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Tag Archives: hurdles
May 28, 2013Posted by on
I was a nineteen year-old college sophomore when I first read about Miguel White. Despite the best of my efforts, I was stuck in a rut, unable to go below sixteen seconds in the 110 high’s and qualify for the finals. I spent a considerable amount of time poring over athletics books, to further my knowledge of the sport and to get a much-needed dose of inspiration amidst those troubled times.
I came across a mildewed book about Filipino sporting legends. The Philippines had won a handful of medals in the Olympic Games, a couple of those by track & field athletes. I was awestruck. It turned out that Philippine sports, athletics in particular, had a storied past. I found the exploits of Simeon Toribio and White more interesting than rampant politicking often featured in contemporary sports pages.
There were more material written about Toribio, who eventually became a lawyer and a congressman after his athletics days. Miguel White’s story, however, was shrouded in mystery. White had an American father and a Filipina mother. He competed for the Philippines at the Berlin Olympics, winning the 400m low hurdles bronze. He could have performed with equal distinction at the 110m, but fell in the qualifying heats, unable to finish. Unlike Toribio, who lived until he was sixty-four, White died during the Second World War.
In the past few years, I tried in vain to look for clips of White’s Olympic medal winning effort. Photos were just as scarce. A few days earlier, I stumbled upon a treasure trove Olympic programs (from the 1896 Athens Olympics all the way to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games).
Lo and behold, there were photos of Miguel White, as well as the results of the qualifying heats. The Olympic program even included descriptions of the race conditions and the lane placements. For the athletics nerd that I am, these were priceless!
White went up against a quality field, among them Glenn Hardin of the United States, the world record holder at 50.6s. The Filipino topped the third heat in qualifying, stopping the clock in 53.4s, ahead of the eventual silver medalist, John Loaring (54.3s) of Canada. The American also qualified with ease, submitting a time five-tenths slower than White’s.
Miguel White from the Philippine Islands was the fastest hurdler in qualifying. In this day and age where Filipino athletes are hard-pressed to meet the Olympic “B” standard, reading about this was surreal! In the semi-finals, White (53.4s) finished behind Hardin (53.2s) in the first heat, securing a spot in the finals.
The world record holder stamped his class on the rest of the field. At the last hurdle, Hardin was a full stride from Loaring and White, who were locked in a tight battle for second place. The Canadian (52.7s) edged out White (52.8s) by a tenth of second.
Miguel White had emulated Simeon Toribio’s high jump bronze from the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.
It is quite unfortunate that the Olympic feats of Toribio and White have been practically forgotten. Philippine sports may be in the doldrums, but perhaps looking back at our golden past might inspire a new generation of Filipino athletes.
Results (screenshots from the 1936 Berlin Olympics Program/LA84 Foundation):
1.) First Round:
Article by Joboy Quintos
January 12, 2013Posted by on
Élodie Ouédraogo is this week’s Track Beauty!
Ouédraogo is a Belgian athlete who competes in both the sprints and the intermediate hurdles. The high point in her career came at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she won the 4x100m silver together with Belgian sprinting great Kim Gevaert, Olivia Borleé, and Hanna Marien. The quartet stopped the clock at a new Belgian record of 42.54s. Élodie was also part of the Belgian squad tha won bronze at the Osaka World Championships.
January 5, 2013Posted by on
Zuzana Hejnová is this week’s Track Beauty!
The Czech 400m hurdles specialist has made significant impact in her event the past two years. Coming into the 2011 season, Zuzana had a personal best of 54.13s and a fourth-place finish at the 2010 Barcelona European Championships to her credit. Towards the end of the year, the Czech had lowered her personal record by almost 1 second to 53.29s. More importantly, she gained valuable experience as she crossed the line in a competitive 7th place at the Daegu World Championships.
December 17, 2012Posted by on
The year 2012 is a year of extremes for both my blog and my recently concluded (ignominiously, at that) athletics career. Monthly readership had increased exponentially from January up to the London Olympic Games in August. From 7,904 unique monthly views in January, this vital statistic peaked at a staggering 71,598 in August. Similarly, I had experienced some sort of athletics renaissance in the early months of the year. I felt strong, despite the psychological hindrances of training solo and juggling a challenging schedule.
Readership dropped considerably after London. So did my interest in athletics and writing about track & field. I still managed to eke out the weekly Track Beauty, which by then has been something short of mechanical. I struggled to find inspiration to churn out in-depth, honest-to-goodness pieces that has become the trademark of this blog. In the end, it was a futile attempt at sustaining something that is not there.
The moment the Olympic magic died down, the reality that I am a retired hurdler took immediate effect. Although the steady stream of athletics articles have slowed down to a trickle, I have no intention of killing this site outright. I am still pretty much engaged in sports, in light of regular competitive basketball games, weight training, plyometrics and sprinting workouts. Even if my interest in track & field is near its historic lows, I’m quite certain that once the indoor season comes into full swing, I’ll be tuning in to Eurosport and scouring the athletics news wires yet again.
As I grow older in life, these puerile concerns become less and less pressing. Perhaps one day this site will die a natural death, but the time is not now.
December 17, 2012Posted by on
December 8, 2012Posted by on
Here’s something I wrote shortly after winning my first UAAP Senior medal back in February 2006.
Finally. Got a silver this afternoon in the hurdles. I topped the overall list of qualifiers (15.85) but sadly, finished 2nd in the final heat. Damn. I was 0.03s away from the gold (Orlando Soriano – 15.72. I clocked 15.75s).
To add insult to injury, I celebrated too early by raising my arms half a meter before the finish line (Note: I actually rose from my dive too early. I did not celebrate early!).
That cost me the race since I wasn’t able to outlean the gold medallist, whom I edged out in the same qualifying heat.
Nevertheless, this feels great. How badly I had missed finishing at the top echelons of the field. The cheers of my teammates were incomparable treasures. Seeing them happy because of what I had achieved made this victory a hundred times more sweet.
The Men’s team had a splendid first day, with 3 silver medals (Bryan – 100m dash, John Gregorio – Javelin Throw). In addition, Nina finished second in the 100m hurdles. Three more days to go. The team has to maintain this momentum in order to achieve a podium finish.
December 3, 2012Posted by on
Tiffany Porter is this week’s Track Beauty!
Porter is an American-born sprint hurdler who competes for Great Britain. Before carrying Team GB’s colors, Tiffany had won bronze for her country of birth at the 2006 World Junior Championships. She started representing her mother’s country in 2011, to some degree of controversy.
November 30, 2012Posted by on
Culled from my old VHS tapes.
A clip of Fidel “Toto” Gallenero competing in the hurdles!
November 4, 2012Posted by on
The 2012 season did not end well for Liu Xiang 刘翔. Although he had his string of memorable performances in the run-up to the Olympic Games, the year belonged to none other than Aries Merritt. As an avid athletics aficionado the past few decade, the American has been a familiar name ever since he competed with distinction in the tough U.S. collegiate circuit.
Of course, I felt bummed when Merritt dominated Liu in the World Indoors. At the same time, I was happy for the American. He has been part of the hurdling scene for the longest time. Seeing someone win his/her first ever major championship triump is a joy to behold – even at the expense of my boyhood hero.
But lo and behold, the best was yet to come for Merritt. As the season kicked into high gear, so did Merritt’s hurdling. I was particularly impressed with his string of consecutive low 12.90s clockings, which, incidentally, started a few races after the battle royale in Eugene (where Liu smoked ’em all!). No one has ever run so consistently in the sprint hurdles. Judging by the depth of the protagonists, the 110m hurdles Olympic final had the makings of a classic.
Even without the injured Liu and the hobbling Dayron Robles, the Olympic final was still one for the books as Merritt stamped his dominance on an overmatched field. Merritt made winning the Olympic gold so deceptively simple. He stopped the clock at 12.92s, matching the great Allen Johnson’s time at the Atlanta Olympics and a mere one-hundredth of a second from Liu’s Olympic record.
In the countless articles and interviews I’ve read with Merritt, the primary drivers for his 2012 success would have to be his being injury free and the shift to a seven-step start. Although I personally think that Merritt’s lead arm carriage is too high, especially when compared to the likes of Liu and Colin Jackson, the American’s blistering speed in between the barriers is his strongest point. An efficient technique over the barriers, coupled with lightning quick steps in between the hurdles, is the recipe for blistering hurdling times.
A few hours before Merritt’s world record breaking race, I came across Lawrence Clarke’s tweet about Malcolm Arnold’s race plan: “From the coach: ‘Good luck tonight. Beat the fellow on your left.’ He’s only going to break the World Record….”
True enough, Aries Merritt did not disappoint!
November 3, 2012Posted by on
Ayako Kimura 木村 文子 is this week’s Track Beauty!
Kimura is an elite-level Japanese hurdler. She has a personal best of 13.04s in the 100m hurdles, set in April 2012. Ayako was just four-hundredths of a second from Yvonne Kanazawa’s 金沢 イボンヌ 12-year old national senior record and one-hundredth of a second faster than Asuka Terada’s 寺田 明日香 career best performance in 2009.
October 14, 2012Posted by on
Brigitte Foster-Hylton is this week’s Track Beauty!
In the run-up to the London Olympic Games, Foster-Hylton was having a stellar string of performances. Her 12.51s clocking in Kingston (5/5/2012) was inferior only to Sally Pearson’s 12.40, 12.49s, and 12.49s in the season top list. At 37-years of age, with a complete collection of World Championship medals in her curriculum vitae, London was Foster-Hylton’s last shot at Olympic glory.
September 16, 2012Posted by on
Philippine sports, in particular, have benefited greatly from the Filipino diaspora. Filipino athletes with foreign roots like Cecil Mamiit, Miguel Molina, and the Younghusband brothers have competed with distinction for Flag and Country. The Philippine Basketball Association, despite a turbulent experience with the so-called Fil-Shams back in the nineties, has Filipino-Americans Filipino cagers as its biggest stars. Athletics has had its fair share of foreign-born stars in Ed Lasquete and Deborah Samson.
Track & field, being a fringe sport in the Philippines, has not seen the influx of high-profile stars as in the other, more lucrative sports. In light of the wide spectrum of Filipinos living across the globe, I’ve often wondered about those hidden talents.
I first learned about Isagani Peychär from an Austrian friend a few months back. Peychär is one of Austria’s top athletes in the long jump and the sprint hurdles. He was born to an Austrian father and a Filipina mother. The name “Isagani” is a uniquely Filipino name. It is actually a shortened version of the Tagalog phrase “Isang Masaganang Ani” (A Bountiful Harvest). 
The 31-year old has competed in high caliber major internationals like the European Indoor Championships, the European Cup (now the European Team Championships),  representing the landlocked Central European country. Isagani registered 7.35m in the long jump back in the 2005 Universiade in Izmir, good enough for 11th place in qualifying. He also finished 11th in qualifying at the European Indoor Championships in Madrid the same year, albeit with a more superior mark of 7.35m.
The Austrian-Filipino is the reigning Austrian indoor record holder in the long jump at 7.96m (2005, Munich). Isagani has an outdoor lifetime best of 7.94m (2005). Isagani is a well-rounded athlete who excels not just in the jumps, but in the sprints and hurdles as well. Peychär also holds the Austrian Youth 60m dash record (6.98s) and the Austrian Junior 110m Hurdles (0.99m) record (13.81s).  His personal bests are in the 60m, 100m, and the 110m Hurdles are respectable marks of 6.87s, 10.88s, and 14.52s, respectively.
Peychär is the same age – and only a few centimeters behind in terms of lifetime best – as Henry Dagmil, the Filipino long jump record holder at 7.99m.
The powerfully-built Isagani stands at just 1.70m, a height more common amongst Filipino males than in Austrians. As a sprint hurdler myself, I was particularly impressed with his hurdling. Smaller athletes are at a disadvantage in the sprint hurdles. The ideal hurdler usually stands between 1.78m (Allen Johnson) and 1.92 (Dayron Robles). To negotiate the sticks with Peychär’s Filipino stature requires much guts, desire, and speed – of which Isagani certainly was not lacking.
Running a 13-second sprint hurdle race is the mark of a world-class hurdler. I love the sprint hurdles so much that I get piqued everytime I’m reminded of the fact that no Filipino has gone below the 14-second barrier. If I’m not mistaken, Peychär is the only hurdler of Filipino descent who have achieved such a feat. Isagani is a product of the European system of athletics. Philippine track & field, in comparison, is grossly underdeveloped. This goes to show that with proper training and sufficient support, Filipino athletes could become world class again.
- “What is the meaning of the name Isagani?.” (Answers, 2012). http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_meaning_of_the_name_Isagani. (16 September).
- “Erfolge.” (Homepage von Isagani Peychär, 2006). http://members.chello.at/isi-peychaer/ (16 September 2012).
* Special thanks to Rosalie Tschann for bringing attention to Peychär’s achievements.
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 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!