GOLD ZONE Press Conference Quotes

April 22, 2005

Kansas Relays GOLD ZONE athletes took turns fielding questions from the media on Friday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. Below are selected quotes from the elite athletes.

John Smith<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

On Maurice Greene participating in the Open 100 Meter Dash:

“We always try to get at least one (100 meter) run in. We would have tried last week, but this is more meaningful. This is a big stage to participate in a big event like the 100. It worked out perfectly this year for us to be here. I spoke with Tim (Weaver) last year and we have been planning this since the year that it was rained out. It looks like the next couple of years we will have an open week and we will be sure to make it to the Kansas Relays. This is an opportunity for all of these athletes to get out and shake the rust off to start the season.”

Maurice Greene

On participating at the Kansas Relays:

“It’s always good to be a part of the Kansas Relays. For me, to be a part of this years’ relays gives me a lot of pleasure. A lot of years we always try to work on getting back here but it never seems to work out because of schedule conflicts. I am very happy to be here this year.”

On his expectations:

“I expect to win. Only time will tell how fast I will be running. The bronze medal (100 meter dash, 2004 Athens Olympics) does motivate me, but I am not a person that lives in the past. What I did last year, stays in last year. I have to look toward the future and what I want to do. This year I want to win a World Championship. I am also trying to be the first person to run 60 (100 meter) races under 10 seconds. In my next four races I should be there.”

On the wind and weather:

“The weather is uncontrollable. Only the Lord above can control the weather. Whatever we get, we have to work with.”

On participating in high school at the Kansas Relays:

“I ran the 4 x 100 (meter relay). I think I was supposed to run the 100 (meter dash) but I was hurt. It’s been quite awhile since high school, so it is kind of hard to remember.”

John Capel

On the competition in the Men’s 100 Meter Dash:

“The competition in the 100 is kind of misleading right now because it is just the start of the season for the professionals. To say that any one of the college guys could step up and become the world’s next fastest guy is hard to say because you never know if they will get burned out running in college. If they maintain it then some of them have a chance to do really well. Only time will tell who is going to be the next guy, but us old guys are still here.”

Leonard Scott

On his expectations for the outdoor season:

“I expect to do some good things this year. I am just getting back into track and field after playing football. I’m excited because I can say that I have now had a full year with John Smith as my coach. He is a great coach and I am getting to train with some great people. I think that alone is going to take me to the places that I want to be in life and on the track. The indoor season was great, but now it’s time to focus on outdoors. I feel like outdoors is the real thing and indoors gets you ready for outdoors. I am excited and can’t wait to see what happens.”

Inger Miller

On competing in the Kansas Relays:

“This is my second time coming. The first time I came I had a really good time. The crowd is wonderful and it is nice to be able to compete in places in the United States where the crowd is knowledgeable as well as favorable toward the big stars. I think that it is great that we are all here in the states running against each other and with each other for the hometown crowd.”

Adam Steele

On participating in the Kansas Relays Gold Zone:

“I’m really excited about the Gold Zone. I think that it is a great twist for our sport. It rivals other sports because of the three-hour time span that it will take up. Some of our greatest athletes will be opening up their season here. It’s going to be a blast and I am really excited about it. Other athletes have been talking about it, which gets me really excited. It is my first Kansas Relays, and I think it’s a good one to step into and get started.”

Jenny Adams

On participating in the Kansas Relays Gold Zone:

“I think the `Gold Zone’ is awesome. Competing against all these other great athletes inspires me. It is very special to have all of us together here at a meet in the United States. It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s early in the season so people are going to be a little more relaxed. We’re not going to be stressed out because we are just getting our season kicked off. We are going to have a whole lot of fun and I plan on being inspired tomorrow.”

Leo Bookman

On participating in the Kansas Relays Gold Zone:

“I am very excited. When I saw the list of all the athletes that would be competing I thought `Man Tim, (Weaver) you really did it.’ There is a lot of good competition here and I am excited to be a part of the meet.”

On competing in the Men’s 100 Meter Dash:

“I love the competition. I feel that with better competition I will perform better myself. I know they have some big names, but that doesn’t mean anything to me. They all have two legs just like me and they’re starting from the same line that I am and I could beat them on any given day.”

J.J. Johnson

On participating in the Kansas Relays:

“These guys are great athletes. I think that it is a great idea to have the Kansas Relays because it gives people on this side of the planet a chance to see what we have to show. People overseas get a chance to meet all of the athletes and see what caliber of people we are. This is a great chance for the people in the United States to see what we have to offer.”

Charlie Gruber

On participating in the Kansas Relays Gold Zone:

“I am really excited about the Gold Zone. It’s a good block of time for the average fan. In years past there were marquee events that were multiple hours apart, but this way an average fan has a set time that they can come out and see everything that they want to see. I think that there will be a lot of energy on Saturday.”

On the competition in the Men’s Mile Run:

“I think that (the United States’ runners) need to stop comparing ourselves against ourselves. We need to look at it as us against the rest of the world, instead of us against each other. I think that will help us in the states as well as in the world scene.”

James Davis

On the competition in the Men’s 400 Meter Dash:

“The competition is ridiculous. These young guys are coming out of college and high school running phenomenal times. I am a competitor and I go out and try to win every race and I can’t wait for these young guys to come along. The game has changed and they are trying to push us old people out. We have to be a little bit more competitive. These kids are trying to turn pro young so I have to make them stay in school. I think it is going to be a lot of fun.”

Joel Brown

On the popularity of track and field:

“Since I have left college, the exposure of track and field has gotten a lot better. Some of that has been because of the Olympics, so we’ll see what it looks like in the coming years. With the NHL going down, we’ll see how much exposure track gets, and I hope it’s a lot.”

Derrick Peterson

On his goals:

“Making the Olympics has been one of the highlights of my career and I would like to continue that trend. Being here is a good step in that direction because of all the top athletes I will be competing against.”

Mark Jelks

On the competition in the men’s 100 meter dash:

“Honestly, I don’t care who is next to me (in the race). As a new guy, I am just hoping not to get caught up in the hype. I love track and field. I live track and field, I sleep track and field, and if it had a taste, I would probably eat it. I am not worried about who I am going to run against, I just need to do what I need to do.”

On his relationship with Maurice Greene:

“We joke back and forth with each other. I am really fortunate to learn what he has learned.”

Joey Woody

On participating in the Kansas Relays Gold Zone:

“I am excited because I competed here in college when it was just a `low key meet.’ To see what Tim Weaver has done with the meet in the last few years is amazing. I am really excited to be back. I have a couple of Kansas Relays watches at home, but I would like to pick up another one.”

Scott Huffman

On the “friendly” competitiveness of the pole vaulters:

“It’s almost more of a fraternity. We have all been roommates throughout various meets in Europe. It’s all the same even when we are with guys that are 10 to 15 years our senior. It’s a real brotherhood. It’s still really competitive, but we are all buddies.”

Nick Hysong

On the wind:

“The wind is good if it is at your back. If it’s a strong, gusting wind from the side the pole vault becomes like a sail. I’ve seen guys get completely blown off the runway before. In fact it has probably happened to all of us at one time. The wind is just another factor that we have to deal with in the pole vault. Everything is pretty precise.”

On coming to his first Kansas Relays:

“I am happy and excited to be here for the first time in my career. Scott (Huffman) has always been trying to get me to come here. Tim (Weaver) actually called my manager really early this year and it worked out great.”

Pat Manson

On the wind:

“If it’s like this tomorrow I will be excited. Right now, the wind is a tailwind which is good for us. The tailwind helps a lot, so it will be fun tomorrow. I’m ready to go tomorrow. I’m not training to compete in the European Summer Tour because of my kids, so this is the peak of my season. I’m ready to give it a go. It’s still early in the season, but it is going to be fun. Competing with all of these guys here is a treat. You don’t get to compete with an Olympic Gold Medallist (Nick Hysong) everyday. It’s also a good chance to show off our Kansas facilities to Nick Hysong.”

Lashinda Demus

On competing at the Kansas Relays:

“This is my first meet as a professional, so I am kind of a baby coming in to it. My eyes are wide open with everything. I almost feel out of place with all of the elite athletes here. I don’t have any expectations coming in because I feel like the underdog in every event.”

Marion Jones

On her first appearance at the Kansas Relays:

“I am excited to be here. This is actually my first time in the state of Kansas. When I found out recently that we had the opportunity to come here, I was excited. I’ve had the opportunity to visit so many places around the world and compete and to actually go to a track meet that I have never been to and I hear so much about over the years is fun. I think at this point in my career, I am really searching and looking for places that can motivate me and fuel that fire that I know is still there.”

On her expectations for this season:

“I am looking for great things. Things haven’t changed with me; I expect the best of myself. Anything less than my best is disappointing to me. That is how I’m going into this season. So much has happened in my career and in my life the past three years. I am really just looking to get back to the Marion of old. Hopefully that will start tomorrow.”

On keeping United States track and field strong:

“It is a concern of athletes now. I think establishing meets such as this and other big events around the nation and folks like Tim (Weaver) and others around the country are keeping track strong. We are U.S. athletes and we want to stay here in the states to compete. If I could stay in the U.S. and compete in great meets like this where you walk into the stadium and people are enthusiastic about the sport and you have media turnout like this, it helps keep more and more athletes here in the states. The meets are here and the stars want to stay here as long as the fans come out to see them.”

On her focus this season:

“I think my immediate focus is to be the fastest woman in the world. That doesn’t diminish the fact that I have a passion for long jump that hasn’t been quenched because I haven’t won an Olympic Gold Medal or a World Championship in the long jump. I have not given up on that event to say the least. I am really using this year to get refocused. I needed to downsize my career and focus more on one thing, which are the sprints. Once I am back to where I want to be in that, then maybe next year I can work to other things.”

On the Kansas Relays environment:

“I am happy to be in an environment such as this, with the high school kids and the college kids and it’s like we are all one. We all started out like that. We all started as youths and moved up to high school and then college and for us to get a chance to rub elbows with the elite athletes was a big thing for us. When you step on the track it’s competitive and you want to win. It’s the Kansas Relays and you want to have fun, but you also want the bragging rights. We have assembled a team that will give everyone a run for their money in the 4 X 200 meter relay. I’m just glad to be a part of all of this.”