Category Archives: 2000 Sydney Olympics

Track Beauty of the Week: Georgie Clarke

Georgie Clarke is this week’s track beauty!

Athletics is a sport where mature, full-developed athletes rule. In fact, athletes below 16 years old cannot compete in the Olympics or the senior IAAF World Championships. Clarke is a rare, once in a generation talent. As a 16-year old, the Aussie competed in front of thousands of her screaming countrymen during the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Clarke talks about her Olympic experience (Runner Space)

The Geelong-born middle distance runner went as far the semifinals – a big achievement for any athlete, especially for a teenager. Clarke narrowly missed the third slot in the 800m run, losing out to veteran campaigners.

Photos from Australia Athletics, Life and Geelong Advertiser

Clarke won her first national title at the age of 14. As a 16-year old, she ran the second fastest 1500m by an Australian (4:06.77). Her personal best in the 800m run in 2000 was a world class 2:01.73, faster than middle distance greats Steve Ovett, Steve Cram and Sebastian Coe when they were at the same age, according to a Cool Running article. Prior to the Sydney Olympics, Clarke lived in Europe to compete at the prestigious European circuit. An informative feature article by Running Times Magazine, accurately depicted the athletics prodigy’s difficulties in living out the elite athlete life. At such a young age, she was uprooted from her comfort zone. Clarke was unhappy, according to the article.

Photos from Geelong Advertiser, 101 West Photography and Running Times Magazine

Since her stellar performance at the Sydney Olympics, Clarke has been hounded by injuries, missing the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. She suffered fractures in her spine. There came a point where the once-promising middle distance prospect could hardly walk without pain. But still, the 2001 World Youth Champion persevered. In 2008, despite running with a stress fracture on her foot, she missed qualifying for the Beijing Olympics by two-hundredths of a second. A few months later, her foot broke.

A lesser person would buckle under the pressures of constant defeat and chronic injury. Despite the pain of it all, Clarke did not waver. The following quote from Running Times captures the essence of the sport completely: “I always would look back to why I started to run. It was for the pure reason that I loved it, for the freedom and simplicity of it.”

True enough, Clarke is still at it. Most recently, the now 26-year old former child prodigy is at the top of the distance category in the 2011 Australian Athletics Tour. She ran a competitive 4:17 in the 1500m to finish first palce in the Brisbane Track Classic.

Indeed, her running days are far from over. With the London Olympics barely 2 years away, the prospects for an injury-free Georgie Clarke are bright.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Sources:

Running Times Magazine

Cool Running

Video Credits:

Runners’ Tribe

Runner Space

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Kim Collins’ Second Wind

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!

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

Terrence Trammell and the Elusive Gold Medal

People say that one doesn’t win the silver, he/she loses the gold. The Celebrate Humanity ad featuring Robin Williams debunks the aforesaid statement with a weightlifter jumping wild with joy at winning an Olympic silver medal. For mortals like myself who can only dream of competing in the Olympics, a silver medal in the quadrennial games is a pipe dream.

But when one is among the elite of sports, would multiple silver medals be more of a curse?

Terrence Trammell is an athlete with an extensive collection of silverware. As a 22-year old collegiate champion, he won the first of his Olympic sprint hurdling  silvers in 2000, behind the Cuban Anier Garcia. 4 years later in Athens, Trammell again fell short of the gold, this time against Liu Xiang 刘翔. In Trammell’s third Olympic Games in Beijing, the veteran failed to advance to the final because of a hamstring injury.

The University of South Carolina graduate replicated his streak of silver medals in the three editions of the IAAF World Championships as well, finishing 1st-runner up in 2003, 2007 and 2009.  Trammell was edged out by a fast-finishing Liu Xiang in Osaka 2007 by two-hundredths of a second. Despite stopping the clock at 12.99s, the top spot remained elusive.

2009 should have been Trammell’s year to win that elusive major outdoor crown, with Liu Xiang and  Dayron Robles out with injuries. But Ryan Brathwaithe of the Bahamas played the role of spoilsport.
Trammell had won a total of six silver medals in three Olympic Games and three World Outdoor Championships.

Being a near-10 seconds flat 100m sprinter, Trammell has had more success in the shorter 60m hurdle indoor race. During the 2006 Moscow World Indoor Championships, the American notched a unique Gold-Bronze combination in the 60m hurdles and the 60m dash, respectively, winning his 2nd indoor hurdling title. Aside from Harrison Dillard and  Gail Devers, no other track athlete had as much success as Trammell in both the hurdles and the sprints.

Read “Harrison Dillard: The Man Who Won the Wrong Event”

According to the legendary Renaldo Nehemiah, having too much speed in the sprint hurdles causes “crowding out.” Without lightning fast reflexes that can cope with near 10-second speeds, a sprint hurdler’s sprinting prowess becomes a curse. Trammell’s inability to land an outdoor crown can be attributed to his prolific sprinting talent. Despite leading in the first few hurdles, Trammell almost always seem to fade at the latter parts – especially when pitted against excellent finishers like Liu Xiang.

Although not in the same caliber as Liu and Colin Jackson, the American has a  fine hurdling technique reminiscent of his former training partner, Allen Johnson. The former NCAA champion Trammell, with his (1) aggressive style, (2) slightly elevated lead arm carriage, and (3) slightly flailing trail arm, tends to hit hurdles. When pitted against accomplished hurdling technicians like Liu, these little things spell the difference between victory and defeat.

With the emergence of David Oliver as the pre-eminent American hurdler and Liu’s and Dayron Robles’ recovery from injury, 2011 seems like another exciting year for the sprint hurdles.

Do not count out the 33-year veteran just yet. Trammell, with his monstrous flat out speed, might just surprise the top dogs.

2000 Sydney Olympics Long Jump Final: Pedroso vs. Taurima

In contrast to the sprint events, the jumping events are prolonged athletic spectacles. The jumpers can reign in crowd support by the rhythmic clapping prior to each jump. It brings the crowd into the action.

One of my favorite long jump competitions is the 2000 Sydney Olympics duel between the legendary Cuban, Ivan Pedroso and the audacious hometown hero, Jai Taurima.

Pedroso, a four-time World Champion, was the overwhelming favorite. On paper, the junk food eating Taurima paled in comparison to the Cuban champion. With broad jump demons Carl Lewis and Mike Powell  retired, 2000 was supposed to Pedroso’s Olympic moment.

And it almost did not happen.

Jumping Jai became the early leader (8.18m), with Pedroso fouling his 1st attempt. The Cuban leaped 8.34m to snatch the lead. Taurima matched the former’s effort, holding a slim lead with his better 1st round attempt. Pedroso, on his 3rd attempt, flew to a massive 8.41m, inching up to 1st place.

But Taurima, riding high on the electric support from the Australian crowd, made the jump of his life – leaping to 8.49m, an Australian long jump record. Prior to Sydney, Australia had never won a long jump medal, much less gold. For Taurima to perform at his very best in front of a boisterous partisan crowd – that surely takes much nerve.  After Jai’s massive mark, the unorthodox Aussie was poised to upset the Cuban champion.

Pedroso, long since relegated to the shadow of the great Carl Lewis in Olympic long jumping, refused to fade into the Australian night. In his final leap, he flew 8.55, cementing his place among the illustrious list of Olympic champions.

Video credits:

Jump4Ever

“The Borlées: En Route to Olympic History” by Joboy Quintos

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.

   

Kevin, Olivia, and Jonathan. (Photos from Erik van Leeuwen)

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.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Additional Links:

Video: 2010 World Indoor Championships 4x400m Relay

Video: 2008 Beijing Olympics 4x100m Relay

Lee Evans training with Ato Boldon

When I first saw the clip from the suggestions tab in Youtube, I thought it was about Lee Evans, the 1968 Mexico Olympics double Gold medalist, and Ato Boldon. But lo and behold, it tunred out to be Lee Evans the English Comedian! Watch it. It was filmed prior to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

Watch the other Lee Evans training clips from this playlist. Evans gets tips from heptathlete Denise Lewis and swimmer Ian Thorpe!

Video credit:

eman7

The 400m hurdles/400m Dash Combo

Natalya Antyukh’s victory in the 400m hurdles in Barcelona reminded me of an interesting fact I picked up from my favorite track & field book, A World History of Track & Field Athletics 1864-1964.

Back in the 30’s up to the 50’s, before the advent of professional sports and specialization in track events, hardly anyone specialized in the 400m low hurdles. Prior to the Olympics, 400m flat sprinters usually trained over the barriers a few times and ran a few races, never adopting the man-killer discipline entirely.

This highlights an important point that in the intermediate hurdles, one’s sprinting ability matters more than one’s hurdling prowess. Whereas a sprint hurdler takes approximately 37 strides throughout the entire 110m race, an intermediate hurdler naturally sprints longer. In light of the increased distance in between hurdles in the lows, it is imperative that the elite intermediate hurdler should possess a consistent stride pattern, a fearless demeanor and a fairly decent ability to sprint the quarter mile.

In recent track history, Angelo Taylor is arguably the best example of a 400m sprinter – 400m hurdler combination. The Sydney and Beijing Olympic 400m low hurdles Champion, despite several off-track controversies, had won major championship medals in the flat, the relays and the lows.

The newly crowned European low hurdles champion, Antyukh (also the 1998 World Youth Champion over the lows and the 2004 Olympic 400m dash bronze medallist) is the most recent top-level exemplar of the hurdler/sprinter.

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