Track & Field (189)
Michelle Carter Wins Gold, Sets AR in SP Upset! First US Women's SP Medal Since 1960 and Earlene Brown!Written by Christine
Aug. 13, 2016, Engenhau Stadium—by Larry Eder
The Long Jump in 2012 London was won by Greg Rutherford of Great Britain. Two years later, he won the European Champs and Commonwealth Games and in 2015, Greg won the World Championships in Beijing. An affable cheerleader for the event, Rutherford wanted very much to defend his title in Rio.
Several athletes, including a couple of Americans, had other ideas. After the incredibly deep long jump competition at the US Olympic Trials, Jeff Henderson and Jarrion Lawson had some crazy long jumps and I wondered how that would translate into Rio. Either the US jumpers would be dominating or they would be flat from the Trials.
The first round of jumping looked like this: Jeff Henderson had jumped 8.20m, Jarrion Lawson was at 8.19m, defending champion Greg Rutherford, was at 8.18m, and Luvo Manyonga was at 8.16 meters. It was already a close one.
After the second round, Jianan Wang, CHN, jumped 8.17m, to join the tight race making jumpers at 8.20m, 8.19m, 8.18m, 8.17m, 8.16m! Marks by Jarrion Lawson (8.15m) and Rutherford (8.11m) fell short of their first-round efforts.
Net change after round 3: Jarrion Lawson took the lead with 8.25m, Rutherford responded with 8.22m, and Henderson jumped 8.10m.
Round 4 saw Greg Rutherford take the lead with an 8.26-meter leap until Luvo Manyonga, RSA, the world junior champion from Monton, blew it all open with his 8.28 meter jump to take the lead.
In round five, Rutherford responded with a leap of 8.09 meters. Then, Luvo Manyonga, already in the lead, jumped 8.37 meters, to cement his lead, and Henderson responded with 8.22 meters.
The final round is where it all shook out. Rutherford jumped 8.29 meters to cement his bronze medal. Henderson gave it all he had and leaped 8.38 meters, taking the lead by one centimeter
On his last chance to reclaim the lead, Manyonga fouled, and Lawson’s final jump was long but his hand trailed, and he was measured at a much shorter 7.78m.
Final results: Henderson taking the gold with 8.38m, silver was won by Manyonga (8.37m), and Rutherford received the bronze with his 8.29m.
I spoke to Jeff Henderson a couple days later to congratulate him on his performance. He was still basking in the coolness of his Olympic victory. The long jump was an excellent competition, and lived up to the Rio Olympic hype.
Larry Eder has has a 44-year involvement in the sports of athletics, as an athlete, coach, magazing publisher and now as a journalist and blogger.
The Summer Olympics are a week away, and many are scrambling. I'm scrambling to find housing that's not only secure but that doesn't take half of the day to get to the Olympic track stadium. I'm not at all worried about Zika virus. I'm worried about getting mugged, and making it back and forth to the stadium without losing phones and computers. I must say, in the previous Summer Olympics I have attended, being shived for a iPhone 6, has not been top on my list of worries.
But all that pales in comparison to the 18 days that lie ahead for Sebastian Coe, the President of the IAAF.
Seb Coe spent much of his formative years as a high performance athlete who was coached by his father, and followed at a microscopic level by the British press. The skills he learned then, the friends he made, the hard learned impressions with media, are all there today.
They're the reason why he survives and, in fact, thrives in times of crisis.
I recall asking Mr. Coe at the Beijing World Champs about his plans for innovation. Seb was quite confident that he could change things rather quickly. Little did he know the maelstrom that would take over the sport, where Lamine Diack and his family would fill the media of the world, and Coe would be accused of everything but being responsible for global warming. Some, even his friends, worried if President Coe could weather the storm.
But Coe was persistent and focused. His strengths are his weaknesses and his weaknesses are his strengths. His calm confidence annoys the hell out of some people, but it's that same calm confidence helped Coe weather the proverbial storm.
There are two major issues that Coe has to deal with, and that his legacy will be based on. One is the Russian crisis. Facts are that Seb Coe, in his leadership of the IAAF, has kept the Russian Athletics Federation out of the 2016 Summer Olympics because of their absolutely planned and focused system of doping for their athletes. This system was not done overnight, but is a well-thought-out, supported system of doping to keep Russian athletes at the top the sports world.
The pressure that Coe received cannot be underestimated. Russian president Vladimir Putin is a formidable adversary and he's not a happy camper. Many of his finest athletes will not be seen in Rio, and the IAAF is the one who, even as the athletics federation was being buried in the press, stood firm and kept Russia out of Olympic track & field. And, for the world—not NBC's world—track & field is the biggest draw of the summer Olympics.
As long as Coe stays firm here, and also provides the clear program for Russia to re enter the family of sporting nations, the IAAF will continue to improve its visibility in the world of sports and sporting sponsors.
The IOC has other issues to deal with, too deep and voluminous to discuss here. I will save that for my twenty hours of travel to Rio.
My other concern for Coe is this: CAS has provided the IAAF with a huge problem, which will be focused, quite unfairly, on Caster Semenya. Due to a lack of understanding and perhaps a bit of copping out, CAS no longer requires female athletes who have higher testosterone amounts than most of the women that they compete with, to take medication that supresses said testosterone. Caster Semenya will, more than likely, win the 400 meters and 800 meters. She may also break the 800 meter record. One year ago, she could not break two minutes.
How does IAAF deal with this?
In Rio, Coe must walk through some minefields while protecting Semenya from the hateful things and booing that punctuated 2009. He also has to, with his team, show CAS why, for sport to be both fair and clean, standards for testosterone in women's sports need to be reassessed.
With Russian athletes being banned and the women's 800 meters, and perhaps 400 meters, televised for all the world to see, Zika will be long forgotten in Rio.
For President Coe, he just needs to remember Moscow 1980. Most of what he needs to remember he learned there, in between his silver medal in the 800 meters and his gold medal in the 1,500 meters.
The sport—hell, the world of sport—needs his leadership.