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Monday, June 18, 2012

Track & Field: Local athletes excited to be working with Olympians at Maximum Velocity camp

Ato Boldon works with sprinters at the Maximum Velocity Track and Field Academy

Darion Lewis is a long and triple jumper for the Mercer County track and field team, but the senior was working with Olympic silver and bronze medalist sprinter Ato Boldon early Thursday early at the Maximum Velocity Track and Field Academy at Centre College because he knows any tips he can get to improve his speed will help him with his jumps.
“I’ve had pretty good coaches in the past, and they pretty much taught me all of this, but (Boldon) is putting in a lot of new, small things, just making it a little bit better,”¿said Lewis, who was anxious to get to the jump pits Thursday afternoon and see if what he had learned carried over to his jumps.
“I figured I’d learn a lot and have a lot to take back with me. I heard there was going to be a lot of Olympians here, and I just wanted to start learning a lot of new stuff. I just want to get better for this next track season.”
Lewis was one of just a few local athletes on hand for this week’s camp, which drew participants from as far as Texas. But improvement was the main reason most of the athletes came to Centre this week.
“Just learning how to pace yourself and push yourself and when to go harder and when to push yourself,”¿Danville sophomore distance runner Meagan Smith said.
Smith was working  with Olympians Francie Larrieu-Smith and Dave Wottle, and said being around them will be a terrific experience.
“Just getting to work with the Olympians. It’s just amazing to meet them and learn about their experiences and how they became great runners,”¿Smith said.
Boyle County senior pole vault Rachel Wesley was working with Olympian and former American record holder Jeff Hartwig.
“I’m really excited to be here because he’s an amazing vaulter,” she said. “I just want to keep getting better and better.”
Wesley said had already changed her technique and that has made vaulting easier.
“I need to keep my arms out and keep them up and straight,” she said. “Because I usually hug (the pole).”
Claire Feldhaus of Russell Springs said she learned about the camp from her friend’s parents, and thought it was the perfect thing to help her improve her skills in the 400-meter run. She was also anxious to meet Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
“I’ve learned to better my technique. They changed it, not completely, but they made it better,” she said.
North Oldham sophomore Elizabeth Olive said there was a lot she had learned during her hurdle drills. Olive had never learned about the dorsey flex, which means pointing your toes towards the sky when going over a hurdles. And that was just the beginning for her.
“I¿learned new techniques and how to properly use your legs and feet, the proper positions,”¿she said. “I just wanted to learn new things and get better times.”
Some athletes are making return trips to the camp.
St. Henry’s Craig Aldridge worked with Jamie Nieto on the high jump last year, and was looking forward to working with 2008 Olympian Dusty Joans this week.
“I came down last year and thought it was really fun and very helpful and informative.  I knew a different high jumper was coming, and I wanted a different perspective on things,”¿said Aldridge, who had already altered his jumping style a little. “It’s definitely changed my steps a ton because I really didn’t have any.”