Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
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Alan Webb

The Alan Webb Interview by Alastair Aitken

The United States of America have not had any middle distance runners seriously challenging the World's Best over 1500m, since Steve Scott and Jim Spivey in the late 1980's but, they did find one in the shape of 21 year old, Alan Webb, who won the 1500 in the USA Championships in 2004 and 2005. Her ran a 13:10.86 5000 in 2005 too. In 2004 in the Olympic trials in Sacramento he won the 1500  by over two seconds in 3:36.13 but was unplaced in the Olympic Final writes Alastair Aitken.
Aitken interviewed Webb in London before he ran in the Emsley Car Mile at Crystal Palace in 2004.
How did it all begin for Webb, who has run at the University of Michigan, George Mason University and now competes for Nike. .
"I started running in my first year at High school when I was 14 but I already knew I could run a little bit. We have physical fitness testing at elementary school and I remember we had to run a half a mile and I found I could do that quite well but I was also a swimmer.' He added ' In the area where I lived in Rutherford, Washington DC we really had no running clubs like you do in England but we did have swimming clubs and so, I was drawn to competitive swimming, as much as I liked to run too. I really did not know much about running or who was the best in the World in those days. Nobody pushed me into athletics. My parents just encouraged me with whatever I decided to do. I was totally self-motivated and I think, it is fatal for parents to push their kids into a sport as they will lose interest later on.'
'I was 2nd in the Virginia State Cross country when I was 15 years old and ran the mile in 4.25 and the 2 miles in 9.30. My first coach was Mark Hunter but it was in the next year I started being coached by my present coach Scott Roscoe. We sat down and decided together, it was best I specialise and do athletics and drop the competitive swimming and then, improvements started to come quite rapidly.'
He points out the most significant race that gave him the confidence for a future in the sport. That was on the 27th of May 2001 in Eugene in the Prefontaine Classic. Although he was only placed fifth in the mile, his time was 3:53.43 which was an American High School Record which took the great Jim Ryun's mark off the books. He was just behind Moroccan, Adil Kaouch, who ran 3:53.40 and the winner was Hicham El Guerrouj in 3:49.92.
"That was a huge PR for me and I was doing it behind, a world record holder and big games medallists and, it really made me feel I could do something good in the future"
Unfortunately, that form did not continue for him during the next two years.
'I struggled right up till 2004 but, stuck to sensible training and hard work under my coach. I had a handful of good races in 2004 which included the American Championships but, having so much success at a young age and then building up my expectations in my mind for what, I thought I should be doing and then finding I was unable to fulfil that potential was 'rough' but I knew, as long as I kept on working hard, I would eventually come through. and now I am moving in the right direction'  
He concluded 'I love running and I like most distances. Anything from 400 to cross-country. I just like to compete"

Alastair Aitken

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