America’s 200m Man, Wallace Spearmon Jr. Visits Oakley World Headquarters
Wallace Spearmon Jr. is as fierce as they come on the track. As America’s 200-meter standout, he can be seen lining up in the blocks along side some of the world’s quickest men, confident and never intimidated. While most look at Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and now Warren Weir, as unbeatable Jamaican powerhouses, Spearmon sees them as just within his reach. He’s represented the United States in two Olympic Games now and has unfortunately come home empty handed in both attempts. While this is a source of frustration for Spearmon, he uses it as utter motivation to train like he’s never trained before for the next four years, with one goal in mind. With an impressive fourth place finish this year in London, Spearmon already has his sights set on a medal in Rio 2016 and nothing’s going to get in his way. Not even Jamaica’s finest.
Spearmon is quietly confident. He takes his lane each race with a rigorous routine, donning his darkly tinted Oakley Radarlocks, focused and in the zone. He knows he is a force to be reckoned with, yet he never lets it get to his head. This down home Arkansas boy compliments his exuberating conviction with a humble, gentlemanly attitude, making him one of the sports finest representatives. You won’t find Spearmon in the headlines for anything other than his stellar track performances. You won’t find him in the midst of wild Olympic Village parties. He simply likes to be seen crushing records on the track and privately enjoying his home life, split between his native Arkansas and his training grounds in Dallas, Texas. He loves his basketball and car racing; he’s just like any of us (just a hell of a lot faster).
Spearmon recently visited Oakley’s World Headquarters in Foothill Ranch, CA and we got the chance to catch up with him on everything from his time in London at the 2012 Olympics, to his first ever visit here to see the compound, to his love for his Nissan GTR race car. We even got him to do a 100m sprint in our hallways, sporting a full Oakley racing suit, boots and gloves. Wallace is quite the sport and we know that once you get to know him like we do, you’ll agree. Keep your eye on “Prince Spearmon” for the next four years and we have a feeling you’ll find him neck and neck with those Jamaican boys in Rio 2016.
Oakley: We haven’t really caught up with you since the Olympics in London. What was that like? How was it different from Beijing? Tell us about your experience over there.
Wallace Spearmon: London was definitely really cool. Everyone spoke English! So that was the biggest thing for me. We went to Beijing and tried to learn Mandarin, which wasn’t very fun. I was also hurt going into Beijing, so in London, I was finally healthy. I got to actually go around and see a lot of the buildings they had set up, like the Oakley Safehouse. We went to the Red Bull House, the Beats by Dre House. I didn’t get to see any of that stuff when we were over in Beijing. And that’s actually part of the Games – the athletes get to actually go out and experience things outside of your sport. I got to go watch basketball games and volleyball. I just enjoyed my experience. All in all, it was definitely something I’ll always remember and keep with me for the rest of my life.
As far as on the track: 2011 I was hurt, so going into 2012, you’re never going to have your best year coming off and injury year. I mean, I probably raced five or six times in 2011. I usually race about 20-30 times a season, so it definitely played a roll in my performance on the track. I just went out there and did the best I could. I ran 19.90. Sub-20 seconds is respectable, but it took a lot more to medal this year. We had [Usain] Bolt and [Yohan] Blake and the third Jamaican, Warren Weir, and I felt like if I was 100%, I would have at least gotten third. So, second Olympics with no medal – third one should be a charm!
Oakley: Top, and only, American in the 2012 Olympic 200m final though, that’s pretty exciting! What’s it going to take to eventually overcome the Jamaicans in 2016?
WS: I definitely feel like I’ll be smarter in 2016. I know what I’ll need to do. As far as staying healthy, I know how to take care of myself now. I actually didn’t lift weights this year, so that will be something I’m definitely going to pick up. I’ve got a great strength coach down there [in Dallas, TX]. I’m working on my diet and working on my body, so it’s going to be a lot of off the track things that I work on. Not necessarily my works outs, because I worked as hard as ever on the track this year. It’s off the track that got me, I believe. I could have done a lot more than what I did, so hopefully that will lead to me being on that medal stand in Rio. That’s what I’ve been training for my whole life; not just to make the team, but to get a medal. To come home with some hardware from the Games.
Oakley: Rio 2016 is obviously the main goal for now…thoughts?
WS: Heck yeah! I mean it’s four years from now and in our sport, you see cycles come through every Olympics. You might see new athletes, so it’s not guaranteed that I’ll be there, but the way I feel right now, I don’t feel like I’m getting any slower. I feel like I’m only getting faster and faster. I’m coming into my prime, so 31 [years old] is still within that range to where I should still be a threat. That’s definitely the goal. I’m not ready to give up any rope that I have right now. I’m looking to make this team.
Oakley: Going back to London; you were the only guy on the 200m final start line with eyewear on. Can you tell us why it’s such an important piece of equipment for you?
WS: Actually, when I first started wearing glasses, I just thought it was pretty cool. It wasn’t until I started working with Oakley that I actually got a crash course on the performance-based reasons why you should wear glasses; blocking the UV rays and such. Once you’re doing that, you’re not squinting, so its taking stress off your eyes, off your face and that’s helping your body relax. And it brings out colors and makes things more vivid. It just brings a whole new aspect to what you see. People just don’t know. They see people wearing glasses, but you just don’t know. Other than the scientific reasons, it kind of puts me in the zone. Everything is blocked out and it’s just me and this track.
Oakley: And your race was a night too, so the lights in the stadium are pretty crazy. Especially in the Olympic Stadium.
WS: Exactly! I mean, you had the lights in the stadium, spotlights, and then we had these blue lights behind each chair. You wouldn’t think that that draws attention, but that’s the first thing you see when you walk in the stadium, is these bright blue lights. So it doesn’t really matter, day or night, the glasses were on.
Oakley: Off the track, you spent a good amount of time with us at the Oakley Safehouse in the London Design Museum. What was that experience like for you?
WS: Yeah I came by like two or three times [laughs]! Initially I just came by because Oakley is like family, so I wanted to see my family. Then once I got there and saw what was going on, it was awesome! You guys had the restaurant and everything downstairs. It was off the water [Thames River] so you could go outside and look at the rings hanging from Tower Bridge. And once you went upstairs, you were making custom glasses for us and doing interviews and you could see other athletes from other countries. You just had everything! Also some of the history that was in there was cool. You saw the history of who’s worn the glasses, people who’ve won the Olympics. There was just a lot of history, a lot of fun. It was just a good time and really relaxing to just go in there and take your mind off of track.
Oakley: When you were there you got to experience some of our medal ceremonies and watch some of the Games on the giant TV’s. What you probably didn’t realize was that there were 100’s of people crowded around cheering for you in your 200m final. What does that mean to you?
WS: It’s just crazy. Like I said, Oakley is a family; extended family. You see it, when you stand out there on the track, or in their respective sport, wearing Oakley eyewear, you can just tell, you just know. So when everyone comes together and they’re actually cheering for you, it just feels good. I said this before, I wish somebody recorded it, or I could be in two places at once, just so I could see everyone cheering for me because I don’t know who you are if that doesn’t make you feel good when people are just rooting for you, in that race. I really appreciate everyone who was pulling for me. It wasn’t the results I wanted, but still, the top American, fourth place finish. I just wish I could have seen that. That would be really cool.
Oakley: Let’s talk about your trip here to Oakley World Headquarters in Foothill Ranch, CA. It was your first time visiting and you got the grand tour…what did you think?
WS: Honestly, I was talking to my driver on the way over here just trying to get some quick insight. I called Lolo Jones and asked her if there was anything I should see. She said, “You need to see ALL of it.” I really didn’t expect this. Even when we pulled up and you see the walkway, the entrance. I took a picture of that and put it on Instagram. It’s crazy! Then you walk in and it’s just huge here! I found out the building never closes, it’s open 24/7, there’s always someone here. If you dropped me off in this place and told me to find the front, I couldn’t find the front of the building! It’d be by luck.
But I mean you’ve got a BMX course, a grill out back, you’ve got gyms in here. It’s crazy, you could live here!
Oakley: You got to see some technology demonstrations as well. Does what you saw give you a bit more sense of security in what you’re wearing on your face?
WS: It definitely does. I mean, outside of sports, I know you work with the military too. From some of these tests, I saw them shooting metal balls into the lenses and they didn’t break. And dropping steel rods just a bunch of displays of how great the product really is, I was impressed. It just goes to show that you’re wearing the best. If you don’t get confident from being the best, wearing the best, then I don’t really know what works for you
Oakley: Beyond eyewear, you’ve got a love for motor sports. You’re going to be wearing one of our race suits, shoes and gloves racing one of your cars. What’s up with that?
WS: I’m a dare-devil! Anything to do with speed, not just on the track, but off the track. I have a little Nissan GTR. It’s like 14,000 horsepower. I race it down drag strips and quarter-miles and we have standing miles and all kinds of stuff. So, they told me I needed a fire suit and you guys make race apparel as well so you hooked me up with a race suit, some boots and some gloves so I’ve got everything I need to go out there and be safe and fire resistant!
Oakley: Last question: you were featured in our Beyond Reason brand campaign. How does the statement “Beyond Reason” resonate with you in your personal and athletic life?
WS: As far as track and field and “Beyond Reason,” as fast as we run, people really can’t put their finger on that; how it’s done. That’s the first thing people really ask me; “Is Bolt really that fast?” You have to put yourself in the same category too because you’re competing against him so as far as on the track, it’s trying to be faster than any man who’s ever ran before. Trying to break all the laws of science and just break records. You push yourself through boundaries and places than no man has before and put your body through hell, to get results that can only be duplicated by a few.
As far as with Oakley, after seeing what I saw today, if you don’t believe it, come see it! I give you my word; you’ll be just as impressed as I am. They definitely go above and “Beyond Reason.” I’m really looking forward to future endeavors with you guys!