Khadevis Robinson, one of the fastest and most consistent 800m runners that the US has produced, is coming to Victoria July 3rd to race the 800m main event at the Victoria Track Classic.
Khadevis or KD as he is known in some circles, won the Rome Golden Gala 800m on May 26, 2011, in what Competitor Network is calling the biggest race of his life. He came from last to win it with a furious kick in a time of 1:45’07.
The Rome Golden Gala is a track meet of the Samsung Diamond League. This is where the highest level of racing takes place, outside of major championships like the Olympic Games and IAAF World Track and Field Championships. Robinson’s 1:45’07 is his best so far this season. He is rounding into form nicely, just in time to showcase his talent for the Victoria track fans, July 3rd at the University of Victoria’s Centennial Stadium.
Khadevis is not just planning to race the Victoria Track Classic, he is also here to honour his friend and competitor, Gary Reed at Reed’s retirement dinner, which takes place two nights before the Victoria Track Classic on July 1st. Reed, of course was one of the star attractions at the Victoria Track Classic for several years.
Reed and Robinson share the exact same 800m personal best of 1:43.68
Originally from Kamloops, BC, Reed moved to Victoria to train under coach, Wynn Gmitroski. Reed went onto compete internationally for Canada setting Canadian records in the 800m (which he continues to own, 1:43.68) and finishing as high as 2nd at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships and 4th at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Robinson and Reed competed head-to-head many times.
Robinson owns 8 USA championships, where he won 4 outdoor and 4 indoor championships. He was the 1998 NCAA Outdoor champion and four-time USA Outdoor runner-up.
Khadevis was kind enough to chat about his racing and friendship with Gary Reed.
Christopher Kelsall: Khadevis, you decided to pass on your June 30th Lausanne, Switzerland Samsung Diamond League meet to race the July 3rd Victoria Track Classic 800m, so that you can attend Gary Reed’s retirement dinner, which happens on the same weekend. You must have had a good relationship with Gary to choose to make this significant change in plans.
Khadevis Robinson: Yes, I was aware that Gary’s retirement dinner is around the same time as other big races, but I felt that this was something I wanted to make. I was not able to make his wedding and rarely do you truly connect with an athlete, especially one that you compete against , and you are able to forge a friendship. I have always felt that Gary was just like me. He is a regular guy in many ways, yet he had this desire, fire, and passion to compete and run track. Gary was one of the few athletes that I could hang with on the circuit and we could just talk about anything. We could also discuss life. I mean real life and this is not normal on the circuit as most athletes are sooo focused on their running and competitive life.
CK: Congratulations on winning the Samsung Diamond League meet at the Golden Gala in Rome with your 1:45.09. Looks like you are ready to break the 1:45 yet again. How is your fitness coming along?
KR: My fitness is pretty good. Training has been going well. I recently moved to Las Vegas as I am the Head Cross Country coach at UNLV. I am the assistant track and field coach responsible for the middle and long distances. Las Vegas has a little altitude and it offers a lot of different terrains to train in and on. My fitness is good and now it is just a matter of focusing and preparing my mind to get ready to run smart and execute.
CK: 2009 Reebok Grand Prix 800m was an exciting race between you and Gary with a late kick to edge him in just over 1:46. Would you suggest that Reebok was the best battle the two of you staged against each other? If not can you share another memorable race?
KR: Gary and I have had many really good races against each other. The Reebok race is only one of many. Actually one of the toughest races we had against each other was actually in a race in which we were not in the same heat. It was in Rieti. They had put Gary in the B-heat. I remember watching the race and seeing him run 1:43 (1:43.93) in the B heat and saying oh my goodness, he really ran well. I remember thinking, ” Now I have to go out there and run just as fast as Gary”. His race actually motivated me and I told myself I needed to go out there and try to at least run just as fast as he did. I end up running 1:43 (1:43.68) that race also. So, it is Ironic because even though we were not in the same physical heat/race, we were still competing against each other.
CK: How would you define your style of racing?
KR: I really like to run from the front. I am a person that doesn’t like to play around and really sit and wait. I can sit and kick as I used to do that and I won a NCAA championship in this manner, yet I just think if I am ready I should go for it. I think in life we are not able to sit and let someone else do all the work and then at the last minute come in and take it.
Yet, I am aware that the 800 is a tactical race and you have to be able to run smart and try different tactics. I have started to run from all areas now. Sometimes I run from the front, sometimes I run from the middle, and sometimes I run from the back and sit and kick. Yet, if I had my ideal race, it would be to run from the front. Now, my tactics are really determined by the race. Depending on how I feel and how the race is progressing, then I adapt from there.
CK: Your season this year is coming along nicely. What time are you expecting of yourself for July 3rd in Victoria?
KR: I do not really have any predictions for any of my races. When I was younger I would really push hard and try to run fast at every race. Now, I am running to win and running to learn how to get better for my main focus races such as the championships. Of course, I want to run fast. Yet, I know how to go out and run fast. I can lead a race and run fast. For some reason I have been able to do this. yet, because there are so many good guys in the 800, this does not always ensure you are going to run well at other big races. My focus for the race there is to just work on a different part of my race and implement it later. That being said, I want to run fast! LOL.
CK: You have been the strongest or one of the strongest 800m runners in the US for over a decade. How do you keep the 800m event fresh and exciting, so that you are able to continue to race so well as you do?
KR: I have been able to run well for so long because I have never really over raced. I do not chase races. I take time off when the season is over. I have a full life. Remember, I am married with kids. I have so many different interest outside of running. For some people running is their life. Some people do not take time off after the season. I think because I have all these other interest and hobbies it has allowed me to run well for this long. I never ever imagined I would be still running. It still surprise me.
CK: There are officially two people on this planet named Khadvis, one being your son. Is Khadevis Jr., showing signs of interest in sports yet?
KR: My son likes sports, but he is into everything. My wife and I do not push sports on him. We are both educators/teachers so we will be pushing education and academics. We will let him decide who he is and what he wants to be.
His first name is indeed Khadevis, yet his middle name is Zion. When he was a baby, my wife and I both looked at him and said , “You are Zion”. So we do not even call him Khadevis. We do not even tell people his name is Khadevis, we tell them his name is Zion. The only person that calls him Khadevis is my grandmother, and even I could not stop her!
CK: Do you have a favourite Gary Reed story or moment you would like to share?
KR: My best Gary Reed moment is the first time I can remember meeting and running against him. We were in Lucerne, Switzerland in 2003. It was a really good 800 meter race with a strong field. I remember Bernard Lagat and some other runners went out really fast. I was in the middle or so. I eventually ended up coming in for the win and running 1:45-low, I think (1:45.03). After the race, I was cooling down and this kid was cooling down with me and talking to me about the race. I had no idea who he was. I assumed he got 7th or so and probably ran something like 1:47. After talking for a little while, I gave him a little advice and I just happened to ask him how he did. He said he got second, I was like, “what? You got second”? he said yes, he said he was right behind me. I asked him how fast did he run and he said 1:45 (1:45.34) and said he had run a huge Pr by over a second. I remember looking at him thinking who is this kid. It was Gary! I can honestly say, HE NEVER LOOKED BACK FROM THAT POINT, and I never again asked “Who is this Kid”. The world knows now!
CK: Great story. Good luck at the Victoria Track Classic, July 3rd.
KR: Thank you.