- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Mile sensation Alan Webb said yesterday he turned professional with an eye on the 2004 Olympics.

Webb, who broke Jim Ryun's 36-year-old national record for the high school mile (and 1500 meters) with a stunning 3:53.43 while running for South Lakes in Reston, said he closed the books on his college career at Michigan after one bumpy year.

"After the NCAA championships, I drove home [from Baton Rouge, La.,] and I decided where I should be: in Virginia," Webb said last night. "From there, I knew I needed some help with the media and things, so I made an agreement with [athlete advisory agency] Flynn Management."

Webb, who said he was out of town "chilling," said he will have some "down time from running, then in a few weeks I will begin some low-key training." The 19-year-old Webb added he will take courses aat George Mason but will "train independently."

Webb also said that Scott Razcko, who guided Webb through his incredible high school career, would become his coach again.

Razcko said earlier yesterday that news of Webb's turning pro was premature and unofficial.

But Ray Flynn of Flynn Sports Management confirmed he is Webb's agent.

"He ran a 3:53 in high school, and he had a great coach," said Flynn, a former 3:49.77 miler and Irish recordholder who manages distance stars Paul McMullen, Deena Drossin, Marla Runyan and 70 other track and field professionals. "It's hard to build that trust with a new program and new people. He had security there at home. I think he is a great athlete and Scott is a great coach. Scott had another kid [Richard Smith in the 800] win the high school nationals this year."

Flynn said he started talking with Webb and Razcko only recently and that an agreement was finalized within the past 10 days. Flynn would not comment on Webb's endorsements or financial arrangements.

"He's a great guy," Webb said of Flynn. "He's got a great reputation in the sport."

In his one year at Michigan, Webb won Big 10 titles in cross country and outdoor track in the 1,500 meters. He earned All-America honors in the fall, finishing 11th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. He placed a disappointing fourth in the 1,500 meters earlier this month at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

"I definitely fell pretty short of my goals this year, and I'm not the kind of person who just becomes content with the situation, especially when it's not going very well," Webb told the Ann Arbor (Mich.) News on Monday. Webb was born in Ann Arbor and moved to Northern Virginia when he was 3.

USA Track & Field chief executive Craig Masback, a former world-class miler himself, said he was apprehensive about putting too much pressure on the budding Webb.

"I don't want to add to the pressure he is putting on himself," Masback said. "I am not going to call him the savior. His turning pro does elevate the sport, but I don't want to put any expectations on him."

Masback said the average age of the 2000 U.S. Olympians and Olympic medalists was 29, 10 years older than Webb.

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