Changing Coaches: Alan Webb Moves on, by Larry Eder

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Alan Webb has been the "next great miler " in American circles since his fine performances at the NSSF as a sophomore in high school. As a senior, when he ran his 3:53:43 (2001) at the Nike Pre Classic, Alan Webb was bigger than life. A year later, when Alan choose to go professional, and leave the University of Michigan, five major brands made strong offers to put Alan Webb in their shoes. Alan Webb signed a contract with Nike.

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Alan Webb, June 2009, U.S. Champs, 1,500 meter qualifying, photo courtesy of PhotoRun.net.

Alan Webb is an enormously talented athlete. He has run 1:43 for 800 meters, 3:46.91 for the mile (breaking Steve Scott's long standing record in 2007), and well over 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters. In 2007, Alan looked poised to do well at the Worlds, and due to a slight injury, and even though he was well positioned until the last 70 meters, Alan could not gain that global medal.In 2008, Alan Webb did not make the US Olympic team and his former college team mate, Nick Willis, from New Zealand, took the bronze medal in Beijing. In 2009, Alan Webb had to withdraw from the 1,500 m final at the US championships, with an achilles injury.

Now, Alan, per a story in the USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/2009-08-06-webb-coaching-change_N.htm, has decided to make some changes in his life. He is changing coaches, having worked with Scott Raczko for a decade, Alan will be moving to Portland, Oregon and training with Alberto Salazar's Oregon project.

Alberto Salazar has two groups, one with Kara & Adam Goucher, Amy Yoder Begley, Josh Rohatinsky, Tim Nelson, and now, Dathan Ritzenhein & Galen Rupp. A second, under the watchful eyes of Jerry Schumacher, former Badger coach, has Matt Tegenkamp, Chris Solinsky, Evan Jager and now Shalane Flanagan.

At the US champs this year, Galen Rupp was first, Dathan Ritzenhein was second and Tim Nelson was third in the 10,000 meters for men. On the women's side, Amy Yoder Begley won over Shalane Flanagan in the women's 10,000 meters. In the 5,000 meters for men, it was Matt Tegankamp, Chris Solinsky and Evan Jager. On the women's side, it was Kara Goucher. So, 9 of 16 possible places in the 5k/10k were Oregon Project vets or newbies. Alberto Salazar's professed goal is to help bring American distance running back to a true world competitive level. He is doing that, one athlete at a time...

Changing coaches is a very difficult decision. Alan Webb needed to make sure that there are no ifs' in his future-if he had only done this, or done that. A young man, with a lot of potential, Alan Webb needs to see if he can fine tune his talents to make it to the global medal podium. There are many people out there who feel he can, including former AR Steve Scott, the most prolific sub four minute miler of all times.

We wish Alan Webb the very best in his future. We salute Scott Raczko for his decade of dedication to his athlete and we are intrigued by the focus that Alberto Salazar and his team brings to the table.

For more on the sport, please click on http://www.american-trackandfield.com

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