Jared Wilmes has four years of his life tied up in preparing for the Olympics.
The assistant track and field coach at MU has been working closely with Derrick Peterson, a runner who will begin competing in the 800–meter event on Aug. 25.
Peterson, a 2000 graduate of MU, was a Big 12 champion eight times in the 800, a six-time All–American and holds the MU record for both the indoor and outdoor 800. Peterson is also a volunteer assistant to the MU track and field team.
Wilmes plans to leave for the Olympics three days before Peterson competes. He is excited for the opportunity to see another country, watch the games and most of all, to see Peterson compete after all the years of hard work, including the four that Wilmes has spent with him.
Leaving just three days ahead of him will be MU decathlon coach Matt Candrl, who will help prepare Norwegian Olympian and MU record holder Hans Uldal for the most competitive meet of his life.
Even though this is Peterson’s first Olympic competition, he’s no stranger to the atmosphere. During the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, he worked at the games with the track and field competitions. Peterson also competed in the 2000 Olympic trials but missed being named to the team by just one–hundredth of a second.
In the weeks leading up to the games, Wilmes has been doing more speed work with Peterson and preparing him for a race pace. Wilmes says that before Peterson left, he was really excited to get the experience of the meet and represent his country. He isn’t worried about Peterson getting too nervous.
“Derrick is one of those guys that gets up for big meets,” Wilmes says. “He has a clear objective of what he needs to do.”
The USA Track and Field team is sending 12 to 14 coaches, but Wilmes sent Peterson with a list of workouts to do as he prepares for his meet. Peterson left for Athens on Tuesday.
Wilmes says Peterson “loves the sport and the people associated with it. He’s a great ambassador of our sport.”
While Peterson has been focused on making the 2004 Olympics for more than four years, Uldal’s being named to the team was more or less a surprise. Uldal was the last athlete selected by the Norwegian Olympic Committee to represent his country.
A sophomore at MU, Uldal has been improving since he came to the university. In June, he became an All–American after finishing fifth at the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Austin, Texas.
Candrl said the Olympic Committee chose Uldal based on his potential, recent improvements and his injury-free status. “He’s in the best shape of his life. He just has to bring that out on the world stage,” Candrl said.
Uldal is flying to Athens today to attend the opening ceremonies before joining his team at training camp to become acclimated to conditions such as the expected 100-plus degree temperatures, Candrl said. Uldal is expected to make the most impression in his three best events, the long jump, 110–meter hurdles and 100–meter dash.
“Uldal knows how to go to the last drop,” Candrl said.