Sanya Richards-Ross is blogging for espnW throughout her training for this summer's London Olympics. Look for her next installment the week after she competes in the world indoor championships, March 9-11.
At the beginning of this season, I wasn't sure if I would compete indoors or wait until the spring to make my 2012 debut. Whether or not to race indoor track is always one of those last-minute decisions for me. I have to ask myself: Am I healthy enough? Is my training where it should be? Am I ready to compete?
Well, this year, my answer to all of those questions was an emphatic yes. I hadn't competed indoors in six years, but I was anxious to get my 2012 season under way, and so far it is going exactly how I hoped it would. Four races and four victories! I won the 200 meters and 400 meters at the Razorback Invitational in Arkansas in late January, followed that up with a big win in the 400 at the Millrose Games and then won the 400 at the U.S. indoor championships last weekend. That national title was extra special, as it fell on Feb. 26, my "birth-aversary" (my 27th birthday and second wedding anniversary). My husband, Ross, and many other family members were there in Albuquerque to watch and celebrate with me.
Now I'm preparing to represent the United States at the world indoor championships in Istanbul, Turkey, next week. Nothing compares to the atmosphere of the Olympic Games, but every time you get to compete for your country it's a unique and special experience. I'm going into the meet with the fastest time in the world this year -- 50.71 seconds. I hope to improve that mark in Istanbul and bring home my first world indoor title. Unfortunately, Ross won't be able to attend the worlds, but competing without having my husband there with me is something I have grown accustomed to. We both appreciate that some of the opportunities we are afforded now won't be there for the rest of our lives, and as a current NFL Super Bowl champion, Ross is quite a hot commodity right now. So he'll be staying in New York City for an autograph-signing session while I'm in Turkey.
I truly believe competing indoors is setting me up for a great outdoor season. I understand how difficult it is to peak multiple times in one year, so although it's very tempting to try to taper for these big meets, I have tried to train through this indoor season as much as possible. That means I'm still doing a heavy workload and might not be as race-sharp in Istanbul as I would be for an outdoor championship meet. No matter what happens at the world indoor championships, my focus won't change. Everything I do is to prepare for the Olympic trials and the Olympics in London. My coach, Clyde Hart, and I are staying focused on our ultimate goal.
I went into the 2008 Games in Beijing as the heavy favorite for the individual gold medal in the 400 meters and was extremely disappointed with my third-place finish. This time around, if I continue to compete well, I will be shouldering the same pressures I had in 2008, but I know I will be prepared to handle myself and those expectations better. One of the things I remember hearing often when I was the youngest athlete on the team is that you can't buy or quantify the value of experience on the world's largest competitive stages. Well, experience is now on my side. Winning an individual Olympic gold medal has been my dream since I was 9 years old, and I hope that in 2012 that dream will come true.