Tag Archives: Marathon

South Sudanese to compete in the Olympics

Guor Marial is an Olympian, but he won’t be representing his country – on paper, at least. Marial is South Sudanese, the world’s youngest nation. Since South Sudan has yet to establish a national Olympic committee, its citizens can compete in the Olympic Games only as Independent Olympic Athletes.

Since he fled from his homeland back in 1993, Marial has been to a multitude of countries. He has been based in the United States since being granted asylum in 2001. The 28-year South Sudanese graduated from the Iowa State University in 2011, earning All-American honors.

According to the CNN interview, Marial refused offers from the Sudanese athletics federation to compete under the Sudanese flag: “Never. For me to even consider that is a betrayal. My family lost 28 members in the war with Sudan. Millions of my people were killed by Sudan forces. I can only forgive, but I cannot honor and glorify a country that killed my people.”

Interestingly, Marial is listed as a Sudanese national in his IAAF biography.

Marial is an elite athlete and not just a token bet. He has a personal best of 2:14:32 from 2011, set on a flat course. Marial had run 2:12:55 this year, albeit on a downhill course in San Diego. His times are still far off from Kenyan Ayele Abshero’s world leading 2:04:23, so a podium finish is not really realistic.

Should Marial be able to fix his U.K. and U.S. travel documents, his presence in the London Games would nevertheless be an achievement in itself – for both Marial and his young country.

Faulty Daegu Starters!

Hardly anyone false starts in the distance races, much less the friggin’ Marathon. The 42km race is a far cry from Usain Bolt and the 100m dash where sprinters start from a crouching position, isn’t it? Wrong.

Check out the following clip. The runners false start. Officials call them back. Then the gun fires when the runners were walking back. The runners turn around upon the retort of the gun!

Hilarious! Simply, hilarious! Good thing no one got disqualified.

The Philippine Asiad Athletics Campaign

The Philippine Amateur Track & Field Association (PATAFA), one of the country’s best-performing NSA’s sent a crack team of Southeast Asian Games champions in the likes of hammer thrower Arniel Ferrera, steeplechaser Rene Herrera and distance runner Eduardo Buenavista. Henry Dagmil, a near 8.00-meter long jumper, and javelin throwers Danilo Fresnido and Rosie Villarito, also competed.

The Rundown

The Philippines sent its best athletes, led by 2010 Asian long jump champion Marestella Torres, to the Guangzhou Asiad, only to come home empty-handed. The Philippine athletics medal drought continues, with the country’s best hope, Torres, losing the bronze medal on count back.

  • Marestella Torres (4th, Women’s long jump)
  • Henry Dagmil (6th, Men’s long jump)
  • Rosie Villarito (9th, Women’s javelin throw)
  • Arniel Ferrera (9th, Men’s hammer throw)
  • Danilo Fresnido (10th, Men’s javelin throw)
  • Rene Herrera (13th, Men’s 3,000m steeplechase)
  • Eduardo Buenavista (17th, Men’s marathon)

Read “Torres Lands 4th at the Asian Games”

Read Pinoymiler’s Asiad Day 2 round-up

Photo from Daylife and Zimbio

Aside from Torres, the closest to the medal standings was Dagmil at 6th place with his 7.45m leap. The Men’s long jump was won by South Korea’s Kim Deok-hyeon’s (김덕현). The Olympic and World Championships veteran was far from his lifetime best of 7.99m and his season’s best of 7.77m.

Read Pinoymiler’s Asiad Day 3 round-up

Read “South Korea’s Twin Long Jump Golds”

Photo from Zimbio and Getty Images

SEA Games hammer throw record-holder Arniel Ferrera placed 9th (58.06m). Tajikistan’s Dilshod Nazarov topped the field with his 76.44m heave. Likewise, Herrera finished 13th in the 3,000m steeplechase despite stopping the clock at season’s best of 9:02.93. The event was won by Tareq Mubarak Taher (8:25.89), a Kenyan-born Bahraini.

Read Pinoymiler’s Asiad Day 1 round-up

Photos from Daylife and Getty Images

The ageless Danilo Fresnido threw the javelin to 70.35m, good enough for 10th. Japan’s 2009 World Championship bronze medalist Yukifumi Murakami 村上 幸史 dominated the competition with his 83.15m mark. On the distaff side, Rosie Villarito (48.87m) finished second to the last at the women’s javelin throw competition. Japan scored a golden double in the javelin with Ebihira Yuki’s winning heave of 61.56 m.

Read GMA7’s article on Asiad penultimate day

Read Pinoymiler’s article on the Asiad Javelin Throw and Marathon

Read Pinoymiler’s Asiad Day 4 round-up

Buenavista, the country’s long-time distance running ace, ran a puzzling if not utterly shocking race in the Men’s marathon (2:45.07), a far cry from his national record of 2:18.44. According to a report by the Manila Standard, Buenavista will be facing a PATAFA inquiry on his Asiad performance. (As an athlete myself – and a huge admirer of Vertek – I do not want to judge. Let us hear it from the man himself. For all we know, he could have been nursing an injury. Let us keep in mind that Vertek has competed with distinction for Flag and Country in countless other meets).

Post-mortem

SEA Games success does not automatically translate into Asian Games success. Save for Torres and Dagmil, the level of competition in the Asiad was simply too much for our best track & field athletes. The government and the private sector did not spend millions on our track & field athletes, unlike the Smart Gilas Basketball team which finished 6th overall Filipino track athletes, like most Filipino athletes not playing in the PBA or not named Manny Pacquiao, are marginalized. Our lone IAAF-accredited stadium is currently under renovation with much controversy. Even if Torres and Dagmil had training and competition stints abroad, our domestic jumping facilities pale in comparison with our Asian neighbors.

The rest of the Asiad athletics campaigners aren’t as well-supported like Torres and Dagmil.

Indeed, you reap what you sow.

With their circumstances in mind, I cannot in all honesty lay the blame on our athletes alone. In fact, I’m welling up with much admiration for those eight brave souls – to go against Asia’s best for one’s motherland is an honor accorded to so few!

But then again, the words of POC’s Romasanta (a former Gintong Alay official) sounds promising. He emphasized focus on medal rich sports like gymnastics, swimming and athletics. I am not lambasting the well-meaning support of Smart for the country’s national basketball program since like most Filipinos, I’m a basketball fanatic as well. I’m just hoping that some kind corporate entity back an honest-to-goodness athletics program, similar to golf’ and shooting’s respective grassroots development schemes.

I’m a firm believer that a million pesos spent in the course of an athlete’s years-long preparation is money well-spent than a million peso reward given after winning a SEA Games, Asian Games or Olympic Gold.

Sources:

Gma7 news

Pinoymiler

Gz2010.cn

Yahoo News

IAAF

Wikipedia

Dorando Pietri, Derek Redmond and the Olympic Ideal

I used to spend hours at the Rizal Library poring over books about the Olympics. At that time, I was fresh from high school, wilting under the stronger competition in the senior ranks. I was badly in need of inspiration, and I found it in those glossy, reference books.

I’ve learned to appreciate the exploits of past Olympic champions, their feats of strength and heroism immortalized in print. I can go on for hours just talking about Harrison Dillard’s bittersweet experience in the 1948 London Olympics, the unique rivalry between Rafer Johnson and C.K. Yang and Shun Fujimoto’s heroic self-sacrifice at the gymnastics team event in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

While reading Jazzrunner’s post about cheating in the distance events, I recalled the amusing story of Dorando Pietri – who won the 1908 London Olympics marathon.  The remarkably hot London weather weakened Pietri, as he succumbed to “exhaustion and dehydration.” He was disqualified, however, since he received assistance from various umpires when he fell four times en route to the finish line.

Pietri was not a cheater, of course. He was just a poor victim of the heat and some overly exuberant umpires.

Pietri became an international celebrity afterward, as public sympathy pored in.

Receiving outside assistance of any kind is prohibited under IAAF rule 144. Following this line of thought, Derek Redmond (of Celebrate Humanity fame) should have been disqualified as well since he finished his semi-final with the help of father! The way Redmond hobbled to the finish line, with his father helping him throughout, embodied the Olympic ideal. Mundane competition rules were overshadowed by such gallantry.

Indeed, the spirit of the Olympics goes beyond winning.

Unless as you’re a hardcore track & field fan, the winner of the 400m dash in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics would probably elude you, much less the 1908 London Olympics Marathon event. Characters like Pietri and Redmond, despite not winning the gold, live on – immortalized in the annals of Olympic history.

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”- Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the Modern Olympic Games

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