Tag Archives: 200m

Track Beauty of the Week: Melissa Breen

Melissa Breen is this week’s Track Beauty!

The 22-year old is a top-ranked Australian elite sprinter. Breen had won national titles in both the 100m and the 200m since 2009. To date, her major championship curriculum vitae include stints at the Commonwealth Games, the World Championships, and most recently, the 2012 London Olympic Games.

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Track Beauty of the Week: Elizaveta Savlinis Елизавета Савлинис

Elizaveta Savlinis Елизавета Савлинис is this week’s Track Beauty!

Savlinis specializes in the 200m dash. Her breakout year in the half-lap came in 2012, when she went under the 23-second barrier for the first time in her career. Elizaveta has a personal best of 22.62s, which she set in 2011 and 2012.

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Track Beauty of the Week: Marika Popowicz

Marika Popowicz is this week’s Track Beauty!

Popowicz is a Polish sprinter who specializes in the 100m and 200m. Marika has a personal best of 11.38s and 23.15s in the aforesaid events, set during her breakout season in 2009.The young Polish speedster racked brought home multiple individual medals as well as a relay medal from the World Military Games and the World University Games.

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Track Beauty of the Week: Kai Selvon

Kai Selvon is this week’s Track Beauty!

The sprinter is an up and coming athlete from Trinidad and Tobago. She competes in both the 100m and 200m, as well as in the 4x100m relay for the Trinidadian national team. To date, Selvon has personal bests of 11.21s and 22.85s.

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Still an Usain Bolt Show

The Jamaican Olympic Trials were a revelation.

Usain Bolt’s 100m defeat to his young training partner, Yohan Blake, came as a surprise. Blake’s commanding victory in the 200m was even more astounding. Bolt has shown chinks in armor in the century dash, owing to his inconsistent start. But in the half-lap sprint, the great Jamaican sprinter has been peerless.

Bolt en route to the 200m dash gold in Beijing. (Photo from Richard Giles)

The aforesaid losses to Blake and rumors of lingering injury, have pushed some athletics pundits to tag Blake as the prime candidate for Olympic sprinting glory.

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

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

Those views are not entirely baseless. On paper, the 2012 Bolt is a far cry from his 2009 self. The Jamaican champion’s 100m and 200m season’s bests are at 9.76s and 19.83s, respectively -light years away from his world records of 9.58s and 19.19s. Coming into the London Olympics, Blake is the world leader in both of the aforesaid events (9.75s and 19.80s).

True enough, Blake has what it takes to beat his compatriot. The 2011 100m World Champion (in the absence of a disqualified Bolt), is the third fastest in the 100m all-time list, behind Bolt and Asafa Powell. Blake has a personal best of 19.26s in the 200m a mark only bettered by Usain’s world record of 19.19s and is the only man who can challenge Bolt in the half lap sprint.

Powell, the former 100m world record, has the necessary tools edge out Bolt in the century dash. But the 30-year old has been a perennial underachiever in the major championships. Tyson Gay, the 100m and 200m World Champion from 2007, also enjoys the tag as a potential Bolt-beater. The oft-injured Gay is one of only two men to beat a post-Beijing Olympics Usain Bolt in the 100m (the other is, of course, Blake). Gay, recently recovered from a hip operation, owns the second fastest time in the 100m at 9.69s, behind Bolt’s 9.58s world record.

    

Blake (L), Gay (C), and Powell (R). (Photos from Erik van Leeuwen, Eckhard Pecher, and Jonas Witt)

Judging by the stat sheets and the results of the Jamaican Olympic Trials, a monumental collapse by Usain Bolt is in the offing.

I beg to disagree because of four important factors.

First, Bolt has the most experience amongst the four contenders. The Jamaican has won sprinting titles in Youth, Junior and Senior World Championship events. He has been competing at the highest level of sport since he was 15-years old. No other athlete, save for Russian Pole Vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and New Zealand’s Shot Putter Valerie Adams, have shown such consistency amongst the different age groups.

And of course, Bolt is the defending Olympic Champion. Blake, Gay, and Powell have yet to win individual Olympic golds.

Second, Bolt is a freak of nature. Speed is a function of stride length and stride frequency. Bolt, with his 1.95m/ 6’5 frame, excels in both departments. No Olympic or World sprinting champion was as tall and quick as Usain Bolt.

Third, Bolt has been in similar circumstances before. As a talented youngster, Bolt owns the World Youth best and the World Junior record in the 200m. His transition to the senior ranks, however, was marked by injury and a seeming lack of focus. Despite being popular in Jamaica, he was an unknown outside immediate athletics circles. There was a lull in his career from 2003 to 2008, until the Beijing Olympics where he romped to three Olympic Gold medals.

Lastly, Bolt has the ability to dig deep. In the glitz and glamour of the short sprints, people tend to overlook the fact that Usain once excelled in the 400m dash in his younger days. As a 16-year old, the Jamaican ran 45.35s, the sixth fastest ever by a Youth athlete. Although Gay has a faster personal best than Bolt in the quarter-mile, the latter has the necessary championship pedigree in the event. In my opinion, his background in the 400m is what sets him apart from his competitors. It puts him in a vastly different mindset.

Because of his long legs, we don’t usually see Bolt get the fastest start in the short dashes. But once his pistons start firing in full throttle, the race is over – more often than not. Indeed, it takes guts and determination to snatch victory from behind.

Despite the snags of Bolt’s 2012 season, the London 2012 Olympics shall still be Usain Bolt’s one big sprinting party.

Track Beauty of the Week: Murielle Ahouré

Murielle Ahouré is this week’s Track Beauty!

The Ivorian sprinter has improved gradually the past few years. From an 11.42s best in the 100m dash in 2006, Ahouré came close to the 11-seconds in 2009, as she clocked 11.09s in Greensboro. She had forgettable campaigns in the next two years, but the 2012 season has been a revelation for the fast starting African sprinter.

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Track Beauty of the Week: Mary Onyali-Omagbemi

Mary Onyali-Omagbemi is this week’s Track Beauty!

The retired Nigerian sprinter is an athletics legend. It is difficult enough to qualify for one or two Olympic Games, but Onyali-Omagbemi represented her country at the Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney and Athens Olympics. She had also won seven All-Africa sprinting titles and two Commonwealth Games gold medals.

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London Olympics Preview: The 200m Dash

Photo from Nigel Chadwick

Women’s 200m Dash

The ladies’ half-lap sprint, like most of the most of the dashes, will pit the United States versus Jamaica. With the Olympics barely two months away, the U.S. holds a commanding lead against the Jamaicans – on paper, at least.

 

Felix (L) and Campbell-Brown (R). (Photos from Erik van Leeuwen)

Out of the top ten performances this year, nine were run by Americans. The only exception is Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the Beijing 100m dash champion, who ran 22.10s at the Jamaican Olympic Trials. Allyson Felix is the world leader at 21.69s, the the fifth fastest all-time. The other two American bets in the 20m dash, Sanya Richards-Ross (22.09s) and Carmelita Jeter (22.11s) are ranked 2nd and 4th, respectively.

The American squad is a potent mix of quarter-mile talent (Richards-Ross), brute explosiveness (Jeter), and all-around sprinting excellence (Felix).

Going head-to-head against the Americans are experienced Jamaican troika of Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown (22.38s), and Sherone Simpson (22.37s). The 27-year old Simpson is the 100m dash silver medalist from Beijing, behind Fraser-Pryce. Campbell-Brown is a living athletics legend, who is gunning for her third consecutive Olympic 200m dash title. VCB, as she is fondly called, ruled the 100m and 200m in Daegu, taking gold ahead of Jeter and Felix, respectively.

   

Richards-Ross (L), Fraser-Pryce (C), and Jeter (R). (Photos from Erik van Leeuwen [Richards-Ross and Fraser-Pryce] and André Zehetbauer [Jeter])

Other candidates for a spot in the final are Murielle Ahoure, Nercely Soto, Semoy Hackett, Blessing Okagbare, and Sheniqua Ferguson. The strongest European hopes are Ukraine’s Elyzaveta Bryzgina and Mariya Ryemyen and the Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers.

In terms of personal bests, Felix (21.69s – 2012) and Campbell-Brown (21.77s – 2008) are ahead of the pack, being the only two sprinters who had run below the 22-second barrier. Simpson has a personal best of 22.00s from 2006, set when she was just 21-years old. Richards Ross and Jeter, who had set their respective bests at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, are low-22 second speedsters.

Felix, Richards-Ross, Fraser-Pryce, and Jeter, in light of their recent lifetime bests, have the statistical upper hand. But VCB, as the two-time Olympic champion and the reigning world titlist, could just make it three straight. A repeat of Felix and Campbell-Brown’s Daegu duel could happen. The 200m is tough to call; it could go both ways.

As much as I’d like to see VCB take her third, straight half-lap gold, I have a strong feeling that London 2012 will be Allyson Felix’ dance with Olympic glory.

Top Three Predictions

Gold: Allyson Felix

Silver: Veronica Campbell-Brown

Bronze: Carmelita Jeter/Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce/Sanya Richards-Ross

Men’s 200m Dash

The top two spots in the men’s race is a two-pronged slug fest between training partners Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake.

 

Bolt (L) and Blake (R). (Photos from Erik van Leeuwen)

Bolt’s recent double defeats to Blake have exposed chinks in the Lightning Bolt’s armor. While his 100m dash defeat was not entirely shocking, considering the starting lapses Bolt has made of late, Blake’s 200m dash win is more surprising. Even if the 2011 100m dash World Champion owns the second fastest 200m clocking of all-time at 19.26s, Bolt’s 19.19s from Berlin is considerably faster.

At his best, the 100m/200m world record holder is undefeatable in the half-lap – even to an in-form Blake.

   

Lemaitre (L), Spearmon (C), and Martina (R). (Photos from Erik van Leeuwen [Lemaitre and Martina] and Eckhard Pecher [Spearmon])

With the absence of the injured Walter Dix (19.53s PB) and the comebacking Tyson Gay (19.58s PB) in the 200m dash field, the next best, non-Jamaican challenge will come from Wallace Spearmon (19.95s SB). Spearmon is the seventh fastest in over the distance, having a personal best of 19.65s from 2006.

France’s Christophe Lemaitre (20.31s SB) has a fair chance of landing a podium spot. Still only 22-years old, the Frenchman has a lifetime best of 19.80s from the 2011 Daegu World Championships where he took bronze, behind Bolt and Dix.

The other protagonists are Churandy Martina (19.94s SB) and Warren Weir (19.99s SB), both sub-20 sprinters this season. Martina initially won 200m dash silver in Beijing, but was disqualified due to a lane infraction.

Top Three Predictions

Gold: Usain Bolt

Silver: Yohan Blake

Bronze: Christophe Lemaitre/Wallace Spearmon/Churandy Martina.

Source:

IAAF

Track Beauty of the Week: Dafne Schippers

Dafne Schippers is this week’s Track Beauty!

Schippers started out as an excellent heptathlete in her junior and youth days, but has since ventured to the sprints. The Dutch athlete won the World Junior title in Moncton back in 2010, scoring 5,967 points. A year later, she topped the European Junior Championships in Tallinn, amassing a total of 6,153 points.

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“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.

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

Shingo Suetsugo’s (末續 慎吾) Historic World Championship 200m Bronze!

For the longest time, I’ve been scouring the net for a longer clip of the 2003 Paris World Championships 200m Final. It was where Shingo Suetsugo (20.38) unexpectedly clung on to an historic bronze medal finish – a first for an Asian man at major athletics meets. The Asian record holder finished behind Americans John Capel (20.30) and Darvis Patton (20.31). The indefatigable Frankie Fredericks (20.47) crossed the finish line a distant 7th, not bad for 36-year old.

Results (from Sporting-Heroes.com):

  1. Darvis Patton (USA) –          20.31
  2. Shingo Suetsugu (JPN) –     20.38
  3. Darren Campbell (GBR) –    20.39
  4. Stephane Buckland (MRI) – 20.41
  5. Joshua Johnson (USA) –       20.47
  6. Frankie Fredericks (NAB) – 20.47
  7. Uchenna Emedolu (NGR) –  20.62

Suetsugo’s reaction when he found out he got bronze is priceless – truly priceless!

Although he did win a splendid Olympic bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, it’s pity how he faded into insignificance as an individual sprinter.

Read about Japan’s 4x100m Olympic Bronze

When Suetsugo and Liu Xiang both won their respective bronzes in Paris 2003, I thought that the former could go all the way to the Athens Olympics. Suetsugo should have just focused on his event, the 200m dash (20.03), instead of aiming to break the 10-second barrier in the century dash (PB – 10.03).

Video credit:

takuya291941

 

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

David Alerte does a Redmond

Take a look at the Barcelona European Championships 200m final results. Ahead of everyone is the superb French speedster, Christophe Lemaitre (20.37s), who pipped Britain’s Christian Malcolm (20.38s) by 1/100th of a second in a monstrous last-ditch burst to the tape.

At the bottom of the 8-person list is another Frenchman, David Alerte. Beside his name is a time more suitable for a relay split, not a 200m dash final – 1:27.42.

Alerte injured a muscle 80m into the race, ruining his chances for a podium finish. Courageously, the French sprinter walked to the finish line, reminiscent of Derek Redmond’s emphatic act of willpower, which, incidentally happened at the very same Olympic stadium.

The stadium did not burst into cheers (or the occasional tear) as Alerte walked painfully down the track, perhaps because (1) Alerte’s father did not come out of the stands to assist his hobbling son or (2) simply because the European Championships is not as big as the Olympics.

Hey, David, at least you didn’t get a DSQ like Derek did!

Indeed, Lemaitre’s dramatic finish is one for the record books (a good meet so far for the Les Bleus, after their World Cup embarrassment). But I just have to commend Alerte for finishing the race and embodying the Olympic ideal that “the most important thing is not winning, but taking part.”

David Alerte, I salute you!

Additional links:

EAA article

200m results

Photo credits:

Daylife

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