June 20, 2015
Eugene, OR-Friday afternoon the Oregon Track Club’s Charles Jock (800), Ben Blankenship (1500), Hassan Mead (5k/10k) and their coach Mark Rowland discussed their preparations for next weeks USA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon. They also talked about the biggest news story in track and field right now the Nike Oregon Project doping investigation.
First, the doping investigation. Hassan Mead and Jock both said they have not been following it too closely as their focus is on getting ready for USAs.
Coach Mark Rowland said, “We’re all sitting back and waiting to see what happens next. It’s up to the authorities to investigate and Alberto to defend himself and appropriate actions will be taken with other people. We (the Oregon Track Club) are a different team, we get on with our own thing. We’re focused on what we need to do and we’re here to compete and do the best of our ability to try and get on the team for the World Championships.”
Video of Hassan, Jock, and Rowland talking NOP doping investigation below:
Speaking of the World Championships, Mead, Blankenship and Jock are all strong contenders for Worlds spots in their events. It will be a few nerve wracking days for their coach as they try and make the team for Beijing.
Charles Jock: The Student of the Sport Is Going for the Win and Admits He Had Never Heard of Boris Berian Until This Year
The 800 may be the most nerve wracking event for a coach as there are 3 rounds and not making the final is always a possibility, even for a favorite. Charles Jock knows the 800 is wide open this year with US superstars Nick Symmonds (coming back from injury) and Duane Solomon (hasn’t finished an 800 this year) not their old selves yet.
The student of the sport, Jock, is still leery of Symmonds and Solomon saying, “They still do have the experience. You can never count them out, they are always there. You go back a few years and everyone was like ‘Khadevis (Robinson) is done and then he comes back and make a couple of Worlds teams and an Olympic team’.”
Jock, in his second year with the Oregon Track Club, said of USAs, “You’ve got to really get out there and compete and make sure you’re not scared to make the moves and do what you’ve got to do when it comes time.”
Jock then admitted just like LetsRun.com, he had never heard of the newest US 800m star, 1:43 man Boris Berian until this year, “No, I didn’t know his name.”
Whether Borian, Symmonds or Solomon is in the field, Jock’s goal is the same, “I’m not going out there to get second or third, I’m always trying to win.”
Interview with Jock:
Ben Blankenship Talks about Why None of the US 1500m Guys Want to Take the Pace
No one has been a bigger surprise than Ben Blankenship this year. After a strong indoor campaign, he has anchored the US to gold at the World Relays and won the International Mile at the Pre Classic. Blankenship knows USAs will come down to the kick.
He wouldn’t reveal his strategy for USAs, but did talk about why guys even with bad kicks let USAs become sit and kick races. He said there are 2 reasons so many championship races are sit and kick, “(One reason is) I think everybody wants to be in the spotlight just that much longer and the other answer is I think the US is very deep. There are a lot of guys who don’t want to sacrifice themselves or their chance to make the team . Who wants to lead for 2 laps or 3 laps and get outkicked and get seventh? That doesn’t sound like too much fun. I think a lot of people have confidence in their abilities.”
Ben also was asked why he was doing better in 2015. He gave a few reasons and talked about consistency and then coach Rowland whispered under his breath “great coaching” and Ben said, “great coaching” as Rowland and Ben both chuckled, showing a little of their coach-athlete bond.
Video with Blankenship:
Hassan will first try and make the team in the 10,000 vs Galen Rupp, but he acknowledged, “As for now the 5k is more fun (than the 10).” If he doesn’t make it in the 10k, the 5k is later in the meet.
Video of Hassan’s comments:
Mark Rowland Talks US Depth vs Great Britain, Tactics: “Everybody now with the depth and the standard being so good, these guys aren’t stupid, everybody wants to be in the same place at the right time and it is who can force that at that key moment”
Coach Mark Rowland might have had the most interesting comments as he talked about the “phenomenally strong” depth in the US from the 800 on up and how that makes the race tactics that much more important in the mid distances. On tactics he said, “It’s clearly important. Everybody now with the depth and the standard being so good, these guys aren’t stupid, everybody wants to be in the same place at the right time and it is who can force that at that key moment (that wins). We’re being a little bit evasive with tactics too…we’re not going to start telling everyone our strategies…I’m not interested in the semifinal or the final. They need to focus 100% on the heat and qualify first.”
Rowland on Mo Aman Being in the Group: “It’s not so much the 2 hours we see them but the 22 that we don’t.”
Rowland was asked what it was like having a World Class 800 star like Mo Aman in his group this year. He said having a global star is super important especially since the group lost Nick Symmonds last year. Rowland said, “Having a world class athlete is vital when you are trying to get people to convert onto the world stage. It’s no allusion we (had) Nick Symmonds who graduated to the World Championships and then went to a different shoe company and left, so we have a little bit of a void there…”
Aman was brought to the group “to help develop the American athletes, it’s not so much the training like was said, it’s the lifestyle that some of these guys breed, it’s around the edges, which is fundamentally more important. It’s not so much the 2 hours we see them but the 22 that we don’t. So that has to be improved and they need to regard themselves better and become more professional.”
11 minutes of Rowland’s comments below: