Wariner ready for WR


Olympic champion believes he can topple one of sport’s greatest world records, reports Michael Phillips

Tuesday August 21, 2007
The Guardian

Jeremy Wariner last night raised expectations he might produce something special at the world championships in Osaka by revealing that he is running faster in training than Michael Johnson was in the days before he broke the 400 metres world record in 1999.

Wariner, 22, is coached in Texas by Clyde Hart, the man who guided Johnson to 14 Olympic and world titles and two individual world records.

The last of those astonishing records came in Seville eight years ago when he stunned the world championships with a run of 43.18sec.

But now, in the days leading up to the 11th holding of the competition in Japan, Wariner is ready to go even quicker.

On the night Johnson stormed his way into 400m history Wariner was a 15-year-old fan of American football, not even aware of what was happening in Spain.

“I knew nothing about track and field until 2000 when I was at college,” he said. “It was only last year when I saw Michael’s race in Seville after he gave me a tape of it. I watched it and I was speechless.”

This time next week Wariner will begin his attempt to break that record - and he declared last night that “there is no telling what I will be able to do at the world championships”.

Hart recently brought out the training diary which Johnson used in the week before his amazing performance in Seville. And while Johnson clocked practice times in the region of 41sec for 350m, Wariner has been timed at 40.09 and 41.60.

He said: "It is easily the fastest I have ever been in practice. Coach Hart has been trying to compare what I’m doing to what Michael did before he broke the record. At first my times were not as fast but he has been cutting my rest periods down.

“He has been using the same training schedules for 42 years but he brought out the work-outs which Michael did leading up to Seville and my times are quicker now. I cannot think about Michael when I run. I just have to think that I can do it. It will be fantastic to break the world record because of all the hard work I have been putting my body through. But if I do not do it this time, hopefully I have a good few years left in the sport to try again.”

Wariner, the current world and Olympic champion, has been spectacular this season, and he has the advantage of not only knowing the Osaka track but having run superbly on it in May in a meeting to launch the countdown to the world championships. Then he ran 44.02, an eye-catching time for so early in the season, before at the start of this month looking supreme as he ran a personal best of 43.50 to win in Stockholm, making him the equal third fastest 400m runner in history.

Wariner said: “It is hard to explain what the surface is like in Osaka because it is not like tracks in Europe. It has hardness and it has bounce and it is good for every event. When I ran my 44.02, my training was not even ready for those sorts of times. But I knew when I competed in Stockholm that I would be quick. I had a feeling that something crazy was about to happen.”

The Stockholm race provided Wariner with more than a comparison to the way Johnson would run. “My coach said I am right up there with him in the last 100 metres,” said Wariner. “But my first 200 in Stockholm was faster than when Michael broke the world record. Now I need to work on the section between 200 and 300 because Michael was quicker than me on that.”

Wariner has only run in five 400m races this year, using the 200m event to increase his speed, and it has worked. Consulting the training plan that Johnson worked on before Seville, Wariner has cut down his recovery times from 10 minutes to nine between 450m runs and from 1min 45sec to 1min 30sec for 200m repetitions.

“That 15 seconds can make a difference,” said Wariner. “The least rest I have shows that I have been able to build up the endurance if I’m able to run quick times. I told Michael about my 350’s and he said, ‘What!’ Back in 2004 I was just a college kid running. Now I am on a different level and if I want to go faster I have to work even harder.”

It is an ominous warning to the rest of the world’s 400m men. When Johnson ran, everybody else just competed for the minor medals. Despite his quiet, far from boisterous tone, Wariner gives every indication that he will take the aura he is creating for himself to a new level in Japan.

“My workouts are getting even better,” he said. “I am stronger, I am quicker and there’s even more dedication. [From] the way I ran in Stockholm, and how easy it felt, I know I can go even faster, especially on the Osaka track. I will not be beaten unless I do not run my race.”

400m challengers

Angelo Taylor US

Age 28 Personal best 44.05

2007 best 44.05

Won 400m hurdles gold at the 2000 Olympics and is now second to his US team-mate in the 400m rankings.

Lashawn Merritt US

Age 21 PB 43.93 2007 44.06

A consistent performer, with a great future ahead of him, who should win a medal of some colour in Osaka.

Ricardo Chambers Jamaica

Age 22 PB 44.62

2007 44.62

Could be the surprise on the podium but surely cannot beat Wariner unless the champion stumbles.

what about TC as a challenger?? surely he’ll beat ricardo chambers atleast. i call him for a medal, maybe a bronze possibly a silver

Reminds me of when Winter had a similar session for Tommie Smith, in which he ran 33.5 and 35.7 for 350y. This was three days before his world record assault on the quarter.

Gutsy call to pick it like that and if he actually runs a WR in Osaka even more impressive. By going public he puts a lot more pressure on himself…time will tell.

33.5 for 320m (352yd was the old test) is faster than 40.9 for 350m by a significant margin. How is 40.9 proof of WR fitness?

he’s running more than 1?

but, IIRC, there was some discussion of John Smiths camp running 37-38 for 350’s way back when.

Well that’s what I was wondering. you sure aren’t closing the final 50m in a 400- or anything else in 3 seconds!!

charlie, it looks like he did run 2 at least.

but at what effort and what about the first rep?

the effort thing would be anyones guess. but it says his times were 40.09 and 41.60 not bad for a 350, but obviously not on par with a 43.5 for a full 4, or even a 45.x.

I’d guess the recovery was pretty short for the 2nd one to be that much slower.

Must be some sort of marker from a combined total off short break I guess.

Doesn’t a lot of Hart’s workouts also have the athletes in flats versus spikes?

Another Article On The Subject
This one might provide more on the workout, as well as Hart’s assessment, than the previous one. I guess Smith’s session had another theme!

OK A split run. Makes more sense.

Michaels autobiography “Slaying the Dragon” includes some pages of his training journal. One of the entries reads “Tues 2x385 24/40, 24/41 3”

No explanation is given but I guess that means 2x385 yards (=350m) in 40 or 41 seconds with first 200 in 24 and a break of 3 min.

I suppose Wariner did the same workout.