Word Champs, Day 3: Craig Masback's Thoughts on Day Two and Day Three

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Craig Masback, the CEO of USA Track & Field, is very much a student of the sport. Besides that, he is a true track and field fan. The pace so far for Team USA is pretty impressive--good performances in early rounds. The only tough one has been Bershawn Jackson in the 400m hurdles.

I asked Craig again a few questions, to which he emailed back his answers. We think that you will find his answers of much interest. This is his third series of responses in three days! We thank Craig for his time.

LE: Team USA continues to do well. What did you think of the men's 100 meter race?

CM: Sunday night was great and I have high hopes for tonight. The stadium should be rocking with all of Japan focused on the men's hammer throw. The 100 meters had all the trappings of a heavyweight bout and certainly delivered in terms of entertainment value. I have tremendous respect for Tyson Gay and his entire "team" -- his coaches, Global, family, and everyone else around him. They gave him just the right amount support and then let him go to work. He had a great start, which put immediate pressure on Powell, which even Powell admitted post-race caused him to "freeze." It would have been nice for Osaka and the sport if the wind had been in the right direction as we might have had a WR, but I was thrilled for Tyson and Team USA with the outcome.


LE: I was impressed how Tyson Gay presented himself. He was obviously concerned for Asafa Powell and one of few who could be cognizent of the pressure Powell lives with. Seems like a different era in sprinting, in terms of personalities, do you concur?

CM: Only someone who has "been there" can appreciate the pressures on these guys. I don't know Tyson well, but he appears to be a very thoughtful and sensitive person. What struck me after the race was: (1) how free he felt to show his emotion after he won -- I think in the past he has kept his emotions bottled up out of modesty or due to the fact that he always had another goal in mind; (2) how much homage he paid to Powell -- it was a classy thing to do and, as you say, somewhat different from what we've seen from past sprinters . . . as noted above, these guys are part of a very small fraternity and it is good to see him recognize what they have in common, not just what their differences are; and (3) the extent to which he saw the big picture immediately -- in the mixed zone post-race, he was immediately thankful to those who had helped him, especially his family, and then talked immediately about getting ready for his next race.

At about 1:30 am, when he arrived back at the hotel, he was welcomed by 25 athletes, coaches, family members, and others who had waited for him to go through the routine of press conferences and drug testing. In what has become a tradition since Seville 1999, we welcomed him with a bottle of champagne and a small gift. He was truly touched and again thanked everyone who made it possible.

LE: Have you been able to walk around Osaka at all? What is your day like? Do you get to watch both sessions, or is your day pretty full?

CM: I try to go to both sessions whenever I can -- it is the world's best track meet after all. With the pass that I have, I can go pretty much anywhere I would want to go except to the warmup track. This allows me to see athletes post-race. When I'm not at the track, I'm in sponsor meetings, meetings with the IAAF or other sports officials, or trying to keep up with work back in the USA. So far, I've been working both a
Japanese "work" day and a good part of the U.S. work day, which is not a sustainable pace.

LE: Any thoughts on the 1,500 meter heats tonight?

CM: I thought that the first round heats looked like semi-final heats. Tonight's races look more like "finals" races, particularly the first semi. Back in my day, the 1500 meters was three races in three days, which meant you had to measure out your effort a little in order to try to save something for the final. With the current schedule -- a day of rest in between each round -- the athletes go into the race with at least
the thought that they may have to go all out in order to get to the next round. I'm glad I retired long ago. Making the final at this event will be an extraordinary achievement in itself. Then you can think about the final.

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For related articles for August 27, 2007: http://osaka2007.iaaf.org/news/kind=2/newsid=40789.html#osaka+2007+highlights+day

For the complete results of August 27, 2007: http://osaka2007.iaaf.org/results/bydate.html#racedate=08-27-2007

For complete coverage by American Track & Field magazine:
http://www.american-trackandfield.com/features/worldchamps07list.html

For the digital version of American Track & Fields' Resource Guide 2007, including
the 32 pp History of the World Championships, 1983-2005, please click on: http://www.flipseekllc.com/ATFguide.html

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