Category Archives: Dwain Chambers

London Olympics Preview: The 4x100m Relay

The team aspect makes the 4x100m relay exciting. Since the athletes are going at full speed, the margin for error in terms of baton passing is small. Teams, especially the hastily formed ones, are susceptible to passing lapses. In the 4x100m relay, the squads with inferior aggregate flat out speeds can draw level or, at times, triumph over the highly touted teams.

Read: “The 4x100m Relay – Where Underdogs Thrive”

Photo from Nigel Chadwick

Ironically, a larger country such as the U.S. could get disadvantaged because of its depth of talent. Having a large pool, with the uncertainty of the U.S. Olympic Trials providing the suspense, do not exactly provide ample time for teams to prepare. The smaller countries have, more or less, determined its relay lineups months before a major competition.

Women’s 4x100m Relay

The Americans have run two of the fastest 4x100m relay times this season (42.19s, 42.24s), followed by the Germans (42.51s – Leena Günther, Anne Cibis, Tatjana Pinto, Verena Sailer) and the Ukrainians (42.61s –  Nataliya Pohrebnyak Наталія Погребняк, Mariya Ryemyen, Olesya Povh Олеся Повх, Viktorya Pyatachenko). Netherlands (42.80s – Kadene Vassell, Dafne Schippers, Eva Lubbers, Jamile Samuel), Poland (43.06s – Marika Popowicz, Daria Korczynska, Marta Jeschke, Ewelina Ptak), and France (43.12s – Carima Louami, Ayodelé Ikuesan, Jennifer Galais, Christine Arron) are the next fastest countries. The Jamaicans are few rungs lower with a season’s best of 43.31s.

In terms of the Olympic qualifying period, which stretched from January 2011 to July 2012, the Carribean sprinting power is second on the list (average of 41.97s) behind the Americans (41.75s). Ukraine (42.57s average), France (42.65s average), Germany (42.77s average), and Nigeria (42.84s) round up the next four.

Screenshot from the IAAF

The defending Olympic Champion, Russia (Evgeniya Polyakova Евгения  Полякова, Ekaterina Kuzina, Ekaterina Voronenkova, Olga Belkina), is eight on the list with an average time of 42.86s.

On paper, the lead U.S. and Jamaica are the strongest contenders for gold. Its respective lineups are peppered with a multitude of individual sprinting talent in the likes of Carmelita Jeter, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Allyson Felix, and Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Read: “London Olympics Preview – The 100m Dash”

Read: “London Olympics Preview – The 200m Dash”

Jamaica has won Olympic gold only once, in 2004. The Jamaican women lost out on a potential gold in Beijing when they failed to finish the race. The Americans are historically the dominant force in the event, winning nine gold medals since the 1928 Paris Olympics. However, their last Olympic title came in 1996. Like the Jamaicans, the Americans have been bedeviled by erratic baton passing in the last two editions of the Games.

The Americans are the reigning World Champions, while the Jamaicans are the victors from Berlin.

Once Jamaica and the United States get their acts together, and pass their respective batons efficiently and with minimal loss of speed, these two countries are unbeatable.

If the two sprinting powerhouses commit lapses, Ukraine and Germany are the most likely to capitalize. The Ukrainians have world class sprinters in Olesya Povh and Mariya Ryemyen, while the Germans are led by the comebacking Verena Sailer. The Ukrainian and German teams have the benefit of competing at a relatively recent major championships, whereas the Jamaicans and Americans  last big meet was the World Championships in Daegu. The confidence level of the Germans, in particular, are at record-highs in light of their smashing win in Helsinki.

Top Three Predictions:

Gold: United States

Silver: Jamaica

Bronze: Germany/Ukraine

Men’s 4x100m Relay

In the men’s division, the Jamaican gap over the Americans is glaring. The Jamaicans have an average time of 37.54s to the Americans’ 37.85s. Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, and Yohan Blake are all set to compete in London. Barring any unforseen hitches, Jamaica looks poised to win back-to-back Olympic golds.

The Americans have dominated this event, having triumphed 15 times in the last 22 Olympic Games. Their record in major championships of late has not been as immaculate. The error-prone Americans narrowly missed the gold in Athens to an inspired British team. In Beijing, the American quartet crashed out of the preliminary rounds. They crashed out of the Berlin World Championships, disqualified for an illegal baton exchange. Daegu could have been a lot better, had it not been for the unfortunate collision between Briton Harry Aikenes-Aryeetey and American Doc Patton.

Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin will banner the American challenge. Gay and Gatlin, both former World titlists and the latter an Olympic Champion, will bring maturity and experience into the squad.

France (38.29s average –  Teddy Tinmar, Christophe Lemaitre, Yannick Lesourd, Jimmy Vicaut) Olympic hosts Great Britain (38.32s average), Trinidad and Tobago (38.40s average –  Keston Bledman, Marc Burns, Aaron Armstrong, Richard Thompson), and Brazil (38.41s average – Ailson Feitosa, Sandro Viana, Nilson Andrè, Bruno de Barros) are the next fastest countries. Interestingly, the 10th ranked Hong Kong relay team (38.59s average – Tang Yik Chun, Lai Chun Ho 黎振浩, Ng Ka Fung, Tsui Chi Ho) is ahead of Canada (38.64s – Ian Warner, Oluseyi Smith, Jared Connaughton, Justyn Warner), Italy (38..65s average – Simone Collio, Jacques Riparelli, Davide Manenti, Fabio Cerutti), and the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Japan (38.68s average – Masashi Eriguchi, Ryota Yamagata 山縣 亮太, Shinji Takahira, Kenji Fujimitsu).

Read: “Japan’s Olympic Bronze”

Screenshot from the IAAF

Outside the top two countries, France is the standout talent. The French are led by the duo of Christophe Lemaitre and Jimmy Vicaut, both 100m dash finalists in Daegu. Lemaitre is a World Championships 200m dash bronze medalist.

The Olympic hosts will also send an experienced team, with Mark Lewis-Francis and Dwain Chambers leading the charge. Lewis-Francis is the only holdover from the gold medal winning squad in Athens. The talented youngster Adam Gemili will be around to give much-needed firepower.

As much as I would love to see Britain win gold again or the Americans break their Olympic drought, the Jamaicans are much too dominant.

Top Three Predictions:

Gold: Jamaica

Silver: United States

Bronze: France

Sources:

IAAF – Olympic Relay Lineups

Wikipedia

IAAF

2011 SPAR European Team Championships Wrap-up: Day 1

I was looking forward to three hours’ worth of athletics action, thanks to Eurosport’s live coverage of the 2011 SPAR European Team Championships (ETC) in Stockholm, Sweden. Alas, it started feebly enough, with Eurosport airing a pre-Wimbledon tennis match for the first thirty minutes. The live feed finally started at around 9:30 PM, but stopped abruptly by 10:00 PM! It was annoying to say the least.

The European Team Championships is innovative in the sense that it’s a team competition, as the name suggests. This is in stark contrast to the Olympics, where total medal standings are not officially observes by the IOC, since the object of the Olympics is individual performance. Participating countries earn points depending on the performance of its respective men’s and women’s teams. Various European countries are divided into separate divisions (1st to 3rd divisions), with the cream of the crop slugging it out at aforesaid big league. The top performers of each division are promoted, whilst the minnows are relegated.

Read my post on the 2010 SPAR European Team Championships here

I was able to watch the women’s 100m dash, men’s shot put, men’s long jump and men’s 400m dash. After which, Eurosport showed nothing but tennis. Thanks to Youtube, I could still catch up with the highlights of the exciting, high quality competition.

The following is a brief rundown of my favorite athletics events:

1.) Men’s 100m dash:

The highlight of Day 1 would have to be Christophe Lemaitre’s 9.95s performance, his second national record in barely month’s time. Lemaitre had just ran 9.96s in Montreuil, almost beating Yohan Blake at the tape.

In Stockholm, Lemaitre sported a vastly improved start. The mercurial Dwain Chambers (10.07s) had a narrow half-step lead by halfway mark, where Lemaitre turned on his afterburners to set the fastest time by a European since the 2004 season, according to an EAA report. Nigerian-born Portuguese Francis Obikwelu, the European record holder at 9.86s, was a distant third.

2.) Men’s 400m Low Hurdles:

Britain’s Dai Greene stamped his class on the one-lap hurdle field, winning in a new Championship record time of 49.21s. Greene, the British team captain, is fresh from a successful 2010 season where he won both the Commonwealth and European outdoor crowns.

3.) Men’s Long Jump:

The 2009 European Junior Champion, Aleksandr Menkov Александр Менков of Russia, won over the host country’s Michel Torneus and Britain’s Chris Tomlinson.

Menkov flew to 8.20m a mere centimeter away from Torneus’ 8.19m. The 2010 European Champion, Christian Reif of Germany, was in fourth place at 8.10m.

4.) Women’s Pole Vault:

Germany’s Silke Spiegelburg lost to the veteran Anna Rogowska of Poland on countback. Both vaulters set world leading times of 4.75m, with the former having one failure at the previous height.

Jiřina Ptáčníková of the Czech Republic (4.60m) and Aleksandra Kiryashova Александра Киряшова of Russia (4.50m) both set respective season’s best performance to round up the third and fourth place spots.

5.) Women’s Triple Jump:

Ukraine’s Olha Saladukha Ольга Саладуха set a new world-leading mark as she hopped, stepped and skipped to a new championship record of 14.85m.

Italy’s Simona La Mantia placed second with a best jump of 14.29m.

At the end of the first day, defending champion Russia is perched comfortably on top with 213 points, followed by Germany (183.5) and Britain (166).

I’ll be watching the replay of Day 1 later this afternoon and the live feed of Day 2 this evening. I wish to the high heavens that Eurosport won’s screw up this time!

Additional links:

Home page of the SPAR European Team Championships

Read the EAA Day 1 Wrap here

View Youtube videos here and here

View Eurosport Asia’s TV sched here

Blake Eludes Fast-finishing Lemaitre in Montreuil

Christophe Lemaitre scalped a handful of formidable foes during the Meeting International d’Athlétisme in Montreuil a few days back. The 2010 European double sprint champion almost pipped Jamaica’s Yohan Blake (9.95s) at the line, losing by one-hundredth of a second to Usain Bolt’s training partner. Blake is a 2008 Olympic 4x100m relay gold medalist and has a wind-aided personal best of 9.80s.

Lemaitre had a good start en route to lowering his own French national record to 9.95s. Trinidad and Tobago’s Daniel Bailey was third at 10.00s. Lemaitre’s European rival, Dwain Chambers, trailed in fourth place (10.09s).

Read the IAAF article here

Is it just me, or has Christophe Lemaitre improved on his sprinting form? Lemaitre’s noticeable side-to-side wobbling seemed to have lessened. Try to compare Lemaitre’s sprinting form in Montreuil with his 10.26s run in Kawasaki last September. See for yourself!

Never mind the fact that Lemaitre is the first sub-10 sprinter of non-West African descent. The Frenchman is a relatively raw sprinting talent that has tremendous potential. A 9.96s time in the century dash for a 20-year old is a fine performance indeed.

Despite being light-years away from the eye-popping 100m dash times of the Jamaicans and Americans, it will be interesting to see a competitive European amongst the top 8 of the blue riband effect come the Daegu World Championships.

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!

On Justin Gatlin’s comeback

The track & field wires were buzzing with news of Justin Gatlin’s first 100m race after a four-year doping suspension. Prevented by a European-wide edict discouraging meet organizers from inviting drug offenders to high-level meets, Gatlin competed at a low-key Estonian meet.

The Athens 2004 double gold medalist ran a 10.24s to top a modest field with an equally modest time.

As a track athlete myself, I abhor the use of performance-enhancing substances. It cheapens the sport and taints the achievements of the clean athletes with doubt and suspicion. Olympic-style drug testing is a stringent regimen, based on what I’ve read from athlete blogs and news features, doing much to clean the image of track & field. But then again, drug cheats will always find a way to get an illegal edge, to find other substances below the mainstream radar.

Frankly speaking, I am against the policy of excluding doping offenders from big money meets like the Diamond League, especially those who had served lengthy suspensions. Such is the case for Dwain Chambers and now, Gatlin.

In my opinion, the meet organizers should be more forgiving and realize how difficult it is for a professional athlete to endure suspensions and ostracism. Everyone deserves a second a chance, including our fallen champions.

Chambers, for instance, plays well into his new-found role of the elder statesman of European sprinting. He was magnanimous in defeat. I don’t like Chambers, but I must admit that he acted like a true sportsman when he congratulated Christophe Lemaitre after the 100m final.

I am not an apologist for drug cheating. Punish them to the fullest extent of the law. Let Gatlin and Chambers compete in the big meets! If they fail drug tests in the future, ban them for life. But please, give them a chance to prove themselves yet again, to redeem their tarnished reputations.

Photo credits:

Yahoo News

Lemaitre wins European 100m crown

Christophe Lemaitre won his first-ever senior title, the European Championships 100m gold, about a month after breaking the 10-second barrier. The Frenchman, after a sluggish start, stormed through the last 40m, leaving the other sprinters on his wake.

Lemaitre stopped the clock at 10.11s. Remarkably, the next 4 athletes clocked identical 10.18s times. An analysis of the photo-finish footage credited Athens 2004 relay gold medalist, the Briton Mark Lewis-Francis, (10.172) with the silver. Martial Mbandjock (10.173) from France got third, while the 2006 Goteborg champion, Francis Obikwelu, (10.174) reigning World Indoor Champion Dwain Chambers (10.178) and Gambian-born Norwegian, Jaysuma Saidy Ndure were awarded 4th, 5th and 6th, respectively.

As an aside, is a dead heat possible in track & field? Can two athletes (or three!) share a single medal?

What a year for the young Frenchman. What a debut on major outdoor championship. So long as he irons out some sprinting specifics (his start, his stability), Lemaitre will surely go places. Although I don’t see him beating the Big Three anytime soon, it’s refreshing to see someone so young do so well at the senior stage.

Additional links:

Yahoo sports article

IAAF article

Results

Chambers beats Lemaitre!

32-year old Briton, Dwain Chambers, ran a superb 100m, stopping the clock at 9.99s at the European Team Championships in Bergen, Norway. Chambers, banned for two-years after testing positive for performance-enhancing substances in 2003 edged out European Junior record holder Christophe Lemaitre (10.02s), who in turn, shaved off 0.01s off his previous best. Chambers is in fine form this year after bagging the 60m dash gold at the 2010 World Indoor Championships in Doha.

The 20-year old Lemaitre is the real deal. From 10.04s in 2009, he lowered his European record to 10.03s a month ago. Now, if he can only get a good start, a sub-10 clocking is surely in the offing. I guess when you’re 1.89m (6’2) tall, those long limbs could get in the way. (but hey, Asafa Powell’s taller at 6’3 and he has a superb start).

More links:

IAAF Article

Telegraph article

European Athletics – Event Report (100m dash)

European Athletics – Euro Team Championships page

Video credits:

http://www.youtube.com/user/HIFKetc

Photo credits:

http://www.iaaf.org

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