Jeremy Wariner, photo by PhotoRun.net
As Elliott Denman writes, the media room gets hotter and hotter. The media room is a large tent with little or no fans and the heat from the track is magnified in a tent area where any hint of a breeze would be applauded.
In this virtual steam room, Elliott Denman has been penning articles, one each day for our coverage of the 2015 USATF Outdoor Champs.
Here is Elliott’s second piece of the championships, and it features 2004 Olympic champ Jeremy Wariner, who did not qualify for the final in 2015.
But, as Jeremy Wariner settles into the blocks in his next race, his eyes will be on the road to Rio for 2016….
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
EUGENE – Not all the good stories are about the winners.
Today’s winners, anyway. Those who satisfy the what-have-you-done-for-me lately crowd. You know those folks, they’d relegate those who’ve lost a little bounce in their stride to life’s big compost heap.
They’d trash a man like Jeremy Wariner.
The calendars do not lie.
It really, truly has been nearly 11 years since Baylor’s Wariner was crowned King Of The Lap.
But while so many of those stalwarts of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games – the names include Shawn Crawford, Otis Harris, Derrick Brew, Hicham El Guerrouj, Kelly Holmes, Liu Xiang, Joanna Hayes, Dwight Phillips, Roman Seberle and Bryan Clay – have taken leave of the highest levels of the world track and field scene, Jeremy Wariner is still out there, still settling into the blocks, still running the 400 meters.
OK, he’s not the runner he once was – he ran a 44 flat that ’04 Olympic year, got down to 43.62 in 2006 and 43.45 in 2007 – but he’s not ready to fade away, either.
At 31, he can still crank out a solid quarter – as he did running 45.90 in Friday’s semifinals of the USATF Championships at Hayward Field. It didn’t get him into the finals – he ran seventh in an eight-man semifinal, top four advancing to finals – but it get him a lot of new respect.
Heaps of it. Jeremy Wariner has always been one of his sport’s class acts.
The semifinal bow-out certainly didn’t lead him to the conclusion it was time to hang ’em up.
The very good news is that Wariner, now 31, will be back in track for at least one more year.
“Jeremy’s just a great, great guy,” said LaShawn Merritt, 29, the man who succeeded Wariner as Olympic 400 champion at Beijing in 2008 (as Wariner took the silver) and was Wariner’s 4×400 partner in a litany of major relay succeses.
“When we were so-called battling, we really weren’t. We ran it as friends, it was more like we were co-workers.
“We gave each other a lot of respect. We knew how much work it took to be great at the quarter.
“He knows that I know and I know that he knows.
“Both of of us just put in a lot of work. The mutual respect has always been there.
“I see that he’s in a bit of a decline in the sport, but that’s just as far as times go.
“He’s never declined in my eyes.
“I wish him well in everything he does in life.”
And, yes, that life will still involve a lot of track and field.
“I think I ran I pretty well today,” said Wariner. “It was tough running out of lane one. I wanted to improve every round I was out there and barely missed my season best 400.
“I didn’t feel any lactic acid down the homestretch.
“I think I ran well, considering…”
Considering the array of injuries that basically wrecked three or four of his most recent seasons,
Wariner is actually woking wonders. He’d showed glimpses of his old self running laps at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas, in early May.
“It’s rough not making the (World Championships) team, or making the final but there’s plenty more ahead for me”, he told the few bothering to talk to an ex-champion while the day’s winners were hogging most other tape recorders.
“I’ve got a race in Edmonton on July 12”,: he said. “And I hope some more after that. The season’s still going.
“As long as I don’t have a season-ending injury, I’ll run again next year.
“But if I do have one, I’ve promised my wife I’d hang ’em up.”
Whatever transpires, let no one ever dare trash a man like Jeremy Wariner for hanging in and hanging on.
When they tote up all the man’s achievements, he’ll be up the with the best of the best.
Larry Eder has had a 50-year involvement in the sport of athletics. Larry has experienced the sport as an athlete, coach, magazine publisher, and now, journalist and blogger. His first article, on Don Bowden, America's first sub-4 minute miler, was published in RW in 1983. Larry has published several magazines on athletics, from American Athletics to the U.S. version of Spikes magazine. He currently manages the content and marketing development of the RunningNetwork, The Shoe Addicts, and RunBlogRun. Of RunBlogRun, his daily pilgrimage with the sport, Larry says: "I have to admit, I love traveling to far away meets, writing about the sport I love, and the athletes I respect, for my readers at runblogrun.com, the most of anything I have ever done, except, maybe running itself."
Theme song: Greg Allman, " I'm no Angel."
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