February 18, 2016
NEW YORK — The pre-meet press conference for the 2016 NYRR Millrose Games was held at the Park Central Hotel in Manhattan today. Below we share with you some of the most interesting tidbits of information we learned from Nick Willis, Matthew Centrowitz, Shannon Rowbury, Molly Huddle, Allyson Felix, Andre De Grasse, Natasha Hastings, Brianne Theisen-Eaton and Ashton Eaton.
Since the men’s Wanamaker Mile is annually one of the highlights of the meet, the two men’s milers at the press event got their own articles.
*Good News: Nick Willis Thinks Most Elite Runner are Above Board – Bad News: He Thinks A High Percentage of The Top Performers Are Dirty
*Matthew Centrowitz reveals his celebrity crush – “Sloan from Entourage. That’s my type right there. That’s my girl. Brunette bombshell, she’s got the whole thing – face, boobs, butt – freaking everything”
Shannon Rowbury – Rowbury Most Definitely Thinks She Can Break The American Mile Record
The American record attempt for the 31-year-old Rowbury is most definitely on. Rowbury told us that she wants drug cheat Mary Slaney‘s 4:20.5 American indoor record that has stood since 1982. In fact, Rowbury said up until last night she’d been eyeing the world record of 4:17.72 as her goal if everything went perfectly. (The world record was lowered to 4:13.31 yesterday)
Rowbury said she’s feeling good about things and while she didn’t open as fast as she did last year (4:26 versus 4:22), she said “that’s sort of on purpose” as she’s been in a heavy training period as she wants to be running well in March when U.S. and World Indoors take place.
Rowbury said that Genzebe Dibaba‘s shattering of the WR yesterday with her 4:13.31 clocking didn’t really impact her mindset. “I still have big goals for myself this year,” said Rowbury, who called Saturday’s race “an important stop along the way.”
Rowbury said the rabbit hopes to take it at least 800 and hopefully 1k at a 2:08 800 pace.
Talk about Rowbury’s interview on our fan forum: Until last night, Shannon Rowbury was hoping for World Record in mile at Millrose. Will she break Mary Slaney’s AR?
Molly Huddle – Huddle Isn’t Ruling Out The American Record But Admits It’s A Tall Order
When the 31-year-old committed to the 5000 at Millrose, it was hyped as an American record attempt. Huddle didn’t rule out the Shalane Flanagan‘s 14:47.62 American record but admitted it’s far from a foregone conclusion.
“It’s something I’d love to have. It’s one of those things where if the stars align, I hope for it but it’s a tall order for the first race,” said Huddle, who said she’s always been dragged to her fastest times (her outdoor pb is 14:42.64).
Huddle hasn’t raced indoors since 2014, but the fact that the race is indoors didn’t seem to concern Huddle, who indicated running a 5000 indoors may be easier than doing it outdoors as there are more splits and “you can get into a zone and click [fast laps] off [200 meters at a time].”
Huddle said she’s looking for a similar buildup in 2016 as to what she had in 2015. She said she thought focusing on March’s United Airlines NYC Half Marathon (Huddle won the race) really helped her as she thought the strength work needed for that race benefitted her all the way through August. Speaking of road racing, Huddle said she was “really inspired by watching” the US Olympic Marathon trials on Saturday. She said watching some of the runners wilt in the heat made her a”little afraid” of the marathon, but she admitted she was also “intrigued.” Like many other pros, Huddle said watching Meb Keflezighi finish always makes her tear up as he’s so inspirational (The Best Moment At Olympic Trials Press Conference – Meb Brought To Tears By Galen Rupp, Amy Cragg, Jared Ward And Desi Linden).
Andre De Grasse – De Grasse Is Ready For His Pro Debut For Puma
The NCAA 100m and 200m champ will be making his pro debut for Puma on Saturday in the men’s 60. De Grasse said the transition from the amateur to the pro ranks and his move from Southern California has “been going well.”
As for his expectations for Saturday’s race, De Grasse, who considers his best event to be the 200, said the following.
“I’m not going to lie to you. [The 60 is] not a strong event for me,” said De Grasse, who was DQ’d in the 60m indoors last year at NCAAs and only has a 6.60 pb (6.52 won NCAAs). That being said, De Grasse said he thinks he’ll do better than he did last year indoors as he’s been working on his start and the transition phase.
As for expectations, De Grasse said he doesn’t want to put any on himself as it’s his first race of the year. “I”m just going to go out here and have some fun like I always did.”
In a one-on-one interview with LetsRun.com, we asked De Grasse about whether he’s had any interactions with his rival but fellow Puma athlete Usain Bolt. He said they did a commercial shoot for Puma in Jamaica together and that they joked around together. One thing is clear from talking to De Grasse: the world may view Usain Bolt as unbeatable but Andre De Grasse doesn’t.
Allyson Felix – Felix Admits She Doesn’t Have Vivid Memories of Michael Johnson’s 200/400 Double
The 200- and 400-meter star hasn’t competed at the Armory since she was in high school in 2002. The Californian is making her second and final indoor appearance of the year (no U.S. or World Indoors) as she wants to break up the monotony of training.
“It’s good to be back. I don’t run much indoors,” said Felix. “I’m definitely in a heavy training period, but it’s nice to break that up. I’m always looking to improve my start but for me it’s just breaking up training.”
Since Felix will attempt the 200/400 double at the 2016 Olympics (assuming she qualifies in each event), we asked the 30-year-old Felix if she was old enough to vividly remember the 200/400 double of Michael Johnson at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and how it was one of those Olympics’ signature moments.
“I won’t say I remember it vividly. I got into the sport late. Of course, I know what a huge moment that was for him. To me, it’s just an amazing opportunity to go to the Trial to try to make the team,” said Felix.
Felix consistently refused to think beyond the US Olympic Trials. When asked by a reporter what her thoughts were on the Zika virus and if she had any fears of competing in Rio, Felix replied. “My mind is on making the team. I’m not getting ahead of myself.”
Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton
In case you forgot, last year, after he finished his hurdles race, decathlon star Ashton Eaton flew over a 10-foot wall and survived unhurt.
You guys… NBD. pic.twitter.com/3JpHYdv8D0
— Ashton Eaton (@AshtonJEaton) February 15, 2015
Eaton reflected on that moment today, “I think I was really lucky to be physically ok after that,” said Eaton. “This year I’ll be a little more careful for sure.”
In terms of his performance, Eaton said he was “kind of disappointed” with his performances at the Camel City Elite meet and went back and hit his training hard. He said he was encouraged with his performance in Boston last week and “thinks he’s getting a little bit quicker.”
When asked if any of the fame associated with being the “World’s Greatest Athlete” had gotten to Eaton, Brianne said it most definitely had not.
“I often explain him as a four-year-old kid,” said Brianne. “He gets really excited about stuff. He got a paper shredder on his birthday and his face was like he got the coolest toy ever. He’s almost naive in a way.”
We asked Brianne if she felt underappreciated as an athlete as after all she is a two-time Worlds silver medallist, not just “Ashton Eaton’s wife who also is a pro track athlete.” Brianne said she used to be, not anymore.
“In college, I definitely felt overshadowed a little bit,” said Brianne as “[Ashton] was always one year and ahead and doing one thing better.” Both Eatons won NCAAs for the first time as sophomores but by the time Brianne did it, Ashton had already done it the year before. Now as pro athletes, Brianne said she feels like she’s her “own person,” a feeling that is helped by the fact that she and Ashton compete for different countries.
Natasha Hastings Is Excited To See What She Can Do After Setting American Record Last Week in Boston
Hastings, who beat Allyson Felix‘s US 300-meter record of 36.33 last week by running 36.25 at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, said she’s excited to run the full 400 this week.
“I’m excited coming off of a big race last week. I went into that race with no expectations. To look up at the clock and see how fast it was, I was pretty surprised,” said Hastings, who can remember running on the Armory track before it was banked as she first competed there at age nine (she’s 29 now).
When asked to make a prediction for her 400 time, Hastings said she wants to focus on “execution’ and not the “outcome.”
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