Solomon: Man On Fire at Jerome Classic 600m today

LOMPOC’S NATIONAL CHAMPION

Man On Fire: Duane Solomon

June 30, 2013 12:00 am  •  Kenny Cress/kcress@lompocrecord.com

The student is set to go after his teacher’s world record.

Cabrillo High School graduate Duane Solomon will try to break Johnny Gray’s world 600 meters outdoor record of 1 minute, 12.81 seconds when he races Monday at the Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome Invitational Track Classic at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Gray has been Solomon’s coach since 2010. Solomon, 28, won the CIF state boys 800 meters championship in 2003, his senior year at Cabrillo.

Solomon runs for Saucony. He beat world 400 hurdles champion Dai Greene of Wales, among others, when he set the American indoor 600 record of 1:15.70 Jan. 26 at the Glasgow International Match in Scotland. Solomon said by phone recently that he has no mixed emotions about trying to topple the outdoor world mark that his coach holds.

“Not at all,” said Solomon. “To tell you the truth, (going after the record) was my coach’s idea. He’s the one who actually wants me to break his record.”

According to the letsrun.com website message board, veteran 800 runners Richard Jones and Sharif Webb are set to try to help Solomon break the record.

Solomon said, “We have pretty good form, we have our speedwork pretty much up to par for the (IAAF World Championships that start in August).

“I feel like now is a good time to test that, to make a good attempt at the record.”

Gray, at 1:42.60, is the fastest American of all time at 800 meters. Solomon became the second-fastest American at that distance when he finished fourth in 1:42.82 at the 2012 Olympic Games in London last summer.

Afterward, writers and fans widely dubbed that race as the best 800 ever. David Rudisha of Kenya won in a world record 1:40.91.

At the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, last Sunday, Solomon got that first U.S. outdoor championship he had wanted so badly. He got the job done in commanding fashion in the men’s 800, too.

Solomon likes to run in front, and he surged to the lead almost immediately. He came through the first 400 in just under 51 seconds, well clear of the rest of the field.

As Solomon sailed through the early part of the last homestretch, a commentator stated that five-time U.S. outdoor 800 champ Nick Symmonds was among those running for second place. “Solomon is gone,” the commentator declared.

Indeed, he was. Symmonds made a strong sprint down the homestretch but Solomon won handily in 1:43.27, his second-best 800 time ever.

“I felt really comfortable coming off the last turn,” said Solomon. “I haven’t really felt like that in awhile. To get to that point and still have enough to hold on is really good for me right now.”

He spoke the day after he returned from Des Moines.

“I recovered pretty quickly from the (800) final,” he said. “I didn’t have to use too much energy in the rounds.

“My legs feel pretty fresh.”