Chris Lambert blazed a short and exceptionally quick trail through the Ivy League and Heps six years ago. In fact, his 200-meter record is the fastest in Heps history by about .35 seconds. That makes for an enormous gap in the sprint world. Because of Chris’ speed, HepsTrack decided that five questions would be too fast, so we slowed him down with two additional ones. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: You seemed to appear suddenly in 2002, dominating the Heps sprints. For those who never saw you run until your junior year, what was your path to the Harvard track team?
A: When I joined Harvard I was already on the British Junior track team, they made me captain my freshman year and I’d just run the fastest time for an U20 in the world. I was happy with my training program and as I thought that I had a chance of a career from it, I didn’t feel the time was right to join a training regime that was so different to my own. I had discussed this with the coaches before I arrived but when I got there they changed their minds and decided it was their way or no way. So I spent the next two years training on my own before they decided I could benefit the team.
Q: Apparently you won’t attend a school that was founded after 1700. Tell us a little bit about Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College in London.
A: Yea it was a really good school. There was four of them and I went to the most urban, being in the inner city and a government school. We had a really diverse intake, but they really nurtured extra-curricular talents there and I definitely owe the beginning of my athletics to them.
Q: You ran exceedingly fast at Outdoor Heps at Navy that spring (10.19/20.68) and did the same at Heps at Yale in 2003 (10.29 and 10.30), but all of those times were ruled to be wind-aided and not able to be considered as records. What is your opinion of anemometers?
A: They’re definitely a necessary evil, I’m just sorry that anytime the weather was good it was windy! My one regret from Heps 2002 was that I eased up in my semi-final. I think I ran 10.36 [ed. note: yes, he did] and the record was 10.29, I could have had it legitimately then but I had seven races in two days so wanted to be as fresh as I could for the team. I really wanted to leave the Ivy League with my records in place though so it’s shame to have them as a footnote, but I’d hope they’re quick enough to be noted. [ed. note: Chris’ fastest recorded time — 10.19 — would have been an Ivy mark otherwise.]
Q: History was against you heading into the NCAAs that summer. No runner from a New England school had ever won a 100- or 200-meter national title. But you surprised a lot of people with a terrific run to the 200m finals in Sacramento, finishing fourth overall. Did you enjoy that experience?
A: I loved it. The late Paul Turner — the Harvard coach who supported me even when I was training alone — came down with me. He had recruited me, helped me where he could and backed me all the time. I felt like it was my opportunity to repay him, so I was slightly disappointed at first… and so was he. His words were that I could have won it. But I’m happy with it looking back. It was funny, when I first showed up with the ‘H’ on my chest these guys were trying to figure out who I was, where I was from. So I ran the fastest time in the first round and they were like “Oh, ok Harvard, guess you can run.” It was nice to represent some speed for the Ivy League sprinters.
Q: Two of the guys who finished ahead of you in the final wound up in the NFL, including Jerome Mathis, who was first-team All-Pro as a rookie. If you were forced to play American football, what position would you have been?
A: Wide receiver or cornerback. I’m quick, tall and can leap. The possibility of me joining the team was briefly muted, but I would have been too far behind on the playbooks and general knowledge of the game, plus I couldn’t return in August as I was competing on the track back home. I used to play rugby though and would have loved to be able to play! Would have been a great link with with Carl Morris ’03!
Q: You earned a trip to the Athens Olympics in the 200m dash in 2004. What do you remember about stepping onto the track in Greece?
A: I remember it was a long walk from the warm-up track to the stadium, and for security, it was an underground tunnel. I was in the lane next to Frankie Fredericks my childhood athletic idol, so in the call room and on the walk down he was right next to me. I was walking down trying to focus and then the path sloped up towards the stadium all the noise and atmosphere picked up. The final marshalling zone was under the stadium but at the end of the path was this huge opening into the stadium. You could see half the crowd, the flame… everything. My first thought was, “No way I’m going out there,” but I composed myself and when I got out there, the British support is always excellent. Walking around the bend to the start line there was a row of them in the front row seats waving and flag waving, it was amazing.
Q: What are you up to these days? Putting the degree in government to work?
A: Not at the moment. Athletics is on hiatus as I have severe stress fractures in my shin. Hopefully I’ll return, but maybe not. At the moment I’m in pharmaceutical headhunting [back in London], waiting for all these clowns in Government right now to clean out, then I’m in.