Wariner Speaks: " I wanted to come out here and make a statement," by Bob Ramsak, Track Profile, Notes by Larry Eder


Jeremy Wariner has let his feet do the talking this past few weeks. On June 1, Jeremy Wariner went step for step with La Shawn Merritt in Berlin and lost to Wariner, 44.03 to 44.07. His July 3 defeat at the US Olympic Trials was a low point. Wariner just did not seem to click in that race, where he came off the final turn even with Merritt and started to falter forty meters out, with Merritt taking the win. Wariner was obviously upset as his agent, Michael Johnson gave him his silver medal at the Trials. That loss may have been the best thing to happen to Wariner this year.

Then something happened. Perhaps a talk with Micheal Johnson, the only person in the world who could know what Wariner is going through, made the difference. Perhaps catching up on workouts and focusing on the task at hand. There is one fact, since the Trials, Wariner has been on a roll. Last week, in Rome, Wariner won by a few steps over La Shawn Merritt. Wariner was working out the kinks in his racing and getting back a little confidence.

In Gaz de France, Wariner and Merritt met again, with the nod going to Wariner. In his best executed race of the year, Jeremy Wariner dominated this race and the time showed, as Wariner ran 43.86, the fastest time of the year. La Shawn Merritt was in second in 44.35.

What a difference two weeks make...



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

PARIS -- By every measure, Jeremy Wariner was quite pleased with his dominating 43.86 performance in the 400m, one of the premiere highlights of the 10th edition of the Meeting Gaz de France Paris Saint-Denis - ÅF Golden League.

“I’m happy with my race and I executed the way I wanted to,” the Olympic and twice World champion said after knocking a hefty 0.23 seconds from his previous world-pacing mark set in Oslo’s ExxonMobil Bislett Games six weeks ago. “I wanted to come out here and make a statement today.”

He wasn’t directly referring to his growing rivalry with compatriot LaShawn Merritt, but the meaning of his remark could hardly have been construed otherwise. Merritt, the U.S trials champion, who inflicted high profile back-to-back defeats on Wariner this season, was well-beaten second this time around, finishing well back in 44.35.

“I ran a whole lot better here than I did in Rome,” Wariner said, referring to his narrow 0.01 second victory in the Italian capital a week ago, in 44.36. “I just felt great today. Everything was flowing. And I couldn’t ask for anything else. And I’m happy with that. And now I’m going to Stockholm, hopefully to get another good race, and then go home and train hard.”

After a rugged start, Wariner regrouped quickly running smoothly off the first curve and into the backstretch where he quickly assumed control.

“I didn’t ease off in the backstretch close to the 200. I kept my speed going and my finish was a lot stronger today than ever this year.”

Indeed, as in their previous meetings this summer, there was simply no contest over the race’s final 60 metres.

“On the backstretch I didn’t slow down at all. I got up on Merritt and I just kept on going and worked the turn like I usually do. The one good thing was that my finish was a whole lot better than it’s been in the past.”

“I felt strong and I stayed relaxed,” Wariner continued. “My legs were under me the whole last straightaway so I was excited about that.”

Wariner’s defeat at the U.S Trials in Eugene on 3 July was one of the biggest upsets of the 10-day American selection meet, but Wariner insists that that particular loss hasn’t weighed on him. Instead, he heeded the advice of his manager Michael Johnson and quickly moved on.

“I haven’t looked back (at the trials),” he said. “One thing Michael told me after the trials is that I didn’t execute, and that I didn’t run my race. That’s the one he said that we need to work on in these next few weeks, to run my race. In Rome I started working on it, but I didn’t do the best I could. And today I ran a whole better and finished a whole lot stronger, and made a statement going into the Olympics.”

Wariner rejects the criticism he received in some circles that his losses to Merritt may have dented his confidence.

“My confidence was never shot since I lost those races,” Wariner asserted. “Today I felt great running. When I saw my time I was excited, it was my second 43 of the season, and it’s a pretty good way of going into the Olympics now.”

Describing the race as a “great sign” in his Beijing build-up, Wariner concluded, “I’ve just got to keep running like I have today, and at the Olympics I’ll come out on top.”

Used with permission of Bob Ramsak, publisher of TrackProfile.com

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