Olympic hopefuls talk about performances, weather at Drake Relays

Stephen Koenigsfeld

DES MOINES — Although the sun stayed behind the clouds most of the day, the professional athletes of the track and field world were out shining bright for spectators at the Drake Relays on Saturday.

The first professional to finish her competition was No. 1 world-ranked pole vault champion Jenn Suhr, who vaulted a height of 15-03.33. With windy conditions, Suhr said she jumped relatively well.

“Honestly, [my vault] was really good just because I didn’t feel like [the wind] affected me that much,” Suhr said in a news conference. “In warmups I was a little iffy and that’s why I missed my first bar.”

Suhr said she was confident with each mark and step during the competition. She said she is just taking it one step at a time from here on out.

Later on in the afternoon, Puerto Rico native Javier Culson took the Drake Relays title in the men’s 400-meter hurdles special.

He claimed his title with a time of 49.02, just edging out American favorite Jonny Dutch, who posted a time of 49.06.

During a news conference, Culson spoke through a translator mainly about the drastic change in temperature.

“The weather, it is too cold,” Culson said with a smile on his face. “In my country, it is 99 [degrees]…it’s a little bit more like London weather, I think.”

In one of the final special events professional athletes competed in, U.S. sprinter Ryan Wilson took the Drake Relays title in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 13.20.

Wilson’s comments during his news conference were more directed toward his performance and mechanics.

“There are some things with the seven steps that you have to do,” Wilson said. “I was really focused on my start, and that went pretty well.”

Wilson also touched on some of his personal goals and accomplishments at this year’s Drake Relays.

“Another, third title [and] the second time I’ve set the record,” Wilson said. “I really enjoy running here. Things didn’t go well and my manager gave me some options this year. I said no, no, let’s just go to Drake.”

The hometown favorite Lolo Jones decided not to participate in this year’s Drake Relays. Jones was not able to be reached for comment.