by: Weldon Johnson, LetsRun.com
May 23, 2014
The pre race press conference for World Relays was today. Yohan Blake, Sanya Richards Ross, Wallace Spearmon, Leo Manzano, and Morgan Uceny were amongst the athletes.
A few quick takeaways.
1) Leo Manzano is anchoring the US 4×1500 team.
Leo said he is anchoring and Pat Casey is leading off. I believe Leo told me Will Leer was second and David Torrence third, but whatever the 2-3 order was, he said that could switch.
2) Wallace Spearmon Had the Best Line “We’re from the US and we never race for second.”
Veteran Wallace Spearmon loves these championships as the 200 specialist has a 4×200 to run. He was asked about the Jamaican challenge and had the best line. “They have a lot of speed, but we’re from the US and we never race for second.” The rest of the US team at the press conference picked up on that line.
3) Watch the handoffs in the 4×200.
The 4×200 is almost never run. Yohan Blake said this is his first 4×200 ever. Ato Boldon led the media Q&A with the athletes and noted the speed of the runners in the 4×200 is very different when they approach the handoffs.
4) The 4×1500 will be bizarre
It was pointed out the runners in the 4×1500 will all be starting from different 100m points on the track and running 3 3/4 laps. For example the first to second hand off will be on the curve 100m from the finish. Very strange if you think about it. Morgan Uceny said the US team practiced 4×1500 handoffs because of that reason.
5) “I’m not the man willing to have men and women competing together”
The World Relays are a new concept and demonstrate the IAAF being willing to try something new. An idea that has gotten some buzz with the press is mixed gender relays. How about a co-ed 4×100? Forget about seeing it under the tenure of IAAF President Lamine Diack who is in power for one more year. He said, “I’m not the man willing to have men and women competing together. That will not be me as president.”
6) College Guys Appreciate What You Have
Running on a team is something the distance pros rarely get to do. Sure they are part of Team USA at the Olympics and Worlds but when they compete it is as an individual and they only determine their own result. Not here at World Relays and Leo Manzano is excited to have the team aspect back. He said, “It’s quite exciting to be on a team to really feel a part of a team. The last time I really had that team feel… (where) these are the guys I’m going to breath and almost die with on the track was in college…. I’m excited to be out there and compete with the guys and to just lay it down on the line.”
7) Christian Taylor Likes the 400 Better Than the Long Jump
World and Olympic triple jump champ Christian Taylor has made news by running 45.17 for 400 this year. He’s on the 4×400 team here. He said he does not view the 400 as a distraction from his triple jump. He pointed out that in college at Florida he ran the 4×400 quite often and won Worlds for the first time in 2011 when he was training for the 400. Adding the 400 again this year was an attempt to bring back the fun of the sport. He said he actually enjoys the 400 more than the long jump.
8) The Bahamas are pumped for this event
The World Relays are a big event for the Bahamas. The Bahamas aren’t on a lot of people’s global radar.
(Americans put it on your radar. It’s just a 45 minute flight from Miami. The people are really super friendly. The dollar is accepted. They do drive on the left. Seriously book your tickets for next year).
The Bahamian government guaranteed the $1.4 million in prize money for the event. A relay event is perfect for the Bahamas considering their relay success. There are only 370,000 people in the Bahamas, yet the Bahamas won men’s 4×400 Olympic gold in 2012 and the Golden Girls won the 4×100 gold in 2000. That’s two golds for a country smaller than Wichita, Kansas.
Mike Sands, the head of the Bahamas Athletic Association, was asked about the buzz surrounding the event and whether the buzz would be there if there was a 4 x 10,000 relay. He said, “Even if we had the 10,000 it would be filled” noting the global nature of the event. He also said, “In this region you had better appreciate what our product is.” The product in the Bahamas is the sprints. I’m looking forward to watching that product this weekend.