Alan Webb has struggled in the lead-up to the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., and potentially the Beijing Olympics in August.
Webb had stomach problems in his first race of the season on March 15, an 8K race in New York’s Central Park, and he stopped for unknown reasons after 2½ miles of the Carlsbad (Calif.) 5,000 on April 6.
Last month he pulled out of the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, where he broke Steve Scott’s meet record last year.
Webb told the meet director that he was not injured but just not ready to compete at that point in the season.
He is entered in the Prefontaine Classic mile in two weeks in Eugene, Ore., on the same track as the upcoming trials and where he set his 3:53.43 national high school record in 2001.
Webb may be trying to not peak too early, with 1,500-meter heats July 3-4 and finals on July 6 to make the United States Olympic team, followed about five weeks later in Beijing with three rounds again.
Burnout may have contributed to Webb’s failure to medal at last year’s World Championships, although he had run the fastest recent mile time entering the meet.
Webb, his coach and his agent could not be reached for comment.
But last week Webb told Dick Patrick of USA Today: “I’m happy with the way things are going. I’m moving in the right direction. I just got overtired from training, which is kind of a good and bad thing. I’m pretty confident I’m going to get all that back as I continue to feel better. I want to make sure I’m feeling well before things get really crazy. I didn’t feel like I wanted to race through it. I wanted to feel good starting the year out.”
Qualifying early — In the past, if any of the top three finishers in an Olympic qualifying event did not meet the qualifying time, they could compete during the summer before the Games to make the qualifying time.
But not this year, according to USA Track & Field spokeswoman Jill Geer.
“This year we name the team on July 8, so you need to run the [Olympic] standard by the conclusion of the trials,” she said.
Geer said there were several factors that went into the decision, mainly the logistics of traveling to China.
“The visa process is much too difficult now and takes much longer,” she said.
Another consideration: “Somebody chasing around the world for the standard all summer would be tired by the Olympics, so the Olympic trials should be where the emphasis is.”