Bershawn Jackson is one of the finest 400 meter hurdlers in American Track & Field history. In 2005, Bershawn took gold in the 400m hurdles in Helsinki 2005, at the World OutdoorChampionships, running a screaming 47.30! Three years later, Bershawn took the bronze, in Beijing in the 400 meter hurdles, part of a 1, 2, 3 by the U.S.A!
The 400 meter hurdles is an iconic event for Americans. On the current IAAF All-time lists, seven of the top ten are Americans, with Kevin Young, and his amazing world record (6 September 1992, Barcelona, Spain) of 46.78, followed by the 47.02 of the incomparable Edwin Moses (31 August 1983, Koblenz, Germany).
Bershawn Jackson ran 47.30 on 9 August 2005, in Helsinki, Finland, to capture the gold, and give us a glimmer of this fine athlete. With the moniker of Batman, Bershawn Jackson has lived up to his name, with come from behind wins, gutty hurdling and a love and appreciation of his sport.
At the end of 2016, Bershawn announced that he would retire in 2017, and, during that year, he had some fine performances.
But, to Bershawn, he knew something was missing.
For Bershawn Jackson, whom @runblogrun spoke with on 12 February, it began in 2015.
“I had an amazing year in 2015. I pulled my hamstrings right before the World Championships in Beijing. I was practically unbeaten in 2015, then, I pulled my hamstring in the first round and could not get through the round.”
Bershawn added, ” As a surprise, my Dad and my sister came to China.” Bershawn’s father, Jeffrey Sutton was the person who got Bershawn into the sport. ” Dad got me started in track and field. I remember seeing him in the stands. Your family loves you no matter what. I knew my hamstring was jacked up, but the Warrior in me came out, and I took 4th in my heat. I did not advance. “
Bershawn had a great visit with his family in Beijing. ” My Dad and Ricky Ross, one of my good friends went my Mom to the Great Wall. We had a great time.”
That was the last time he would see his Dad. ” My father had a massive heart attack, and died in October 2015. I have not been the same athlete ever since. I have been living with the burden for two years.” noted Bershawn.
Mr. Jackson further explained, “I have been going through the motions.” Here’s how the number 10 All time 400 meter hurdler would explain his observations: ” I was doing the bare minimum, in training and preparations. The old Batman was engaged. I got to the point that I was no longer competitive. I would be talking with my competitors just before the races. The old Batman would never do that before races, afterwards yes. The old Batman was there to win. Competition is war. I would sabotage my race. Instead of that, I would rather give up.”
Bershawn continued, in critiquing his racing style, and then, in 2016-17, his lack of it. ” When I am racing, I get out hard, then, kick off the second turn. I was not strong or fast enough to do it. I believe that I lost my fire.”
Then, Bershawn Jackson spoke with Mo Farah, Bernard Lagat and Sanya Richards, athletes who have had long careers, and also, athletes who have had to make tough decisions in their careers. “Mo told me about moving from the track to the roads. He told me about how hard it was to leave his growing family for training and how much he enjoyed taking them to races. Bernard told me about making the decision to end his track career and move to the roads. Sanya told me about coming back to the sport.” It inspired Bershawn.
” I spoke to Justin Gatlin”, added Mr. Jackson. Justin reminded Bershawn that he had two strong legs, and he was only 33.
Bershawn had to make some decisions, and he decided to come back, and finish on his own terms. He knew that his father, Jeffrey Sutton, would like that as well.
His daily reminder of his love of the sport is his track club, Run Express. ” I took seventeen kids to the Nationals and came back wtih 32 medals. These kids are amazing, from 8 to 15. I want to give back to the sport that saved me. I had nothing as a kid. Track saved me. ” Bershawn’s comments sent shivers down my back, the three thousand miles between us, it was all too clear that the experience was genuine. Track & Field has changed lives for many. For Bershawn Jackson, it kept him out of a life that could have ended very differently.
Bershawn Jackson has run a 1:55 for the 800 meters this winter, and that will probably be his only indoor race of the season. He had a great fall of training and he now is focused on the spring season and wants to run well over the 400 meter hurdles.
Bershawn Jackson, very fit, is scary to watch. You can not look away from his amazing charge over the last turn and down the straight, where mightier men have fallen. It is that need to excel, to find what one is made of, that makes Bershawn ‘Batman’ Jackson one of the great ones. In his heart, Bershawn knows all his Dad wants is for Bershawn to give it his best. In 2016-2017, Bershawn Jackson was going through the motions.
He is inspired once again. With his Father providing the inspiration, and Bershawn proving the hard work, track fans around the world will see one of the toughest 400 meter hurdles in our sport race with determination and a renewed spirit.
“I am a kid from the projects, then I went and won an Olympic gold medal. People love comeback stories. Any body can play dead. It is hard, as there is lots of young talent. My time ain’t done.”
Bershawn Jackson also wanted to make sure that we thanked his sponsor, Nike. “Nike has been there with me my entire career, they supported my family and myself and it has meant alot to me.”
Watch for Bershawn ‘Batman’ Jackson this spring and summer.
I am going to!
I really want to see a fit Bershawn Jackson with Karston Warholm. Two of our sports finest characters in battle over ten hurdles. Both athletes giving it their best, now, that will be a race!
To learn more about Bershawn Jackson, his PBs, his honors won and his progression, check out: https://www.iaaf.org/athletes/united-states/bershawn-jackson-188154
Special thanks to Andy Stubbs, Stubbs Management, for helping set this one up.