A three-time USA Champion; twice in the 20K outdoors and once in the 3K indoors; Trevor Barron set the American record in the 20,000 meter Race Walk at this year's Olympic Trials in 1:23.10. The fastest Junior race walker in history, Barron now holds six American Junior race walk records. Considered young in the sport, he qualified for his first Olympic Games in June in Eugene, Oregon.
Trevor was kind enough to take a few minutes during his final preparation for the London Olympics to answer a few questions from MileSplit.
Photos by Ed Yaker
MS: Was it more meaningful to break your coach's record when you set the AR at the Trials?
TB: Tim Seaman has trained me to beat him and to break his records. Breaking his record was meaningful because it showed Tim's success as a coach, as he has trained U.S. race walkers to do what he has done and hopefully even more. It was great to break the record in a race in which he was competing. We were able to dispel the occasionally raised concerns that there could somehow be a conflict of interest because Tim was both competing and coaching other competitors. He continues to be a great walker even as he trains others to be the best they can be.
[Note from Trevor's father, Bruce: Tim Seaman was an Olympian in 2000 and 2004 and has coached Trevor since 2008.]
MS: Was the fact that Eugene was a track race more difficult or easier? Was it a plus for you?
TB: 50 laps on the track are somewhat monotonous, but it is a plus to have a consistent flat surface and to get splits and pass your aid station every 400 meters rather than every one or two kilometers.
MS: Talk about the learning curve in moving up from the junior ranks in a discipline where the U.S. has never been considered a major world power? Has your development in the sport been more rapid than you had anticipated a few years ago?
TB: With Tim’s help, I have trained more seriously and consistently through my years as a junior than any U.S. race walker before me. Distance athletes normally peak in their late 20s or early 30s, but it is certainly possible for a dedicated 19- or 21-year-old to be internationally competitive. I am excited to race in London with many of my friends who have progressed alongside of me. I have been racing against some of these athletes for years and we have built strong friendships. In fact, two of my three closest competitor-friends in this hemisphere have also been selected for the Olympics and I am looking forward to sharing the experience with them, too.
[Note from Trevor's father, Bruce: The start list for the men’s 20k is out and it includes Eider Arevalo of Colombia, age 19, who narrowly defeated Trevor for the gold at Pan Am Juniors last year and is a three-time junior World Cup or World Juniors champion; Ever Palma of Mexico, age 20, who has lined up in a race with Trevor six times; and Caio Bonfim of Brazil, age 21, who has finished narrowly ahead of Trevor the last three times they saw each other, including Daegu last year. Bonfim is not a close friend due to the language barrier, but Trevor corresponds with the other two. Juniors from Spain and Japan who were close behind Eider at World Juniors are also in the race. And China’s Ding Chen, age 20, could be a medal contender.]
MS: What are your goals for the Games?
TB: I am still very young for this competition. Since the distances are 20km and 50km it is normal to peak up to a decade later. I hope to compete to my greatest potential and possibly place in the top 15.
I have watched the last three Olympics and it wasn't until the last couple years that I actually believed that I had a chance to make one. London will be an incredible experience, and I intend to make the most of it.
MS: What do you think can be done to improve the visibility of RW?
TB: Race walking is the only international track and field event not in the NCAA program (except the marathon, but prospective marathoners can still be 10,000-meter runners in the NCAA). Without the NCAA’s support it will be very difficult to develop a significant pipeline of walkers. But I hope my experience can demonstrate that there are great opportunities in race walking.