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Former HS Hurdler Weir Finds His 200m Footing

Warren Weir, a rising star in the Jamaican galaxy, says some people believe he’s hyped and unapproachable. But to everyone who feels that way, he says, “I don’t have horns, and I’m very friendly.” Ironically, the T-shirt he wore as he voiced his observation screamed: “Believe the Hype.”

Weir notes that many people may see him as just a screw face (vexed look), who is all about track. On the contrary, he loves listening and mixing music, dancing, playing video games and, yes, joking around.

But his tastes are eclectic so his interests expand further. He is a budding graphic and digital artist, who sees a likely career along those lines when his competitive track days are over.

A former Calabar High School star hurdler, the 23-year-old Weir, who gave up that event for the 200m, has run right onto the radar as one who could crack the 20-seconds barrier soon. The signs have been there since last year, but hardly anyone noticed. However, this season, Weir has been improving consistently, most recently lowering his personal best to 20.08secs at the June 9 adidas Grand Prix in New York.

It was at a tender age that Weir developed his love for track. “At a young age growing up in Waterford, when Waterford Primary was among the top schools [in track and field] in Jamaica, I always saw the guys running and said I wanted to try,” he remembers. On sports day he ran and beat the top sprinter, and the love affair developed.

Versatile in High School

In high school, Weir focused on hurdling but also competed in the 200m, 400m and the relays. However, he had a bothersome knee that finally led to his switching events after high school, when he joined Racers Track Club in 2009. He recalls that “the continuous pounding after going over the hurdles made my knee hurt.” So his coach suggested that he concentrate on the 200m instead. Since then, he has not returned to the sprint hurdles that he enjoyed. “I’m not saying I’ve left it alone. I love hurdles; I miss it, so I think one day I will go back to it.”

Adjusting to the 200m was not a problem for him because as a high school sprinter he learned to compete over different distances in development meets and championships. However, adjusting to the new rigorous routine did not happen overnight. Half the problem was solved perhaps by his accepting that stepping up to the professional level demanded changes in workload as well as lifestyle.

“You can’t do as you do in high school,” he pointed out. “It took a year for my body to adjust to the work. I started gym and tried to catch up to the big guns, but the transition for me filled in pretty good.”

While the young sprinter may be mistaken as a serious, no-nonsense youth generally, the fact is that he is driven and takes his training seriously. His study habit is what an educator would prescribe, and his work ethics in training are considered somewhat on par with that of club mate Yohan Blake’s, carried out with a beast-like approach.

The young Weir is particular about what he eats. While he does not always eat on time and at times embraces fast food, he tries to maintain a healthy diet. “A good diet for me is eating the right thing, not overeating or eating too little – if not on time, almost on time,” Weir said. He further pointed out that there is a system in place at Racers that stipulates that whatever they consume out of the ordinary must be cleared by administration.

A sports science major at the University of Technology, Weir is currently on leave of absence and has adopted a daily routine of gym, relaxation, playing games, training, and rest, as he prepares for the Jamaica National Trials.

While he has grown into a fierce contender in an event in which his compatriots Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Nickel Ashmeade have first dibs, judging by their track records, and in which only three representatives will be chosen to fill the spots in London, Weir is allowing the chips to fall where they may.

Only the 200m at Trials

“I am going there [Trials] well motivated – head and body – and, hope for the best.” All his efforts will be put solely into the 200m. Not having run a 100m since 2010, he has no intention of doing the 100m-200m double. For this season, besides making the Olympic team, Weir hopes to finish among the world’s Top Ten 200m runners.

“In high school I was a top performer whom some would call a star,” he said. “Now, it’s a different level, so I have to win over the professional crowd. I still have people who love me from high school, but I just have to earn the respect of the public the right way now, and that is all I am trying to do.”

Though he trains in a camp alongside the world’s top male sprinters, Weir is inspired and motivated by Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang and veteran Aileen Bailey, whom he has always admired since he was a young boy, for her commitment to the sport.

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