Friday USA Track & Field hosted a press conference featuring high jumper Jesse Williams, hurdlers David Oliver, Lolo Jones and Kellie Wells and distance runner Bernard Lagat in preparation for Saturday's U.S. Open at Madison Square Garden. Below are the excerpts from the press conference. For more information on the U.S. Open check out www.usopen.usatf.org.
On his 2011 season
“Last year was an unbelievable year. I’m looking forward to starting the year at Madison Square Garden. I never want to feel failure. Time and time again I have been in a good spot.”
“Especially in the diamond league it will help me to prepare. Nine of the 12 finalists (at the World Outdoor Championships) were those I was competing with in the Diamond League. When you see the same guys you know what it is going to be like. It’s a big advantage to have.”
On his 2011 season and his plans for the indoor season
“2011 was not what I expected. I didn’t get it done in 2011. I accomplished a few goals but not all of them. I will be (at the U.S. Open), next week (at the Boston Indoor Games) and at the USA Championships in a few weeks.”
On his injury from 2011
“I had a problem with my lead leg. It was the type of injury hurdlers kind of get. I talked to Allen (Johnson) and he had it when he was 27 or 28. I ran my last race and got on a rehab program for about six weeks. I’m just looking to stay healthy this year. “
On competing at the World Indoor Championships
“First you have to go to the USA Championships and get in the top two. It will be a goal of mine. Right now I’m just trying to focus on this weekend.”
On racing in the 50 meter hurdles
“It doesn’t affect my approach. I approach it the same. I just need to focus on what I need to get done and having a good start. I put pressure on myself to get a good start. Coming here is about supporting USATF and the U.S. Open and the respect for running in Garden.
On her 2011 injury
“I had back surgery. I decided to shut it down after USA Outdoors. We were struggling with the injury all year. We thought, ‘what is the point of going to Europe to salvage a season that was basically unsalvageable.’ If I wasn’t an elite athlete it wouldn’t have been noticed until I was 40. It was a surgery to repair my spinal cord. The nerve in my spine won’t be healed until World Indoors. It was a normal procedure. The rehab has been kicking my butt and super intense. After surgery I couldn’t do anything for a month. My first goal was to walk for 20 minutes. It’s crazy how rehab is toning up everything and making it come together.”
On her 2012 season
“I’m so excited to be here. I went through 2011 learning myself as an athlete and now I’m going to 2012 with a lot of confidence. America has such a good group of hurdlers. We welcome everything. My goal is to stay healthy and work on things.”
On the difference of running the 50m hurdles
“It doesn’t change. The hurdles don’t get any higher or any further away. I don’t know when the last time a 50m hurdle race was competed.
On competing in New York and his 2012 season
"I am really happy to be here. I’m happy to be back in New York City. It’s always a good trip when I come. I have been training well since November. Coming down here I’m ready to take on the challenge. I’m going to concentrate on the 1,500m and 5,000m. 1,500m is an event I like but am doing that to get ready to race the 5,000m. I want to keep working on my speed.”