Stuart Weir writes about three time World Champion gold medalist (gold 2x, 4x400m, 1x, 400m hurdles), Bershawn Jackson, and his intention to retire at the end of 2018.
Bershawn Jackson is a legend of the hurdles – three times World Champion and Olympic medallist. But at 35, he has decided that 2018 will be his last season. But he is determined to enjoy his last year on the circuit. He seemed to enjoy his evening in Manchester. With only four lanes, he was joking earlier in the day, that he was definitely in the shape to get a top four finish!
After winning the 200 hurdles in Manchester he was delighted: “With no practice and just a couple of hurdle runs before the race I thought it was phenomenal. I got off to a great start which was my plan. Later in the race I was getting pretty tired so the main thing was to hold my form and keep my momentum. It was a great race. I did hit the last hurdle so hard that it was, “Lord, please help me get there”. Overall I’m very happy”.
It was his second visit to Manchester for a 200m hurdles race: “In 2013, the time Andy Turner broke the record, I was second and ran 22.2. I caught Andy at the line but was too late. I love street races. Events like this keep me passionate about doing it. It’s a great atmosphere. You’re having fun and enjoying yourself. Events like this keep me motivated. The respect they give you as a professional athlete is great. And thanks to Manchester and other street events, athletes can come and enjoy themselves and it’s not a job. It feels like having fun more than a job and my competitors are friendly. We know we have to compete but afterwards we can shake hands. It’s a great deal. 200 is pretty good speed work for me so I’m impressed and happy and look forward to finishing at the year”.
He then reflected on his career: “The hardest part of track is the mental aspect. Since I lost my father, I don’t have the love for it any more. It’s tough. I can train and in training be at the top of my ability but then when I get in the meet, I get emotional. It’s not the same any more. I feel I lack support and support is important. It’s been a great journey and I’m sure I’ve been an inspiration to people but I’m not enjoying it no more. I’m going to run the rest of the season and then I’m looking forward to the rest of my life. I was going to call it quits last year but I want to retire with no regrets.
“Last year I had a terrible season but was still seventh in the world. This year I’ve already been second in Doha and I’m having a pretty good season. I’m thinking, ‘Wow I can still do it’. But the training part hurts, beating my body up every day. I’m older now and some days I just don’t want to train. In track and field hard work pays off. All my career I have thrived off training. I’m a warrior and you’ve got to beat me but the fire is going away”.
He referred to the rest of his life – life after track – and he has plans: “I will probably do coaching. I’ve been number one in the world and I’d been with no ranking at all. I’ve seen both sides of the field so I could be an asset to another kid. I came from nothing and track and field saved my life. I feel I could save another kid’s life”.
It was great to see a great champion ending his career with dignity and appreciation but also speaking honestly about some of the challenges.