Soon after Wallace Spearmon qualified for the Olympics last week with a third-place finish in the U.S. Olympic Trials, the 200-meter runner told the media that he would alter his training plan with the addition of some 400-meter training designed to add some strength.
"I heard what he said and I told the media in Eugene, ‘Disregard that last part, because he's not the coach,'" said Wallace Spearmon, Sr. "I'm the coach and he's not going to be doing that."
Wallace Jr. hired his dad as coach on Nov. 5. It hasn't always been smooth and it wasn't just perfect in Eugene.
"We had an argument over something pretty simple out there," Wallace Sr. told the media Wednesday as he and his son met Fayetteville area reporters in Walker Pavilion.
On most items, Wallace Jr. said he is caving to father in what has been a successful bid for the Olympics. He said it's pretty much been his focus since 2004 when he began to realize that he had the potential to reach the ultimate in track and field.
"He told me during the world championships that he wanted to be his coach," Wallace Sr. said. "I didn't take it seriously at first. I made him tell me four or five times. Finally, on Nov. 5 we decided on it. Then, I took the two-day drive (from his home in Seattle) to Fayetteville."
Both Spearmons enjoyed spectacular track careers at Arkansas. But they haven't always been on the same page. They are now.
"He's doing everything just about I tell him," he said. "He changed his diet and we have a dietician now. He cut his hair, too."
Wallace Sr. said he hasn't tried to change everything at once. For example, he had noticed flaws in his start, but didn't worry about that during the indoor season.
"We started working on that a few weeks ago and he's got it right now," Wallace Sr. said. "He wasn't pushing off right. You should push off from the toes and that part of the foot wasn't touching the pad. It is now."
Both are still looking for the perfect race and hope it comes in the Olympic finals. There were no perfect races at the trials. He hit the start right in the semis and then hit the final 100 right in the finals when he had to close in a fury for third place and the final spot on the US team.
"I got the first 100 right in one race and the last 100 right in the finals," Wallace Jr. said. "I have to get that first 100 like I did in the earlier round. I know what to do."
However, he wasn't especially disappointed with his race in the finals. He said a tight hamstring forced him to run the turn less than full speed.
"I usually do run that way," he said. "I don't run that turn full out. With a tight hamstring in the finals, I didn't want to go too hard in the turn. I wanted to catch them in the final 100."
There's been a lot of speculation that Spearmon might have had a hard time making the Olympics in the 200 had Tyson Gay not pulled up in qualifying. Gay, another former Razorback, had already won the 100 at the trials and was picked to take a 200 spot, too.
"I've heard that a lot, a lot of people are saying that," he said. "What would have happened if Tyson had been there (in the 200)? If Tyson had been there, I would have run a different race. I would have run the first 100 differently."
As it is, that's not something to worry about. Spearmon is all smiles as he prepares for his dream, going to the Olympics.
"I'm walking around with a smile, yes I am," he said. "The thing that hits you is you are about to be away from home for a long time. I'm going to run some races and then you report to training on Aug. 1.
"I think it's hit a lot of our family what is about to happen. There are a lot of them calling about getting tickets and getting to China. It may be a little late to get some of them there."
Spearmon was asked about the climate in China. Smog and bad air quality has been mentioned as a factor in this Olympics. Spearmon fights asthma and has used an inhaler at times.
"I tried not to use my inhaler much at Eugene and the allergies are pretty bad there," he said. "I will take it to (Beijing) and be ready, but you have to be careful because of all of the banned substances."
That means watching the amount of caffeine, Tylenol and other common cold remedies like benedryl.
"If you are taking something for a cold, you need to document it with a prescription from a doctor," he said. "There is a lot of paperwork to file."
The best thing he avoids is the greasy cheesburgers dad was downing just as the interviews broke up.
"I had to get him off of these," Wallace Sr. said. "He quit them, though. He's doing what he's been told."
There were smiles about that from Wallace Jr., who also had to cut back on his favorite cookies he consumed at his top night spot, the local bowling alley. He's a very good bowler and uses that sport as his release from running.
That's the place he uses to hang out away from the sport, but even there he might not be the most famous local runner. That honor goes to Tyson Gay. Does that bother him that Gay gets more attention both locally and on the world stage?
"No, not at all," he said. "Track and field has some events that get a lot of attention. The 100, the 1,500 are two of those. That's where the focus is on and Tyson is the top guy in the 100.
"I still haven't reached my potential. I'm still coming up (on the world stage). If I reach my potential, there will be plenty of attenton on me. I don't worry about that right now."
It sounds like it's all about reaching potential as Spearmon heads to China. He was asked about attending the opening ceremonies, a much hyped and filmed event.
"I've talked to some of the older guys who have been (to the Olympics)," he said. "They told me it's kinda tough to do. First, not everyone can go. If you are in the relay pool -- and I am -- then you can go. If you go, you have to be there at 7:30 in the morning and it's not over until 10 that night.
"So I'm not sure I want to do that. That's taking a chance to be on your legs that long."
It's all about doing what's best to win -- and listening to dad.
"He's done well with most of it," Wallace Sr. said. "I remember when he was in high school, he was playing basketball, football and running track. He told me during his senior year he was giving up everything but track.
"I told him to do what he wanted, but he might not want to follow dad. I thought he might create more of his own name in another sport. He tells me now that he may take up football again when track is done. I don't know about that."
Wallace Spearmon meets with the media Wednesday at Walker Pavilion.
Photo by Clay Henry
Spearmon Excited About Olympics
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