Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Stewing on Wariner's New Hart-throb

As you probably know, Jeremy Wariner has left (kicked to the curb?) his old coach Clyde Hart. In an Olympic year. bjw weighed in with probably the only voice of support. But after stewing for a couple of days on the interview with Wariner's new coach, Mike Ford, which you probably have seen already, as well, I think I'm finally able to give voice to what struck me as being a little "off" about that interview...

Dr. Track: How many races do you expect him to run prior to the Olympic Games?
Ford: I'm not sure. Other than the US Olympic Trials, nothing else has been set.
Hmm.... we are less than half a year out from the Trials, and we're still hashing out his schedule? Taken by itself, that comment is maybe a little worrisome, but not that big of a deal. Unfortunately, throughout the interview, Ford also seems kind of all over the place:
Ford: The training program we will use this year will NOT differ too much, if at all, from the program used by Coach Hart.


Ford: We will continue to do what he has been doing in the past. [...] We will stay on the plan.


Dr. Track: In the short term - this year - the major focus is the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Have any longer term goals been discussed? If so, what are they?
Ford: Everything is pretty much new, so we have not had the opportunity to discuss it.
Wait, so... which is it? Everything's the same? Or everything's new? Finally, the aspect of the chat that just baffled me were these statements of uncertainty:
Dr. Track: Will you be traveling with him when he competes prior to the US Olympic Trials? Do your Baylor responsibilities allow for this?
Ford: This has not been discussed. I expect to travel with him during "off weekends" - the weeks that Baylor does not have a meet.
So, in other words, you may travel with him when your primary job allows. Maybe. Does any of this sound like something you'd expect to hear from the coach of arguably the top athlete in the world?

I'm not taking anything away from Mike Ford's credentials or abilities as a coach -- that's not what this is about. What I will blast is the arrangement. bjw's point -- that elite athletes need less and less hands-on coaching as the gain experience -- is well taken. But if anything, a coach needs to be confident presence for his athlete to feed off of. What it sounds like to me, is that Wariner hired someone who will essentially be a workout supervisor and little more. But hey, plenty of elite athletes work without coaches. I mean, Roger Federer recently dismissed his coach and he's playing better... than... ev...


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