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In Botswana where Setswana is spoken, there is a famous proverb:
Poo, ga di nne pedi mo sakeng.
Literally translated, it means:
Two bulls can’t stay in the same corral.
I know what you are thinking… “Jimson, you are drinking too much grappa! What does this have to do with Track?”
But seriously folks…
Having 2 world class, world record sprinters on your team may be a coach’s dream, but it actually presents more drama than its worth. Ego clashes, and juggling with meet directors are common challenges.
Today, Coach Glen Mills has that “problem” with Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, but it’s a nice problem to have, thank you very much!
But he isn’t the first.
Speed City, not Speed Group
Going way back to the Bud Winter days, we had Tommie Smith and Lee Evans in the 400m, and Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the 200m. Tommie had the 400m WR before Lee broke it, then focused on the 200m, and we all know what happened in Mexico City 1968.
In the 1980’s, Charlie Francis had Desai Williams along with Ben Johnson at the same time. Desai was initially the “star” of the group, until Ben broke through.
In the 1990’s, we had coach Tom Tellez with Carl Lewis and Leroy Burrell (100m), and Joe DeLoach and Mike Marsh (200m)
In the late 1990’s to post Sydney 2000, we had John Smith’s HSI group with Maurice Green, Ato Boldon, and Jon Drummond?
So, can 2 bulls both stay in the same corral?
At a Philosophical level, can you have it both ways? While there may be two options, you must choose between one of them. You must make a decision.
At the Training level, you hope to have your star athletes push each other, but not to the point of injury!
Remember, no racing in practice! Save that for races and the money! Run your time trials one by one, though Stephen Francis likes to run his athletes in groups of 4 as seen in Asafa Powell’s 300 meter time trials in How to Do a 4 Point Start without Starting Blocks.
Ideally, you have a 100/200 and a 200/400 athlete. The 200/400 will help pull the 100/200 guy in speed endurance sessions, where it would be the opposite in speed sessions.
Coaching is an Art and a Science. And a lot of psychology too!