Michael Norman’s counters are covered with empty water bottles that follow his daily intake.
His journal is full of notes of carbohydrates and proteins eaten, power cleanses and squats are lifted and repetitions are completed.
His mind is a definition of a way. Norman, a food enthusiast, a car enthusiast, and a jet skier from Long Beach to Catalina and back, also took a break when asked how he recently lost his mind, and says he still does. tries to understand this part.
Norman, who was only a freshman at Vista Murrieta High in 2013, surprised his parents by sharing his goal of sprinting at the Olympics just three years later. He didn’t play these games. However, his father, Michael, recalled a moment in his son’s life dedicated to the search for and improvement of comprehensive information, which Norman, now 24, believes will make him one of the fastest people ever. Stand on the most important podiums of 400 meters and athletics.
That’s why 2021 was a big surprise for Norman in the months leading up to next week’s U.S. Championships in Eugene, Ore, and a potential return trip to the World Championships in Outdoor Athletics in July.
A runner who wants an answer can show a few people exactly why he made such a mistake last season.
Norman was one of the biggest secrets when the US men’s sprinters competed for medals at the Tokyo Olympics. The US 400-meter sprint champion and favorite in Tokyo, he fell to ninth place in 44.31 seconds, nine-tenths of a second slower than his personal best. He said his fight began in an unknown lane, long before it started at eight, and ended in an unrecognizable way as if he had lifted an invisible weight at a distance of 150 meters.
“The most difficult moment for me in Tokyo was probably the first two or three hours after the race,” Norman said. “I remember taking a drug test and I just lost,” he said. The heart was breaking, [a] a devastating moment for myself.
“I can’t say exactly what went wrong last year. I start the first day of my practice and I only fight from the first day. I do not know the reason. My brain wants me to work hard and improve in training, but my body just doesn’t respond or doesn’t work. I felt disconnected, as if I was not in my body. It was one of the strangest feelings of the year. “
Norman’s mother, Nobue Saito, was watching television from Florida at a party hosted by one of Norman’s sponsors when Norman traveled to Japan to watch the Olympics. They don’t talk much on race days, except for one or two text messages that remind Norman of having fun, and the father didn’t know exactly how his son felt before the Olympics. When he did not see his son’s two most recognizable traits, his speed, or his smile, he realized the same thing.
“He’s not afraid of anything,” he said, “but when I came to Tokyo last year, I knew he wasn’t there.” He doesn’t look like himself at all because he laughs. He was very serious and you knew there was no such thing. But I will give it to him, he put it all on the line. “
A day after finishing fifth, Norman met with his coach, Quincy Watts, a former 400-meter notable and USC coach, to tell him not to be disappointed, which still offered him a golden chance in the 1,600-meter relay. When Norman closed tightly, crossing two leaders in the last 150 meters, his 44-second second leg provided a significant advantage for the United States and ultimately gold – but for Norman, it was less comforting.
“It was a great moment for us,” Norman said.
Norman’s parents reminded him that he had joined a small club of gold medalists. His father hopes that his appreciation of his achievements will increase over time.
“He calls the gold medal a ‘participation medal,'” his father added. “He didn’t pay attention to silver or bronze, but he focused on it [400-meter] gold and when he failed to do so, he was truly devastated.
Norman said eight months after returning from Tokyo were filled with “every emotion” in May, ranging from frustration, disappointment and jealousy. And something else lately: the return of his smile and speed.
In late May, two months before the first world championships were held in the United States, a qualifying match for the Olympics, Norman won the Prefontaine Classic with a score of 43.60 and wiped out one of the best areas of the year on a wet track. The 2019 personal best had the fastest time after 43.45. Former Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson, who broke Norman’s record, praised Norman’s success. “Masterclass” Race on Twitter.
“This is the first race this year that I’ve felt that the hard work, discipline and consistency I’ve worked on has finally paid off,” Norman said.
It was a return to a rhythm that Norman knew well despite his youth, an example of failure-return that defined his career.
Just weeks after graduating from high school in 2016, as the national record holder in the 400 meters, Norman defeated Justin Gatley, a 200-time triathlete, in the Olympic track and field. His result went against expectations – he finished fourth in the NCAA championships to finish his freshman season at the USC, saying he was injured and stopped transferring to college.
The following year, he broke the college record of 400 and was named the best male college athlete in athletics. In 2019, his first year as a professional, he failed to qualify for the 400-meter World Cup final while recovering from a hamstring injury. He began training in 2020 as “I thought I was on fire.” Then deleted a pandemic season.
He said what made this version of the return different was that it gave an accurate answer as to what went wrong in the past, but did not provide such clarity last year.
“Something didn’t click,” said Dunford Rodill, an athletics coach who has worked with Norman since 2016. “And I think it was a mystery to everyone.”
Norman didn’t run 400 in 2020 and said he lost some of his “sense” for distance last year. Norman’s father admitted that his son moved twice last year, missed training time due to close contact with COVID-19 and a minor injury, but after watching his first race in 2021, something went wrong. Norman’s U.S. title caused the celebration; earning time, less.
At the Olympics, “there was a lot in mind; a lot of pressure, “said his father. He had a background prepared for the primetime that seemed ready to expose him to the main with victory. Norman’s mother was one of Japan’s best teenage sprinters when she grew up in southwest Tokyo.
Rodill said that without a clear idea of what needed to be fixed, Norman and Watts chose a “back to basics” strategy for training. Norman said he was even more diligent. He adds it to the list of Los Angeles restaurants he wants to try. For the first time, he has a dream to dive into the sky. But he knows both interests have to wait until the end of his season.
“He’s committed to doing what he can to achieve his goals,” Rodill said. “Commitment, that’s the biggest thing.”
Norman’s father said: “In the first month of fall training, he said, ‘I feel better than I did last year.’ And it’s starting to show itself. “
While it was difficult for Norman to complete 10 sets last year, this year he said he completed 15 sets on a regular basis with extra weight. In another key measure of strength, the back squat improved the repetition maximum by 50 pounds.
Until the beginning of June, Norman remained the only man in the world to reach 44 seconds this season, making him one of the favorites to win an individual gold medal at the Open World Championships or the runaway Olympics. Johnson after praising Norman’s performance of Prefontaine Classic then wrote he and 100-meter winner Trayvon Bromell were impressive, but “have not yet won championships. This summer is another opportunity to change it. “
Norman blurs in any of Johnson’s names and says he only cares about hearing Watts’ opinions.
“I will forever remember the feelings and emotions I had during and after the Olympics, and even during the fall training the following year, until I got another chance, another opportunity,” Norman said.
In Prefontaine Classic, when Normana, a representative of the upcoming Paris Summer Olympics, asked to write a blank, a marker and a message for herself in 2024, she quickly scratched where other athletes took a break and said she only knew what to write. He smiled as he posed for the paper, emphasizing the first line three times.
Remember 202one. Have fun too.