World Champs, Day 7, Interview with Alan Webb


The Men's 1,500 meters was a classic race. Hitting the 400 meters in 58 seconds, the 800 in 1:58 and the 1200 in 2:55, the last 800 meters was run in 1:51-by the top 8 and the difference between first and tenth was 1.2 seconds!

Bernad Lagat timed his charge perfectly and took the gold going away! His teammate, Alan Webb, was there at 1,410 meters, but could not find the final gear needed like he had at the AT&T champs and Gaz de France. Webb finished eighth and was devastated.

The next afternoon, Alan gave four media a straight and honest interview that showed a student of the sport, a young man who is retrospective and a middle distance runner who has seen the quality of the World Championships middle distance finals. In an interview that is brutally honest, Webb shows that he
understands the challenges that face him.

Day Seven,
August 31, 2007

Interview with Alan Webb, US champion,
eighth in World Champs 1,500

Wednesday night was a tough night for Alan Webb. Running from the front,
staying out of trouble, Webb was poised throughout the race. But, when the last 80 meters came, and Lagat took off for the win, Webb did not have the next gear. Even so, second through eighth ran under 54 seconds for that last lap-.81 separated the top eight guys. Alan Webb was very emotional on Wednesday night. He admitted he was definitely upset. On Thursday morning, Webb showed much class and
gave several of the track geek media a nice interview, here is some of the interview:

How did you feel after the race?

Webb: The emotions were intense. I felt that this was first time, that I had a legitimate chance to be up front, and to win. That is my ultomate goal, to win World Championships title.

Tell us about the race?

Webb: Looking back on it, I felt I ran very well tactically. Physically, I was not quite there, for a few different reasons, but it all sums, up, to (laughs), it just was not my day, as hard as I wanted it. I am confident to know that Olympics is only a year away, Berlin is two years away..a little easier to swallow that Beijing is one year away.

There are probably 15 or 20 decisions to make during a 1,500 meters, for you,
how did the race feel?

Webb: I really thought I was, coming through in 2:55, compared to 2:53 at U.S. champs, I did not feel bad. Not like I was redlining, but at a world champs, you need to be fresh as a daisy, you can not mess around with the big boys, who were licking their chops with 400 to go.

Webb:This race was really a 4 and a half kilometer race. I think it goes on beyond that. All Champs, four two hundreds in four days! That can not be that easy, different energy system, but it has got to be very hard. Changes the dynamic, different kind of runner who can make it through rounds and do well, it actually favors a strength runner, it is good for me. In moment, you hate it, but finals are you goal.

Webb: You can not do it until you have made the final. The whole trip and everything going into this, my training was not perfectly, wasnt that, was not perfect. NO major setbacks this year, pieces, little things, a little chunk here. the trip over here another chip off my thing, because of that, I did not feel as confident in my semi finals, a chip of a second here, a tenth there. 1.2 seconds seperates the first ten. I drop from first to eighth in less than two seconds.

Webb: I was not bothered by heat, I was really not that concerned, East coast man, it was more humid, but not that foreign to me.

Have you spoken to Bernard Lagat?

Webb: I talked to Bernard this morning. He was the guy, he timed his season, his race last night perfect for him. I had done well, up until a few weeks ago, I am so happy for him. It is a good lesson for me, Bernard is 32, and he is just win his first championship, his first gold medal, I do not want to wait nine years, it will be just another day, I will keep going.

Webb: I am flattered that Bernard said last night that I would win Beijing. I will have to run through him ot get it. It does not bother me. But I will have to learn lessons from this yesterday.

Webb: Bernard showed patience in his career, in his race. Championship racing, it takes balance between aggressiveness and patience. You do not want to waste energy, and do useless work.

Webb: In reviewing the race, i would not have changed anything for the first 1410 meters, but after that...I model myself after Hicham El Guerrouj, in practice, I am definitely not there yet, I am getting there.

Tell us about the American record for the mile?

Webb: That was awesome, it was a lifetime goal of mine. All were great, the 1,500 meters, two great 800 meters, the mile. Going better than I thought I would. Then at last race, I tweaked my hamstring, had to take a week to smooth things out. SSHHHH (laugh). I had a month until Osaka, for the most part, it improved.

Webb: The European season was awesome, why I was so upset, I had proved myself, that I am at another level, that I do deserve to be at the front of those races. I know I could do better than that. That was reason why I did so well.

What is the rest of your season like?

Webb: I am scheduled to run in Zurich and Brussel, both 1,500 meters.

Tell us about your last 400 meters in the mile record?

Webb: At that point, I thought I had it in the bag, man. I did not feel great, coming through in 2:49, you are hurting. The discomfort is where you gas is. I knew that I was not going to slow down dramatically, I think it is going to happen, stayed at that same place, I was going hard as I could, then I had 150 meters to go, then I crossed the line, felt so happy.

Webb: Last night, we were under the lights, lots of money went to set up the World Champs to look good. The stands were full, we were in new crisp USA uniforms, all dolled up ready to go. When, in fact, you could have chalked a line in a parking lot, lined us all up and said, this is the World Championships. The best thing about my mile record was that we set it up and it happened. And I knew I could run well, I will just have to wait for awhile (laughs).

My take on this race was that Webb ran his best. As a member of the media, but also a former coach and athlete, I have come to appreciate the difference between
dreams, goals and reality.

The World Championships in track and field are like no other sporting event in the world, even the Olympics. The IAAF has created a monster, that needs to be fed, that is a good monster. This setting brings out the best in athletes from 212 countries and provinces and there are upset, there are huge successes and huge disappointments.

Alan Webb ran a race much like he race at the U.S. Champs. Without the infection he had ( he was on anti biotics before the rounds), without the small hamstring injury, would Webb have had the final gear he needed?

Conjecture is useless. The late Kurt Vonnegut, one of the seminal writers of the last half of the twentieth century summed up the feeling of frustration, the feeling of helplessness, the feeling of pain in dealing with things that just were not meant to be--So it goes.

In Alan Webb's case, the first 1,410 meters of the race he ran with precision, savvy and he positioned himself exactly where he needed to be. The final gear could have put him in a dual with Bernard, but it was not to be. The gear was not there. To be in the top eight in the world, Webb still ran a 54 second lap and that was his sub par performance.

Bernard Lagat, all of 32, ran the race best for him, and when he went, with 80 meters to go, there was another gear, and probably one after that. Alan Webb will learn from Bernard Lagat, and he should win World Champ medals in the future, it just will not be in 2007. So it goes....

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