Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
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Wallace Spearmon (2006)

WALLACE SPEARMON By Alastair Aitken

Wallace Spearmon had only been running seriously for 2½ years when I spoke to him in London In July (2006), yet 22 year old Spearmon showed immense talent as a 200m runner and potential 400m runner at World level.
       Spearmon Junior was born in Chicago on the 24th of December 1984, a rare Christmas present for his Father Wallace Spearmon Senior, who ran a wind aided 100m in 10.00 in 1981, won the 200m and was part of the winning USA relay team in the World University Games in Zagreb, as well as coming third over 200 in the Central & Pan American & Caribbean Games in Caracas. His best times for 200 were 20.27 legal and 20.20 wind aided.
How did it all begin for Wallace Spearmon Junior then " I first actually loved running when I was seven years old but it was not  till my eleventh grade in Fayetteville high School in Arkansas. I was challenged one day by a guy who boasted that he was the fastest guy in the State. I challenged him over 100m and beat him. It was a pride thing, no coaches involved or anything. Someone saw it and went and told the track coach that I should run track. I have been running ever since.'

       His first breakthrough came in his first serious year of competition in 2004 and he became NCAA Champion at Austin in 20.12 wind aided but ran a legal 20.25 in the Olympic trials, that was a great improvement from his first listed time of 21.05 the year before. About the NCAA's he said 'I was not the favourite to win that!'
       The interesting thing is that unlike many other sprinters he has stayed with the same coach, Lance Brauman from the start and remarked ' He coached Derrick Brew, Bernard Williams, Tyson Gay and Veronica Campbell. he had many athletes from Arkansas. He can coach the jumps and the sprints I would say he is sticking with the sprints right now.'
       Spearmon's breakthrough as far as improvement was concerned came as a college student at Arkansas University in 2005. ' I opened up the season with a 46.1 for the 400 which was a life time PR and it was indoors. I ran around 20.35 three or four times and ended the season with 20.10 indoors and 19.89 outdoors. The interesting fact there was that his 19.89 was the fastest in the World in 2005 and done at the Grand Prix at Crystal Palace (2 Usain Bolt 19.99 3 Tyson Gay 19.99)
       Spearmon's first major Championships outdoors at World level was in the World Championships at Helsinki in 2005 and the result of the first four was 1 Justin Gatlin 20.04; 2 Wallace Spearmon 20.20, 3 John Capel 20.31 and 4 Tyson Gay 20.34.
        ' I was in lane 3. I prefer to run on the outside so, it was kind of tough for me. The first 100, the turn, was kind of tight. I came off the turn and Gatlin was already out of distance and I was hoping to hold on to second place by the finish. Tyson Gay and John Capel were right in front of me and I ended up second' He continued ' I look back and there are a lot of things I would have done differently. I was happy with a silver medal but I was hoping for gold.'
       In 2006 Wallace Spearmon ran the second leg in the 4x400m World indoor record race on 11th of February at Fayetteville in 3:01.96. (Kerron Clement, Wallace Spearmon, Darold Williamson and Jeremy Wariner) He was also on the 4x400m team that won in the World Indoor Championships in Moscow. In Paris outdoors he ran 45.2 for 400m, so with all that in mind it was obvious one should  find out whether he would concentrate on that event in the future or not.
' I don't mind the 400 metres actually. When I think of a race mentally I break it down. In the 200m I would say you have got to be the quickest and fastest and strongest. A 200 is the mix of all the races. It's more technical. When you get in the 400 you can have all the talent in the World but if you don't have it in your mind to run 400 you will never make it. You have to have a plan when you go into the race. When I go into the 400 now I don't know how to run it. I might have the potential to be the best but I don't know how to run the 400. I am  just now starting to run it. This year (2006) I  am hoping to run 44. That would be a success for me, when I look back and say I ran 44.! Jeremy Wariner, when he runs a 400 he knows exactly how to run it. There is no one who can get him out of his game plan and that is why he is doing so well and the best runner. I have to learn it first but and figure out how I should run it. Now (July 2006) I am still trying to figure out how fast I can go out so, I don't suffer in the last 100 on suffering from my first 200. It is just a transition, something I will have to learn how to do.' He added ' I was running the 400 to try and get stronger but now I am focusing back on the 200. Xavier Carter ran 19.63. I consider that as my event. I want to be the best at the 200 before I try to work on anything else so right now my focus is on the 200.'
How did he see the event at World level now  ' A lot of us young guys. We are all learning. This is one way to make friends and also your living. We are trying to keep the sport new, clean and fresh so everyone can watch and enjoy. When I run with Tyson Gay, Xavier Carter and Usain Bolt  in a 200, no one knows what is going to happen. Anything is possible when we get in a race'
      In Lusanne on the 11th of July was the first time four runners have been inside 20.00 in the same race. Xavier Carter 19.63, Tyson Gay 19.70, Usain Bolt 19.88 and Wallace Spearmon 19.90 (the same time Spearmon did when he won the USA Championships in June)
Who did he consider the greatest 200 men of all time then
 "Michael Johnson has to be the greatest and right behind him Frankie Fredricks. Those are the top two. They have proved themselves many times over the years. Frankie Fredricks was in the World 100m race, even though he did not win and the 200.He had the capability of running 400 but he just didn't. Michael Johnson has the World record in the 200 and 400 and ran a 10.08 100 metres"


Alastair Aitken

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