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Solomon looks to relay then Rio

7 August 2012

ATHLETICS: After continuing his own individual rise on the athletics scene by making the 400 metre final, Australian teenager Steve Solomon says our 4x400m relay team has a wonderful opportunity to win a medal in London.

“There were no US runners in the 400m final last night, and I think that’s a big thing,” Solomon said on Day 11. 

“They’ve also lost Lashawn Merritt, who any day of the week could split 43 (seconds), so the world is now kind of competing for three medals instead of two medals.

“Usually, you go into major championships assuming the US is going to get a medal, so we’re really optimistic as a bunch. We have really high expectations of ourselves.

“We know we have the ability to do some great things, so I’m sure we’ll sit down together over the next few days and really mark out our key goals, and just give it our best shot.”

Solomon said there was no problem between himself and relay teammate John Steffensen going into the first round, on Day 13. Solomon, the younger of the pair by 10 years, was selected ahead of Steffensen for the individual race, after both had run B qualifying times. Steffensen objected to that decision by Athletics Australia.

“I think our Australian 4x4 team is a really formidable team,” Solomon said. “On paper we’ve got all 44-second runners, on paper we’re probably up there with the best teams in the world. We’re all coming into really good form, and the team chemistry’s really good.

“There’s no conflict between John and I. We’ve been chatting and laughing together, so we’re just really happy and coming together as a team, and hopefully doing the best we can for ourselves and Australia.”

Solomon ran eighth in the 400m final, and while on one hand he was delighted to have made it to the final as a 19 year-old, he wasn’t happy with his race.

“I didn’t run a great race,” he said. “There were things that I could have done better, but I was still really happy to put in that performance in an Olympic final, especially my first Olympic final.

“Maybe it wasn’t the perfect race, but I can take things away from that and come into future races against the best runners in the world and maybe conduct myself a bit better out there.

“Basically, I went in with my race plan and I knew I had to do a few things different to attack the first 200, and I just thought I didn’t quite keep my leg turnover speed coming off the first bend and down the back straight, which is something I really wanted to do.

“So that made me work really hard around the top bend to try and regenerate that leg speed and come home hard into the straight. It gave it everything. I was exhausted after the race and I couldn’t have given it any more, but just in terms of execution I could have done a few things a bit better.”

Solomon said he had already learned an enormous amount from competing at these Games, and was looking forward to using that as he starts aiming at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

“Every race, I have learnt a book’s worth of knowledge that I’ll take into future Olympics, and especially Rio,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll take that into the relay here as well.”

Solomon said he felt best suited to running the first leg of the relay, but that the running order was yet to be decided.

The teenaged star has chosen to go to Stanford University in the US, and explained that his decision was based on trying to avoid burn-out during the development process.

“The college system does have that haze over it for burning athletes out a bit, but I’ve done my research into it and Stanford University was the right choice for me,” he said. “Florida University is a very renowned track university, and is very driven to score well in the NCAA points, and a lot of their funding would go into the track and field team.

“At Stanford I’m kind of a bigger fish in a small pond, and usually you look after those fish a little bit better. So, from all my discussions with Stanford, with the athletics managers and coaches, I’ll be able to dictate my racing schedule - that won’t be dictated for me.

“And I wouldn’t have made a decision to pick a university where I thought I’d be burnt out.”

Greg Prichard in London

Olympics.com.au

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