After studying a host of starts, the analysis moved to a 22-meter segment in the middle of her race. Flaws became more imperceptible.
“Your arms are exactly where they need to be,” Mann said as he stared at a monitor after one of her final sprints. “You are actually beating the model.”
‘A huge transformation’
Since her breakthrough in Thessalonika, Jeter has faced as much skepticism as acclaim. Though Jeter has never flunked a performance-enhancing drug test, her incredible performances and significant time drops have raised eyebrows. She and Smith maintain that anyone who studies her technical advancement and considers the changes she made in the weight room will understand how she runs so fast, that performance-enhancing drugs don’t have to be the answer to the question that Thessalonka and Shanghai generated: Where did that come from?
Calculations from video taken before she joined Smith to last summer demonstrate a decrease in stride length and time in the air, and an increase in stride rate and velocity, according to Mann. The first two clearly indicate technical changes.
“Having seen her performance before she started working with John and now, it’s just a huge transformation,” Mann said. “She’s improved in every area. Back in the days of drugs, there were some athletes where virtually all of their improvement came from strength improvement . . . How they did it was obvious to us.”
Many wonder if she will return to the blinding times of ’09 ever again. Though she won the 100 world title last year in Daegu, South Korea, she hasn’t approached her personal best over the last two seasons. That’s in part because, she said, she’s had mostly bad race-day conditions: cold weather or strong headwinds.
She believes she can hit 10.6 again at some point, but times will not be her first concern in London.
“I’m ready for 2012,” she said. “I’m not looking for a time, because you can win a race in 11-flat . . . It’s always about technique. That’s one thing you’re not able to lose regardless of whether it’s rainy or windy. You have to keep your technique.”