Suzy Favor Hamilton excited about return to racing

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Her stunning, shattering collapse in the 1,500 meters at the Sydney Olympics has given Suzy Favor Hamilton a completely new outlook on running.

Now, she knows who she should have been competing for all these years.

"I feel like I'm running for myself. I've learned how to do that now,'' Favor Hamilton said. "It's definitely the most fun I've ever had.''

Favor Hamilton will compete for the first time since her Sydney fall when she defends her title in the 1,500 at the Drake Relays on Saturday. Just don't expect a fast time, she warns.

Because of an injury that Favor Hamilton now says had a lot to do with her problems at the Olympics, she has been training for only six weeks. Last year, Favor Hamilton broke the Drake Relays record by five seconds, clocking in at 4 minutes, 5.13 seconds in her first 1,500 in 14 months.

"I'm not at all where I usually am at this time of year,'' she said. "But that's turning out to be a good thing because my season goes so long, all the way to September. It's kind of good I'm not in fabulous shape right now. I can hold myself back a little and peak at the right time of the year.''

Still, just the thought of racing again is exciting. It has, after all, been seven months.

"I'm definitely eager,'' she said. "I want to race. The sooner I start racing, I feel I can get in better shape quicker.''

At this time a year ago, Favor Hamilton was setting herself up for an incredible summer. She made the Olympic team, ran the year's fastest 1,500 and went to Sydney as a medal favorite.

Then it all came apart. Favor Hamilton was leading the 1,500 with 200 to go when she started to fade. Eighty meters from the end, she collapsed, picked herself up and walked to the finish, then collapsed again.

Her first explanation was that she peaked too soon. Then she blamed it on dehydration caused by anti-inflammatory pills she was taking for a hamstring problem. Later, she found out she had broken a bone. The hamstring had been pulling at a bone in her backside and the bone separated.

"We weren't sure right away what was wrong,'' she said. "I was grasping for anything, saying well, it had to be the pills. At the time, I didn't know I was running on a broken bone. I had no idea.

"I knew inside I was hurting. If I had been honest and let everybody know, it would have taken a lot of the pressure away.''

Favor Hamilton said she couldn't sprint and was having a hard time in her training in the month before the Olympics. But she was being counted on to end a U.S. drought in an event in which no American woman had ever won a medal. So she kept going.

"I didn't want to let anybody down,'' she said. "I was felling like I was carrying the whole world on my shoulders. After the bone, I took a lot of time off to heal. I went to a psychologist and that gave me a new perspective into the sport, which really helped me.''

Favor Hamilton feels so good now she's already thinking about running in the next Olympics.

"I think I have the best of my career ahead of me,'' she said.

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