Monthly Archives: January 2011

How NOT to Hurdle!

The popularity of the 110m high hurdles has grown exponentially since Liu Xiang’s Olympic gold in 2004. Young athletes in China, as well as the rest of Asia, comprise the next generation of hurdling champions.

The sprint hurdles is the most popular athletics event in China, somewhat similar to the premiere status of the javelin throw in Finland.

Or maybe not.

Joe Esposito’s “You’re the Best Around” provides an apt, if not utterly ironic background music to this foolishness!

You are a disgrace to the sport!

“Stabhochsprung Projekt 6m!”

The following video about German pole vaulters Tim Lobinger, Fabian Schulze and Malte Mohr makes me miss having a training group! Being around dedicated individuals who share the same passion does wonders for one’s game. Now that I’m training solo (and since it’s UAAP time again!), it makes me appreciate the time I spent with my college training buddies.

The vaulting trio is a formidable combination. The elder statesman is 38-year old Lobinger, the 2006 World Indoor silver medalist. In his career, Lobinger had twice cleared 6.00m (in 1997 and 1999). Schulze has yet to win his first major international medal, but his personal best of 5.81m ranks him seventh at the all-time German list. Mohr had a breakout 2010 season, where the 24-year old finished second at the 2010 World Indoor Championships in Doha, behind Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie.

Video credit:

Florian Knab

Fabian Waldmuller

UAAP 73 Athletics Day 1 (26 January 2011)

Whilst stuck in EDSA traffic on my way to Ultra yesterday, I felt cold beads of sweat drench the old school Ateneo Track & Field warmer I was wearing. After an hour’s worth of snail-pace trudging, the familiar sight of the Blue and White greeted me.

The feel of UAAP 73 is entirely different from the years past. Aside from a handful of seniors, the rest of the current members of the college squads are mere acquaintances. A small number of my contemporaries from the other schools have turned to coaching. Even the venue itself brings forth an alien feel, in light of the fact that the UAAP has been held in Rizal for the better part of the league’s 73-year existence.

View the UAAP 73 schedule here

The Rundown

Freshman JB Capinpin missed the Long Jump top 8, after being disqualified for false starting at the 100m dash heats. Ateneo’s 1-2 sprinting punch, Soy Soriano and Franco Imperial barged into the century dash final in bombastic fashion, with the latter emerging the clear leader out of all qualifiers. In the final, Soriano overcame the fast finishing Jose Unso’s last ditch final burst, crowning himself as the fastest man of the meet at 10.8s.

Soriano (C) dominates his heat. (Photo from Joseph Angan)

Surprisingly, the Men’s 110m high hurdles was held as a straight final. Back in the day, we used to have as much as 3 heats for high’s, with each school sending at least entries. De La Salle University’s Unso ran his heart out, stopping the clock at a hand-timed 14.7s. Unso, eldest son of national 400m hurdles record holder Renato, won convincingly over UST’s Emman delos Angeles (14.8) and decathlete Jeson Cid of FEU (15.0). Ateneo’s Dean Roxas (15.4s) and team captain Zek Valera (17.6s) finished 5th and 8th, respectively.

DLSU’s Patrick Unso, the younger of the Unso brothers, was conspicuously absent due to conflicts with the release of his high school clearance.

On the distaff side, UST’s Bane-bane was just too classy for the rest of the field, running away with a dominant 15.1s win. Ateneo’s Anj Aquino, after a gutsy effort in qualifying, ran a hard-fought 16.7 in the final. Veteran thrower Mica Sibayan won silver at the shot put, notching a new personal best. State University’s Precious de Leon heaved the shot to a distance of 10.14m, enough to overhaul Sibayan’s 10.09m. A determined Ally Lim clung to a 5th place at the 5,000m walk, collapsing through sheer exhaustion. Lim’s lung-busting effort signified the no-nonsense fighting spirit of the current crop of tracksters.  Indeed, the women’s team had gone a long way.

With the departure of sprint queen Maita Mendoza, women’s track & field powerhouses FEU and UST reigned supreme at their traditional bailiwick, the 100m dash. FEU’s Hanelyn Loquinto ran 12.1s over UST’s Luville Dato-on.

The jumping marks were relatively lackluster, due to the substandard runway. FEU’s talented Cid could only manage a modest 6.46m leap – enough for the long jump gold. UE’s Gatmaitan, mentored by none other than the legendary Elma Muros, missed the women’s triple jump by a mere centimeter (11.79m). DLSU’s Felyn Dollosa won gold (11.80m).

View the official UAAP results from PATAFA

View partial UAAP results from Pinoymiler

Ateneo High School’s Chuckie Dumrique stormed through the 100m dash boys’ final. The talented Toledo almost threw 50m en route to a commanding victory in the junior javelin competition. The versatile Joaquin Ferrer, however, came short at the 110m high hurdles boys’ final. UPIS’ Nasis ran the (hurdle) race of his life to edge out the more fancied Ferrer.

Amidst all the action, the most memorable moment is Paco Razon’s desperate, last ditch heave for the bronze (article to follow). Ateneo’s Miguel Sibayan fell to fourth place. In a show of dominance, UST won both the gold and silver.

UP’s Javier Gomez was unable to defend his javelin (and decathlon) titles due to a recurring knee injury.

Razon's magical last-round throw. (Photo from Joseph Angan)

Post Script

Whilst watching the events with Jerome Margallo, the UAAP pole vault record holder said something that warmed my heart. Margallo admired the support given by former Ateneo athletes to the current team. Coming from a hardened veteran and an accomplished collegiate athlete, the compliment brought forth feelings of pride – and a sense of accomplishment. This strong sense of team was the main driving force behind the modest successes of our college years.

Even if three long years had passed since my last UAAP race, I still feel at home amidst the sea of familiar and not-so-familiar faces. As I cheer my heart out for this year’s young turks, I swell with pride at the thought that I too had once trodden upon those fertile field of dreams.

* Special thanks to Andrew Pirie for compiling results.

Photo credits

Joseph Angan (The Guidon)

UAAP Track & Field Championships 2011

Throughout my days at the Hill, I had a total of seven UAAP track & field competitions – two as a junior and five as a senior. From 2001 to 2008, the highlight of each year was the 4-day athletics championships held in Rizal Memorial Sports Center. Looking back after all these years, I can honestly say that the experiences borne out of the field of competition – the ups and downs, the peaks and troughs – had been character-building.

UAAP hostilities will commence tomorrow afternoon. Since Rizal is undergoing a drastic face lift, the organizers had chosen Ultra as the venue. The old Olympic-style schedule consisting of four straight days of events was shelved by adding several days of rest in between the final two days (Jan 26, 27, 29 and 31 are the competition days).

This will be my third time to watch the UAAP as a track & field alumnus. Gone are the familiar faces of my former teammates. Aside from a handful of athletes (now seniors), most of the members of this year’s team are acquaintances, in light of the age gap!

As always, I make it a point to watch the first day – and the 110m high hurdles. With three-time UAAP champion Mike Mendoza’s graduation, the emerging Dean Roxas is the Ateneo’s best bet in the sprint hurdles. The fleet-footed Soy Soriano, arguably the best sprinter to have come out of Loyola in recent years, will anchor the team’s sprinting hopes. Freshman Al Bugarin, the Unigames 2011 shot put gold medalist, is a taller version of Ryan Dalman, whose UAAP shot put record still stands after 6 years.

On the distaff side, the pole vaulting duo of Bettina Maclang and Jam Valenton are forces to be reckoned with. Veteran thrower Mica Sibayan also returns to play out her final year of eligibility.

Track Beauty of the Week: Cathrine Larsåsen

Cathrine Larsåsen is this week’s track beauty!

Larsåsen is a certified athletics star in her native Norway. The 24-year old from Oslo won three Norwegian national pole vault titles from 2004 to 2006. She is also the Norwegian record holder for the event (outdoors and indoors).

Photos from famtic and vg.no

Through the years, Larsåsen has improved considerably. From 3.81m in 2005, the powerfully-built Norwegian broke the 4.00m barrier the coming year. Since then, she has added a total of 0.54m to her personal best in 5 years.

Photo from dagbladet.no

Larsåsen leaped to a lifetime best of 4.35m in the qualifying rounds of the 2010 Barcelona European Championships. In the final, she again matched her 2-day old personal best and finished 8th among all competitors.

Article by Joboy Quintos

ABL 2011 Games 2 and 3: Down But Not Out (15 and 23 January 2011)

3 games into the 2011 ABL season, AHS 4D 03 is still winless. We may be buried underneath 3 lost games, but the season itself still has a silver lining.

15 Jan 2011 (Vs. AHS 4H 03)

Coming into our second ABL game last week, the team was in high spirits. No one came late. Save for a couple of players, the AHS 4D03 lineup was almost complete. However, we were ill-prepared for the shocking firepower of the opposing team. For the first two quarters, we were shell-shocked. Even if the core of the team was complete, we couldn’t seem to get into our groove.

By halftime, the lead had ballooned to a massive 15 points (or was 18 points? Honestly, I lost count).

View the stats here

The opposing team controlled the boards. Their attacks came from both the inside and the outside. To complicate matters, the team shot miserably from the free throw line. We couldn’t seem to move the ball around. Nevertheless, the team was able to narrow the lead to as low as 5 points in the third quarter, before a dagger of a three cut short our scoring run.

After the game, we looked far from the champion team of ABL 2009. What the hell happened?

23 Jan 2011 (Vs. Team Gavino)

Fast forward 8 days later. The team was hungry to get that first ever “W” – to climb out of a 4-game rut that stretched from the final two games of season 2010.

Paolo “The Machine” Rosales erupted for 8 straight points right after the tip-off (Oddly, Yayo Puno remarked before the game that the team has yet to grab the lead this season!). Finally, we found our chemistry again as our outside shooters hit their marks. Our undersized front court held their ground, as well. For the time this season, we weren’t bamboozled under the boards.

I can hardly look at the stats. It was terrible.

But that “W” remained ever so elusive. Despite stellar shooting nights from Rosales and Adi Dimaliwat, our free throw shooting and medium-range jumpers were atrocious. There were also some rough points in our 2-3 zone defense, which the opposing team’s  three-point shooters readily exploited.

We couldn’t hold on to our 1st quarter lead. The barrage of three-pointers from the opposing team’s snipers stunted our playing catch up.

Nevertheless, the atmosphere was less gloomy than the previous game. We knew that for the first time this season, we actually played as one cohesive unit – albeit in a losing effort.

After the game, the guys stayed for a bit, talking about the game. It sucks to lose. That’s a fact. But as I looked at faces of my friends – guys I’ve known for more than a decade – I felt a certain sense of warmth. Despite the loss, despite the one-sided game, we knew for a fact that we fought well.

In basketball – as in life – things such as these just cannot be quantified.

Circuits (19 and 21 January 2011)

Ever since college, base training meant circuit weights. Among other variations of resistance exercises, I consider circuits the most difficult. Unlike, say, competition phase Olympic lifts where a track athlete has ample time of recovery time in between the high intensity sets, circuits involve much shorter rest time. It’s a double whammy of sorts, where both endurance and resistance compound the difficulty of the workout!

Back in my college track & field days, I drew additional strength and inspiration from my hardcore teammates (as well as the pretty athletes from other sports!). Being motivated enough to finish a grueling circuits routine by Coach Aris Manalo wasn’t a problem at all. Now that I train solo, the urge to slack off becomes ever so strong. And since I’m no longer around determined collegiate athletes, I am hard-pressed to say that my workout environment is conducive for high performance

Nevertheless, I had fun in the last two weight training sessions. Coming from off-season, the endurance routine did much to slap some sense into my lazy body. It helped that the gym was relatively less packed than usual. Listening to my favorite pump-up songs pushed me to do better.

Until I finish my long-delayed 2011 Macrocycle (woohoo! I sound so scientific) in around 2 weeks, I’ll be crafting variations of circuit routines to build a strong fitness base for the upcoming athletics season.

Circuit 1 (19 Jan 2011) – 15 reps x 2 sets

Front squat

Push-ups

Leg lifts

DB row

Leg curl on SB

Lumberjacks

Calf raises

Circuit 2 (21 Jan 2011) – 15 reps x 2 sets

Pull-ups

Deep squats

DB chest press

Jack knife

Upright row

Arabesque

Leg lifts

Alt. bicep curl

Triceps push back

Step-ups

 

Training from Home (18 January 2011)

I was having second thoughts whether to train or not last night. It was 8:30 PM and I had just come from the hospital to visit my dad. My right foot was a tad bit swollen, thanks to a minor skin-deep wound. Although I slept for a good 7 hours the previous night, I was still feeling drained from work and the commute home. Besides, hospitals really do sap whatever motivation I have.

The main challenge of being one’s own coach (one’s own master!) is the tendency to slack off. Thankfully, the TV was tuned to the ongoing Australian Open, with David Nalbandian facing off against Lleyton Hewitt.  Watching those racket-wielding, modern-day gladiators infused much needed enthusiasm.

Since I got home relatively late, I decided to just settle for a home workout – opting for a 15 minute run and plyometrics session. If I had gone to the gym, a good amount of my sleeping time would have been eaten up. Time, indeed, is a valuable commodity for this part-time athlete. Back in the 2007-2008 track season, I used to train for as long as humanly possibly, in light of my 6-unit masteral course load. For the entire duration of that season, not once have I lost sleep. Those days are long gone!

Like I always say, I have to make the most out of the circumstance. In fact, I’ve never been happier at being given a second shot to do what I love best.

Road work: 15 minute run

Plyo’s:

Scissor jumps (static)

Tuck jumps (static)

Darya Klishina Дарья Клишина: The Next Big Track & Field Star

I stumbled upon a new Darya Klishina Дарья Клишина clip from Youtube last night. In the video, Darya is seen modeling and training (doing hurdle drills, plyometrics and jumping workouts!). She’s as comfortable on the track as she is in front of the camera. It’s just a pity someone hasn’t uploaded English subs yet, since the interview is in Russian! Or maybe I should just learn Russian.

 

Photos from IAAF and Darya Klishina Facebook fan club

Read Track Beauty of the Week: Darya Klishina

Mind you, Darya isn’t just another pretty face. Although her looks rival that tennis goddesses like compatriots Anna Kournikova Анна Сергеевна Ку́рникова and Maria Sharapova Мари́я Ю́рьевна Шара́пова, Darya’s skills are akin to the latter. At the tender age of 19, Darya rewrote the Russian junior long jump record by leaping 7.03m – the second best all-time performance by a junior.

Read my other Darya Klishina posts here

Klishina has yet to translate her tremendous potential to the senior ranks, having been dropped from the Russian lineup to the 2010 Barcelona European Championships for a string of poor performances. Nevertheless, Darya has the makings of a galactic superstar.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Rolling With The Punches (14 – 16 January 2011)

My weight training session last Friday was geared towards preparing my body for last Saturday’s ABL game. Since I have yet to craft out the bad-ass track training program I’ve been harping about, I settled for a light gym/plyo workout. I didn’t want to over-exert myself, opting instead for a straightforward 20-minute slow jog, 15-minutes at the stationary bike and a 30-minute core session. Afterward, I did a short and straightforward weights routine, just to tone the muscles for the hoops battle ahead.

And it worked. I felt rejuvenated after sleeping for around 8 hours the night before the game. My performance at the game itself was a lot better than my ABL season debut, in terms of physical fitness that is. But when it came to tangible basketball performance, I couldn’t seem to translate my conditioning into actual statistics. But then again, basketball is a team sport. The game goes beyond personal statistics (more on this in later posts).

I was used sparingly throughout the game, in light of my mediocre performance. Nevertheless, I did a much better job in keeping up with the fast pace of an ABL game. Instead of feeling drained as I did the first game, I had so much more juice left in me as the final whistle blew.

After Saturday night’s hoops debacle, where our basketball squad lost by around 15 points, I’ve had enough of basketball. The expectations I put on myself was just way too much for my mediocre skills. I needed a dose of reality, to go back the sport I’m good at – athletics.

I had a good long run last Sunday afternoon. Nothing beats running at the good old Ateneo campus. I know every nook and cranny of the place, having spent a good chunk of my teenage years and young adulthood at the Hill. Moreover, the chilly afternoon air was refreshing. I didn’t tire out much, thanks to the relatively-less humid air. I ran for a good 18 minutes and did light running drills and plyometrics afterward.

Despite the 15-point ABL shutout (and other much bigger personal hurdles), this weekend’s training sessions turned out well. Although the fate of my 2011 athletics season – and my much-delayed comeback – lies uncertain due to the aforesaid barriers, I’ll be keeping my options open and just roll with the punches.

Lavillenie the Daredevil Vaults 5.92m in 2011 Indoor Season Opener

Among all track & field athletes, I admire pole vaulters the most, in light of the stringent demands of their event. Pole vault requires speed, flexibility and a certain level of technical prowess to propel oneself over the crossbar. Furthermore, the event requires a tad bit of craziness, more akin to practitioners of extreme sports than to domesticated track athletes!

France’s Renaud Lavillenie exemplifies this free-wheeling spirit. In his first competition of the indoor season, the 24-year old Frenchman cleared 5.92m in Aubiere. He then asked the bar to be set at 6.02m – a new French indoor record should he make a successful clearance. The newly-minted European Champion, however, broke his pole in three places. What’s even more remarkable was the nonchalance he exuded as he walked from the shattered fiber glass poles.

Watch a longer version of Lavillenie’s jump here

In a European Athletics Association article, Lavillenie remarked that “under the circumstances, with the pole breaking when it did and it being my first competition of the season, I’ve got to be very satisfied.”

Indeed, when you clear 6 meter high barriers for a living (and vault over rugby crossbars for fun) breaking a pole is part of the job description, albeit an unexpected one.

I’m absolutely ecstatic at the resumption of the track season. I must admit that in the past weeks, I’ve had a hard time trying to jump-start my nascent second season. The exploits of elite athletes like Lavillenie infuse much-needed enthusiasm into an otherwise bland time.

UAAP 73 Football Opening Weekend (16 January 2011)

Yesterday afternoon, my brother and I went to the good ole Alma Mater for my sister’s first UAAP football game. It was surreal seeing my youngest sibling man the goal at the Ateneo Ocampo Football Field, albeit wearing the maroon and white.

The first half went remarkably well for the State University. After all, the girls finished second behind perennial contenders DLSU during last October’s Unigames so they weren’t really pushovers, in light of their underdog status. During the first half, UP controlled most of the possessions. Much of the action was with UP’s offense. I must admit that it bored me seeing my sister just standing around at her own little box.

The UP booters, however, could not connect. The match remained scoreless after the first 45 minutes.

FEU came out with guns blazing at the second half. In a reversal of roles, much of the action was with the Morayta-based schools offense. For this football newbie, the ball-handling of FEU seemed more refined, more coordinated. Being ignorant of all aspects of football tactics, I take notice of the aesthetics (as well as the physicality) of the beautiful game.

There were some close shaves for FEU at the early part of the half, but the score remained nil-nil.  My sis made one spectacular, Neil Etheridge-esque save as she leaped high up to deflect the ball. However, a botched attempt by my sister to put a stop to a lone breakaway FEU striker proved futile. A splendidly executed corner kick saw another FEU player score, this time by a pinpoint header.

In other news, both the Ateneo Men’s and Women’s Teams succumbed to stronger opposition. The Lady Booters fell 0-3 to UST, whilst the Blue Booters (who once scored a rare three peat several years ago) fell 1-5 to a dominating performance by archrivals DLSU. According to Rick Olivares, this drubbing was the “worst loss to La Salle in over two decades.”

Read Rick Olivares’ account of the UAAP Football Opening

I only root for three collegiate football teams (yes, I must admit that I cheer for the green-clad Lady Booters too!); it sucks how these teams got bamboozled right at the season opener. Such is sport.

Being immersed in that exuberant collegiate atmosphere infused much needed enthusiasm into the flailing basketball season. It reiterated the fact that I am at my best on the track, not on the hard court. It was refreshing to watch a different sport other than basketball and athletics.

Track Beauty of the Week: Chisato Fukushima 福島 千里

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.

Sources:

Wikipedia

Rikuren.co.jp

 

LuntiRUN: Make Every Route Greener

I don’t really promote running events in this blog, aside from the annual Big Blue Runs. But then again, I have a soft spot for the environment, being the tree hugger that I am. I spent my formative years at the good ole Ateneo de Manila campus, enjoying the wide open spaces and the tree-lined streets.

In this concrete jungle that we inhabit, patches of greenery are a rarity. I’m hoping that the running boom will promote much needed awareness on the ills of Filipino urban living – and what we can do to make it a whole lot better.

The UP Industrial Engineering Club is organizing LuntiRun: Make Every Route Greener. The event is scheduled on 27 March 2011 (Filinvest Corporate City, Alabang). For more details click this link (from Flexitarian Runaholic Diary).

Elite Training

I’ve always been amazed at the physical capabilities of elite athletes. As the name suggests, Olympic caliber stars possess the necessary tools to practice their respective disciplines as careers. The athletic prowess of top tier athletes are sufficiently demonstrated in cross-training. From the top of my head, I can name a few examples.

My interest in athletics goes beyond the sprint hurdles, which in my biased opinion is best discipline in track & field! Even if my throwing background is practically nil (I once set an unofficial javelin personal best of 10m in training), the throwing events – particularly the javelin – have caught my fancy.

A few weeks ago, whilst looking for hurdle drills in Youtube, I stumbled upon a clip of Ivan Tikhon Іван Ціхан three-stepping. The sight of the three-time World Hammer Throw Champion clearing hurdles drew forth a muffled gasp. Hammer throwers are not supposed to sprint full speed over hurdles.

But then again, the three-step stride pattern of sprint hurdling practices one’s coordination. Hence, pole vaulters do the hurdles from time-to-time, just to polish their timing. Since the hammer throw involves multiple rotations, one has have a certain level of coordination to resist the superhuman centripetal force.

Tero Pitkämäki, in the following clip, demonstrates high level proficiency in plyometrics. Watching the 2007 World Champion doing dynamic standing long jumps piqued my interest in the exercise. Since then, the standing long jump has been a fixture in my plyometric routines.

The Finn’s archrival and good friend Andreas Thorkildsen also has his fair share of awesome Youtube clips. I was particularly impressed  by his gymnastics routine. The iron cross exercise looks as difficult as hell!

The reigning Olympic, World, World Indoor and European champion packs quite a mean plyometric punch too. If his name isn’t written all over the following clip, Thorkildsen might pass for a sprinter or a jumper.

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