Matthew Centrowitz knew Australia would be worth it.
- Matthew Centrowitz won gold for the USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the men’s 1,500 metres event
- He has travelled to Australia to train while he recovers from a knee injury
- Centrowitz will race in the Adelaide International this weekend
The Rio 1,500m Olympic champion is on the comeback trail after his 2022 season was a non-starter because of a knee injury.
“I was messing around trying to figure out what was going on with my knee for about half of the year,” Centrowitz said.
“Once we realised I was going to need surgery it was already like the end of May and so the whole season was pretty much chalked at that point.”
The surgeon discovered he had partially torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Centrowitz didn’t resume training until September.
“My knee was responding really well to a lot of the workload I was putting through it,” he explained.
“So once I was able to figure out if I do workouts, why not be able to race, even though I might not be in the ideal shape.”
Enter the Australian option.
Centrowitz last made the long trip to Australia from his Park City, Oregon, training base in 2018.
Despite delays in transit which cost him 48 hours, Centrowitz was delighted about his decision to make the journey again.
“I respond really well to warm weather training and especially as I’ve gotten older my body is just able to do the type of workouts I need to do in this type of setting,” the three-time Olympian said.
“With my knee injury and being around a tight indoor track in the US wasn’t ideal so coming out here is like a no-brainer.”
Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney
The 33-year-old has based himself in Melbourne, working out alongside Australia’s world-class middle-distance runner Stewart McSweyn and his teammates.
“You guys are gearing up for your national championships next month so all the athletes are like raring to go,” Centrowitz said.
“I just came down here to get my butt kicked and it’ll put me in a good position when I go back to the US.”
He will race for the first time in the 800m at the Adelaide International on Saturday night and then head back to Melbourne for the Maurie Plant Meet and then finally onto the Sydney Track Classic on March 11.
There are no excuses if he fails to win Down Under but he is also realistic about his chances.
“I’m 100 per cent ready to race on a track and not walk away hurt,” Centrowitz said.
“In terms of fitness, I’m probably 60 per cent, 50 per cent.”
Nevertheless, it is all part of the grand plan for an athlete who has already tasted the ultimate success — a gold medal in the 1,500m at the 2016 Rio Olympics — and wants more.
The first step is finding form to get selected for this year’s World Championships in Budapest.
The second step will be holding onto that form and securing a place in the US track team for the Paris Olympics.
“It doesn’t matter if I’m 33 or 23, too young or too old, it’s like whether I’m actually on my A-game, my B-game should still be good enough to be competing in making World Championships and Olympic finals and hopefully medalling again,” Centrowitz said of his mindset as he pursues his goals.
“I’m not looking past Paris. I know LA is in 2028 which is really appealing, as it is for any American athlete but me right now, I’m just looking at making that fourth Olympic team in Paris.
“Once you make those Olympic finals and World Championship finals it’s almost like anyone’s game.”
The game is afoot, and it starts in Australia.