2013 - Tim Seaman- End of Career or Beginning of Career Interview?
With 44 National titles, 2 Olympic Teams, and 10 national records, you really need no introduction; you are America’s most successful race walker over the last 20 years. What do you consider your greatest athletic accomplishment?
In all honesty it could be the 10 consecutive indoor national championships because it shows the longevity and tenacity of doing what you believe in and what you have fun with.
When you started walking in high school, you were not an immediate success. When did it dawn on you that you had a special gift for race walking?
I think that when I won the Junior Nationals right out of high school without training for it that it was the first glimpse. Then being in college for a few weeks I broke the Jr. National record on only my third or fourth 10k.
What was the turning point in your race walking career?
The turning point in my career was when I decided to focus on trying to make the 1996 Olympic Team and I went from being a student athlete to a professional athlete. I dropped 5 minutes on my 20K training with some of the best walkers in America including Allen James, Herm Nelson, Andrew Herman, and Mike Rohl.
Are you done or are there still athletic goals left to pursue?
I am almost done. My career is complete. It is now just about having some fun and helping the younger athletes.
Any goals you didn’t accomplish?
Yeah, I definitely wanted to walk a little faster at 20K and I would have liked to walk faster at 50km, but my body just isn’t built for the really long distances.
You’ve joined the old man’s club, now that you are over 40. In some ways, you are just starting your “adult” career as a coach. Do you ever regret how much time and money you devoted to race walking while your friends pursued more financially rewarding endeavors?
No and the reason is I have been able to not only travel the world and not only accomplish things that most people only hope for, but I have been able to put myself in a position where I can now help other people and that satisfaction that I receive is 10 times more than the effort I put out to them.
Is it your athletic resume or your budding coaching career you want to be remembered for?
Long silence…. That’s a tough one. I am very happy with my athletic accomplishments, but by utilizing the knowledge I’ve gained as an athlete my hope is my athletes supersede my athletic accomplishments. I would like to be remembered as the person that gave back more than I received.
You’ve been helping AC Jaime with his inspirational youth race walking programs since 2002, what motivated you to get involved?
The smiles on the faces of the kids when they do well and the great big hug I receive from Coach Jaime when I go down to Texas to help the kids.
You’ve always given back to the next generation. Even when I was the Junior Coordinator in the 1990’s you were one of the athletes always willing to help the kids. Did you have a role model or inspiration for the way you conduct yourself?
If I had to say a role model from the track and field world I would have to say my high school coach, Coach Manhardt because of his tireless effort to help me even after I graduated. He probably has ridden for over 2,000 miles on his bike alongside me when I worked out. In some ways, there were negative role models that impacted my decision. I always said if I ever had the opportunity to become an Olympian I would want to give back because when I was coming through the ranks few if any retired Olympians were there to pass their knowledge and experience to me.
What’s it like coaching your wife as compared to another athlete?
Another tough question Jeffery. It’s difficult because it’s tough to differentiate between the coach’s hat and the husband’s hat. So sometimes it is tough if we don’t agree with each other because after all we are going home as husband and wife.
What do you see for the future of American race walking?
Leading up to 2012 it was very bright. We’ve had a little bit of a lull, but we already have Patrick Stroupe with good international experience and I think with a healthy Nick Christie training with Alex Chavez that they will be the future for men’s American race walking. If Tyler Sorensen gets over his injuries we will have four walkers capable of going under the A standard. My goal is to see a full Olympic Team in Rio.
On the women’s side, as we move forward Maria Michta will be finished with school, Erin Gray will have settled into her routine with medical school and Miranda Mellville will be back for a second shot at the five rings. If they stay involved they should lead the charge towards a full women’s squad in Rio that is if a hard charging Katie Burnett does't displace one of them.
In the 50K, right now our hopes rest on John Nunn. He is the only viable A standard unless Patrick Stroupe decides to focus on the longer distances. If not, the two of them, then hopefully a young upstart will make an impact.As we did for London with NARI’s 2012 fund, my goal is to start fundraising for what we call Project 9. The goal is simple. Fill a full team in all three events at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
What have you learned about life from competing on the track?
I’ve learned a few key life lessons. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket, always have a backup plan, and plan for both the long term and the short term.