EUGENE, Ore. - Jeremy Wariner is not quite ready for his swan song.
The 32-year-old Wariner, whose PR of 43.45 makes him the third fastest ever in the 400 meters, is trying to make his fourth Olympic team against fairly steep odds. Wariner’s 2016 best of 45.55 ranked him just 23 rd among U.S. 400 meter runners, and the one-time Adidas poster boy no longer has a shoe contract. But the three-time Olympic gold medalist is not here to say goodbye.
Wariner placed just fourth in his 400 prelim on Friday, but squeaked through to the semifinals on time with a 45.88, just behind former Oregon standout Michael Berry who was third in 45.79. After the race, but before he knew whether he advanced on time, Wariner said he was not ready to hang up his spikes for good, no matter what happens at the Olympic Trials.
“We’ll see. I told my wife we’ll see how the rest of the season goes. If I’m hanging it up, I’m hanging it up. But if I’m not, then I’ll see you here next year.
“I’m healthy. I ran a good race today, better than I have all season. Now it’s just make the next round, run my heart out, and leave it all on the track.
Wariner is preparing for life after track, however. He and his wife purchased a Jimmy Johns franchise, whose “freaky fast” slogan is to Wariner’s liking, and he has been working as the general manager, as well as the owner.
“It’s stressful,” Wariner said. “But it’s fun.”
400 favorite LaShawn Merritt cruised to an easy win in heat three in 45.55, the third-fastest time of the day. Merritt was clearly trying to conserve energy for the next two rounds, when the real racing will begin.
“It felt cool,” Merritt said. “It was windy on the backstretch, but it’s always windy on the backstretch in Eugene.
“Tony (McQuay) was in the lane outside of me and I was going to push him a little bit. So I just rode him to (300 meters). Then I let off some and tried to run the last 100 as smooth as possible.”
Oregon junior Marcus Chambers looked good as he advanced to the semis by finishing second in heat four in 45.87.
“It felt great,” Chambers said. “Coach Johnson said from the start let’s just make sure we get through, get into the top two.
“I know (David) Verburg likes to get out fast, but I just had to make sure I ran my race plan. Gauge where I was with 150 to go and then kick at the end to make sure I got second.”
Chambers said he was not bothered by nerves in his first Olympic Trials experience.
“I ran with the pros last year at U.S. Nationals so it’s not new for me. I made it through so I can’t complain.”