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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Steffensen - "A great man at work"

Steffensen - "A great man at work"

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1Steffensen - "A great man at work" Empty Steffensen - "A great man at work" on Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:32 pm



John Steffensen edging closer to Olympic qualifying time

by: Glenda Korporaal
From:The Australian
February 20, 2012

CONTROVERSIAL 400m runner John Steffensen will be looking to confound his critics again at the Olympic trials in Melbourne on March 2 after winning the Sydney track classic on the weekend in an improved time.

Steffensen held off Kenyan world 800m record-holder David Rudisha to win the 400m in 45.61sec, getting him closer to the Olympic qualifying time of 45.3sec.

Rudisha finished in 45.82sec while Ben Offereins came third in 46.09sec. This followed Steffensen's win in 46.11sec in Perth the week before, his first time on the track in Australia since last July.

Steffensen, who lives in California, kept a low profile last week following his outburst in Perth where he described his win as a "murder scene" and suggested that someone should have "dialled 000" to get an ambulance to pick up the "boys" behind him.

Although made in jest, his remarks sparked off a storm of controversy, including from world champion hurdler Sally Pearson on Friday, who indicated she did not approve of him criticising other athletes, particularly when they may be his teammates in a 4x400m relay in London.

A slightly more subdued Steffensen compared himself to former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting on Saturday night.

"Like Ricky Ponting says, you can't stop a great man at work," he said. "Anyone who faces the criticism I've had to face and still has to come out and run is a champion."

Steffensen, a member of the 4x400m relay team that won silver in the 2004 Games in Athens, rejected the suggestion he was going through a "reincarnation".

"I'm just doing what I'm meant to do and run fast. I've got great backing and I'm truly blessed to be in this position," he said.

Steffensen joked in a television interview on the weekend that there was no need to "dial 000" for an ambulance as there was already one at the track on Saturday night. But he avoided any questions from journalists apart from the official broadcaster.

Tamysn Manou (nee Lewis), who easily won the 800m on Saturday in 2min 1.53sec, strongly defended Steffensen. "I love listening to his interviews," she said. "They are entertaining. He is not being serious."

Also on the weekend, Pearson continued her strong start to the season by winning the hurdles in 12.66sec, her fastest time in Australia, despite hitting the last hurdle. She backed up with an Olympic qualifying time of 23.06sec in the 200m.

More Olympic qualifying times were clocked up, including 400m hurdler Lauren Boden, who finished in 55.45sec.

2Steffensen - "A great man at work" Empty Re: Steffensen - "A great man at work" on Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:35 pm



A new punchline for Steffensen

by Mike Hurst
The Daily Telegraph
February 20, 2012

Steffensen - "A great man at work" 148542-john-steffensen

JOHN Steffensen locked in his place on Australia's Olympic 4x400m relay team and came a step closer to earning an individual run with a commanding 400m victory at the Sydney Track Classic at Homebush on Saturday.

With triple world boxing champion Jeff Fenech standing watch on the grandstand concourse, Steffensen received a lukewarm reception from the crowd when introduced and an equally muted response to his post-race interview despite his impressive run and encouraging time of 45.61sec.

Fenech does Steffensen's padwork and it showed as the 2006 Commonwealth 400m champ kept his arms punching right to the line.

Steffensen is a flamboyant personality whose most recent effort to entertain served only to belittle his own relay teammates and distract from his own excellence as a master of 400m running.

"It was a murder scene out there, the way I murdered their little boys. Someone should call 000. It was a crime scene," he said after a narrow win in Perth a week earlier.

The comment earned him a rebuke from Australia's 100m hurdles world champion Sally Pearson, who said "slagging off" teammates was not on.

The reality is Steffensen is a class runner and does not need to imitate Muhammad Ali or Anthony Mundine in order to entertain. With Darrell Smith - a nephew of the world's greatest 400m coach John Smith - in Australia to coach Steffensen (and US hurdler Nia Ali), the Olympic A-qualifying time of 45.20sec could come at the Melbourne Olympic Trials on March 1-3.

Certainly he has a great admirer in Athletics Australia's head coach Eric Hollingsworth, who made a show of himself embracing Steffensen on the track after he had crossed the line, a public display of affection I saw no others receive.

And veteran Tamsyn Manou, 33, who won her 800m in Sydney (2:01.53) is also a fan: "John's not being serious - it's not how he is. He's such a good teammate and he's great to all of us."

Yet Steffensen was far from the meet's stand-out performer. That honour belonged to Kiwi Valerie Adams who won the shot put with a world-leading toss of 20.67m - 11cm further than her Olympic gold-medal effort in Beijing.

Adams's performance was all but ignored by the meeting's producers. She was not even interviewed over the stadium PA after her event. And obviously that is Steffensen's point: he will never be overlooked.

Henry Frayne also excelled, beating the Olympic A-qualifying mark of 8.20m, making him Australia's greatest long and triple combination jumper (8.27m and 17.09m), surpassing Phil May (8.02m and 17.02m) within a week.

3Steffensen - "A great man at work" Empty Re: Steffensen - "A great man at work" on Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:37 pm



Tamsyn Manou defends outspoken 400m runner John Steffensen

by: Liam FitzGibbon
From: AAP
February 19, 2012

TRACK veteran Tamsyn Manou has leapt to the defence of outspoken 400m star John Steffensen, insisting he's a supportive teammate who is great for Australian athletics.

Controversial Steffensen drew a new wave of criticism following post-race comments after winning the 400m at last week's Perth Track Classic, in which he taunted his rivals claiming he "murdered their little boys'' in a "crime scene'' after a narrow win over Steve Solomon.

Steffensen backed up his boasts with an impressive win in 45.61 seconds at the Sydney Track Classic last night, before declaring himself a champion for overcoming the backlash from his comments.

That backlash included criticism from world 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson, who questioned why Steffensen was "slagging off'' his own teammates.

But 800m runner Manou (nee Lewis) claimed Steffensen was a great contributor to the Australian team and was simply trying to entertain with his comments.

"I love listening to his interviews. I think they're entertaining,'' Manou, 33, said.

"He's not being serious - it's not how he is. He's such a good team-mate and he's great to all of us. He's always been supportive to me.

"He is a great guy - lovely, friendly and he makes you guys write stories. That's got to be good for the sport.''

Manou also impressed last night as she produced by far her most encouraging performance since suffering a calf injury in November.

She clocked 2:01.53 in winning the 800m but said the performance had given her a huge boost ahead of next month's Olympic trials in Melbourne as she targets the Games qualifying standard of 1:59.90.

"It's nice to know that I'm back in shape. Now I feel like I can attack the season with some real effort and attack that 'A' standard where before I was like a fish out of water and chasing my own tail,'' said Manou, who will retire after London.

"It's amazing what one race can do.''

Last night's meet also featured another impressive showing by Pearson, who clocked 12.66 seconds - her fastest time on Australian soil - to indicate her quest for gold in London is on track.

Pearson's win came despite knocking down the final hurdle after also clipping one in her win in Perth.

"It's the second race of the season. If you get it perfect now, you've got nothing to work on,'' Pearson said.

4Steffensen - "A great man at work" Empty Re: Steffensen - "A great man at work" on Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:43 pm



All forgiven as Steffensen eyes Games

by: Damien Stannard
From: The Sunday Mail (Qld)
February 19, 2012

JOHN Steffensen is among the sport's most divisive characters, yet Athletics Australia holds no grudges against the controversial sprinter.

The former Commonwealth 400m champion's antics have angered numerous bosses over the years.

But the national team's head of high performance Eric Hollingsworth insists the West Australian has a clean slate and will be picked for the Olympic Games if he meets the selection criteria.

"There are no issues with John," Hollingsworth said.

"Everything's fine and if he's running well (enough) he'll be selected (for the Olympic team)."

There are two certainties with regard to Steffensen: he has talent and the ability to polarise.

He was at his colourful best after a rare 400m win at last week's Perth Track Classic with a playful post-race boast that risked insulting rivals and relay teammates.

"It was a murder scene out there, the way I murdered their little boys," he said after holding off teenage world championships representative Steven Solomon. "Someone should call 000. It was a crime scene."

In spite of his outbursts, he remains popular with many teammates, with most of Steffensen's quips made in jest, to entertain not offend.

In recent years his clangers have outweighed his victories.

He fell out with several high-profile figures, including Hollingsworth and Athletics Australia president Rob Fildes.

In the lead-up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, after being told he had to earn selection at the trials, he said the sport was being run "like an amateur schoolboy carnival" and that athletes were being bullied.

He was eventually picked for the 4x400m relay squad but later withdrew.

Steffensen also had a feud with national team selector and Olympic gold medallist Glynis Nunn-Cearns.

The trouble with the 29-year-old is memories of his international successes are fading quickly.

Steffensen's 400m personal best of 44.73sec was set in winning the 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medal.

In recent times he has been unable to earn an individual berth on the national team, and more than 120 men ran quicker than Steffensen last year.

Injuries have hampered him but these are not the performances of a world-class sprinter.

The clean slate from selectors is not shared by Olympic gold medal favourite Sally Pearson, who challenged Steffensen to deliver on the track.

"I always want him to do well but to slag other people, probably not (ideal)," she said in an interview on Channel 9.

"They're his relay teammates. It brings publicity to the sport but you could go about it a different way.

"You can walk the walk as well."

Steffensen ran a respectable 46.11 in Perth but must lower that mark by almost a second if he wants to impress the selectors.

That was Solomon's comeback race and he will only improve after paying the price for a slow first 200m.

Ben Offereins, Sean Wroe and Kevin Moore are also rivals.

"It's up to all those guys to put the pedal down," Hollingsworth said.

"For us to be (relay) medal contenders in London we need all four guys under 46 seconds."

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