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For a while last weekend, the running community feared that US 1,500 meter champion Cooper Teare would not make it to the start line in the 1,500 meter at the World Championships in Athletics.
The 22-year-old runner from Alameda, Calif., visited the emergency room on July 10, causing a instagram story by trail photographer Joe Hale who photographed Teare hooked up to a pulse oximeter and blood pressure cuff. The caption read, “ER vlog gonna get dumb.”
“People overdid it,” Teare said on a call with Runner’s World, noting that his agent, Isaya Okwiya, and officials of Nike, the USATF and current news outlets “blew up his phone” after the incident.
Turns out he accidentally sliced his finger trying to cut an avocado and needed four stitches.
“It was so important for such a small thing, but I feel pretty good,” he said with a laugh. “I’m just trying to reach the line without controversy.”
The scrutiny naturally follows Teare, who, after clocking impressive times of 3:34.81 in the 1,500 meters and 13:06.73 in the 5,000 meters in his first year as a professional, could be the next great American long-distance runner.
He has become a ubiquitous personality in the racing world, in part thanks to the social media presence of New Generation Track & Field, a group of content creators focused on young stars and changing sports culture. . Through YouTube videos, Instagram posts, magazines and in-person events, “New Gen” aims to “reduce the distance between the sport’s best athletes and the people who follow them.” The group has also partnered with shoe brands to Meet-ups and pop-ups during track events.
Much of the content focuses on Teare and his sparring partner, Cole Hocker. In addition to workout and race videos, the camera captures the everyday stuff – from car ride banter to long runs, hanging out on the couch or even saving up for clothes.
Due to being very open online, Teare and Hocker put themselves under the microscope. They were accused of dodge competitive racing in favor of time trials. They have reinforced with multiple world medalist Matthew Centrowitz. Teare was even caught red-handed for joking that he and Jakob Ingebrigtsen have been rivals since competing at the U20 World Championships in 2018 (which Ingebrigtsen politely dismissed in the comments).
Teare has stated that he enjoys being a sports personality; it gives him something to do other than the “mundane” professional running checklist of run, recover, repeat. So he doesn’t let the critics get to him. “Cole and I joke about it all the time,” Teare said. “It’s the people who haven’t done the things you’ve done in sport who often talk but can’t walk.”
If the COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t shut down the world in 2020, Teare might not be working right now. For nearly four years, from high school through his sophomore year at Oregon, he competed around the schedule without significant mental or physical disruption. He thinks if he had maintained that pace, he would have exhausted the sport. The time spent allowed him to take a step back and rekindle his passion for running.
“I felt like I was having the experience of being a normal student without always having training the next morning or an upcoming race in mind,” he said. “Then when I got back to it, it was so fun to have that competition and diet back in my life.”
Once racing returned in early 2021, Teare took advantage – he broke the collegiate indoor mile record and anchored the fastest distance medley relay in indoor history with his Oregon teammates. . “This season set the stage for the next two years,” he said. “It propelled me into this professional career and onto the world stage.”
He clinched an NCAA 5,000 meter title this outdoor season and narrowly missed out on an Olympic berth with his fourth-place finish in the 5,000 meters at the trials. After the NCAA Cross Country Championships in November, Teare signed a contract with Nikethen clocked the second-fastest indoor mile in American history (3:50.17) in his first professional season.
He followed that up with a pair of world standard marks in the 5,000 meters and 1,500 meters at the start of the outdoor season, a sixth-place finish at the mile Prefontaine Classic on May 28 against a world-class field and a senior national title on June 25. in a men’s tactical 1,500 meters at the USATF Outdoor Championships. This last race qualified him to participate in the World Championships held in Eugene, Oregon, from July 15-24.
As a former resident of Oregon Duck and Eugene, Teare is thrilled to wear Team USA’s kit on his home floor: “I can perform on the biggest stage while sleeping in my own bed, that’s pretty crazy.”
With the exception of the avocado debacle, his progress to the championships has been smooth. Rather than trying to outplay competitors with crazy track sessions, he and his trainer, Ben Thomas, focused on recovery. Teare recognizes that nothing is given at this level, so he will go to the first preliminary round on July 15 and “treat this like a final”. He’s faced some tactical and honest racing this season, so he’s ready to take on whatever the best riders in the world throw at him.
“I want to win every race I enter,” Teare said. “It’s obviously a different field – a race of a different caliber [at the World Championships]– but the intentions always remain the same.
No matter how he ends up, the cameras will be there to capture his every move.
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