July 19, 2012
FORT WORTH - The Summer Olympics and TCU track and field have become synonymous over the past decades. Many of the Horned Frogs' finest athletes have represented his or hers respective nations, and the 2012 Games beginning in London next week will be no different.
Former TCU sprinter Justyn Warner will become the latest TCU alumnus to take to the Olympic oval when he represents Canada in the 100-meter dash and the men's 4x100-meter relay. The first two rounds of the 100-meter dash take place on Aug. 4, while the semifinals and finals take to the track on Aug. 5. The 4x100-meter relay preliminary round takes to the track on Aug. 10, with the finals following on the next day.
Warner was confident that he would be wearing the red and white of Canada for the relay team, but he still had some work to do to earn his spot in the individual event.
"I knew I would most likely be part of the relay for the Olympics, but I wanted to be there for my own individual event," Warner said. "I still needed to make the `A' standard, and I was able to run in in the trials."
Warner was able to hit the `A' qualifying standard with a 10.16 in the semifinals, but it was still vital that he get into the top-two to punch his 100-meter dash ticket to London. He did just that in the finals, crossing the line first in 10.15.
"I was happy that I was able to accomplish my goal of making my individual event," Warner noted.
Justyn Warner was followed in the race by another Warner, his younger brother Ian. The junior Warner, an All-Big 12 sprinter at Iowa State, earned a ticket to the Olympic games as part of the 4x100-meter relay team too.
"Being in London with my brother, and potentially running in the relay together is awesome," Warner said. "I think that has been a dream for both of us, and to be able to accomplish it at such a high level makes it even better."
His brother Ian is not the only important person in Warner's life joining him on the track in London as his fiancée Nikkita Holder made the Games in the women's 100-meter hurdles. "Canada's Fastest Couple," as they were proclaimed by the CTV Television Network in Canada, will tie the knot in October.
"I have been to London before, so I've seen a lot," Warner stated. "I want to be able to enjoy some time with my fiancée."
The field in the men's 100-meter dash is deep as it usually is. A trio of Jamaicans in defending Olympic champion and world record-holder Usain Bolt, former world record-holder Asafa Powell and Yohan Blake, the Jamaican Olympic Trials champion in the 100-meter dash headline the field. Olympic silver medalist Richard Thompson of Trinidad & Tobago is back, and the United States will be represented by the strong duo of 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist Justin Gatlin and former world champion Tyson Gay.
"My goal is to make the 100-meter final," Warner said. "It will come as no easy task with all the Jamaicans and Americans that top the charts in the straight sprint. Once I make it to the final, anything can happen. I need to be ready to run under 10 seconds if I want to make that final."
However, he will not be intimidated by the big names, as this is not his first appearance in a major track and field event. Warner took part in the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea in the 100-meter dash and 4x100-meter relay.
"Being at my first World Championships was a confidence booster," Warner said. "This game is all about confidence and knowing you can compete with the best. It was my first taste at being with all the top athletes in the world, and realizing I could compete with them."
Warner has been a lifelong fan of the sprint races, as he cites 2000 Olympic Gold medalist and former world record holder Maurice Greene of the U.S., and Canadian record-holder in the 100-meter dash Bruny Surin as inspiration.
"Maurice Greene and Bruny Surin were two sprinters I always looked up to growing up," Warner noted. "Their power and technique running down the track was phenomenal."
Canada has traditionally been a consistent presence in the sprint events, with the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta being the high-water mark when Donovan Bailey won the 100-meter dash, and the 4x100-meter relay team of Robert Esmie, Glenroy Gilbert, Surin and Bailey brought home Gold. The Canadian people have had Warner and the rest of Team Canada's back.
"Since making the team, it has been crazy with media, press, interviews and radio shows," Warner noted. "The support has been out of this world with people wanting me to run well and put Canada back on the map in the sprint world. I try not to get caught up in it by staying humble and focusing on my training."
Warner was a three-time All-American for TCU in the men's 4x100-meter relay. The Markham, Ontario native was a five-time Mountain West Conference champion across indoor and outdoor track.