This first update today is about the various things going on around the competition and some of my experiences in chatting with various coaches and athletes from around the world. I hope you enjoy...
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
World Champs, Day 4
Some thoughts on the 1,500 meters
The men's 1,500 meters belongs to Rhashid Ramzi of Bahrain. He has proven himself to be tough in either a fast or slow race. However, this is the World Champs and anything can happen.
My picks for the 1,500 meters are Ramzi, Lagat and Webb, in that order. If the race goes fast, I think that Lagat and Webb could go 1-2. The dangerous one is Abrel Kiprop of Kenya, who just gives me this feeling, like, if he is in the mix, he can be
Bernard Lagat has rounded into form and he should be the one who could take this whole enchilada. Alan Webb can win the race, if he believes in himself and stays the heck out of trouble.
In any case, this should be a superb race.
Some thoughts on the women's 100 meters last night...
I am in awe of Lauryn Williams. Talk about focus. The young sprinter has been putting up with, to use the term, one hit wonder, for nearly two years. She dug herself out of her injuries, then she started racing well, one race after another.
Her semi final was a seminal race. Williams was ready to defend after that race. In the final, Lauryn put it on the line and fought every meter of the race. She willed herself into that position, and with twenty meters to go, it was anyone's race. I thought she had one, but the guys with two good eyes and sports timing equipment from Seiko have the last word. Veronica Campbell worked hard to win that race, and Lauryn Williams should be proud of her hard won silver.
Camelita Jeter was a revelation. The young women did not shrink in the final and ran a great race with a field of studs. The Womens' 100 meters had everyone who should have been there. Heck, Christine Arron was running well, in a non-relay event, and that is the sign of the apocalypse.
In the end, it was a race to savor, a race to watch over and over again. It is the kind of sprint race that a world championships should have.
Some thoughts on the 10,000 meter men's race last night:
Today, we had the unique opportunity to meet with Kenenisa Bekela and Sileshe Sihane, the gold and silver medalist in the 10,000 meters. Both athetes, under the management of Jos Hermans ( hour record holder in 1976, man with coolest glasses in the 70s as he ran the 10,000 in Montreal against Lopes and Viren).
Bekele was in a very tranquil mood. When I asked him what he preferred or valued more, his world records at 5k and 10k, or his three gold medals at 10,000 meters, in very nice English, he gently said, " I value the gold medals, as they are for my country. The world records are nice, but the gold medals are of most value to me."
When asked about the end of the race he had this to say,: " When you change pace from the pace of the race to very fast, it was difficult. It was not comfortable for me..perhaps it was the weather."
When asked about how long he would race, Bekele said: " Five gold medals is possible, then perhaps something else, maybe 5,000 meters and 1,500 meters." He said this with a wry smile.
Of the marathon, Bekele was expliciit--he does not want to consider that yet.
As for Beijing, and the weather problems, he was like the Zen master: "The weather will be the same for all. I can not change the weather. I wil just run and train."
Silesh Sihane, the silver medalist has parallels in track history--Alan Mimoun of France and Emil Zatopek perhaps. The one that comes to mind for me is Willie Ritola and Paavo Nurmi. Ritola finished second to Nurmi in numerous championships, yet never, ever gave up.
Sihane told us this: " When we race, we all want the gold medal." And that is what
Sihane did with the last kilometer in the 10,000 meters. Mathami took the lead and Sihane went to the lead, with Bekele in obvious distress. One of the true observers of the sport told us that Bekele's eyes were closed as he past the 9600 meter mark.
Bekele was in distress. The last 800 meters was covered in 1:56, with a last lap of 55 and the final 200 meters in 27.4 ( approximately). Bekele moved past Mamathi with 300 meters to go, and then made up five meters in three strides, and went past Sihane with less than a 190 meters to go. The race, the kill was over in a matter of
fifteen seconds, as Bekele waved, and cross himself as he hit the finish line.
Women's pole vault
Tonight is the women's pole vault final. Unless Yelena Isinbayeva decides not to compete, the gold medal is hers. The next two medals will be interesting to consider. Svetlana Feofanova is from the early days of the pole vault and she has been dealing with the upstart Isinbayeva for half a decade. She is healthy and back in shape, ready to vault hign and possibly take the silver.
The question mark is Jennifer Stuczynski the American record holder twice over, a 4.82 and 4.88. Jennifer has the ability to take second, but with her sore back and
rumored achilles issues, it will wait to be seen. She cleared 4.50 m and 4.55m in the qualifying, her best jumping since June 2007. Now comes the tough stuff, competing in the World Champs, with all of the marbles on the line.
Speaking of overtraining....
Coaching is an art form. It is the combination of scientific knowledge, cheerleader, sales person and zen master. Sometimes doing nothing is the best answer. Apparently some of the personal coaches have forgotten that and some athletes from the U.S. have been leaving their best performances on the training venue. This comment has come from a few observers of some of the American performances.
A coach can either hurt or help in the last ten days. Not much someone can do then, but hurt themselves. Trying to justify their coaching credentials is a terrible reason to over train.
The pressure of competition..
The pressure of being on top of the world lists, or dealing with media, and the heat and the event has got to be a challenge. The heats are championships in themselves for most athletes. The heat zaps energy from athletes and the collapse comes quick, especially in the distance races. Hydration can not be over stated and athletes take care of themselves or perish. This is the world championships and wth athletes from 203 countries, there is always someone coming up, someone hungry, someone wanting to be the next Bekele, Isinbayeva, Wariner, or Gay.
Jeremy Wariner ran the most relaxed 45.10 most observers have ever seen. Angelo Taylor the 2000 gold medalist at 400 m hurdles, ran 44.85, as did the other two U.S. runners.
In the 200 meters, all the guys got through. Tyson Gay ran 20.44, two days after his 100 meter victory. Wallace Spearmon looked good as well.
More on Murofushi
Koji Murofushi cut back on his training in 2007 due to injuries and his studies to finish his Ph.d. He then went to the U.S. and trained for six weeks doing two a day workouts. His competition did well through three throws, when, due to a technical glitch, the clock showed a shorter time than he expected when he entered the ring-he thought he had one minute, but the clock showed ten seconds! He became a bit flustered and just did not seem to concentrate, although he got his season best in the final round!
Lunch in Osaka, kind of from a machine..
I was hungry mid day yesterday, so I found a little Japanese fast food restaurant. I went to the table and was offered tea, and a menu and shown a machine, where I
put in yen coins to order lunch. I ordered for 650 yen, about $6, a bowl of Miso soup, a bowl of rice, a bowl with two thin Omelette slices and boiled piece of horse mackeral (called spanish mackeral in U.S.) in a swee sauce. You give the ticket from the machine to the servers, and they deliver your plate.
My hotel, the Super Hotel, Higobashi, http://www.superhotel.co.jp/en/s_hotels/higobashi.html , is part of chain of business hotels. My room, as you can see, is small, with a bathroom, small closet, TV, wifi, and an air conditioner that I figured out after three nights of using a small cooler.
The hotel cost is very modest, with room and breakfast, I am spending about $60 US a night. Breakfast is from 7 to 9 am, and consists of Miso soup, rice, boiled fish, small omelettes, tofu (which I love), and a noodle salad. I have been eating only Japanese food for most of my meals, and feel good and energetic.
Speaking of energy, the jet lag thing is real. First night, I flew in from Seoul, took a one hour nap, became a four hour nap, and then found diner in local restaurant. On Saturday, got five hours sleep, then a three hour nap, on Sunday, about five hours and no nap and last night, did seven hours and a one hour nap today. It is Tuesday now and am getting tired, so we shall see how I do...walks give me some good energy, so I have been taking about 30 minute walks in heat. Our seats, three rows form the top of the stadium, above the finish, are giving me some hill workouts! Good thing is my walking at home helped me this time around.
I am getting used to the heat, but it still wears you out. Yesterday, I spent an hour walking around small streets yesterday and visiting neighborhoods near the stadium...
For complete results of August 28, 2007, day four: http://osaka2007.iaaf.org/results/bydate.html#racedate=08-28-2007
For complete coverage by American Track & Field magazine:
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