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

Pearson 12.49 Highlights Quiet Weekend

Mar 5th, 2012
12:51 pm PST

Pearson LabelThis was one of those pre championships, lull weekends, with only a little action taking place ahead of the upcoming NCAA and World Indoor Championships.

On the collegiate level the top athletes were getting a bit of rest and relaxation ahead of the upcoming championship meet. That left athletes that hadn’t qualified for the meet, out giving it their final shot at obtaining a qualifying mark at what are traditionally called “Last Chance Meets” all over the country.

Of course collegiate athletes weren’t the only ones running in these meets as many elite/open athletes not entered in the World Championships took the opportunity to get in some low key competition before resuming training prior to the outdoor season getting going in a few weeks.

All of which, left indoors fairly bereft of any meaningful marks this past weekend – though we should see the best marks of the season this coming weekend. Looking for clues to London however, there was one result that I found to be significant as I scanned results sites. That was a 20.93 200 meters run by Jeremy Wariner (USA) in the Arkansas Last Chance Meet. Why is this significant? In large part because Wariner had to pull out of last year’s outdoor World Championships due to injury. So the 200 is a good indication that Mr. Wariner is both healthy and in good form. It’s also the only 200 that I can find Wariner ever running indoors in his illustrious career. He’s run several under cover 400’s and has an indoor best of 45.39, but as best as I could find this is his first ever indoor deuce, which makes the race an indoor PR. It’s also an indication that Wariner will be working his speed this year as part of his preparation for the Olympic Games. Wariner’s outdoor best in the deuce is 20.19 from 2006 – a year where he ran 43.65 in the 400! As a matter of fact, history says that when Wariner runs under 20.40 in the deuce he usually runs under 44.00 in the quarter. So something to watch as the season goes on.

Two others to watch as the season goes forward are David Rudisha (KEN) and Sally Pearson (AUS). While most of the world has either been running indoors or is getting ready for the outdoor season to begin, a handful of athletes have been competing “down under” in Australia where it’s already summer. In a previous competition in Sydney, Rudisha ran 45.82 in the quarter, while Pearson ran a fast 12.66 over the hurdles. Both were in Melbourne this weekend and upped the anti on the rest of the world.

Rudisha ran his specialty, the 800, and merely ran 1:44.33 to take over the world lead. I say “merely” because the last couple of seasons he’s run under 1:44 in Australia – a 1:43.88 43.88 in ‘11, 1:43.15 in ‘10. Though he didn’t run 1:43 it was still an impressive race for the Kenyan as he followed a relatively slow pace setter, before shifting gears, going to the front, and staying well ahead of the field – second place going in 1:45.62. Rudisha’s speed is certainly sharp as the earlier 400 proved, and he’s race ready as this race showed. Certainly we could be looking at sub 1:42 once again this year and perhaps a run at sub 1:41. Whatever he runs, it’s going to take a Herculean effort to keep this man off the top of the podium in London.

As tough a job as that will be, I’m not sure anyone can keep Sally Pearson off the top rung of the victory stand. All she did in Melbourne was run 12.49 (+0.8), as part of a hurdle/200 double – 23.03 in the deuce! Consider that only two athletes ran faster in all of 2011 – Danielle Carruthers (12.47) and Dawn Harper (12.47) when they took silver and bronze BEHIND Pearson at the World Championships! Then consider that only 25 women in history – including the dreaded years of Eastern Bloc doping – have ever run faster! Now consider that it’s only the beginning of March!!

If that didn’t give you enough to think about marinate on this: this time last year she hadn’t even run a hurdle race yet; her first race last year was Mar 31 (12.85); and she didn’t run under 12.50 until Jun 30 (12.47). Oh, that season lead to World gold in 12.28! I don’t want to start speculating on what I think she can do – there will be plenty of time for that – but I do think it’s safe to say that she has a decent shot at the WR of 12.21 if she can stay healthy! By the way, that record has been around since 1988!

I know, it’s still early – very early. LJ Van Zyl (RSA) was was running 47.66 over the 400 hurdles in March last year, and never ran faster. I remember when Olusoji Fasuba (NGR) ran 9.85 the opening weekend of May – and never again broke 10.00. I’ve seen more than my share of athletes peak way too early in the year. But Rudisha and Pearson’s personal history’s say that the Australian season is just the start of the year for both of them, and that more will be in store as the season goes forward. Just how much better they will get is yet to be seen, but I think it’s safe to say we could be watching historical seasons for both!

Before that happens, there is one more indoor weekend coming up, and I’ll spend time this week looking ahead to both the NCAA and World Indoor Championships.

Pearson’s sensational race is available in the Video section.

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