Follow Ohio State head coach Robert Gary’s blog while he represents the Buckeyes as an assistant coach for Team USA at the 2011 IAAF World Outdoor Track and Field Championships, August 27 to September 4, in Daegu, South Korea.
It has been a very busy last two days – the meet has officially heated up. Many of the things that have occurred that I thought to mention when I would do my next entry have been forgotten, replaced instead with the thrilling third place finish by Matthew Centrowitz. Matt, who is a senior at Oregon with a year of indoor/outdoor season of eligibility remaining, ran extremely poised and was a killer the last 120 meters. It reminded me of watching Meb and Deena in the 2004 Games when they won their medals. You could really see his confidence grow throughout the rounds, and I especially loved his reaction to medaling – a mixture of shock and pure joy was a great sight at the medal ceremony, as we all agreed it looked like a 12-year old had walked onto the track.
All in all, it was a great trip. I am very much looking forward to returning to my family and getting the cross country season started with our pre-season camp. I’m completely exhausted, but it was great to be around so many great people and experience first-hand an event that is second only to the Olympics.
Friday, Sept. 2
Long overdue, I know. I am sure the people back home are worried about me/excited for another entry. Since the meet has picked up, I have been quite busy running around. Really starting to be pretty amazing watching all of this unfold.
In order of meet highlights/thoughts: The 3k steeple heats for men did not go particularly well. The heat and humidity that everyone thought would play such a huge role finally surfaced and it was uncomfortable. No real excuses from the guys who ran – it is a lot different than racing in the U.S. or even most grand prix strung out meets. But nobody advanced to the final. It ended up taking right at the A-standard to advance. Daniel heads home to get his calves fixed and I believe Billy and Ben still plan to race in Zurich.
After spending all morning session at the track, I did not head over for the PM session. There is an athlete lounge that has been set up here where everyone can hang out and there is a feed for the meet as well as computer linked up to Eurosport. The 110h for men was one of the highlights of the meet and very eagerly anticipated … however before it started, it was really cool to see many of the sprinters, jumpers, distance, etc., all following the women’s shot competition as Jill ended up winning a medal; they were cheering just as loudly and excitedly for that than the hurdle race. I always talk about ‘culture’ of the Ohio State men’s program and it is tough as a head coach to make sure the natural fragmentation of the different event areas doesn’t become too varying … it was very exciting to see the support for another gender/event area by Team USA. I have no doubt this will improve performance. The men’s hurdles were tense and exciting – the disqualification came later, but was great to see Richardson sneak onto podium.
That evening was the 1500 heats. Centrowitz and Leo both looked good – Andrew Wheating, who has been suffering from a higher hamstring strain, did not advance. I am sure though, reasonably under control, more missed training time (conditioning) caught up to him. Leo seems to be a bit of a veteran having competed at this level many times before. Centro, I thought would have some trouble with nerves, but he seemed extremely relaxed and confident. He was very talkative on way over and looked very strong in closing. I would almost be surprised if he doesn’t ultimately end up making finals.
Day off from the meet (women’s racewalk was in the AM) and I was not needed for a water station this time around. Ended up sleeping in until almost 8 am, getting a run in, meeting the marathoners for an ice vest presentation for fitting and education on timing, preferences, etc. We had what was allegedly our last staff meeting due to timing and then our head coach took us out to dinner – very nice to get out of village for a meal again.
5000 heats were next. As we headed over, I felt a bit silly explaining everything to Bernard just because he has gone through the process 20 times on his own, but he was very gracious in making me feel like I was being helpful. He made it through rather easily on another very hot day. Rupp also advanced and looked pretty recovered from the 10k just a couple nights previous. I still believe his 27:26 was worth around American Record with conditions and wild pace changes. Bumbalough, who was a late add when Solinsky withdrew, competed well and just missed by a couple spots. For the evening session, the 1500 semis were bittersweet as Centro advanced, but Leo did not. Leo seemed to be struggling a bit at the bell lap (faster 2nd heat), but moved into position with 150m to go. He just didn’t have that pop and with 60m or so to go, felt his leg tighten up so just got across line. In the heat before, I was very impressed by Centro. He got stuck leading, but ran free at least through very slow 2:11 @ 800m — with about 450m to go, it seemed a couple guys were sort of coming down on him, but he made a beautiful move to hold his position sneaking by on the inside. He then held the lead on backstretch, and to be honest, I thought he would get passed by a couple coming home just because he had led almost the entirety of the race, but he looked fantastic and well in control (perhaps not jostling around and being on the rail really conserved his energy?). He won his semi and looked as smooth (and similar splits) to NCAA/USATF … being young and NOT being there solely for the “experience” is a great attitude to have. The steeple final was somewhat uneventful, except the Kenyans were broken up by the French — Kemboi won easily over last 250m and had quite a post-race celebration … 110lb man with shirt off dancing and flexing was pretty funny to watch, and certainly seems like he likes to enjoy himself!
1500 women’s final was also bittersweet for our country. Uceny got tripped up with 550m to go, which was tough because she has been running so well and was positioned well. Kenyan went down in front of her and it was unavoidable. Little closer to the front was Barringer and she stayed in perhaps 6th at back of pack until about 200m to go when she was on the move – positioned perfectly off the turn a little on the outside, it was quite a stretch run. She had a great expression (part elation/shock) as she crossed but then was super excited. It was a great lesson is showing up on the biggest stage and keeping yourself in the hunt. Her time wasn’t super fast (4:05), but the focus was perfect.
Heading over to the track for evening shot competition and a couple other events … will continue to post.
Three more nights in Daegu.
Tuesday, Aug. 30
It is mid-day on August 30th and the morning session has ended.
Last night was a great start to the evening for Team USA. Galen Rupp ran an extremely tough race, matching many wild surges, but just not having the very end closing speed. I don’t think people outside the stadium can fully appreciate/understand the change of paces (sharpness as well as duration) … the lap splits don’t do them justice because inside even a 400m lap may see pace changes from 26-36 for a 200m increment. They may have hit 5k at “only” 13:52ish, but it isn’t like they were running straight 66-points … the gold/silver race was absolutely thrilling with it coming down to the last 35 meters. The 10k at these major championships really feels like a heavyweight prize fight trying to stay on your feet.
The 100m was also obviously a huge event. The entire meet shuts down what they’re doing (I was at the practice track) when they got into their blocks. Quite a let down with Bolt jumping and being removed, but his countryman looked great. Walter Dix, who has to be the most forgotten man in track and field in this country, got up for the silver. Also, Britteny Reese captured a gold medal (second world title in a row).
After getting on a return bus, which I am convinced is harder than making the World Championship team, we arrived back for our nightly staff meeting. Set an awesome pick for Allison Felix to get onto the bus which almost brought about a spinal-injury from a Ukrainian’s massage table, but she is much more important on this trip than I am! It was pretty late, but everyone gave a report on how the meet had gone logistically, went over assignments for the following day and broke up and headed to dinner outside the village. It was very nice to have some variety (and warm pasta).
This morning was the men’s steeplechase. It was by far and away the hottest day since we arrived and the sun was out all day for the first time. Many of the distance runners were utilizing ice vests during their warm-up and after they entered the call room maze. None of the steeplechasers advanced, but it was good to not see anyone quitting on it (even over the last lap).
After that, things seemed to go to script qualifying-wise … heading to track to watch the evening events and hopefully get onto the bus without being trampled. Tomorrow morning is the first round of the 1500 for Manzano, Wheating and Centrowitz.
Saturday, Aug. 27
Dinner last night was excellent – I think I was the only person on our entire team/staff/support that hadn’t yet eaten at Bennigans and it was very good. Went with steepler Dan Huling to talk a little strategy and also get something different to eat! Ordered enough food for three people at least. After that, Daniel took me shopping at the Gap and we finished our date night strolling the shops and going to Cold Stone Creamery. I bought some clothes as I have been dressed like a bit of a tourist walking outside the village. A little awkward because I had no money, so Daniel was treating for the entire night … hoping he forgets about being into him for $130. I bought some pants, pullover and a polo that doesn’t say USA in gigantic letters, so I’m looking forward to wearing that.
Again, stayed up for the late arrival from Busan that usually arrives at the village gates around midnight. Late entrant Andrew Bumbalough arrived and gave him his meal money, a lay of the land, various codes to get in building and interior room. He then promptly forgot his bag behind so I carried for him — just another high-maintenance distance guy to add to the group. 🙂
Another 6 am early rise to get some breakfast before heading out to assist with the women’s marathon. No job being too trivial for Coach Gary, I was assigned water bottle duty. I thought this a demotion until I was given another credential and felt like I was really moving up on the staff hierarchy. Turned in the evening before, you station people throughout the course at water stations where they’re already on ice on a table, and are there to hand fluids bottles to our runners in designated segments. Fluids include (by personal preference) water, electrolytes, goo gel, etc. The 5k station was actually pretty stressful because of how together the entire field was, but all got their drinks (several also added thank you’s … not expected, but certainly appreciated). It should be noted that my roommate brought me what had to be the greatest melted ham and cheese breakfast sandwich ever (going through withdraw not having my sausage McMuffins from McDonalds for $1/each). I then had to really hammer to get to 10k to do the same. I then basically sprinted, sweated, stood, tried to stretch and hit as many stations as I could. It was very exciting watching the race unfold throughout. The atmosphere on the entire course was great; people were a couple deep everywhere, several bands/drums/dance troupes were set up. Korean people can picnic on the street like you wouldn’t believe! In between mini-heart attacks and beastly sweating (it is heating up here for sure as today was the first day I saw the sun since arriving), I received an “encouraging” email from Daniel suggesting I take it easy as I wasn’t looking too good on the video feed they were watching.
Heading over for the women’s 10k this evening and the last arrival for Team USA (obviously the latest bus) – no more morning meetings – instead, we return from the last event each evening and meet in the PM. It is just now starting to dawn on us (probably just me) upcoming grind of AM/PM sessions and 4-6 hour sleep nights are the agenda for the next nine nights.
Looking forward to watching more Team USA – Symmonds and Robinson through in the 800 heats and Emma made it through to the final in women’s steeplechase thus far.
I believe this is Go Bucks, Coach Gary
Thursday, Aug. 25
Now even one of the mom’s from the OSU cross country team has said my pictures are pathetic. Will work on that the next couple of days … never been a picture taker on the road at all.
Last night, we had a combined meeting with both the men and women’s teams here. After introductions, they did a good ice breaker where you mentioned where you were from, what event, and something about yourself – we certainly have some characters (as well as lot of people from Texas). It was a good night and it was nice to get to know all the athletes a little bit better. I waited up to greet Mike Morgan (men’s marathon) as his flight was delayed a couple hours and so he didn’t get in until almost 1 in the morning. I think it is a plus for the team members when they come in to be greeted by Team USA staff … I don’t see too many other teams doing that and it must be a nice sight for people after traveling for 40 hours. I rolled his bag to his room and he got all settled in. Another duty has started to be making sure all distance guys get to their mandatory drug testing (blood) – every athlete here will be drug tested, which is a pretty big jump in monitoring.
Up early for our second to last 7 a.m. meeting – they will switch to post-meet starting Saturday. We went over practice schedules and logistical things (technical meeting is today, but way above my pay grade on this trip) and we will have our last team meeting tomorrow at 3 p.m. to get info on the bus schedule, call rooms schedules, etc.
I had to leave early for our race walker who was experimenting with an ice vest for his easy day. We had all expected conditions to be a good deal hotter/humid, but the end of the week is starting to look like things are indeed heating up. Up to this point, it is relatively temperate and the humidity is decent, but nothing like the stretch in Ohio we were training under a month ago. The steepler I coach, Dan Huling, had begun layering clothes, long sleeves, hat, etc., when we were leaving because it was starting to cool off a good bit.
I went to track as some of the guys were working out and they also had a walk-through for the athletes today (the starters were at the track for many of the sprinters to practice starts, look at comp blocks, etc).
Definitely venturing into the city for dinner this evening as the Village food is starting to get a little boring. Admittedly, I am the master of buffets, but I have been eating crazy upon arrival. You end up talking and eating a ton no matter what goal I have for amount upon entering buffet line. There is both a Bennigans and an Outback, which I know sounds pretty weak being in a foreign country, but sometimes you need a little taste of home. There is a Korean BBQ place, but it is packed most of the time.
Time to get going … we have three more marathoners arriving on the late arrival from the airport so I need to get back in time for that.
Lastly, many jokers are “concerned” about my training – an update from today: added 4 strides in as it is probably time to start fine-tuning my speed. All-out 200 in 30.97 under the watchful eye of David Oliver’s coach (Brooks Johnson) sparked a comment unfit for training. Will continue to work on it.
Tuesday, Aug. 23
We start every morning with a meeting at 7:15 am with the men’s staff and Andrew Valmon (2012 Head Olympic coach) now has joined it as well. Assuming it must be very beneficial for the Olympic coach to be here in order to get to know the athletes, personal coaches, as well as how everything works. Many of the World Championship athletes will compete at next year’s Olympics as well. That being said, the Worlds are nearly as big — it’s certainly close and I can assure you the athletes take it just as seriously.
Life in the village has gotten into a pretty solid routine. The evening before, I am responsible for finding out practice plans from the distance athletes and reporting to medical so there can be coverage at a couple of the different practice venues. Like I mentioned, I sometimes attend, but almost every distance runner has their personal coach here with them and I really try to be very on top of two job requirements:
1. Don’t be obtrusive to the athlete/personal coach
2. Only provide 100 percent accurate information about inquiries (call room times, leaving the village, protocol in call rooms, layout, etc.)
Anyways, after our meeting, there is usually a group heading out for training, but this morning I ran with Dan Huling and Matt Tegenkamp to start — we hooked in with steeplers Billy Nelson and Emma Coburn at the trail and started running. I’ve had many emails asking about my training (many jokes I should say), but I have run all but one day. Today was a bit of bad news except for the fact that it was easily the fastest I have run with the exception of sprinting after my 23-month-old for any length of time. Billie was running much faster and was gone early, leaving us four to run. Huling and Teg went further and when Emma told me she was turning back, I couldn’t have been happier. I was hoping that she was perhaps running fast because she was with the guys and we would cool it on the way back, but it seemed to get tougher (at least for me). She was saying how she had been running faster than usual here and yet she continued to ratchet the pace down on me??? It was most depressing upon return when the people at security were laughing because it looked like I had played in a Spring Break mud volleyball tournament and Emma looked like she hadn’t even started. Seven Gatorades later, I was back in the game over at the practice track watching pole vault practice (even helped carry some poles for the guys if you can believe that). Needless to say though, tomorrow, I find our men’s throws coach again for 30-minute run where I feel like the show!
We just finished our men’s team meeting where everyone made introductions and I thought Coach Lananna did a good job talking about what an honor it is to represent our country as a part of Team USA — I feel sorry for any athlete who doesn’t think it’s special each and every time they put on the singlet. In fact, as silly as it may sound, I still feel honored to wear the polos and am just a lowly assistant on the staff. Seems to be excellent camaraderie among the team and cool to watch guys who are still rivals, but coming together towards representing the USA.
I have finally broken down and am doing laundry (not that bad Rita!) because I am getting worried my suite mates are going to kick me out if I don’t wash my running gear. Negotiating a Korean washing machine could very easily be the hardest thing I do this trip, just couldn’t break down and pay 2,000 (roughly $2) per article of clothing.
I have about 25 questions from people, so sounds like a Q & A may be in order for tomorrow’s post if you want to try to send. Again, it is firstname.lastname@example.org. Only thing left on the agenda is a skype with family back home before bed. I will get more pictures of the stadium, village and some sessions for tomorrow.
Monday, Aug. 22
We have moved into the village which went really smoothly. The apartments are very, very modern and nice. We have three double rooms, a single room (reserved for head coaches, managers, reigning world champions, doublers, etc). The men’s staff is together along with Vin Lannana (head men’s coach).
Unfortunately, my laptop, which was made in 1908, can’t get a good signal so I am forced to do this on my blackberry. That being said, my wife informed me this morning over skype that my blog was horribly boring.
So, in an effort to make it interesting to at least five people, I will answer five questions that have been emailed.
“Are there a lot of personal coaches that attend as well?” Yes. I would say about 70 percent of that athletes have their personal coaches here. Most are credentialed and staying in the village, which I believe to be a huge benefit to the athletes. This was one of my reasons to want to be on a Worlds staff in an effort to be here and see preparations for myself.
“Have you see any of the city – been sightseeing?” Not yet. I certainly plan to, but really haven’t had a long enough window of time between new athletes arriving, current athletes training schedules, daily staff meetings, etc. Certainly isn’t the hardest job in the world, but definitely trying to be as helpful as possible. I can tell you that the managers’ job appears to be never-ending. I can’t even guess when Ken or Diane sleep?
“What is the village like”? It is pretty impressive – coffee shop, mini-mart, post office, hair salon, dry cleaning, free bikes to get around, cafeteria, etc. Very self-contained – a 400m track, many throws practice fields (lines and with rings) and a 200m track right here. You can also get onto gravel/dirt or bike path about 600m from the front gate. Also, pretty good security with credentials and metal detectors and there are shuttles heading out to the competition and warm-up track every hour.
“Will the 4×100 team win”? Yes.
“How can you miss so many weeks away from your cross country team?” Actually, we always meet as a team the Tuesday after Labor Day. This is the last year before switching to semesters, but we do not start school until 9/22 (a month later than most). So the plan is to return on 9/5, team meets 9/6 for physicals/compliance, and we depart for our pre-season training camp on 9/8.
Here’s hoping at least five of you like having your questions read!
Saturday, Aug. 20
I was on the late pick-up last night to the other airport and was completely wiped out upon return. I slept 6 hours straight and I feel completely refreshed. I started the morning with a skype session with wife/son, which was great. My son continues to look behind the ipad wondering where the rest of my body is. Many of the guys on the team won’t believe that I can pull off a skype session, but probably realize my wife set everything up along with a little instructional note card. I could not imagine not being able to see my son for 3 weeks and how much he would’ve changed!
With all my new-found energy, I woke up before my roommate and didn’t want to disturb him so I was trying to sneak out of room in darkness. I remembered that today is the day we get credentialed for the village so I made sure to grab my passport at the last second. After our staff meeting (every morning at 7:15), I decided I would attend practice and then get credentialed in the afternoon.
I attended practice with many members of the team. Obviously, I like to watch the distance people and what they do and if I can help – water, set-up hurdles, etc., but watching all the events and how many great athletes are out here at once is pretty special. At one point, you had Charles jock doing some repeat 200’s, “Batman” running an all-out 350m, coach John Smith measuring off cones, OTC Coach Rowlands setting up steeple session, Ashton Eaton throwing discus, Kibwe Johnson (attended 2011 Jesse Owens Track Classic) reviewing filming of throws and many other athletes/coaches at once. I also took the time to get “worked on” as my back seized up on my run yesterday. I never had it happen before and I thought it may be due to lack of sleep, hard bed, long plane trip, lifting bags for team members, my shoes, etc. After discussing further, it may be more due to running for the first time in about a month and first back-to-back days in 2 months. Grossly out of shape! I know I have to get it together as one of the other staff members asked if I was 50 yesterday. A run and a shave later today for sure!
We have an upcoming all-team meeting this afternoon to discuss logistics regarding moving into the actual village, then credentialing, then a run (hopefully), shave, dinner and another late airport run this evening. Dan Huling (steeple) is arriving and I thought I would head out to greet him. He has been battling an injury, but training has actually progressed fairly well since his return from Europe. Hoping some of the final touches with a little reduction to mileage and adding some shorter steeple-specific stuff will leave him ready to make a final.
I will let you know how return to action goes.
Thursday, Aug. 18
I am now starting to be a little worried about my sleep “pattern”. By my calculations, I have yet to sleep even 10 hours total since I left Columbus, Ohio. I woke up around 4:30 a.m. and was trying to return some meals since that is afternoon back home, trying to be super undercover and quiet for my roommate (Jim Estes from USATF office), until I realized he was trying to be equally considerate and was up himself. We both agreed that we would go ahead and get up and get our run done with before the day picked up.
We have a 7:15 a.m. meeting every morning for the men’s staff just to touch base about what our groups are doing. Only about 25 percent of the guys I am supposed to watch through have arrived yet and many of them have personal coaches as well. After our morning meeting, we went with many of the athletes to our training track where Team USA has physio set up and even an option to get filmed for immediate feedback if you choose. It was interesting watching Coach Rowlands work his group out (really sort of a shaekout session) that included Lauren, Nick, Ben and Bridgette just because both genders as well as different events … can see the “training group” affect and how supportive they are of one another. Whenever I was fortunate enough to make a National team, I always missed usual training partners and familiarity, even coordinated a warm up/cool down if it worked out.
This time of the day has been designated as nap time as it seems the food room clears out pretty good and the athletes especially try to get off their feet until their second training time. With many of the staff having other jobs (college/HS coaches, etc), it seems this is the time where you try to get some work done on that front. I have a long list of projects for OSU I want to get done while over here so that I can just concentrate on our cross country team upon return.
The No. 1 question I have been emailed is “what it is like to coach all these great distance runners?” While it is very exciting to be around so many wonderful athletes, their personal coaches are the ones who have gotten them here and continue to manage them. I try to be very conscious of that and am here simply as an informational/logistical support person. I will continue to try to stay out of their way, except to let them know schedules, assist their personal coaches and hold a stopwatch if needed. That being said, it is very informative to watch what they do, how they carry themselves and talk training. This is equally true with the other staff members with regards to how they run their programs and work with their various groups.
I should also end by saying just how organized and friendly the Local Organizing Committee seems to be up to this point. The entire city seems extremely excited to play host and also seems to take great pride on being as helpful as possible. The signage throughout the entire city and the hotel staff seem very eager to show off their event.
As I write this, I am actually being talked into going on a second run today! I don’t think I have done a two-a-day in 5 years, but will probably end up doing so – how often do you have the chance to run with these kind of world class athletes? Besides, I’m trying to get as tired as possible so I sleep more than 4 hours in a row sometime during the next couple weeks!
Wednesday, August 17
It is 5:30am on Wednesday in Daegu. Only slept 5 hours this first night after staying up for close to 40. I am sure that I was the only one to be disappointed when we arrived only because I was hoping to finish watching my eighth movie of the plane trip (Chicago-Seoul). Much easier for me to be told it is best to stay awake then sleep on a plane. I had a couple decent meals to go along with my private movie marathon and literally got out of my seat only once the entire way.
Many of the staff starting meeting up on our Chicago leg and more so when we all rode together in Seoul. Many of the coaches and support staff have worked many trips together beforehand and I am sure that familiarity really helps the athletes since many of the same ones qualify for teams years in a row.
The highlight in Seoul was definitely Bolt’s arrival in the waiting area. It is unbelievable what a rock star the great track athletes are outside the U.S. He had airport security sort of blocking other passengers off (probably a good thing because there were probably about 200 school children who were super excited to see him).
Upon arrival, we went through customs and we walked out from baggage claim. I was about 20 minutes after Bolt had emerged (and taken much of the press with him), and I still felt like I should have apologized that is was just me — nevertheless, the crowd was excited to see anyone connected to the World Championships.
Travel pick-up was extremely smooth with the USATF staff members who had already arrived the days preceding and we had maybe 20 minutes to the hotel. (by the way, it felt just like Ohio with heat/humidity – it is definitely going to play a role in preparations). The hotel is very nice and without seeing much due to traveling at night and even I was starting to get tired, been told all is 1st rate for training. We move to the village around the 21st.
I’m excited to go exploring and have promised I would sneak in runs of 45 minutes a day if at all possible. I’ve run maybe five times in the last two months, so I need to get in some kind of shape. My nemesis, Angela from the OSU women’s cross country team, who was an 800 runner, beat me up our first preseason camp run last year and I am definitely going to be fitter if I hope to even the score upon return.
Off to explore – looking forward to the athletes arriving.
Sunday, August 14
It is the night before I leave for Korea and I thought it would be a good idea to get a solid update in now before what is probably going to be an incredibly long day of travel tomorrow/into Tuesday. I am slated to arrive in Daegu at the Team USA training camp around 9 pm on Tuesday evening. Best part of the travel is they’ve recommended staying awake for the entirety of the plane trip which will be easy for me to do as I can never sleep on flights – since my son was born, I have had very few chances to go to the movies so a perfect trip for me would be watching seven movies in a row and being there (14 hour flight). If that isn’t available, I have a long list of projects I would like to get done for the Ohio State team as well as some plans for 2012 post-collegiate guys I coach.
Many people have been asking me what we do on these trips as coaches. Obviously, we do not specifically write training schedules and speak on racing strategies at this point. I had many good coaches work with me when I was fortunate enough to make some national teams and always enjoyed any feedback or instruction they may have had. That being said, I can’t think of a worse scenario than me giving contradictory advice from what their personal coach may be giving. I have been in email contact with all the distance guys (1500, steeple, 5k, 10k, marathon and walk is my area) and spoken to most on the phone at least once. I have also included their personal coaches in all communications and handouts from USOC regarding heat acclimization, jet lag recommendations, nutritional and training suggestions. Additionally, we have had numerous conference calls with our staff discussing important information for the athletes/coaches to understand, rooming assignments, practice times, meet protocol, etc. This afternoon, I bought extra safety pins, spikes and wrenches.
I am very excited for this particular coaching assignment – I have been a Team USA junior coach for world track, world cross country and an U23 team, so this is my first time at the senior level. Working with the juniors is exciting because you can see the “stars of the future”, but the seniors are the “show” – these are next year’s Olympians that can be representing our country. As for Worlds, I almost enjoyed it more as an athlete over the Olympics primarily because it is just track and field. To that end, it seems USATF has spared no thought in trying to assist in any way possible for a successful team outing.
We have a very knowledgeable staff and the men and women’s staffs have been working together very closely thus far. I am sure everyone feels it is a great honor and opportunity to learn from so many great athletes and staff so I am looking forward to the next 3 weeks. It will, however, be very tough leaving my family for 3 weeks (especially my son Percy who will be a world record holder at 400m hurdles; I have explained I need to research the event at this high level to assure his position on the 2028 Olympic team!). It will also be tough to leave a couple professional guys right before they head back over for a couple European races – both ran Falmouth this past weekend. Jeff SeePR’d in the mile at 3:55.2 for second and Brian Olinger was the first American and fourth overall in the road race today (Brian just missed the “A”-standard in the steeplechase when he finished second at London Golden League). A third post-collegiate, Daniel Huling, will be competing in Korea and I am very excited to be able to be there with him as he competes! Our calendar at OSU is nice because we are still on quarters so I don’t miss pre-season. I do return in early September and we depart for our training camp in Boone, NC Sept. 8-19.
Go Team USA (and GO BUCKS)
Coach Robert Gary