“I’m Far From Perfecting The Race,” Says Michael Norman

In the last 80-odd minutes of the meet Michael Norman ran 43.61 CR and 43.62r on a CR. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

“Into each life some rain must fall.” Longfellow wrote it first, The Ink Spots borrowed it for a song a century later, adding the lament, “But too much is falling in mine.”

Michael Norman, after breaking the 400’s Collegiate Record, speeding 43.61 under gray sky and drizzle, didn’t see it quite that way. He was too busy looking toward the sunny side.

“You know it was a little wet out here; it was raining but the wind was very still,” the USC soph explained. “Besides the wet conditions, I think the weather was really up to par and we saw some really great times in some of the events.”

Norman’s included, as he drove the homestretch to lead a soph 1-2-3 in front of the Auburn pair of Akeem Bloomfield and Nathon Allen, whose times, too, were great making them the collegiate lap’s Nos. 3 and 6 performers. What a race!

“It was an amazing experience,” Norman continued. “I came out here working hard with Coach Watts, took my freshman year trying to perfect my race pattern and run an amazing time. I fell short of breaking the school record but I can’t be any happier with how I performed today.”

School record? What? Isn’t the CR by definition the school standard, no matter which school? No, of course, since teams rather universally claim marks made by their athletes after the collegiate season as originally defined by T&FN and later adopted by the USTFCCCA, which means no marks after the Nationals.

In the Norman/USC instance, the school best is a very special time, indeed, current Trojan event coach Quincy Watts’s 43.50 to win Olympic gold in the summer of ’92.

Watts, therefore, still claims bragging rights, right? Oh, no.

“No, don’t compare [Norman] to me,” says Watts, a 4-time World Ranker who rated No. 1 the year of those Olympics in Barcelona. “He’s way better than me. I would hate to have had to line up with him. I would give him a run for his money but I would have a sleepless night. I definitely would hate to line up with him but he’s just so special.”

What does Watts really think? That Norman is better than that. “Mike is just super-special,” said the coach. “He has a combination of rare speed, endurance and stamina that I haven’t seen at his particular age. The kid’s only 20 years old.”

Amid all the kudos he was getting after his record, Norman praised the men who pushed him to the mark, the two Tigers in the second 200, plus Houston’s Kahmari Montgomery, the halfway leader, and a field so accomplished sub-45 times were required from all 8 who advanced to the final. (continues)

“I think with warm weather maybe we could have elevated it a little more,” Norman said, “but you can’t beat the competition that was here today.”

To best them all, Norman went with what had been working for him in 4 sub-45 runs this outdoor season that followed his 44.52 World Indoor Record at the undercover nationals. He said, “We just had the same race pattern I’ve been working on all year: staying active on the backstretch and making sure I have enough to come home strong the last 100. I think I did a pretty good job of doing that so I’m really excited.”

Said Watts, marveling, “He brings so much to the event, especially what he can do on the fatigue side, the last 200.”

Norman ignored the wet that impacted both the open 400 and the 4×4—which he anchored in 43.62—partly because he foresees brighter days ahead, superior race execution within reach. “I think I’ve just scratched the surface,” he said. “You know, it’s a very hard race to master. Consistency is key and I think I’ve just started getting into the rhythm. So I think I’m far from perfecting the race.”