Tag Archives: Helsinki

Track Beauty of the Week: Yuliya Zaripova Юлия Зарипова

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.

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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!

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Track Beauty of the Week: Irina Davydova Ирина Давыдова

Irina Davydova Ирина Давыдова is this week’s Track Beauty!

Coming into 2012, Daydova had a relatively humble personal best of 55.48s in the 400m hurdles. Davydova made heads turn when she made her outdoor debut in Sochi last May. The Russian clocked 53.87s for her first ever foray under 54-seconds, shedding 1.61 seconds off her erstwhile lifetime best. In fact, she had yet to go under 55 seconds prior to this year! Her performance in Sochi propelled the 24-year old to the top of the 2012 world rankings.

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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).

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Helsinki European Championships: Women’s 4x400m Relay

The 4x400m relay has traditionally been the final event of athletics competitions. From low-key schools meets to the Olympics, the grueling yet exciting event has always been the curtain-ender.

The recently concluded European Championships in Helsinki were no different. With the Russian Olympic Trials being held the week after, the European athletics powerhouse opted to send its “B” team to Helsinki.

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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.

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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!

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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

The Future of European Hurdling

Sergey Shubenkov is the real deal.

He had set a new Russian national record of 13.18s coming into the European Championships in Helsinki. Despite a headwind, the 2011 European U23 Champion ran 13.28s in his qualifying heat. The young Russian stamped his class in the semifinals, stopping the clock in a European-leading time of 13.09s.

View the longer version here

The way he clears the barriers is impressive. The speed of his clearance is noticeable – from the lean to the forceful lead leg snap. It is reminiscent of ease of movement of Dayron Robles’ and Liu Xiang’s respective hurdling techniques. I have yet to study a slow motion clip of his hurdling, but his form – somewhat resembling the archaic double arm shift – is refreshing to watch.

He is a technician that has remarkable speed in between the barriers, as shown by his increasingly quicker times. And he is just 21 years old!

Shubenkov’s time at the Helsinki semifinal ranks him as the sixth fastest European all-time, behind Colin Jacskon (12.91s, 1993, 26y), Ladji Doucoure (12.97s, 2005, 22y), Tony Jarrett (13.00s, 1993, 25y), Florian Schwarthoff (13.05s, 1995, 26y), and Stanislavs Olijars (13.08s, 2003, 24y). Shubenkov had run the fastest time by a European athlete since Doucoure won the World title in the very same stadium seven years ago.

The Russian is in good company. Jackson was a former world record holder, many-time European champion, and and an Olympic silver medalist. Doucoure almost won a medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, had he not fallen badly. Schwarthoff is an Olympic bronze medalist and a European silver medalist. Olijars, a World Indoor bronze medalist and a former European Champion, reached the finals of the Athens Olympics.

With Shubenkov’s impressive showing at the European Championships, the future looks bright for the 21-year old. Considering his youthful exuberance, natural hurdling talent, and the sheer joy that he exudes practicing the sport, I won’t be surprised if he makes an impact at the London Olympic Games. The way he carries himself on the track reminds me a lot about Liu Xiang. Happy hurdlers, indeed, are great competitors.

Read: “Monaco Diamond League – 110m Hurdles”

A finals appearance is probable. He will be up against the likes of Aries Merritt, Liu, Jason Richardson, and Dayron Robles. Shubenkov had displayed maturity beyond his years at the Monaco leg of the Diamond League, where finished two-hundredths of a second behind Richardson. A medal is a distant possibility, if the puzzles fall into place.

Additional Videos:

Shubenkov’s win at the European U23 Champs

Shubenkov’s U23 post-race interview

Day 4 Interview (after the semis)

The Versatile Rosolova

I first learned about Denisa Rosolova while watching last year’s European Indoor Championships. It was remarkable how a former champion heptathlete and world class long jumper shifted to the quarter mile and strike gold! I admired her athletic talent and versatility. More importantly, Rosolova has the audacity to try something unorthodox. For this, she has reaped dividends.

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Marathon Athletics Coverage

I’ve always rued the lack of athletics coverage here in the Philippines. When there is a major championship, I almost always watch the festivities from those bootleg live streaming links. But thanks to Destiny Cable and Eurosport, I’ve been getting consistent coverage of the Diamond League circuit and the European Championships.

It’s quite weird, really, how my track & field addiction seemed to have grown exponentially after I hung up my spikes. Hence, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time staying up late to watch the aforesaid athletics competitions.

Eurosport’s coverage of the Helsinki European Championships is admirable. My favorite channel has been showing ALMOST EVERY SINGLE FRIGGIN’ EVENT. Because of the time difference – and my rekindled athletics addiction – I’ve been burning the midnight oil since the Euro Champs started last Wednesday. With the European Football Champs and Wimbledon also ongoing, I was tempted not to turn off the boob tube and shun sleep!

Despite the fact that I’m probably the lone Filipino losing sleep over the European Athletics Championships, I am a truly happy athletics afficionado!

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

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: Jiřina Ptáčníková

Jiřina Ptácniková is this week’s track beauty!

The Czech pole vaulter is amongst the elite of the relatively-young athletics discipline. Ptácniková has a personal best of 4.66m set back in 2010. She has an indoor best of 4.60m, which she cleared as she missed out on the 2010 European Indoor Championships podium.

Photo from sport.cz

The 25-year year old has had quite a few close brushes with major championship medals. In 2010, she placed 5th in both the World Indoor Championships in Doha and the European Championships in Barcelona, where she was a mere centimeter away from her personal best. The Czech has a Universiade gold medal to her credit though, a feat she achieved in 2009.

Nevertheless, her improvement through the years have been steadily consistent. In a technical event where pre-competition favorites could falter (think Sergey Bubka Сергі́й Наза́рович Бу́бка during the 1992 Olympic Games) or relative no-names could shoot out of obscurity (think Rens Blom at the rain-soaked 2005 Helsinki World Champs), Ptácniková is within range to eke out a surprise performance.

Fittingly, Jirina won her first ever major international title in a rain-soaked final at the Helsinki European Championships. The Czech had a best clearance of 4.60m in the competition, winning over the German record holder Martina Strutz and Greek Nikoleta Kyriokopolou on countback.

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