Track athlete and coach
Born January 31, 1984, in Irving, TX. Education: Attended Baylor University.
Addresses: Contact —c/o Baylor Athletic Department, 150 Bear Run, Waco, TX 76711.
Began competing as a track athlete in high school, winning two Texas state championships; won U.S. junior championship in the 400 meters, 2003; won both 400 meters and 4×400 meter relay at the Big 12 Indoor Championships, 2004; won 4×400 meter-relay at Big 12 Outdoor Championships, 2004; won both 400 meters and 4×400-meter relay at the Midwest Regional Championships, 2004; won both 400 meters and 4×400-meter relay at both the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor championships, 2004; won 400 meters at the U.S. Championship, 2004; won two Olympic gold medals in the 400 meters and 4×400 meter-relay, 2004; signed professional contract, c. 2004; worked as a volunteer coach at Baylor University, Waco, TX, 2004—; won 400 meters at the U.S. championships, 2005; won 400 meters and 4×400-meter relay at the World Championships, 2005.
Awards: Jesse Owens Award, 2004.
Though Jeremy Wariner did not begin running track until he was a high school student in Texas, he soon became a dominant sprinter and one
Born in 1984, Wariner grew up in Arlington, Texas, the youngest of three children born to a landscape designer father and a paralegal/daycare center operator mother. Wariner was diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and took Ritalin from the age of six. Sports were important to him from an early age, though his family was not athletic. As an elementary school student, Wariner decided that he wanted to play in the outfield for a Major League Baseball team. He also played soccer, where he was faster than nearly every player on the field.
Wariner pursued his baseball dream through his freshman year at Lamar High School in Arlington. He also played basketball and football, the latter as a defensive back and wide receiver. When Wariner was not getting much playing time on the school's baseball team, he decided to try track on the suggestion of his football coach who thought he was a very fast runner. He was faster as a freshman than any of their varsity football players. Wariner found immediate success on the track. The first time he ran the 400 meters at a meet, his time was less than 50.5 seconds. This time set a school record for sophomores while he was competing on the junior varsity squad. In the next meet, he was promoted to varsity and set a school record with a time of 48.8 seconds. Running made him feel good. Wariner told Dick Patrick of USA Today, "I've loved running ever since I started. It's a great stress relief."
Wariner found success on a state and national level while in high school. He won two Texas state titles, in the 200 meters and 400 meters. When he was a senior at Lamar, Wariner had the best time in the United States in the 200 meters. He also had the second best time in the United States in the 400 meters. Though a track star, Wariner continued to play football in high school, doing well. He was recruited by colleges to play receiver, though he was on the thin side for the sport. While Wariner wanted to play college football, he also wanted to run track. He chose to enter Baylor University in 2002, primarily because it was the one school which would let him both run track and play football. The scholarship situation grew complicated when his scholarship offer for football was revoked because the coach had given out too many, but Wariner stuck with Baylor, primarily because of its track coach. Clyde Hart had previously worked with Michael Johnson, who dominated the 400 meters in the 1990s and won five gold medals at the Olympics. Wariner also hoped to compete in the Olympics some day.
The first season Wariner ran with Baylor, 2003, was less than successful. During the NCAA indoor season, he suffered an injury to one of his hamstrings in the finals of the 400, finishing seventh with a time of 46.21. After this setback, his outdoor season was also not what he wanted, primarily because of a foot problem. However, Wariner did have some highlights in 2003. He won the U.S. junior championship in the 400 meters with a time of 46.41. He also finished second at the Pan Am Junior Championships in the 400 meters.
In 2004, Wariner had a breakout year, culminating in triumph on the world stage. His first victories came on the collegiate level. Though he lost the 400 meters in the first outdoor meet of 2004 to Baylor teammate Darold Williamson, Wariner won nearly every race he entered after this loss. Wariner first won the 400 meters at the Big 12 Indoor Championship as well as the 4×400-meter relay, where he and his teammates set an NCAA record with a time of 3:03.96. He repeated this victory as a member of the 4×400-meter relay in the Big 12 Outdoor Championships. Wariner went on to the Midwest Regional Championships, where he was both the 400 meters champion as well as the 4×400-meter relay champion with his Baylor teammates. Wariner dominated both events again on the NCAA Championship level, winning both races in both the Indoor Championships and the Outdoor Championships.
Competing in the 400s meters at the U.S. championships and at the U.S. Olympic trials, Wariner again won both races. At the Olympic trials, he was the youngest winner of the 400 meters in 20 years. Representing the United States at the Olympics, Wariner won two gold medals. He won the 400 meters with a time of 44 seconds, the best time in the 400 he had to date. It was a come-from-behind victory; Wariner was in second place with 100 meters to go, but stayed in his form and ran the race he wanted, winning the event. The race was an American sweep with Otis Harris finishing second and Derrick Brew ending up in third. Wariner also won gold as a member of the 4×400-meter relay team. He ran the third leg, with Baylor teammate Williamson running the anchor.
Discussing Wariner's victory in the 400, former gold medalist Johnson, who acted as an advisor to Wariner in 2004, wrote in the Daily Telegraph, "Jeremy's poise down the home stretch is something that, no matter how much you coach or advise athletes, they usually don't learn until later in their career. Jeremy is a special athlete because he takes instruction incredibly well. His execution of the race was something I didn't learn to do until much later in my career."
While Wariner was lauded for his victories on the track, many commentators also noted that he was one of the few whites winning in events that have been traditionally dominated by African-American runners. Wariner was the first American white track athlete to win the 400 meters in the Olympics since Mike Larrabee in the 1964 games in Tokyo, Japan. The issue of race is something that he had dealt with for many years. He told John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle, "I've heard it ever since high school. It doesn't matter what race or ethnicity you are, it's your ability and how you run."
After the Olympic Games, Wariner turned professional with Johnson acting as his agent. By signing a professional contract, he could no longer compete for Baylor in NCAA meets, but he could compete nationally and internationally. Wariner continued to attend Baylor and work on his degree in outdoor recreation, while training with Hart and acting as a volunteer coach for the school. Wariner set a new goal for himself. He wanted to set a world's record in the 400 meters, beating the 44.18 mark set by Johnson in the outdoor race.
In 2005, Wariner did not compete in the indoor track season, but did participate in the outdoor season. He won the U.S. Championship again in the 400 meters, after stumbling at the start of the race. At the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland, Wariner dominated the 400 meters again. He ran the fastest race of his career with a time of 43.-93. He also won the 4×400-meter relay as anchor, with teammates Andrew Rock, Derrick Brew, and Williamson, with a time of 2:56.91.
With so much success at such a young age, Wariner believed his best years as a runner were ahead of him. He hoped to compete in the Olympics in the 2008 and 2012 games, perhaps competing in additional events like the 200 meters. Wariner knew he had room to improve as a runner, and hoped to continue the decrease in his racing times. Yet he remained determined to keep his approach to racing simple. Wariner told Gary Smith of Sports Illustrated, "Race issues, drug issues, I just learned to let 'em go past me. When I get on the track, my mind clears, and all I hear in my head is what Coach Hart told me: Stay focused. Get out strong. Work the turn. Keep your form."
Daily Telegraph (London, England), August 25, 2004, p. 7.
Houston Chronicle, March 31, 2005, p. 2.
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, August 24, 2004.
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), August 24, 2004, p. D1.
Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, CA), May 8, 2005, p. C2.
San Francisco Chronicle, August 24, 2004, p. D7.
Sports Illustrated, December 6, 2004, p. 116; July 4, 2005, p. 77.
USA Today, August 19, 2004, p. 9D.
"Heavy medals," SI.com, http://sportsillustrated. cnn.com/2005/more/08/14/bc.eu.spt.ath. worlds.ap/index.ht ml (February 12, 2006).
"Jeremy Wariner," USA Track & Field, http://www. usatf.org/athletes/bio/Wariner_Jeremy.asp (February 12, 2006).
"Player Bio: Jeremy Wariner," Baylor Track and Field, http://baylorbears.collegesports.com/ sports/c-track/mtt/wariner_jeremy00.html (February 12, 2006).
— A. Petruso