Category Archives: 2010 World Indoor Championships

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.

Advertisements

Liu Xiang (刘翔) vs. Colin Jackson

Who’s the better sprint hurdler, Liu Xiang or Colin Jackson?

I’ll be attempting to answer this question by comparing the two hurdling greats in terms of major championship performances, times, technique and more. Unlike my previous Susanna Kallur vs. Lolo Jones and Liu Xiang vs. Dayron Robles posts, determining the victor of this track & field dream match is difficult beyond comprehension.

Major Championship Performances

Without a doubt, the Olympics is the most prestigious athletics competition there is. In my opinion, an Olympic gold trumps a World Championship gold, much less top plums from regional games like the European Championships and the Asian Games. If we go by the list of accolades alone, Liu’s Olympic gold medal definitely has more weight than Jackson’s Olympic silver. Both athletes won their respective medals in similar fashion. As a 21-year old, Liu tied Jackson’s world record in devastating fashion. A 22-year old Jackson, finished behind Roger Kingdom at the 1988 Seoul Olympics – the former’s only Olympic medal. The Welshman could have achieved more in the modern Olympic Games, had it not been for an unfortunate spate of injuries. Liu is facing a similar predicament, in light of his shocking withdrawal during the 2008 Games.

Colin Jackson’s 1988 Seoul Olympic Silver

Since winning his first major championship title at the 1986 Commonwealth Games to his retirement after the 2003 World Indoor Championships, Jackson’s long career is a testament to his durability. In a physically taxing event like the 110m high hurdles, elite athletes who manage to compete well into their 30’s are but a handful. Hence, it is not surprising that Jackson had collected a myriad of titles from all major competitions. Throughout his career, the Briton had won two Commonwealth Games titles, three European Indoor golds, one World Indoor Championship gold and three World Championship titles. According to Wikipedia, Jackson went undefeated from 1993 to 1995 (44 races all-in-all). Perhaps the most impressive of all his streaks is his 12-year reign as the European Champion (then held as a quadrennial event). Colin’s 60m hurdles indoor record of 7.30s (Sindelfingen, 1994) still stands up to now.

Colin Jackson’s 12-year reign as European Champion

Liu was en route in matching Jacskon’s dominance, if not for a tragic Achilles injury which slowed him down. Since his withdrawal from the 2008 Olympics, Liu has been but a shadow of his old self, finishing far from the medals at the 2010 Doha World Indoor Championships. Nevertheless, the former world record holder’s curriculum vitae remains impressive. In 2002, Liu broke the legendary Renaldo Nehemiah’s World Junior Record, stopping the clock at 13.12s in Lausanne. A year later, he barged into the top three of the Paris World Championships. By 2008, Liu Xiang is the world record holder and the reigning Asian, World Indoor, World and Olympic Champion.

Read: Sidekicks

Read: Liu Xiang and the Asian Games

Read: Liu Xiang’s Comeback

Liu Xiang’s 2004 Athens Olympic Gold

Times

In the IAAF’s all-time top list for the 110m high hurdles, the ageless Jackson’s had 27 performances to Liu’s 16. Both athletes have had five Sub-13 clockings each. In this category, however, Liu is the better hurdler pound-per-pound, in light of the shorter span of time it took him to achieve the aforesaid hurdling milestone.  Both are former world record holders. However, Jackson had more success competing indoors than Liu.  Liu’s  60m hurdles PB of 7.42s is a far cry from Jackson’s world record. This is unsurprising considering Liu’s penchant for come-from-behind victories. Liu almost always isn’t the fastest starter in the field  – but he does get the job done come the finish line. In a sense, Colin Jackson’s faster indoor time is a testament to his better flat-out speed.

Colin Jackson’s 12.91s world record (Stuttgart, 1993)

Liu Xiang’s 12.88s world record (Lausanne, 2006)

But then again, the two athletes lived in two vastly different eras. Each athlete have different circumstances, that a mere objective look into best times doesn’t merit a judicious verdict!

Technique

Being one of the fastest sprint hurdlers of all-time quite necessarily merits an efficient hurdling technique. Liu and Jackson are the epitome of the ideal sprint hurdler. Looking closely at clips of their races, one is hard-pressed to find any flaws at all. Both observe a short-long-short stride pattern.  They both time their leans perfectly before each hurdle clearance. Liu and Jackson both lead with their respective knees. Their lead leg action isn’t too high or excessive, as their lead legs skim at just about the right height above the 1.067m high barriers. Both Liu and Jackson square their lead legs in the proper angle, with the trail foot parallel with the hurdle crossbar. Moreover, none of the exhibit flailing lead arms or trail arms.

Furthermore, the respective flat out speed of both athletes aren’t too fast for the sprint hurdles (Liu probably runs the 100m dash in 10.3. Jackson’s PB is 10.29s). As Nehemiah puts it, a 10-flat sprinter has a relatively harder time negotiating the three-stride rhythm in between. A fast sprinter’s speed becomes an unwitting curse in the sprint hurdles, as one tends to crowd out in between the barriers, requiring flawless hurdling technique.

Indeed, Colin Jackson and Liu Xiang embody the perfect sprint hurdler!

Jackson takes it further

I grew up watching Liu Xiang; hence, it is unavoidable to become biased to my idol! In the past week, however, I’ve been watching quite a lot of Colin Jackson’s old hurdle races. I was awestruck at how fast Jackson cleared hurdles. Comparing Jackson to Liu, Jackson’s snap of the lead leg was a tad quicker.

There and then, I remembered one particular training journal I borrowed from Coach Ed Sediego. The article (written by the great Renaldo Nehemiah himself!) discussed the finer points of hurdling technique. Jackson lead foot exhibits a picture perfect bowed lead foot – where the foot is rotated 45 degrees outward. This specific action prevents the lead leg from going too high above the hurdle; hence, contributing to less time on the air. Also, Jackson’s head action is more refined than Liu’s. Jackson tucks his chin a little lower and angles his head to side whilst clearing hurdles, giving Jackson’s center of gravity a more stable path of travel.

Photos from thelondonseason.com and davidoliverhurdles.blogspot.com

I’m not saying that Liu Xiang’s technique is flawed. It is perfect. It’s just that Colin Jackson takes the concept of hurdling technique further by mastering these finer points.

Off-track talents

Liu Xiang can pack quite a mean karaoke tune. Like Manny Pacquiao, singing is one of Liu’s talents!

Liu even recorded an actual music video with Se7en:

Not to be outdone, Colin Jackson had performed with distinction in the show Strictly Come Dancing:

I’m a Liu Xiang fan to the core, but the competitive nature of Jacskon’s show weighs a little heavier on my book than appearing in a music video. And in light of the aforesaid categories, Jackson holds the upper hand. Sorry Liu, I’d have to give this one to Colin!

P.S.

I’ll write another Liu Xiang vs. Colin Jackson when the former retires from the sport. I believe that Liu has so much more left in his gas tank. Three cheers to your full recovery Liu Xiang! You’ll get ’em in London.

Additional links:

Colin Jackson wiki

Liu Xiang wiki

Video credits:

leeds212

copteruk

ARRISIPPY

ntujavelin

LoveForChinaForava

LetsRunFaster

“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

Track Beauty of the Week: Fabiana Murer

Fabiana Murer is this week’s track beauty!

The Brazilian pole vaulter’s first major championship medal came at the 2008 World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain. The gymnast-turned-pole vaulter cleared 4.70m to grab the bronze medal. Despite leaps of 4.80m and 4.82m in 2008 and 2009, respectively, Murer failed to reprise her stellar form at the Beijing Olympics and Berlin World Championships, finishing 10th and 5th, respectively.

Photos from rankopedia.com, lazeresportes.com, esportesite.com.br and bloglog.globo.com

The South American record-holder’s breakout meet came at the 2010 World Indoor Championships, where an exhausted Yelena Isinbayeva (Murer’s occasional training partner) failed to make the podium. Murer outclassed the more experienced Svetlana Feofanova and an in-form Anna Rogowska, clearing 4.80m.

With personal bests of 4.85m outdoors and 4.82m indoors, Murer is definitely at the forefront of the pole vault elite. How the 29-year old Brazilian fares against a (hopefully) rejuvenated Isinbayeva come 2011 remains to be seen.

Additional links:

Wiki

IAAF article

%d bloggers like this: