Tim Layden on Andrew Wheating, courtesy of S.I., notes by Larry Eder

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Okay, I know, SI cover, with of all things, football on the cover! But, hey, Tim Layden, one of our favorite writers, did a missive on Andrew Wheating, for which, you need to buy SI Sept 20. The story is called, "Off to a Blazing Start!"

To get the observations that were edited out of the piece, Tim did the following blog,  which are even more fascinating, check out
 
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/tim_layden/09/16/wheating.feature/.

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   Kaki, Wheating, AVIVA London GP, photo by PhotoRun.net



Wheating is even more of a near deity that I thought! Layden gives
the reader a picture of a tall, well adjusted young man who is a RACER! From his five minute mile in conditioning as a junior in high school, and his soccer coach cajoling Andrew to run cross country,
one can see, through Layden's words, that Andrew Wheating is a distance prodigy.


Vinn Lannana, Wheatings' coach and mentor, related (in the link above) a workout before Andrew headed to Europe: 400-400-300, run in 50, 50.2, 36 point. " I knew he would do well in Europe."  Wow.

I met Andrew and interviewed him at the Nike Pre. A likable young man, the guy just loves to compete, he has Steve Ovetts' racing skills and Sebastian Coe's speed. Wheating came out of high school with a 3:54 pb for the 1,500, about a 4:10.5 for the mile. So, pretty good stuff, but then Jeff Johnson, the man who gave Phil Knight the Nike name, and a tremendous coach himself, got Lannana to check out Wheating in 2006 and all is history.

In 2008, at the Trials, I was catching up with Vinn, and asked him about Wheating, wondering when he would move up to the 1,500 meters. Vinn just laughed a bit, and noted, "when he is ready."

Well, 1:44.65, 3:51.7, and 3:30.90 for Andy's Excellent European Vacation, and now, resting up for 2011.

How good is Andrew Wheating? The guy can run you down with a slow early pace, and can accelerate off a fast pace. Ignore the times, win races, get a few medals for the bureau. Wheating has the tools to race globally at 800 meters to 1,500 meters. Next summer, between Wheating and Symmonds the AR of 1:42.60 is gone. But, with Wheating, Manzano, Lomong and a returning Webb, a fascinating 1,500 m team.

The problem for American distance and middle distance runners in the past has been, a lack of racing experience against the big boys, and girls, a training regimen that did not have them ready to roll when the champs or big meets come, and the lack of an innate understanding of racing.

1976 Olympic gold medalist John Walker once said, that in the Olympic final, time means nothing, it is who gets across the line first. In 1992, a racing savvy Spaniard, Fermin Cacho, ran a 50.5 last lap from a near dead stop and was able to hold Morcelli off, and take the gold for the 1,500 meters.

For a competitor to win in the talent laden World and Olympic champs, first, one has to get into the final, something many in the US forgot in the 90s. Then, one had to have enough in the tank to race, and if one was a half lap behind, a killer kick meant nothing. Wheating has the aerobic capacity, the leg speed, but most of all, the desire. Andrew Wheating WANTS to win, he likes to win, and he is pretty comfortable with that!

I have always been amazed with the athletes Vinn Lannana and his team develop. Andrew Wheating is going to be one of the great ones. It sure will be fun watching him race in 2011.  

Special thanks to Tim Layden for his masterful piece and sure hope the editor of SI realizes that people actually read track and road running pieces, especially by Tim!

Special thanks to SI for the cover of the September 20 issue and the heads up on Tim Layden's article! 


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