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Tag Archives: Ladji Doucoure
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.
July 1, 2012Posted by on
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.
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.
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.
October 5, 2010Posted by on
Whilst writing previous Liu Xiang post, I stumbled upon clips of Liu Xiang’s bronze medal in the 2003 Paris World Championships and his silver medal in Helsinki World Champs, two years later. This is the first time I’ve seen actual footage of the two races!
2003 Paris World Champs:
This was Liu Xiang’s first-ever major championship medal and Allen Johnson’s last world outdoor title. Liu was just 20-years old, but still managed to finish third (13.27s) behind the more illustrious American duo of Johnson (13.12s) and the 2000 Sydney Olympics silver medalist, Terrence Trammell (13.20s).
19-year old Shi Dong Peng 史冬鹏 (13.55s), fresh out of a silver medal in the 2002 World Junior Championships in Kingston, also qualified for his first major senior final.
Results (from sporting-heroes.com):
- Allen JOHNSON (USA) 13.12
- Terrence TRAMMELL (USA) 13.20
- Xiang LIU (CHN) 13.23
- Larry WADE (USA) 13.34
- Chris PHILLIPS (USA) 13.36
- Marcio Simao DE SOUZA (BRA) 13.48
- Dongpeng SHI (CHN) 13.55
- Yoel HERNANDEZ (CUB) 13.57
2005 Helsinki World Champs:
Liu (13.08), the newly-crowned Olympic champion and then co-world record holder, was upset by the audacious Ladji Doucoure (13.07s) of France. The 19-year old Frenchman came out of a disappointing Olympic campaign, badly hitting one of the barriers in the final. Allen Johnson, the defending world champion, clung on to a quick 13.10s.
The Helsinki World Champs announced the coming of age of the new generation of sprint hurdlers. It’s unfortunate that Doucoure has been slowed down by a spate of injuries in the subsequent years.
Results (from sporting-heroes.com):
- Ladji DOUCOURE (FRA) 13.07
- Xiang LIU (CHN) 13.08
- Allen JOHNSON (USA) 13.10
- Dominique ARNOLD (USA) 13.13
- Terrence TRAMMELL (USA) 13.20
- Joel BROWN (USA) 13.47
- Maurice WIGNALL (JAM) 13.47
- Mateus FACHO INOCENCIO (BRA) 13.48
It feels great to actually see the two races. Being a student of the sport living at the age of Web 2.0 surely has its advantages!
June 29, 2010Posted by on
With injuries to both Liu Xiang 刘 翔 and Allen Johnson, I’ve been at a loss on whom to support in the best track event of all, the sprint hurdles. Of course, I root for the handful of mid- to low-13 Asian hurdlers such as Naito Masato 内藤 真人 of Japan and Dong Peng Shi 史冬鹏 of China. Although the latter had reached several World Championships finals, Asian sprint hurdlers lag behind their American and European counterparts.
Despite my admiration for Cuban athletics in general, I was indifferent to Dayron Robles (since he broke Liu’s world record!). Robles is a fine hurdler. We both compete with spectacles and were almost born on the same day and year (Robles – 17 Nov 1986. Yours truly – 18 Nov 1985). Perhaps I’m just fiercely loyal to Liu’s 12.88s.
Months ago while browsing the web, I chanced upon David Oliver‘s blog. At first glance, Oliver might seem intimidating because of his imposing physique. Built like a football player, Oliver reminds me of the great American decathlete, Milton Campbell – who won the gold medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. The 6’3, 205 behemoth is a nice guy and quite approachable (watch out for David Oliver’s 10-for-10 feature!) to his growing legions of fans.
Despite his powerful physique and aggressive hurdling style, Oliver rarely hits hurdles in such a way that it hinders his forward momentum. He powers his way across the 10 barriers with a certain sense of unique elegance. Indeed, a hurdler’s style depends upon his God-given bodily faculties. If the likes of Liu Xiang and Colin Jackson epitomize the beauty of hurdling, Oliver exudes sheer control of power.
I particularly admire one small yet important nuance of Oliver’s form, his lead foot. Sprint hurdlers usually keep their lead foot straight as the leg clears the hurdle. Some technically endowed athletes like Colin Jackson clears with a bowed lead foot to facilitate faster lead leg clearance.
An angled lead foot shortens the effective length of the lead leg (similar to the concept of dorsi-flexion); hence, resulting into faster movements for the shorter lever. Colin Jackson’s bowed lead leg is a textbook example of this advanced hurdling technique.
Oliver won the recently-concluded U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a new personal best of 12.93s – ranking him 6th among the all-time lists. He’s now as fast as the prolific Renaldo Nehemiah. and three-hundredths of a second away from Dominique Arnold‘s American record. With the top 5 times in the event this year all run by Oliver, the 28-year old Beijing Bronze Medalist is stamping his class on the rest of field.
I long for the day when the likes of a healthy Liu Xiang, Robles, Oliver, Doucoure and an injury-free Allen Johnson meet on the track. Now that’s a hurdles race everyone has to see.
Video of David Oliver’s 12.93s race (from Universal Sports)