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

What I Would Like to See This Indoor Season

Jan 11th, 2010
5:53 pm PST

Track and Field: 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics

Typically the indoor season sort of fills the time until the “real” track season starts around April. Over time its gone from being a “season” to being “filler”. For many, however, I think it could be a vital part of training. Aiding in such things as improving one’s start and early acceleration in the sprints; working on race tactics in the distances; sharpening technique in the field events.

From that standpoint, there are several athletes that I feel could benefit from a strong indoor season this year – especially since there is no major championship this year. Without a Major on the schedule, athletes can afford to start their seasons a bit earlier on the track without fear of interfering with preparation for a championship. So, before things hit high gear, here are some things I would like to see happen this indoor season.

Dwight Phillips take a good shot at a long mark in the long jump. Would be nice to see him out beyond 28 ft, and would give an indication that he is still on form for something longer outdoors. With his speed increasing last year, and his PR moving out to 28′ 8″, he is tantalizingly close to 29 ft. It also puts him within reach of Cal Lewis’ indoor mark of 28′ 10″ – set back in 1984. Strong attempts at that mark could help in his pursuit of the outdoor record – 29′ 4.5″.

Carmelita Jeter get under 7.00 in the 60. Believe it or not we have not seen a mark below 7.00 so far in the New Millennium. The best we have seen is 7.01 by three different athletes. Jeter herself has not run better than 7.11 – a mark she ran just last year. With that as he best indoors in ’09 and ending the season at 10.64 in the 100, one can only imagine what she can do outdoors if she can significantly improve the first 60 meters of her race! Getting close to, or breaking, 6.92 would be a significant improvement!

An America male quarter miler run under 45.30 – other than Lashawn Merritt or Jeremy Wariner. It’s time that we saw someone else step up to the plate in this event. For one, the event needs some new blood at the top. Secondly we need another “stud” for relay duty. Another sprinter capable of running in the mid 43’s on a relay leg (44 low in the open) would be nice. Sub 45.30 indoors would be a good start.

An athlete or two get under under 20.00 in the 200. The parameters have changed in the men’s sprints – greatly! Anyone looking to challenge Usain Bolt or Tyson Gay in this event MUST come out blazing with a fast first 100 meters. The indoor race is geared towards such a race pattern. Sprinters that do not get out early indoors typically don’t win. The sharpness of the turn, the banking of the track, these things make an early fast 100 imperative. Sprinters like Wallace Spearmon, Walter Dix, and Xavier Carter that have already run bests of 19.65, 19.69 and 19.63 while employing “come from behind” race patterns, could get in better position to compete with Bolt and Gay by getting engaged in the race earlier. Running indoors would be a good way to force the issue.

American female middle distance runners make some noise. Would be nice to see one or more of our 1500 runners in a serious race or two. The American Record is 3:59.98 by Regina Jacobs back in 2003. I believe that someone like Anna Willard, Jenny Barringer, Christin Wurth Thomas, or Shannon Rowbury is capable of getting near that mark – or at least close to #2 Mary Slaney’s 4:00.8. For comparison, two of last year’s best, Geleta Burka and Maryam Jamal, have run 3:59.75 & 3:59.79 respectively. A strong indoors by any of the above would further our move up in the middle distance ranks.

An attack on Galen Rupp’s year old American Record of 13.18.12 over 5000 meters. Last year we got an outdoor AR of 12:56.27 from Dathan Ritzenhein and sub 13 from Matt Tegenkamp (12;58.56). Tremendous improvement for American distance runners – but just the beginning. if we are to be truly competitive with the African runners who dominate track over 5000/10000. We need another 10 seconds improvement – to the 12:40’s – to become solid contenders. So from that standpoint if we can get a couple of athletes down around 13:10 indoors we would be heading in the right direction.

Finally, what I would really like to see is more of the sport’s stars running indoors. When out best athletes skip the indoor season, it gives the impression that it really isn’t that important. We face having a World Indoor Championships with few “names” competing. That is not good for the sport – and is one of the things that holds the sport back – the frequent absence of athletes of importance at our top events – especially in the high profile events.

I would love to see a Bolt/Gay/Powell showdown over 60 meters. But I know its not going to happen. We will get Liu/Robles/Trammell, but they aren’t as well known as their sprint brethren- at least to the America public. And therein lies the problem. In order to get the hurdlers more well known we need the sprinters on the track to draw the audience to watch. The more we can get the athletes with the headlines on the track, the more they all benefit – and the sport grows.

So here’s to as many stars as possible indoors this year. Of course stellar marks create stars. So if a few items on my “wish list” can become reality perhaps we will head outdoors with a few new stars in the sport.

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