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Tag Archives: 2012 London Olympics
August 23, 2012Posted by on
The resemblance between Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) and 2012 Olympic Long Jump Champion Greg Rutherford is… uncanny!
August 20, 2012Posted by on
Find Your Greatness
There are no grand celebrations here. No speeches, no bright lights.
But there are great athletes.
Somehow, we’ve come to believe that greatness is reserved for the chosen few – for the superstar. The truth is, greatness is for all of us.
This is not about lowering expectations. It’s about raising them for every last one of us. Because greatness is not in one special place. It is not in one special person.
Greatness is wherever somebody is trying to find it.
– Nike, “Find Your Greatness” Campaign
August 18, 2012Posted by on
Even if I’m gutted to see Liu Xiang 刘翔crash out of yet another Olympics, it is time to make my customary post-Championships analysis of the athletics’ best event (my biased opinion!).
What struck me the most were the numerous DNF’s and DQ’s. Being an athlete and a sprint hurdler myself, I know for a fact that getting those acronyms written after one’s name is far from a pleasant experience. Even more so in the case of these Olympians, who had trained for many years for this one shot at World’s Greatest Show.
Four athletes failed to finish in Liu’s qualifying heat. In addition to Liu, Shane Brathwaite and Artur Noga did not make it past the initial flights of hurdles. Senegal’s Moussa Dembele was unable to finish, as he faltered midway into the race. In the other heats, four more hurdlers made early exits from Olympic contention, including British hope Andrew ‘The Demolition Man” Pozzi. Pozzi had recently run 13.34s in Crystal Palace, bolstering his chances of making the Olympic final.
Save for the Liu, the rest of the pre-Olympics favorites (Aries Merritt and Jason Richardon, in particular) all made it through to the next round. Merritt topped the heats with a qualifying time of 13.07s. Sergey Shubenkov (13.26s), Jason Richardson (13.33s), Orlando Ortega (13.26s), Dayron Robles (13.33s), and Andy Turner (13.42s) all won their respective qualifying heats.
The American duo of Merritt and Richardson was unchallenged in the semifinal round, as they took the outright finals tickets with relative ease. Richardson stopped the clock at 13.13s in the first semifinal, while Merritt was one-hundredths of second away from clocking yet another 12.93s. The defending Olympic Champion, Dayron Robles, shrugged off initial injury fears with a classy 13.10s.
Ryan Braithwaite, Ortega, and Hansle Parchment were the other automatic qualifiers. Briton Lawrence Clarke and South African Lehan Fourie surprisingly made it to the magic eight, as more fancied prospects like European Champion Sergey Shubenkov and Garfield Darien fell by the wayside.
Prior to London, I picked the young Shubenkov as an outside contender for a podium spot, in light of his impressive string of races. True enough, he looked well at ease in the heats. However, he stumbled in the semis and was unable to progress to the next round.
The only surprise in the final was Robles’ unfortunate injury. In my opinion, the World Record holder could have won at least a bronze medal, had his legs held through.
Robles, Richardson, and Merritt – all seven-step starters – were running practically abreast until the fourth flight of hurdles, when the Cuban pulled up with an injured hamstring. Merritt began to gradually pad his lead over Richarson and the rest of the field in a sterling display of fluid hurdling and jaw-dropping speed in between the barriers.
As expected, Merritt and Richarson won gold and silver. Merritt seemed to have escaped the clutches of yet another 12.93s clocking, as he registered a winning time of 12.92s – one-hundredth of a second off Liu’s Olympic record. Richardson won silver in 13.04s, as Parchment surprisingly lifted the bronze with his 13.12s Jamaican national record.
Running in the first lane, the fast-starting Clarke gave British fans something to cheer about with his fourth place finish (13.39s), fending off the late race challenge of the 2009 World Champion, Braithwaite.
August 15, 2012Posted by on
I was gutted for Andy Murray when he lost in the 2012 Wimbledon final. During the customary post-match speeches, one could feel the appreciation of the British crowd for Murray, who was always considered as too dour. Being an athlete myself, I found his emotional display heartwarming.
Perhaps no other moment could better signify the newly-minted Olympic Champion’s ascendance into British hearts than Henry Caplan’s memorable hug.
August 9, 2012Posted by on
It was heart-wrenching to see Brigitte Foster-Hylton crash out in the qualifying heats of the London Olympics. The evergreen Jamaican has a season’s best of 12.51s and was one of the favorites to land a medal in the Games.
Understandably, Foster-Hylton was almost hysterical when she crossed the line. Lolo Jones tried to console the dejected hurdler, but Foster-Hylton fell on the track in despair the moment Lolo touched her.
The eventual Olympic Champion, Sally Pearson, cut short her post-race interview the moment she saw Foster-Hylton. The Australian put an arm around the Jamaican as they walked off the mixed zone together.
“It was really hard,” said Pearson in an Associated Press report. “She’s trained with me for a long time. Rough sport.”
People admire Sally for the way she hurdles and wins titles. Her display of sportsmanship, camaderie, and the Olympic Spirit has endeared her to millions more.
Sally Pearson. Respect.
“You are my adversary, but you are not my enemy.
For your resistance gives me strength,
Your will gives me courage,
Your spirit ennobles me.
And though I aim to defeat you, should I succeed, I will not humiliate you.
Instead, I will honor you.
For without you, I am a lesser man.”
– Adversary, from the IOC’s Celebrate Humanity Campaign
August 8, 2012Posted by on
As if the monsoon rains here in Manila were not enough, Liu Xiang’s shock exit at the 110m hurdles dampened my mood. Thankfully, the events in the evening session did much to lift my spirits.
Since Robert Harting memorably tore off his vest and manhandled the mascot Berlino at the 2011 World Championships, the German has been one of my favorite athletes to watch. He did not disappoint in London, snatching the gold from the prolific Iranian Ehsan Haddadi احسان حدادی in the fourth round.
Harting ran to his coach to celebrate. He posed for photos for a bit. When someone threw a couple of German flags to the victorious discus thrower, Harting paused, grabbed his vest by the neckline before tearing it apart in his signature post-race celebration!
He took his celebration a couple of notches higher by side-clearing all of the 10 hurdles set out for the upcoming 100m Hurdles final! Said Harting in an IAAF interview: “Maybe Sally Pearson won because she copied something from my technique!”
What a great guy!
August 7, 2012Posted by on
Four years ago in Beijing, Liu Xiang 刘翔 left the Bird’s Nest in pain, not even clearing the first hurdle of his qualifying heat. Four years later in London, Liu’s dreams of an Olympic comeback crumbled yet again.
Following his shock exit in 2008, Liu has been beset by recurring injury. He could not seem to find the old form that brought him an historic Olympic gold, a World Championship title, and a then-12.88s world record in the 110m Hurdles. The Chinese hurdler almost won another world title in Daegu last year, if not for an accidental clash with rival Dayron Robles.
In the run-up to the London Games, the 29-year old had drawn level with Robles’ 12.87s world record, albeit with slight wind assistance. Liu had gone beyond 13.00s twice, stamping his class on the world’s best sprint hurdlers. The stage was set for Liu’s great Olympic comeback in the British Isles. But fate, it seemed, had other plans.
Through the choppy images of my live streaming link, I saw the unfortunate events transpire frame by frame. When the starting gun fired, the rest of the field powered on to the finish line. At the left side of the screen, I saw a lone figure lying on the track clutching his right leg.
The commentators’ gasps of disappointment and regret confirmed my worst fears: Liu’s Olympic campaign had come to an abrupt end.
Liu headed out to an exit near the starting line, but a venue official apparently led him back to the race area. The 2004 Athens Olympic champion hobbled on the straightaway. Limping on his one good leg, Liu veered towards his original lane and gave the final hurdle a kiss. One of his competitors, the Hungarian hurdler Balazs Baji raised Liu’s arm, proclaiming to the entire stadium the latter’s symbolic victory.
In a touching display of camaraderie, hometown boy Andy Turner and the Spaniard Jackson Quinonez helped the ailing Liu to a waiting wheelchair.
The sprint hurdles is an unforgiving event. The event demands a certain degree of flat out speed to sprint nimbly in between the barriers, and a high level of technical proficiency to skim efficiently over the 1.067-meter high hurdles. The margin for error is small; a single mistake in clearing could spell a premature end to the race.
A Xinhua article revealed that Liu was suffering from an injury. “In Germany, Liu felt pain in the foot where his old injury was,” said Sun Haiping, Liu’s long-time coach.
Ever since Liu Xiang emphatically won the 2002 Asian Games gold, I’ve considered him a role model. Throughout my track career, I looked up to the guy. I can still remember that fateful night back in 2004, when the 21-year old Liu stormed to the finish line in first place, matching Colin Jackson’s world record. One of my cherished possessions is an autographed copy of his autobiography, which I brought to every single major race as a talisman.
My initial reaction, of course, was one of disappointment and disbelief. Seeing him claw his way back to the top, only to succumb once again to injury tore my heart out. But when I saw Liu bravely limping to finish the race – and the subsequent reaction of the spectators and his competitors – a poignant realization dawned on me.
He has won every, single major title: the World Indoors, the World Championships, and the Olympics. Perhaps, this Derek Redmond-like display of character was the defining moment of Liu’s career, should he decide to hang up his spikes there and then.
“For some athletes, it’s just a job,” said Liu in a pre-Athens Olympics interview with Time Magazine. “For me, it’s what I love.”
Liu Xiang shall be back. I just know it.
“I just think he made a small little mistake and ran up on the hurdle a little too quickly and wasn’t prepared to take the hurdle at such a velocity.” – Aries Merritt (quote from Stuff.co.nz)
“I regard him as probably the best hurdler in history and have so much respect for him. It was horrible seeing him limp off like that so you have to go and help people.” – Andy Turner (quote from BBC)
“We know Liu Xiang has been suffering with his Achilles. He had to push hard and when you have to reach for the first barrier and you’ve got a stress injury like an Achilles it can cause you hell and he couldn’t even take off.” – Colin Jackson (quote from Stuff.co.nz)
“My heart goes to Liu Xiang.” – Allen Johnson (from Allen’s Twitter account)
August 7, 2012Posted by on
When I was writing my London 2012 event previews, I had a strong gut feeling that Felix Sanchez would do something monumental. His career has undergone a renaissance the past few months, as he placed fourth in the Daegu World Championships final. Despite having a season’s best of just 48.56s coming into the Games, Sanchez had taken the scalp of 2011 World Champion Dai Greene in Rabat back in April.
In the initial version of my 400m Hurdles preview, Sanchez and Angelo Taylor were my choices for gold and silver! After all, it was anybody’s ballgame considering the fact that the tantalizingly fast times have not really come the past few years. I changed my forecasts at the last minute. Even if I knew deep down that they had an outside chance against the two favorites, Javier Culson and Greene, I had to consider what the statistics say.
And Sanchez did shock the world.
He breezed through the heats and sent out a strong message in the semifinals, stopping the clock at 47.76s – his fastest time since winning Olympic gold in Athens. All of a sudden, the grand old man of intermediate hurdling has regained the spring in his legs. People started to notice that the two-time World Champion could achieve what months ago would be deemed improbable.
Sanchez still had to contend with the world leader Culson, the hometown boy Greene, and Angelo Taylor – the Olympic champion from Sydney and Beijing.
As the 400m hurdles finalists walked into the stadium, that steely Sanchez determination was noticeable underneath his dark shades and his jacket’s hood. The person who had so valiantly attempted to defend his World title in 2005 despite an injury, who four years ago crashed out of the heats in Beijing, was back in contention.
Coming into the final bend, the Puerto Rican felled a hurdle, losing momentum. Sanchez kept on going strong towards the finish, ahead of everyone else in this quality field. The Dominican stopped the clock at 47.63s, the same time he had registered when he won in Athens eight years ago. The American champion Michael Tinsley (47.91s) ran the final meters like a monster, snatching silver ahead of Culson (48.10s) and the fast-finishing Greene (48.24s). Taylor (48.25s) finished in fifth place.
It was a touching sight, seeing Felix Sanchez take out the photo of his deceased grandmother which he kept inside his race bib. He fell to the track on his knees and kissed the photo of his late grandma, to whom he promised another Olympic gold.
Culson, the nearly-man, assumed the same position as Sanchez, this time in unpleasant disbelief. He had been undefeated this season after numerous close calls in winning the gold. A major championship title has remained elusive. Dai Greene sat on the track, shell-shocked at the enormity of the moment.
Sanchez cried tears of joy as the Dominican Republic’s national anthem played in the medal ceremony. It was a genuine display of emotion from someone who had been written off as over-the-hill.
When I was starting out in the sport back in 2003, I looked up to Liu Xiang and Felix Sanchez as my hurdling heroes. Liu had just won a groundbreaking bronze at the 2003 World Championships in Paris, while Sanchez had added a second World title to the one he won in Edmonton. My respect grew a hundred-fold when Felix valiantly attempted to defend his World title in Helsinki, despite a painful injury.
Culson and Greene are still young compared to the 35-year old Sanchez. They will have their time under the sun.
For now, the moment belongs to Felix Sanchez.
August 5, 2012Posted by on
This is definitely the best cover of “Cally Me Maybe.”
August 4, 2012Posted by on
Yuliya Zaripova (Yuliya Zarudneva Юлия Михайловна Зарипова) is this week’s Track Beauty!
The women’s 3000m steeplechase is one of the newest events in athletics. It made its first appearance in the World Championships in Helsinki back in 2005. Since then, the Russians have dominated the event, with Gulnara Galkina (Гульнара Самитова-Галкина) holding the world record of 8:58.81 set at the Beijing Olympics.
July 31, 2012Posted by on
My first memory of the Olympics was Barcelona, and Antonio Rebello’s memorable lighting of the Olympic cauldron. I was somewhat indifferent to Atlanta and Sydney because of youth and my then lack of interest in sports. I found it difficult to appreciate the choreographed presentations in Athens and Beijing, as I looked forward to seeing the Philippines march in the parade of athletes and, of course, the lighting of the Olympic cauldron.
Although I came to appreciate certain poignant moments of the opening ceremonies of past Olympic Games, call me inattentive, but most of it came as blurry pomp.
London, Danny Boyle and the thousands of Olympic volunteers caught me off-guard. The mix of British humor, pop references, and nostalgia were just about right. The London opening ceremonies epitomized the word “cool” and “grand.”
The following are my favorite moments:
6.) The 500-strong workers who welcomed Sir Steve Redgrave at the stadium.
The workers lined up along the corridor leading to the track, wearing their ever-present hard-hats. This is a heartwarming salute to the blue collar worker.
5.) The British contingent marching to David Bowie’s “Heroes.”
The song “Heroes” could not have been more apt. I got goosebumps watching Team GB walk proudly, as Bowie sang the immortal line: “We can be heroes, just for one day.” The London Olympic Games is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the British athletes. They have worked so hard to earn their places in Team GB, now is their time to shine in front of their family, friends, and countrymen.
4.) Mr. Bean playing “Chariots of Fire.”
Like many track & field athletes, the Oscar-winning movie about Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams have had a profound personal impact. But when I saw Rowan Atkinson hitting that definitive note of Chariots of Fire fame, I literally laughed out loud!
3.) James Bond escorts Queen Elizabeth II.
Need I say more?
2.) David Beckham drives the speedboat bearing the Olympic flame.
I’ve always admired David Beckham’s dedication to his international duties as a footballer. His significant role in London’s Olympic bid and his being evergreen on the pitch were more than enough to earn him a Team GB slot. His role as the speedboat driver to the Olympic torch bearer paid homage to his efforts to bring the Olympics to Britain.
1.) The lighting of the Olympic Cauldron.
Instead of picking one particular sporting great to light the cauldron, the organizers chose seven talented teenage athletes nominated by the biggest British sporting icons. It was a figurative and literal passing of the torch. It speaks volumes of a country that honors its past and nurtures is present and future athletes. I must admit that this unique way of lighting the cauldron caught me off-guard, but in a pleasantly emotional manner.
July 30, 2012Posted by on
My blogs have been getting quite a lot of hits thanks to Iraqi sprinter Dana Hussein Abdul-Razzaq دانة حسين عبد الرزاق (Abdulrazaq Danah). Dana had the honor of carrying the Iraqi flag at the London Olympics Opening Ceremonies.
Dana definitely has the talent to excel in the world stage, having personal bests of 11.76s and 24.49s in the 100m and 200m. Remarkably, Dana trains in Iraq despite the security situation. The 200m dash is her best event, in my opinion. She is just a little over two-hundredths of second off the Olympic “B” standard.
July 30, 2012Posted by on
I love watching the triple jump because of its highly technical nature. The way the athletes hop, skip, and step to amazing distances is a graceful exercise that evokes wonder for this athletics aficionado.
However, the event has not been given the same attention as the more popular disciplines like the men’s 100m dash. I got thoroughly pissed off while watching the Adidas Grand Prix, a Diamond League meeting, last month. The directors of the telecast opted to air round-after-round of a pedestrian long jump competition over the women’s triple jump competition!
July 28, 2012Posted by on
Olga Rypakova Ольга Сергеевна Рыпакова is this week’s Track Beauty!
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.
July 28, 2012Posted by on
Pole vault world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva (Елена Исинбаева) always makes her first jump when everyone else had made theirs. The Russian usually isolates herself from the other competitors, opting to cover her face with a towel and nap. British Olympic hopeful Holly Bleasdale was not amused. She called Isinbayeva “disrespectful” and likened her to a “tramp.”