This is one in a series of interesting interviews released by USATF:
NDIANAPOLIS – USA Track & Field on Tuesday announced that Dan O'Brien, Lynn Jennings, Kevin Young, Ollan Cassell, Rex Cawley and Bill Nieder will be inducted in the National Track & Field Hall of Fame.
Q: What was your reaction when you learned that you had been elected to the National Track & Field Hall of Fame?
A: It felt good, and that has to do with the company that has already been selected to the Hall of Fame. I think of many of my track heroes like John Carlos, and of course Edwin Moses and Evelyn Ashford. It kind of gives me the stamp of approval that I'm a track great. It's something that can be focused on and talked about. It was never really something I considered until President Bill Roe called me to let me know. I thought originally that it was a crank call until I recognized his voice and he said it.
Q: How did your track and field career begin?
A: Igot started when my third grade teacher took us all out to recess oneday and showed us some track and field events. My first love wasactually the long jump and high jump. I was a 300-meter hurdler in highschool that eventually segued to the 400-meter hurdles. I loved thehigh hurdles and I took third in state in the high hurdles my senioryear, and when I went to UCLA I thought I'd be an awesome high hurdler,where they already had a slew of high hurdlers on scholarship. Myfreshman year was John Smith's first year as a coach at UCLA, and wegravitated towards one another. That's when I started paying moreattention to the intermediate hurdles. At UCLA my regimen was to trainwith the high hurdlers in workouts and warm-ups and I'd do high hurdledrills. Then it was time to train with the quarter-milers and I justbasically meshed those things together.
Q: UCLA had an amazing track tradition during your era, didn't they?
A: Those guys were all superstar athletes at UCLA. That's one of thegreatest things we had in that I was a fan of everybody who was outthere on the track training with me. We had FloJo (Florence GriffithJoyner), Alice Brown, Andre Phillips, Greg Foster, so it was anatmosphere in which if you watched them do their thing it was likeosmosis. If you were dedicated that you would learn from them. It alltaught me to be a more disciplined athlete.
Q: What was your stride pattern as an intermediate hurdler?
A: A lot of people kept telling me that I needed to go 13 strides (inbetween hurdles) to be like the great Edwin Moses. I tried my best togo 13 strides for the whole race and I was just suffering because I wasin great shape but I couldn't make the rhythm transition, running onthe back end and chopping to get 13 strides for the first few hurdlesand then on seven, eight and nine be totally exhausted. By the time Igot to my sophomore year I just kind of threw the whole 13 stride thingoff the track. I decided that I would approach these hurdles anddevelop a stride pattern that I'm comfortable with. John (Smith) and Ideveloped our own game plan as to how I should run the hurdles.
Q: What were your expectations going into the 1992 Olympic Games inBarcelona, where you won the gold medal and set the world record?
A: I was sick of taking fourth place in major championships and I knewthat I needed to place higher than that to get a medal. My goal was torun 46.89, and I wrote it down. I told everybody I was going to rununder 47 seconds and nobody would believe it. In Barcelona it was justa matter of putting it together and sticking to my game plan of 19(strides) out of the blocks, 13 for two and three, 12 for four and fiveand back to 13 for the duration of the race. What blew my mind is thatit caught everybody by surprise but me, and so when it happened it wasoverwhelming that I shattered Edwin's record. To do it in the OlympicGames is the ultimate.
Q: What are you doing these days?
A: Right now I've got a lot on my plate. I spent the summer workingwith the Mets Baseball Academy, working with Little League kids andshowing them how to run fast. I'm also involved in a performancecompany called Phew! It's a fitness performance company that teachesathletes how to run fast in all sports such as lacrosse, football,baseball and I even work with basketball players where I utilize whatI've learned in track and field to help other athletes in other sports.I'm also involved in children's books.