Thursday, August 15, 2013

Brad Walker announces he's been dropped by Nike...

MOSCOW, Russia--Brad Walker (left/photo by Paul Merca) is hot.

In a post on his Facebook fan page, the University of Washington and University HS/Spokane grad announced that he had been dropped by long time sponsor Nike after a fourth place finish in the pole vault here at Luzhniki Stadium Monday night.

As we reported at the USA championships, Walker had competed without a sponsor for most of the 2013 season, after his contract expired at the end of the 2012 season.

He said that the Beaverton based company offered him a contract  for the 2013 season that "would allow me to purchase about a used 2008 Prius. And if you don't know what that value is, lets just say that it is well below the poverty line."

Walker competed for most of this season unattached, while shopping around for a better sponsorship deal, knowing that the deal Nike offered if nothing new came up.

This is a blown-up version of the photo above, and the
source of Walker's beef with Nike.  
He writes, "I reluctantly signed (before the world championships), and I was on my way. Now my shoes are made especially for me. I have a carbon plate inserted into the shoe because the base pv light shoe is not nearly stiff enough. Its a bit of a hassle to get new ones because they come out of Beaverton, and need a window of a few weeks to be made and shipped. And since I hadn't signed my used Prius contract, I didn't feel it was right for me to asked for new shoes heading into worlds."

In the finals, Walker put tape on the arch of his shoes,  to reinforce the velcro strap on top (which has a large swoosh logo), and that was perceived as a huge no-no by the Nike sports marketing folks.  In fairness, there is also a swoosh also in the front of the shoe. 

"I received an email from my manager stating that the man in charge was absolutely furious with me. He stated that if I needed new shoes I should have ordered them. And then frankly said 'We no longer want Brad, tell him to look elsewhere.' And there you have it."

"I am no longer a NIKE athlete because while trying to use one of their products, I had to use tape to hold together a shoe that shouldn't break down within 6 months."

Nike has not commented on Walker's situation.

In Thursday night action here at Luzhniki, Team USA’s 400m hurdles crew came through in intense competition, winning a combined three medals in the women’s and men’s races, while Jenny Simpson nearly pulled off a wire-to-wire win as she got silver in the women’s 1,500m.

In the 400 hurdles, Olympic silver medalist and defending world champion Lashinda Demus got out strong, leading the first 250 meters. Demus stretched for the tenth hurdle, but Czech Republic’s Zuzana Hejnova took the lead coming into the home stretch making her move and extending the gap to win in a world-leading time of 52.83. 

Demus' training partner Dalilah Muhammad passed her just before the line to take the silver in 54.09.

Olympic silver medalist Michael Tinsley was next on the track for the men’s 400m hurdles, where he battled Trinidad and Tobago’s Jehue Gordon, the 2010 World Junior champion. Tinsley blasted from the blocks in lane 3 and was well in the lead over the first three hurdles. Gordon came back on him around the curve, and a battle was on in the homestretch. Gordon took the early advantage, but Tinsley seemed to inch ahead of  Gordon with one stride left. That final stride made all the difference; however, and Gordon took the win as both men dove through the line, with Gordon clocking a world-leading 47.69 to Tinsley’s personal-best 47.70.

In the women's 1500, defending world champ Jenny Simpson bolted to the lead, with 17-year-old Mary Cain on her shoulder and then tucking in behind. Simpson led through 400m in 1:05.73, followed by Hellen Obiri of Kenya. Simpson continued to lead as Cain moved to midpack. Simpson continued towing the field through 800m in 2:13.92, this time with Abeba Aregawi of Sweden on her shoulder.

At the bell, it was Simpson in 3:03.78, with 1200m passed in 3:18.91. Aregawi took the lead at 1200m but Simpson fought back, along with Obiri. In the homestretch, Simpson came back on Aregawi, but the Swede held on to win in 4:02.67 to Simpson’s 4:02.99. Obiri came third in 4:03.86, with Cain 10th in 4:07.19.

Friday, Washington State University alum Bernard Lagat will attempt to win his third consecutive medal of any color as a member of Team USA in the finals of the men's 5000, while recent WSU grad Shawna Fermin will be part of Trinidad & Tobago's 4 x 400 relay pool.  As is usually the case with relays, relay compositions and order will be announced shortly before the race.

NOTE:  USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

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