USC Track & Field: Sprinter Mance also has eyes on London 2012


Jul 25, 2010; Moncton, NB, CANADA; Members of the United States 4 x 400m relay pose with American flags after winning in 3:04.76 in the 13th IAAF World Junior Championships in Athletics at Stade Moncton 2010. From left: Errol Nolan and Josh Mance and Michael Berry and David Verburg. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Yesterday we introduced you to Josh Mance, a 400-meter sprinter on USC’s track team who, in just over a week, will represent ‘SC at the NCAA Track and Field Championships. This will be Mance’s second stint at NCAAs, where he is hoping to record a top-six time. While many athletes will be calling it a day once the championships are over, Mance will go on to attempt to accomplish another dream of his: making the USA Olympic team.

As kids, we all have dreaming of becoming the next Michael Jordan or Alex Rodriguez, but few of us will go on to actually accomplish that fate. That is not the case for Mance. He grew up admiring American sprinting legends like Michael Johnson and this summer, he will have the chance to follow in Johnson’s footsteps.

And he definitely has the pedigree to have a promising future.

Mance has competing and medaled in the World Junior Championships and the IAAF World Games, so naturally, this summer’s Olympics are his next calling.

“It would mean a lot,” Mance says of his chance to possibly represent Team USA in London. “I have represented the youth teams, but to be apart of the real deal would be crazy. I want to be there to represent the USA, but also USC as well.”

After NCCAAs he starts Olympic trials training, which he says is a different system. Where at NCAAs he ran two rounds of the open 400m with a day off in between, for the Olympic trials he will two races on one day, and one the following day. “If you make one mistake you’re done, so you have to train harder and have a stronger mindset because you can’t make mistakes,” Mance says, “Or else you have to wait another four years.”

Mance will also be joined at the Olympic Trials by fellow Trojan 400m runner Bryshawn Nellum and Aaron Brown, a 100m and 200m sprinter who will run for Canada. Depending on how it goes at NCAAs, a few more Trojans could make the trials as well.

As previously mentioned, USC has a fabled history of producing strong 400m runners, many of which have gone on to NCAA finals glory. Once such Trojan, Quincy Watts, won the title in the 400m back in the late ‘80s with a time of 44.0. He still holds the USC and NCAA title with that time. In 1992, Watts went on to the Olympics and won the gold medal and ran a then-World Record time of 43.50.

That’s the kind of legacy that is hard to follow by any standard, but Mance is up for the challenge.

To qualify for Team USA, Mance will have to post an “A”, “B”, or “C” standard time, something that will be difficult, but Mance thinks he has what it takes. “Most countries don’t have a lot of runners, but USA is probably the strongest in the 400m. We haven’t lost a 4×4 in forever. It’s gonna be tough, but I look forward to the competition.”

Mance is also looking forward to the possibility of going to London, being amongst the likes of Tyson Gay, Usain Bolt, and others. “It’s crazy to think about people who were so much better than you years ago and now you can race against them and potentially beat them. It puts me in a good mood.”

With every day he puts into training, he gets that much closer to his goal. So how would he feel if he makes it, if he earns the right to don red, white, and blue in London? “A lot of people I looked up to competed in the Olympics. To represent the USA on a scale that large…I don’t even know the words.”

The USA Olympic Trials will take place in Eugene, Oregon and will take place over 10 days from June 21-July 10. The men’s 400m races will be June 21st at 3:10 p.m. and 6:30 p.m PT, and again on June 22 at 5:00 p.m. The 2010 London Olympics Opening Ceremony begins July 27th.