Category Archives: 2010 European Championships

Track Beauty of the Week: Denisa Rosolová (Denisa Ščerbová)

Denisa Ščerbová-Rosolová is this week’s track beauty!

The Czech athlete originally started out as a heptathlete, but shifted focus to the long jump. The then 16-year Rosolová leaped 6.40m to win silver at the World U-17 Championships. A year later, she was crowned as the World junior champion, notching a 6.61m jump in the final.

Photos from topathletics.org and Denisa Rosolová

The skilled Rosolová went back to the multi-events in 2008 (her best mark in the heptathlon is 6,104 points). According to an EAA article, injuries sustained from the grueling discipline saw Rosolová shift to the 400m.

Photos from Denisa Rosolová’s Facebook fan page and Daylife/Getty Images

Rosolová had won numerous Czech national titles in the long jump and heptathlon. Despite winning the European indoor long jump silver in Birmingham back in 2007, triumph seemed to elude Rosolová in both the jumps and the multi-events.

In 2010, Rosolová made the big shift to the quarter-mile. Success was immediate for the versatile athlete. At the European Championships in Barcelona, the Czech went tantalizingly close to 50 seconds in the 400m, finishing 5th (50.90s) in the highly competitive final.

At the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Paris, Rosolová nipped the fancied Russian duo of Olesya Krasnomovets Олеся Александровна Форшева and Kseniya Zadorina Ксения Ивановна Задорина in the last 60m, winning her first major senior title. The 24-year old ran an indoor personal best of 51.73s en route to the gold, bettering her 2011 season’s best by a massive five hundredths of a second.

Denisa, however, wasn’t as successful outdoors in 2011. Despite notching a new personal best in the 400m dash in Ostrava (50.84s), the Czech could only muster a semi-finals finish in the Daegu World Championships, exiting the competition in 52.53s. At the 2012 World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Rosolova qualified for the finals (her first in the worlds as a quarter miler) and finished in sixth place.

Article by Joboy Quintos

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

Track Beauty of the Week: Yelizaveta Bryzhina (Єлізавета Бризгіна)

Yelizaveta Bryzhina (Єлізавета Бризгіна) is this week’s track beauty!

The 20-year Ukrainian sprinter has fine athletics genes. Both of her parents are Olympic Gold medalist in the sprints for the former Soviet Union. Fresh from her first major championship triumph, a gold in the 4x100m relay at the 2010 European Championships, the young Bryzhina’s future  looks promising.

Photos from yahoo, umoloda.kiev.ua and ledilid.livejournal.com

On top of the Ukrainian team’s world leading 42.29s win, Bryzhina finished behind surprise winner Myriam Soumare in the 200m dash, thanks for the former’s finishing kick.

Video credits:

TheSphack

181dvdEuropei

Track Beauty of the Week: Verena Sailer

Verena Sailer is this week’s track beauty!

The German sprinter came first international breakthrough in an individual event came at the 2009 European Indoor Championships, where Sailer won bronze. As a junior, the powerfully built Verena finished 5th at the 2004 World Junior Championships in Grossetto. The 24-year old and the rest of the German 4x100m relay quartet, performed magnificently in front of the home crowd at the 2009 World Championships.

Photos from sportgate.de, welt.de, sulekha.com, and fehmarn24.de

The Bavarian-born Verena competes for the MTG-Mannheim athletics club.

The German sprint queen was slowed down by a spate of injuries at the start of the 2010 season. But gradually, she recovered her fine form. In the Barcelona European Championships, Verena stopped the clock at a new personal best of 11.10s, winning an unexpected gold by the infinitesimal of margins.

This is a long overdue post! I originally wanted to do a Track Beauty post as soon as Verena stamped her class in the Barcelona century dash field.

Read: Barcelona 2010 Wrap-up – Underdogs and Finishing Kicks

As they say, it’s better late than never!

Track Beauty of the Week: Olivia Borlée

Olivia Borlée is this week’s track beauty!

The 24-year old Belgian is a 200m specialist, with a personal best of 22.89s in the half lap. Her best time in the century dash is a respectable 11.39s. The eldest of the Borlée siblings has two major championship 4x100m relay medals to her name – a bronze in the 2007 Osaka World Championships and a silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Read: “The Borlees: En Route to Olympic History”

(Photo from Erik van Leeuwen)

At the Barcelona European Championships, Borlée failed to go beyond the semis, finishing sixth in her heat.

Olivia and her twin brothers are trained by their father, Jacques. Off the track, Borlée is working towards a degree in fashion design, while aiming to represent Belgium at the 2012 London Games.

Watch the BBC feature on Olivia Borlée and her London 2012 goal

Additional links:

Wiki

The Borlees

Olivia Borlée

“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

American 4x400m Relay Dominance

The Men’s 4x400m has always been the playground of the United States. Since the start of the modern Olympic Games, the Americans had in all but five editions of the quadrennial event (1980, 1972, 1952, 1936 and 1920). In the IAAF World Championships, the dominant Americans lost only in 1983, 1991, 1997 and 2003.

Click here for in-depth, historical athletics results

More often than the not, the only ways to beat the Americans in the 4x400m relay are when they get disqualified for doping offenses (like in the 1997 World Championships and the 2000 Olympic Games). Since the 4x400m relay is longer and slower than its shorter counterpart, the 4x100m relay, there’s much room for error in baton exchanges. Unless the Americans suffer outright disqualification by going beyond the passing lanes or deliberately impeding another athlete’s right of way, the American quartet is a sure cinch for gold.

In recent years, the U.S. stranglehold over the event has been, I must admit, quite boring. With dominant quarter milers like Jeremy Wariner and LaShawn Merritt, other nations are hard-pressed to keep up. In the finals of the big meets, the other relay teams seem to The Men’s 4x400m has always been the playground of the United States. Since the start of the modern Olympic Games, the Americans had in all but five editions of the quadrennial event (1980, 1972, 1952, 1936 and 1920). In the IAAF World Championships, the dominant Americans lost only in 1983, 1991, 1997 and 2003.

More often than the not, the only ways to beat the Americans in the 4x400m relay are when they get disqualified for doping offenses (like in the 1997 World Championships and the 2000 Olympic Games). Since the 4x400m relay is longer and slower than its shorter counterpart, the 4x100m relay, there’s much room for error in baton exchanges. Unless the Americans suffer outright disqualification by going beyond the passing lanes or deliberately impeding another athlete’s right of way, the American quartet is a sure cinch for gold.

In recent years, the U.S. stranglehold over the event has been, I must admit, quite boring. With dominant quarter milers like Jeremy Wariner and LaShawn Merritt, other nations are hard-pressed to keep up. In the finals of the big meets, the other relay teams seem to battle for second place – not first place.

The British Golden Days

The most exciting clips of the event I’ve seen so far are from the heydays of British 400m sprinting in the 1990’s. These were the times when the likes of 1996 Atlanta 400m silver medalist Roger Black and 1996 Atlanta 4x400m silver medalist Iwan Thomas comprised a lean and mean 400m lineup for Britain. In the 1991 Tokyo World Championships, the quartet of Black, Derek Redmond of Celebrate Humanity fame, John Regis and Kriss Akabusi edged out an American team, 2:57.53 to 2:57:57, setting a new Area Record in the process.

The race itself was intense, with then British record holder Black sprinting a monstrous 1st leg effort. Akabusi, a 400m hurdler, ran a superb tactical fourth leg, lurking behind then World Champion Antonio Pettigrew. In the last 50m or so, Akabusi powered his way to the tape, gifting Britain with the gold medal.

In the 1997 World Championships in Athens, the British team of Black, Thomas, indoor specialist Jamie Baulch and Mark Richardson lost out on a gold medal by 0.18s. I particularly enjoyed watching the gutsy Baulch storm to the lead during the third leg.

In 2008, however, a member of the victorious U.S. team, the late Antonio Pettigrew, admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs in the same period as the 1997 World Championships. Pettigrew returned his medals. The British sprinters were awarded their much-delayed gold medals on January 2010, thirteen long years after the Americans’ tainted romp to first place.

Read the BBC article on the 1997 World Championships 4x400m team

The Contenders

The most viable contenders would have to be the Bahamas, Russia, Belgium and Britain. The Bahamians, paced by Chris Brown (not the rapper!), won silver behind the United States at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Russians won the bronze in the same event, despite not having having any representative to the 400m final (the young Vladimir Kraznov is a potential gem, having competed with distinction at the 2010 European Championships). Moreover, a resurgent British team lead by Black and Thomas’ heir apparent, Martyn Rooney, is within striking distance. If Belgium’s Borlee twins can reach sub-44  or low-44 second territory, the Belgians can be a legitimate contender as well.

Don’t count out Jamaica too. A certain Usain Bolt running in the low-43’s or high-42’s and a decent enough supporting cast could break the American stranglehold!

Track Beauty of the Week: Ineta Radeviča

Ineta Radeviča is this week’s track beauty!

For years since winning a double bronze medal in the long (6.70m) and triple jumps (14.04m) in the 2003 U-23 Bydgoszcz European Championships, Radeviča languished under the athletics radar. The Latvian missed the 2008 Beijing Olympics whilst pregnant with her first child.

Ineta at the 2010 Barcelona European Championships. (Photo from Erik van Leeuwen)

Although she qualified for long jump final in several major meets, a podium finish remained elusive. Her personal best of 6.80m (2005) lasted until the 2010 Barcelona European Championships – where the Latvian unexpectedly leaped to 6.92m and the gold medal!

Radevica is the second Latvian to become European Champion, following the footsteps of the sprint hurdler, Staņislavs Olijars (Gold, Goteborg 2006).

The 29-year old outclassed a quality field composed of 2003 World Indoor Championships silver medalist Naide Gomes (POR), whom she beat on countback; and Olga Kucharenko (RUS) owner of several 7-meter jumps this season.

Additional links:

Wiki

EAA Long Jump write-up

2010 Barcelona EC Long Jump results

Photo credit:

Erik van Leeuwen, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Same Old Carro

Take a look at the following Carolina Kluft interviews. The BBC interview was held right after Kluft won the 2003 Paris World Championships as a 20-year old heptathlete. The interview is in-depth and provides a uniquely intimate look on how Kluft thinks. Her answers are succinctly honest.

The second clip is a more recent albeit less formal interview by Spikesmag. Kluft had just leaped a season’s best, earning a spot in the final despite her wild card entry to the 2010 European Championships.

At first glance, the younger Kluft from 2003 might seem like an entirely different person. She was at the cusp of greatness, a world champion heptathlete at the tender age of 20. Fast forward seven years later. Kluft had retired from the multi-events, opting to focus on the long jump. She’s a far cry from her dominant self, failing to land within the top 3 during the Barcelona European Champs. Her body has also suffered from a string of injuries, the price of competing at the top level for so long.

Read “The Talented Ms. Kluft”

And yet, Kluft remained competitive. She still finds meaning in the sport, enjoying the competition and the challenge of a new event. Despite the difference in appearance and in events, it is apparent that the 2010 Kluft is as hungry and competitive as the 2003 Kluft!

Indeed, Caro is every inch the champion.

Video credits:

BBC

Spikesmag

Track Beauty of the Week: Margrethe Renstrøm

Margrethe Renstrøm is this week’s track beauty!

The Norwegian jumper did well at the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona. Renstrøm leaped to a personal best of 6.68m at the qualifying rounds, setting a new Norwegian record in the process. She failed to duplicate her sterling form in the final, jumping only 6.18m which was good enough for 12th overall.

 

 

 Photos from kondis.nofvn.no and dagbladet.no

Renstrøm ranked 13th in the Long Jump qualifying at the 2009 Berlin World Championships. The ace Norwegian long jumper won double medals at the Long and Triple jumps at the 2006 European Cup Second League in 2006 – a remarkable performance for the multi-talented jumper.

The Søgne-born Renstrøm holds both the Norwegian triple and long jump records. She set her first national long jump record at the 2009 Norwegian Championships, where she leaped 6.64m to better the then twenty-nine year old benchmark.

Two years after her record-breaking performance in Barcelona, Renstrøm again competed with distinction at the European Championships. The Norwegian, together with Karen Mey Melis and Eloyse Leseur, topped the qualifying rounds with a 6.66m mark. Margrethe barged into top three, despite notching only two valid marks in the final.

Leseur eventually won the competition in 6.81m. Renstrøm’s best jump of 6.67m was good enough for the bronze – Margrethe’s first ever major international medal.

Additional Link:

All-Athletics Profile

Verena Sailer: Ich wollte unbedingt Gold

Verena Sailer’s post-race interview!

Video credits:

Zdf.de

Track Beauty of the Week: Emma Green-Tregaro

Emma Green-Tregaro is this week’s track beauty!

During the heyday of the big five of Swedish athletics (Carolina Kluft, Kajsa Bergqvist, Stefan Holm, Christian Olsson and Susanna Kallur), the young Emma Green had already made her mark on the world stage.

As a 21-year old, Green grabbed bronze behind Berqvist’s gold at the rain-soaked 2005 Helsinki World Championships, where the former cleared 1.96m.

 

Photos from IAAF, Wikipedia and Digitalextreme.de

Green won Sweden’s only medal at the 2010 Barcelona European Championships, jumping to a new personal best of 2.01m, behind Blanka Vlasic. With her entry into the 2.00 meter club, the unassuming lass has bolstered her status into the high jump elite – and as the small, but athletically-astute Scandinavian country’s ace track & field talent.

Photo from IAAF

Green-Tregaro has had a consistent 2011 season. Despite inclement weather, she took the scalp of Vlasic at the New York Diamond League. A few days later, she wowed the Swedish crowd at the historic Ullevi Stadium at the SPAR European Team Championships.

The Swede has tremendous athletics talent. Through the years, she has won national titles in the sprints (100m, 200m) and the horizontal jumps (triple jump and long jump) as well.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Additional links:

IAAF article

Emma Green official site

Wiki

Europameisterin Verena Sailer!

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.

2010 BCN Wrap-up: Underdogs and Finishing Kicks

The past two weeks have been quite exciting for this track & field buff. I had fun watching the future of athletic strut their stuff at the 2010 Moncton World Junior Championships. A week later, the Barcelona European Athletics Championships took place. And boy, did I have my fill of high caliber track & field action.

Despite the absence of marquee names such as Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay and the African distance specialists, the quality of the competition was superb since the cream of the crop of events like the heptathlon, the throws and the jumps originate from this storied continent. Europe, after all, is the hotbed of track & field.

Even though I’m thousands of kilometers away and every inch an Asian, I became so engrossed at the Euro Championships that I devoured every single video clip and news article that piqued my interest. Thanks to broadband internet, it seemed as if I was actually amidst the crowd, savoring the championship festivities.

Experience a panoramic view of the Barcelona Olympic Stadium

What I liked best about the 2010 Euro Champs are the underdog victories and last-ditch bursts of speed to the tape.

The Monstrous, Finishing Kicks (or last ditch leaps)

3.) 4x100m (M): Martial Mbandjock’s anchor leg:

2.) Long Jump (M): Christian Reif rewriting Robert Emmiyan’s championship record with his final jump:

1.) 200m (M): Christophe Lemaitre erasing Christian Malcolm’s lead:

The Underdogs

7.) 1500m run (W): Nuria Fernandez’s first major championship crown:

The 33-year old overcame fast-starting world leader Anna Alminova in a free-for-all dash to the tape.

6.) 4x400m (M): Russia wins first-ever 4x400m relay medal since 2002 – a gold at that!

5.) 200m dash (W): Myriam Soumare’s golden half-lap:

The French sprinter had the slowest PB among all finalists, but still managed to shave off a significant chunk of her previous best to win the gold:

4.) Decathlon: Romain Barras‘ Decathlon victory!

Barras hung-on to a 5-point lead coming into the 1500m run – and his first major crown.

3.) 4x100m (W): Ukraine grabs relay gold:

Ukraine, with its nifty passing, wins the 400m relay crown – without a Top 10 sprinter in its lineup!

2.) 400m dash (M): Kevin Borlee does a Marc Raquil:

The “other” Borlee twin came out of nowhere all the way to first place, ahead of his more illustrious brother, Jonathan, and two Britons.

1.) 100m dash (W): Verena Sailer’s decisive dive (and Soumare’s unexpected bronze)

I’m just a sucker for underdog stories. The football movies “Rudy” and “The Replacements” are one of my favorites. There’s an infectious magic found in those unexpected victories. It doesn’t have to a gold medal. Once an athlete exceeds his/her expectations and does the improbable, the sheer joy the athlete exudes is indeed priceless.

Being an athlete myself, I know how it feels to chase something distant, to give your all for a single larger-than-life goal.

Perhaps that’s why we love sports so much. Despite its fair share of scandals, sport brings out the best in our being human. Those Herculean feats inspire and sustain, enables us to smile more often amidst the reality that is life – to dream a little bit higher.

Video Credits:

EuroSport

Photo credits:

Yahoo News

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