Fri, Jun 15 2012 02:40 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
Race walkers were among the first resident athletes at the U.S. Olympic Training Center-Chula Vista when the 155-acre facility first ramped up in 1995.
Race walkers have never really left the region and today have made San Diego County, specifically South San Diego County, a focal point for the sport.
Tim Seaman helped get the race walk program started at the OTC; he continues to make Chula Vista his home base. The bike path from Chula Vista to Imperial Beach has become a hotbed of activity.
Seaman is still active in the sport at 40. In fact, he’s pledged to give it his all at the upcoming U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore.
The men’s 20-km race walk final is scheduled June 30; the women’s 20-km race walk final is July 1.
“I’m in a better position now — I’m going to go for it,” he said. “I’m going to give it everything I have, leave nothing.”
Seaman ranks as one of the most accomplished race walkers in U.S. history. He holds 10 separate American records and has 43 national championships to his credit.
He qualified for the Olympic Games in the 20-km distance in both 2000 and 2004; he narrowly missed qualifying in the 50-km distance in January during trials competition in Santee.
Seaman finished the 50-km trials in 4:05:50, finishing second to race winner John Nunn (4:04:41). Both surpassed the course record of 4:28:53, set in 2009 by Phillip Dunn, as did three other walkers.
But the finish for Seaman, who pocketed $4,000 in prize money, was bittersweet. He needed to come in under 3:59:00 to meet the Olympic A-standard to qualify for Team USA.
The 50-km (31-mile) distance is the longest track and field event offered in the Olympics.
“I almost got my PR,” he said after the race. “I did the best I could, and I couldn’t have done better.”
Seaman’s best time in the 20- km race walk is 1:22:02 (set in 2004); his best time in the 50-km race walk is 4:05:35 (set in 1998).
The native of Long Island, N.Y., appears ready to take on the world — at least those at the upcoming U.S. Olympic Trials, anyway — after walking to the top time posted by any American male while competing in last Saturday’s San Diego Southern USATF Imperial Championships at the OTC.
Up close and personal
Seaman graduated from North Babylon High School in Long Island in 1990. Like many in the race walk fraternity, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, graduating in 1995.
He first took up residence at the OTC in 1997. The residency program ran through 2004.
While Seaman may be the most recognizable face among local race walkers, the talent is spread throughout the ranks of his pupils. Besides competing (he’s sponsored by the New York Athletic Club), he also coaches.
His wife Rachel, whom he coaches, will represent Team Canada in the 20-km race walk in London. She qualified to represent Canada after besting the Olympic A-standard of 1:33:30 with a new Canadian record time of 1:33:05 during competition in April in Naumburg, Germany.
Rachel Seaman, 26, is a native of Peterborough, Ontario.
Tim Seaman feels two of his current students — Lauren Forgues and Miranda Melville — have a legitimate shot at qualifying for the London Olympic Games in the 20-km women’s race walk.
Forgues is currently ranked third in the U.S. while Melville is ranked fourth.
The top three finishers in each event at the U.S. Olympic Trials qualify for Team USA.
Forgues walked a personal best 22:49 in the 5-km race at last weeklend’s San Diego championships. Seaman said the time was a good indicator of her fitness three weeks out from the trials.
In May, Forgues and Melville both competed alongside Rachel Seaman in the IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Saransk, Russia, in the 20-km distance.
Seaman completed the race in 1:38:44 under very hot weather conditions. A record field of 105 entrants started the race. All three locals finished the race amid the grueling 90-degree temperature.
Melville finished in 1:39:44 as the top American woman (in 49th place); Forgues finished in 1:44:31 (in 72nd place).
Seaman’s best in the 20-km race walk is 1:33:05. She’ll be off to Calgary at the end of the month to have her Olympic berth confirmed at the Canadian Olympic Trials.
Also in contention in the men’s field is another of Seaman’s students: Trevor Barron.
Barron, 19, was named the USATF Youth Athlete of the Year in 2010 and holds six American junior records.
London is calling.
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