Alan Webb Leaves Alberto Salazar
March 30 2011
American record holder in the mile Alan Webb has officially parted ways with marathon great and Nike coach Alberto Salazar.
David Monti of Race Results Weekly first confirmed the news, which had been viewed as a serious possibility by insiders for weeks, with a tweet, saying, "We wish Alan Webb good luck in selecting his new coach. He will indeed be great again."
Subsequently, LetsRun.com confirmed the news with Alan's agent and Irish record holder in the mile, Ray Flynn, who issued this statement: "I can confirm that Alan and Alberto are no longer working together. It was a mutually agreed and amicable parting and Alan seeking a more middle-distance oriented group and coaching situation. ... This decision may take some time."
Webb's sponsor, Nike, also released this statement to trackfocus.com: "We can confirm that Alan Webb has decided to make a change in coaches and training groups. He will pursue a group where he can train with more middle distance runners. We wish Alan all the best and continued success as one of the all-time great milers."
Perhaps we should have said Webb's former sponsor, as LetsRun.com was told late on Wednesday night, by a source that wishes to remain anonymous, that Webb's contract with Nike actually has run out and that he no longer is receiving paychecks from Nike, as negotiations are ongoing. We hope to get a comment from Ray Flynn and/or Nike on Thursday to see if this is indeed the case.
Webb's Third Major Coaching Switch
This is Webb's third coaching switch in his career linked to performances Webb clearly felt should be better. The first switch came after Webb's first year at the University of Michigan under coach Ron Warhurst. Webb left Michigan in 2002 to turn pro, return to Virginia and train under his high school coach Scott Raczko. Webb stayed with Raczko until the end of 2009 when he moved West to train under Alberto Salazar. After Achilles surgery, Webb missed most of the 2010 outdoor season, but in a limited campaign in August in September ran 3:36.21 for 1,500m (a 3:53 mile roughly).
This winter, Webb's season started with a disappointing 4:00.70 mile at the New Balance Grand Prix after which Webb was visibly upset. After a 3,000m in Washington, Webb went down under to New Zealand and Australia. After a mediocre 1:52 opener in New Zealand, Webb showed his tremendous talent by running a 3:37.82 1500m in Australia.
Where Does Webb Go Now?
The big question everyone now turns to is "Where does Webb go now?" While there may be a few questions surrounding Webb (he has not run under 3:35 for 1,500m since 2007), he is only 28 and middle distance coaches salivate at the opportunity to coach talents like Webb. Think that is a hyperbole? See what Alberto Salazar, who currently coaches Dathan Ritzenhein (12:56 5ker and 1:00:00 half marathoner) and Galen Rupp (27:10 10k runner), had to say about Webb last year: "I would have to say that even my athletes agree as a group - Galen Rupp and Dathan Ritzenhein - we all know he (Alan Webb) is the most talented in the whole group. But of course, staying healthy is another necessary thing. But Alan is so talented and he really hasn't been gone that long and I believe the systematic approach that we are doing is going to pay off for him ..."
Webb's trip to New Zealand - where Webb was with Michigan Olympic silver medallist Nick Willis and coach Ron Warhurst - started the rumor mill that Webb would return to Warhurst as a coach. Clearly, Webb has not done that despite the trip down under and time with Willis and Warhurst. Ray Flynn's statement, along with our sources, indicate that Webb has not fully made up his mind yet even if he is talking to other coaches. Various sources have indicated to LetsRun.com that Webb has contemplated employing a wide number of top coaches across the globe, including Nic Bideau of Australia (formerly Craig Mottram's coach), James Li of Arizona (coach of Bernard Lagat) and Jason Vigilante of Virginia (Robby Andrews' coach and formerly the coach of Leo Manzano).