Centrowitz Aiming for Another National Title
Rio Olympic 1500m gold medalist foresees winning results ahead as he familiarizes himself with coach Jerry Schumacher and vice versa
By Sieg Lindstrom, Track & Field News
As of Matthew Centrowitz’s first track race in 11 months—the Pre Classic’s Bowerman Mile—the magic numbers were 4, 6 & 5 with the countdown clock ticking toward the USATF 1500 final in Des Moines: 4 weeks to go until the Rio Olympic champ hopes to win outdoor national title #6, after 5 weeks of healthy training with a new coach before the season opener.
Centro’s new coach, fittingly, is Jerry Schumacher of the Bowerman TC. The 6-time #1 ranked U.S. Miler joined the group in January after 7 seasons with Alberto Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project but injury kept him off the training track in any serious way until late April. His 3:52.26 for 6th in that opener—equaling his second highest placing in the Pre Classic’s signature 4-lapper—suggests he has time to continue as the man to beat come Nationals time even though 5th-placer Craig Engels closed like a house afire to haul past him in the final straight.
“I had this hamstring thing that kind of lingered for months,” Centro explained to journalists after the Stanford race. “Then as soon as I was getting over that I had this shin problem that I’ve had since 2016. To be honest with you, I’m not even sure to this day what it is. I don’t know if it’s post-tib or what. But yeah, it felt like a tibia stress fracture or whatever it was, and I had to take another couple of months off because of that. I kind of felt bad. I just got into the group and I was helping to time and once I got hurt I’m watching all my teammates do great workouts and training and I’m just sitting on the sidelines, either warming up with them and that’s it or crosstraining. So it wasn’t the best timing.”
Centrowitz admitted the obvious as he eyed the silver lining, “With injuries there’s never really good timing but I’m very pleased with where I’m at right now and the way this summer’s set up with Worlds being so late. I think this is going to be probably a blessing in disguise.”
After winning U.S. title #5 last year, followed by three across-the-pond DL races—including a 3:31.77 seasonal best for 7th in Monaco and a 3:35.22 win in London—Centro’s health “was up and down for a real long time even when I was with Jerry’s group but the last 5 weeks have been tremendous and to come out [to the Pre meet], compete the way I did, run the time I did with just pretty much 5, maybe even less than 5 weeks of Jerry’s training. We’re both pretty stoked just about how I was able to compete here and also my future if I can get some months and years under my belt with his type of training.”
With a healthy spring Centro might have opted for a lower-key first race, but, “I’ll be quite honest with you,” he said. “I didn’t really have a choice, it’s in a lot of our Nike contracts, so if I’d had it my way I probably would have just done a dual meet—I was joking—just kind of shake out the rust or run with Lopez [Lomong] in Eugene last night. But it’s an honor being invited to this meet and racing against this caliber of field and all these great athletes. I mean you can look down the line and everyone is a medalist, a recordholder, a previous winner of this race. So on any given day—I don’t even know who won today!—anyone in that field is capable of winning and so I’m just obviously thankful for the opportunity. It dragged me to a fast time and I was able to get the standard in the first race. It’s a good problem to have, you know? I don’t take the Bowerman Mile for granted, it’s always a prestigious race and I look forward to hopefully winning it one day.”
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