With training well underway here in Phoenix, ALTIS athletes are working hard to prepare for what is set to be a 2018 brimming with opportunity. The welcome return of so many familiar faces from across the globe means the bar is set high for the standard of training; but the addition of a select number of new athletes this fall has served only to boost the energy at practice even higher!
Double World Indoor Champion and Olympic Silver medalist, Nia Ali brings a wealth of talent and experience to the ALTIS team. Nia joins good friend – World-Record Holder and Olympic Champion – Aries Merritt, adding to Coach Andreas Behm’s star-studded group.
Coach Andreas is in no doubt that Nia will be a great fit into the ALTIS training environment, and is looking forward to seeing what the future brings: “We are very excited to have such an accomplished athlete join the ALTIS hurdle crew. Nia is a multiple international medalist and stalwart on the circuit. She is one of the fiercest competitors out there.”
While a best performance of 12.48s over the 100m hurdles showcases Nia’s tremendous talent and speed, Coach Behm is particularly excited about working with an athlete with such impressive technical ability; “Nia grew up as a dancer and those rhythmic and movement skills certainly lend themselves to hurdling. I also feel it sets a good foundation for communication around choreography, flow, and patterns between the two of us.”
Equally, Nia has commented that she is keen to work closely with Coach Behm on her technical execution, and to build a solid foundation for 2019-20. As double World Indoor Champion, she is obviously looking to add a third title to her name; however, she is taking the season one step at a time: “I like to let the times, places and rankings come to me. If I could defend my World Indoor title again, that would be a plus!”
Nia is embracing the move from Los Angeles to Phoenix. She admits that it is a big adjustment, but believes that what ALTIS has to offer is certainly worth the change: “I like the concept of having the support team of ALTIS behind me and that everything is easily accessible and in one place. Everyone at ALTIS works hard and its so cool to be a part of that.”
Stay tuned for great things to come from Nia and Coach Andreas!
Quarter-miler Fred Kerley is arriving off the back of a hugely successful 2016-17 Collegiate season which saw him break the 25-year-old 400m collegiate record, and make his debut on the professional circuit. Coach Kevin Tyler is understandably excited to have him here in Phoenix: “It is clear that Fred is driven, and knows what he wants from the sport. On his visit, he explained that he wanted to train in a full time professional environment with training partners that were focused on the summer season”.
Having just graduated from Coach Pat Henry’s great collegiate program at Texas A&M, Kerley’s move to ALTIS was driven by a need to join a program that would continue his athletic development: “I have always sought out the best programs for my track career. At the JUCO level, I found that in South Plains, and at the collegiate level I found that at Texas A&M. I appreciate what both of those programs taught me. Now as a professional, I wanted to make a move to a program that was focused on professionals full-time, and one that could work with me one on one as an individual.”
ALTIS is known for an innovative Performance Therapy model, and placing an emphasis on athlete wellbeing. This has not been lost on Fred, and was an influential factor for his move to Phoenix: “A big part of the reason I ran 43.70 last season was because I was healthy. I know that ALTIS puts a high priority on health, and I get daily medical service here.”
Having enjoyed such success to date, it is easy to forget that Fred is relatively new to the sport; but the 22 year old has only one full season of racing under his belt with a focus on the 400m. Coach Tyler is keen to develop Fred’s strengths through the next few years, and work on establishing him as a global competitor in the 400m, and acknowledges that the addition of Fred rounds out a highly competitive men’s 400m group at ALTIS with four men at 45.13 or faster: “I expect to see some great performances from Fred and the remainder of the group in the next 3 years.”
With the 2018 outdoor season lacking a major championship for American athletes, Fred’s focus will be directed towards the Diamond League circuit, with the goal of clocking under 20 seconds over the 200m: “I know I still have a lot to learn about the sport and I want to continue to develop over the next two Olympic cycles.” Fred’s insatiable drive for improvement, combined with his abilities across a variety of track disciplines, equates to an exciting future for this rising young star.
In addition to Nia and Fred, we are happy to welcome Asuka (Aska) Cambridge to ALTIS for a 6-week training camp. Aska’s latest successes include medals from the 2017 World Championships and 2016 Olympic Games as a member of the Japanese 4x100m squad. Aska has already integrated smoothly into a world-class short sprints group, and we look forward to the remainder of his stay.