While we will not see Alan Webb in the 5,000 meter final, nor the 1,500 meters, do not give up on Alan. The high school record holder for the mile, the AR holder in the mile, a man who has run 27:35 for 10,000m and 1:43 for 800m, Alan Webb’s quixotic journey was seen by all yesterday, as he finished 11th in his 5,000m heat, in 14:01.
Alan Webb spoke to Elliott Denman, who wrote this about a runner who has warmed us and charmed us for over a decade. Alan Webb has huge potential, will he ever make his dreams his reality? Right now, he is headed home to be with his wife as they welcome a new baby into the world. He did tell Elliott to watch out for Robbie Andrews…..
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
June 26, 2012
“To be honest, I actually felt halfway decent.
“For a good portion of the race, even when they picked it up in the second mile.
“I still felt relatively comfortable.
“I felt I’d be good to go.
Then Alan Webb’s world began collapsing.
He faded right out of the picture in the heats of the Olympic Trials 5,000 meters Monday night at Hayward Field.
And so the questions, the many questions.
Will his be a free-fall into the oblivion of a once-great whose legs can no longer carry him to the feats he was once routinely expected to deliver?
Or simply time to reassess, reevaluate, rethink the whole process.
Alan Webb does tell you this: “I am not about to hang ’em up.”
Not even that dismal 14:01.25 performance – ranking him 21st in a field of 22 finishers in the qualifying phase of the 5,000 meters – was about to send the fastest miler in American history into retirement, early retirement, at age 29.
No, he will not run the 1,500 meters at Hayward Field starting Thursday.
No, he has no real explanation for this total loss of form.
And no, he’s not about get despondent about all this, either.
Actually, there’s real joy on his horizon.
Alan and wife Julia expect to welcome a bouncing baby daughter into the Webb household in a matter of days.
Soon as he can work it out with the airlines, he’ll be out of here, out of this state of Oregon which had been the scene of his first great breakthrough performance – hard to believe it was 11 years ago – and back in Virginia and his welcome into fatherhood.
“My Olympic hopes are basically over,” said Webb, who’d been a major track celebrity since his brilliance (topped by that epic 3:53.43 mile at Hayward Field’s Prefontaine Meet in ’01) for South Lakes High in Reston.
But the man whose USA one-mile record of 3:46.91 has been in the books since 2007, will continue to train, will continue his running career, and continue to find a way to get it all back on track.
He may have felt “comfortable,” he may have felt he could have pounced at any moment…but stll Webb wound up beating no one in his 5,000-meter prelim, running 11th of 11, never really in contention and faster only than Girma Mecheso of Oklahoma State (11th in the second heat at 14:11.96) in the two-section total of 22.
Hayward-goers couldn’t find explanations.
Neither could Webb in post-race interviews.
These questions may be asked forever:
Did all of those dazzling teen-age deeds come too soon in his life? Too soon for his body to handle?
Did he make a huge mistake bailing out of the University of Michigan to plunge into pro racing?
Did he run too many of those darn “time trials” and never really learn to be a racer?
Did all the mega-bucks dealt him by Nike plunge him into a comfort zone he could never really escape?
In the mixed zone, he turned analytical.
“This doesn’t happen overnight,” he said. “A lot went into it.
“When I look back, sometimes I wonder how I did it (all those incredible times that made him the poster boy for early excellence.)
” Really, how did I do all that?
” So it makes all those moments very special.”
Webb, a 2004 USA Olympian, but an out-of-it fifth placer in the 2008 1,500 Trials – now flies back to Virginia searching for additional answers.
While he’s out of it in Eugene, his protÃ©gÃ© and training partner is surely still in it.
Robby Andrews, a two-time NCAA 800-meter champion for UVa,who will run the Trials 1,500 meters, is expected to do something extraordinary here.
By Alan Webb and just anybody who follows this sport.
“He (Andrews) is so really ready, so ready I can’t even tell you; that’s a big secret right now, ” said Webb.
One last question:
“Is Robby Andrews the new Alan Webb?”
“See for yourself,” said Webb.
Lots of folks around Hayward Field can hardly wait.