Tag Archives: Barcelona

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

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Michelle Jenneke: The Dancing Hurdler

My college coach suggested that I take up dancing classes a few years back, to improve hip mobility. I’m not really the dancing type, so I ignored his advice! I chose hurdle drills over dancing lessons! But then again, hip mobility is imperative for efficient hurdling clearance.

Michelle Jenneke obviously doesn’t share my dancing shyness. The Australian junior has become the latest internet sensation, thanks to a viral Youtube video of her doing a pre-race dancing jig before her qualifying heat.

Click here to read the full article…

Dara Torres: An Inspiration!

Dara Torres is a veteran of five Olympic Games, from the Seoul in 1988 all the way to Beijing in 2008. She had amassed a total of 12 Olympic medals, four of them gold. The then 41-year old Dara won three silver medals in Beijing. At the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, the 45-year old placed fourth in the 50m freestyle finals, narrowly missing a ticket to her fifth straight Olympics.

Read: “Dara Torres (USA, Swimming Legend)”

Dara Torres at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. (Photo from Bryan Allison)

Aside from isolated episodes during my teenage years, I’ve always been a physically active person. Athletics took being just physically active to another level. In track & field, the most athletic person almost always wins. For the past decade, I’ve been breaking and building my body to be faster, stronger, and better.

Click here to read about Darya Klishina, my other source of inspiration!

Now that I’m retired from the hurdles, the time I spent doing exercise have declined. Instead of the usual five times a week, the training frequency had lessened to as low as three. This becomes problematic. I seem to get withdrawal symptoms when I don’t workout. I tend to imagine my tummy getting bigger, losing my washboard abs, and plyometric activity. These thoughts are nightmarish!

Athletes like Torres are an inspiration. To be able to compete at such a high level, despite the disadvantages of age, are truly remarkable.

Even if I’ve hung up my spikes, I would never ever give up the active lifestyle. Like Dara Torres, I’ll be pursuing ways to make my body perform better. Although I am still at a loss on what sport to pursue next, in light of my priorities in life, one thing is for certain: I’ll always be an athlete!

Yordan O’Farrill: Cuban Young Gun

Even if I’m a loyal Liu Xiang 刘翔 supporter, I have nothing but respect for Dayron Robles and the Cuban hurdling program. Cuba only has a population of around 11 million. Its command economy has been weakened by decades by the American embargo, and yet, it has been able to produce a steady line of Olympic hurdling champions in Anier Garcia (Sydney 2000) and Robles (2008 Beijing).

While going over news articles of the World Junior Championships in Barcelona, I was impressed by the newly crowned 110m hurdles (0.99m) champion, Yordan O’Farrill, both by his hurdling and his propensity to wear glasses in a race! As a bespectacled hurdler myself, I have a unique sense of affinity with my myopic counterparts.

The Cuban clocked a relaxed 13.44s in qualifying. He upped the ante in the semifinals, notching 13.28s as he won his heat.

O’Farrill set a new championships record of 13.18s in the final, as he finished ahead of Australia’s Nicholas Hough (13.27s) and France’s Wilhem Belocian (13.29s).

The World Junior Champion is part of Robles’ training group under the great Cuban hurdling coach, Santiago Artunez. Hence, it is not surprising that O’Farrill is technically proficient over the barriers. His center of gravity stays level all throughout the race. The young Cuban’s arm action during hurdling clearance is supple and efficient. The way he snaps his trail leg is remarkably fast – and reminiscent of the Robles himself.

The 19-year old Cuban might just be the Robles’ heir apparent, as an IAAF article suggests.

With his performance in Barcelona, O’Farrill has been elevated to third place in the 110m hurdles (0.99m) list, behind Americans Wayne Davis (13.08s)  and Eddie Lovett (13.14s). Liu still holds the World Junior record over the senior hurdles (1.067m) at 13.12s.

Although I firmly believe that youth and junior athletes should make the transition to the senior barriers in a gradual manner, Liu’s record carries more weight. Junior records set over 1.067m hurdles are easily comparable to the senior times, without the handicap of lower barriers.

To date, O’Farrill has a lifetime best of 13.91s over the senior hurdles. With training buddies like Robles and a superb coach in Artunez, the young Cuban is on the right track.

Additional Links:

Barcelona 2012 110m hurdles (0.99m) results

All-Time List – 110m hurdles (0.99m)

Re-run in Barcelona!

At the third heat of the men’s 400m dash qualifying, the starting gun fired before Kenyan Alphas Leken Kishoyian had settled on his blocks. He finished dead last with a time of 48.39s, due to the starter’s lapse.

A re-run was ordered, even if the Kenyan team did not file a formal protest. Kishoyian, according to an IAAF article, must better the time for the least fastest finalist (Nikita Uglov, 46.49s) to barge into the medal round.

The Kenyan youngster blasted out of the blocks, running the first 200m at around 21 seconds. He was gamely cheered on by the Kenyan contingent and the rest of the spectators. Having a personal best of 45.64s, Kishoyian had the necessary firepower to accomplish the task at hand. He stopped the clock at 46.46s.

With this peculiar twist, the 400m final will feature nine athletes instead of the standard eight in the sprinting events.

In the many years I’ve closely followed major international track & field competitions, this is the only time I’ve seen a re-run in such a high level meet. When Perdita Felicien accidentally veered into Irina Shevchenko after clipping a hurdle at the Athens Olympics 100m hurdles final, the Russian officials roared for a re-run.

The request was denied.

Back in UAAP 65, however, one of my teammates had a similar experience. The officials (for reasons I’ve forgotten), allowed my teammate to run in his own final heat, after the original final had taken place.

But then again, the UAAP is just a collegiate event from the athletics-obscure Philippines.

Additional Link:

400m Dash Semifinals

Video Credit:

Mike Bascombe (who uploaded the Super Sport clips)

Verena is Back!

My favorite moment of the 2010 Barcelona European Championships was when Verena Sailer stormed to first place at the 100m dash. Since then, I’ve been a fervent supporter of Verena. Unfortunately, the German sprinter’s performance have been hampered by injury.

Read: “Track Beauty of the Week – Verena Sailer”

The Helsinki European Championships was her first major international since her breakout win in Barcelona a couple of years ago. The German champion performed magnificently. Sailer notched a season’s best of 11.14s in the 1st Round. Verena (11.17s) finished second in her semifinal, behind the fast-finishing Olesya Povh Олеся Повх (11.13s)of Ukraine.

Click this link to read the full article…

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.

Click this link to read the full article…

“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: 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

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

Lemaitre wins European 100m crown

Christophe Lemaitre won his first-ever senior title, the European Championships 100m gold, about a month after breaking the 10-second barrier. The Frenchman, after a sluggish start, stormed through the last 40m, leaving the other sprinters on his wake.

Lemaitre stopped the clock at 10.11s. Remarkably, the next 4 athletes clocked identical 10.18s times. An analysis of the photo-finish footage credited Athens 2004 relay gold medalist, the Briton Mark Lewis-Francis, (10.172) with the silver. Martial Mbandjock (10.173) from France got third, while the 2006 Goteborg champion, Francis Obikwelu, (10.174) reigning World Indoor Champion Dwain Chambers (10.178) and Gambian-born Norwegian, Jaysuma Saidy Ndure were awarded 4th, 5th and 6th, respectively.

As an aside, is a dead heat possible in track & field? Can two athletes (or three!) share a single medal?

What a year for the young Frenchman. What a debut on major outdoor championship. So long as he irons out some sprinting specifics (his start, his stability), Lemaitre will surely go places. Although I don’t see him beating the Big Three anytime soon, it’s refreshing to see someone so young do so well at the senior stage.

Additional links:

Yahoo sports article

IAAF article

Results

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