I was quite excited to read that Italian long jumper Andrew Howe has plans to start sprinting again.
Howe has long exhibited a talent for the 200 meters. He ran 20.99 as a 16 year old a decade ago, and followed up with 20.28 as a 19 year old, He still sits at #12 all time as a Junior in spite of running the event only “part time”! The names of those who performed better as a junior include Francis Obikwelu (20.24), Joe Deloach (20.24), Dwayne Evans (20.22), Walter Dix (20.18), and Usain Bolt (19.93). All Olympic medalists in the event and all but Evans sub20 performers.
While Howe has performed well in the long jump (27’ 9.5”), I’ve long felt that the 200 may be his better event. And that at the very least he could perform the LJ/200 double a la Carl Lewis, Larry Myricks and Mike Conley. Given what appears to be the potential to run under 20 seconds in the deuce, he may be a bigger medal threat over 200 than in the long jump. Especially when you look at the fact that he has yet to approach 28 feet – something Lewis, Myricks and Conley were all able to do with some regularity.
And as a sprint fan I would love to see Europe get back into the sprint mix. The continent hasn’t had a legitimate medal threat in the 200 since 2004 when Kostas Kenteris (GRE) and Francis Obikwelu (POR) were at their peaks. It’s been nearly a decade since Europe has had a sub 20 sprinter – Kostas Kenteris running 19.85 back in 2002. And prior to Kenteris winning gold in Sydney (‘00, 20.09) you have to go back to 1993 to find a European 200 medalist in a Major – Great Britain’s John Regis winning silver in Stuttgart at 19.94.
Europe is long overdue to be a factor in the sprints. French sprinter Christophe Lemaitre finally got below 10 seconds in 2010 and still has much room for growth. With a bit of work he could be a finalist in Daegu. I think Howe could be the man for Europe in the 200. He’s only 25 years old, and in spite of some injury difficulties in the past should just be entering what could be his prime years in the sport.
The sprint wars could use some variety aside from the dominance of the United States and Jamaica. It’s time for Europe, Africa and South America, among others, to step up to the plate. Perhaps Howe can join Lemaitre as a legitimate player from Europe.