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Track & Field

Track & Field (381)

Thursday, 17 September 2015 21:16

An Exciting Final Night in Beijing!

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Here, finally, is my last column on the final night's action on the World Championships in Beijing. After the build up and controversy, the meet came off much better than I expected.
 
In the end, I believe that we continue to miss the major positives of our sport. We make a huge mistake pushing records and fast races. We need to let them come when they do.
Thursday, 17 September 2015 21:12

Want to Outrace Farah? Get a Segway!

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In all seriousness, I felt bad for both Usain Bolt and the young man who slipped and fell on the Segway. I had never seen one on the track before (I did see a couple of nimrods riding them around town.). I learnt, after my tweet , that Segways help cameramen keep their cameras balanced and provide some of the cool shots, I now understand their value.
 
But still, I have to use it.
 
Short of knocking Mo Farah over with a sneaky Segway, few are going to beat him over 5000 meters or 10,000 meters.
 
Mo Farah is at the top of his game.
 
Neither marathon, nor media carnivals seem to diminish his racing skills.
 
Yet, most of the world's elites think that if they can only, off a slow pace, take him on, they can win! Excuse me, are they delusional?
 
In the 10,000 meters earlier this week, three of Kenya's best tried to break him, and they came close, if they only had truly worked together. Don't believe me? Look at the pace: a 63 second lap, then a 68 lap, a 62 then followed by 68 second lap. Mo Farah would catch his breath everytime the pace slowed down or pick up. Over the last kilometers, where Mo Farah does most of his damage, the pace was, again, up and down. Mo threw in a 52.4 last lap, after having nearly fallen down twice in the last lap, and he finally broke Geoffrey Kamworor in the last 100 meters.
 
In the 5000 meters tonight, the pace was, well dawdling... the first kilometer was 3:02.04, the second kilometer was 5:58.13. In that pedestrian pace, Ben True, Galen Rupp and Ryan Hill were all three. Mo Farah was at the back of the pack, staying out of trouble. And Caleb Ndiku was, mid pack.
 
The pace continued to be slow, as the 3000m was passed in 8:47.29, and it was not until 4000 meters that the race got interesting.
Thursday, 17 September 2015 21:08

In Praise of Dafne Schippers

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Dafne Schippers has had a spectacular World Championships. Her 100 meter NR went from 10.92 to 10.83 to 10.81 here! And then, that amazing 200 meters.
 
On Friday night, there were some spectacular events, from the surprises of the 100m and 110m hurdles races to the 200 meters. My favorite had to be the women's 200 meters. (I will write about the long jump later, so patience, kind readers).
Thursday, 17 September 2015 21:05

Always Stick Around for Taylor's Last Jump!

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Christian Taylor is a clutch jumper, among many things. This guy can pull out a final effort that wins competitions. I forgot that, in Lausanne, after Christian had leaped 18.02 meters on his fifth jump and looked away. On his sixth jump in Lausanne, Christian Taylor leaped 18.06 meters!
 
So, I was prepared in Beijing, I watched each jump of Pedro Pichardo and Christian Taylor.
 
And what a magnificent night!
Thursday, 17 September 2015 21:00

Rudisha is the Man!

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After having watched David Rudisha set the WR and win the gold medal in 2012 in London, I believed that I had seen the future of middle distance running. After that, a 1:40 for 800 meters was not too far off!
 
And then...
 
David Rudisha showed he was human. He was injured and found that cycle of injuries and fitness challenges that all of us find sometime in our careers. The only problem is, most of us are not the world record holders for 800 meters.
 
The battle back from injuries, for athletes of all levels, is very difficult.
 
For a world record holder, it has to be madness.
 
When speaking to David Rudisha, it is not apparent, at first, if it was difficult. But, it was. In 2013, Rudisha spent most of the year injured. In 2014, he was beat by runners he had destroyed before, and his second in the Commonwealth Games was a high watermark for Rudisha. He noted that he was happy to compete there, but he obviously did not like getting beat by Nijel Amos.
 
"I have learned that what I was missing from my training was the speed work. When I would do 300 meter repeats in 35 seconds, my knee would hurt. In 2015, I have been able to do 100 meter repeats, 150 repeats, 200 meters and 300 meters in 33 seconds, and there was no pain." A smile erupted on David Rudisha's face when he told this writer about that revelation.
 
The speed work gave him confidence. The lack of pain, a friend for the past 18 months, must have also allowed him to feel good.
 
In the rounds, Nijel Amos did not make them out. Mo Ama was disqualified for a rule violation. Part of the job for an elite athlete is to make it through the rounds.
 
As the Steve Forbert song from the 1970s noted (Cellophane City), " you can not win, if you do not play."
 
Rudisha had two formidable opponents: Adam Kszczot, the European champion, who is a masterful tactician. And most importantly, the new find of the year, Amel Tuka, from Bosnia Herzogovina, who caught all the fast guys in Monaco.
 
How would the front runner face these guys?
 
And that was what was truly special about David's race on Wednesday.
 
He did the absolute opposite of what everyone expected: He controlled the pace, took it slow, wait, pedestrian, an agonizing 54 second first lap. It kept him in control, and in the game.
 
When David Rudisha started to use that renewed 33 second 300 meter speed and that 22 second 200 meter speed, he was flying. But so, was Amel Tuka, who took off, after having been in a bit of a box, with 300 meters to go.
 
Rudisha began to fly, running his last full lap in 51.7, but that last 200 meters was where the damage was truly done: he covered that in just a shade ove 24 seconds.
 
" I felt confident and fast, " is how a smiling David Rudisha would speak about it on the afternoon after his glorious run.
 
"I was here to win, and this was the focus of my year," the soft spoken Rudisha told this writer.
 
In speaking to Wilson Kipketer, the former World Record holder and 1995 World Champion last April 2014, Wilson had noted a fear that David Rudisha might try and come back too quickly. " Coming back to great shape takes much time, " is how Wilson spoke, " I was not patient, and I had some tough times trying to return to my world record fitness."
 
David Rudisha is the zen master of the 800 meters. A man of quiet confidence, who has amazing endurance, amazing speed, and super human drive, David Rudisha knows that, still, he is not in WR shape, but he hopes to reach again before Rio.
 
As one knows, all eyes are on Rio for the 2016 Olympics.
 
David Rudisha has his focus.
 
A focus he never gave up on.

 

Thursday, 17 September 2015 20:52

A Night of Peaks and Valleys in Beijing

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A night with some strange turns and twists on Day 3 of the World Championships. As David Hunter, one of team in Beijing noted, " Northern Ohio will be very excited tonight, with Shawn Barber's gold medal in the pole vault and Emily Infeld's bronze in the 10,000 meters!"
 
And that was an understatement.
 
Pole Vault: Shawn Barber Upsets
The pole vault was supposed to be a done deal. Renaud Lavillenie has been jumping great, and cleared 6.05m in June and 6.03 in London. In the London Diamond League, Shawn Barber, fresh from his Pan Am gold medal, cleared all four of his heights in London, up to and including 5.93 meters, and finally missed at 6.03 meters. Lavillenie cleared 6.03 meters, missing at 6.10 meters.
Thursday, 17 September 2015 20:40

Finally a Race Lives Up to the Hype: Bolt vs. Gatlin

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The strength of our sport is also its greatest weakness.
 
Sometimes, hyped up races do not live up to their hype.
 
Sometimes, the whispers of world records hurt when a race is satisfying without a fast time.
 
The Men's 100 meter final may have been, one of the finest races I have ever seen. And in the current controversies in our sport, when we need to celebrate racing and competition, and stop the hype of WR this, and WR that, this race was all about the racing. And there was some serious racing in this meeting of nine of the finest sprinters in the world.
 
The semi finals just added to the drama of the evening.
 
In the first semi final, Usain Bolt slipped about five meters into the race, Perhaps the best way to describe this was that Usain Bolt clipped his toes, and seemed to wake up, and ran hard. He did not get into the race until more than midway and had to lunge hard, winning in 9.96, with Andre De Grasse of Canada in 9.96 as well. A close call for Bolt. Many of us thought, what does this mean for the final? Bingtian Su of China recieved a roar from 50,000 screaming Chinese fans as he set an NR of 9.99. We guess that training camp with Loren Seagrave must have paid off for Mr. Su. He also made the final!
When asked later in the evening about the semi finals, Usain noted, " I just stumbled, but I knew...all I had to do was to compose myself and run my race! I talked to my coach (Glen Mills) and he said, Relax, and that's pretty much what I did."
 
In the second of the semi finals, Justin Gatlin ran 9.77, in a legal wind, and stopped running fifteen meters out. Mike Rodgers ran 9.86, a seasonal best, to take second. After watching Justin Gatlin win his semi final with such ease, I thought that he would decimate the field in the final.
In the third semi final, Tyson Gay won , with Asafa Powell in second. Tyson ran 9.96, with Powell in 9.97, and his 92nd sub ten second 100 meters.
The field was finalized and it would be Jimmy Vicaut, Bingtian Su, Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay, Mike Rodgers, Trayvon Bromell, Andre De Grasse, Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin.
 
The final introduction and build up took some time. An exciting hammer throw had taken place just before and a really competitive shot put, where the lead changed four times, were part of the evening.
 
The introductions gave each of the nine sprinters their time. Bingtian Su had a loud roar from the crowd. Each athelte received applause, but Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin recieved the most. Observing Usain Bolt, one could see that he was as close to stress as he gets. A solomn face for a few moments, then the raising of eyebrows, the cutting up in front of the camera. I wondered to myself, " was he preparing to lose?"
 
I had forgotten who I was watching.
 
The race went off with out an issue. For once, Usain Bolt got out well, and was flying down the track. It was a close race, as Justin Gatlin was out well, with Mike Rodgers, Jimmy Vicaut following.
 
Justin Gatlin was leading the race around 70 meters. Andre De Grasse and Trayvon Bromell were racing hard, and close to each other. About 70 meters, Usain Bolt looked over to his right, and sensed Gatlin was leading. With a huge pumping action of his arms, and increase in his stride length, Bolt began to use his natural advantages, of strength and stride length and churned up the track, eating up Gatlin's lead in a few meters.
 
Bolt was not only sprinting well, he was preparing to lean into the finish, as all good sprinters do. So was Gatlin, though he seemed to be, in the heat of this race, leaning about ten meters too early.
 
As Bolt's final strides put him just ahead of Gatlin, his lean at the tape sealed the deal, and a true race for the ages—one where nine of the finest sprinters duel and two battle it out, was seen by 50,000 fans in Beijing and a billion fans around the world!
 
Bolt won in 9.79, with Gatlin taking second in 9.80.
 
Trayvon Bromell and Andre De Grasse tied for the bronze in 9.92. Mike Rodgers was fifth in 9.94. Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell ran 10.00, with Gay getting the nod for sixth and Powell for seventh. Jimmy Vicaut, the French record holder and European leader, was eighth in 10.00, and Bingtian Su was ninth in 10.06.
A very satisfying race on many levels.
 
Now with Bolt's win in 2015 added to his wins in 2013 and 2009, this must be a most satisfying victory for the Jamaican superstar and a portent of exciting battles to come!
 
After the 100 meter final, I ventured into the Press Conference Room, in the bowels of the Bird's Nest. Gatlin was pretty relaxed. "Look, if I’m going to lose to anyone, it would have to be to Usain. I had a nice run this past couple years, and I needed to run the last part of the race well. I lost the race in the last five meters,” noted Gatlin.
 
In fact, after speaking with BBC World Service, I learned a few other details about the race. Rick Simms, Bolt’s manager, told Jamaican writers that he believed Bolt, in leaning a bit too early at the finish, that he nearly gave the race to Gatlin.
 
I am of another belief. In the heat of battle, sometimes decisions are made that don’t make sense in review. The first two fast rounds run by Justin Gatlin, while exciting, may have worn him out. He was so much in control after the first and semis, that many were convinced he would decimate Bolt.
 
In fact, Gatlin, getting some nervous energy out, may have worn himself out just enough to give a bit Usain a bit of the power.
 
The final was tough, and Bolt was playing on his turf. On Usain's beach, you have to be careful. The next time that Gatlin battles Bolt, my guess is he’ll be better equipped to race the fastest man in the world.
 
The next question to be answered is whether both men will race the 200 meters!
 
By Larry Eder, runblogrun.com

On Day 6 of the World Champs in Beijing, Allyson Felix took the 400 meters out crazy fast. In doing so, she ended the chances of her toughest rival, Christine Ohuruoghu—she of the perfect final straight running—who ran out of gas. Felix floated from 200m to 300m, then, put on the gas and ran away from the field to finish in a PB of 49.26. To celebrate, here’s a great article on Felix and her legacy by Dave Hunter. Enjoy! 

The IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 could potentially be the biggest world championship in the 15 editions of the event, which started in 1983 and ranks among the world’s leading sport's events.

With one week to go, the final entries indicate that 207 IAAF Member Federations will send representatives to the Chinese capital for the most important sporting event of the year.

The previous highest number of participating federations was 203, at the last championships in Moscow two years ago.

No less than 1936 athletes (1043 men and 893 women) have been entered. 

Although the number of athletes that will finally participate in Beijing will be slightly less, as is normal, this figure still compares favourably with the current highest total of 1895 who competed at the 2009 championships in Berlin.

The numbers have been boosted by the IAAF’s innovative system introduced ahead of these championships of inviting athletes who had not already been entered by the deadline of midnight (Central European Time) Monday 10 August, on the basis of them being among the best ranked in their event (apart from in long distance and walking disciplines) in order to bring an event up to an optimum number of competitors as established by the IAAF.

More about the entry system and standards can be read here.

With just one week to go, the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 is expected to set the standard for the sport's future championships, with the world's best athletes going through their paces in the same magnificent Bird’s Nest stadium that was the centrepiece for the 2008 Olympic Games.

As already announced, the Bird’s Nest stadium will be full for all the evening sessions across the nine days, with an audience of 50,000 spectators.

Courtesy of IAAF

The 3rd annual American Track League meet is set to be the best edition yet with multiple global stars making their final tune-ups prior to heading to Beijing China for the IAAF World Championships later in August.