Tianna Madison’s world is much different than it was a year ago as she prepares for this week’s U.S. Track and Field National Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
The most significant change for the 2003 Elyria High graduate is her coach. Madison left Bobby Kersee in Los Angeles after last year’s Olympic Trials and is now being coached once again by Carol Gilbert, who was her event coach at the University of Tennessee. Gilbert is now head women’s coach at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Kersee had coached Madison since Feb. 2006.
Madison, 23, is in much better condition, too. She’s dropped more than 15 pounds on her 5-foot, 6-inch frame and is back down to her normal weight of 130. Madison said her weight last summer approached nearly 150.
The 2005 World long jump champ (22-7¼) is a contender for one of three team spots at the 12th annual IAAF World Championships, slated for Aug. 15-23 in Berlin. Madison competes in the long jump on Sunday after running heats of the 100 meters on Thursday and Friday.
“Last year, I didn’t have the greatest motivation after the Trials,” Madison said. “This season I have a full schedule after nationals. I’m chasing more of a time (for the 100) and a distance (in long jump).
“Regardless of the outcome at nationals, I’ll still have a full European track league schedule. At the end of the season I’ll be able to say I ran the kind of time that I wanted to run for the 100 and finally pulled the long jump together. That way, I have no regrets.”
Last year, Madison missed an Olympic berth to Beijing by only 5½ inches at Hayward Field.
Madison’s best long jump at the Trials was 21 feet, 7¼ inches, which came in the third of six rounds of jumps. She finished fifth.
“Last year, I was so upset and so depressed that I just let the rest of the season go,” Madison said. “I’m not going to do that again.”
Gilbert puts Madison through a tougher conditioning program. She’s running stadium steps, jumping rope and doing bounding and high-knee drills. Madison is staying on top of her diet, too, following more of a high-fiber routine.
Part of Madison’s weight issues related to her strength training. Previously, she lifted as much as four times a week. Now, under UCF strength coach Cliff St. Clair, Madison lifts only twice a week.
Although she has no collegiate eligibility since turning pro in February 2006, Madison transferred her credits last winter from UCLA to UCF in order to finish her college degree.
Also, for the first time in four years, Madison is competing in the sprints. She took second in the 60 meters at the U.S. indoor nationals in Boston in March.
Without a doubt, Madison appears much happier back under Gilbert’s wing in Orlando.
“It’s been fun,” Madison said.
Madison competed in Eugene the first weekend of June at the Prefontaine Classic but didn’t have the greatest of days. She suffered a gash in her foot while long jumping when she spiked herself on her initial attempt. She finished only 10th (sixth among Americans) with a jump of 6.06 meters (19-10¾).
She made a couple more attempts at long jump, but the mishap doomed her chances. Madison also raced the 100 meters, finishing seventh overall (fifth American) in 11.31.
Madison had a better meet May 28 at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York. She was sixth in the long jump (second American) with a mark of 6.16 meters or 20 feet, 2½ inches. She also finished seventh in the 100 meters (11.05)
For the Trials, Madison is tied for the No. 9 seed (11.05) in the 100 and is No. 13 in long jump (6.48, 21-31/4).
“I’m finally enjoying it (long jump) again,” Madison said. “It gets on my nerves every now and then, but I’m enjoying it. I still will be a threat for years to come. Everyone has dreams, but not everyone’s dreams are realized on the timetable they want them to be realized. As long as you don’t give up that dream and keep working for it, it will come true. You just have to be patient because it might not come true when you expect them to.”
Deep down, Madison looks to regain the magic from the 2005 season. But she knows she can only control so much.
“Nothing is going to happen that isn’t in God’s will,” Madison said. “All I can do is give my best and have a good time. Signing a (professional) contract makes this my job. Everything that’s bad that could have happened already has. It wasn’t even that bad because nobody died.
“I won’t say I don’t care anymore but I will say I’m not prisoner to the pressure of having to do something different because somebody said I would. They did tell me to jump 23 feet, but they didn’t tell me that I had to run fast. That just proves that when there’s no pressure I flourish very well.”
Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
U.S.A. OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
WHERE: Hayward Field, Eugene, Ore.
TV times: Friday, 8-10 p.m., ESPN (live); Saturday, 7:30-9:30 p.m., ESPN (live/tape); Sunday, 4-6 p.m. Channel 3 (live).
AT STAKE: Spots on the Team USA roster for the IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Berlin. The top three finishers per event that achieve the “A” Standard advance to the World.
PRIZE MONEY: First place—$4,000; second place—$3,000; third place—$2,000; fourth place—$1,000; fifth place—$500.
TIANNA’S SCHEDULE: Women’s 100 meters, first round: Thursday, 4:25 p.m.; women’s 100 meters semifinal: Friday, 4 p.m.; women’s 100 meters final: Friday, 6:40 p.m.; women’s long jump final: Sunday, 12:30 p.m.