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Jesse Owens award winners teleconference excerpts

On Tuesday, USA Track & Field hosted a media teleconference with the 2011 Jesse Owens Award winners Carmelita Jeter and Jesse Williams. Below are selected excerpts from that teleconference:

Carmelita Jeter
On success of World Championships
There were definitely emotions running through my body. In 2009 I was training hard, but I wasn’t mentally prepared to do what I should have done. This year, I knew with my training and the confidence I had within myself and within my coach, I knew this was going to be my year to do great things. When I got those medals I was very happy with myself. I’m always very hard on myself, but when I was in Daegu I was very pleased with myself and my performance.

On running the 200m
This whole season was a learning process with me running the 200. This was the first season I ran the 200 under my coach, John Smith. We had to figure out the best way to train me, and we learned a lot from this past season with my 200. We got to see where I need to improve and what to work on. I’m pretty excited for the 2012 season to run the 200.

On relief of gold medal
I definitely needed to show myself that I could win at championships. Having two bronze medals is defiantly a blessing, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want you to think I was not grateful for the things I have achieved. But I was missing something, and I was missing that gold medal in the 100m, and I achieved that this year. It was a bit of a weight lifted off my shoulders. Am I satisfied? No, I’m not. It definitely gives me momentum for 2012. I have to get to these Olympic Games. I missed it in 2008, so everybody wants to know if I am going to be able to train hard this year since I did well last year. I still have something missing in my medal case, so I definitely have something that has me motivated right now.

On her recent success
I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’ve been hurt for so many years. For me to be injured for three to four years, I wasn’t running, I wasn’t competing. I have fresher legs. A lot of it also is when you get a little older; you take this a little more seriously. You treat this like an actual occupation. You take care of your body more, you rest well and a lot of that contributes to how I am performing.

Jesse Williams
On historical significance of season
“This year has been an unbelievable year for me. I was on the verge of doing some big things before, but it just didn’t go my way. This year things started clicking and I was on a roll. I knew going into Daegu that I was going to win it. I feel you have to have that attitude going into a championship. Yes, since 1991, no gold medals- no medals, were won in the high jump at the World Championships. I knew that going in; I’m a student of the sport. I knew that I could make a historical impact for the U.S. in my event. It’s a big honor obviously.”

On confidence going into worlds
“I’ve been very consistent over the year. I wasn’t winning a lot of meets; actually I was getting second and third. But then I won U.S. champs with the world lead. And with the consistency of the year, I knew I was ready to compete. My coach is very knowledgeable and had me ready. I just knew with him, his plan, my physical strength and mental attitude that I was going to win. “

On mental aspect of high jump
“It’s a very mental sport. I know that last year I was physically ready the entire year, and in years past I have been the same way. I just wasn’t mentally there. It is such a mental thing. Now winning the World Championship, it’s going to be a lot easier to have that feeling where I know I can do things because I have done it in the past. As long as I stay healthy, things will be fine.”

“It is definitely just a mindset that things are going to happen. If you are not 100 percent confident, then the odds are that you are not going to have a good day. That is something that just kind of clicked with me this year. A bit of early success with the U.S. Championships got things rolling, and it is like a ball - it just keeps on rolling and things just add up.”

Training this type of year
“There’s a lot of circuit type training, weight training. Just a lot of general strength type things to get a base in my body and I won’t break down next August for the Olympics. It is pretty intense. I am breaking down my body just about every day right now. It’s not the most fun, but at the same time I do enjoy this time of year. It is just an entire cycle. This part of the year gets you ready for the end and the middle of the season. I think it is the most important part of the training. “

“I play pick-up basketball games all the time. I think high jumpers love going out and dunking on people, and it kind of gets your mind off of just high jumping all the time. It is another way to engage your mind in a competitive atmosphere. Yeah, I usually play at least once a week. Actually I was even playing a little bit before the World Championships. I’m just super careful when I’m out there playing. I know in the past I have rolled my ankles when I was playing in college, but since then I’ve wised up a lot and I’m careful when I’m playing."

For more information on the Jesse Owens Award and this year's winners, view the USATF announcement here.

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