Alan Webb surprised more than a few people with his two wins over Bernard Lagat this early summer, the first in the Reebok NY Games and secondly, at the AT&T Outdoor championships! Just what is going on? In this column, your writer proposes that Alan Webb is becoming the best miler in America!
The mile at the Reebok Grand Prix was tightly contested. Bernard Lagat, Craig Mottram, Alan Webb, Chris Lukesic, Rob Myers and company went through 57.2, 1:55.6, and 2:57 at the 1,100 meters. It was Craig Mottram who made the first move, trying to get by Webb, who was in second, and Lagat, who was leading. Webb held off Mottram and came up next to Lagat, waiting until they reached the end of the last turn. Then, Webb pulled a kick out of his proverbial backside and kicked his way to victory, in 3:52.98, with Bernard back one second and Craig one more. A tough race, with some of the toughest competitors and Webb did not falter.
Webb had a tough time at the two mile at Prefontaine, but was ready for the AT& T outdoor. In the first round, Webb ran with less than the confidence he showed in New York less than three weeks ago.
When the final came, Alan Webb was ready. The pace was honest, with a 57 second first quarter, and the half in 1:56. Webb had lead the first two laps, and then Lagat took over, with Webb right on his shoulder. Probably the best positioned runner for the day was Chris Lukesic. As Webb, Lukesic, Montero and Lagat moved around the last turn, Webb went for broke, running into first place. Lukesic looked ready to take it all, until 80 yards to go and it was over, he could not go forward. Leonel Montero from Texas ran wide and passed Lukesic and Lagat to take second to Webb’s first place rush to the line. As they crossed the line, it was Webb, Montero, Lagat, Lukesic.
Alan Webb ran probably his most mature race at the AT&T outdoor championships, where he handled leading early, caught his breath and had enough to kick a hard 300 final meters, holding off Montero, Lagat and Lukesic. Running a fine 3:34.85, Webb celebrated as he won this hard won national championship.
What can Alan Webb do? This writer thinks that he will have the 1,500 and mile records before the summer is over for the U.S. What will he do in Osaka? If Alan Webb runs his race, where there is a tough pace and a long, long kick, Webb can medal, heck, Alan Webb should win the whole thing! But, before we crown him though, Webb needs to continue to add to his middle distance vocabulary, by racing 800’s, 1,500’s with different tactics and different runners from around the world. Webb knows he can be a great runner, he just has to be patient to become numero uno!
Editor’s Note: On July 3, in Malmo, Sweden, Alan Webb took second in the 800 meters, running a fine 1:45.80, a personal best by three tenths of a second. His finish was excellent, for more on this event, click on http://www.iaaf.org/news/Kind=2/newsId=39379.html. Alan Webb is scheduled to run the 1,500 meters at Gaz de France in St. Denis, France ( near Paris) on July 5, 2007.
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