August 26, 2007. 11 pm local time, Osaka, Japan.
The three finals tonight were the Men's 100 meters and the Heptathlon, plus the
Women's shot put. Each final has its own intrigues, its own stories...
Heptathlon--it's Carolina Kluft, in a European Record!
One of the comments heard about Kluft is that she competes at an easy time in the events' history. Don't tell Lyudmila Blonka, or Kelly Sotherton, or Jessica Ennis that!
Talk about rubbish. Carolina Kluft is already one of the world's greatest multi eventers ever, and her three peat here just adds to the story! Sweden's fans were happy tonight as Carolina showed her magnifiscent athleticism, but also her class as an athlete and an individual. Her country should be proud.
Carolina Kluft continued her domination of the heptathlon. In the final event of the heptathlon, Kluft ran a tough 800 meters with her fine 2:12.56 for 927 points. After
two days where she hurdled a personal best of 13.15 (1102), high jumped a personal best of 1.95m for 1171 points, threw the shot put 14.81 for 848 points and ran 23.38 for 200 meters to end the first day with 927 points.
On day two, Kluft long jumped 6.85 for 1122, threw the javelin okay with her 47.98m for 821 points and finally, running 2:12.56 for 927 points, gave her a world leader of 7032 points and EUROPEAN RECORD and the gold medal, her third in a world championship Heptathlon.
For the silver, Lyudmila Blonska of the Ukraine started smiling after he 6.88 m blow out long jump and has not stopped since! In the javelin, she threw 47.77m for 817 points and finally, dug in and ran 2:16.68 for 869 points for 6832 points, a national record. Blonska's silver medal was a superb performance.
For the bronze, Kelly Sotheron had to dig down and run a very hard 800 meters, in these conditions. Running second in her heat of the 800 meters, to Jessica Ennis, her teammate. Kelly ran 2:11.58 for 942 points which cemented the bronze medal, with her seasonal best of 6,510 points.
Her 800 meter run gave her twelve seconds between Austra Skujyte, who finished an excellent sixth in 6380.
In fourth was Jessica Ennis of Great Britian scored 6469, a pesonal best, with her fine 2:11.39 final event, the 800 meters, giving her a 944 points in her final events.
Lilli Schwarzkopf of Germany competed well both days, and her 2:12.76 for 925 points, followed by her huge javelin throw of 54.44m for 946 points gave her a final score of 6439, her personal best!
After the 800 meters, once the results were announced, Carolina Kluft insisted on all the field joining her in the victory lap. Kluft, Blonska, Sotherton, Ennis, Skujte, all jogged the track. Probably the most amazing performance of all was that Kluft hurdled the intermediate hurdles that were being put up, after a few other athletes
did the same!
The battle is over. For the next year, Carolina Kluft, as she has since 2003, is the world's greatest female multi-eventer, period. Class closed. No discussion.
Women's Shot Put
Let's role play for awhile. You are a Belarussian shot putter. You pop a 20.04 m throw in first round, and take the lead. New Zealander Valerie Vili throws 19.89, pushing herself into second place. Petra Lammert in third, with a throw by the German of 19.33 meters.
If you are Nadzeya Ostapchuk, you watch as no one improves in the next four rounds.
Round five comes, and Germany's Nadia Kleinart improves to 19.77m, moving into third. Then New Zealand's Valerie Vili pops a 19.95 m throw, moving herself a bit closer to the Belarussian, but still Ostapchuk leads.
In round six, Ling Li, the Chinese shot putter, pops a 19.38 m throw, a personal best, moving herself into fourth place! Petra Lammert fouls, keeping her in fifth. Nadine Kleinart throw 19.72 m, keeping her in third.
It is down to Vili and Ostapchuk.
The Kiwi goes into the ring, breathes deep. She must be thinking, well silver is pretty darn good, but here is my last throw! Vili throws, walks out of th back of the ring, and boom! 20.54m! Unless Ostapchuk can respond, the Kiwi has the gold.
Nadzeya Ostapchuk is a seasoned competitor. The Belarussian does not flinch and puts the shot as far as she can! Obviously, it is farther than her 20.04 in round 1, is it? Is it?
The measure comes up, 20.48m, a great throw, but not enough to take the gold!
New Zealanders rejoice, Valeri Vili, your shot putter has just won the gold medal with a fine throw of 20.54m! Vili has thrown the world leader!
In second, the competitive til the very end, Nadzeya Ostapchuck has thrown her seasonal best of 20.48. In third, Nadine Kleinart of Germany throws 19.77m, a seasonal best.
In fourth, Lang Li throws 19.38m for a personal best. Chinese athletes go four, six and seven. Watch out for their performances in Beijing!
Men's 100 meter final
The 100 meters is one of those races that takes awhile to take in. It has to be savored, and watched, over and over.
On one side, there is Asafa Powell of Jamaica. The world record holder, who has run well this season, overcoming some nagging injuries. The pressure of his country on his shoulders, many have considered him the next great, if not already the great sprinter of this time.
Then came Tyson Gay's 2007 season. There were the wind-aided races at the adidas Outdoor and Reebok Grand Prix. Then, the 9.84 and 19.62 in Indy. Some injury suggestions after that, and Tyson waited to compete. Running in less than ideal conditions, each time it was the same. Slower times, but surprisingly fast for the conditions-like cold rain, unseasonably cold meets all over Europe.
Then, add in Derrick Atkins of the Bahamas. I just like this sprinter. He runs hard, he keeps his mouth shut and lets his legs do the talking. I miss that kind of stuff. For the record, I picked him for a medal, the silver in fact, on Saturday. He is a craftsman, he runs well, and he knows how to run past the finish, something a few of our contempory sprinters seem to forget.
Here is how the race went:
Asafa Powell took the lead through 10 meters, hitting 1.87 to Gays 1.90 and Atkins 1.90. At 20 meters, Powell increased the lead, to 2.91 to 2.93 for Atkins, now in second and Gay, at 2.94, still in third. Powell kept the lead at 30 meters, in 3.83 to Gay, now moved into second in 3.86, with Atkins in 3.87.
Powell was still in the lead at 40 meters, in 4.71, with Atkins in third in 4.75 and Gay cutting down the lead at 4.73 seconds for 40 meters.
At 50 meters, halfway, Asafa Powell hit 5.57 seconds, Gay hit 5.59 seconds, Atkins hit 5.62 seconds for 50 meters.
At 60 meters, Asafa Powell as still in the lead, charging to 6.42 seconds, with Gay at 6.44 and Atkins at 6.47 seconds.
At 70 meters, Gay caught up with Powell, both timed at 7.28 meters, with Atkins in 7.33 seconds and Devonish at 7.47 seconds. This was the turning point.
At 80 meters, Tyson Gay began to take the lead, timed in 8.13 to Asafa Powell's 8.15 seconds. Derrick Atkins was timed in 8.18m with Devonish and Martina in 8.35 seconds.
Tyson Gay stayed focus and kept running, hitting 90 meters in 8.99 seconds, with Powell starting to fall back, timed in 9.03 and Derrick Atkins in 9.04, right behind Powell. Martina had moved in front of Devonish by now, 9.21 seconds to 9.23.
At the finish, Tyson Gay took the win, running 9.85 seconds for 100 meters, with Derrick Atkins moving into second in 9.91, a national record, as Asafa Powell ran 9.96 seconds. In fourth was Martina in 10.08 and Devonish took fifth in 10.14.
Reaction times for Gay was 0.143, 0.137 for Atkins, and 0.145 for Powell. Martina got out in 0.180 and Devonish got out in 0.149.
The biomechanics review was courtesy of the JAAF biomechanics team.
In non-geek, here is how the race went:
Atkins reacted first, followed by Gay and Powell. Asafa Powell built a lead through 40 meters, and then Gay started to real Powell in. It took until 70 meters to match Powell and then, Gay moved ahead, as Powell tightened up and started to slow down. As Powell tightened up, Derrick Atkins ran through the finish and caught Powell at 90 meters to take the silver. Gay moved ahead for the win and Powell took the bronze.
In fourth was Olusoji A. Fasuba, who caught Martina and ran a seasonal best in 10.07. Churandy Martina of Netherland Antilles ran 10.08 for fifth place. Marlon Devonish of Great Britian ran 10.14 for sixth. Matic Ovoknikar of Slovenia ran 10.23 for seventh. Marc Burns of Trinidad finished eighth in 10.29.
In the end, it was Tyson Gay, who showed his class. He first chatted with Asafa before the press conference. He spoke movingly of his Mom helping him settle downbefore the final, noting that he was pretty nervous. He dedicated the race to his coach, Lance Bauman, who is released from jail in a few days. Gay has supported his coach through a difficult year, where Bauman took responsiblity for some poor decisions. In my country, when someone takes responsibility for their actions, and pays what is due--and that happens so infrequently in our day, then we let it at that.
While Bauman has been incarcerated, Jon Drummond has been helping Tyson stay focused and get through the stress fest that is a world championships.
Everyone likes Tyson. The Japanese have him all over TV here, they like his modesty-very Japanese. Even the Jamaicans like Tyson. Sure, they wanted Asafa Powell to win, and win he will one day, but Tyson is just not the boisterous sprinter that Jamaicans have come to expect . A modest man, Tyson Gay is a professional athlete, except he is just not that kind of professional athlete.
It is refreshing to write about a race with athletes who competed hard, made no excuses and took their lumps.
The most appropriate way to end this piece is with a short quote from Tyson Gay, which I grabbed from NTV: "The track is fast, the fans are great. My family was here to support me. The race was good."
For more related stories: http://osaka2007.iaaf.org/news/kind=512/newsid=40635.html#osaka+2007+highlights+day
For official results: http://osaka2007.iaaf.org/results/bydate.html#racedate=08-26-2007