Tag Archives: World Indoor Championships

On Aries Merritt

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!

Track Beauty of the Week: Olga Rypakova Ольга Рыпакова

The Kazakh triple jumper is one of the best in her event. Rypakova has jumped 15.25m outdoors and 15.14m indoors, both Asian records. She also has a world-class personal best in the long jump at 6.85m. Olga is the 7th best triple jumper all-time.

Click here to read the full article…

Track Beauty of the Week: Murielle Ahouré

Murielle Ahouré is this week’s Track Beauty!

The Ivorian sprinter has improved gradually the past few years. From an 11.42s best in the 100m dash in 2006, Ahouré came close to the 11-seconds in 2009, as she clocked 11.09s in Greensboro. She had forgettable campaigns in the next two years, but the 2012 season has been a revelation for the fast starting African sprinter.

Click this link to read the full article…

Istanbul 2012 Men’s 60m Hurdles: Merritt Triumphs

I’m terribly disappointed to see Liu Xiang   fall short of the World Indoor title. The way he ran the final was uncharacteristic of the 2004 Olympic Champion. He had a good start, but he clipped the second and fifth hurdles. As a keen student of Liu’s hurdling style, I know for a fact that he rarely hits hurdles – much less bring down a barrier all the way to the track.

Perhaps he has been experiencing rhythm problems ever since he got disqualified in a Stockholm race a few weeks back.

View a longer clip from CCTV here

Nevertheless, I’m happy for Aries Merritt. For far too long, the former American collegiate champion has lurked in the shadows of the more prominent hurdlers of today. En route to his first major championship gold medal, Merritt ran a superbly clean race, stopping the clock in 7.44s, one-hundredth of a second off his personal best set back in February. Since winning the World Junior title in Grossetto back in 2004, this was Merritt’s second major championship final. He finished a far fifth in Daegu last year.

Two youngsters trailed the two hurdling veterans. France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde took bronze in a new personal best of 7.53s. Britain’s Andrew Pozzi finished in fourth place, five-hundredths of a second behind Martinot-Lagarde.  The Frenchman and Briton, both just 20 years old, edged out several more experienced competitors. Like Merritt, Martinot-Lagarde is the reigning World Junior champion from Moncton.

In the mixed race interview above, Merritt even failed to hear the gun during his semi-final heat! His dream run to the title could have ended there and then!  Good thing he eventually caught up to second place.

My pre-race projection – Liu, Merritt and Martinot-Lagarde – almost came to fruition. Nevertheless, it was an exciting series of races. It was great to watch the young guns slug it out with grizzled veterans.

Additional Links:

Full Results of the 60m Hurdles

Semi-finals Heat 1

Liu’s Mixed Zone Interview

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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Andrew Pozzi: The Demolition Man

The way Britain’s Andrew Pozzi cleared the final barrier was one for the books. Hurdling coaches always emphasize aggressiveness. But perhaps the exuberant Pozzi was a bit too harsh on the tenth hurdle!

Pozzi pummels the last hurdle! (Photo from Zimbio/Getty Images)

Britain’s talented hurdler, Pozzi, ran the race of his life in Istanbul. After narrowly edging out Athens Olympic Champion Liu Xiang in the heats and notching an impressive personal best (7.56s), The Demolition Man placed a hard fought fourth in the final. The young Briton stopped the clock in 7.58s, behind the newly-minted World Indoor Champion, Aries Merritt (7.44s), Liu (7.49s) and fellow youngster Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (7.53s).

Congratulations to Andrew “The Demolition Man” Pozzi for a memorable debut on the world stage!

Istanbul 2012: 60m Hurdles Heats Wrap-up

I’ve missed the morning session of Day 2 of the ongoing World Indoor Championships in Istanbul because I had athletics training. Luckily, the clips of the first two heats have already been uploaded to Youtube.

With Dayron Robles pulling out of Istanbul because of a leg injury (and possibly, motivation problems), the prospect of a legendary clash between Liu Xiang and Robles has been delayed. The newly-crowned world champion Jason Richardson and American record holder David Oliver are missing from the start list.

Liu, the former world record holder in the outdoor distance, is the undeniable favorite to win the title. He’s in sterling shape, having set an Asian Record of 7.41s a few weeks back. Liu already has a full set of World Indoor Championships medals from 2003, 2004 and 2008, when he won a bronze, silver and gold, respectively.

On paper, Liu is the fastest competitor amongst the Istanbul participants this season. Aries Merritt (7.43s A), Russia’s Konstantin Shabanov (7.52s), and France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (7.54s)  round up the next three. Kevin Craddock, with a season’s best of 7.46s A didn’t start his heat.

View the 2012 60m hurdles top list here

Martinot-Lagarde, the 2010 World Junior Champion, won the first heat in classy fashion. He had a great start, and ran abreast with four other guys in his heat before gradually powering his way to first place, edging out South Africa’s Lehann Fourie by one-hundredths of a second.

Liu Xiang had a relatively slow reaction time (0.214s), like most of the sprinters and hurdlers competing in the 60m distance. Perhaps he was trying to be careful, in light of the unexpected exits of several big names due to the starting fiasco in Istanbul. Britain’s Andrew Pozzi took the second heat in 7.61s, as Liu (7.62s) slowed down to finish line.

Merritt (7.66s) and Emanuele Abate of Italy (7.71s) won the next two heats.

My picks for top two are Liu and Merritt. Liu, with his injury-plagued seasons finally behind him is hungry for a world title. It’s high time the hard working Merritt wins his share of the limelight too.

The field is open for third place. If I were a betting (which I am not), my money’s on Martinot-Lagarde. His laid-back demeanor reminds me so much of Liu. Happy hurdlers are dangerous competitors. Expect the Martinot-Lagarde to spring a surprise in Istanbul.

Additional Link:

60m hurdles heats results

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: Alina Talai Алина Талай (Alina Talay)

Alina Talai Алина Талай is this week’s track beauty!

The Belorussian sprint hurdler is an upcoming talent in the event. Still only twenty-one years old, Talai had racked up her experience level in high quality meets. She has a personal best of 12.87s from 2010, ranking her among the elite of the 100m hurdles.

 

Photos from klbviktoria.com and belmarket.by

Talai’s best finish in a major international competition was semifinals appearance at the 2010 World Indoor Championships in Doha. She has been more successful in the European senior competition, having barged into the final of the 60m hurdles at the Paris European Indoor Championships.

The Belorussian missed out on a podium finish at the 2008 World Junior Championships, but redeemed herself by landing a bronze at the European U-23 Championships against older opponents a year later. Talai edged out the more fancied Swiss, Lisa Urech (who had set a PB of 12.62s, sixth fastest time in 2011), for the European U-23 hurdles crown. En route to her continental title, the Belorussian stopped the clock in season’s best of 12.91s, against Urech’s 13.00s.

Talai has shown marked consistency in the 2011 season. It is important to note that despite the worst of conditions, the Belorussian had managed to keep her form together, as evidenced by her sterling performance at the European Team Championships where she placed a fighting second. This is certainly impressive, in light of her unexpected exit at the Barcelona European Championships after clipping a hurdle.

The hard-working Belarussian hurdler finally barged into the top 3 of a major international event. She clocked a season’s best of 7.97s to win bronze at the Istanbul World Indoor Championships, behind the prolific Sally Pearson (7.73s) and Britain’s Tiffany Porter (7.94s).

After the race, it turned out that Talai was clueless on her ranking in the final. Asking the mixed zone interviewer regarding her placing, Talai was pleasantly shocked to learn that she won bronze! It is a touchingly authentic scene rarely caught on tape!

Track Beauty of the Week: Ebba Jungmark

Ebba Jungmark is this week’s track beauty!

Jungmark is next in line to the long list of excellent Swedish high jumpers. The twenty-four year old won her first major international medal at the European Indoor Championships in Paris early this year.

Photo from Runnerspace

The young Swede set a new indoor personal best of 1.96m en route to her podium finish. Jungmark performed superbly despite the absence of her more illustrious compatriot Emma Green-Tregaro.

The Onsala-born athlete has won numerous Swedish titles as youth and junior athlete. Jungmark went to the United States for her college education. She made her mark across the pond, winning the 2008 NCAA Division I Indoor high jump title, a year after competing at the 2007 Osaka World Championships.

At the Istanbul World Indoor Championships, Jungmark – together win Russia’s Anna Chicherova  and Italy’s Antonietta Di Martino – all shared a spot on the coveted podium. All three athletes had equally identical scorecards, with each clearing a best height of 1.95m and having three failures at 1.98m. The comebacking Chaunté Lowe won the event with a 1.98m clearance.

Now that was a win-win situation!

Additional link:

WSU profile

Track Beauty of the Week: Denisa Rosolová (Denisa Ščerbová)

Denisa Ščerbová-Rosolová is this week’s track beauty!

The Czech athlete originally started out as a heptathlete, but shifted focus to the long jump. The then 16-year Rosolová leaped 6.40m to win silver at the World U-17 Championships. A year later, she was crowned as the World junior champion, notching a 6.61m jump in the final.

Photos from topathletics.org and Denisa Rosolová

The skilled Rosolová went back to the multi-events in 2008 (her best mark in the heptathlon is 6,104 points). According to an EAA article, injuries sustained from the grueling discipline saw Rosolová shift to the 400m.

Photos from Denisa Rosolová’s Facebook fan page and Daylife/Getty Images

Rosolová had won numerous Czech national titles in the long jump and heptathlon. Despite winning the European indoor long jump silver in Birmingham back in 2007, triumph seemed to elude Rosolová in both the jumps and the multi-events.

In 2010, Rosolová made the big shift to the quarter-mile. Success was immediate for the versatile athlete. At the European Championships in Barcelona, the Czech went tantalizingly close to 50 seconds in the 400m, finishing 5th (50.90s) in the highly competitive final.

At the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Paris, Rosolová nipped the fancied Russian duo of Olesya Krasnomovets Олеся Александровна Форшева and Kseniya Zadorina Ксения Ивановна Задорина in the last 60m, winning her first major senior title. The 24-year old ran an indoor personal best of 51.73s en route to the gold, bettering her 2011 season’s best by a massive five hundredths of a second.

Denisa, however, wasn’t as successful outdoors in 2011. Despite notching a new personal best in the 400m dash in Ostrava (50.84s), the Czech could only muster a semi-finals finish in the Daegu World Championships, exiting the competition in 52.53s. At the 2012 World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Rosolova qualified for the finals (her first in the worlds as a quarter miler) and finished in sixth place.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Track Beauty of the Week: Fabiana Murer

Fabiana Murer is this week’s track beauty!

The Brazilian pole vaulter’s first major championship medal came at the 2008 World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain. The gymnast-turned-pole vaulter cleared 4.70m to grab the bronze medal. Despite leaps of 4.80m and 4.82m in 2008 and 2009, respectively, Murer failed to reprise her stellar form at the Beijing Olympics and Berlin World Championships, finishing 10th and 5th, respectively.

Photos from rankopedia.com, lazeresportes.com, esportesite.com.br and bloglog.globo.com

The South American record-holder’s breakout meet came at the 2010 World Indoor Championships, where an exhausted Yelena Isinbayeva (Murer’s occasional training partner) failed to make the podium. Murer outclassed the more experienced Svetlana Feofanova and an in-form Anna Rogowska, clearing 4.80m.

With personal bests of 4.85m outdoors and 4.82m indoors, Murer is definitely at the forefront of the pole vault elite. How the 29-year old Brazilian fares against a (hopefully) rejuvenated Isinbayeva come 2011 remains to be seen.

Additional links:

Wiki

IAAF article

Track Beauty of the Week: Darya Klishina (Дарья Клишина)

Darya Klishina Дарья Клишина is this week’s track beauty!

The 19-year old Russian junior long jump record holder is a rising star in one of track’s most exciting events. Klishina set a new Russian U20 record of 7.03m (the 2nd best senior jump in the world this year, behind compatriot Olga Kucherenko’s 7.13m) at the 52nd Brothers Znamensky Memorial meet in Zhukovskiy, Russia three weeks ago. Klishina, the reigning European Junior Champion, placed 5th at the World Indoor Championships in Doha.

Click the photos below for higher resolution images:

   

Photos from IAAF, Rusathletics.com, Darya Klishina Facebook fan club

View other Darya Klishina posts here

Among the all-time junior list, Klishina’s record-breaking leap is behind only the great German long jumper, Heike Dreschler. The stately Russian was a former European junior champion (2009) and World youth champion (2007).

In light of her stellar performance at such a young age, expect Klishina to be a mainstay in major championships of the future.

Read about Darya’s first major senior title here

Click the photos below for higher resolution images:

 

Photos from Life, s3.gzt.ru, and Erik van Leeuwen

Klishina is as comfortable in front of the fashion cameras as she is on the track. With her good looks and status as one of the best long jumpers in the world, Klishina is on the fast track to widespread popularity.

Watch Darya’s Men’s Health Interview

In 2011, Darya won her first senior continental title at the European Indoor Championships in Paris. Nursing an ankle injury (which required surgery after the season), Klishina limped into 7th place at the Daegu World Championships. Her best leap was a mere 6.50m – a far cry from her personal best of 7.05m (2011).

With the London Olympics months away, a healthy Darya Klishina is within range to wrest the coveted gold medal from her rivals.

 

Article by Joboy Quintos

 

Additional Links:

IAAF article (Klishina’s Russian junior record)

European Athletics

More photos

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