Crawford, centre, outran Justin Gatlin and Bernard
Williams to take 200m gold at the 2004 Olympics [AP]
 
As reigning Olympic 200m champion, Shawn Crawford of the USA is one of the world's most exciting sprinters. He also has an enviable record in the 100m, with a personal best of 9.88 seconds over that distance.

 

At Friday's Qatar Athletic Super Grand Prix in Doha, Crawford will race in the 100m against world class rivals including Portugal's Francis Obikwelu and Nigeria's Olusoji Fasuba. Al Jazeera spoke to Crawford ahead of the event.

 

You've shown before that you are able to mentally prepare yourself under challenging circumstances (in the Athens 2004 Olympics 200m final, Crawford won the gold despite being booed by fans of Greek rival Konstantinos Kenteris, who had withdrawn from the Games amid a doping scandal). Is your ability to prepare in this way going to give you the edge over the rest in Doha?

 

I think all athletes are mentally prepared in such competitions, not just physically. I think it's just going to come down who is ready to run tomorrow night. It might be a physical thing, it might be a mental thing – but when I step on the line, I'm ready to run. I don't care about anyone else.

 

Do you think Doha's heat and humidity is going to be a factor in the race? Will it favour certain runners over others?

 

've never been a person to worry about the person in the blocks beside me. If I could be like a horse and wear blinkers, I would prefer that

For a 100 metre race, it goes so fast that I don't think it is going to be that much of a factor. Sometimes I think the heat helps us all in terms of warming up. But for the sprinters, we are in and out – it should not bother us too much.

 

Justin Gatlin posted a time of 9.77 seconds in Doha last year. It seems the track is good for fast times. Are you hopeful of a getting a personal best time here?

 

I really do think that this is a fast track. Every year, I've come here and posted fast times, as have some other athletes. I'm not sure that I will definitely get a personal best, but I'm looking forward to getting one of my fastest times for this year.

 

This is only the second 100 metres event for me this year, so I can't look at it as if I'm going to break the world record, but I'm hoping to run faster than 10.16, which I ran in February. I want to progress and go faster than that.

 

Do you have any fitness or injury concerns, or is everything running to plan ahead of the World Championships in Osaka later this year?

 

Everything is going to plan, yes. There is not any particular preparation that I am taking going in to this. [At the Olympics] the 200 metres was a last minute decision between me and my manager. A lane opened up and he asked if I wanted to run the 200 as well as the 100, so I thought "yeah, that would be great".

 

Back in the day, I used to run both the 100 and 200 at track meets. As a sprinter, I figured I should be prepared to run any event – both the 100 and 200. I think I'm prepared for both distances.

 

Crawford is now aiming for success
over 100m [GALLO/GETTY]
You have a personal best of 19.79 in the 200 metres. What is your preferred distance?

 

The hundred. The 200 is long – I'm lazy, and I'd rather prepare for the 100. Even though the 200 is my better event, the 100 hurts less. I feel more confident in the 100 because it's a shorter race. I feel like I have more of a base training for the 100. The times I run in Doha will tell. We'll see.

 

One of your main challengers is Olusoji Fasuba, who ran 9.85 seconds here in Doha last year – three hundredths of a second faster than your personal best. Does the prospect of facing such a competitor act as spur for personal bests?


A personal best for me is like running the most perfect race you can – and in order to do that, you need to be running near-perfect practices, every day.

 

Because the season is just getting going I'm not going to say that I have had near-perfect practices. I'm not going to consider Fasuba as an inspiration or a boost. I'm not even thinking about him – I couldn't care less if he was there or not.

 

I've never been a person to worry about the person in the blocks beside me. If I could be like a horse and wear blinkers, I would prefer that. I just know that I've got out there and beat the time. The clock is the main objective, not anybody else.

 

You are known within athletics as an entertainer. You can post extremely fast times but you also engage positively with crowds. Are we going to see any antics in Doha?

 

I'm going to be quite conservative! I am just here to run, I'm not here to do side shows or anything. I’m going to stay under the radar, run, and get out – no performances or anything.

Source: Al Jazeera