Jeremy Wariner found the blue skies he was looking for.
By ANDREW LOGUE
1st May 2011
The three-time Olympic gold medalist was slowed by wind gusts and ominous clouds while training near his home in Waco, Texas.
He finally experienced a breakthrough Saturday in Des Moines, winning a Drake Relays invitational 400 meters in 45.19 seconds.
“This meet has always been extremely supportive,” Wariner said. “The fans have always come out in the past, whether it was rain, sleet, hail — they’re always out there.”
A Drake Stadium crowd of 14,504 — the 46th consecutive Saturday sellout — was rewarded with temperatures in the mid-60 and plenty of sunshine.
Wariner drew cheers after dominating his event, while Boaz Lalang received a warm ovation after upsetting American-record holder Alan Webb in the mile.
“To me, it’s so good to come here and win,” said Lalang, who finished in 3:58.26. “It tells me the training I’ve been doing has been working.”
Wariner triumphed a week earlier in a race at Waco, but was disappointed with his time of 45.61.
“We had about 30 mph winds, a cross wind going in our face the first 150 (meters),” Wariner said. “It wasn’t fun.”
The early forecast for Drake was equally foreboding.
“Someone had told me 40s and rain on Saturday,” he recalled. “I was like, ‘Aw, crap. Here we go again.’ ”
Wariner, who won a 400 title at the Relays in 2009, followed the weather patterns.
“As the week went on, we kept looking,” he said. “The weather just got nicer and nicer and nicer.”
Wariner was surprised by the conditions at race time, but did what was expected once the gun sounded.
“Coming down the backstretch, I felt real comfortable,” he said. “I came on the turn and had no idea where anyone was. So I just stayed focused on the finish line.”
Lalang was out to defend his title in the mile, but felt a little overlooked.
“I think it is something that really motivated me,” said Lalang, who ran 3:56.14 last year at Drake. “When I was checking over the Internet, everything was about Alan Webb.”
Webb won Tuesday’s Grand Blue Mile in downtown Des Moines, but was boxed in during the final turn Saturday.
“I would have liked to been able to push harder,” Webb said. “It’s one of the few times I literally could not run as hard as I wanted to, because there was somebody right in front of me.”
Webb placed fourth in 3:58.77.
Peter van der Westhuize was second in 3:58.33, followed by Chris O’Hare at 3:58.77.
“We had a pretty good weather day,” Webb said. “It was real windy, though. I think I did well. All in all it was definitely a positive run.”