As the steady flow of winners came off the track and passed through the mixed zone at the Meeting Areva in the Stade de France tonight, there was the inevitable question to each one: “Do you feel good about your chances for the World Championships in Berlin?” Except that, for Dexter Faulk, the question was different.
Faulk recorded his second ÅF Golden League victory of 2009 in the men’s 110m Hurdles and, ironically, his first came in Berlin. But, when the athletes line up for his event in the 1936 Olympic Stadium next month Faulk will be in Atlanta with his girlfriend and daughter. A casualty of the sudden-death United States trials, he failed to make the team for the World Championships.
Tonight he recorded 13.14 seconds for a clear victory over Jamaica’s Dwight Thomas (13.30), France’s Darien Garfield (13.39) and, perhaps most notably, Aries Merritt, who was fourth (13.42). Merritt qualified for Berlin along with David Payne and Terence Trammell.
Not that Faulk is drowning in his own misery. Instead, he is swimming in a sea of optimism, bravado even. With a best of only 13.40 last year ��� now it’s 13.13 from Ostrava on 17 June – he is improving so fast that he is thinking big.
“I’ve come a long way this year and I think there’s a lot left in my system,” the 25-year-old Kansas City based athlete said. “Once I put it all together there might be a World record in there somewhere.” The record stands to Dayron Robles, of Cuba, at 12.87, but Faulk is not in awe of it.
Does he seriously reckon the World record is on cards? “I don’t reckon – its coming,” he asserted. “If I can clear my hurdles and put it all together its mine.” When? “We’ll see. If it’s this season it’s this season, if not its coming.” At least he has Al Hobson as his coach. Hobson is a former coach of Maurice Greene, the dominant 100m runner of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Reflecting on his trials experience in Eugene, Faulk said: “I did good in my first two rounds (won both, 13.16/13.17) and in my third round (final) I smashed a hurdle real bad and it knocked my momentum. I didn’t make it on the team but its something that happens, something I have to deal with. It’s over with, it’s the past now, all I can do is make sure that I run as fast or faster than the people in the World Championships.
“I wish I could have done a couple of things a little bit better tonight but, with the things that I did wrong and the time that I ran, it is real good for me. I’m right on my PR and I think that, once I put it all together, you will see something good, real good.
“I won Berlin but, after that, I had a couple of troubles with travel. I didn’t do good in Oslo (fifth) and, in Rome, I got third. I’m glad for the win tonight, I just hope I can put everything together and run something real fast.���
From Atlanta, home of the 1996 Olympics, Faulk “got into track just because I didn’t have anything else to do.” Explaining, he added: “I walked out on the track and a guy was doing the hurdles. I said ‘I want to do that event’ and it went from there.
“13.40 was my fastest before this year but I didn’t dedicate myself like I think I should have. So, after sitting at home last year and realising that I’m not making any money sitting at home, I said: ‘I won’t sit at home this year’. So I put in a lot of work, a lot of hard dedication in the weights room and on the track, to make sure I’m at where I’m at now.” His first notable international performance was his sixth place in the 2001 World Youth Championships.
“When the Olympics went to Atlanta I was only in the sixth grade. I didn’t know anything about track then. I started running track in the tenth grade. Track wasn’t even a thought to me in ’96.
“When they had the Olympics I went down there, I got to visit it. I was young but I really didn’t know what was going on. They changed it to a baseball park now, of course, but they still have the place where the torch was. I was in the arena but I didn’t know anything about track, it was just something to do. I don’t even remember what I saw. I wish I could have seen Michael (Johnson) – I probably did and I just don’t know.
“During the World Championships I’ll be at home chilling with my daughter and my girlfriend. Home is Kansas City but I will be in Atlanta where my daughter is. Her name is Destiny.”
And what might Faulk’s destiny be? “12.86,” came his rapid reply. But no World title, at least not this year.
David Powell for the IAAF