Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Jason Richardson (August 2011)

Jason Richardson (born 4th of April 1986) coached by John Smith, became the sensation in the high hurdling World in the middle of the Summer of 2011. He came into the year with a personal best of 13.21 before coming third in the USA Championships in June.
   Quite suddenly, on the 29th of July, he put himself amongst the top half dozen hurdlers in the World. It was in the high hurdles Final in the Samsung Diamond League in Stockholm where he won in 13.17 with his fellow American and, easily the favourite for the race, David Oliver, second in 13.28 and Dwight Thomas of Jamaica third in 13.40.
   It was no 'Flash in the Pan' as Jason Richardson as on August the 6th at Crystal Palace he came second in the Final of the 110 Hurdles in the Aviva Grand Prix in 13.08, a personal best behind that 'Great' hurdler Dayron Robles of Cuba, who ran 13.04. David Oliver was third in 13.09
    Going back to June, before his tremendous breakthrough the first four in the Final of  the  American Championships, in Eugene Oregon were 1 David Oliver 13.04, 2 Aries Merritt 13.12 3 Jason Richardson 13.15 and 4 Terrence Trammell 13.53.
      " You won in Stockholm and that was where you came to the fore at World Level?

" That for me was an extension of the USA Championships. We switched from the previous ideas of the 8 step start and went to the 7 steps and, it gave me a lot of trouble during the indoor season and the beginning of the outdoor. That was the decision we made and the decision we stuck to and, I am thankful for that.'  
' At the USA Championships it started to begin to click. I had three efficient starts but the problem I ran into was that the 7 steps and the rhythm and the cadence it created was that, I kept hitting hurdle 7. There were a lot of times where I was with Oliver or Merritt, and  even a little ahead of them in the middle of the race then, after 7 I would fall back.'
   ' What happened at Stockholm was I cleared 7 and was clean throughout the race. I was able to get the time and position that I did."
   Now for his start in athletics
   " I stated athletics in seventh grade. It was something I picked up.My sisters were older than me.
' My Dad made a comment that ' It would be easier to pay for school with an athletic scholarship'. I randomly overheard that and said 'Let me pick up a athletics at school' I just started in 7th grade to try to see what athletics was like.'
' When I actually took track seriously I was pretty much a senior in High School and track became something I wanted to do. I went to Cedar Hills High school. As a junior I won the 'State' in 13.51 and as a senior I ran 13.38 and 49.75 for the 400 hurdles.'
Did his coach John Smith think one day he would do the 400 hurdles'
   'We have talked about it and we might persue it later on. Right now we are concentrating on the 110 hurdles.'
When did he first meet his coach John Smith
   ' I met John Smith in 2008 in Monaco. I ran the Olympic trials but they did not go so well as I had severe muscle cramp.. I rested and got into Monaco that same year and met him again in 2009 at Monaco and, I just remember that dynamic that we had and conversation.'
   'His experience as an international athlete and his qualities are good
   'Absolutely. John is very professional and very structured. He lets you know this is a profession and this is our job.
I think that is why we are so successful .We take the extra mile. If you are doing a regular 9 to 5 work you would be held accountable. The sport can be very free flowing and very lax so it takes self discipline to succeed. We are held accountable by John which I think is really good'
   'I notice you have a snap down off  the hurdle like Renaldo Nehemiah had? ( As a pure matter of interest I interviewed Renaldo Nehemiah for Athletics Weekly in October 11, 1980 edition and his picture was on the front cover.)
   ' It is an honour to be talked, even about in the same sentence as Renaldo. He had a very prolific career. he had the Collegiate record with 13.00.'
`' I have never really been a very good technician. What I have relied on a lot is my heart and raw speed between the hurdles. Prior to this year (2011) training with John Smith, I never really looked at different athletes and how they hurdled.'
   ' I'm always open to change because John and I have such a good coach and athlete relationships. We realise that this may not be my set form. We are always willing to seek out new ways of being faster. What we also know is to tap into a primal inclination to run. Just having to tap into what you know and just go out there and compete.'
   ' I was never taught technique. It was something earlier you pick up recreationally. ' For me I just got over and, when you get over at a certain speed you find in college it becomes set. A lot of coaches want to tamper with it or make many changes in High school. The technique I have I had at High school and college.'
' A lot of changes had to be made with my lead arm, with John being the coach with a large sprint repertoire he was able to help in that direction.Taken from that the sprinting position between the hurdles, really getting my hips under me also translates to being more efficient body wise over the hurdles. There is a lot of openness to my technique that we are going to work on."

"There was a defining moment before the US Championships, I just wanted a better relationship with Christ. More content more empowered in my life. I made the decision to go back to church regularly.'
 Travelling round to the big events abroad where there is time at hotels, he said " From June 28th to August the 4th I have read half the Bible. That was 2 hours a day.'
   '  A huge spiritual element in running..I enjoy where God is taking me and, where God has continued to take me so, I have certain peace when I get on the line that I have not had in the past. When you are doing it day in day out for the right reasons you can't really fail, when you have put in the hard work and respect your coach and respect your talent and your creator, everything is in line. I may hit a hurdle but overall I am finding enjoyment in it that is what it is all about'
   'I would  love to have a long career in hurdling as I am 25 now.  I would love to see where my talent takes me. Hurdling became second nature to people like Allen Johnson at a later age. He had that fluency ingrained in his hurdling. He is one of my idols in a sense. His technique was flawless. Terrence Trammell is another competing for 10 year at high level.'
' Being able to do so well at this level at my age, it is going to be a fun run."

Alastair Aitken Alastair Aitken

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