Daily Archives: August 30, 2010

Boring (30 August 2010)

I had a good weight/plyometric training session this evening. For a change, there were actually unmarried females at the gym!

I’ve recovered fully from the intense 3-hour basketball session last Saturday. As always, I started off with plyometrics. My legs felt great doing all those jumping exercises. Well, since it’s a holiday, it’s not surprising that my body is in a better condition than usual.

My left arm still felt sore from last Saturday’s game; hence, I chose not to perform Olympic lifts to give my scarred arm more time to recover.

My usual training routine is starting to get boring. I should find the time to sit down and concoct new training regimes. I’ll try to get hold of sports science and weight training books in the coming weeks or so.

Well, the long weekend is coming to an end. I expect another (abbreviated) week’s worth of sleep deprivation to ensue. Hello to 5-hours of sleep and 2 1/2 hours of commuting each day… until Friday.

Bleh!

The Finnkampen/Ruotsi-ottelu

When I first heard about the Finnkampen/Ruotsi-ottelu years ago, I must admit that I wasn’t all that impressed. Back then, my concept of a dual meet was laid-back competition between two schools, something akin to a time trial.

I was dead wrong.

As my concept of athletics widened throughout the years, I’ve realized the fact that track & field (as us Americanized Filipinos call the sport) is most popular in Europe. All the world’s elite athletes trot their stuff at the highly competitive (and financially-rewarding) European circuit. From the Diamond League, the IAAF World Challenge to obscure Estonian meets, Europe has it all, attracting the professionals from all corners of the globe.

Whilst going over my daily athletics morning fare, I watched Youtube clips of the recently concluded IAAF World Challenge in Rieti and the Finnkampen (the Swedish term is much easier to speak/write for this English speaker). David Rudisha had again broken his two-week old world record, running away from the field at 1:41.01s. The sizable Italian crowd was ecstatic, the meet directors even more so.

But there was an artificial quality to the spirit of competition. Perhaps it irked me how one of the organizers herded Rudisha right in front of the giant digital timer for a photo op – right after his world-record race! It seemed as if everything – from the post-race celebration to the post-race handshakes – were performed in a perfunctory manner. But then again, it is understandable that the unbridled passion one sees in major championships like the Olympics, the Worlds and the Europeans are absent from just another stop at the European circuit.

The Finnkampen, despite the dearth of world-class performances, had that distinctive small-town charm. With 54,000 spectators spread over two days of competition, it was apparent that this dual meet between the Scandinavian neighbors is not just another speck in the athletics calendar. In fact, the 2007 World Champion Tero Pitkamaki and two compatriots immediately went to the historic Helsinki Olympic Stadium to compete, after their flight from the Meeting Van Damme in Belgium. Finland’s top pole vaulter, Minna Nikannen, shrugged off a troublesome calf to clear the highest possible height – a testament to the raw emotion of this storied competition.

The loud cheers of the crowd and the all-out performance of the athletes gave goosebumps to this athletics fanatic thousands of miles away. In this day and age of specialization, where professional athletes reign supreme at their respective fields, I’ve developed a certain fondness for the amateur (probably because I’m an amateur myself!) As the Finnish sprinter/hurdler Gustav Klingstedt said in reply to one of my previous posts, the Finnkampen is “probably the only athletics competition where the great majority of athletes are amateurs which still gathers over 10,000 spectators every year.”

Whilst watching Finland’s Matti Räsänen battle Sweden’s Oscar Käck in a classic dash to the tape at the 5000m, I was awestruck at the intensity of their furious finish. In the clips that I’ve seen, teammates from both sides were quite vocal in cheering their respective sides. This is a sight devoid from those big-money meets. In fact, such a display of support is more akin to a heated college-level competition. In the Philippines, the closest example is the basketball rivalry between Ateneo and La Salle. In a sense, the Sweden-Finland dual meet can be likened to an Ateneo-La Salle finals game – multiplied a hundred fold!

Additional links

Wiki

IAAF article

EAA Day 1 write-up

EAA Day 2 write-up

Finnkampen.se/

Suomiruotsimaaottelu.fi

Photo credits:

Finnkampen.se

Video credits:

MrFinlandsuomi

StreamHartza

tyketylerTV

Track Beauty of the Week: Fabiana Murer

Fabiana Murer is this week’s track beauty!

The Brazilian pole vaulter’s first major championship medal came at the 2008 World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain. The gymnast-turned-pole vaulter cleared 4.70m to grab the bronze medal. Despite leaps of 4.80m and 4.82m in 2008 and 2009, respectively, Murer failed to reprise her stellar form at the Beijing Olympics and Berlin World Championships, finishing 10th and 5th, respectively.

Photos from rankopedia.com, lazeresportes.com, esportesite.com.br and bloglog.globo.com

The South American record-holder’s breakout meet came at the 2010 World Indoor Championships, where an exhausted Yelena Isinbayeva (Murer’s occasional training partner) failed to make the podium. Murer outclassed the more experienced Svetlana Feofanova and an in-form Anna Rogowska, clearing 4.80m.

With personal bests of 4.85m outdoors and 4.82m indoors, Murer is definitely at the forefront of the pole vault elite. How the 29-year old Brazilian fares against a (hopefully) rejuvenated Isinbayeva come 2011 remains to be seen.

Additional links:

Wiki

IAAF article

Exhausted! (28 August 2010)

I was supposed to lift weights after yesterday’s basketball pick-up game with the guys. Instead of the planned 2 hours of play, we extended for an extra hour and played until past 6pm. By the end of about 4 basketball games, we were exhausted!

A weights session, naturally, was out of the question.

I was satisfied with my level of conditioning. Unlike last month’s pick-up game, I didn’t tire out from full-court play quickly. My athleticism is also satisfactory, despite the major deficiencies in my basketball fundamentals!

My feet aren’t suited to all the running and jumping of basketball. By the 2nd hour of play, painful blisters hampered my every move. And yet, it was a good thing to play through the pain.

Overall, it was a fun albeit tiring afternoon. It felt good to play hoops with the guys again – and to get a taste of competitive play, even if it wasn’t an athletics meet.

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