Kerron Clement burst on the scene less than four years ago with his indoor world record at 400 meters. His first season as a professional was a stunner, with his world leader over 400 meter hurdles. Which event is Clement better at?
For now, the 400 meter hurdles. The 400 meter intermediate hurdles is a sadists' race. First, the most fit human can run all out for about 300 meters before the lactate acid takes over and the fastest human is left at a crawl. For the four hundred meters, the race truly starts at 300 meters.
Now, in the 400 meter intermediate hurdles, add barriers to that zap your strength, take your focus, so that by the final straightaway, it is the person with the most guts, and also the person who somehow gets over the hurdles at the end of the race.
Clement was on in Osaka, his world championship winning gold medal race was inspiring. He will need that type of race to win in Beijing. He has the raw talent, he needs the ability to make it over the last two barriers and sprint like mad to the finish. That will be the challenge for Kerron Clement in Beijing.
Olympic Q & A: Kerron Clement
Reigning World Outdoor 400-meter hurdles champion Kerron Clement is in Dalian, China for Team USA training camp as he prepares to compete at the Olympic Games. The 2008 Olympic Trials runner-up, Clement recently spoke to the media. Below are excerpts of the conversation. For a full bio of Clement and all Team USA track & field athletes, visit http://www.usatf.org/events/2008/OlympicGames/roster.asp.
Q: What do the Games mean to you?
A: It means a lot. Especially getting the gold medal. That would be a great accomplishment.
Q: Do you have a sense of being in China and how important it is to everybody here? Did you get a look at the village?
A: Yeah, I have. I saw the Bird's nest, it was really very nice. I saw some other arenas. I'm not trying to let the Olympics overwhelm me too much. I know it would be a distraction. I'm just trying to stay low key and relax.
Q: Not winning the Olympic Trials but having the world leader, are you the favorite, the marked man?
A: Of course. Even though I didn't win Trials, I am still a marked man because defending world champion in the hurdles. Everybody is coming for me. Last year I place second in the Trials as well, to James Carter, and I won the World Championships. So second place doesn't really matter in the Trials. What matters it the Olympic Games and what happens there.
Q: How did you get into the 400-meter hurdles? Was it a choice for you between the 400 and the 400m hurdles?
A: No, not really. When I was in high school I started off with the 300m hurdles. And I just stuck with it through high school and college. The hurdles is like an art. You have to learn different aspects of it and that is why I like it today.
Q: Has Bob Kersee been able to help you work out your steps so that you are thirteen all the way around?
A: I'm very confident that I am thirteen strides all the way around. I've been doing it since the season started. In Jamaica at my first meet, I ran 47.7 thirteen strides all the way. I'm just very confident this year going thirteen strides through ten hurdles. And I want to do that in the Olympics as well.
Q: Bob (Kersee) has gotten a lot out of athletes. What has he meant to you?
A: To me it is an honor to work with him. He's coached a lot of Olympians and gold medalists. I started working with him in November 2007. And I'm just really happy to be a part of the team. I'm feeling pretty well and just really excited that I'm running fast.
Q: Did you think it was risky to switch coaches coming into an Olympic year?
A: It was kind of risky, but that's the chance you have to take. To excel in athletics, you have to take chances.
Q: I know Bob has broken down your race from the Trials. Was Bershawn (Jackson) just better that day?
A: I don't, hmm. The plan was to train through the Trials to peak at the Olympics. That was the plan, to peak at the right time. But, ok Bershawn beat me at the Trials. That's cool.
Q: Do you think you have the speed to run the 400?
A: Definitely. I know once I focus on the 400, I will be able to run in the 43 second range. There's no doubt about it. Once I focus on the 400 alone I think I can do that.
Q: Do you think an American sweep in this event is possible?
A: It is a good possibility, once everybody is healthy. I know I'm running fast, me and Bershawn. I haven't seen Angelo yet. But it is definitely a possibility. I have confidence in it.
Q: Do you see one day owning the world record?
A: I can see that. It's going to come when it comes. You have to be patient. I know it will come in time.
Interview courtesy USATF Communications Dept.
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