early last year then was taken off the website and decided to stay in Europe? Then he went to Smith now has left him? I’m confused…maybe I’m thinking of someone else.

seriously, if he were an american, it being an olympic year and all, he might not even make the relay pool. let alone a podium at a global champs.

This via the Google Search (where, by the way, I get most of the aths and Games bulletins I post on the CF board)

by Ron Reed

November 24, 2007 12:00am
APART from talent, track sprinters need a liberal supply of self-belief. Or, to employ the alternative term for that vital commodity, ego.

From the moment he arrived on the scene about five years ago, Australian 400m specialist John Steffensen has never had to worry about that. He’s always had plenty.

He’s been good for the sport, too, winning a relay silver medal at the Athens Olympics and an individual gold at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne last year.

That’s why Athletics Australia chief Danny Corcoran described him yesterday as “a very important athlete in the scheme of things, who we want to be part of the Beijing team. We hope he can do that.”

Otherwise, Corcoran diplomatically declined to buy into Steffensen’s provocative comments in the Herald Sun this week, when he complained about not being pre-selected for the Olympics and claimed he had no hope of getting there if he was forced to race at the national titles and selection trials in February. He said he had only just resumed training after recovering from a back injury that had caused hamstring problems in both legs, which might be why he narrowly failed to make the final at the world championships in Osaka in September.

Despite that, he ran well in Osaka, twice breaking 45 seconds, so there is a certain amount of sympathy for his situation.

But he might need to be careful not to give the impression that he believes he has become bigger than the sport. He hasn’t.

He’s a showman as well as a genuine talent and that makes him a popular character with fans and officials – but he occasionally makes people roll their eyes, too.

That was the case when his Commonwealth Games gold was not enough for him to win the athlete of the year award from Craig Mottram, and he offered a piqued response.

And in Osaka, he declined to run the 400m relay, which might have made the difference between winning a medal and not.

He said his hammies were tight, but that didn’t cut much ice with team bosses who watched American sprinter Tyson Gay run four rounds of both the 100m and 200m and then do the relay on a knee that was “swollen like a balloon,” according to one senior observer.

And then he said what a highlight it was to be part of a winning team.

Whatever their other faults, the American track and field system doesn’t cater for excuses. It’s put up or shut up, especially when it comes to Olympic selection.

Here, it’s not quite that cut-throat. But after a most disappointing world championships, the sport is under fierce scrutiny as it heads for Beijing and beyond.

The domestic season won’t necessarily change much in terms of medal expectations in Beijing – the time frame is too short – but it is vitally important that the senior athletes support it and those in the second rank step up a notch.

It’s a showcase, too – stand by for AA to announce an impressive list of overseas athletes looking for an opportunity to train in a competitive environment, in good weather and the same time frame, almost, as Beijing.

Steffensen is fond of saying that he runs for the fans, so he should be doing all he can to get on the track, not looking for reasons not to run.

He might be disappointed that the list of pre-nominated athletes – Jana Rawlinson, Craig Mottram, Nathan Deakes, Steve Hooker and Luke Adams – did not include his name, but he can rest assured that he was next cab off the rank.

There is also no doubt in anyone’s mind that he will be on the plane to China in August.

He wants to be a star – and the place for stars to shine is on the stage.

i agree with your statement, cause he said in an article his training had him to run something like 43.7 or sub 44, somewhere along those lines as long as he could stay healthy. Maybe he was at similar training paces to quincy watts or steve lewis when they went sub 44 under the guidance of smith. But I think he said he had to run in the 44s range some more before he could do that.


thats crazy. Pretty deadly that he ran 9.02 or 9.05 or 9.0something flying 100 on the bend on that knee, wonder what time if it wasn’t swollen?

craig pickering had the same split as gay only on the straight and on 2 knees.

Despite Steffenson might have handled his concerns a bit more quietly I think he does have a case. AA really do need a much more discretionary approach to selection in general - it might require a few gambles, but really what’s to lose ?

It would be interesting to know what happened with JS. Steffenson seems like the tempermental type, I imagine last year would have been trying to say the least.

Why can’t you successfully arrange double periodization in this day and age? You want selection for an athlete who’s taken off from his coach for an unknown and should take on faith that all’s well. Good luck!

We don’t it. We don’t understand it. Oh my favourite we need to build the base (as in aerobic work)

Steffenson can medal at Olympics, he has to get there and make the final and have luck.

I agree with Charlie he probably wants to say in LA over that period.

Where is there any indication that Steffensen good chance of medaling? His PR is 44.73.

If he was from the US, he would not have even made it to the olympics/world champs in 2004/05/06/07 if he ran his PR (and Jeremy Wariner didn’t take the bye in 06/07). That’s if he ran his PR in what are often subpar conditions. I just don’t see it.

If he makes the final he is a chance. Note I did say he needed some luck.