UK track standout training for Olympic Trials

By Ashley Lewis

The University of Kentucky has recently celebrated a men’s basketball championship and a streak-ending football victory over rival Tennessee, and now it may also feature an Olympic-qualifying runner.

Sharif Webb, recent UK graduate and 800-meter track performer, may compete for Team USA in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Webb is the only post-collegiate, professional athlete at UK training for the Summer Olympics. The Olympic Trials, the meet to qualify, takes place June 22, in Eugene, Ore.

To qualify for the Olympic Trials, you have to be one of the top 30 U.S. runners in your event. The Olympic Trials consists of three rounds; the preliminaries, semifinals and finals. The top finishers advance in each round, eventually narrowing down to the final three who will represent the US in the Olympics.

Although Webb is consistently one of the top 20 nationally in the 800 meters, he has stayed humble.

“I’m not where I want to be. This year has been slow, so I’m keeping hope alive, but also a realist in the situation,” Webb said. “All I can do is pray and train my best and hop for the best. If the Olympic trials was next week, I don’t think I would make the team or a lot of people would have to fall for me to make it.”

Webb got his start in running as a high school freshman. He didn’t know what extra-curricular activities to go for, so he followed in his parent’s footsteps and went out for track. He exceled so much, it gave him the ability to compete collegiately and now professionally. However, his main goal now is not only the Olympics, but also to get sponsored.

Maintaining his hope for the Olympics, Webb has to train extensively. He sticks to a strict, six days a week training schedule.

A normal week for him starts on Monday, at UK’s indoor track in Nutter Fieldhouse, doing a mix of 200-600 meter workouts. Tuesday, he does an outdoor, seven-mile road run. Wednesday, he’s back at the track doing a mix of 300-600 meter workouts, at a high pace. Thursday, which he calls his easy day, he does a five-mile road run at a slow pace. Friday, he goes for a long run, eight to nine miles at a moderate pace. Saturday, he does a light workout at the track, and he rests on Sunday.

Usually, Webb follows this schedule with his coach, however when his coach is out of town with the UK track team at a meet, he has to work out alone.

“I feel like it’s difficult to not have him [the coach] there while working out. Today it will just be me at the track doing my own workout,” Webb said reflecting on his solo work out time. “I will take my own times. I’m sure it’s more a mental thing, but it’s always good to have people there to push you when you’re tired.”

Webb also has to focus on his diet. When first arriving at UK, Webb got yelled at for his poor diet. He gained five pounds eating things like hotdogs and Ramen noodles. It is hard for him to cut out his favorite food pancakes, he mentioned. However, he cuts out a lot of sugars and fatty foods, especially now when training for the Olympics. While running and training he says he doesn’t like to have a lot on his stomach.

The University of Kentucky will soon find out if we have yet another award to bring home; this time a global recognition. If Sharif Webb maintains his strict training regimen and his diet, he has a good shot at making the Summer Olympics.