Monthly Archives: September 2011

The most popular hurdling video on Youtube

What’s the most popular sprinting video on Youtube? Usain Bolt’s three world records in the 100m dash, 200m dash and the 4x100m relay (with approximately 1.9 million views). With Bolt’s status as the sport’s undeniable superstar, this is an unsurprising fact.

But what about the hurdles, I ask? What is the most popular hurdling video?

The topnotcher (with approximately 4.7 million views. On Youtube since 2006):

The second-placer and the rising star (with approximately 360,000 views. On Youtube since Dec. 2010):

Not even Liu Xiang and Dayron Robles came close. For the hurdles fanatic that I am, this is amusingly disturbing! It’s a sign that most people probably consider my event as nothing more than a novelty, instead of being an exciting, nerve-wracking race that it really is.

Typhoon Woes

Living in a tropical country certainly has its perks for the track & field athlete. The lack of a cold season means one can practice the sport all year long, in contrast to the northern countries where indoor facilities are a necessity during winter. The weather is relatively conducive for training and competition, so long as you don’t bask under the midday sun!

But there’s the rub. The Philippines only has two seasons: wet and dry. It is usually the former that brings forth the most difficulty. Whereas one could choose to train early (or late) to avoid the atrocious summer heat, typhoons and monsoons are much more troublesome foes.

Typhoon Pedring/Nesat (Photo from PAGASA)

I was supposed to head out to Ultra tonight, despite the erstwhile tropical storm Pedring lurking nearby. I’ve finally shrugged off the lazy urgings of the past weeks, feeling more motivated than ever. However, it seems like the weather has different plans. Pedring has intensified into a typhoon by mid-morning. Classes all over the main island of Luzon were suspended as a precaution.

With these developments (and with Moro’s indoor track inaccessible, as the Blue Eagles hold nightly closed-door practices), it seems prudent to scrap tonight’s training session altogether.

Track Beauty of the Week: Zheng Xingjuan 郑幸娟

Zheng Xingjuan 郑幸娟 is this week’s track beauty!

The high jumper is China’s best bet in the exciting exciting event. The statuesque Zheng has a personal best of 1.95m, 2cm from the standing Chinese national record. The Fujian-born athlete first came to international prominence at the 2006 World Junior Championships, where she won the bronze medal in front of her home fans in Beijing.

   

Photos from CCTV.com, idong365.com and sports.qq.com

Zheng was a standout talent as a youngster, setting an impressive personal best of 1.92m when she was barely sixteen years old in 2005. That same year, she competed at the Helsinki World Championships. Zheng placed 10th in qualifying at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She made up for the disappointment a year later by winning the Asian Championships in Guangzhou.

Zheng in action at the Doha World Indoor Championships (Photo from sports.nen.com.cn)

The Chinese has had an outstanding 2011 season, as she equaled her 2009 best of 1.95m early in the year. More importantly, Zheng qualified for her first ever major championship final in the seniors, as she finished in a hard fought sixth place at the Daegu World Championships.

Refreshing (22 September 2011)

When my former teammate, Emilio, joined my sprint workout last night, I asked myself: “When was the last time I actually trained with another athlete?” Although I had the opportunity to warm up with Rocky, another former track teammate, and the PPVC crew, I always do my workouts alone (the former is a distance runner, while the latter are pole vaulters).

I had to backtrack almost four years, during the twilight of my collegiate athletics career. Ever since I the comeback, I’ve always been a lone wolf.

My former teammate have been frequenting Ultra the past few months, as part of his rehab program for an injured knee. He trains with Coach Salazar’s group, doing bad-ass long runs and circuit routines. I was pleasantly surprised when I first saw the former decathlete a weeks back. Seeing a familiar face, a former track teammate at that, is a rarity nowadays.

The workout went stupendously well, despite a few errors in pacing. We were supposed to do 6×150’s in 20s each, but the time fluctuated from a low of 18s to as high as 22s. It was great to have someone to talk to in between the reps. Having someone nearby also does wonders to one’s motivation, especially when laziness starts to set in.

The ideal training partner is someone who takes part in the same discipline. But since sprint hurdlers are a rarity in this part of the world, I’d gladly train with almost any type of athlete!

The Tattered Flag

I wasn’t in the best of moods last Thursday. Coming from a weeks long illness, I was still reeling from the waning effects of the virus. Too see the work that I’ve put in the past few months crumble was simply frustrating. The track was dark when I got to Ultra. As I sat by the bleachers eating a quick snack, I felt horribly drained – an increasingly common occurrence in my “lone wolf” training routine. There and then, I felt the hopelessness of my hurdling enterprise, now that my Saturdays have been eaten up by a one-year certificate.

But one vivid image clung to my mind. The image of a tattered Philippine flag strewn ingloriously in the locker room room below.

I first encountered that a flag almost a month ago. I know for a fact that the simpleton who placed the flag on top of the locker room cabinet, for all the track users to see, hardly knew the Philippine Flag Law. I pitied the guy, whoever he is. Deep down, I was seething with anger. Taking part in sports (whether as an athlete or as a spectator) should instill national pride. Government-owned facilities are at the forefront of disciplines that require expensive venues, such as track & field and football.

To see the flag disrespected in the confines of government property reiterated the fact that Philippine sports is in the doldrums. The crowning glory of any athlete’s career should be on top of the medal podium, hearing one’s national anthem proudly play as the flag is raised for everyone to see.

For some reason, I did nothing. Opting to join my other insensitive countrymen who saw the flag in its undignified manner of storage. For my exhortations of competing proudly for my country, I could not even spare the time to right the most fundamental of wrongs. The medal ceremonies at the Daegu World Championships reminded me of my dream of seeing the Philippine flag raised in a major international competition – and of the disgrace in Ultra. The story of a little girl who braved a raging storm to save a muddied Philippine flag was the clincher.

That night, I took out the box where the flag lay half-stored in plain view. There were two flags. I folded it neatly and placed it inside a black plastic bag in the box.

Why do I hurdle? I do it for flag and country.

Track Beauty of the Week: Katya Kostetskaya Екатерина Костецкая

Katya Kostetskaya (Ekaterina Kostetskaya Екатерина Костецкая) is this week’s track beauty!

She had a tremendously successful career as a junior intermediate hurdler, winning the European Junior title in 2003. A year later, she followed this up with a more prestigious win at the World Junior Championships in Grossetto, running a personal best of 55.55s to top the final.

Photo from Zimbio/Getty Images

Katya attended Texas State University for her college degree. While in the United States, her IAAF records indicate that she dabbled in the 100m hurdles and the 800m run, clocking respectable times in both events. Her 2003 best in the two-lap race (2:05.95) was quite impressive for the then 16-year old.

Kostetskaya eventually specialized in the 800m when she turned professional. She is well-known in Australia for being the girlfriend of 2008 Olympic Pole vault champion Steve Hooker. Her achievements speak for themselves, though, as the Russian belongs to the elite of middle distance running.

She placed 2nd at the 2011 European Team Championships, helping Russia wrest the overall crown yet again. Kostetskaya qualified for the highly competitive 800m final in the recently concluded World Championships in Daegu, notching a respectable fifth place.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Back

I’ve been out of my element the past few weeks, thanks to a bout with illness and some motivation issues. I couldn’t seem to get my act together, once I felt fit enough to train again. Even if I’ve recovered substantially, something was holding me back. I did not force the issue. I kept my training load near the bare minimum, training just enough not to lose the fitness level I’ve built up the past few months.

Last night’s basketball game was the turning point. We won in overtime after a nail-biting series of events. I played fairly decently. Hell, my fifteen year-old, basketball addict self would have been proud, had it not been for my turnovers! After the match, I felt stupendously pumped up. Yes, the euphoria was centered on the decent game. But deep down, the urge to go back to the track became ever so strong.

I finally got my mojo back. These legs of mine long for the track!

“Christophe Lemaitre, retour des championnats du monde 2011 et rentrée universitaire!”

With three European titles and two medals from the Daegu World Championships, it is fascinating to think that Christophe Lemaitre is just a youngster. At twenty-one years old, the Frenchman had just begun his university studies, days after his groundbreaking performance in Daegu.

Matt Stroup of Universal Sports had some interesting thoughts on Lemaitre’s possible conduct in class.

With his fourth place in the 100m dash, a bronze in the 200m dash and a silver in the 4x100m relay, Lemaitre had announced his arrival at the global stage. Indeed, he is no fluke – no mere one-hit wonder. His relative youth, as shown by the clip above, belies his potent speed on the track.

French Athletics Commentators Rock!

As a hardcore athletics junkie, I satiate most of my track & field cravings through Youtube. Aside from the times when Eurosport Asia airs the Diamond League or a high-level European meet, I have to settle for clips uploaded on the popular video streaming site. Since athletics is a predominantly European sport, the broadcasters I encounter come from a hodgepodge of countries.

Amongst the myriad of languages, I prefer the French commentary over the rest (after the English feed, of course). In the countless times I’ve watched athletics clips online, the French almost always stand out for their unbridled passion and sheer excitement. The British and American pundits tend to be more restrained. The French seem more animated, at some point even shouting with much fervor (please watch the clips below).

Perhaps my preference for French stem from its exoticism to my English-reared ears. See and hear for yourself. Be the judge!

* For consistency, I chose the 2011 Daegu World Championships Men’s 100m dash final.

1.) French:

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Picking up the Pieces

I’ve been under the friggin’ erratic Philippine weather the past few weeks. It all started at the latter parts of August. Fresh out of a basketball game, my friends and I decided to start the long weekend by a celebratory drinking spree. When I got home, my throat ached. I spent the next couple of days watching the Daegu World Championships and nursing a terrible bout with cold and cough.

Feeling pumped-up and inspired by the world champs, I went back to training a bit too early. My illness relapsed and I was forced to rest it out. Another basketball game wreaked havoc into my recovery – for the second time. At this point, I was overly pissed. My motivation has been sapped. Although I felt fine and physically well, I was in a bad state psychologically.

I’ve finally recovered from illness last weekend. Gradually, I’m picking up from where I left off. Since I have no athletics meet of note to join in the remaining months of 2011, I’m taking it easy.

Track Beauty of the Week: Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova Настасся Мірончык-Іванова

Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova Настасся Мірончык-Іванова is this week’s track beauty!

The Belorussian long jumper had a stellar junior career. As a youngster, she won a silver medal at the 2008 World Junior Championships. A year later at the 2009 European U23 Championships, she bettered her modest 6.46m winning mark at the junior champs by leaping 6.76m, good enough for another silver medal.

Leaping in the high six meters brought Mironchyk-Ivanova within the cusp of landing her first major international podium finish. However, she finished a disappointing 11th place at the Berlin World Championships. Although she qualified for the finals of the 2010 European Championships and the 2011 European Indoor Championships, she could only manage a modest sixth place in both continental competitions.

The Belorussian attracted attention at the recently concluded Daegu World Championships. Clips and photos apparently show Mironchyk-Ivanova’s long ponytail catching the sand in one of her attempts. According to athletics rules, the measurement ends at the body part closest to the takeoff board. Mironchyk-Ivanova’s hair cost her a medal!

Photo from this Website

The world-leading American Brittney Reese eventually won the competition, thanks to her 6.82m leap. If Mironchyk-Ivanova had tied her hair into a bun (or chose a less elongated style), she could have won a medal, or even the title.

Nevertheless, this could only strengthen the Belorussian resolve. After all, London 2012 is just a hair’s breadth away!

“Usain Bolt does the Party Rock Shuffle”

I must admit that I’m not a fan of Usain Bolt’s pre-race tomfoolery, but the great man sure does makes excellent post-race celebratory moves! Take a look at the following clip after the 4x100m relay in Daegu.

Gutted: Thoughts on the Daegu 2011 Men’s 4x100m Relay

The Men’s 4x100m relay was bizarre, to say the least. At the last baton exchange, Darvis Patton (USA) clipped the elbow of the massive Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (GBR). The Doc lost his balance and fell to the track, rolling over to the adjacent lane of the Trinidad and Tobago quartet. Richard Thompson (TRI) narrowly missed running over Patton. Aikines-Aryeetey apparently went out too early. Marlon Devonish (GBR) failed to catch his compatriot, throwing the baton in frustration. The Americans also failed to finish, negating a splendid world-leading performance in the semis. The unfortunate Trinidadians were the unassuming collateral damage of the sprint relay carnage, as their quartet finished dead last.

The Usain Bolt-anchored Jamaican team was unstoppable, en route to breaking their 2008 world record. A pumped-up Bolt stopped the clock in a blistering 37.04s. The French and the quartet from Saint Kitts and Nevis emerged victorious with the minor medals. The prolific Christophe Lemaitre added a relay silver to his 200m dash bronze, whilst the evergreen Kim Collins hauled another bronze medal to his collection.

The Americans, even with a healthy Tyson Gay in the fold (and a smooth baton exchange), would have been hard-pressed to win over the Jamaicans. Nevertheless, the loss of any major championship medal was heartbreaking. Prior to these championships, I never really found the time to sympathize with these oft-brash American sprinters. But reading the Doc’s posts and tweets, I felt gutted – not just for the US team, but for the Trinidadians and British as well.

One can pillory these professional athletes for certain lapses of judgment. Before hitting the “enter” button in Twitter, Facebook or your blog, find the time to go over the words of the athletes themselves. They’re only human, after all.

Additional links:

Official results of the Men’s 4x100m relay

Mail Online article

Telegraph article

Track Beauty of the Week: Sally Pearson

Sally Pearson nee McClellan is this week’s track beauty!

Last night’s events immortalized the Australian amongst the sprint hurdling elite. Prior to Daegu, Pearson was having a stellar season – her most successful to date. She had reigned supreme in countless Diamond League meetings, as she edged out the formidable cabal of American hurdlers. In Birmingham last July, Pearson gave the world a sneak peak of what’s to come as she clocked a highly competitive 12.57s against a 1.9m/s headwind.

A victorious Pearson celebrates in Daegu (Photo from Wikipedia)

The undefeated Pearson breezed through the World Championships qualifying. The Australian wasn’t threatened as she clocked tantalizingly fast times of 12.53s and 12.36s in the heats and semifinals, respectively. Her performance in the semis was the 12th fastest time in history. Only the world record holder Yordanka Donkova, Ginka ZagorchevaLudmila Engquist and Gail Devers had run faster. It was the fastest time in the world since the great Devers stopped the clock in 12.33s back in 2000.

Not even the cover curse of Daegu could stop Sally! In the video above, her Aussie teammates threw the Aussie flag and a copy of the programme (with Sally on the cover!) to the victorious Pearson.

Click here to view the semis

Click here to view the heats

There was more to come. A few hours later, Pearson blazed through the final in 12.28s, propelling the Australian speedster as the fourth fastest hurdler ever, overtaking the Devers.

Pearson first came to international prominence when she won the 100m hurdles at the 2003 World Youth Championships. She followed this up with a bronze at the flat 100m at the Grosseto World Junior Championships a year later. In 2008, she won a surprise silver medal. Pearson attempted a 100m dash – 100m hurdles double in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, but a faulty start and a subsequent protest saw her lose the sprint title.

The Australian is the ideal sprint hurdler. She possesses blazing speed in between barriers and technical prowess above the sticks. In a sense, she’s a hybrid of Gail Devers (who ran 10.82s in the 100m dash) and Susanna Kallur (a great technician). In an event where athletes could get away with major flaws in hurdling form (thanks to the relatively low height of the barriers), Pearson dominates with her picture perfect hurdling clearance. Her more than adequate flat out speed works hand-in-hand compounds her potent hurdling talent.

Indeed, Pearson is the perfect sprint hurdler.

Additional link:

Official 100mH results from Daegu

Thoughts

The Philippines sent two athletes to the World Championships in Daegu, long jumpers Marestella Torres and Henry Dagmil. These two are many-time Southeast Asian Games champions and are the nation’s top athletes. Torres won the 2010 Asian Athletics Association long jump crown and has a personal best of 6.68m (2009). Dagmil, the national record holder at 7.99m, is almost an 8.00m jumper.

Unfortunately, Torres finished in twenty-first place in qualifying, with her 6.31m mark (seven centimeters short of her season’s best) failing to propel her to the finals. Dagmil, who has a season’s best of 7.48m, notched three straight fouls in today’s qualifying session. The wind, according to Philips Idowu, was “madness” as it ranged from + 1.7 m/s to – 2.3 m/s. Perhaps that was the reason why Henry got a “NM.”

The ordinary spectator or the cynic would pillory our sporting champions for such ignominious results. After all, the two jumpers are the core of Go Teng Kok’s so-called “Army” which, for years have garnered many a SEA Games haul. But then again, this is the World Championships, not just a mere regional meet. It is important to note that no Filipino has qualified to Daegu by meeting the highly competitive “A” and “B” entry standards. Dagmil and Torres, for all their international experience, were wild cards.

Anything can happen in sports. Remember when Goran Ivanisevic won Wimbledon as a wild card? I was banking on such a far-flung possibility. Instead of belittling the chances of our athletes, I looked forward to them playing the role of spoil sport. The track & field community in the Philippines is small, by regional standards. Everyone knows the other, even if just by face. I’ve always looked up to Henry and Marestella. Their feats have inspired me to do better in the hurdles. Despite the odds, I kept hoping for a miracle. Regardless of the gargantuan odds, I was saddened by their respective exits.

This staunch, almost fanatical belief is the least I can do for my countrymen. Through my blog and through the internet, I hope to impart to Filipinos an awareness of the sport.

There’s also one thing I can do – to reach for my dreams, no matter how fantastic and far-fetched these are.

At 25-years of age, seeing athletes as old (and younger!) than I am brings forth a certain feeling of longing. That, hey, that could have been me out there competing with the world’s best. “Aim for the stars, and reach the moon.” I’ve always liked this cliche. In the back of my mind, I train to be able to be the fastest hurdler I can ever be – to maximize my potential. I know for a fact that meeting the standard for the 110m high hurdles is next to impossible. But who knows? Maybe in the next coming months, I’ll be able to tap into a previously unknown energy reserve! Miracles do happen so long as you believe.

And belief, mind you, is ever so important.

Perhaps I do take the sport much too seriously. When I look back several years from now, long after a hang up my spikes, I won’t have any regrets of not trying.

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