May 20, 2012
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Moa Hjelmer is this week’s track beauty!
Sweden, despite its relatively small population of nine million, has produced notable athletics stars – especially in the past decade. Hjelmer is an emerging sprinting talent, at the vanguard of a new generation of Swedish stars. She set the the Swedish outdoor 400m dash record last year, running 51.58s a month before the Daegu World Championships.
Hjelmer in action at the Istanbul World Indoor Championships (Photo from SVD Sport)
The 22-year old made her major championship debut the same year, qualifying for the Daegu 400m dash semis. She placed fifth and exited the competition in 52.25s. Hjelmer almost reached the World Indoor Championships final in Istanbul. She had the sixth fastest semifinal time, but she crashed out of a finals slot because she finished fourth in her heat. Nevertheless, she set a new Swedish indoor record of 52.29s.
The versatile Hjelmer actually competes in both the 200m and 400m. She made it as far as the 200m semis at the 2007 World Youth Championships. The Swede’s 200m European U23 bronze medal was elevated to silver, as the original winner of the race was stripped of her title after failing a drugs test. Hjelmer was a mere one-hundredth of a second from Anna Kiełbasińska’s winning time of 23.23s.
Read: “Swede victory for Hjelmer in the 400m”
Hjelmer struck gold at the European Championships in Helsinki. Moa pipped the favored Russian Kseniya Zadorina (51.26s) in the final, thanks to the Swede’s gutsy start and strong finish. Hjelmer clocked a new Swedish record of 51.13s – her second national record in span of 24 hours.
Sweden has a new athletics star!
Moa Hjelmer on OSBloggen.se
April 29, 2012
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Carol Rodríguez is this week’s track beauty!
The U.S.-born sprinter was one of the best collegiate sprinters in the NCAA during her time. She started competing for the University of Southern California in 2005, reaping various accolades throughout her amateur career.
Photo from Wikipedia
In 2006, Rodríguez clocked 11.38s in the 100m dash to win bronze at the tough NCAA Championships. She stamped her dominance at the PAC-10 and the NCAA West Championships during the 2007 season, notching impressive 100m-200m doubles in both meets.
Rodríguez competes internationally for Puerto Rico. She represented the Carribean island at the 2009 World Championships and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In 2009, Rodríguez won a 100m dash bronze at the Central American and Caribbean Championships, stopping the clock in 11.38s.
The versatile sprinter holds a total of four national records (100m, 200m, 400m, 4x100m relay). She has personal bests of 11.28s (2009), 22.23s (2006) and 51.39s (2008) in the 100m, 200m and 400m, respectively.
Carol’s USC profile
Carol’s All-Athletics Profile
April 14, 2012
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Anna Kiełbasińska is this week’s track beauty!
Kiełbasińska is an up and coming Polish sprinter. As a junior, she barged into the 200m dash finals of the 2008 World Junior Championships in front of her home crown in Bydgoszcz. She clocked 23.95s, placing 7th overall. Kiełbasińska improved upon her semifinals finish at the 2007 World Youth Championships.
Photos from bydgoszcz.gazeta.pl and sport.tvp.pl
The Polish sprinter had a fruitful 2011 campaign. In the run-up prior to the Daegu World Championships, Kiełbasińska won the European U23 200m dash gold and the 100m dash bronze.
The Pole originally finished in 3rd and 4th place, respectively, but the 100m/200m champion, Darya Pizhankova, was disqualified after failing a doping test. Kiełbasińska ran a lifetime’s best of 23.23s in the 200m dash final.
She competed in her first ever major international a month later in Daegu. The young Pole failed to progress beyond the heats.
Perhaps it is much too early to predict Olympic success for the fast-rising Kiełbasińska. Nevertheless, she is within the cusp of joining the elite European senior campaigners in 2012, in light of the promising results from the previous year.
February 18, 2012
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Estela García is this week’s track beauty!
The young Spaniard is a fast-rising sprinting talent in her home nation. Still only 23-years old, García has had considerable international experience. In 2008, she competed at the World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, clocking 24.67s in the heats of the 200m dash and 12.03s in the century dash.
Photos from campeonas.com and blas-atletismoyalgoms.blogspot.com
A year later after her debut on the world stage, García lowered her 200m dash personal best to 23.87s. The versatile Spanish sprinter has personal bests of 11.75s (2010) and 56.86s (2011) in the 100m and 200m, respectively.
At the 2010 Ibero-American Championships, Garcia narrowly missed a finals slot in the 200m dash. She made amends at the 2011 European U-23 Championships in Ostrava, as she tied her 200m personal best in the semifinals.
Her most memorable international moment to date came during the European Championships in Barcelona. García, together with Ana Torrijos, Digna Luz Murillo, and Amparo María Cotán, set a new Spanish national record in the 4x100m relay final.
October 9, 2011
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Kim Gevaert is this week’s track beauty!
The retired Belgian sprinter has had an illustrious career. With personal bests of 11.04s and 22.20s in the 100m and 200m dashes, the powerfully built speedser was a fixture in elite women’s sprinting during her prime.
She first made waves during in 1999, when she won the 200m title at the Universiade and the 100m dash bronze at the European U23 Championships. She was crowned European Indoor Champion at the 60m dash in 2002, the same year she notched an impressive 100m-200m silver medal double at the European Outdoor Championships in Munich.
Four years later in Goteborg, the Belgian struck gold in the two events, becoming the first athlete from her country to win a continental 100m dash title.
Gevaert was an outstanding indoor sprinting career, winning silver and bronze medals at the 60m dash at the 2004 and 2006 editions of the World Indoor Championships. Outdoors, she led a successful the Belgian quartet to a bronze medal finish at the 2007 World Championships.
The popular Gevaert had an eventful farewell season in 2008. In her last Olympic appearance, the Belgian sprinter anchored the 4x100m quartet to an unprecedented Olympic silver.
July 19, 2011
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I just can’t stand having “DNF” written beside my name. Perhaps it was due to the strong impact of Derek Redmond’s memorable Olympic moment. Hence, I’ve admired certain elite athletes who strove to finish the race despite injury, a slow time notwithstanding. John Stephen Akhwari actually preceded Redmond in this category, when the former limped to the Marathon finish line dead last despite dislocating his knee.
Read: “Dorando Pietri, Derek Redmond and the Olympic Ideal”
In less dramatic circumstances, a hamstrung Shinji Takahira 高平 慎士 fought on at the Athens Olympics 200m preliminaries. David Alerte walked the remainder of the Barcelona European Championships 200m final, after pulling his hamstring midway into the race.
Most recently, France’s Jessie Saint-Marc limped and grimaced in the 100m dash final of the European U-23 Championships in Ostrava. The brave Frenchwoman stopped the clock at 32.85s, light-years away from her 11.49s personal best.
I am not sure if her courageous effort was met with cheers. Nevertheless, she’s a winner in my book.
“My country did not send me to 5,000 miles to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race.” – John Stephen Akhwari
“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.” – Pierre de Coubertin
May 29, 2011
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In 2008, Usain Bolt shocked the world by breaking the 100m dash world record months before the Beijing Olympics. At the quadrennial event, the lanky Jamaican smashed his existing world best mark, stopping the clock at an unprecedented 9.69s – despite celebrating 10m ahead of the finish line.
Read the rest of the article from the In the Zone website
February 14, 2011
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The come-backing Kim Collins is on fire!
He retired at the end of the 2009 Berlin World Championships, but returned to high-level competition early this year. In several indoor meets in Germany, the sprinter from the small island country of Saint Kitts and Nevis, rewrote the 2011 top lists twice. He stopped the clock at 6.52s in Dusseldorf. A few days later, he bettered this mark by two-hundredths of second in Karlsruhe. Unfortunately, a thigh injury prevented Collins from replicating his razor sharp form in the final.
The 34-year old had won his fair share of accolades. Collins was crowned world champion in the 100m dash in 2003. Aside from this, he had won a bronze in the same event in Helsinki 2005 and a 200m bronze at the 2001 Edmonton World Championships.
In Paris, Collins outclassed a star-studded (some, steroid-laced) field which included the likes of disgraced former world record holder Tim Montgomery and Briton Dwain Chambers. From Lane 1, Collins had a blistering start. He clung on first place (10.07s) in a blanket finish with 100m world junior record holder Darrel Brown (10.08s) from Trinidad and Tobago and Britain’s Darren Campbell (10.08s).
It was the slowest winning time in Championship history, tying Carl Lewis’ 10.07s time at the inaugural edition in Helsinki back in 1983. Nevertheless, a world champion is still a world champion. Not many elite athletes can call themselves that.
To be honest, I only appreciated the significance of Collins’ feat whilst writing this entry. Compared to his competitors, the Caribbean sprinter was minuscule in terms of both height and heft. He was far from the stereotype of a burly speedster. There were no brash displays of arrogance when he won; Collins did not showboat. He just smiled as he proudly waved his island country’s flag, basking under the warmth of his first major crown.
Collins last dipped below the 10-second barrier in 2003, where he ran 9.99s in Zurich. He has a personal best of 9.98s from way back in 2002 and 2003 (he ran this four times) – modest by today’s standards. He has qualified for the Olympic 100m dash final twice, in Sydney and in Athens. In Beijing, the affable Collins placed 6th in the 200m final.
It’s good to see old hands such as Collins achieve stellar marks. He has claimed the scalp of fiery upstarts like Mike Rodgers and the under-performing Christophe Lemaitre. Rodgers is 9-years younger than Collins, whilst Lemaitre is around 14-years Collins’ junior. At the rate Collins is going, he might just surprise everyone (but himself!) in Daegu come August!
January 16, 2011
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Chisato Fukushima 福島 千里 is this week’s track beauty!
The 22-year old sprinter is Japan’s premiere speedster. At such a young age, Fukushima owns both the 100m and 200m dash national records, with respective times of 11.21s and 22.89s. The Hokkaido-born Fukushima’s international exposure is extensive, being a veteran of the World Youth and World Junior Championships, the World Championships and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Photos from rikuren.or.jp, japanichiban.com and Wikipedia
Fukushima’s first major regional achievements occurred in 2009, where the Japanese ruled the century dash and the 4x100m relay. A year later in the Guangzhou Asian Games, the 22-year old cemented her role as Asia’s fastest woman by notching a 100m-200m double. Fukushima’s 100m dash gold was Japan’s first in the event in 44 years!
In the 100m dash in Guangzhou, Fukushima came from behind to pip Uzbekistan’s Guzel Khubbieva, 11.33s to 11.34. The Japanese started half a stride behind the powerfully-built Uzbek. Fukushima turned on her afterburners at the last 30m, edging out Khubbieva by a hundredth of a second.
Prior to her twin Asiad crowns, Fukushima rewrote the Japanese record books by setting new marks in the two events. 2010, indeed, was sprinter’s breakout year.
Judging from here less-than-perfect sprinting form, Fukushima is still a raw, yet glistening gem. In the coming years, sub-11 100m dash times are within range for the talented Japanese.
December 11, 2010
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Gretta Taslakian is this week’s track beauty!
The 25-year Lebanese sprinter qualified for the 2010 Asian Games 200m dash final last December, but finished beyond the medal standings. Taslakian has a personal best of 23.56s in the half-lap.
Taslakian at the 2007 Arab Games
She has competed in both the Athens and Beijing Olympic Games, without advancing from the preliminary rounds.
Nevertheless, she exudes a refreshing aura with her bright smile and ebullient demeanor, reminding this track aficionado of a middle-eastern counterpart of the ever-so-bubbly Lolo Jones! Just like Jones, Taslakian uses the internet well to interact with her fans – a rare habit among non-European and non-American track athletes.
Be a fan of Gretta Taslakian
Photos from azad-hye.org, Gretta Taslakian FB fan page, athleticsperformance.org
The Lebanese speedster once won silver in the 2004 Asian Junior Championships. The powerfully-built Taslakian has had much success in regional competitions, notching a double gold performance in the 2007 Pan-Arab Games.
Photos from teethless.vampire
October 20, 2010
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I stumbled upon the following clip a while back. I couldn’t stop laughing at how slow I was! It was taken during my rookie year in the UAAP Men’s Division. A day after finishing 3rd to the last (17.46s) in the 110m high hurdles (my supposed best event!), I ran the 200m dash.
My 18-year old self ran next to the future Philippine 100m/200m dash record holder, Ralph Soguilon. In 5 or so strides, Waldy overcame the stagger. For a split-second, we were running abreast (at the bend!) before Soguilon switched on his afterburners to the demolish the shell-shocked field!
I wound up 3rd to the last (24.85s) in a field of 24 in the 200m dash qualifying round! Waldy probably ran something in the 21-second territory!
Needless to say, I sucked big time!
October 5, 2010
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When the words “siblings” and “athletics” come together, the first name that pop into my head are the Kallur twins. Susanna Kallur, in recent years, had distinguished herself in the women’s sprint hurdles, breaking the 60m hurdles world record and topping the 2006 Goteborg European Championships. Her twin sister Jenny, older by four minutes, has been a fixture in the athletics circuits, but hasn’t reached the same level of success as Sanna.
Read: Track Beauties of the Week: Susanna and Jenny Kallur
The Harrison twins used to be the finest example of sibling excellence, winning the 4x400m relay gold in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games – teaming up with Michael Johnson and the late Antonio Pettigrew. Alvin and Calvin were the first ever siblings – identical twins at that! – to ever win an Olympic track & field gold whilst part of the same relay team.
Belgium’s Borlee sibings threaten to usurp the aforesaid families. Trained by their father, Jacques, the Borlees are the most illustrious athletics family actively competing to today. Elder sister Olivia, a 200m specialist, already has an Olympic 4x100m relay silver to her name. The Belgian team finished 0.23s behind Russia in Beijing 2008.
Identical twins Kevin and Jonathan are en route to becoming fine quarter milers, with both brothers qualifying for the 2010 Euro Championships 400m final. In the 4x400m relay, the Borlee twins comprised half of the formidable Belgian team that won silver at the 2010 Doha World Indoor Champs and bronze at the Barcelona Euro Championships.
The future for Kevin (PB 44.88s) and Jonathan (PB 44.718s) looks promising. If the brothers can shed precious hundredths of a second off their respective bests, they could mount a decent challenge to the American hegemony in the 400m dash. If Olivia and the other female Belgian sprinters somehow reprise their fabulous bridesmaid finish at the London Olympics, with Kim Gevaert long since retired, the prospects for a three sibling Olympic romp becomes ever so bright.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but in my constant readings of Olympic (as well as World Championships) track & field history, three siblings each coming home with a medal is an unheard of fact.
Video: 2010 World Indoor Championships 4x400m Relay
Video: 2008 Beijing Olympics 4x100m Relay
September 18, 2010
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Juliane Stolle is this week’s track beauty!
The German 200m specialist made waves as a successful youth and junior sprinter, winning medals at the European Youth Games and qualifying for the semis of the 2006 World Junior Championships in Beijing. As an 18-year old in 2006, Stolle set competitive personal bests of 11.66s and 23.39s in the 100m dash and 200m dash, respectively.
Read: “On Juliane Stolle”
Photo from reisebank-akademie.de
The Olympic A- and B-standards for the two events were 11.32s/11.42s and 23.00s/23.20s. With two years to go before the Beijing Games, the prospects for the promising German junior champion were rosy.
But athletics can be unpredictable.
During the 2007 season, Stolle’s best time of 23.69s in the 200m paled in comparison to her 2006 standards. By 2008, the quality of her performances (high 24 and low 25 in the 200m dash) had fallen.
July 25, 2010
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Japanese youngster, Shota Iizuka, ran a season-leading 20.58s to win the 2010 World Junior Championships gold – the first ever Asian man to top a world junior sprinting event. The 19-year old followed the footsteps of compatriot Shingo Suetsugo, who clinched a bronze in the same event in the 2003 Paris World Championships.
It was a relatively good championships for Asian countries. Qatari high jump phenom, Mutaz Ezza Barshim, cleared an even more impressive 2.30m to grab gold.
Watch Barshim’s jump and Iizuka’s winning sprint (Moncton 2010 Day 5 PM highlights)
China and Qatar were the other Asian countries to barge into the medal standings. Thailand and India had representatives to the finals of the Men’s Long Jump (a youngster who leaps 8.00m+, Sukhasvasti N.A Supanara) and the Women’s 100m low hurdles, respectively.
It’s pity, really, how the Philippines failed to send even token participation to the prestigious meet. The young Patrick Unso (400m low hurdles, high jump) was supposed to compete, but his plans seemed to have hit a snag.
Men’s 200m article
Men’s High Jump article
July 15, 2010
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The first man of non-West African descent to run sub-10 in the 100m dash is on track towards another sprinting milestone. Young Christophe Lemaitre recently added the French 200m crown, in addition to his century dash win. With his long limbs, the 19-year old ran a superb bend and stormed through the home straight, stopping the clock at 20.16s – a sizable improvement from his erstwhile personal best of 20.56s.