Paris Notebook: Merrit Cries Foul, Crawford Resumes Training, by Bob Ramsak, Notes by Larry Eder

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Respect. That is a word used sometimes in sports. World Champions, Olympic champions, the new hot athlete are treated better, in many cases than someone just coming on the circuit. Apparently, La Shawn Merritt is learning that lesson as he races around Europe, and is 2-2 with one of the most popular athletes on the circuit-Jeremy Wariner. Wariner beat him soundly in Paris, and Merritt did not seem to be complaining about Wariner but how he is being treated. Once he had the attention of the reporters, however, he went to generalities.

Our sport is about racing, competing. Athletes running in same meet but in different heats, same distance hurts the sport. Athletes who do not show up for assigned events not only hurt the sport, but should be penalized ( this is not about runners who get sick or injured). The sport is taking a nice ride now with the upcoming Olympics, and if the IAAF, IOC, USATF, meet directors, athletes managers and media do not take advantage of this opportunity, then we will have a pretty dismal 2010.

TRACK PROFILE Report #792
19-July-2008

MERRITT CRIES FOUL, CRAWFORD RESUMES TRAINING AND MORE - PARIS NOTEBOOK

By Bob Ramsak
(c) 2008 TRACK PROFILE Report, all rights reserved


PARIS – Scattered notes from last night’s 10th edition of the Meeting Gaz de France Paris Saint-Denis, the fourth stop on the six-meeting AF Golden League series.

- MERRITT CRIES FOUL, KIND OF

After his narrow defeat to Jeremy Wariner last weekend in Rome, U.S. 400m champion LaShawn Merritt shared some of his frustrations about how things apparently work off the track.

“I had no say in this race,” he said. “This race was set up.” He refused to elaborate. He echoed those frustrations again after his defeat to Wariner last night here in Paris, but again didn’t expand upon what exactly got him so miffed.

“Before this meet things were stated, saying how things were going to be. When I got here they changed. Why they changed, I don’t know.”

After his comments in Rome, the speculation was that Merritt wasn’t happy with his lane assignment. In Berlin last month, where he edged Wariner in a virtual slugfest over the final 40 meters, Merritt said he was given the option to choose his lane after Wariner selected his. There, Wariner was in four, Merritt in three. In both Rome and Paris, it was Wariner in four, and Merritt to his outside in five. But Merritt said his beef isn’t with the lane he ultimately runs in.

“The lane is not the issue,” he said. “But when you promise me something, don’t change it when I get here. Things changed that I didn’t agree with, that my parents didn’t agree with, that my coach and agent didn’t agree with. But I told them I’d run. It’s a race I needed before Beijing.”

His wasn’t speaking with a voice looking for excuses-- “ I’m not the kind of person who makes excuses,” he said --but more so with one of resignation.

“The sport is political. I was mistreated. I feel I didn’t get the respect I deserved. But I’m not going to cry about it.”

Again prodded for more specifics, Merritt decided against it, keeping his comments to a more general nature.

“The sport needs help,” he said. “A lot of things go on in this sport that people don’t know about. The sport is messed up a little bit. At the end of the day it’s a business. My mom always told me to come out, race and have fun. Over all I feel good. Come Bejing, I’m going to do what I need to do to get the gold.”

- WITH ONE MONTH TO GO, CRAWFORD RESUMES TRAINING

With a month to go before taking to the biggest stage the sport offers, how seriously are some athletes approaching their dates in Beijing? Different strokes for different folks, apparently.

“I haven’t trained since the trials,” said Shawn Crawford, who’ll be defending his 200m title in Beijing. “This was just like practice.” That assessment showed in the 100 where Crawford wasn’t remotely a factor, finishing well back in sixth clocking 10.33. But the real workout, he said, was most likely to continue immediately after the race.

“My coach will probably make me run 250s and 300s tonight. Just watch.”

Crawford’s pre-Beijing schedule includes outings next week in Stockholm and London.

- TRAMMELL TIPS HIS HAT TO ROBLES

Like myself, two-time Olympic silver medallist Terrence Trammell has had the pleasure of watching Dayron Robles run two sub-12.90 performances this season. Trammell of course was watching from the race itself, finishing a distant runner-up to the Cuban on both occasions, first at the Golden Spike Grand Prix in Ostrava, Czech Republic, where Robles lowered the world record to 12.87, and again last night when he came up just an inch or two short of matching that run, clocking 12.88.

“Hey, that man has run 12.8 twice this year, so, you’ve got to take your hat off to him. He’s really in the groove. He’s showing great consistency.”

But beyond sharing his admiration and respect, Trammell is hardly counting himself out on the eve of his third straight Olympic appearance. “I just got off the plane yesterday, and I’m feeling good. My goal is to be ready in a month. Everything right now doesn’t even matter. It’s all about being ready in a month.” Trammell too will have his final tune-up at Stockholm’s DN Galan on Tuesday night.

- BURNS ON BEIJING 100m

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Trinidad’s Marc Burns doesn’t necessarily consider world record holder Usain Bolt or reigning world champion Tyson Gay as the men to beat for the title of world’s fastest man. For that matter, nobody is a favorite in his book.

“It’s pretty open at this point in time,” Burns said shortly after his 100m victory last night, winning in a modest 10.14. “Everyone still has to come and prove his worth. No matter what they did in the season prior to coming to Beijing. That’s when being mentally strong comes into play.”

Referring indirectly to Gay and former world record holder Asafa Powell, who have both been slowed by minor injuries in recent weeks, Burns added, “An injury right now, to any athlete, is detrimental.”

ENDS

Used with permission of Bob Ramsak, TrackProfile.com

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