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BY STUART WEIR
 
A great pole vault competition.
 
There have been many great events this weekend but it is hard to think of a more exciting competition than the Women's Pole vault. Christian Coleman had to "work" for just over 6 seconds to win his 60m gold medal. Sandi Morris was out there for 3 hours to win hers.
 
Two streaks came to an end. Katerina Stefanidi, the reigning World outdoor and Olympic champion, was finally beaten after a winning streak of 19 competitions. Sandi Morris broke a less welcome streak - silver at the Worlds Championships (indoor and outdoor) and the Olympics.
 
Pole vault involves running with a pole and vaulting over a high bar. It involves a lot more than that! An elite competition is often two competitions in one, with the event over for some athletes before others have started. When Stefanidi entered the competition at 4.70, others had been jumping for an hour and a quarter. When Stefanidi cleared 4.70 and moved on to 4.75, only six competitors of the original 12 were still standing - or still vaulting.
Published in Track & Field
INTRO BY LARRY EDER
 
The World Indoor Championships in Birmingham are being marred by offer officiating. It was a problem on day, it became a nightmere on day 2, and now, it is the narrative. Ironically, a conversation with Seb Coe from a year ago, noting that some of the rather arcane rules that hurt the sport need to be revised.
 
The 400 meter that never was, first two DQed, Pavel Maslak wins, photo by PhotoRun.net
 
That runners are going out of their lanes is a fact. That they are impending others is not a fact. That several key stars were DQed for events that did not impeed others. The over judging of events will be, unfortunately, one of the narratives of this championships. The IAAF now had another problem that can mar the sport.
 
Consider this, why would a family of four come to a major championships, and see, to their shock that, after they watch a fantastic 400 meters, the gold and silver medalists are DQed for impeding other athletes'progress?
 
That is the issue, before the 400 meter and 800 meter fiascos, there was over 25 DQs, so anything after that was questioned. How could this happen in the birthplace of modern track & field?
 
What about Federations that file complaints, hoping to get their athletes a medal? It sure seems like what is happening.Our sport has bumping and physical contact, get over it.
 
A 400-meter heat where all in the heat are DQed?
 
The sport needs an Ombudsman, someone who is above the Jury of Appeals, and brings people to their senses. This is like a Monty Python episode, The Athletes who run out of lanes.
 
Please read this well-considered piece by our English friend who I thought was a Scot, J. Stuart Weir.
 
 
BY STUART WEIR
 
From the sublime to the ridiculous:
 
The evening of Day 3 produced many magnificent moments of outstanding brilliance and compelling high drama. Sadly the evening was also marred by moments of farce and controversy.
 
 
Starting with the Good
 
Christian Coleman won the 60m from Bingtian Su. The only disappointment was that Coleman was 3/100s of a second outside the World Record.
 
Genzebe Dibaba won the 1500m to pull off a two-day double of 3000m and 1500m. She really is a class act.
 
Keni Harrison won her first global title in the 60m hurdles in 7.70 to equal the World Lead. Winner of the IAAF Indoor series, Christina Manning was second in 7.79, in a race where any of the first four would have been a worthy winner.
 
Sandi Morris won a pole vault competition that lasted 3 hours with a vault of 4.95m. Katerina Stefanidi, the reigning World outdoor and Olympic champion was third, only managing 4.80. That Morris, who has been runner-up in the last three global finals, and Stefanidi could only clear 4.80 at the third attempt made the final even more absorbing.
 
 
The Bad
 
The evening was marred by far too much intervention by the officials. The nadir was the decision to disqualify Drew Windle (USA) who finished second in the 800m for obstruction and to promote third to second and fourth to third. And then, over an hour after the race finished, to reinstate Windle and demote the two previously promoted athletes.
 
In the men's 400m the winner, Oscar Husillos (Spain) and second-place finisher, Luguelin Antos (The Dominican Republic) were disqualified. Spain lodged an appeal but the Dominican Republic did not. The Jury decided that the disqualifications should stand.
 
I cannot say that any of the officials' decisions were right or wrong. I do not have the evidence. But there must be a better way to do it! Better, surely to hold a result if there are genuine doubts than to announce a result, change it and then change it back. There also did seem to be too many disqualifications for marginal offences which had no impact on the outcome of the race.
Published in Track & Field
BY STUART WEIR
 
A great pole vault competition.
 
There have been many great events this weekend but it’s hard to think of a more exciting competition than the women's pole vault. Christian Coleman had to "work" for just over 6 seconds to win his 60m gold medal. Sandi Morris was out there for 3 hours to win hers.
 
Two streaks came to an end. Katerina Stefanidi, the reigning World outdoor and Olympic champion, was finally beaten after a winning streak of 19 competitions. Sandi Morris broke a less welcome streak - silver at the Worlds Championships (indoor and outdoor) and the Olympics.
 
Pole vault involves running with a pole and vaulting over a high bar. It involves a lot more than that! An elite competition is often two competitions in one, with the event over for some athletes before others have started. When Stefanidi entered the competition at 4.70, others had been jumping for an hour and a quarter. When Stefanidi cleared 4.70 and moved on to 4.75, only six competitors of the original 12 were still standing - or still vaulting.
 
Morris recently explained to me her approach to the tactics of the event: "The general rule of thumb for me has been to enter the competition about 30 centimeters under my PB. At this point, with my PB at 5.00m, that’s still pretty high so I like to enter the competition at 4.40m or 4.50m. [In Birmingham she came in at 4.50.] If I’m feeling really good, I may pass a bar. It really depends on an athlete's confidence because that really is the key to making bars at the first attempt: trusting that you are doing the right thing. Having the right coaching, what pole to start with and so on, are also factors. You also go off your warm-up. If I have a bad warm-up, I might come in a bit lower and jump more bars to get myself into a rhythm. That is my tactic.”
Published in Track & Field
Monday, 18 September 2017 14:45

Mo Farah wins fourth Great North Run in 60:06

By Stuart Weir
It was business as usual at the Great North Run men's half marathon with Mo Farah winning for the fourth time in a row in a time of 1:00:06. Having covered Mo Farah's last track race - 3 times (last World Championship, last track race in Britain and last-ever track race), I was at the Great North Run, I suppose, to record Mo’s first race as an ex-track runner.
 
It was not his easiest victory. Jake Robertson (New Zealand) who was second in 1:00:12, lead Mo until the last few hundred yards when Mo raced clear. Mo later admitted that with 3–4 miles to go he was hanging on.
 
Farah said afterwards: “It was an amazing race. Jake pushed the pace on and tried to get rid of me. He almost got rid of me—I wasn't going to tell him that—but he almost got rid of me with three miles to go, because I was hurting. It was a great race today. I really enjoyed it. I just had to dig deep.
Published in Roads
Thursday, 10 August 2017 22:49

Some Thoughts on Christian Taylor

This column, written by Stuart Weir, is on defending World Champion and defending Olympic gold medalist Christian Taylor. Stuart's job is to provide @runblogrun daily observations on the London World Champs. At Monaco, he was so inspired, he provided seven columns on the meet. I liked this one on Christian Taylor, one of our favorite competitors.—Larry Eder
 
Christian Taylor needed just one jump to secure qualification for Thursday's Triple Jump final. Commenting on the atmosphere in the stadium, Taylor said: "The audience is great. I went for a good show. They have spent so much money on the tickets". I am not sure he is right in his second comment with some tickets costing only £18.29 - to celebrate Jonathan Edwards' 1995 World record.
 
The atmosphere did not surprise Taylor. As he told me before the event: "I expect London 2017 to be very similar to the 2012 Olympics, where I won my first Olympic title. I have also competed in the Diamond League in London as well as the Olympics and there is always a fantastic crowd. The energy will be quite different from - and better than - some of the other world championships; the crowd in London is always very knowledgeable about athletics. So the athletes will feel a lot more alive with the crowd really getting into it.”
Published in Athletes
BY STUART WEIR
 
It was only the heats of the women's 1500 metres but the three races were compelling watching as we sought to glean pointers towards the destination of the medals. Of course tonight was just about securing a place in Saturday's semi-final ahead of Monday's final.
 
With six automatic qualifying places available in each race plus a further six on time, it was fascinating to see how the big guns approached the task.
 
The first heat was won by Genzebe Dibaba in a time of 4:02.67. One of the big questions was how would Caster Semenya fare in the 1500m? She was anonymous for much of the race before making a move with 200 to go to finish second in 4:02.84. Britain's Jess Judd qualified with a PR of 4:03.73 but she achieved it in a strange way. She led the race from start to almost finish but was overtaken by a group of fast finishers to take sixth place.
Published in Track & Field
From our friends at RunBlogRun, here are some deep thoughts from Stuart Weir on the Monaco DL, and how it adds to the excitement of the buildup to the London 2017 World Championships, August 4-13.
 
Winners and Losers
If an athlete wins gold at the World Championships, no one will remember a bad Diamond League performance. And projecting forward it is important not to rule someone out of World Championship contention on the back of a poor result in Lausanne or Monaco.
 
Now ignoring the caveat, what can we learn about London from what happened in Monaco?
 
Winners
Kori Carter (USA, women's 400H) is in the form of her life. She ran a sub 53 PR in the US Trials and then won the race in Monaco.
 
Mariya Lasitskene (Russian high jumper but competing as a neutral in London) cleared 2.05 in Monaco and looks untouchable.
 
Hellen Obiri (Kenya, 5000m) is another athlete in the form of her life, winning the 3000m in Monaco and races everywhere else you can mention.
 
Wayde Van Niekerk (South Africa 400 - or anything from 100 to 800!) won in Monaco and talked without arrogance about when, rather than if, he would go sub 43.
 
 
Losers
Renaud Lavillenie (France, pole vault) is one of my favourite athletes. He is the only one you can compare to Bolt for the way he can reduce an arena to silent concentration when he is about to jump. In Monaco he failed at 5.82 and the days when he was always threatening six metres have been few and far-between recently.
 
Asbel Kiprop (Kenya 1500) came to Monaco in July 2016 not having lost a 1500m race for a year. He was beaten that night, finished out of the medals in Rio and since then little has gone right. In Monaco this week he finished 11th.
 
Of course, both might turn it around in the next two weeks - but for both the customary swagger and sense of being in control looks to have vanished.
 
 
Anticipation
There are so many races in London that I can't wait for:
Can Mo Farah retain his 5000m and 10000m titles?
Can Elaine Thompson dominate the 100m and the 200m like she did in Rio?
The men's 100m
Can Christian Taylor not only retain his world title but also get beyond Jonathan Edwards' 22 year old world record?
 
To that list I am adding the women's 800m. Can either Francine Niyonsaba or Ajee' Wilson who pushed Caster Semanya so hard in Monaco actually beat her in London?
 
If Only
Skarika Nelvis (USA, 100H) looks to be in the form of her life. She won the Diamond League race in Lausanne and lost to Kendra Harrison in Monaco only by a hundredth of a second in a photo finish. But Nelvis failed to make the US team for London.
 
But with all this happening, I think I am going to enjoy the IAAF World Championships in London next month.
Published in Track & Field