Classic offers a taste of the top
David Krummenacker will run the 800 at Mt. Hood CC event
Once upon a time, Luis de Oliveira lived in Eugene and trained a middle-distance runner of some repute Ñ Joaquim Cruz, the 1984 Olympic champion at 800 meters and, with world record-holder Wilson Kipketer and Sebastian Coe, still the greatest ever at the distance.
Today, de Oliveira lives in Orlando, Fla., and trains another lanky middle-distance star with some notoriety Ñ David Krummenacker, who makes his 2003 American outdoor debut May 17 at the Adidas Oregon Track Classic. The meet will be held at Gresham's Mt. Hood Community College.
Krummenacker, 6-3 and 165 pounds, hasn't accomplished what Cruz did during his days at the University of Oregon and beyond. But there hasn't been such a promising U.S. runner in his events since Dave Wottle in the early 1970s.
'David and Joaquim are a little bit different in the way they run, but they have a lot of similarities, too,' de Oliveira says. 'The physique, for sure. Long bodies, long strides. Also, the approach at wanting to be great Ñ the dedication. And the talent. David has accomplished a lot, and he still has room to improve.'
Last year, Krummenacker was the best in the United States in the 800 (1:43.92) and 1,500 meters (3:31.93), becoming the only American to better 1:44 and 3:32.
At the World Indoor Championships in March in Birmingham, England, Krummenacker won the 800 in 1:45.69, becoming the first American to win an international championship at the distance since Wottle in the 1972 Olympics.
His goals are high but reachable Ñ to earn medals at the 2003 World Championships in September in Paris and at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
'Sometimes people ask me if I would rather be a world record-holder or an Olympic champion,' says Krummenacker, currently ranked No. 3 in the world at 800 meters. 'My answer is always Olympic champion. That's something nobody can ever take away from you. It's always there through history.'
Krummenacker, 26, opened his 2003 outdoor season last weekend in Brazil, finishing behind Kenya's Joseph Matua in an 800 in 1:46.00. 'My fastest opening time ever, so I'm pretty excited about it,' Krummenacker says.
He will run an 800 in the OTC meet, leading a field that includes training partner Jean-Patrick Nduwimana of Burundi, who has run 1:42.81; Kenya's Japheth Kimutai, fourth in the world last year at 1:43.15; and Americans Khadevis Robinson and Derrick Peterson.
'I don't have a time in mind, but it is going to be a great competition,' says Krummenacker, who has run in the OTC event the last two years. 'I'm looking forward to it. It's a wonderful venue, and Oregon is a great place to compete.'
Krummenacker, a former NCAA indoor 800 champion at Georgia Tech, lives in Tucson, Ariz., with Nduwimana, a former University of Arizona standout. Both train under de Oliveira, who provides their workouts from the East Coast and has helped Krummenacker make a breakthrough in the last year.
'The good thing about David is, he is disciplined,' says de Oliveira, 53, who lived in Eugene from 1983-88, was in San Diego from 1989-99 and has been in Orlando since 2001. 'He listens. He is not a party boy like some of the guys. I don't have to worry much about anything.
'He has a pretty good chance to medal at both the Worlds and the Olympics. He just has to stay healthy, and he will be there.'
Krummenacker says he has a hard time choosing a favorite event.
'My training is more geared to the 800, but I like them both,' he says. 'The 1,500 is more tactical, which makes it a special event. The 800 used to be a sit-and-kick race, but now it's like a controlled sprint the whole way.'
Krummenacker would like to better 1:42 this season, which would place him in an exclusive group with Kipketer Ñ who owns the world record at 1:41.11 Ñ Coe and Cruz. But Krummenacker might try to qualify for the Worlds in the 1,500, too.
'Depends on the schedule at the U.S. Nationals,' de Oliveira says. 'Sometimes the timetable is very difficult for a double. David runs both races great, and one race helps the other. But if it gets down to one, it's going to be the 800. David loves the 800.'
With endorsement money from Adidas and payoffs from his races, Krummenacker is able to make a nice living at his trade, and he is appreciative. While in Brazil last weekend, he got into a conversation with another member of de Oliveira's Eugene stable, Jose Luis Barbosa, who ran the 800 in 1:43.08 in 1991.
'Jose was saying how different it was in those days,' Krummenacker says. 'They weren't even paid to run meets. That is how far the sport has come.'
In his time away from the track, Krummenacker says he likes to read, hang out with friends and cook.
'I don't read cookbooks. I just come up with stuff,' he says. 'It seems like our apartment is the neighborhood watering hole. A lot of times we will have five or six friends over for dinner. We cook a little bit of everything Ñ sometimes East African dishes, beef and chicken stew, meat loaf, different pastas.'
On May 17, Krummenacker will be trying to cook something up on the Mt. Hood CC track.
'It's early in the season,' he says, 'but it's not too early to run pretty fast.'