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Thursday, 31 March 2016 18:07

Vashti Cunningham at IAAF World Indoor Champs

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Vashti Cunningham enchanted many with her win and WJR at the US Indoor Champs on March 12-13. Then, on March 20, Vashti Cunningham came back and won the World Indoor title. On March 21, several media sources were noting that Vashti Cunningham was going pro, and signing a contract with Nike. A busy week! Here is the Shoe Addicts interview from the post high jump!  SCROLL DOWN FOR THE INTERVIEW.

It was something this crowd had never seen before. On a day of finals that resulted in first-time medal winners, some coming in events the U.S. had never won in before, and the rise of new stars going into an Olympic year, the U.S. put together two relays that matched the level of competition and took their 22 and 23 medals to break the record for most medals of any country at a single World Indoors.

 

Natasha Hastings burst out of the blocks for U.S.A. to take the lead and never looked back. As they raced around the corner with the crowd cheering, Jamaica's first leg fell, unable to get up. The crowd hushed while the rest of the teams raced on. Medical attention was called over and eventually used a wheelchair to get the injured runner.

 

From there, the U.S. steadily built on their lead. Natasha Hayes and Courtney Okolo both split 51 seconds for the second and third laps while Ashley Spencer capped off the finish almost five seconds ahead of the field. Their final time of 3 minutes, 26.38 seconds is the world leading time this year and the fastest time run by any team indoors on U.S. soil.

 

Poland, Romania, and Nigeria battled for the other podium spots switching leads throughout the race. Poland finished second in 3:31.15 and Romania took third in 3:31.51.

 

To finish the day and the championships, the U.S. men's victory was almost as definitive. Kyle Clemons matched the Bahamas stride for stride on the first leg, but an excellent handoff to Calvin Smith allowed the U.S. to start to separate. Smith handed off to Chris Giesting who was able to gain a few steps ahead of the field. On the final leg, Vernon Norwood took the baton and immediately created a visible gap as the crowd gasped. The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica were left to sort out the rest of the places.

 

Team U.S.A.'s 3:02.45 leads the world this year and is the third fastest ever run indoors. Bahamas' second place 3:04.75 and Trinidad and Tobago's third place 3:05.51 both set new national indoor records.

 

As the crowds dispersed, they discussed what they had seen. Tomas Rees' favorite event was the relay and long jump. He came with his dad David. And while he is more of a soccer fan, he said he was impressed. He was even able to take a photo with Mo Farah (did not compete) who also happened to be in the crowd.

 

They reside in Portland and since David was a runner in high school and college, he is a longtime fan. They planned to attend shortly after tickets went on sale. Others came from Bend, OR, San Francisco, CA, the East Coast, and all over as fans mingled with longtime followers of the sport, Masters athletes, former Olympians, current professionals (particularly those in the Portland training groups like Mo Farah, Shalane Flanagan, Amy Hastings Cragg, and others), and people who had never seen anything like this before.

 

The organizing committee gave high school relays time during the meet which brought in their coaches and families who had never been to a meet of this scope while there were still people who had attended multiple Olympic Trials and other events throughout the years.

 

Medal ceremonies were held in Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland and people wandered in and out to see what was going on on one of the first nice weekends Portland experienced all winter. On Saturday afternoon, kids ran up and down on the green turf while their parents enjoyed the sun. And that evening during the medals ceremony, the square was full of track fans who got to high-five athletes on their way up to the medals podium and then hang out with them after as some chose to wander through the crowd while the live band played. As the Portland Timbers game finished, some of those attendees trickled in to see what was going on.

 

Rees enjoyed the format of the meet. "I thought they staged it particularly well. The meet moved really quickly. The way they engaged the crowd was great," he said. "I really, really liked the way they did the pole vault on Thursday night. I've gone to a lot of track meets and I've watched the pole vault in passing, but to actually have a focus on it made it much more interesting and kind of got to know the jumpers more because you're watching them in sequence and paying more attention to it. I thought that was a stroke of brilliance."

 

And for him and his son, having been so close to the action will make this summer's Rio Olympics much more relatable. Rees said, "I'll probably root for some of the people I watched here."

 

By Lindsay Rossmiller

 
Thursday, 31 March 2016 02:37

USATF Diaries: Why I Enjoyed the USA Indoors

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The USA Indoor Champs has a tradition that is over one hundred years, closer to 130 years now. Indoor track has a tradition that dates back in many large cities to the late 19th century, starting in New York at the old Madision Square Gardens and in Boston, of course.

 

In the late 19th century, there were match races, where runners such as Lon Myers took on various competitors, with Myers running from scratch (the actual start) and various competitors given certian breaks, such as Myers running 300 yards and various competitors given 10 yards, fifteen yards, perhaps more. These races proved to be quite exciting to the viewers, however, indoor track became much more pasteurized over the past decades, which, along with costs, and the malaise of sponsors over the sport, lead, in many cities, to the demise of the sport.

 

One of my most prized possessions is a post card from my maternal grandfather, Earl Robertson. He wrote a note about Paavo Nurmi, who he had read about running US indoor races in the late 1920s and early 1930s in the US. Nurmi barnstormed around the country, setting records over arcane distances like the 1 and 1/4 miles, 1 and 1/2 miles and going under 9 minutes for two miles. Those meet directors in the 1920s and 1930s knew that they were in the entertainment business. Somehow, we forgot that.

 

The Millrose Games in the MSG was killed due to lack of respect for the event and the venue. Changing the night of the meet, after 80 years, destroyed generations of business guys, who had run as high schoolers, from hitting the bar for an adult beverage, watching the meet, and getting out in time to take the train home. The MSG folks did not help by sucking up any profit from the meet. Fortunately, the meet has a new home and sponsor at the Armory.

 

Thank God for the NB Armory in NY and the Reggie Lewis in Boston. Both sanctuaries of indoor track provide opportunities for over 100,000 athletes a year to compete in track. I recall going to the 2011 NB Indoor and speaking to several young athletes who told me that their schools did not have outdoor track, and indoor track was their sport.

 

We tend to shoot ourselves in the foot in this sport.

 

In Boston, when the USA Indoors was there, a fine meet, the NB Indoor, a sell out for over fifteen years would be one month before the US Indoors. However, with no promotions, the USA Indoors would fill less than half of the Reggie Lewis. When the USA Indoors moved to Albuquerque, the smaller facility was getting to where the event should be held, but again, the crowd (only sat three thousand) was seldom full. It was kind of like, well, we have to do this damn thing, but put as little into it as possible.

I have to say that I loved the 2015 USA Indoors with the mile, 2 mile and 1000 meters. Finally, trying to do something a little different. I still think we should have a guy like Vernon Norwood take on all comers, from high school kid to masters, giving them a bit of a break and seeing who finishes first. That would truly shake things up. You could do same in shot put, have Reese Hoffa or Kurt Roberts throw against two high school kids and see who throws farther!

 

While I still hold the belief that the powers that be feel fans will just show up, the USA Indoors in Portland actually showed some amazing advancements.

 

First, the facility was first class. I have visited at least three dozen different indoor facilities around the world. I would have to say that Portland was in the top two, top three.

 

There was not a bad seat in the house. Do not get me started on the seating in Albuquerque.

Even with many top talents resting for the long road to Rio, the combination of young and veteran athletes added excitement to the event.

The USA Indoor had some great rivalries. Jenn Suhr, Demi Payne and Sandi Morris-Wow! The women's pole vault was fantastic. Both 1,500 meters and 800 meters-tremendous. And the women's 60 meter hurdles-dear god, that might be the best race of the meet!

 

On day two, the crowd was electric. Race after race after race was all about competition. Rivalries are key!

 

There is still time to be cut out of the schedule, but I would give the USA Indoor a strong B, which is two grades better than any other USA Indoor in the past decade.

 

My belief is that either we committ to doing a US Indoor Champs or take it to every other year. We can not afford to do meets that are done half assed.

 

I recall a talk by Steve Miller, when he was a Nike, nearly twenty years ago. Steve told the assembled masses that our sport felt put upon. He commented on the long track meets, always behind schedule. And Steve was right.

 

The 2016 USA Indoor Champs was a step in the right direction. Let's try and learn from the meet and plan on using those improvements to build upon in 2017.

Track & field is essentially an individual sport where finely-tuned, driven athletes pursue individual records and honors. True enough, global championships such as these of course have a team component where countries strive to accumulate an overall medal count of which they will be proud. But, in reality, national medal counts are an aggregation of the medal-worthy performances of their individual countrymen and countrywomen.

 

But there is an exception to the usually-solitary pursuit of track and field greatness. The relays. Especially the granddaddy show-closer: the 4 x 400m. When 4 individual athletes combine to create a racing quartet for their country, the relay mates - who normally warily view each other as their rivals in the individual competitions - are suddenly galvanized by a common purpose: win that medal, preferably a golden one!

 

And when the foursome is comprised of American men racing the 4x4, there is an additional element of bonding. Just ask any quarter miler who's ever had a global 400 meter carry for the Red, White, and Blue, and he'll tell you: "The only medal is the gold medal. Lose this event? The United States doesn't lose the men's 4x4. We own this event!"

 

This morning session's concluding event was the first round of the men's 4 x 400 meter relay with the 6 fastest teams advancing to Sunday's final. In these global competitions, top contenders try to find the right balance: send a little message to the other nations while not showing too much of the hand they'll play in the final. In heat one, the Belgium quartet - with 3 Borlee brothers in the lineup - cruised to an easy 3:07.39 win when brother Kevin held off the Bahamas [3:07.55] and anchor Chris Brown on the final leg. In the second and final heat, Team USA took on Nigeria and Jamaica. Young Alvion Bailey led off for the Red, White, and Blue with a 46.7 to give the US a slight lead as he handed off to Calvin Smith who pushed out the US advantage with a 46.1 leg. Running third, Chris Giesting turned in the best American split of the morning - 45.7 - to give his teammate Patrick Feeney a comfortable lead for his anchor duty. Unchallenged, Feeney - who will long be remembered for his memorable 2015 Penn Relays "USA v. America" anchor leg which turned back a powerful Jamaican quartet for the win the very first time Feeney donned a USA singlet - ran an effective, albeit conservative, 46.9 for a stress-free win for Team USA [3:05.41].

 

The animated foursome spoke freely in the mixed zone. Inspired, not pressured, is how Bailey sees the current 400 meter athletes who face the challenge and the responsibility of carrying on America's dominating heritage in this event. "There is not necessarily any pressure. We just want to be great," declared today's lead-off runner. "The history of the 4x4 of the U.S. is so big and goes so deep. And we have respect for it. I'm just trying to find my place and state my name. That is really just what I'm trying to do. There's really no pressure especially when we've got people like Calvin, Chris, and Feeney. It makes it a lot easier when you know they've got your back."

 

Smith, the 28-year-old veteran on this morning's U.S. 4x4 squad, shared his views on the role of this opening round and what Team USA hoped to accomplish. "We just wanted to go out there and win and [like a killer stage performer] just kind of drop the baton. That makes everybody else say, 'Them boys really hit and run.' I think we accomplished that today and we've got more to come in the finals."

 

One of the larger challenges facing all 4x4 finalists is determining whether or not any last minute tinkering should be implemented before Sunday's final. Should a personnel change be considered? Should a fresh athlete from the relay pool be substituted? Should the lineup order be reshuffled? Former Notre Dame star Giesting offered his views. "We don't know yet. We're going to talk about it tonight after this race and see who's healthy, who's ready to go. And whatever four it is, I know they're going to give it their all and bring home the gold for the USA."

 

Feeney, Giesting's former teammate at South Bend, cites his USATF debut last spring at Franklin Field as solidifying his confidence for similar challenging assignments. "I know it was great that USATF had the confidence in me to anchor at Penn Relays last year. I was real nervous going into it, but I knew this was my first opportunity and I didn't want to let them down. That helped carry me through. And then I found out I was anchor today, and I was pumped again. So I knew these three guys were going to give me a lead and sort of bring it home and get us to that final tomorrow. The main thing is just getting to that final with the top time." Mission accomplished.

 

Before the U.S. quartet left to rest up for Sunday's final, the group fielded one last inquiry. Which finals team is their biggest concern? Tentative teammates hesitated, until the seasoned Smith - perhaps hinting that self-inflicted wounds must be avoided - blurted, "The USA!" 

 

Added Feeney, "If we go out and do what we need to do, I think it's going to be a good race for sure. But we're going to do whatever it takes to bring home the gold."

 

Can this new generation of American long sprinters add luster to the U.S. legacy in the event that American track and field considers as its very own?

 

This evening, we find out.

 

Dave Hunter, who ran his marathon P.R. of 2:31:40 on the highly revered Boston Marathon course back in the Paleozoic era, is a track and field announcer, broadcaster, and journalist.

Website: http://www.trackandfieldhunter.com

Thursday, 31 March 2016 02:02

2016 World Indoor Champs: Moment of Larry, Day 3

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The story is so uplifting for some, they just can not believe it. Take a talented distance runner who just is not ready or into college. Find him a bit out of college, and working at McDonalds. Then, talk him into training again with his old coach, but a new club started by a pretty talented distance runner (Brenda Martinez and her hubby). Watch the guy run, get back into shape and begin to improve.

 

Then, watch track geeks, (c'est moi), drop their jaws when Boris runs with the big boys in Europe. Watch him almost make a U.S. team for the World Champs Outdoors.

 

But this is Indoors, and will it be a different story? Read on, gentle reader.

 

Boris Berian is a tough runner. An 800 meter guy built like Herb Lindsay, one the country's finest long distance runners in the 1970s and early 1980s, Herb had some guns on those arms. Boris does, too.

 

At the U.S. Indoor Champs, Boris just took the lead and crushed it, winning and not looking back.

 

In the rounds at the Worlds, Boris stayed out of trouble and made it through with ease, with Antoine Gakeme, winning his heat in 1:48.09, with Berian at 1:48.55 in second.

 

He’s much tougher now, perhaps the missed opportunity in 2015 opened his eyes, and gave him the vision he needed to move on.

 

The final on Saturday was looked upon with much fascination. Mo Aman, the defending champion was there, as was Antoine Gakeme, Eric Solinski, and Boris Berian. Many thought he would medal, but few thought he would dominate.

 

Berian got out hard, and hit the 200 meters in 23.92, which is fast! Continuing his hard front running, he hit the 400 meters in 49.73, which really turned some eyeballs. That’s David Rudisha speed, and David was in Australia, or Kenya, right now.

 

Berian looked focused and driven. He was running smooth, but with power. That’s what blows many away, but if you remember, Berian is to 2016 what Alberto Juantorena was to 1976. Boris Berian is a California version of Alberto Juantorena.

 

Boris continued his driven display of front running through 600 meters in 1:17:37, when the rest of the field woke up and tried to gain on him. For about fifty meters, Boris seemed like he was taking a quick break to gather himself for the run home.

 

I was hoping that I was not watching a law of physics being proven—that if you go out too fast, you come back real fast.

 

Boris willed himself over that last 200 meters of the 800, where the lactic acid is nearly up in your throat and six little voices are whispering—no begging, “Please stop! Coach Vigil will understand. Boris, this is your right hamstring, I have no energy left and I want a sauna." 

 

You ignore those voices and you just drive on, which is what Berian did.

 

The 800 meters is 200 meters too long for a perfect race. It’s a race where time and pain mold into one, and 25 seconds of pain moves to thirty-two.

 

Berian held on, and pushed to the finish to win his first World Indoor title in 1:45.83, to the resounding cheers of the partisan crowd. But, in truth, everyone was a fan of Berian that Saturday night at the Oregon Convention Center.

 

Berian put away that carbuncle of self-doubt that we all have at about 680 meters to 700 meters, when he made the decision to charge on. His face was full of pain and drive, and his arms were pumping and his legs had to follow. There was no other choice after he committed.

 

My MOMENT OF LARRY for night three is Boris Berian's race, but specifically, when he won it, between 600 and 700 meters, when the brain shuts off, the eyes flutter, and the lungs just beg for mercy.

 

Berian conquered all. But, something tells me, he did that on some cold-as-hell night, doing intervals, when no one was there but his coach, a few joggers, and someone with a rubgy ball.

 

Runners are creatures of habit and comfort. Nothing is comfortable about a fast speed session, or a long, grueling series of 600 meters and 1000 meters, but it gives one a sense of comfort, or relief.

 

And in this amazing setting, as Boris Berian was running his race. Not far back, Eric Sowinski was moving well,and running his race, to take the bronze, surpassing the defending champion Mo Aman. Eric is a great guy, a determined runner and he picked up his first international medal, as the US went 1–3.

 

Earlier this afternoon, I was speaking to VP of Running Product at New Balance, Tom Carleo.  about Boris and he told me the reason he ran so well was, (jokingly), "because of the shoes." I concurred, wisely, to Boris Berian's club sponsor, New Balance.

 

The shoes sured helped, and the sponsorship really helps, but Berian has some brass ones and his race was something to behold. Watch it and watch it again. And remember, Boris Berian's 800 meters is our Moment of Larry for Day Three of the 2016 IAAF World Athletics Championships!

March 20, 2016 - On the fourth and final day of the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championships in Portland, Ore., California native Shannon Rowbury brought home a bronze medal for the U.S. as she finished third in the women's 3,000-meter final in 8:55.55.

 

Rowbury also captured the 3,000m win at the U.S Indoor Track and Field Championships last weekend in 8:55.65. After conferring with her coach, Alberto Salazar, Rowbury decided to forego her specialty event, the 1,500m, at the U.S. Champs and concentrate on the 3,000m for Worlds. Last July, Rowbury etched her name in the history books by breaking Mary Decker's 1,500m outdoor American record with a 3:56.29 at the Herculis meet in Monaco.

 

In 2008, Rowbury recorded the top performance ever by an American woman in the Olympic 1,500m final when she finished seventh in 4:03.58. At the 2012 Olympic Games, she placed sixth in the women's 1,500m final.

 

On Sunday, Rowbury was among a closely spread front group of women competing in the women's 3,000m final over 15 laps of the 200m oval in Portland's Oregon Convention Center. The pack, led early by Kenya's Betsy Saina, went through 400m in a relatively slow 1:20.8.

 

 Just past 1,000m, Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba moved into the lead, strung out the field, and proceeded to a 8:47.43 victory, repeating her 2014 World Indoors 3,000m win. Eight-time World and Olympic medalist Meseret Defar (Ethiopia) secured the silver in 8:54.2 followed by Rowbury for bronze.

 

"It started out just like Worlds two years ago," Rowbury said. "I knew watching videos from the past that there would be a hard move and I needed to test my toughness. I tried to stay with the lead pack. I thought it was a little bit closer. At a certain point, I knew I needed to close ground on the chase crew. Over the last few laps in the race, I knew it was getting tough. Everyone else was working hard too. The crowd helped bring me home. I brought home a bronze in 2009. You only get so many opportunities in a championship. You only get this once in a lifetime to get Worlds at home and I wanted to take full advantage of that."

 

Rowbury's PR in the 3,000m indoors is 8:47.18 which she set in Boston in 2010. She grew up in the Sunset District of San Francisco where she attended Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep School before moving on to Duke University where she set multiple school records at distances from 800m through 5,000m. Although she now trains in Beaverton, Ore. and is guided by Coach Salazar at the Nike Oregon Project, Rowbury's heart is still in San Francisco where she has strong family connections.

 

In other day four action among Californians competing at the World Indoor Champs, Jeff Henderson (Chula Vista, Calif.)--the 2014 U.S. outdoor long jump champion--placed fourth with a second round leap of 8.19m/26-10.5. Marquis Dendy (Middletown, Del.) came to Portland as the world leader in the long jump, and he left as the world champion. He also posted his best mark in round two, leaping to victory in 8.26m/27-0.

 

"I have a lot to focus on and work on," Henderson said after the competition. "I was hoping to get the win but I didn't. I'm not worried about it, because I haven't jumped this much in a while. But I PR'd, so I know I'm in good shape."

 

Home-field advantage paid off in a huge way for Team USA at the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships. The U.S. broke its own championship record for number of medals won, with 23, and number of golds, with 13. The medal tally crushed the previous records of 19 medals overall from 1999, and 10 gold medals from 2012. Ethiopia finished second in the medal tables with five medals and two gold, as Team USA totaled 249 points on the placing table to Ethiopia's 56.

 

Many congratulations to TrackTown USA, the local organizing committee for these excellent championships, and to Vin Lananna who serves as President of the organizers. We have much to look forward to in TrackTown: The 2016 Olympic Track and Field Trials this coming July and for the first time on U.S. soil, the 2021 IAAF World Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

 

 Mark Winitz, longtime scribe for California Track & Running News and American Track & Field, is a contributing writer on RunBlogRun.com.

There are three facets of enjoyment for a long-scheduled, much-anticipated event that proves to be memorable: the anticipation; the actual experience; and the lasting reflection. Few would disagree that these 16th IAAF World Indoor Championship gathering proved its worth as one such event. There have been so many memorable moments - some overwhelming, others more subtle - it is difficult to single out the best. While others will certainly have their own, different collection, here is the listing of my top ten memorable moments - in ascending order, of course!
 

#10 / w60 / Barbara Pierre's Upset Win

Underestimated American sprinter Barbara Pierre [7.02] parlayed a rocket start into an upset win and her first global title. Dutch star Daphne Schippers - behind from the gun - couldn't run down the American, but closed hard for second [7.04].
 

#9 / Heptathlon / Eaton, Beach Shine In Multi

Ashton Eaton coolly did his thing in winning his 3rd consecutive world indoor heptathlon title. Eaton's 6490 point total is #6 all time as The World's Greatest Athlete now has 5 of top 6 heptathlon performances of all time. Coming from way back in the standings, Curtis Beach's courageous final-event 1000 in 2:29.04 - a new championship record - fell just 8 points short of the bronze.
 

#8 / Pentathlon / Theisen Eaton's Gutty 800 Lifts Her To Gold

In 3rd place and down 114 points to pentathlon leader Anastasiya Mokhyuk with one event to go, Brianne Theisen Eaton ran a spirited final event - the 800m - in a season-best 2:09.99 to earn 965 points, giving her just enough points [4881] to slide past the Ukrainian [4847] for the gold medal.
 

#7 / wPV / Jenn Suhr's World Championship Clearance Highlights Her Victory

After failing to win the national vault title in the same venue the week before, Suhr came back strong. Carefully managing her attempts, the 34 year old reigning Olympic champion took only 4 jumps and made them all to win the gold. Her last clearance at 4.90m/16'¾" set a new indoor championship record.
 

#6 / mPV / Renaud Lavillenie Jumps Seldom, Jumps High, Claims Title

Showcased during the Day One opening ceremony, the pole vault events claimed the crowd's full attention. The efficient Frenchman needed only 2 jumps to win the men's competition. The reigning Olympic champion then went on to set the championship record [6.02m/19'9"] and tantalized the capacity crowd with 3 attempts - albeit unsuccessful - at the world record height of 6.17m/20'2¾".
 

#5 / m3000 / Hill's "Near Perfect" Race Earns Him Silver

At the pre-race press conference, Hill revealed he was shooting for a top 5 finish, but felt he "had a shot for medal if he had a really good day. The Bowerman Track Club athlete had that really good day. After a tepid start, the NC State graduate was able cover when defending champion Kenya's Caleb Ndiku dramatically shifted gears with 6 laps remaining. 5th at the bell, Hill never gave in. At full throttle over the final 100, Hill passed Marakesh's Iguider off the final turn and caught Kenya's Choge just before the line for the silver.
 

#4 / wLJ / Brittney Reese's Patented Clutch Final Jump Bomb

Multiple-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist Brittney Reese lost the early lead in the women's long jump when Serbia's Ivana Ŝpanovic stretched out a 5th-round leap of 7.07m/23'2½". As she has done so many times before, Reese returned the favor when - on her 6th and final attempt - the American jump queen uncorked a world-leading leap of 7.22/23'8¼" to swipe the gold medal and claim yet another indoor world championship title.
 

#3 / wSP / Michelle Carter's "Buzzer Beater" Last Throw

Going into the 6th and final round, Michelle Carter's third round heave of 19.31m/63'4¼" had held up as the event leader. With her final attempt, Hungary's Anita Marton got the ball out 19.33m/63'5" to edge into the lead. But the American Shot Diva had one final throw remaining - and Carter made it count as she unloaded a world-leading monster put of 20.21/66'3¾" to grab back the gold medal.
 

#2 / m1500 / Savvy Race Strategy Results In Gold For Centro

It was the elephant in the room. He'd won global medals before, but never gold. Would this be the time for Matthew Centrowitz? The race began cautiously. But Centro - the master of race positioning - was always in the right spot. Everyone could sense the pace winding up, but the real race began when Nick Willis spurted into the lead with 2 laps remaining. Although slightly gapped, Centro kept his cool. With 100 remaining and the decibel level inside the Convention Center never higher, the Millrose champion got on Willis' shoulder, swung wide off the final curve in a full sprint, and overcame the Kiwi for the win - covering the final 300m in less than 39 seconds.
 

#1 / m800 / Bold Berian Is Courageous

Throwing caution to the wind, USA's Boris Berian - an unsung McDonald's employee just about a year ago - simply went for it in the 800 meter final. After splitting 400 in 49.3 to forge a 15 meter lead, Berian began to wobble with 150 meters remaining as he worked hard to hold on. Lifted by the roaring crowd, the fearless leader crossed the line in 1:45.83 to hold off a late charges by Burundi's Antoine Gakeme [1:46.65]. Erik Sowinski's fine 3rd place finish [1:47.22] gave the USA two middle distance medals. You've got to risk it to get the biscuit.
 
Throwing caution to the wind, USA's Boris Berian - an unsung McDonald's employee just about a year ago - simply went for it in the 800 meter final. After splitting 400 in 49.3 to forge a 15 meter lead, Berian began to wobble with 150 meters remaining as he worked hard to hold on. Lifted by the roaring crowd, the fearless leader crossed the line in 1:45.83 to hold off a late charges by Burundi's Antoine Gakeme [1:46.65]. Erik Sowinski's fine 3rd place finish [1:47.22] gave the USA two middle distance medals. You've got to risk it to get the biscuit.
 
 
You'll note my Top Ten is heavily weighted with American moments - and justifiably so. While I plead guilty to a bias in favor of my homeland, with the final count at a record 23 medals [13 gold; 6 silver; and 4 bronze], Team USA simply had more grand moments. It is true that the Olympic Games are still nearly 5 months away and anything can happen. And it can be fairly observed that many exceptional foreign athletes did not compete here. But this medal harvest - gathered notwithstanding that more than a few American medal prospects [e.g. Felix, Taylor, Merritt, Simpson, Gatlin, etc.] also elected to bypass the indoor season and/or this global championships - suggests there is reason for optimism about America's medal prospects in Rio.
 
Dave Hunter, who ran his marathon P.R. of 2:31:40 on the highly revered Boston Marathon course back in the Paleozoic era, is a track and field announcer, broadcaster, and journalist.   http://www.trackandfieldhunter.com

NBC Olympics will present an unprecedented 76 hours of coverage of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials across NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extraincluding more than 60 hours of coverage in primetime – in the months leading up to the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. NBC Olympics’ Trials coverage spans nine sports – swimming, track and field, gymnastics, diving, rowing, wrestling, water polo, field hockey, and volleyball.

 

NBC Olympics’ 76 hours of comprehensive coverage marks the most ever for the U.S. Olympic Trials, topping the 67.5 hours of coverage in 2012, and will feature some of the most anticipated stories and athletes of the Rio Olympics,

 

All events will be live streamed across NBC Sports Live Extra -- NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs.

 

“As the U.S. Olympic rights holder through 2032, the Olympic Trials are a key component to our overall Olympic strategy,” said Peter Diamond, Executive Vice President, Programming, NBC Olympics. “This year, fans will be able to watch more of the compelling Trials coverage than ever before, as our nation’s most talented athletes strive to represent the United States in Rio.”

 

TRACK AND FIELD

NBC Olympics will provide 16.5 hours of Trials coverage in the semifinals and finals of track and field events, including seven primetime telecasts, five on NBC. Track and field Trials coverage begins on Friday, July 1, at 9 p.m. ET on NBC, with the finals in men’s shot put and 10,000m. NBC’s coverage continues Saturday, July 2, at 2 p.m. ET, with the finals in women’s 10,000m, long jump, and discus, and continues on NBCSN at 5 p.m. ET with coverage of the decathlon.

 

NBC’s coverage on Sunday, July 3, at 7 p.m. ET features the finals in men’s and women’s 100m and 400m, men’s long jump, and women’s high jump. The action shifts to NBCSN on Monday, July 4, at 7 p.m. ET with the finals in men’s and women’s 800m, as well as the men’s pole vault and javelin. NBCSN’s presentation on Thursday, July 7, at 8 p.m. ET includes the finals in women’s steeplechase, shot put, and triple jump.

 

NBCSN’s Trials coverage on Friday, July 8, begins at 6 p.m. ET, showcasing the semifinals of men’s 1500m, women’s 100m hurdles, and men’s and women’s 400m hurdles, and continues on NBC at 8 p.m. ET with the finals of women’s 100m hurdles, and men’s discus and steeplechase. NBC’s coverage on Saturday, July 9, at 8 p.m. ET includes the finals in men’s 110m hurdles, 200m, 5000m, triple jump, and women’s javelin. Sunday’s coverage will highlight the finals in the men’s and women’s 1500m, men’s and women’s 400m hurdles, women’s 200m, and men’s high jump.

 

Date

Coverage

Network

Time (ET)

Fri., July 1

Men’s Shot Put & 10,000m Finals

NBC

9 p.m.

Sat., July 2

Women’s 10,000m, Long Jump & Discus Finals

NBC

2 p.m.

 

Decathlon

NBCSN

5 p.m.

Sun., July 3

Men’s & Women’s 100m & 400m Finals*

NBC

7 p.m.

Mon., July 4

Men’s & Women’s 800m, Men’s Pole Vault & Javelin

NBCSN

7 p.m.

Thur., July 7

Women’s Steeplechase, Shot Put & Triple Jump

NBCSN

8 p.m.

Fri., July 8

Men’s 1500m, Women’s 100m Hurdles, & Men’s & Women’s400m Hurdles Semifinals

NBCSN

6 p.m.

 

Women’s 100m Hurdles, Men’s Discus & Steeplechase Finals

NBC

8 p.m.

Sat., July 9

Men’s 110m Hurdles, 200m, 5000m, Triple Jump*

NBC

8 p.m.

Sun., July 10

Men’s & Women’s 1500m & Women’s 200mMen’s & Women’s 400m Hurdles & Men’s High Jump*

NBC

7 p.m.

 

*coverage may include additional events

One of the finest long jump competitions that I’ve ever witnessed happened at the World Indoors. The battle between Ivana Spanovic, Janay DeLoach, Lorraine Ugen and Brittney Reese was riveting.

 

After her fine clutch leap of 7.22 meters, I had to name Brittney Reese as the Funk Queen of the Long Jump Universe. And here is why:

 

Ivana Spanovic was on a roll. She leaped 7.00 meters and took the lead, setting a national record.

 

Brittney Reese responds with 6.97 meters, her longest jump since 2015. After her fine 6.89 meter leap for the USA Indoor win, and her 6.81 meter leap in February, Brittney looked like the old Brittney, the one who brought home two Olympic golds and three World Indoor Champs. Was she back all the way? Fans were pondering.

 

So was Brittney.

 

Her injury came in 2013, where she tore her hip (labrum). Instead of repairing it in 2013, she just put her head down and competed through the season. Her series of five years of championship victories ended. 2014 was the year of surgery and recovery.

 

There’s something about an athlete at the top of their game. After years of finely-tuned training, the grace and agility of an elite athlete makes the activity, in many cases, look effortless. While Reese never looks effortless, her talent is in the amazing athleticism, both physically and psychologically, that she brings to the game.

 

In 2015, it just wasn’t there. She won the U.S. Champs with 6.97 meters, but it blew many of our minds when she didn’t make the final in Beijing. Her timing was off, she was fouling a remarkable number of times. This viewer could sense her frustration.

 

"It took me two years just to get back to where I was. I couldn't stay healthy last year at all and finally I had to just step back and see why I love the sport and work hard on getting really healthy" was how Reese described her frustration to the IAAF.

 

Coming back from an injury and surgery cannot be calculated on an abacus. The time stretches out and the frustration of activities that one once found to be effortless hits home. Is it time to retire? Give up? Surely, Reese had enough medals to call it a day.

 

But not Brittney Reese. Not the funk queen of the long jump universe.

 

I’ve interviewed Brittney on several occasions. I like her upbeat manner. I respect her hard work, but most of all, I like her gamespersonship.

 

Brittney Reese is one of the toughest competitors that I’ve ever seen.

 

In Round 5 of the World Champs Indoors, Brittney Reese leaped 7.00 meters, her farthest jump in three years.

 

Ivana Spanavic responded with 7.07 meters, a second National Record.

 

So, in Round 6, Reese and Spanovic have their jumps.

 

How will Reese respond? Is her body ready to challenge Spanovic, the reigning European Indoor champion, who’s jumping National records as if they were kernels of popcorn.

 

Watching Brittney Reese in good health and in competitive mode is a site to behold.

 

Reese was focused before she went for her sixth and final jump. She used every centimeter on the run up and leaped in the air, landing farther than she had since 2012. Her final jump was 7.22 meters, just one centimeter off her leap in Instanbul in 2012, where she last won the World Indoor.

 

Her leap of 7.22 meters stunned the already hyped crowd.

 

How would Spanovic respond? Could she improve on her 7.00 meters and 7.07 meters?

 

Spanovic leaped to 6.76 meters; Reese's leap could no longer be challenged.

 

So, why do I call Brittney Reese the Funk Queen of the Long Jump Universe?

 

It actually comes from Matt Groening, creator of the Simpsons, who dedicated one of his Life in Hell collections to cartoonist Lynda Barry (I still have her “Poodle with a Mohawk” poster somewhere), who he referred to as the Funk Queen of the Galaxy.

 

So I’ve lifted it, and now use it to pay credit to Brittney Reese, who’s obviously back in shape and back in competitive mind set. Keeping one's head when one's steps are just a bit off, and the competition has raised the game, is what Brittney Reese just did in Portland last weekend.

 

With seven global titles now, let's see how Brittney Reese responds for Eugene and then, Rio.

 

And for that, we at RunBlogRun have burdened Brittney Reese with the title, Funk Queen of the Long Jump Universe.

 

Yep, we worship her.

 

—Larry Eder

Friday, 18 March 2016 00:39

2016 World Indoors: Quick Previews

Written by

Here are our favorite quick previews from Alfons Juck and EME News, our long time partner and a keen observer of the sport.

 

Event by Event 

Men

60 m: Experienced generation Powell, Collins, Rodgers against young ones Bromell, Bracy.

 

400 m: Maslak defending against US duo, Caribbeans, but the dark horse is young Haroun.

 

800 m: Berian on home soil, what is the shape of Aman? Be ready for surprise.

 

1500 m: Iguider, Centrowitz, Souleiman - all three in great shape. What will be the tactics.

 

3000 m: This is open, the usual fight Ethiopia vs Kenya will be added by home duo Hill-Chelimo, and what about Iguider and his double?

 

60m Hurdles: French connection says the movie, Martinot-Lagarde, Bascou. McLeod is the man to watch.

 

High Jump: Barshim has the credentials and potential, but Tamberi is also unbeaten in 2016 and hugely improving.

 

Pole Vault: Lavillenie in shape is tough to beat. But do not forget Barber is the World Champion. Meet record 601 is possible.

 

Long Jump: Who can beat Dendy? Other medals very open.

 

Triple Jump: Big guns injured, time for China gold (so far only one male by Liu Xiang at World Indoors) ?

 

Shot Put: Nedow won the Tour, Stanek beat him in last meet, Haratyk was early excellent and Roberts won US title.

 

Heptathlon: Eaton is unbeatable in normal situation. The rest on the podium could be anybody.

 

4x400 m: No doubt about the winners, Belgium will be ready for silver and possibly attacking their own European record?

 

Women
60 m: Pierre is a fast starter, but Schippers can catch her. Will we see sub seven?

 

400 m: Despite not beeing the fastest this year McPherson should be the pick. US duo not that experienced, Adekoya is ready.

 

800 m: Another open one. Who has top indoor experience? Possibly US duo will use home advantage.

 

1500 m: Fast or slow. Seyaum vs Hassan.

 

3000 m: It should be Dibaba, then little space, then Defar, then lot of space, then rest. Anyway, we count with meet record.

 

60mH: If not full US podium, then surprise. Only Tiffany can spoil the party.

 

High Jump: 19 years between Beitia and Cunningham, but the bet goes to Licwinko. Finally two meters?

 

Pole Vault: Real World record chance for Suhr, how many medals for Greeks? Meet record should be for sure (so far 486)

 

Long Jump: Is Stratton ready to cope withe favorite role? Reese, Spanovic far more experienced. Not to forget British duo and German newcomer Wester.

 

Triple Jump: First ever gold (also medal) for Venezuela? Surprise from Papahristou?

 

Shot Put: All points to Carter win. Valerie never gives up.

 

Pentathlon: This will be interesting. Brianne is ready, but Ukrainians have big scores, Williams fresh enough from last weekend? Surprise from Lake.

 

4x400 m: Can USA come close to World Indoor record?

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