Jeremy Wariner epitomizes the term “greatness”. He has defined himself not only by his epic achievements, but also his constant drive to be not only the best 400m runner of his generation, but ultimately the most achieved quarter-miler to ever touch the track. His growing list of achievements expanded in 2008 when Wariner added to his resume an Olympic silver medal in the open 400 meters and his second 4x400m relay gold medal to go along with the gold he earned in Athens in 2004. The 25-year-old Texan has been nearly untouchable at championship level claiming world titles in Helsinki in 2005 and two years later in Osaka.
In 2009, Wariner aims to prove that taking silver in the 400m in Beijing, was a rare blip in an illustrious career. And looking ahead to the World Championships in August, Wariner is targeting a victory that will see him complete a hat-trick of world titles. To that effect, Wariner has once again teamed up with Coach Clyde Hart. At the last world championships in Osaka two years ago, with Coach Hart's guidance, Wariner consolidated his reputation as the world’s supreme one-lap sprinter where, for the third straight global championship, he claimed gold medals in not only the individual 400m but also as a member of the United States 4x400m relay. His winning time in Osaka of 43.45 sec was his lifetime best and made him the third fastest man ever in the event.
Until Beijing, Wariner’s grip on dominance in the 400m was vice-like and every bit as secure as Michael Johnson’s was in the 1990s. Indeed, the only unconquered frontier for Wariner in terms of 400-meter running is Johnson’s world record of 43.18 sec.
Yet it is a mark that Wariner is closing in on. He recorded six of the year’s eight fastest times in 2007--with the slowest being 44.05 sec and the fastest being 43.45; winning all ten 400m races that he completed.
2006 was a great year for Wariner. Not only did he run faster than ever before but he also clocked the year’s five fastest times and 10 of the leading 12 times. His 43.62 sec time was the fastest in the world for seven years and such was his dominance that he collected a share of the jackpot at the Golden League after winning the 400m at all six of the series’
meetings. Additionally, in 2006 Wariner was the winner of the prestigious Jesse Owens Award which is given by USA Track and Field to the outstanding American athlete of the year. In winning that award he followed on from such famous athletes as Edwin Moses and Michael Johnson who won it for three straight years between 1994 and 1996.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Wariner stepped up another gear in 2007. After an early season when he concentrated on improving his basic speed – he ran 20.35 sec for a creditable fourth over 200m in the US Championships at Indianapolis – he went to Europe and ran two low-44 sec clockings in Hengelo and London before setting his personal best of that year in August of 43.50 sec on a balmy Swedish night in Stockholm in his final race before the World Championships.
Wariner kicked off the 2008 season earlier than usual, by running his first races in February 2008. Although looking forward to the Olympics, the season was a rollercoaster of ups downs filled with promotional work resulting in lost training opportunities. Going into the Olympics Wariner felt ready but as he rounded the turn into the home stretch, there was not enough left to take gold.
2009 is a crucial season in Wariner’s career. After taking silver in Bejing, Wariner is now ranked No. 2 in the world in the 400 meters. To Wariner, this is unacceptable. The disappointment he felt at not winning gold is gnawing at him, and 2009 is his opportunity to do something about it. “I didn’t want my season to end that way,” Wariner said. “So this year I want to change it. That’s why I’m working harder, and I got refocused.” Now is the time for Wariner to re-establish his reputation as one of the supreme track and field competitors in world.
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