Friday, September 18, 2015

Thoughts on the season and championships

The main thought I have about my performances this season at the Nationals in Jacksonville and the Worlds in Lyon was ... 'how lucky'!    I did work hard to prepare, but competition at this level sometimes comes down to a difference of hundredths of a second, and how even a minor injury could've been the difference between competing and not.

It's so easy to take 'wellness' for granted.  You can't get it just by training.  It fact, training can cause injury.  There is some luck involved.  The hip flexor tear on March 29 was the worst injury I ever sustained in a race, worse than my hamstring pull in '12.   It took nearly 8 weeks to fully recover, although I did race a modest 800m, 5 weeks afterward.   Then, I bruised my foot in mid June (on the track rail) requiring a steroid pack and forcing me to pull out of the TN State meet.   If either of these injuries or something else occurred soon before either championship meet, I would not have done as well.  In the 400m Nationals, I knew that Rudy and Ben had struggled with injuries this season and I don't think Ben was close to 100%, but he still had the courage to compete.   Although he finished 4th, I think he still got a medal because I think Rudy was counted as a foreigner (Jamaica).  

Examining my first World Medal - M55 200m Bronze
Hundredths of a second, this is the nature of the sport... as Justin Gatlin said after losing to Usain Bolt by 0.01 at the World Championships.   In my 200m National Championship, I lost the silver by 0.04 seconds and the difference seemed to come in the last 5m.   But that was OK, I had already won a 400m National Championship and getting a Bronze in a PR was fine by me.  My third place time of 24.48 was faster than the M55 200m World Champion had run, although it was slightly wind aided (+2.4).  The two Bronze Medals at the World Championships were extremely tight and I won them by barely hanging on at the end while my competition closed in.  Only very hard leans at the line made the difference between individual medals and nothing.   In the 200m, I won over the S. African by a mere 0.04 sec.   There was 0.18 sec. that separated the Bronze from 6th place.    Almost as tight in the 400m, where 0.07 seconds separated my Bronze from Germany's 4th place.  Again, I could have easily walked away with NO individual medals, as was the case of many of my fastest colleagues in the lower age groups.   Also, it was a issue of 'who shows up.'  If either Alan and/or Don had run the 200m, I definitely would not have gotten a medal.   However, I was among the 400m frontrunners in the world, everyone placed as expected according to their seed time.  I finished the season with the 3rd fastest times in the world in both events, the 400 and 200.  (Unfortunately, there are still 2 false times in the World top 5 in the M55 400m in   I contacted Jon Seto about this, he acknowledged that these were mistakes, but he still hasn't corrected it yet).  

2 Individual Bronze / 2 Team USA Relay Gold
I'm extremely fortunate to walk away with 4 World Championship Medals. I think I received the most medals of anyone on the US team of my age group and below.    I say 'fortunate' as I recall the times I had come up short of a medal in my first National Championships in '11 when I lost the Bronze by 0.05 in the 200m in my last race of the season (very disappointing way to end), and again by 0.02 at the Indoor Nationals in '14.  I kept telling myself that it didn't matter if I won a medal or not, it was about the journey, but it's great to be on the medal stand in races on the world level.   I'm particularly happy for those relay members who got Gold medals that didn't win individuals, because without them, we couldn't have done it.  It was truly a team effort and everyone ran well.   The individual medals also came with certificates.   (I was not particularly happy with my 25.08 time in the World 200m final - as I had run 24.61, 24.48 in Jacksonville, and even 25.04 in the World 200m Prelims, so when I photographed the Medal and Certificate, I covered up the time with the medal!).   The event was classy and competitive, well staged and well attended.  The music and the announcers were very good.  The main stadium and medal ceremony auditorium had professional DJs doing sound.  

I'm happy to have had my dad in the stands and many of my team members watching my races.  After spending so much time alone training, it was great to feel part of an elite National team, and to wear the Team USA Olympic uniform.  

Another small regret I have is that my name isn't listed in the official results as having been on the 4x100m M55 Gold medal relay team.   (Brent C. is listed instead).  It was a great team, with Tony, James, and Alan.  We were 0.9 off the WR and were slightly faster than a very respectable Silver Medal M50 team.   I asked that the results be corrected but I doubt if they ever will be.   Doesn't matter, I have the medal, and the experience.

Thanks to my friend George R. and my dad, I did get some local press.   I was hoping my college PR dept would pick it up, but instead they just made a mention of it on the University FB page.  The Murfreesboro weekly "The Murfreesboro Pulse" ran a story, and local papers in Sewanee, TN, and in my dad's hometown, The Villages, FL ran stories.  I was amused to see the somewhat misleading headline in the Sewanee Messenger (p.13) reads, "Yelverton Wins Four World Track Championships in France".... well, not exactly.   At least the first sentence clarifies World Championship medals.  It's nice to be recognized, even on a small scale.   But as coach Page rightly said, "no one cares about masters athletics."  Largely true, except for the thousands involved in the World meet from 98 countries.  Most media would consider HS football more important than a World Masters Track medal.

Heh ... small town newspapers...

Team USA

Gold Medal 4x400 team


  1. Great 'piece' ...... WONDERFUL PERSONAL EXPERIENCE!!!!

  2. Wonderful that your dad was there!
    (Are those your hands holding the medal, top photo? Where are your nails??)

  3. Yes, my hands. Didn't take a guitar to France, but I'm sure playing a lot now.