“He’s been there, done all of it,” USATF President Stephanie Hightower said. “He knows what it takes to the get to the podium. Our athletes instantly respect whatever comes out of his mouth.”
Valmon says his own experiences as an Olympian influence the ways he’ll approach coaching this summer. Being Team USA coach is not a position that entails teaching technique, as most athletes will bring their personal coaches to London.
(Mark Gail/THE WASHINGTON POST) - Coach Andrew Valmon watches one of his runners at a meet on campus at College Park.
“You’re really not as much in the trenches, teaching Tyson Gay how to take a stick or teaching left-handed Justin Gatlin how to grab with his right hand,” Valmon said. “We’re more of facilitators.”
His biggest responsibility will be making sure every question has an answer. Valmon has had more preparation than past U.S. track coaches. He served as an assistant coach at the 2009 world championships in Berlin and was head coach at the 2011 world indoor championships in Doha, Qatar. He’s also made other trips on behalf of Team USA to South Korea and London to meet athletes and plot logistics.
“I looked at Beijing, and I looked at some of the mishaps,” Valmon said. “I thought the only way those things could be avoided was preparation, and that means you have to start in advance. All the little things you don't usually think about, you have to be ready for all of it.”
Valmon, who resides in Rockville with his wife, two-time Olympian Meredith Rainey Valmon, will be far away from College Park when he learns whether the Terps’ men program receives its temporary reprieve. This college track season was not an easy one. Valmon had to coach his athletes, keep them motivated, setting aside time to handle Team USA business and all the while call up anyone who might be willing to write a check.
“You can just see the commitment he has to the program and to the student-athletes,” said Cheryl Harrison, Maryland’s senior associate director of athletics. “He believes we can do this, and he’s working hard to get it done.”
Valmon’s own future beyond the London Games is uncertain. If the Maryland men’s program is eliminated, he could remain in College Park and coach only the women. He says he’ll weigh his options later in the summer.
“What I’ve done is promised everyone I won’t merge these two worlds together,” he said. ”When I’m in London, I’m there doing Team USA work, not Maryland track. Then I’ll come back and try to make some smart decisions.”