Tag Archives: Jessica Ennis

The Manchester Mix-Up

I was dumbfounded to read about the organizing gaffe at the 2012 Manchester GreatCity Games. Jessica Ennis, the poster girl of Britain’s Olympic campaign, had just run a personal best in the 100m hurdles – albeit over nine flights of hurdles, instead of ten. Naturally, Ennis was “annoyed.” The diminutive heptathlete had beaten the 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper and 2011 World Championships silver medalist Danielle Carruthers.

Read: “Jessica Ennis denied personal best at Great CityGames in Manchester”

Things could have been much worse for Ennis and the rest of the hurdling ladies in Manchester. The race organizers could have set some of the hurdles closer than the standard marks, like what happened at a regional track meet in Anchorage, Alaska.

The sprint hurdles is all about rhythm, speed and constant repetition. Hurdlers take three steps in between barriers as fast as possible. Once the barriers are moved closer (or farther) – unbeknownst to the athletes – a hurdles crash is a certainty. The boys in Anchorage were fortunate to finish the race without any bones. In hindsight, Ennis et. al were much more fortunate than the lads in that Anchorage race.

With the London Olympics barely three months away, the Manchester mix-up is a black eye for the novel street-racing event.

Istanbul 2012: Top Seven Performances

Amongst the major international athletics championships, the World Indoors is the most underrated. Big name stars like Usain Bolt usually opt out of the biennial meet, especially in crucial Olympic years. Indoor athletics has a far smaller reach than its outdoor counterpart, with the smaller venues usually found in the frigid countries of the northern hemisphere.

Photo from Wikipedia

Nevertheless, it has that obscure charm. When I first saw the start lists of some events, I thought that the rest of the non-European, non-American world was underrepresented. I thought wrong. As soon as the 60m dash heats came out, a cacophony of athletes from small countries – from Mongolia in the Gobi desert to Fiji in the Pacific – competed amongst their more illustrious counterparts.

Even if I had to rely on live streaming links and my less-than-perfect internet connection to watch the World Indoors, I must say that I had a grand time. Despite the absence of most of the track & field titans, the festivities were certainly not devoid of memorable athletics moments. The three-day event has seen former World Indoor champions like Elena Isinbayeva Елена Гаджиевна Исинбаева, Justin Gatlin, and Valerie Adams re-emerge on the big stage, whilst playing host to bevy of promising talent.

One Gold, Three Silvers (Photo from Zimbio/Getty Images)

The women high jumpers deserve special mention too, as the troika of Antonietta Di Martino, Anna Chicherova Анна Владимировна Чичерова, and Ebba Jungmark shared a the second spot on the podium, behind the champion, the come-backing Chaunté Lowe (1.98m). The three athletes had equally identical sheets, with each clearing 1.95m.

The United States topped the overall standings with a staggering 18 medals, 10 of which were gold. Great Britain had 9, while African distance powerhouses Ethiopia and Kenya won 5 and 4, respectively.

The following list enumerates my favorite performances from Istanbul (aside from the 60m hurdles, of course!):

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The Man From Seychelles: Gaylord Silly

I missed most of Day 1 of the World Indoor Championships in Daegu because of the Philippines – North Korea AFC match. While browsing through the tweets of Athletics Weekly for updates, I saw a reference to someone named “Gaylord Silly” ranking higher than Jessica Ennis in Twitter trends. At first, I thought it was some British fad I was unaware of.

Then I read more tweets about the unlikely name.

Read the Telegraph’s article on Silly here

It turns out that Gaylord Silly competed in the 800m run heats in Istanbul, setting a national record of 1:54.90 for Seychelles. A cursory Google search unearthed more information. The French-born Silly works as a tree surgeon. The 26-year old is a veteran of several international events – three editions of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships and the 2009 World Half Marathon Championships.

And Silly also competes in the steeplechase! He’s also a hurdler – in a sense.

Photo from lanouvellerepublique.fr

Thanks to his unorthodox name, Silly has become a bit of cult phenomenon amongst athletics circles!

Additional Links:

Silly’s IAAF biography

The Gaylord Silly Facebook Fan Page

The Gaylord Silly Fan Club

Track Beauty of the Week: Jessica Ennis

Jessica Ennis is this week’s track beauty!

I first noticed Ennis back in the 2006 Goteborg European Champs. Kelly Sotherton was Britain’s top heptathlete at that time. Ennis was a young, 20-year old upstart. Because of stress fractures on her foot, she missed her shot at glory back in 2008. Ennis gradually crawled out of Sotherton’s shadow, winning gold at the 2009 Berlin World Championships – her first major international crown.

Photos from thesun.co.uk, bbc.co.uk and Wikipedia

Ennis, despite her small stature, is one mean competitor. Her personal bests in the 60m hurdles (7.95s) and the high jump (1.95m) are British National records. She recently scored a superb 6,823 points at the 2010 Barcelona European Athletics Championships, erasing the legendary Carolina Kluft‘s championship record. Fresh from her dramatic victory over Beijing Champion Natalia Dobrynska, it’s only fitting that we honor the newly-minted European Champion as the Track Beauty of the Week.

The multi-event specialist is, without a doubt, the poster girl of the 2012 London Olympics.

Additional links:

Wiki

Photo credits:

The Sun

BBC

Video credits:

EuroChampionships10

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