It’s not just black guys that can run

The United States’ Jeremy Wariner recently won the gold medal in the men’s 400-meter with a personal best of 44 seconds, which is not too far off from the record held by Michael Johnson with 43.18 seconds. There are many comparisons between Johnson and Wariner — they both had the same coach, which may explain some of the similarities, though there is one main difference.

Wariner is white.

He is the first white American to win a gold in the Olympics in a sprinting event since Mike Larabee in 1964.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Wariner since he won the gold. People seem to be talking more about his race than his abilities. Grenada’s Alleyne Francique placed fourth in the 400 behind Americans Otis Harris and Derek Brew. When Francique was asked about Wariners performance, he said, “I’ve never seen a white man run that fast. It was a blazing race, man. The kid is good.”

Perhaps it is a stereotype that sprinting events are primarily dominated by minorities, but Wariner seems to be erasing the stereotype. “It doesn’t matter what race you are, it’s just ability,” Wariner said when asked about being white and winning the gold. “I’ve had a great coach, and he knows what he is doing.”

Though the fact of the matter is, in this day in age, it does matter. If it is a stereotype that minorities primarily dominate sprinting events, it’s one Wariner is breaking. And it is a big deal when a white sprinter wins the gold not only because he is white, but because it hasn’t been done for 40 years.

Wariner’s teammate Otis Harris also agrees that this can only have a positive effect. “It’s definitely a good thing when you start to break down stereotypes on the African-American side, on the white side, or any side. When you break down stereotypes, it’s the right thing to do.”

Maybe there is a different underlying reason why minorities dominate sprinting events. When individuals don’t have the funds to further their education, the one way to pay for schooling is by athletics. I personally know a few people that if they did not get a athletic scholarship, there would be no way to pay for their school. When you want something bad enough, there is that drive. And if you are that determined, you will not let anything stand in your way.

That is why I think Wariner won, because he wanted it more than anyone else.

Along with a certain amount of talent and a great coach, anything is possible. Do you think it is a coincidence that Johnson, who broke the world record, has the same coach Wariner does? All I have to say is coach Hart must be doing something right.

Another reason why there may not be so many good white sprinters is because they feel that minorities dominate the sport. Some feel they will not succeed because they see all these minority sprinters winning events and do not feel that it is possible to be as good as them. Hopefully Wariner has shown those people it is not a matter of race.

When it comes down to race in sports, some minorities do dominate certain sports, no matter which way you look at it. So when an athlete breaks the race barrier in a sport, it is significant in many ways. It shows us that anyone at any time can surprise us and break the barrier for the better of all of us and show that it does not matter the color of your skin — just the determination in your heart.

E-mail comments to Steve at [email protected].