Spearmon puts together plan for Beijing

Updated: April 18, 2008, 7:52 PM ET
Associated Press

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Wallace Spearmon Jr. didn't run the 200 meters at the Texas Relays a few weeks ago. He's not running it this weekend at the Kansas Relays. He may not run it in the next couple of weeks.

Is there something wrong with the current indoor American record holder? Nope. It's all part of Spearmon's runup to the Olympics.

That's right, the guy who used to just show up and run past everybody actually has a plan this year.

"For the first time ever I somewhat put a plan together," Spearmon said on Friday. "It used to be I feel like running this weekend, so I go out there and run. You're young, you think you can do anything."

Spearmon is one of the headliners Saturday at the Kansas Relays, along with two-time world champion shot putter Chris Cantwell, former 400 hurdles world champ Bershawn Jackson and Muna Lee, a 2004 Olympian in the 200.

Unlike his fellow elite athletes, Spearmon will be avoiding the event he hopes to run at the Beijing Olympics in August. Instead of the 200 -- an event he's held the indoor record of 20.10 seconds for nearly three years -- Spearmon will compete in the 400 and 800 relays.

Spearmon's plan over the next few weeks is to work on speed events, like the 400 relay and the 100, early in the season to build toward the Olympic Trials June 27 in Eugene, Ore. After Kansas, Spearmon heads to the Penn Relays, then to events in California and New York before competing in the Prefontaine Classic in Oregon just before the trials.

"It's still early in the season. I still feel like I have some work to do," he said. "I think I'm where I need to be, but I still need to get sharp, I need to be race-ready. A few more races and I feel like I'll be ready."

Jackson is itching to get back on the track after the trouble he had in 2007.

The 2005 world outdoor champ in 400 hurdles pulled his hamstring at a meet in Helsinki and kept reinjuring himself, competing in just five meets last season. He did win the Kansas Relays for the third straight year and fourth time overall, but failed to qualify for the finals at the world championships in Japan after slamming into a hurdle in his qualifying heat.

Jackson spent the winter working on loosening up the bands of his legs through acupuncture and massages, and it seems to have worked.

"I feel great," said Jackson, who'll compete at the Adidas Track Classic in California on May 18 before heading to Europe. "I had a slight injury (at) indoor, but I'm running good."

Lee has been running well after switching training sites and styles. She had spent the past two years in the Los Angeles area training under Bobby Kersee, but moved in January to College Station, Texas -- in part because she didn't like California, but also because she wanted to try a different type of training.

"The training taught me a lot, but I'm more of a technical person and he would run you a lot, 600s and stuff," she said. "That just wasn't my practice style at all."

While the elite athletes were scheduled to compete on Saturday, several college and high school events were held on Friday in cold weather and intermittent rain.

Austra Skujyte, the 2004 silver medalist in the heptathlon at the Athens Olympics, won the women's shot put with a throw of 55 feet, 3½ inches. Nebraska's Zach Holoch won pole vault by more than 5 inches at 16-0 3/4.

Crystal Manning of Kansas won the women's triple jump at 41-5 3/4, Nebraska's Kim Shubert the high jump with 5-8 3/4 inches and Kayla Wilkinson of Nebraska took javelin with a throw of 174 feet.

Emily Sisson of Millard North High School in Omaha, Neb., shattered the meet record in the girls' 3,200, finishing in 10 minutes, 25.42 seconds to beat the previous mark by more than 19 seconds.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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