Prior to the start of his 2011 season, cut short due to injury, sprinter Wallace Spearmon, Jr. visited The Fast Life to discuss his career, returning from knee surgery and the 2012 Olympic games.
“I hated it,” demonstratively expresses Spearmon when describing his return to the track from 2008 knee surgery. “Torn meniscus and broke bone in my knee, suffered through ‘09 and last year was nagging injuries, stuff from the surgery . . . there were just so many things, that you lose confidence because you start losing,” explains Freeman who ended his 2010 season with two first place 200m finishes in the Diamond League meet at Zurich running a 19.79 and a 19.85 at the IAAF World Challenge in Rieti. “I feel will like it was a step in the right direction toward 2011 and 2012,” said Spearmon which let him know he “still had a future in this sport.”
That future for the newly signed Saucony sprinter was put on hold in 2011 after suffering an Achilles tendon injury at the USA Outdoor Championships in June. “For me to practice and put in all this work and not have a chance of winning, mentally, that was the hardest part of having the surgery; it wasn’t even the recovery or being down, it was losing and having to suck in your pride and just not being as good as you want to,” explains Spearmon after returning from his 2008 knee surgery.
Ironically, in 2008 Spearmon also experienced injury at the US Olympic Trials, but was still able to compete in the Beijing Summer Games. “I didn’t train for two weeks before the competition . . . they had me all taped up, I looked like a mummy on my right leg,” jokes the Olympian who would ultimately earn a disqualification in the 200m final for a lane violation. “I felt [Walter] Dix coming up on my inside, I just wanted to be closer to the competition because I was in the outside lane nine and ended up stepping on the line,” explains Spearmon who harbors no regrets admitting, “I’m glad that I actually got caught because I don’t know how I would have felt if I went back and saw that I stepped on the line and cheated and got the medal.” Competing with integrity Spearmon adds, “It just gave me motivation to not do it again [and] I’ll be in London to redeem myself.”
After a disappointing 2008 Olympics for Team USA, redemption resides in the minds of a number of the athletes and maybe none more so than the men’s 4x100m relay team. “We just got to get these sticks around clean,” states Spearmon further adding, “Anybody can be beat on any day. So in order for the U.S. to win, we are going to have to bring a great team.” And if he and fellow sprinter Tyson Gay both return healthy from injury in 2012, they present an interesting challenge to Team Jamaica who just recently improved their world record time to 37.04 at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. “With me on second, and Tyson on third, we never lost a 4x100; same heat no one’s ever beat us,” informs Spearmon who constructs the team as follows, “I consider Tyson Gay the best 3rd leg ever, hopefully he runs third leg, so Walter Dix or myself on anchor leg; whichever doesn’t run anchor leg, you put the other one on second and we just need someone to pop it off.”
Popping up on the popular television program Mythbusters, Spearmon was successful off the track with expanding his notoriety in 2011 having also appeared on the cover of Eastbay. “Eastbay approached my company, they were pleased with people actually showing love to the sport itself and shoes,” states Spearmon adding, “They hung out with me in College Station where I train. It was a good fit.”
Getting the right fit is very important for any track athlete and was something that didn’t necessarily happen right away having recently signed his shoe deal with Saucony. Although established in running, the company was making its first foray into the sprint world. “It was about six months before I got something I liked and could wear,” reveals Spearmon explaining, ”[Saucony] flew the whole footwork team, shoe line team; they brought everybody, apparel as well, they watched me run, barefoot, asked me what I like what I don’t like, it was a long process.”
But when it comes to racing on or off the track the world class sprinter is more than ready to test his “spikes” against the NFL’s leading rusher in 2009, Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson. “Put your money where you mouth is, and we can race and that’s going to be the end of it,” confidently states Spearmon who explains how the notion of the race materialized when his friend Titans wide receiver Damian Williams said “CJ thinks you’re slow.”
“There is no such thing as a 40-yard dash in the Olympics,” reminds Spearmon who also counts friends amongst the Indianapolis Colts as well, “they’re quick, we’re fast; football speed and track speed are completely different.”
But the forthcoming 2012 Olympics will have a 200m-sprint event, to which Spearmon states, “Everything you do in 2011, is going to help you for 2012. I’m putting in a lot of base work, a lot of speed work; I’m trying to be technically sound, so I can come out of the blocks correct, set myself for this drive phase, so when I stand up, I’m going to be right in the mix, straight away king!