Work in Sports
ĎIím coming to get youí
Four years ago when the Summer Olympics came to Atlanta, John Capel was a high school sophomore who just wanted to handle the bags for track superstar Michael Johnson. This year, Capel, a former University of Florida football player, was the surprise 200-meter winner at the U.S. Olympics Trials. He won the race in which both Johnson and Maurice Greene pulled up lame. Check in with Capel on CNNSI.com as he prepares to compete in Sydney.
Whatís it like getting ready to race in the Olympics?
At first I was telling myself this is just another race. But then after going to Opening Ceremonies, I figured out finally how important this is to me, my family and the rest of the world. You canít take the Olympics as just another race. Itís not just another race.
Describe your strategy out of the blocks?
When I am in lane 3, I want to catch the person in lane 8. So in order to catch the person in lane 8, youíve got to be explosive. Youíve got to do everything right. Your mechanics have got to be on. When I come out of those blocks my only focus is to catch the person thatís in front of me. As I pick them up, then I know I am doing my job.
The 200 is staggered and not straight. How do you handle the bend?
The best way to handle the 200 with the staggered start is to make sure the person in front of you is as good or a better starter than you. You try to put yourself in the best position possible with the stagger.
You have some people that are great starters, and you have some people that are terrible starters like me. So that way I put somebody in front of me Ė like in the trials when I had Bernard Williams in front of me. I know he is a great starter. My idea with the stagger is to pick him up, run him down before we get to the straightaway.
After I get there, I know my race is on the straightway. If I am beside you or near you when we get to the straightaway then you know Iím coming to get you.
How do you deal with the competition before a race?
Some people try to psych each other out by talking and all that kind of other stuff. When I get on the track you know I am there. Thatís just how it is. I donít have to talk. I donít have to run my mouth. And when itís time to run, you have to tighten up your shoes, because Iím coming top get you. And thatís it.
Do any of your opponents intimidate you?
I respect everybody in the field. I know they are all great sprinters. But I donít fear anybody. My fear was over after the Olympic Trials when I ran against Michael Johnson. After running that race you canít fear anybody.
What do you predict will happen in the 200?
Hopefully, what happens is I can stand on the award stand and we can hear the national anthem play American style. Thatís what I am hoping will happen. Right now I am stronger than I was at the trials. So I am pretty sure that I am going to put something special out there for the American people.
Whatís your strategy?
Youíve just got to come to run. They are all great athletes and they are great sprinters. And they are going to come to run, and I am going to be there to run too.
Do you get nervous before big races?
Right now the only thing I do when I get real nervous is just pray. Praying is the answer. As long as I am praying I am not nervous. Not at all.