Email Interview with David Oliver after his 12.95 in Doha

After American 110 hurdler moved to a tie for 9th place on the all-time world list in that event on May 8th, 2008, he answered some email questions that I sent him a few days later. The email interview is below:

Question: Did this race feel any different (faster) than others when you’ve been in the 13.10 range?

Oliver: Surprisingly, the race felt pretty much the same as the 13.08 I ran [at the Friendship & Freedom Games] in Greensboro [in mid-April]. I had to back off the hurdles a little bit due to the wind at my back. That was one of the main similarities that stand out immediately. I didn’t respond well to the starter’s pistol, so I panicked a little bit and had an adrenaline rush at the beginning, then I settled down at number three and got down to executing my race strategy. [Training partner] Aubrey Herring broke down my Greensboro race, and the figures we shoot for from the start to the first hurdle and from the last hurdle to the finish line were a bit slower than we aim for, so I knew that If I could get one of those areas in our target zone, then I could run sub-13. I finished very strong in Doha, so I am sure that is the area that I improved upon from my last race.

Question: Was there anything specific in how you executed your race strategy that proved to work well? Was there anything technical that you were focusing on?

Oliver: The only thing I executed a bit better from Greensboro to Doha was the finish. Although in both races I hit the 8th hurdle, it didn’t affect me in Doha as much as it did in Greensboro. In Doha I rode the hurdle, which isn’t a bad way to hit a hurdle, although I prefer not to hit any at all. In Greensboro, I hit the hurdle with my lead leg. I wasn’t focusing on anything technical at all. I try to stay away from going into a race focusing on technique because I know I have executed my technique at practice all week; therefore it becomes ingrained. I feel that I have very good body awareness and that has helped me in the process of polishing my technique. I still feel that there are still quite a few things that I would like to do better as far as my technique is concerned.

Question: Has your flat speed increased since last year?

Oliver: My flat speed has definitely increased since last year. I have to give a lot of the credit to my training partners that joined the group this season. When I step up and am running 200s with the likes of Joel Brown and John Capel, who have been 20.4 and 19.8 respectively along with Aubrey who has been 21 flat, I had no choice but to step up and run faster! By the time we had hit February, I had already surpassed my sprint numbers from last season.

Question: Do you worry about peaking too soon before the trials? Or do you feel you can still go a lot faster?

Oliver: I don’t even believe in the notion of peaking. I feel that if you are trying to peak for a specific day or meet, your odds are 365 to 1. Unless your name is Nostradamus and you can foresee the future, then you have no idea what is going to happen until you cross the finish line and look up at that scoreboard. I like the notion of running and getting into a nice race rhythm. I think that’s important because it takes a lot of guess work out of things when you go to the line at the trials, you know what efforts you have been producing, plus there is nothing like executing what you’ve been taught in practice at speed in an actual race. I always feel like I have room for improvement. When those improvements are made, hopefully I will be able to go a lot faster, that’s the goal of everyone who steps on the track, regardless of event – improve every time you hit the track in some fashion. It doesn’t always have to be shown in faster times; maybe you wanted to improve your start, getting your lead leg down faster, finishing stronger, etc.

© 2008 Steve McGill

Click here for footage of Oliver’s 12.95 race.

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