Wariner in Zurich jackpot hunt

Wariner - Three down, three to go as GL Jackpot race continues in Zurich
Wednesday 16 August 2006
Zurich, Switzerland - Of the four athletes who remain alive for a share of the $1 million IAAF Golden League Jackpot, conventional wisdom would place World and Olympic 400 metre champion Jeremy Wariner at the top of the list of those most likely to succeed.

NB – For a complete summary of who’s still alive in the Jackpot Hunt, please click here to read yesterday’s press release.

Jeremy Wariner supreme in Paris
(Getty Images)

Undefeated in seven races over the distance this year, the 22-year-old has displayed a dominance in the event not seen since the heyday of manager and mentor Michael Johnson whom he hopes to succeed as the event’s World record holder. In his last five international races, the closest a challenger has come was in Oslo where Bahamian Chris Brown came within 49/100s of a second to Wariner’s 44.31 winning performance. Against top-notch fields at both the Paris and Rome legs of the Golden League, Wariner made a mockery of the proceedings, winning by more than a full second in each.

With three sub-44 second performances to his credit this season, Wariner is making that still-formidable barrier, one where only seven others have ever treaded, seem almost as a matter of routine. Almost.

“I’d say it would be routine for me to run low-44 and sub-44 the way I’ve been running,” he said, after his 43.99 victory in London last month. “As long as I execute my own race and stay healthy, I’ll be able to do it the rest of the season, and I hope the rest of my career.”

Jeremy Wariner running the 400m in Oslo
(Getty Images)

He nearly had a fourth sub-44 in Stockholm a few days before his London outing, where he won in 44.02, 51/100s of a second ahead of runner-up Gary Kikaya.

“In Stockholm I could have broke 44 but I shut it down a little too much like I did [in London],” he said, adding that he was slowed by a stomach-related illness that probably began in Rome. But in London, he was back to full fitness. “I was really pleased with the way I ran [in London]. I ran consistent like I have all season.”

Are there more sub-44s on the near horizon?

“Oh definitely. Michael says that the most he believes he’s had in one season was four, so that’s definitely a goal. To try to break that or raise it to five. I’ve got four more races so I think that I can.” Besides Zurich’s Weltklasse on Friday, his upcoming schedule includes the remaining two Golden League fixtures in Brussels and Berlin, and the season-capping World Athletics Final in Stuttgart.

But he won’t be disappointed if he doesn’t hit that hallowed territory again this summer.

“No not at all, as long as I stay close to low 44s, and no slower than a 44.3, then I’ll be fine. I mean, it’s hard to stay under 44 a lot. But I’m just trying to stay consistent with my time by going low 44s and high 43s.”

Others would warmly welcome that sort of consistency, and Wariner welcomes others as well.

‘It’s good to have someone in front of me,” he said. "In Rome I had Xavier [Carter] in front of me and I was able to keep any eye on him but also keep my pace, and at the same time stay close to him. It just makes me run a lot better knowing that if I mess up any part of my race, I’m going to get beat or come close to getting beat. So I have to execute the right way.”

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF