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Aug. 31, 2003

Terrence Trammell: The Forgotten Man
by Ed Gordon for the IAAF

Paris, France – The press conference moderator had thanked everyone for attending and had adjourned the media gathering on Saturday evening following the session with the Men’s 110 Metres Hurdles medallists.

Suddenly, from one of the podium microphones came the stern words, “Hold on, sit back down.And write this down.”

Terrence Trammell, the silver medallist both here and in Sydney three years ago, had sat patiently through almost twenty minutes of questions, all directed toward fourth-time winner Allen Johnson and bronze medallist Liu Xiang, the highly-touted 20-year-old hurdler from China.

But the American felt his own story should be heard, too.

Given the circumstances he fought against to obtainhis silver medal, he makes a very good case.

As the writers politely again took their seats, the 24-year-old Trammell continued.

“I’ve been injured all year. I had a great indoor season, but I got hurt at the World Indoor Championships and I wasn’t able to compete outdoors until the US national championships [in late June],” the Atlanta native explained.

Trammell’s indoor file was indeed an impressive one this past winter. In a single meeting in mid-February, he recorded world-leading marks of 6.46 in the 60 Metres and 7.42 in the 60 Metres Hurdles. Two weeks later, he finished second in both events [to Justin Gatlin and Allen Johnson, respectively] at the US indoor nationals [on a day in which he had run six times!] to earn two team spots for Birmingham.

But an ill-timed hamstring injury the next weekend in the opening round of the flat sprint at the World Championships, where he was the defending hurdles champion, sidelined Trammell not only for that competiton but for the entire US outdoor season prior to the championships.

“Allen did win his fourth world title, and Liu is a hurdler who has come up very fast and very soon. But I’ve been dealing with an injured hamstring all year, and not one of you has asked me about my ability to prepare for this race off a short season,” Trammell continued, clearly miffed at the snub of his comeback.

After placing second to Johnson at the US outdoor championships, he journeyed the following weekend to Oslo and finished third in the hurdles. But it was a disappointing eighth-place finish in the flat sprint two days later in Pozna? which sent him back to the US for more rehab.

In his last possible hurdling opportunity, only five days before the start of the World Championships, he could not have gained confidence from yet another eighth-place finish in Helsinki. Yet, he remained determined to make an impact in Paris.

“I’m grateful to be up here and get a silver medal on only my fourth competition this season, and I’m looking for greater things to come,” he said, upon which he departed the room.

Like Johnson, Trammell is another in coach Curtis Frye’s training group at the University of South Carolina. But the younger hurdler possesses flat speed that Johnson can only dream of.

Such dual abilities are rare in athletics history, with only few notable exponents such as Colin Jackson, Gail Devers, and, going back in time, Harrison Dillard, the brilliant hurdler of the late 1940s and early 1950s who won Olympic gold in both the hurdles and the flat sprint.

In such lofty company, Trammell too seems destined for future greatness, so long as injury stays out of his path.