Tag Archives: European Championships

EC2012 Triple Jump: Olha Saladukha (Olha Saladuha Ольга Саладуха) takes gold

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!

Click this link to read the full article…

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Ivet Lalova’s Comeback

Ivet Lalova Ивет Лалова was one of the favorites to win a medal coming into the 2004 Athens Olympics. She had just set a new personal time of 10.77s, drawing level with Irina Privalova as the sixth fastest sprinter of all-time. Ivet, however, fell short of the podium in Athens. She finished in fourth place behind Yulia Nestsiarenka (Юлія Несцярэнка Юлия Нестеренко – 10.93s), Lauryn Williams (10.96s), and Veronica Campbell-Brown (10.97s).

Click here to read the full article…

Rising Stars

It’s always great to see featured Track Beauty athletes do well in international competition.

The European Championships have seen the rise of Moa Hjelmer, Jiřina Ptácniková, Alina Talai (Alina Talay Аліна Талай), Laura Ikauniece, and Nikolia Kyriakopoulou (Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou Νικολέτα Κυριακοπούλου). Dafne Schippers and Gesa Felicitas Krause have also done well in Helsinki, as middle distance runner Katya Kostetskaya (Ekaterina Kostetskaya Екатерина Костецкая) made waves at the Russian Championships.

This confirms the fact that Track Beauty of the Week does not just feature mere eye candies, but women gifted with athletic excellence!

Click this link to read the full article…

Marco Vistalli does a Derek Redmond

When the European Championships 400m dash final got underway, a lone athlete got left out of the blocks. As the rest of the field zoomed towards the finish line, Italy’s Marco Vistalli made his way slowly around the Helsinki track. Pavel Maslak of the Czech Republic won gold, stopping the clock at 45.24s. The Italian walked the distance, notching a time of 4:04.20.

Vistalli is a quality European quarter miler. He has a personal best of 45.38s from the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona. Although he had won medals at the European U23 Championships and the European Team Championships, Helsinki was his first ever major international final.

He had run times of 45.98s in the first round and 46.01s in the semifinals, where he topped his heat. Had he been able to run a time close to his personal best, a podium finish could have been possible. But then again, injuries are part and parcel of athletics competition.

Perhaps Vistalli did not want to see “DNS” or “DNF” written beside his name. According to an article from the Italian Athletics Federation, the quarter-miler has been nursing a muscle injury that was exacerbated in the semifinals. The Italian was applauded by the spectators for his effort and gamely made a dip to the finish.

For his display of the Olympic ideal of “taking part” and emulating Derek Redmond, I tip my hat off to Vistalli.

Other athletes who had had their Derek Redmond moments:

David Alerte

Jessie Saint-Marc

Dwight Thomas

Additional Link:

EC 400m dash results

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.

Click here to read the full article…

Track Beauty of the Week: Laura Ikauniece

Laura Ikauniece is this week’s track beauty!

The Latvian is a rising star in the multi-events. She struck athletics success early, winning the silver medal at the 2009 World Youth Championships in Brixen. Ikauniece scored a then personal best of 5,647 points (girls’ implements) – less than a 100 points from the Youth champion, Katarina Thompson of Britain. Laura failed to barge into the top three at the 2010 World Junior Championships in Moncton, finishing in sixth place.

Photo from Romualds Vambuts/Sportacentrs.com

The statuesque Latvian bounced back in 2011, as she snared a European Juniors bronze medal. En route to her return to the podium, Laura scored a then personal best of 6,063 points. Ikauniece’s best events are the high jump and the javelin throw. The fact that she had jumped 1.82m twice as a 17-year old, speaks volumes of her talent. Her lanky figure is remiscent of the Tia Hellebaut – a heptathlete-turned-Olympic champion high jumper. Laura had recently set a new personal best of 53.73m in the javelin throw.

The 2012 athletics season, Ikauniece’s first full year as senior athlete, has exciting prospects. with the European Championships and the Olympic Games in the calendar. Laura is still barely out of her teens. She has fine athletics pedigree, being the daughter of Vineta Ikauniece, a retired sprinter who still holds several Latvian records. More importantly, Laura exudes both seriousness and enjoyment when she competes – a potent combination for champion athletes.

At the International Combined Events Meeting held in Talinn, Estonia last April, Ikauniece’s vast untapped potential took centerstage. Laura set personal bests in four out of five events, as she improved her pentathlon personal best to 4,346 points to grab top honours. At the Hypo-Meeting in Götzis last 27 May 2012, Ikauniece achieved lifetime bests in four disciplines (200mD – 24.43s, 800mR – 2:13.68,  100mH – 13.90s and Shot Put – 12.67m), and tied her three-year old high jump mark. The rapidly improving Latvian was rewarded with an impressive 6,282 point-total – a new personal best and an outright ticket to the London Olympics.

Laura immediately made an impact in her first major international as a senior athlete. The up and coming Latvian athlete again set a flurry of new personal bests in the hurdles (13.53s), high jump (1.83m), 200m (24.36s), long jump (6.31m), and the 800m (2:12.82). She amassed a total points tally of 6,335 and, you got that right, a new lifetime best!

In the coming months and years, watch out for this talented Latvian heptathlete.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Additional links:

Laura’s IAAF biography

Laura’s LVS biography (in Latvian)

Track Beauty of the Week: Moa Hjelmer

Moa Hjelmer is this week’s track beauty!

Sweden, despite its relatively small population of nine million, has produced notable athletics stars – especially in the past decade. Hjelmer is an emerging sprinting talent, at the vanguard of a new generation of Swedish stars. She set the the Swedish outdoor 400m dash record last year, running 51.58s a month before the Daegu World Championships.

Hjelmer in action at the Istanbul World Indoor Championships (Photo from SVD Sport)

The 22-year old made her major championship debut the same year, qualifying for the Daegu 400m dash semis. She placed fifth and exited the competition in 52.25s. Hjelmer almost reached the World Indoor Championships final in Istanbul. She had the sixth fastest semifinal time, but she crashed out of a finals slot because she finished fourth in her heat. Nevertheless, she set a new Swedish indoor record of 52.29s.

The versatile Hjelmer actually competes in both the 200m and 400m. She made it as far as the 200m semis at the 2007 World Youth Championships. The Swede’s 200m European U23 bronze medal was elevated to silver, as the original winner of the race was stripped of her title after failing a drugs test. Hjelmer was a mere one-hundredth of a second from Anna Kiełbasińska’s winning time of 23.23s.

Read: “Swede victory for Hjelmer in the 400m”

Hjelmer struck gold at the European Championships in Helsinki. Moa pipped the favored Russian Kseniya Zadorina (51.26s) in the final, thanks to the Swede’s gutsy start and strong finish. Hjelmer clocked a new Swedish record of 51.13s – her second national record in span of 24 hours.

Sweden has a new athletics star!

Additional Link:

Moa Hjelmer on OSBloggen.se

Track Beauty of the Week: Alina Talai Алина Талай (Alina Talay)

Alina Talai Алина Талай is this week’s track beauty!

The Belorussian sprint hurdler is an upcoming talent in the event. Still only twenty-one years old, Talai had racked up her experience level in high quality meets. She has a personal best of 12.87s from 2010, ranking her among the elite of the 100m hurdles.

 

Photos from klbviktoria.com and belmarket.by

Talai’s best finish in a major international competition was semifinals appearance at the 2010 World Indoor Championships in Doha. She has been more successful in the European senior competition, having barged into the final of the 60m hurdles at the Paris European Indoor Championships.

The Belorussian missed out on a podium finish at the 2008 World Junior Championships, but redeemed herself by landing a bronze at the European U-23 Championships against older opponents a year later. Talai edged out the more fancied Swiss, Lisa Urech (who had set a PB of 12.62s, sixth fastest time in 2011), for the European U-23 hurdles crown. En route to her continental title, the Belorussian stopped the clock in season’s best of 12.91s, against Urech’s 13.00s.

Talai has shown marked consistency in the 2011 season. It is important to note that despite the worst of conditions, the Belorussian had managed to keep her form together, as evidenced by her sterling performance at the European Team Championships where she placed a fighting second. This is certainly impressive, in light of her unexpected exit at the Barcelona European Championships after clipping a hurdle.

The hard-working Belarussian hurdler finally barged into the top 3 of a major international event. She clocked a season’s best of 7.97s to win bronze at the Istanbul World Indoor Championships, behind the prolific Sally Pearson (7.73s) and Britain’s Tiffany Porter (7.94s).

After the race, it turned out that Talai was clueless on her ranking in the final. Asking the mixed zone interviewer regarding her placing, Talai was pleasantly shocked to learn that she won bronze! It is a touchingly authentic scene rarely caught on tape!

Track Beauty of the Week: Ivet Lalova Ивет Лалова

Ivet Lalova Ивет Лалова is this week’s track beauty!

The Bulgarian sprinter is the ninth fastest woman of all-time in the 100m dash. She had her best ever season in 2004. Barely out of her teens, Lalova ran to lifetime best of 10.77s.

Read: “Ivet Lalova’s Comeback”

   

Photos from Wikipedia and visittobulgaria.com

At the Athens Olympics, the youngster placed a competitive 4th place behind the troika of Yuliya Nesterenko (Юлія Несцярэнка Юлия Нестеренко) (10.93s), Lauryn Williams (10.96s) and Veronica Campbell (10.97s).

She came out of the blocks with guns blazing, leading the pack for the first 60m, before being overtaken in the final 40m by the fast finishing trio.

The Bulgarian also qualified for the 200m dash final, finishing 5th overall with a time of 22.57s.

    

Photos from women-track.webcindario.com, olympicgirls.net and gosko-prominent.szm.com

Tragedy struck the promising sprinter in 2005. While warming up, Lalova unexpectedly collided with another athlete, breaking her right femur in the process. Lalova was never the same after the incident. Since 2005, she has never gone below the magical 10-second barrier again.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Lalova  could only muster a semifinals appearance in the century dash (11.51s) and the quarterfinals in the half-lap (23.15s).

Seven years after the tragic accident, Ivet completed her remarkable comeback by winning the 100m dash title at the European Championships in Helsinki. She clocked a European-leading 11.06s in the preliminary rounds, sending a strong signal that the vintage Lalova is back. In the final, the Bulgarian edged out the fast-starting Olesya Povh of Ukraine, stopping the clock in 11.28s.

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: 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

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