Tag Archives: Usain Bolt

“Freaks of Nature: Usain Bolt and Michael Johnson” by Joboy Quintos

In the sprints, an athlete aims to reach the finish line as fast as possible. Hence, he/she limits the time amount of time on the ground by being explosive. From the track literature I’ve read throughout the years, I’ve learned that stride frequency is genetic, while stride length can be improved through hard work. A sprinter can do as much explosive drills, plyometrics and Olympic lifts as humanly possible, but one’s stride frequency and explosiveness is limited by nature’s genetic endowment of fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Stride length and stride frequency are the major pillars of sprinting. A sprinter strives to achieve a balance between the two. To perfect the sprinting form, an athlete goes through a cacophony of running drills to master each facet of the deceptively simple picture-perfect sprinting form:

  1. Back erect
  2. Shoulders relaxed
  3. Jaw relaxed
  4. Arms pumping below eye level
  5. Hands relaxed, not tensed
  6. Knees pumping high like pistons
  7. The heel not going beyond one’s butt
  8. Toes dorsi-flexed

Among the elite sprinters, I like respective forms of 9-time Olympic Gold medalist Carl Lewis, 2007 Osaka 100m/200m World Champion Tyson Gay and 4-time Olympic Silver medalist Frankie Fredericks the best.

Among all the sprinters of the orthodox school, Usain Bolt epitomizes the synergy of stride frequency and stride length the best. At 6’5 (1.95m), Bolt is the tallest elite sprinter to date (Although the retired German 400m specialist Ingo Schultz is taller at 2.05m, his major achievement pale in comparison to Bolt!).  Naturally, Bolt has longer legs and longer strides than most other sprinters at the world level. His height does not prove a hindrance, however, as he seems to possess a degree of explosiveness more than sufficient to outclass his shorter competitors.

Bolt seems to have ample endowments of BOTH stride length and stride frequency, despite the apparent instability of his upper body relative to other sprinters – a minor aberration to this purveyor of speed!

At 1.85m (6’1), Michael Johnson is not as physically impressive as Bolt. Pound per pound, however, Johnson is more impressive than Bolt with the former’s erstwhile 200m world record of 19.32s and current 400m WR of 43.18s. His arched back, low knee lift and short strides defies textbook sprinting form.

Johnson relies on sheer explosiveness, leg power alone and out-of-this-world speed endurance, in light of his relatively shorter strides.

Usain Bolt may be the current toast of the athletics world (despite his recent loss to Gay). Bolt has single-handedly lifted the sport on his Zeus-like back. He is every inch the sport’s premiere icon, with his stellar 100m and 200m world records. But then again, there will come a time when someone just as tall and fast as Bolt, would emulate his feats.

The chances of another maverick who epitomizes Johnson’s sprinting style is even more remote.

Simply put, if there’s a index which rates one’s ranking in the freak of nature scale, Johnson ranks higher than Bolt in my book. But on the showmanship index? Bolt is up there along with likes of Shaq!

P.S.

Check out MJ’s reaction to Usain’s world record! This is priceless.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Photo credits:

ABC

Still an Usain Bolt Show

The Jamaican Olympic Trials were a revelation.

Usain Bolt’s 100m defeat to his young training partner, Yohan Blake, came as a surprise. Blake’s commanding victory in the 200m was even more astounding. Bolt has shown chinks in armor in the century dash, owing to his inconsistent start. But in the half-lap sprint, the great Jamaican sprinter has been peerless.

Bolt en route to the 200m dash gold in Beijing. (Photo from Richard Giles)

The aforesaid losses to Blake and rumors of lingering injury, have pushed some athletics pundits to tag Blake as the prime candidate for Olympic sprinting glory.

Read: “London Olympics Preview – The 100m Dash”

Read: “London Olympics Preview – The 200m Dash”

Those views are not entirely baseless. On paper, the 2012 Bolt is a far cry from his 2009 self. The Jamaican champion’s 100m and 200m season’s bests are at 9.76s and 19.83s, respectively -light years away from his world records of 9.58s and 19.19s. Coming into the London Olympics, Blake is the world leader in both of the aforesaid events (9.75s and 19.80s).

True enough, Blake has what it takes to beat his compatriot. The 2011 100m World Champion (in the absence of a disqualified Bolt), is the third fastest in the 100m all-time list, behind Bolt and Asafa Powell. Blake has a personal best of 19.26s in the 200m a mark only bettered by Usain’s world record of 19.19s and is the only man who can challenge Bolt in the half lap sprint.

Powell, the former 100m world record, has the necessary tools edge out Bolt in the century dash. But the 30-year old has been a perennial underachiever in the major championships. Tyson Gay, the 100m and 200m World Champion from 2007, also enjoys the tag as a potential Bolt-beater. The oft-injured Gay is one of only two men to beat a post-Beijing Olympics Usain Bolt in the 100m (the other is, of course, Blake). Gay, recently recovered from a hip operation, owns the second fastest time in the 100m at 9.69s, behind Bolt’s 9.58s world record.

    

Blake (L), Gay (C), and Powell (R). (Photos from Erik van Leeuwen, Eckhard Pecher, and Jonas Witt)

Judging by the stat sheets and the results of the Jamaican Olympic Trials, a monumental collapse by Usain Bolt is in the offing.

I beg to disagree because of four important factors.

First, Bolt has the most experience amongst the four contenders. The Jamaican has won sprinting titles in Youth, Junior and Senior World Championship events. He has been competing at the highest level of sport since he was 15-years old. No other athlete, save for Russian Pole Vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and New Zealand’s Shot Putter Valerie Adams, have shown such consistency amongst the different age groups.

And of course, Bolt is the defending Olympic Champion. Blake, Gay, and Powell have yet to win individual Olympic golds.

Second, Bolt is a freak of nature. Speed is a function of stride length and stride frequency. Bolt, with his 1.95m/ 6’5 frame, excels in both departments. No Olympic or World sprinting champion was as tall and quick as Usain Bolt.

Third, Bolt has been in similar circumstances before. As a talented youngster, Bolt owns the World Youth best and the World Junior record in the 200m. His transition to the senior ranks, however, was marked by injury and a seeming lack of focus. Despite being popular in Jamaica, he was an unknown outside immediate athletics circles. There was a lull in his career from 2003 to 2008, until the Beijing Olympics where he romped to three Olympic Gold medals.

Lastly, Bolt has the ability to dig deep. In the glitz and glamour of the short sprints, people tend to overlook the fact that Usain once excelled in the 400m dash in his younger days. As a 16-year old, the Jamaican ran 45.35s, the sixth fastest ever by a Youth athlete. Although Gay has a faster personal best than Bolt in the quarter-mile, the latter has the necessary championship pedigree in the event. In my opinion, his background in the 400m is what sets him apart from his competitors. It puts him in a vastly different mindset.

Because of his long legs, we don’t usually see Bolt get the fastest start in the short dashes. But once his pistons start firing in full throttle, the race is over – more often than not. Indeed, it takes guts and determination to snatch victory from behind.

Despite the snags of Bolt’s 2012 season, the London 2012 Olympics shall still be Usain Bolt’s one big sprinting party.

London Olympics Preview: The 4x100m Relay

The team aspect makes the 4x100m relay exciting. Since the athletes are going at full speed, the margin for error in terms of baton passing is small. Teams, especially the hastily formed ones, are susceptible to passing lapses. In the 4x100m relay, the squads with inferior aggregate flat out speeds can draw level or, at times, triumph over the highly touted teams.

Read: “The 4x100m Relay – Where Underdogs Thrive”

Photo from Nigel Chadwick

Ironically, a larger country such as the U.S. could get disadvantaged because of its depth of talent. Having a large pool, with the uncertainty of the U.S. Olympic Trials providing the suspense, do not exactly provide ample time for teams to prepare. The smaller countries have, more or less, determined its relay lineups months before a major competition.

Women’s 4x100m Relay

The Americans have run two of the fastest 4x100m relay times this season (42.19s, 42.24s), followed by the Germans (42.51s – Leena Günther, Anne Cibis, Tatjana Pinto, Verena Sailer) and the Ukrainians (42.61s –  Nataliya Pohrebnyak Наталія Погребняк, Mariya Ryemyen, Olesya Povh Олеся Повх, Viktorya Pyatachenko). Netherlands (42.80s – Kadene Vassell, Dafne Schippers, Eva Lubbers, Jamile Samuel), Poland (43.06s – Marika Popowicz, Daria Korczynska, Marta Jeschke, Ewelina Ptak), and France (43.12s – Carima Louami, Ayodelé Ikuesan, Jennifer Galais, Christine Arron) are the next fastest countries. The Jamaicans are few rungs lower with a season’s best of 43.31s.

In terms of the Olympic qualifying period, which stretched from January 2011 to July 2012, the Carribean sprinting power is second on the list (average of 41.97s) behind the Americans (41.75s). Ukraine (42.57s average), France (42.65s average), Germany (42.77s average), and Nigeria (42.84s) round up the next four.

Screenshot from the IAAF

The defending Olympic Champion, Russia (Evgeniya Polyakova Евгения  Полякова, Ekaterina Kuzina, Ekaterina Voronenkova, Olga Belkina), is eight on the list with an average time of 42.86s.

On paper, the lead U.S. and Jamaica are the strongest contenders for gold. Its respective lineups are peppered with a multitude of individual sprinting talent in the likes of Carmelita Jeter, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Allyson Felix, and Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Read: “London Olympics Preview – The 100m Dash”

Read: “London Olympics Preview – The 200m Dash”

Jamaica has won Olympic gold only once, in 2004. The Jamaican women lost out on a potential gold in Beijing when they failed to finish the race. The Americans are historically the dominant force in the event, winning nine gold medals since the 1928 Paris Olympics. However, their last Olympic title came in 1996. Like the Jamaicans, the Americans have been bedeviled by erratic baton passing in the last two editions of the Games.

The Americans are the reigning World Champions, while the Jamaicans are the victors from Berlin.

Once Jamaica and the United States get their acts together, and pass their respective batons efficiently and with minimal loss of speed, these two countries are unbeatable.

If the two sprinting powerhouses commit lapses, Ukraine and Germany are the most likely to capitalize. The Ukrainians have world class sprinters in Olesya Povh and Mariya Ryemyen, while the Germans are led by the comebacking Verena Sailer. The Ukrainian and German teams have the benefit of competing at a relatively recent major championships, whereas the Jamaicans and Americans  last big meet was the World Championships in Daegu. The confidence level of the Germans, in particular, are at record-highs in light of their smashing win in Helsinki.

Top Three Predictions:

Gold: United States

Silver: Jamaica

Bronze: Germany/Ukraine

Men’s 4x100m Relay

In the men’s division, the Jamaican gap over the Americans is glaring. The Jamaicans have an average time of 37.54s to the Americans’ 37.85s. Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, and Yohan Blake are all set to compete in London. Barring any unforseen hitches, Jamaica looks poised to win back-to-back Olympic golds.

The Americans have dominated this event, having triumphed 15 times in the last 22 Olympic Games. Their record in major championships of late has not been as immaculate. The error-prone Americans narrowly missed the gold in Athens to an inspired British team. In Beijing, the American quartet crashed out of the preliminary rounds. They crashed out of the Berlin World Championships, disqualified for an illegal baton exchange. Daegu could have been a lot better, had it not been for the unfortunate collision between Briton Harry Aikenes-Aryeetey and American Doc Patton.

Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin will banner the American challenge. Gay and Gatlin, both former World titlists and the latter an Olympic Champion, will bring maturity and experience into the squad.

France (38.29s average –  Teddy Tinmar, Christophe Lemaitre, Yannick Lesourd, Jimmy Vicaut) Olympic hosts Great Britain (38.32s average), Trinidad and Tobago (38.40s average –  Keston Bledman, Marc Burns, Aaron Armstrong, Richard Thompson), and Brazil (38.41s average – Ailson Feitosa, Sandro Viana, Nilson Andrè, Bruno de Barros) are the next fastest countries. Interestingly, the 10th ranked Hong Kong relay team (38.59s average – Tang Yik Chun, Lai Chun Ho 黎振浩, Ng Ka Fung, Tsui Chi Ho) is ahead of Canada (38.64s – Ian Warner, Oluseyi Smith, Jared Connaughton, Justyn Warner), Italy (38..65s average – Simone Collio, Jacques Riparelli, Davide Manenti, Fabio Cerutti), and the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Japan (38.68s average – Masashi Eriguchi, Ryota Yamagata 山縣 亮太, Shinji Takahira, Kenji Fujimitsu).

Read: “Japan’s Olympic Bronze”

Screenshot from the IAAF

Outside the top two countries, France is the standout talent. The French are led by the duo of Christophe Lemaitre and Jimmy Vicaut, both 100m dash finalists in Daegu. Lemaitre is a World Championships 200m dash bronze medalist.

The Olympic hosts will also send an experienced team, with Mark Lewis-Francis and Dwain Chambers leading the charge. Lewis-Francis is the only holdover from the gold medal winning squad in Athens. The talented youngster Adam Gemili will be around to give much-needed firepower.

As much as I would love to see Britain win gold again or the Americans break their Olympic drought, the Jamaicans are much too dominant.

Top Three Predictions:

Gold: Jamaica

Silver: United States

Bronze: France

Sources:

IAAF – Olympic Relay Lineups

Wikipedia

IAAF

Thoughts on Bolt’s 100m Dash Loss

Young Yohan Blake defeated training partner Usain Bolt at the Jamaican Olympic Trials. Blake, the 2011 100m dash World Champion, shaved off a staggering seven-hundredths of a second off his personal best to convincingly win over the World 100m and 200m record holder. Blake stopped the clock in 9.75s to Bolt’s 9.86s. Asafa Powell was third in 9.88s.

The powerful Powell had a cracking start. The former world record holder actually led the field until the 60 meter mark, when Blake turned on his afterburners. Even Bolt’s usually dominating finish proved insufficient to turn the race into his favor. Although Bolt pipped Powell at the tape, by two-hundredths of a second, Blake scored a convincing victory.

This was Bolt’s first loss in the 100m dash since Tyson Gay beat him in Stockholm back in 2010.

Read: “Thunder Bolt”

Usain has shown chinks in his armor the past few races. At the Ostrava Golden Spike meeting this year, he ran a little over 10 seconds after a lackluster start. Although he has run the two fastest times in history (9.58s and 9.69s), other talented albeit slower sprinters are ready to pounce once Bolt lets down his guard.

Bolt at his best is practically unbeatable in the half-lap sprint. The 100m dash is a different ballgame altogether, considering the fact that the comebacking Gay had run 9.69s in the past. Powell (9.72s), despite his penchant for choking, has the necessary speed to edge out Bolt. With Blake’s victory in Kingston, a talented and confident challenger comes to fore.

Click here to view the 100m dash all-time list

Gay, Powell, and Blake has what it takes to beat Bolt in London.

Bolt’s loss at the hands of his training partner, as well as the near-missed he has had this season, could be beneficial in his defense of his Olympic titles. Bolt, after all, is human. He is no stranger to finishing second fiddle, having had a forgettable string of seasons prior to his breakout performance at the Beijing Olympics.

Usain Bolt, like the champion that he is, shall learn from this losing experience.

Why Usain Bolt is the World’s Fastest Man

Usain Bolt crossed the finish line at the Bislett Games, stopping the clock at 9.79s. As we was slowing down the first bend, waving to crowd and doing his usual post-race celebratory moves, an exuberant race volunteer blocks Bolt’s lane to hand out a bouquet of flowers.

Disaster of Ivet Lalova proportions was averted, thanks to the Lightning Bolt’s quick reflexes. IHe jumped in an effort to break his momentum, and grabbed the girl to absorb the impact. The girl buckled under force of the muted impact, Usain carries her, preventing her from falling down the track, and gives her a friendly hug!

Usain Bolt, what a remarkable guy!

Faster Than Lightning – Usain Bolt (remixed by DJ Steve Porter)

Check out this music video by the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt. Although I’m a hardcore Liu Xiang fan, I must admit that Bolt trumps Liu’s “Want You Know” in terms of the music video badass scale. Sorry Liu, a ballad just isn’t badass!

Bolt’s “Faster Than Lightning” puts nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis’ “Break It Up” to eternal shame.

French Athletics Commentators Rock!

As a hardcore athletics junkie, I satiate most of my track & field cravings through Youtube. Aside from the times when Eurosport Asia airs the Diamond League or a high-level European meet, I have to settle for clips uploaded on the popular video streaming site. Since athletics is a predominantly European sport, the broadcasters I encounter come from a hodgepodge of countries.

Amongst the myriad of languages, I prefer the French commentary over the rest (after the English feed, of course). In the countless times I’ve watched athletics clips online, the French almost always stand out for their unbridled passion and sheer excitement. The British and American pundits tend to be more restrained. The French seem more animated, at some point even shouting with much fervor (please watch the clips below).

Perhaps my preference for French stem from its exoticism to my English-reared ears. See and hear for yourself. Be the judge!

* For consistency, I chose the 2011 Daegu World Championships Men’s 100m dash final.

1.) French:

Read more of this post

“Usain Bolt does the Party Rock Shuffle”

I must admit that I’m not a fan of Usain Bolt’s pre-race tomfoolery, but the great man sure does makes excellent post-race celebratory moves! Take a look at the following clip after the 4x100m relay in Daegu.

Blake takes gold as Bolt crashes out

With Eurosport Asia not airing the ongoing Daegu World Championships, I had to content myself with stop-motion live streaming (I have crappy internet connection), live tweets and the IAAF live updates.

I was browsing the aforesaid information sources when I learned about the unthinkable: Usain Bolt has been disqualified for false starting. Some people opined that the starter held out too long, but frankly I couldn’t see what was wrong. Bolt went out of the blocks too early. It was as clear as daylight.

Read: “The disqualification of Bolt”

Young Yohan Blake took up the cudgels for Jamaica, as he crossed the line in 9.93s. The fast-starting Kim Collins (the oldest 100m dash World Champ finalist since Linford Christie) actually led the race until the halfway mark, when the fast-finishing duo of Blake and the American champion, Walter Dix, ate up the 2003 World Champion’s lead.

Christophe Lemaitre (10.19s) was a tenth behind Collins. Antigua’s Daniel Bailey (10.26s) edged out the 19-year old Frenchman, Jimmy Vicaut (10.27s) for fifth place.

It was great to see Collins back on the podium! He had shown promise at the start of the year, but got injured soon after. With this unexpected third place finish, the pride of St. Kitts and Nevis now has three bronze medals (100mD – 2005, 200mD – 2001) on top of his 100m dash World Championship gold  – spanning ten years!

Although I’m far from an Usain Bolt fanatic, seeing the iconic Jamaican sprinter crash out is disappointing. Some would argue about scrapping the new rule altogether, that the one-false start rule is just way too harsh. Unlike swimming, restarting a sprint race isn’t all that hard. The previous rule (which imposed a warning to the entire field) was sufficient, to say the least. Athletes and race officials are human; hence, susceptible to mistakes.

But then again, rules are rules.

Additional link:

Race results

A Long Shot: Asian Hopes at the Daegu World Championships

The Daegu World Athletics Championships is just around the corner. South Korea will play host to the most prestigious gathering track & field athletes after the Olympic Games, the third time for an Asian country to do so.

Sprinter Usain Bolt, in light of his spectacular array of world records, is the undeniable front-act. Other crowd drawers are triple jumper Teddy Tamgho of France (a stress fracture prematurely ended Tamgho’s season, unfortunately), high jumper Blanka Vlasic and javelin thrower Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway. The Kenyan 800m runner David Rudisha, fresh from a slew of world records last season, is on the hunt to rewrite the two-lap mark once more. The sprints, as always, will provide fast-paced action as the rest of the world pits their sprinting might against the dominant Jamaicans and Americans.

Read the rest of the article on InTheZone.com.ph

Trans World Sport Athletics Features

Before going to be last night, I watched clips Trans World Sport’s features on various track & field athletes. Aside from the regular Diamond League and Athletix Mag airings in Eurosport Asia, we Filipinos don’t get much athletics-related shows. The next best thing is Youtube. In this day and age of HD videos and broadband internet, the live-streaming site is the next best thing!

Isabelle Pedersen:

Jacko Gill:

Mutaz Barshim:

Allyson Felix:

Watch an older clip of Felix here

Steve Hooker:

And of course, Usain Bolt!

The aforementioned athletes are quite a combination – even if you take Bolt out of the picture. Hooker is the reigning Olympic, World, World Indoor and Commonwealth Games pole vault champion. Then there’s the versatile Felix, who can excel in all the flat sprinting events. Gill, Barshim and Pedersen are all World Junior titlists from Moncton.

Among all the athletes featured above, I’d have to say that I’m most impressed with Jacko. To be able to throw the 7kg shot beyond twenty meters at such a young age, that’s certainly historic! For a sprint hurdler who has scant knowledge of the throws, seeing a teenager heave the youth shot put beyond twenty-four meters is interesting, to say the least!

Watch at least one clip and you’ll get an instant dose of extrinsic, athletics motivation!

Additional links:

Shelly Ann Fraser

Kirani James

Xavier Carter

Donald Thomas

Check out “Thunderbolt” in In the Zone!

My article on Usain Bolt, “Thunderbolt,” appears in In the Zone.  Thank you to Rick Olivares and the guys behind the Gatorade-sponsored site! This is the first time I got published since “Perfect Christmas” back in 2004.

P.S.

Please do not mind my embarrassing photo!

Thanks to Karla Lim for the great shot!

Thunder Bolt

In 2008, Usain Bolt shocked the world by breaking the 100m dash world record months before the Beijing Olympics. At the quadrennial event, the lanky Jamaican smashed his existing world best mark, stopping the clock at an unprecedented 9.69s – despite celebrating 10m ahead of the finish line.

Read the rest of the article from the In the Zone website

American 4x400m Relay Dominance

The Men’s 4x400m has always been the playground of the United States. Since the start of the modern Olympic Games, the Americans had in all but five editions of the quadrennial event (1980, 1972, 1952, 1936 and 1920). In the IAAF World Championships, the dominant Americans lost only in 1983, 1991, 1997 and 2003.

Click here for in-depth, historical athletics results

More often than the not, the only ways to beat the Americans in the 4x400m relay are when they get disqualified for doping offenses (like in the 1997 World Championships and the 2000 Olympic Games). Since the 4x400m relay is longer and slower than its shorter counterpart, the 4x100m relay, there’s much room for error in baton exchanges. Unless the Americans suffer outright disqualification by going beyond the passing lanes or deliberately impeding another athlete’s right of way, the American quartet is a sure cinch for gold.

In recent years, the U.S. stranglehold over the event has been, I must admit, quite boring. With dominant quarter milers like Jeremy Wariner and LaShawn Merritt, other nations are hard-pressed to keep up. In the finals of the big meets, the other relay teams seem to The Men’s 4x400m has always been the playground of the United States. Since the start of the modern Olympic Games, the Americans had in all but five editions of the quadrennial event (1980, 1972, 1952, 1936 and 1920). In the IAAF World Championships, the dominant Americans lost only in 1983, 1991, 1997 and 2003.

More often than the not, the only ways to beat the Americans in the 4x400m relay are when they get disqualified for doping offenses (like in the 1997 World Championships and the 2000 Olympic Games). Since the 4x400m relay is longer and slower than its shorter counterpart, the 4x100m relay, there’s much room for error in baton exchanges. Unless the Americans suffer outright disqualification by going beyond the passing lanes or deliberately impeding another athlete’s right of way, the American quartet is a sure cinch for gold.

In recent years, the U.S. stranglehold over the event has been, I must admit, quite boring. With dominant quarter milers like Jeremy Wariner and LaShawn Merritt, other nations are hard-pressed to keep up. In the finals of the big meets, the other relay teams seem to battle for second place – not first place.

The British Golden Days

The most exciting clips of the event I’ve seen so far are from the heydays of British 400m sprinting in the 1990’s. These were the times when the likes of 1996 Atlanta 400m silver medalist Roger Black and 1996 Atlanta 4x400m silver medalist Iwan Thomas comprised a lean and mean 400m lineup for Britain. In the 1991 Tokyo World Championships, the quartet of Black, Derek Redmond of Celebrate Humanity fame, John Regis and Kriss Akabusi edged out an American team, 2:57.53 to 2:57:57, setting a new Area Record in the process.

The race itself was intense, with then British record holder Black sprinting a monstrous 1st leg effort. Akabusi, a 400m hurdler, ran a superb tactical fourth leg, lurking behind then World Champion Antonio Pettigrew. In the last 50m or so, Akabusi powered his way to the tape, gifting Britain with the gold medal.

In the 1997 World Championships in Athens, the British team of Black, Thomas, indoor specialist Jamie Baulch and Mark Richardson lost out on a gold medal by 0.18s. I particularly enjoyed watching the gutsy Baulch storm to the lead during the third leg.

In 2008, however, a member of the victorious U.S. team, the late Antonio Pettigrew, admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs in the same period as the 1997 World Championships. Pettigrew returned his medals. The British sprinters were awarded their much-delayed gold medals on January 2010, thirteen long years after the Americans’ tainted romp to first place.

Read the BBC article on the 1997 World Championships 4x400m team

The Contenders

The most viable contenders would have to be the Bahamas, Russia, Belgium and Britain. The Bahamians, paced by Chris Brown (not the rapper!), won silver behind the United States at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Russians won the bronze in the same event, despite not having having any representative to the 400m final (the young Vladimir Kraznov is a potential gem, having competed with distinction at the 2010 European Championships). Moreover, a resurgent British team lead by Black and Thomas’ heir apparent, Martyn Rooney, is within striking distance. If Belgium’s Borlee twins can reach sub-44  or low-44 second territory, the Belgians can be a legitimate contender as well.

Don’t count out Jamaica too. A certain Usain Bolt running in the low-43’s or high-42’s and a decent enough supporting cast could break the American stranglehold!

An Innovative Approach in Organizing Track Meets

People say that track & field meets are boring. There tends to be a lull in between in events. If you’re not a true athletics aficionado, pauses like these seem uneventful. I remember how our PT drifted in and out of naps during one particular meet.

The refreshing athletics website, Spikesmag, wrote a good article about the Competitive Edge Athletic Allstars event held in Australia. Usain Bolt was the centerpiece of the meet. His entrance was grand as a friggin’ Rolls Royce with Bolt riding inside waving to the crowd, rolled down the track.

Being the showman, Bolt even did a quick jig with the Australian dance group, Justice Crew!

In the words of Spikesmag, the meet was a refreshing take into how track & field meets are conducted due to the following:

  1. Connection between athletics and other sports (rugby stars were featured as well)
  2. Showcase stars of the future (promising Aussie track prospects competed)
  3. Fan entertainment (Usain Bolt dancing!)
  4. Head to heads (Rivalries between established world champions)
  5. Use a legend (Again, Usain Bolt!)

Read the full Spikesmag article here

Maybe we need to follow the aforesaid points for track & field to take root in the Philippines. The various company-sponsored runs have featured established celebrities to both attract and entertain the participants. With Piolo Pascual and Karylle on hand, celebrity presence is pretty much entrenched.

The popularity of road runs among the general populace can be harnessed. I think it’s possible for road runs to be juxtaposed with an honest-to-goodness athletics meet, with slight variations of course. The prospects are promising with these innovations.

Video credits:

matt17389

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