Monthly Archives: December 2010

Dayron Robles in Slo-Mo

I am not a Dayron Robles fan. Watching the fine clip below, however, reiterated Robles’ status as the world record holder.

What I don’t like about Robles’ form is his flailing trail arm. Instead of a straightforward swing like Liu Xiang 刘翔 and Colin Jackson, Robles’  left arm tends to push outwards first, before settling at the hip as the lead leg clears the hurdle. On a lesser note, Robles’ trail leg, unlike Liu’s, isn’t parallel to the hurdle crossbar upon clearance.

Read Liu Xiang vs. Dayron Robles

But then again, Robles’ excellent lead leg extension and trail leg action more than compensates for these minor deficiencies. The world record holder’s lead leg swoops over the hurdling at lightning speed. He brings his trail knee high underneath his shoulders. Robles’ leg action is picture perfect – a testament to Robles’ skills as a fine hurdling technician and to his coach, Santiago Arunez’s tried and tested coaching approach.

Irregardless, I still think that Liu Xiang will trump Robles and David Oliver come the Daegu 2011!

“Your Sport for Life!”

When I was growing up, my impression of getting old are big, round tummies and a sedentary lifestyle. I was in college back then. The real world was the farthest from my mind. The past few years have been an eye-opener. For a time, I spent time away from the sport I love. I tried different activities (from basketball to boozing), but none seemed to ever measure up to the fulfillment of sprinting over 1.067m high barriers in full speed.

So I came back. I dusted off my spikes and put on my kits yet again. 10 months later, I am reaping the fruits of my homecoming.

One of the main drivers of my athletic resurgence  are Masters-level athletes. The fact that these types of athletes can balance a day job and family life astounds this single, 25-year old. The most impressive Masters athletes, without a doubt, are former elite competitors. From the top of my head, the most prominent exemplar of a 35-years old and above athlete is Merlene Ottey. Javelin thrower Roald Bradstock and triple jumper Willie Banks are recent additions.

Willie Banks

I’ve only recently read a fine feature on Banks. The American used to hold the triple jump world record, setting a mark of 17.97m in 1985. It took 10 years before a certain Jonathan Edwards went beyond 18 meters to better Banks’ leap. Despite being a world-record holder, Banks never won gold in a major internation event, aside from his silver at the 1983 World Championships. Nevertheless, Banks has been active in Masters-level meets since his retirement from top-class competition in 1992.

At age 54, Banks can still clear 1.85m in the high jump.

Roald Bradstock

Roald Bradstock is even more impressive. In his prime, Bradstock threw the “Old Rule” javelin to a distance of 91.40m, the first man from the British Isles to do so. Two years later in 1987, after the IAAF implemented a shift to the “New Rule” implement, Bradstock threw the javelin 83.84m, a personal best. The Englishman’s best finish at a major international event came at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, where Bradstock heaved the javelin to 81.22m, good enough for 7th place.

All-in-all, Bradstock had competed for his native Britain twice in the Olympics. He changed nationalities in the mid-90’s, making him eligible to compete for the United States. In 1996, he was an alternate to the Atlanta Olympics. Since then, he has shown his mettle by taking part in the most competitive selections meet in the world, the U.S. Olympic Trials, since 2000 – competing against athletes half his age!

Nearing his 50’s, Bradstock threw the javelin to a World Age Group (47) record of 72.49m in 2009 – a mark that’s still competitive in the Southeast Asian track & field scene.

Click here for Roald Bradstock’s official site

Aside from his seeming agelessness, Bradstock is a well-known artist, known in sports circles as the “Olympic Picasso.” He applies his passion for the arts into his javelin throwing. In the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, Bradstock had carefully crafted three unique outfits for his three throws!

Merlene Ottey

But in terms of pound-per-pound greatness and aggregate Olympic strength, no one can match Merlene Ottey. The legendary Jamaican-born Slovenian sprinter started her Olympic journey at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. 28 years later in Beijing, Ottey missed out on an unprecedented 8th Olympic Games by a small margin.

Ottey’s list of accolades is dazzling. All-in-all, the sprinter had accumulated nine Olympic medals, three world championship titles, 11 World Championship silvers and bronzes, three World Indoor Championship crowns, three World Indoor medals and three Commonwealth games titles. In her 30-year career, Ottey has won a total of 29 medals in major international meets. As recently as 2004, Ottey qualified for the semis of the 100m dash. In 2010, Ottey was part of the Slovenian 4x100m relay team in Barcelona.

Truly, Ottey is a legend. She has personal bests of 10.74s (1996) and 21.64s (1991) in the 100m and 200m dash. Her 2010 season’s best in the century dash (11.67s) is still respectable.

The tagline of the European Athletics Association’s (EAA) website is “Your Sport for Life.” Masters-level athletes and – for the case of Bradstock and Ottey who still compete at the elite level despite being in Masters-eligible ages – epitomizes the life-long love for our wonderful sport, inspiring this 25-year never-was to reach for even heights!

New Blogs!

The most popular entries in this blog are the Track Beauty of the Week posts. I was actually tempted to migrate all my stuff to my own domain name (I was too lazy and cheap to do this) or to blogspot (again, too lazy). The most practical thing to do is to start an entirely new blog dedicated to the beauties of (non-track & field) sports.

Mind you, I shall not churn out tasteless posts. Women are excellent athletes. Superb Señora is my own little way of doing my part in honoring the fine female athletes out there – and to earn some ad revenues as well!

Click here to go to Superb Señora

Also, I started a personal blog to showcase my non-track (and non-Sports Beauty!) posts. Again, I chose blogspot for its seamless integration with Google AdSense. I will post the most serious to the most mundane thoughts in Jrnquintos.

Click here to view my new personal blog

I am not shutting down this blog though. In fact, the aforesaid moves enables hurdler49 to stay on-topic.

Track Beauty of the Week: Lisa Urech

Lisa Urech is this week’s track beauty!

The 21-year old is Switzerland’s top sprint hurdler. She has personal bests of 12.81s in the 100m hurdles and 8.00s in the 60m hurdles. Most recently, Urech qualified for the finals of the highly competitive 2010 Barcelona European Championships, where she finished 7th overall. She stopped the clock at 13.02s.

Photos from blick.ch and nzz.ch

In about a month’s time after the Euro’s, she ran a lifetime best of 12.81s in Zurich. Urech is just five-hundredths of a second off the Swiss national record, held by Julie Baumann (12.76s, 1991).

Read Swissinfo.ch’s Overcoming hurdles to reach the Weltklasse

Remarkably, Urech’s breakout 2010 season started on a low note, with the Emmental-born athlete breaking her collarbone at the start of the year! Indeed, this shows that Urech is made of stern stuff.

Urech had improved dramatically since competing at the 2008 World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz (13.72s. In 2009, the stately Swiss – then only 20-years old – notched a new personal best against seasoned senior opponents (13.36s). It is impressive to note that Urech broke the 13-second barrier barely two years since running in the high 13’s as a junior.

Photo from gab-bellinzona.ch

Should she correct some technical flaws in her form, Urech has much potential to barge into the top ranks of European hurdling.

Video credits:

frutino82

8715912342687123

Sport1

SVT1 Direkt

Some Off-Season Updates (26 December 2010)

Aside from an intense pick-up game last Saturday, I’ve been sedentary for the last 10 days. It’s refreshing not to chase after times or rush from work to training.Despite the relatively light workout load, one can’t help but feel stale after 10 months.

Since I slept at around 10:00 PM last night, I woke up at 5:30 AM. It felt great not having to rush to work! I took my time getting dressed for the gym.

I decided to do some core drills at the gym, just to wake up my dormant body. I didn’t do anything intensive. I just went over a few of the drills I remembered from Simon Hunt’s informative pre-season workout routine. In the coming weeks, I’ll be putting much emphasis on core strength – the main deficiency of my post-comeback sprinting form. I’ll be doing my utmost best to design a bad-ass training program for the upcoming track & field season.

In fact, I shelved the customary warm-up run for the stationary bike, just to keep things from being monotonous.

I intend to sprint more like Carl Lewis than Christophe Lemaitre!

I topped off the easy morning workout with light upper body weights and some ab exercises.

Sports as a Career

I read an article from the Philippine Daily Inquirer yesterday about Jeson Patrombon’s decision to skip college for at least a year to focus on his tennis career.  In contrast, the Philippines’ other junior ace, Francis Casey Alcantara, chose to attend Fresno University on an athletic scholarship. Patrombon is one of the Philippines’ eminent junior tennis standouts. The Iligan-city native is currently 30th in the ITF junior rankings.

Read the PDI’s “Patrombon Chooses Tennis over Studies”

The stocky Patrombon had reached the second round of the French Open juniors competition. In the Inquirer article, he aims to be the first-ever Filipino to reach a Grand Slam singles event in the open era (Felicissimo “Mighty Mouse” Ampon once competed with distinction in Roland Garros).

Reading the article reminded me of the legendary John McEnroe’s approach on developing future tennis stars. The mercurial McEnroe, a revered figure in international tennis, advocates a holistic approach to tennis, where promising talents are allowed to live like any other kid his/her age. This is in stark contrast to McEnroe’s brother Patrick who espouse a sports-school based infrastructure.

Read ESPN’s article on McEnroe’s alternative tennis academy

Back in my days as a college-level athlete, I was always faced with the dilemma of prioritizing sport over academics (or vice-versa). Since I was a student-athlete, my role as a student came first. Besides, being a professional track & field athlete was nothing but a pipe dream. Reaching the Olympic final was just a far-flung dream! I knew for a fact that the sport, no matter how passionate I am for it, cannot encompass my future career.

But if I were given the skills to compete in the highly-competitive global athletics circuit, I would have answered a resounding “Yes!” to the offer.

On one hand, I see the wisdom of John McEnroe’s approach. A single-minded compulsion for one particular goal can be a double-edged sword. It threatens to consume one’s being, if the athlete is not careful. The pressure of elite-level sport can make the most resolute of athletes succumb (think Jennifer Capriati and Martina Hingis). If an athlete is bound to spend a good part of his/her best years spending time in various hotel rooms around the world, why not provide the athlete a simple, nondescript childhood?

On the other hand, the contrasting Nietzschean philosophy bodes well for one’s athletic development. Truly, living and breathing the sport 24/7 can do wonders for one’s game. And if one’s passion indeed lies in pursuing the sport, why not dedicate every single living moment of life for this passionate pursuit?

I wish the best for Patrombon. Amongst all other Filipinos his age, Patrombon has taken the road less traveled.

It’s high time someone from our country qualifies for a Grand Slam.

Thoughts before the ABL Season

The time of the year where I trade my track spikes for high-cut basketball shoes is near. In about three week’s time, the Ateneo Basketball League will commence. About a hundred teams – alumni and current Ateneo students alike – will do battle. The league is a showcase of what it means to be weekend warriors. From college students at the prime of their lives, to pot-bellied middle aged men, Ateneo alumni patronize this yearly sporting event.

This will be my third time to join the ABL. For the 4th time, my high school class D2003 have formed a team. After last season’s debacle, where the team failed to even barge into the semifinals of the division, there is much hope (and longing) for a more fruitful 2011 campaign. But then again, our ace point guard, former Blue Eaglet Merrill Lazo, is still recuperating from a knee injury. Ryan Agas, another former Blue Eaglets standout, is in the midst of medical school; hence, unable to take part in most weekend games. Fortunately for the team, the presence of inside bruiser Gino Magat is sure to lift our game.

I, for one, have only two goals this season – (1) to grab 20 rebounds in one game and (2) for the team to regain the championship.

It won’t be easy. The team was placed in the midst of a competitive division. But then again, life isn’t supposed to be a walk in the park. The challenge, the struggle and the uphill climb forms makes victory even sweeter!

Trammell talks about A.J.

I like the following interview of Terrence Trammell. Trammell, a three-time Olympic silver medalist, shares his thoughts on Allen Johnson.

Trammell and Johnson were former training partners until 2002. For a time, the duo constituted the one-two punch of U.S. hurdling, continuing the fine tradition of the Americans in the event.

Read “Thank you, Allen”

Read “Terrence Trammell and the Elusive Gold Medal”

For Trammell A.J. is, without a doubt, the greatest hurdler of all-time.

I couldn’t agree more.

Video credit:

head1384

Pause

It has been a week since my last training session. I was hoping to compete for the first and last time this season on 11 Dec, but the organizers of the PATAFA Weekly Relays chose to scrap that particular competition. Having trained since February 2010, I couldn’t just stretch my routines any longer. Physically, I am not burned out yet. I still feel that I can still slug it out for a month at most. Psychologically, however, I’m relatively less fit.

The hurdles (literally and figuratively) of the last couple of months have been quite challenging. The time I spend away from the track is time well-spent.

I am not planning on being sedentary until training resumes early next year. First up my list is my basketball conditioning. As soon as the festivities of Christmas end, I’ll be working doubly hard to build up a good fitness base for the upcoming 2011 athletics season, whilst taking part in my high school class’ ABL campaign the best way I can.

Equipment Wish List

I’ve long since stopped believing in Santa Claus. Nevertheless, I have a special Christmas athletics equipment wish-list for St. Nicholas – just because it’s the yuletide season.

1.) Olympic-standard starting blocks (preferably Nordic or Nishi):

In the past months, the only chances I had of using the blocks was when my former college track team was at my training venue. I need this vital sprinting equipment to hone my deficient crouch start technique.

Photos from nordicsport.com and nishi.com

And perhaps, having an own personal set of starting blocks can do wonders for my technique.

2.) Resistance training sled:

Looking back at last season’s so-called dry run, I never worked out with the venerable sled. It has long since been a part of my college training repertoire. You can’t get any more sports-specific than sprinting with twenty-five pounds of iron in tow!

Photo from askthetrainer.com

In order of preference, a weight vest and a running parachute are also viable alternatives.

3.) Plyometric boxes:

For the longest time, I made do with the uber-low plyometric boxes in the Celebrity Club Gym. In order to achieve taller heights, I stacked aerobic boxes underneath the solitary wooden box. These innovations were grossly inadequate. To achieve a holistic plyometric training routine, wooden boxes of varying heights are a necessity!

Photo from performbetter.com

“What is your profession?”

Whilst watching the pre-game analysis from last night’s Azkals game, the haughty Star Sports analyst made an interestingly poignant observation. He pointed out that most of the Filipinos, save for a handful of Fil-foreigners, are part-time footballers. When pitted against honest-to-goodness professionals, a glaring difference in “physicality” comes to the picture.

True enough, even the English-born Younghusband brothers are currently unattached. Our homegrown players are mostly members of the nation’s Armed Forces. Even though the Philippines has a nascent semi-pro football league in the UFL, this pales in comparison to its regional counterparts like Singapore’s S-League or the Thai Premier League.

One of the most famous scenes in “300” came into mind. Leonidas asked the Spartan allies, the Akkadians, their respective professions. The answers were diversely mundane. But when the legendary Spartan king asked his crack troops “what is your profession?” a loud and intimidating “ah-woo! ah-woo! ah-woo!” was their answer.

This is certainly the case for most Olympic sports, now that the lines of strict amateurism and professionalism has become porous. Aside from amateur boxing, professionals are allowed to run roughshod over major international competitions, putting the amateur at a major disadvantage.

There lies the underlying fundamental factor that spells the difference between victory and defeat. Take the example of athletics, for instance. I can only name a handful Asian medalists in recent Olympic history. Aside from the naturalized athletes of oil-rich middle eastern countries, only Susanthika Jayasinghe சுசந்திக ஜெயசிங்க்ஹி, Hadi Souan Somayli هادي صوعان الصميلي‎, Dmitry Karpov, Xing Huina 邢慧娜 and Liu Xiang 刘翔 had finished within the top 3. The Europeans have won countless medals in the aforesaid time period.

Truly, an amateur pursues his/her respective sport as a passion, as something on the side. Whereas the professional practices the sport as a career. Having the domestic infrastructure to support a professional league speaks volumes about a particular sport’s development. Take the case of the Philippine basketball. Despite setbacks in international competition the past few years, Filipino cagers rank among the best in Asia. In the newly-established ASEAN Basketball League, Filipinos play for our Southeast Asian neighbors as imports to beef up their respective locals.

The same cannot be said of football, athletics or any other sport not part of the Four B’s (Basketball, Boxing, Billiards and Bowling). In Athletics, for instance, the backbone of the sport is comprised of collegians. A club scene is virtually non-existent, with competition being mostly schools-based. After college, only the most talented and dedicated athletes progress to the national team ranks. A slot in the crack national squad merits a modest stipend. International exposure is afforded only to the elite few. World-class training and facilities are hard to come by. In contrast, the Europeans have a vibrant system of athletics clubs for all ages. Clubs like France’s Dynamic Aulnay Club, Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon and Germany’s MTG-Mannheim have produced successful internationals like triple jump sensation Teddy Tamgho, 2004 Athens Olympic silver medalist Francis Obikwelu and the 2010 European 100m dash Champion Verena Sailer, respectively.

Hence, there is continuity of talent. A career in sports can be a financially-adequate, even lucrative profession – where one is not bound to live in the margins of penury whilst pursuing one’s passion.

Azkals end glorious AFF Suzuki Cup run

The Azkals lose to the Merah Putih, 0-1.

Cristian Gonzales’ accurate shot at the 43rd minute spelled the difference between victory and defeat. The Uruguayan-born striker made the stellar shot after several tantalizingly close attempts. The Philippines’ prolific goalkeeper, Neil Etheridge, did the best he could to stop the powerful volley from hitting the back of the net.

To quote the words of a college friend and football fan, RJ Jalijali, even Iker Casillas couldn’t stop that shot.

Photo from AFF Suzuki Cup

All game long, the Indonesians had more chances at goal. The Philippine defense was relatively more porous this time, with the Indonesians having quite a few close shaves. A combination of sheer luck and superb goal keeping kept the deficit from growing any further.

We had our chances though. Chris Greatwich, who owns 2 of the Philippines’ 3 goals this tournament, had a couple of missed opportunities. The New Jersey-based striker almost equalized with a header that landed on top of the net.

Nevertheless, it was a great run for the Azkals. Let’s just hope that all these new-found attention showered upon our national football team will not turn out to be mere flashes in the pan.

The magnificent Azkals run had piqued my interest on the beautiful game. I am still not a football fan though. I probably never will be. But I am definitely watching the next Azkals game aired on TV (whenever that is) – for flag and country.

There are just some things that transcend personal preferences.

Video credit:

meriamsijagurtube

Ne-Yo – One In A Million

I want to learn how to dance like Ne-Yo.

Video credit:

NeYoVEVO

Track Beauty of the Week: Amanda Bisk

Amanda Bisk is this week’s track beauty!

The 24-year old is a mainstay of a crack Australian pole vaulting squad. Bisk had notched respectable 2nd and 3rd place finishes in the competitive Australian national championship in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

 

Photos from Mornby, Zimbio/Getty Images, and Daylife

At the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, the Western Australian athlete placed 6th (4.25m), behind compatriot Alana Boyd (4.40m). Bisk actually tied England’s Kate Dennison and two other athletes – who all made the same best mark – but lost on count-back.

Photo from Zimbio/Getty Images

Since clearing 3.70m in 2005, The Australian has consistently re-written her personal bests year in and year out. In the last five years, Bisk had improved by an average of around 0.20m each year.

In 2010, the pole vaulter soared to 4.40m in Perth, her best performance to date. Mentored by the pole vaulting guru Alex Parnov (who also coaches the reigning World, World Indoor and Olympic Champion Steve Hooker and the prodigious Parnov sisters), Bisk has much potential to barge into the pole vault elite.

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

I was supposed to compete for the first (and last) time this season last Saturday. But the organizers of the PATAFA Weekly Relays had other plans – presumably Christmas vacation related. When I received the text from a former teammate, I was in disbelief. For the nth time, my long-delayed comeback has been put on hold.

The original schedule involved competing in the National Open last May but I busted my hamstring a month before the race. In the succeeding months, I wandered aimlessly, training for no meet in particular (with the fate of the PATAFA Weekly Relays in limbo). I was supposed to wind down my athletics training by October to rest and prepare for the ABL Season.

The sudden news of the resumption of the aforesaid competition again necessitated a change in plan. I crafted out a program designed to whip me in shape And boy, did I progress dramatically. In a short one month period, I recovered a good chunk of my lost hurdling skills. With the PATAFA Weekly Relays barely two months away, I dusted off the cobwebs of my retirement. I began to re-learn the three-step stride pattern at the latter parts of September. I remember starting with step hurdles and women’s low hurdles at first! In a month’s time, however, I was able to sprint over the junior hurdles again.

But then again, fate had other plans. My dad went under the knife because of the Big C. My training routine was disrupted. I spent more time in hospitals than on the track. In vain, I tried to hold on to the last vestiges of competition sharpness, sneaking in workouts as often as possible.

Competing in the sprint hurdles was out of the question. But I almost pulled off a sprinting comeback – if not for the sudden cancellation.

I started the bizarre, competition-less 2010 season last February 2010. At that time, the fires of my athletics passion were fanned by a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors. In the past months, I found myself hot on the comeback trail – lifting weights, bounding, sprinting and hurdling – doing things I thought I had forever lost.

Regardless of the anti-climactic outcome, I look back at the past 10 months with a certain sense of awe. As I move on in life, I have rediscovered a vital part of who I am. By embracing my past I can say that (quoting the lines of a popular 80’s song) the “future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades!”

%d bloggers like this: