Wallace Spearmon Video Interview, U.S. Olympic Sprinter
When sprinter Wallace Spearmon competed in the 200-meter race at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, he crossed the finish line in third place — only to find out later that he had been disqualified for stepping out of his lane.
"I have no idea what it would feel like to put that gold medal around my neck, but I'll tell you what, I'm hoping to find out," Spearmon told Uinterview exclusively beforet he 2012 London Games.
Spearmon said that what happened in 2008 was "very unfortunate," especially since he had "great chances of actually coming home with a medal." When, after about 400 meters of his victory lap, he learned that he had been DQ'd, he was "heartbroken."
"From that day I knew what I had to do," he continued. "I had to come back redeem myself."
Unfortunately, Spearmon came up just short again in 2012, placing fourth in the 200 m event.
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So typically I have a training group and we usually try to work out together. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. My weakness is the start. I train with four other guys who have great starts. One Olympian from Canada, an Olympian from Britain, one from the U.S. and another guy, he's not an Olympian but he still has great starts. So pretty much my natural gift is, my greatest assets when I step on the track, [that] I have speed endurance. I run 200 meter dash, [which] consists of one curve and one straight. Usually trailing on the turn, going straight away you'll watch me shoot down straight like a missile. So my main focus if I want to come home with a medal would be trying to stay closer off the turn, so I'd need to work on my start.
If it's race day you know we're at the track or at the hotel leading to the track. I usually like to watch races before I run. I go back and watch some of best races and my worst. I like to watch the races where they have the finish line, the photo, where they have the different numbers. You'll see where like nineteen-seven is, six, five, four, three, two. And I try to see how close I am to running one of those times. Once I've done that I see how far I am. I like to go back to that race and what could I have done better to run faster that day. And once we get to the track I'm the guy that you don't usually want to be around because I'm the guy who's joking and laughing and having fun. A lot of guys get nervous and they get really serious you know. About 10 minutes before my race you'll see me serious, but I don't understand why people get nervous. I get nervous at practice because there's no one there watching and the coach will tell you you have six efforts and you gotta run repeats, but when you get to the meets there will be people watching and cheering for you and screaming your name. You only have to run once, I mean that's fun, I don't get it. I love it.
I try to eat somewhat healthy before a race. Usually when we're in the village they bring chefs from around the world so you have different types of food from around the world. I try to stick to pasta, I'm going to try to stay away from fried foods. I am not Usain Bolt and I do not eat 20 chicken nuggets before I break world records. The first thing I do when I finish running, after I get my medal and come home and do my parades, get the key to the city from the mayor, I'm going to get a Cinnabon, yhe big one with extra icing. I'm not sharing it. Don't ask me for any, you can't have it. It's mine, you can't have it. It's mine, the whole thing.
Growing up as a child, I mean, I'm pretty sure everyone can admit to this, when you're younger you don't really stretch/ I mean you have an off switch so when it's time to play no one told you to go out there and touch your toes. It was just, 'Let's go.' Even through college I'll admit I didn't have the best warm up routine. I went out there and just kind of played it by ear. In my older age, 27, I'm realizing that when I wake up if I don't exactly warm up and cool down like I'm supposed to, you feel it that next day. And you can't afford to take days off due to lack of just basic fundamental exercises. So I'll go out there, I got hurt last year. I went to St. Vincents in Annapolis. They taught me some dynamic stretches, dynamic warm ups [where] I'm moving. It's not a lot of static movements now. Everything is key to my sport, everything I'm doing right now pertains to a different movement, a different action of how I'm going to compete. So I'm definitely taking it very seriously nowadays, seeing how injuries could either make or break you.
I have no idea what it would feel like to put that gold medal around my neck, but I'll tell you what, I'm hoping to find out. In 2008 it was very unfortunate what happened, I had great chances of actually coming home with a medal. I crossed the line 3rd, I did probably 350 meters, probably 400 meters of my victory lap and then Usain Bolt's agent told me I was disqualified. I looked up. I was heartbroken going through all the PO process, they showed me where I actually stepped on the line, they told me the rules, and I just had to deal with it. From that day I knew what I had to do. I had to come back, redeem myself. I felt like I let myself down, I let anyone who had anything to do with me being at that level as far as medically, my strength coach, my regular coach, my family for support. I feel like I let them down. So going into 2012 there's a lot of pressure on me. It's not bad pressure. Sometimes athletes feel like you have to do something last minute. I know it's bad, people call it procrastination, but as an athlete we call it our sport, but I feel like I have a point to prove and I've been training extremely hard to go out and actually come home with a medal. It's one thing to make a team, that's a great accomplishment for most. Very few actually come home with a medal, gold, silver, or bronze. Of course I'm aiming for that gold, but at the end of the day I just want to come home with a medal at an individual event. It would be great to come home with a relay, but I want that individual event.
Growing up I looked up to my father. He ran track and field. Some of his competitors I looked up to, Michael Johnson. I think I'm more similar to Frankie Fredericks. Frankie Fredericks has probably been in, won a good six or seven world record races even though he never broke one himself, but he was always in the mix. If you ask Michael Johnson, Michael Johnson will tell you himself that was one of his favorite people to compete against. He always showed up, he was always just a stone cold competitor. I feel like...I've been around since '05, I've made every team except for last year when I was injured. I look forward to keeping a streak going. Michael Johnson and Frankie Fredericks have the most sub-twenties in history, and I think I'm two behind. I have 22, Michael Johnson has 23, Frankie Fredericks has 24. So me and Bolt are tied 22 so this year's going to be a record breaking year one way or another.
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