AND WE’RE OFF. Or I should say they, our sport’s stars, are off in the new Olympic Year — racing from startlines, down jumps runways or into the explosive release of iron balls, whirling disks or spears.
The tendency for elite post-collegians in the winter of a campaign like this leadup to Paris is toward strategic conservation of energy, often less-frequent competition and careful attention at the meets they do contest to refining technique or race-testing tactics. While not the main event, this gamesmanship makes for fun watching — or waiting.
Example: The winter schedules of sprint champions. Think about it: you’d have to look back to Maurice Greene in 2000 to find an Olympic men’s 100 gold medalist who competed indoors that season. For Greene, that meant 60s in two meets.
Heck, Fred Kerley blitzed to 100 silver at Tokyo ’21 having never before raced an indoor 60. At last Kerley has, at this year’s New Balance GP.
And women 100 speedsters? About the same. In fact, it borders on surprising to see that Elaine Thompson-Herah in the season of her Rio16 sprint double also dashed on the indoor circuit. In ’21 she trained through the winter, no races, before repeating in the two Games sprints in Tokyo.
Reigning 100 world champion Sha’Carri Richardson has not sprinted under a roof since her spectacular (outdoors) collegiate year at LSU, ’19. Don’t bet on her changing that up this winter.
However, look at Lyles. Early this February the WC triple gold medalist used the New Balance GP 60 as an opportunity, he said, to work on the 10–20m portion of his dash model. Lyles is now not ruling out a run at the World Indoor 60 crown in March.
Budapest 1500 titlist Josh Kerr — who is based in Seattle — has said he’s unlikely to compete at the World Indoor even though he’s a Scot and the championships will go on in Glasgow.
“I would love more than anything to run World Indoors, but it has to make sense,” Kerr told Race Results Weekly’s David Monti 2 days before a planned 2M outing at Millrose. “My body can’t fight me on it.” Hours later he told reporters, “With a racing schedule, it’s very fluid.” He may yet opt in for Glasgow. ’Tis a season for reasoned decision-making and, when called for, changing one’s mind.
That’s just how indoor goes in an Olympic year.
None of this means I’m here to rain on your winter parade — only possible if your indoor track sits under a leaky roof. For every seasoned vet parsing out the road to Paris there are 10, 20, umpteen youthful collegiate up-and-comers whose dream is to stoke the boilers early and ride momentum onto the Olympic team. We see rumblings of that as I write. Don’t miss the coverage in this issue.
Preps too. Remember Erriyon Knighton 3 years ago? Third in the Olympic Trials 200, 4th in Tokyo. As of this writing, he has never run an indoor race. Knighton only just turned 20 in January.
We all love Olympic years. They’re just slightly different.
If you’re like me, you double-digit dig any USA Olympic Marathon Trials. The outcome really matters. Unrabbited 26-milers always hatch surprises. For 3 televised hours — unless, lucky you, you were on-site in Florida — we got to immerse ourselves in nothing but those two contests.
Salutations to Conner Mantz and Clayton Young, true teammates, as they prepare for Paris. I’m crossing fingers and toes for U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Leonard Korir. Any 4th-placer-last-time who wills himself up to 3rd with a quartermile to go… This soldier deserves a chance in the City Of Light.
One almost needs an intracranial GPS to follow WA’s Road to Paris marathon qualifying system, though it gets simpler once you have an athlete identified as your nation’s Olympian on the bubble. Korir is that athlete.
The boil-down seems to be that if fewer than 13 men overtake his current provisional Q-list position (69th) before May 05 or any American man other than Mantz or Young races under 2:08:10 in that period, Korir is on the team. High bar though not quite as high when one considers several nations have already reached the 3-marathoners-per-nation quota.
And that women’s race! First-time marathoner Fiona O’Keeffe is on our cover this month for a reason. What a debut!
The Olympic year is just getting started.