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Capel still running — just not in Olympics

“It’s my job. A lot of people think because you don’t make an Olympic team you can’t go overseas and compete.”
John Capel, 
who left Thursday for Frankfurt, Germany.

“It’s my job. A lot of people think because you don’t make an Olympic team you can’t go overseas and compete.” John Capel, who left Thursday for Frankfurt, Germany.

Simple logic might suggest John Capel's window of opportunity has been shut, never to be pried from its proverbial sill. His latest Olympic aspirations have been extinguished. In October, so will 30 candles on his birthday cake.

Thing is, nothing's ever simple with Capel, especially logic. Whether it's his breathtaking fleetness or infuriating self-destructiveness, the Brooksville-born sprinter has spent the last decade defying it.

So when asked about his track future following his failure to the make the 2008 Olympic team, the ex-Hernando High and Florida Gators football star reverses his field.

Pack it in? Heck, he has packed up — and left for international competition in Europe.

"It's my job," said Capel, who left Thursday for Frankfurt, Germany. "A lot of people think because you don't make an Olympic team you can't go overseas and compete."

Instead of being bummed by his effort at the Olympic Trials — where he failed to make the finals in either the 100 or 200 meters — Capel seems buoyed by it.

He finished 13th overall in the 100-meter semifinals (10.21 seconds) and 12th in the 200-meter semis (20.81), falling well short of his personal-best times in both events. But the fact he made the semis after a two-year marijuana-related suspension from the sport gave him and his coach reason for optimism.

"I think he lost patience and came up too early in the race and that hurt him," said his coach, U.S. Track Coaches Association Hall of Famer Brooks Johnson. "But his top-end speed was as fast as anybody."

Capel, a half-decade removed from his gold-medal 200-meter performance in the World Outdoor Championships, and eight years removed from his disastrous mental lapse in the 2000 Olympic finals, concurred with Johnson's assessment.

"I was a little bit race-rusty, so my performance was subpar considering my talent level," he said. "I think I should've done a lot better. Considering I just came back after two years, I think I did a good job. I made the semifinals."

In Europe, he hopes to compete in several IAAF-sanctioned meets and earn prize money that he said could reach six figures. Should he continue progressing, a berth in the 2009 World Championships in Berlin is conceivable.

"You don't really reach your biological peak until between (the ages of) 28 and 32," Johnson said. "His world is not going to end with the Olympic Trials, that's for sure."

But will it ever include another Olympic appearance? By 2012, perhaps logic will have caught up with Capel. Or perhaps not.

"Man, hey, that's a long way away," Capel said. "If I stay injury-free, who knows?"

Joey Knight can be reached at jknight@sptimes.com.

Capel still running — just not in Olympics 07/10/08 [Last modified: Saturday, July 12, 2008 7:41pm]
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