Friday, February 29, 2008

Q & A: Dr. Ralph Mann--Track Expert on Being A Blur! speaks with one of the nation’s leading experts in the biomechanics of sports performance.

Many think that running fast is simply a matter of picking up your feet quickly. Ummm…better think again. had the pleasure to catch up with Dr. Ralph Mann—one of the world’s top authorities on biomechanics—to set the record straight.

Dr. Mann is the man, behind the man—teaching college and elite coaches the finer points of sprinting that helps the U.S. stay on top of the game. He is a doctor of mechanics, assisting runners with becoming human bullets. The results of his work can be seen in the mountains of U.S. won medals at world championships and Olympic Games.

Currently he serves as head of the Sprint / Hurdle division for Elite Athlete Program of USA Track & Field and leads the organization’s annual conference of the nation’s top coaches to discuss assisting runners on being a blur.

Dr. Mann’s manual, The Mechanics of Sprinting and Hurdling, is a must-read for track coaches and represents 25 years of research, filming, and evaluation of every top U.S. athlete. His book, Swing Like A Pro breaks down the skills of golf’s greatest champions.

Alongside being a researcher and author—he also has massive track cred. At the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Dr. Mann clocked 48.51 winning a silver medal in the 400-meter hurdles and is a former world record holder. appreciates Dr. Mann taking time to talk with an upstart blogsite about the inner world of elite sprinting.

Question: How did you become involved in biomechanics?

Answer: My college degree was in mechanical engineering, so I combined my interest in mechanics and human movement.

Question: The casual fan may think that track is about running fast. How important is biomechanics?

Answer: Sprinting is not a natural movement. In mechanical terms, it is much different than casual running. We have filmed and analyzed more than 600 of the best sprinters since 1982, and they all display the same mechanics – some better than others, but there is only one way to sprint fast.

Mechanics is critical – with the level of competition in the sprints, a sprinter cannot be successful without sound mechanics. That said, the most important factor is the genetic ability to generate large amounts of explosive force.

Question: Since you have been involved in biomechanics how has the science evolved?

Answer: I was one of the group of biomechanists that started the sports science program for Track & Field in 1982. So, I have seen it go from startup to a major factor in preparing our elite athletes.

Today, the Sprint/Hurdle program uses computer modeling to both analyze and teach the athletes – often in real time on the track. In 1982, the sports science program was started because the U.S. was losing its dominance in track – especially the sprints. We have long since regained this dominance and maintain it despite the improvement in other countries sprinting programs.

The USATF High Performance Program in Sprints and Hurdles now directly affects all of the top men and women sprinters and hurdlers – through their coaches.

In addition, beginning this year, we have opened the annual Elite Seminar to a limited number (200) of developing coaches, and the response was overwhelming.

Question: How might your career as an elite 400-meter hurdler have differed with what is know today in biomechanics

Answer: I look back at what I did to excel in the hurdles and realize that my ignorance at the time limited my potential development in more ways that I care to count.

Question: What can young runners learn from biomechanics

Answer: All of research and all of the years of application have shown us that if an athlete is to be successful at the level that we are seeking to achieve, no area of performance can be ignored. Since it has become evident that the development of explosive strength and the proper mechanics to deliver the power are the two most critical factors in sprint performance, ignoring either will guarantee that the athlete will not achieve their performance potential.

Any serious sprinter needs to find a coach that understands the mechanics of sprinting (circa 2008), as well as all of the other performance factors involved.

Question: Can you name a few runners that have excellent biomechanics?

Answer: The sprinters that have stood above, even above the elite, level since 1982:

Short Sprints:

Carl Lewis Flo Jo

Long Sprints:

Michael Johnson

Question: What are the limits of human performance?

Answer: Any scientist that has answered this question in the past has been shown to be short sighted. I place no limits on potential.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

AT&T U.S. Indoor Track & Field Championships Highlights

Lolo Jones Visa Championship winner

Khadevis Robinson, Lolo Jones, and Christian Cantwell win big!

Besides national indoor titles, roster spots were also at stake this past weekend. The top two finishers in each event go on to compete at the 2008 IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships for Team USA on March 7-9 in Valencia, Spain.

Many of U.S.A.’s biggest names did not participate in the indoor season because it is an Olympic year. Their absence means the typically much smaller appearance fees paid at indoor meets was not worth the time needed to prepare for the outdoor season.

The indoor national championship meet was marked by low attendance, a shame considering the fabulous facility in Boston. Even with the smaller crowds, there were some impressive performances. And here's why.

Money. Besides national titles and $2,500, $1,500, $500 payouts to the medalists, additional future money was at stake in Boston. Victors in Spain will collect $40,000, and bronze is worth $10,000. Not bad for a day’s work at the office.

The Visa Championship is a points-based system awarded on performances and finishes for men and women. Lolo Jones and Adam Nelson were the winners, and each went home with a $25,000 check.

Lolo Jones is making her case to be the next great American hurdler now that Gail Devers has somewhat retired. Jones, the defending women's 60-meter hurdles champ, won easily. Lolo bested Candice Davis by two-hundredths of a second in 7.88. Her win gave her the 1,194 points on the scoring table to take the women’s Visa Championship’s $25,000 prize.

The men's shot put came in with big expectations. Cantwell, Hoffa, and Nelson have been throwing out of the universe, and at the same time, breathing excitement into the often over-looked field event. A small, but select, field gathered as Christian Cantwell defended his indoor title by defeating Reese Hoffa and Adam Nelson, the winner of the men's Visa Championship points’ race.

The men’s sprints were an ensemble of new, upcoming names and faces. In his first professional season, two-time NAIA champion Michael Rodgers won over Leroy Dixon in the 60-meter dash in 6.54 seconds after Leonard Scott, the defending world champion, pulled his right hamstring during his semifinal heat.

David Neville won the men's 400 in 46.34, besting Greg Nixon's 46.72 in the two-heat final.

Jennifer Stuczynski continues to build the case that she is the sport’s new queen of pole vault. She easily won the women's pole vault with a vault of 15 feet, 5 inches over Jillian Schwartz in 14 feet, 9 inches.

The men’s 800-meters was the most exciting event of the two-day meet. KD and Symmonds have big show-downs every time they compete, and this time was no exception.

Four-time U.S. outdoor champion Khadevis Robinson held off a fierce kick down the home stretch by Nicholas Symmonds by a mere hundredth of a second to win the men's 800 meters in 1:46.95. Whew!

37-year-old Allen Johnson was narrowly edged for second place in the men’s 60-meter hurdles. Winner, Anwar Moore, blazed to victory in 7.47 seconds, the fastest time by an American this year.

Rob Myers led most of the way and won the men's 1500 in 3:40.8.

Amy Acuff is so good that she is often over-looked. She won the women’s High Jump with a 6 feet, 3.5 inch leap for her fourth overall and second consecutive indoor national title.

For more information, including complete results and athlete quotes, visit

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Thursday, February 28, 2008

When Athletes Blog: Olympic Hopeful Brianna Glenn

Brianna Glenn and Jamie Nieto on the red carpet.

Brianna Glenn isn’t exactly a serious actress. In fact, she’s an elite long jumper, sprinter, and a model.

The Olympic hopeful, and track’s most hilarious persona, wasn’t invited to the Oscars in Los Angeles. However she, Olympian high jumper Jamie Nieto, and agent Paul Doyle did manage to make an Oscar soiree in Boston while in town for indoor nationals.

Track fans need more athletes to represent the sport in an exciting fashion. Has she ever thought of cloning herself? Brianna describes the adventurous evening on her official blog:

“While I was in Boston this past weekend I had the opportunity to attend this fancy gala that was part Oscar party and part fundraiser for Breast Cancer. I guess Boston does their best imitation of Hollywood come Oscar time and they pull out their red carpets and fancy gowns and pretend that there isn’t snow on the ground and real movie stars anywhere to be found. Well, I guess Ben Affleck is from Boston but he wasn’t at this party. I did see some actress I recognized from something I couldn’t quite recall. Anyway, our marketing guy extraordinaire (shout out to Stephen!) scored us a VIP invite, complete with Limo Service and a promise of a gift bag. I figured it probably topped the list of fun things to do in Bean Town so I accepted. Seeing as how I hadn’t planned on going to any black tie affair I was forced to go shopping in order to find something suitable to wear and lucky for me our hotel just happened to be attached to a mall.

My agent went big time and scored a suit from Hugo Boss but seeing as how I had no real need for a big time gown because parties in Tucson rarely call for such extravagant attire, I found a suitable frock at Arden B. and shoes from Aldo, your typical mall stores and the most affordable thing to be found at this particular mall. So, Jamie Nieto and I, along with our agent Paul made our way to this party and had ourselves a good time".

Click here to read more.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Stacy Dragila Is Engaged!

Olympian Stacy Dragila 2000 Gold Medal Women's Pole Vault

It’s all about taking love to new heights. Olympian Stacy Dragila, is engaged to former Washington State discus thrower Ian Waltz.

Ian Waltz is the top ranked U.S. discus thrower, and Dragila is the American outdoor record holder and a pole vault pioneer.

Congrats to the happy couple!

Click here to see the NBC cameras follow as the Olympic hopeful gets creative and proposes to Stacy.

Love sparked on the track and is taking them to the wedding chapel!

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wariner & Powell Impressive!

10.04 meeting record for Asafa Powell in Melbourne

On Thursday, powerful messages were conveyed without a word being said at the Melbourne Track Classic in Australia. Jeremy ran a super fast time for February, and Powell came out and let competitors know that he has mental and physical toughness.

The one-lap champ set an intense pace from the start and won handily in 44.82 seconds. The second place runner was nearly a full second behind Jeremy Wariner.

Jeremy ran below 45 seconds in the 400-meters as he predicted for the season opener and in the process probably squelched media talk that his season and career were doomed.

When asked he said, “I had a great race today. I got to see where I was in my training, and now I go back and rest for a couple of days and then get back on the grind.”

In a Willis Reedesque comeback, World-record holder Asafa Powell made it to the starting line in spite of his knee troubles and won in 10.09 at 100-meters. To the question: what message do you have for your rivals, Powell said: “Come out and do your best because this year is nothing like last year.”

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Final Lap: Around the Globe in 60 seconds

With all of the excitement and preparation for this week’s upcoming U.S. indoor national championship meet. Let’s not forget about the great week that was had in track & field.

Athletes will compete at the AT&T USA Indoor Track & Field Championships on Sunday to win a national title and a roster spots for Team USA roster spots for the 2008 IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships on March 7-9 in Valencia, Spain.

You can tell it’s an Olympic year because no one wants to get left at home. This last week in track & field has produced a lot of impressive performances.

  • Steven Spielberg rolled out! The Chinese are looking to save face after the maker of Schindler’s List resigned his Olympic duties in protest of the China's support of the human rights abuses in Darfur.

  • Watch out Stuczynksi! American outdoor record holder Jenn Stuczynski has been served notice. Russian Yelena Isinbayeva improved her own world indoor record in the pole vault to 4.95m (16-2 3/4) in Donetsk, Ukraine.

  • I won’t say I Told You So but..Carmelita Jeter, one of PRJ’s preseason picks to watch closed another big race in 60-meters at Tyson Invitational. That’s three major wins indoors, but who is counting, right?

  • Big Poppy gets crazy! Adam Nelson is adding mad sportsmanship and attention to the men’s shot put. Oh, by the way, he’s number three all-time indoors after belting a throw of 73 feet, 6 inches.

  • Who said distance runners can’t sprint? Kenenisa Bekele ran a smoking last 200-meters in 27.9 seconds to break the world 2mile record in Birmingham. Bet that bonus check spends nicely!

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My First Guest Blog!

Michael Johnson looks on as Heisman Trophy runner-up and possible No. 1 overall pick Darren McFadden at the Michael Johnson Performance Center at Craig Ranch.

Guest blog leads to a deeper question.

From: and guest writer, Jay Hicks.

I wrote my first guest blog with byline at, "The NFL’s top candidates are hoping track legend, Michael Johnson’s sprinting wisdom brushes off on them. Two of the draft’s top running backs, Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, are in a six-week training program for the scouting combine at the Michael Johnson Performance Center (MJPC) in McKinney, Texas, just north of Dallas."

The post is a must-read about the five-time Olympic sprint champ’s $20 million training facility for youth athletes, elite athletes, and professionals. Johnson also plans to host elite meets at the facility’s outdoor track.


Seriously, how long will it take the Dallas area native Jeremy Wariner to begin training part-time at MJ’s new spot once the outdoor track is complete? PRJ has recently learned that J Dub has purchased a home in Craig Ranch in McKinney, the same development where the MJPC resides.

Tensions must be sky high at the Baylor track since Jeremy Wariner split with Coach Clyde Hart and decided to train with Baylor assistant coach Michael Ford.

I’m not saying…I’m just saying!

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

My Big Announcement

It is with great pleasure that I can announce… has asked Jay Hicks editor of Prerace Jitters to guest write a weekly post with byline – the first one being delivered on Wednesday(yesterday).

Woo hoo!!!

The posts will be a fun and refreshing way of looking at the wacky world of track & field, in addition to covering news within the sport.

I have already written the first post for They are a great partner for Prerace Jitters, encouraging me to think outside the box and providing increased exposure to the PRJ blog. is one of the biggest track names on the internet and averages over 1,000 daily readers. This site is a fun, useful, and interesting approach to Track & Field, lifestyle, health, and fitness.

Prerace Jitters has come a long way in a mere three months. Thank you so much to PRJ readers. None of this would be possible without you. Thank you to Jimson Lee and the team at, as well.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Not So Fast!

The world's fastest man, Jamaican Asafa Powell, in Melbourne yesterday.

The fastest man ever is 50/50 on getting to the starting line this Thursday at one of Australia’s premier meets, where he is a headlining act.

Asafa Powell arrived in Melbourne with four stitches in a deep cut in his knee courtesy of a fall, and the injury forced him to pull out of last Saturday’s grand prix meet in Sydney.

Stitches were removed on Saturday, and Powell still has soreness in the knee. And now, Asafa is seriously considering not running Thursday at Melbourne’s Grand Prix.

"There is still some inflammation inside, so we just have to get rid of that," he told reporters in Melbourne on Tuesday.

We doubt that Powell will take any risk in an Olympic year, and we hope he recovers quickly. But the show must go on!

So, in the mean time, we’ll focus on whether J Dub breaks 45 seconds in his 400-meter season opener. The world’s fastest 400-meter star, Jeremy Wariner, and Texan training partner, Darold Williamson, are confirmed to run the 400.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wariner Stumbles In Season Opener

Wariner runs second at 200-meters in Sydney Grand Prix

The season opener didn’t go so hot for Jeremy Wariner. The Aussie, Daniel Batman, beat Wariner in the 200-meters at the Sydney Grand Prix in Australia. Batman led from the start and won in 20.81. Jeremy was second in 20.93.

J Dub's time was decent considering the early time of year, and a lost in the 200-meters means nothing. The 400 is his bread and butter.

"This is really just a tuneup race for me to see where I'm at with my training and what I need to work on," Wariner said.

However, the race won't be enough to satisfy the "do nothing" media. They will write that Wariner is off to a bad start since leaving Coach Hart and his career is ruined. That's garbage.

But this race sure didn't help him in the court of public opinion.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Friday, February 15, 2008

Brianna Glenn Graces Sports Illustrated and Blogs About It!

(r)Heather Mitts (soccer), and (c)Lovie Jung (softball), (r)Brianna Glenn (track)

Olympic hopeful Brianna Glenn has a lot to talk about!

The world-class long jumper and sprinter recently posed along side Olympic athletes Lovie Jung and Heather Mitts in ads appearing in the new issue of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2008.

The casual fan may think track & field is boring. They obviously haven’t come across Brianna.

Before jumping a flight to race in England, the University of Arizona alum posted the following message on her official blog:

“I will be spending the next couple of days in the Big Apple courtesy of Anheuser-Busch and Sports Illustrated. I did a modeling job over the summer that I will be sharing more about when it debuts in the next week or so, and because of that, I get to pretend I am the next Giselle for the next 72 hours.

I get to fly first class, stay in an ultra swanky New York hotel, limo service…the whole nine. All this just to attend a launch party for the magazine. The crazy thing is, I am a teeny-weeny goldfish in this proverbial pond and I still get the red-carpet treatment. It makes me question why I give all my blood, sweat, and tears to a profession that forces me to take the cheapest flights I can find with 9 hour layovers in Uzbekistan, arrive at the airport only to find out nobody has remembered to pick me up, and share a room with Olga, the non-speaking Russian. In fact, I am leaving New York on Wednesday to head across the pond-- in coach of course-- to run a race on Saturday in Birmingham, England.

My life on the catwalk will be short-lived. I plan on enjoying my life as a wannabe supermodel but given the fact that I’m not having any more growth spurts and my only curves come from the weight-room, I doubt I’ll be changing professions any time soon. It’s ok though…I’m quite content with where I deposit my blood, sweat, and tears.”

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Thursday, February 14, 2008

PRJ Insider: Tyson Invitational Preview

Spearman has personal best time of 19.65 in outdoor 200-meters

The Tyson Invitational typically draws big crowds. This year is no exception. In a mere seven years, the meet has developed a reputation for exceptional indoor races.

The Tyson Invitational is set to run Friday, February 15 at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville. The first event begins at 8 p.m. The meet is to be televised February 17th from 5:00 to 7:oo p.m (ET) on ESPN .

Not only is Adam Nelson worth watching, but so is the men’s shot put. Nelson shook up the shot put world in New York heaving 72 feet, 5 inches. Current indoor and outdoor world champion Reese Hoffa, as well as Christian Cantwell and Dan Taylor will want to avenge their losses. The event should be a ruckus.

Carmelita Jeter has been coming on strong by narrowly winning the 60-meters at the finish line. Miki Barber has had trouble holding off Jeter, but you can rest assure Barber has been tweaking her workouts to adjust accordingly. Sanya Richards, a 400-meter specialist, is making a surprise appearance in the race.

Getting her first Visa Championship Series start of her career is Natasha Hastings. The 2007 NCAA 400-meter champion from University of South Carolina competed professionally outdoors last year after the collegiate season and is debuting indoors at 200-meters.

Jenn Stuczynski, who lost to Jillian Schwartz on misses two weeks ago in New York, is back to confirm her status as the queen of pole vault. Schwartz, Chelsea Johnson, Lacy Jansen, and Arkansas alum April Steiner certainly have plans to spoil the campaign. The line up is hot!

Might want to watch Wallace Spearman this week. He is coming off a superb 2007 outdoor season, running 19.82 at the Reebok Grand Prix meet in New York and winning bronze at world championships in Osaka. This race is ‘must-watch TV’. PRJ announced that Wallace is looking to break the current 200-meter world indoor record of 19.92.

Speaking of great races, the men’s and women’s collegiate 4 x 400 meter relay races are stacked. Five of the top 10 ranked teams populate this week’s race. The LSU Tiger women come in with the nation’s second fastest time and Arkansas, Miami, Penn State and South Carolina are all ranked in the top 10. Whew!

Likewise, reigning NCAA indoor and outdoor champion 1,600-meter relay team, Baylor University, will be defending their title against stiff competition. Baylor could not have chosen a more challenge field to defend their title. Kentucky, LSU, Georgia and Texas Tech are all top ranked teams and will push this to be a hotly contested race.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

False Start On Asafa Powell Trip

Maybe mum was right about not running in the house.

The world’s fastest man recently endured a nightmare trip to Sydney. Along the way, he gashed his knee, missed his flight, and lost his luggage en route to Saturday’s grand prix meet in Australia.

"I was running up the stairs at my house, and I fell," said Powell, who suffered the injury while running late for a practice session.

Powell has withdrawn from Saturday’s meet due to receiving stitches. The good news is that he hopes to be ready to run February 21 in Melbourne.

After his let down in the 100-meter world championship final last year in Osaka, we hope this rather bizarre incident isn’t a sign of things to come for his season.

Good luck!

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Final Lap: Around the Globe in 60 Seconds!

Chinese air quality in the dumps! Maybe MJ was ahead of his time.

Prerace Jitters (PRJ) is proud to introduce a new segment, The Final Lap, which brings the hottest news from around the world in a weekly format. I am big enough to admit, it’s a shameless effort to increase readers of the blog.

There is a lot of news lately coming out about China and the Olympics. The closer the games approach, the more concerns start bubbling to the surface.

As far as coverage goes, a lot of this stuff has been floating around for a long time, no pun intended. For instance, the fact that the air in Beijing is slightly more breathable than the windswept plains of Venus doesn't bode well for those hoping to demonstrate their aerobic prowess.

For the world's Olympic athletes, Beijing's air is a performance issue. The concern is that respiratory problems could impede athletic performance and prevent records from being broken. Maybe the USOC should ship over a few of Michael Jackson’s oxygen chambers.

The rancid skies rated an eye-popping 421 on a scale of 1 to 500. 500 being the worst. In the United States, pollution this bad might qualify as an emergency. In Beijing, doctors advised people to stay indoors, but residents there are accustomed to breathing foul air. Earlier this year, the city actually recorded a 500. Yikes!

2/12/08 – News & Views on the Fast Life!

  • The Brits have issues too! Dwain Chambers to be re-instated after doping "issues" and British athletic officials appear unable to legally stop his comeback.

  • Yelena Soboleva of Russia improves her WR for 1,500 meters indoor. The Russian must have dressed in a phone booth, setting two WRs within two days.

  • Sweden’s Susanna Kallur flies to World Indoor record for 60-meter hurdles. Behind Kallur was LoLo Jones, who ran a 7.77 personal best and the 2nd fastest for an American, ever.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

      Monday, February 11, 2008

      Wallace Spearman Jr. Eyes World Record!

      I believe I can fly!

      Prerace Jitters is excited to announce that at the Tyson Invitation on February 15, Wallace Spearman is looking to break the World Indoor Record at 200-meters!

      The record of 19.92, currently held by Frankie Fredericks, is sick. That’s not running—that’s teleporting!

      Sources tell PRJ that, at this point, Spearman’s training is ahead of schedule. Wallace thinks he is in the best shape of his life.

      Spearman couldn’t find himself at a more ideal facility to break the record than the Tyson Invitation on the University of Arkansas campus. The 200-meter banked mondo track is one of the highest quality and fastest indoor running surfaces in the world.

      Within the last three years, the 400-meter world indoor record and 4 x 400 meter relay indoor U.S. record have also fallen in Fayetteville.

      Wallace set the 300-meter world indoor record on this track in 2006. This ain’t his first rodeo.

      All eyes will be on Wallace Spearman!

      By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

      British Athletes to Shut Up!

      British Athletes to sign gagging clause for Beijing Olympics

      The British Olympic Committee (BOC) already knows, and they don’t want British athletes piping up about China’s “issues”.

      In the worst case of sucking up to dictators, the British Olympic Committee is planning to force the country’s athletes to sign a contract promising to remain mum on criticizing China’s human rights abuses, rancid air quality, or any other sore subjects, or else.

      Or else be faced with being banned from traveling to Beijing. Or else be sent home immediately during the games.

      Simon Clegg, the BOC's chief executive, said: “There is a requirement on team members to sign the agreement. If athletes step out of line, action will have to be taken.”

      If the British officials do not want to be as unpopular as Star Jones, they should put their contracts where they belong. Down the nearest lavatory!

      By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

      Saturday, February 9, 2008

      Nike, Adidas Gear Up For Sneaker War!

      These shoes are made for running.

      The bar for spikes was set sky high by Michael Johnson running into history sporting Nikes at the Atlanta Olympic Games, where he clocked 19.32 seconds in 200-meters and won gold in the 400-meters. Millions still remember Johnson’s custom spikes, and that’s exactly why Nike customized the shoes for him.

      Sneakers are more than functional footwear. They need to feel good, look good. They represent our individual style and taste.

      Shoemakers have long battled for the Chinese market, but the Beijing Olympics are the battle ground for bitter rivals, Nike and Adidas. The Chinese market, made up of mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, is the second largest market in the world and is worth a whopping $1 billion a year in sales.

      Nike is hedging their bets on Asafa Powell. They imprinted his feet and studied his running style to deliver the lightest and strongest kicks ever for the 100-meter world record holder.

      Powell will wear a different shoe at meets before the Olympics. The prototype will be tweaked after each meet leading up to the Beijing Games, and then Nike will present Powell with the final pair just before the opening ceremony.

      Whew! What color will the shoe be? Will they sport the black and yellow Jamaican colors?

      Adidas is also betting hard on Beijing and paid roughly $80 million to win the Beijing sponsorship, in addition to sponsoring elite athletes such as Allyson Felix and Jeremy Wariner. The German shoe company is also spending millions on the “Impossible is Nothing” ad blitz and is opening about two stores a day in China.

      While not an official Olympic Games sponsor, Nike is spending millions sponsoring 22 of the 28 competing Chinese federations.

      The athletic apparel companies promise this to be the biggest Olympics ever, and it is almost guaranteed to be the most commercial ever. It will be interesting to see who wears the illest gear, while throwing down the most memorable feats.

      By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

      Friday, February 8, 2008

      Adidas Superstar - 2008 Beijing Olympics

      The shoe war between Nike and Adidas in Beijing will be fierce, and the hype surrounding the Olympics will undoubtedly inspire loads of sneakers and gear.

      Not to be out done, Adidas revealed another pair from the vault today. This shoe is a true classic. The Adidas Superstar matches the colors for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The kicks are said to be available now, so keep your eyes open.

      Hmmm…I wonder what fly gear Gilbert Arenas, Jeremy Wariner, and other Adidas athletes will showcase in Beijing.

      By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

      Wednesday, February 6, 2008

      J Dub Definitely Over Coaching Spat

      Olympic and world champion Jeremy Wariner is preparing to break Michael's Johnson's 400-meter world record.

      Jeremy Wariner has the track world talking again!

      The 400-meter sprinter spoke with the press on Monday at a promotional event set up by Adidas in Beijing.

      Jeremy refused to talk about last month’s coaching change, however he did take the opportunity to proclaim that his agent, Michael Johnson, might lose his status as the 400-meter world record holder in Beijing or possibly sooner. Last season, Wariner ran a personal best time of 43.45 and is rapidly getting closer to Johnson’s world record of 43.18.

      "I'm looking forward to defending my title and hopefully breaking the world record," he said on Monday. "Honestly, if I haven't broken it before the Olympics, I know I can break it at the Olympics."

      He and long-time Coach Clyde Hart split ways over a contract dispute in which Hart was offered less money to work in 2008. Despite what has been said by critics, J Dub does not regret the decision to train with new Baylor Assistant Coach Michael Ford.

      Jeremy is currently preparing for his 2008 debut next week in Australia. He is no amateur at the Apollo.

      He knows what it takes to win big.

      By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

      Tuesday, February 5, 2008

      Greene Retires!

      Maurice Greene, who announced his retirement Monday, carried the flag after winning 100 meter Olympic gold in 2000.

      Former Olympic and world champion Maurice Green surprised the track world by announcing his retirement on Monday, after two long seasons plagued with injuries.

      On retirement Maurice said, “I don't think I can have that mental battle with myself coming back from injury any more. It takes a lot out of you mentally ... you start getting down and then you get depressed."

      The Kansas City native won’t be bored though. Reportedly he’s to pursue coaching and business interests. Recently, he launched Mo Entertainment, a hip hop record label.

      The track biz is a buzz!

      By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

      Saturday, February 2, 2008

      2008 Millrose Games Wrap-Up: Lagat & Nelson Win Big

      World-leading 72 feet, 5 inches for Adam Nelson at Millrose

      Lagat leaves field in dust.

      They say timing is everything. So far in 2008 – and specifically Friday at Madison Square Garden – that adage held true for Bernard Lagat.

      Lagat was off to a slow start in the race before Craig Mottram took the lead at mid-race point fearing the pace was too slow. Bernard took the lead with one and a half laps to go and blistered the field to win his 6th Wanamaker Mile in 3:57.51 over Mottram, Nick Willis and Galen Rupp.

      After the race Lagat said, “It might have looked easy. Like always, I have to prepare myself for a great race. I have run with him [Mottram] several times and stick to my strategy that I had prepared coming into the race. Before I came to the arena, I had envisioned the race as it happened. I passed him with two laps to go.”

      Other Millrose highlights

      Women’s 60-meter: Carmelita Jeter has been putting together solid finishes lately. She surged at Osaka to place third in the 100-meter world final. At Fresno State, she sealed the deal at the finish line. On Friday at Millrose, she continued her streak to win in 7.29 seconds at the finish line over Miki Barber (7.30) and Daigel-Bowen(7.32).

      Men’s 60-meter: Reigning World Indoor 60-meter champion Leonard Scott demonstrated his indoor dominance again in winning the Metro men's 60-meters in 6.59 seconds.

      Women’s high jump: Amy Acuff showed why she’s a three-time Olympian with a first-place finish of 6 feet, 3.50 inches.

      Women’s pole vault: Jenn Stuczynski will have to wait another year for a Millrose victory. Both Jenn and 2004 Olympian Jillian Schwartz cleared 15 feet, 2¼ inches, but Schwartz won because she had fewer misses.

      Men’s shot put: Men’s shot put was a highlight of the Millrose events with an energetic performance by Adam Nelson. Nelson stole the show heaving a massive 72 feet, 5 inches throw while setting a MSG record in front of 12,647 screaming fans. Christian Cantwell took second with 69 feet, 11 inches in front of reigning world champ Reese Hoffa’s 69 feet, 4 inches. For his sick performance, Nelson has the world’s top throw and was named the Millrose Games Athlete of the meet.

      The women’s mile came down to sprinting power. Sarah Hall swung wide coming down the homestretch giving 10,000-meter runner, Kara Goucher, enough room to slide inside to narrowly win in 4:36.03.

      600 yards is a difficult event. Quarter mile runners find the distance too long and 800 meter runs have found the race too short to get going. Bershawn Jackson found the race to be the perfect length in a narrow victory over two lap star Khadevis Robinson. Jackson took the early lead and finished in 1:10.34 over Robinson’s 1:10.53.

      By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

      Super Bowl Sunday: Commercial Lover's Paradise

      Super Bowl match-ups in recent years have been a snore -- some only watch the Super Bowl because they’ve got a lot of $$$ riding on it.

      There are those that watch because they are addicted to the NFL.

      Then, there are majority who watch the Super Bowl for the cool commercials. Never mind who wins the game. Are the commercials worth the wait?

      What is your favorite Super Bowl commercial of all time? The pain train by Terry Tate tops the PRJ list.

      Of course, watching America's favorite idol Paula Abdul's pre-taped, pre-game show tomorrow is a good reason to skip the game all together.

      #1 All aboard the pain train!

      #2 Budweiser's Frog Commercial

      #3 Cedric The Entertainer shakes things up!

      By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist