The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

Shawn Crawford to John Smith!

Nov 2nd, 2009
6:40 pm PDT
Track and Field: 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics

Shawn Crawford reported to camp today and began workouts with John Smith is the word I’ve gotten this afternoon. Potentially filling that void in Smith’s camp left by the retirement of Maurice Greene in 2006.

Crawford brings an already impressive resume to practice. Bests of 9.88 and 19.79. Olympic gold medalist in 2004, he’s also scored silver in the event in 2008, and bronze in 2001. Crawford has been one of the US’s most consistent sprinters this decade, slowed only by foot problems in 2005 that seemed to hamper him for a couple of seasons. Crawford rebounded nicely in ’08 and ’09 as he ran 19.86 and 19.89 (19.73w) putting him squarely in the global mix and on the podium once again following his gold medal performance in ’04.

Ironically Crawford is the man that everyone laughed at early in his career as he stated that his goal for the 200 meters was 18.99! A mark that everyone considered to be imaginary and too insane to even mention. Yet now Crawford moves to join Smith on the heels of two impressive seasons by Usain Bolt who has lowered the 200 record to 19.19 – extremely close to Crawford’s “insane” 18.99!

So, can the man who lead the legendary career of Maurice Greene, and has Carmelita Jeter in the rarified air previously tread by only FloJo, put Shawn Crawford in reach of Usain Bolt? Well Smith has shown the ability to coach speed, having piloted the careers of Greene (9.79), Ato Boldon (9.86), Jon Drummond (9.92), Jeter (10.64), and Torri Edwards (10.78) among others.

And in spite of Crawford’s Sub20 second runs over the past couple of seasons, he’s done so with bests of only 10.09 and 10.21 in ’08 and ’09 – far off his PB of 9.88. Indicating that Crawford, who will be 32 in January, has greatly improved in strength, but his need now is to get back the speed! Crawford, like Bolt and Tyson Gay, is a burner on the turn. So perhaps if he can get close to these men in speed, he may indeed be competitive with them over 200 meters!

Time, of course, will tell the tale. But 2010 is a good year for a change as there will be no major championship on the line. Giving Crawford a chance to put in a full season of work with Smith before being under the gun for the World Championships in Daegu in 2011. So if Smith can get Crawford back to that 9.8 zone, we could possibly see another sprinter in that 19.5 and below range – and Crawford in search of that 18.99 that everyone once laughed at.

Regardless of how it turns out, I’m glad to see someone with true talent make the move to Smith. Because if we are to regain our position in the world of the sprints its imperative that we get our best talent in the hands of our best coaches! Hopefully this is the start of good things. After all, Linford Christie and Donovan Bailey both did their best running late in their careers, with thirty being only an imaginary barrier. And so far the thirties have been kind to Shawn. I wish him the best.

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