Carmelita Jeter ponders trial plans
In her heart, world champion sprinter Carmelita Jeter believes she can run both the 100 and 200 at the U.S. Olympic trials later this month in Eugene, Oregon.
Only, she will listen to her legs.
Jeter said Wednesday that her plan is to compete in the 100 and then see how she feels.
Should Jeter still feel fresh after a nearly five-day break, she can envision a scenario where she attempts to run the 200 as well. But only -- Jeter stressed -- if her legs are up to it.
No sense risking an injury this close to the London Olympics.
"You have to be smart," said Jeter, who has to finish in the top three to guarantee her spot in that event on the U.S. squad. "God forbid you get hurt."
It happened to sprinter Tyson Gay at the 2008 Olympic trials. He qualified in the 100 only to pull up lame in the 200 with a strain in a muscle of his left leg. He just wasn't the same at the Beijing Games later that summer.
"When you're running at such top speeds and it's such a competitive field, you don't want to try to do something else and tax your body," Jeter said. "Then, you aren't going anywhere.
"We have to see how my body feels and then we're going to go from there."
Jeter isn't the only sprinter deciding whether or not to double at trials. Allyson Felix is up in the air about pairing another competition with her signature event, the 200. She may run either the 100 or 400 at trials as well.
The two talented American sprinters will face each other for a second straight week. They ran the 200 at the Prefontaine Classic last weekend in Eugene, with Felix pulling away early and cruising to the win.
But this weekend at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York, they're running Jeter's specialty -- the 100.
"I haven't run a 100 in a very long time so I'm excited to race," Jeter said.
It's going to be a star-laden field, too, with reigning Olympic gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica also stepping into the starting blocks.
As for what kind of time Jeter might turn in, she doesn't even want to take a guess.
"When you go out to run fast, you never do. You're always going to run slow because you're so focused on running fast," she said. "I just want to go out there and execute."
Jeter has been training under the watchful eye of track sage John Smith as she tries to keep up with the likes of Walter Dix in practice.
She's holding her own, too.
"When we're training, I might ask, `What did he run? OK, I'll try to get close to it," Jeter said. "It's a great group out there."
The 32-year-old Jeter is coming off a sensational 2011 season in which she won the 100 at worlds in South Korea and finished second in the 200.
Her double at worlds was difficult and demanding, but at least confirmed that she could do well in two events.
"I was tired for a good two weeks after that," Jeter said. "It's a lot of emotional and physical tax on your body. I was exhausted."
Also with that performance, the pressure was off her shoulders -- at least in part.
Long known as the sprinter who couldn't win on track's biggest stages, Jeter snapped that perception.
"Made me feel better about myself more than anything," she said. "But I wouldn't say now I'm running with less stress. It's a new year. This is a new ball game. You can't live off of last year. You have to be ready for right now."
Four years ago, Jeter had an Olympic trials she would just as soon forget, failing to qualify in the 100 and 200.
"I learned you can't take anything for granted," she said. "I learned that you have to be serious about the sport. This needs to be your job. This needs to be your life, not just a 9-to-5.
"I learned the hard way and sometimes it's good to learn the hard way because you get better."