Category Archives: World Championships

Track Beauty of the Week: Olga Rypakova Ольга Рыпакова

The Kazakh triple jumper is one of the best in her event. Rypakova has jumped 15.25m outdoors and 15.14m indoors, both Asian records. She also has a world-class personal best in the long jump at 6.85m. Olga is the 7th best triple jumper all-time.

Click here to read the full article…

Portrait Silke Spiegelburg

Check out this documentary on German Olympic hopeful Silke Spiegelburg.

Silke has a personal best 4.82m, set in Monaco this year. She has won two European Indoor silver medals the past few years. Spiegelburg finished second at the Barcelona European Championships two years ago. Spiegelburg has been a finalist in two World Championships, this year’s World Indoors and the Beijing Olympics.

Read: “London Olympics Preview – The Pole Vault”

Go Silke! You deserve a medal!

Sources:

Silke’s IAAF profile

Wikipedia

Tiina Lillak: Finnish Javelin Legend

When I was watching the javelin qualification rounds of the Helsinki European Championships, I noticed a prominent banner. Written in bold letters were the words: “Finland the Javelin Country.” Indeed, the javelin throw is a national past time in the Nordic countries. Of the sixty-nine medals awarded in the event since 1896, a staggering thirty-two medals had been won by troika of Sweden, Norway, and Finland. In fact, Finland had swept the medals twice in Olympic history.

The Euro Sport announcers then went on to talk about a certain Tiina Lillak, and how she snatched the inaugural World Championships gold on her final throw – in front of thousands of ecstatic Finns.

Tiina Lillak circa 1983. (Photo from Jos Hendrix)

Britain’s Fatima Whitbread threw down the gauntlet at the first round, throwing the spear to a distance of 69.14s. Lillak was in second place, with distances of 67.34m and 67.46m achieved in the first and fifth rounds. As the legendary Finn prepared for her final throw, the camera focused on Lillak. She was the portrait of sheer determination. Just from her expression, it was apparent that Lillak was summoning something grandiose.

And it was an epic throw, indeed. The moment the Finn released the javelin, the crowd let out a collective roar. When it struck the ground, beyond the Briton’s erstwhile leading mark and beyond seventy-meters (70.82m), the tens of thousands in attendance cheered even louder.

Coming from a country where athletics is nothing more than a fringe sport, the thought of a jam-packed stadium and a dramatically triumphant hometown bet gave me goosebumps.

The Euro Championships Men’s Javelin final will be held tonight. The resurgent 2007 World Champion Tero Pitkämäki and the exuberant Ari Mannio lead the Finnish charge. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed as I cheer for hometown duo, hoping to witness an epic in the making.

Source:

Wikipedia

Liu Xiang’s 刘翔 Hurdling Warm-up Routine

Routine is important for a hurdler. In an event where one is required to take the same number of steps (more or less, 35 in each race), hurdlers are creatures of habit. To the novice hurdler, a close look at Liu Xiang’s 刘翔 routine is an eye-opener.

Lawrence Clarke, one of Britain’s best hurdlers, posted an interesting clip of Liu’s hurdling warm-up routine. The video was taken at the Daegu World Championships last year.

1.) Leisurely Five-Steps:

Still wearing his jogging pants, a relaxed Liu easily clears five hurdles. Despite keeping himself relatively high over the barriers (and the movements a tad slower), the suppleness of his hurdling clearance is evident. The 2004 Athens Olympic Champion also takes lightning fast baby steps in between the hurdlers, perhaps to simulate the quick cadence of a race pace.

He even smiles over each hurdle!

2.) Intense Five-Steps:

Liu takes his hurdling several notches higher. The former world record holder’s face puts on a mask of seriousness as he buckles down to business. With each hurdling clearance, the lean, the lead leg extension and the trail snap are executed like one smooth, rhythmic action.

3.) Flat Block Starts:

To prepare himself for full-speed hurdling, Liu then sprints beside the hurdles from a block start.

4.) Single Hurdle Block Starts:

The 2007 World Champion clears one hurdle from a block start, highlighting the importance of this crucial phase of the 110m high hurdles.

5.) The Full Monty!

With every facet of sprint hurdling broken down and rehearsed to perfection, Liu performs the a full-speed rep over three barriers. Liu is mentally and physically prepared for the task at hand – to run in between the barriers as fast as humanly possible, in the most efficient manner imaginable.

Unless someone knocks you off balance.

Click here to view the Daegu 110m High Hurdles Final

P.S.

Through the years, I’ve developed my own routine vastly similar to Liu’s. Although my hurdling is light-years away from the hurdling great, it’s good to know that I’ve been doing it right!

Andrew Pozzi: The Demolition Man

The way Britain’s Andrew Pozzi cleared the final barrier was one for the books. Hurdling coaches always emphasize aggressiveness. But perhaps the exuberant Pozzi was a bit too harsh on the tenth hurdle!

Pozzi pummels the last hurdle! (Photo from Zimbio/Getty Images)

Britain’s talented hurdler, Pozzi, ran the race of his life in Istanbul. After narrowly edging out Athens Olympic Champion Liu Xiang in the heats and notching an impressive personal best (7.56s), The Demolition Man placed a hard fought fourth in the final. The young Briton stopped the clock in 7.58s, behind the newly-minted World Indoor Champion, Aries Merritt (7.44s), Liu (7.49s) and fellow youngster Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (7.53s).

Congratulations to Andrew “The Demolition Man” Pozzi for a memorable debut on the world stage!

Istanbul 2012: 60m Hurdles Heats Wrap-up

I’ve missed the morning session of Day 2 of the ongoing World Indoor Championships in Istanbul because I had athletics training. Luckily, the clips of the first two heats have already been uploaded to Youtube.

With Dayron Robles pulling out of Istanbul because of a leg injury (and possibly, motivation problems), the prospect of a legendary clash between Liu Xiang and Robles has been delayed. The newly-crowned world champion Jason Richardson and American record holder David Oliver are missing from the start list.

Liu, the former world record holder in the outdoor distance, is the undeniable favorite to win the title. He’s in sterling shape, having set an Asian Record of 7.41s a few weeks back. Liu already has a full set of World Indoor Championships medals from 2003, 2004 and 2008, when he won a bronze, silver and gold, respectively.

On paper, Liu is the fastest competitor amongst the Istanbul participants this season. Aries Merritt (7.43s A), Russia’s Konstantin Shabanov (7.52s), and France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (7.54s)  round up the next three. Kevin Craddock, with a season’s best of 7.46s A didn’t start his heat.

View the 2012 60m hurdles top list here

Martinot-Lagarde, the 2010 World Junior Champion, won the first heat in classy fashion. He had a great start, and ran abreast with four other guys in his heat before gradually powering his way to first place, edging out South Africa’s Lehann Fourie by one-hundredths of a second.

Liu Xiang had a relatively slow reaction time (0.214s), like most of the sprinters and hurdlers competing in the 60m distance. Perhaps he was trying to be careful, in light of the unexpected exits of several big names due to the starting fiasco in Istanbul. Britain’s Andrew Pozzi took the second heat in 7.61s, as Liu (7.62s) slowed down to finish line.

Merritt (7.66s) and Emanuele Abate of Italy (7.71s) won the next two heats.

My picks for top two are Liu and Merritt. Liu, with his injury-plagued seasons finally behind him is hungry for a world title. It’s high time the hard working Merritt wins his share of the limelight too.

The field is open for third place. If I were a betting (which I am not), my money’s on Martinot-Lagarde. His laid-back demeanor reminds me so much of Liu. Happy hurdlers are dangerous competitors. Expect the Martinot-Lagarde to spring a surprise in Istanbul.

Additional Link:

60m hurdles heats results

“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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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!

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

Darya Klishina Дарья Клишина with the Filipino jumpers!

The Philippines’ top long jumper, Henry Dagmil, posted photos of him and Marestella Torres with none other than Darya KlishinaДарья Клишина !

 

Salamat sa litrato, Kuya Dags!

Koji Murofushi strikes gold!

Casting thoughts of the 110m high hurdles final aside, I am ecstatic for Koji Murofushi 室伏 アレクサンダー 広治! I grew up reading about (and occasionally, watching clips) of the great Japanese hammer thrower. To see him strike gold in the world stage is heartwarming.

Thanks to a live streaming link, I was able to watch Day 3 as it happened (well, it was around three to five minutes delayed, thanks to my slow connection). Murofushi grabbed the lead at the onset and clung to it until the finish. He threw the hammer to a massive 81.24m in the third round (and in the fifth!). This was Murofushi’s best throw in three years, and the fourth best mark in the 2011 top list.

Read the IAAF article here

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Deja Vu: 2010 World Juniors 110m High Hurdles Final

My initial reaction after seeing Liu Xiang 刘翔 and Dayron Robles make contact at that controversial sprint hurdles final last night was one of sympathy for the two hurdlers. Stuff like these happen all the time in the hurdles.

A good example is the 110m high hurdles final of last year’s World Junior championships. The United States’ Caleb Cross was leading the race until the fast-finishing Pascale Martinot-Lagarde caught up at the ninth hurdle. Lagarde was running in lane eight, with Cross in lane seven, similar in circumstances to the Daegu sprint hurdles final.

Cross lost his rhythm for a split-second. As he dropped out of the lead, Lagarde, Jack Meredith and Vladimir Vukicevic overtook the erstwhile leader. Like Robles, Lagarde immediately apologized to Cross after the race. The Frenchman wasn’t happy with the unintentional contact, but then again, such occurrences are part of the high hurdles.

Cross and Lagarde both led with their right legs. But Cross, being a raw junior athlete, still displayed a wildly flailing trail arm (his right arm). Cross’ upward-jerking trail arm was bound to hit Lagarde’s lead arm (his left) – which swung at a wide “C” – at some point in the race.

Faulty Daegu Starters!

Hardly anyone false starts in the distance races, much less the friggin’ Marathon. The 42km race is a far cry from Usain Bolt and the 100m dash where sprinters start from a crouching position, isn’t it? Wrong.

Check out the following clip. The runners false start. Officials call them back. Then the gun fires when the runners were walking back. The runners turn around upon the retort of the gun!

Hilarious! Simply, hilarious! Good thing no one got disqualified.

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