Monday, June 11, 2007

Wariner's Name Conspicuously Absent from National Championships 400m Entrants' List

I've been keeping an eye on the list/status of entries at the USATF National Championships page because one name has been conspicuously absent from it: Jeremy Wariner. His name did finally show up on the list tonight, but not where you'd expect it to be. He has submitted an entry for the men's 200m, not the men's 400m.

Wariner stated early this season that he plans on defending his 400m World Championship title in Osaka, Japan this August. Since the U.S. National Championships are the gateway to the World Championships for American athletes, wouldn't you expect for Wariner to submit an entry for the 400m, or perhaps for both events? What's going on here? Is Wariner exempt, maybe, because he's the defending World Champion? Well, that's true for the selection processes of some countries, but not for the U.S. team. Here's the pertinent rule from the Selection Procedures page on the USATF website:
"In order to qualify for the World Championships Team, athletes must compete at the 2007 AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, except for relay team participation."

Maybe Wariner knows something about the selection process that we don't know. In a recent interview he stated that:

"I know I will be able to [break 44 seconds] in Paris which is the next quarter I run," he said. "That was the first time I broke it last year.

By "Paris" he means the Meeting Gaz de France on July 6th. Since he's not running his next "quarter" until July 6th, it sounds as if he's definitely not planning on running the 400m qualifier (first round is on June 21st) at Indy. A check of his schedule reveals that he will only be running the 200m.

Let's hope that indeed Wariner is granted a pass for whatever reason and will automatically qualify for Osaka. It's be a shame for him to miss a shot at defending his title – and possibly breaking Michael Johnson's world record of 43.18 seconds – because of some oversight on his part about the selection process. If you have some insight into this matter, please feel free to post a comment. I'll keep digging to uncover the truth.

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