World Indoor Champs, Morning Session, Day 1

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The morning session got off pretty well. The qualifying for the 3000 meter me and womens, women's 60 meter and men's 60 meter, men's shot put, and the womens' triple jump, mens' long jump and first two events of women's pentathlon!

More coverage in ten hours! The men's shot will be awesome tonight!

World Champs Update 01
Valencia, Spain

10 AM to 1 PM local time

Friday, March 7, 2008

Arrivals, some observations....

Well, the trip to Valencia, Spain from Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin went well, long but well. Flying from Chicago to Zurich, Zurich to Barcelona, a few hours in the Barcelona airport and then off to Valencia. Arriving in Valencia, I was greeted, in the baggage area, by the best guerilla marketing I have seen in years. Adidas and Samsung (Samsung is a sponsor) teamed up to buy baggage ads showcasing their new phone, mp3 player for runners. Nicely done ad, nicely done campaign. I also saw it around the city.

On my flight to Valencia was interesting. I overheard a conversation in Polish, smiled and said hello. It was Sebastian Chmara, the 1999 World Indoor Champ. He works for Polish TV. They are televising the World Champs on Polish Public Television ( why don't we do that in US?).

I am staying in the Aqua 4 hotel in Valencia, nice clearn, like a Marriot. I headed out about ten pm, after checking in with the office ( seven hours difference) and found a list pasta place for some dinner. After that, it was a nice hour walk in the large shopping center next to our hotel, checking out the windows and little shops. The center was open air and it felt great to be off planes for the first time in twenty hours.

There was a little chain in the mall called Pasta City. Not knowing much about the area I was in, and since it was late, I grabbed dinner there. It was not very crowded, and I asked the waitress, who was from Poland, why? She smiled and said that it was too cold for Valencians. We then chatted about the meter of snow I had seen in Fort Atkinson and she told me that, being from Krakow, she had withstood a few -30 days. The present temp in Valencia was about 50 F.

After dinner and a chat with some British newspaper writers, I went upstairs to crash.

Friday morning came early ( it was one am Wisconsin time). I headed down to grab some coffee and head for the bus. Our bus ride-they take media from hotel to arena via special buses-was a trip in itself. The driver did not know the area around Palau Lluis Puig stadia and what should have been fifteen minutes was about forty-five. It was okay, no worries, the Spanish writers with me laughed and said, we were fine. I thought we were getting a tour of the city.

Spain is less than two days away from their national election. One of the candidates has a picture of himself and the comment,-"Straight talk", another said


Morning Session, Friday, March 7

Men's shot qualifying ( 20.20 for auto qualifier)

Christian Cantwell gets off a 19.25m throw, a non auto qualifier in first attempt.

Reese Hoffa cranks a seasonal best of 21.49 for an auto qualifier. Reese looks relaxed and confident. Andreei MIkhnevich of Belarus threw 20.58 for an auto, as did Peter Sack of Germany, who threw 20.27 m. Scott Martin is in fourth, from Australia, throwing 20.12m for a personal best. Rutger Smith of the Netherlands was fifth in 19.96m, Tomas Majewski of Poland in sixth for 19.89m.

Christian threw 20.91 m on his second try and looked to the crowd and wiped his brow, showing that yes he was a bit verklemped over the first round throw. He now ranks second and has his auto qualifier. Dorian Scott of Jamaica threw a national record with his fine 20.62m throw in round two! Scott Martin of Australia threw another national record in 20.83m for the third longest auto qualifier in round two.


Women's 3000 meter qualifying

The first round was pretty typical. Fei Zue of China lead through the first kilometer, hitting that mark in 3:06.22. Kim Smith of New Zealand, Meseret Defar of Ethiopia were in tow, and when Smith went to the lead, she immediately picked up the pace, leading at 2 kilometers in 6:06.09. With two laps to go, in 7:31, Defar took off and Smith with her. It did not change from there. Defar took heat 1 in 8:51.02, with Kim Smith in 8:52.81, her seasonal best. Syvlia Jebiwott Kibet of Kenya ran 8:56.14 to take the third qualifying place. Kibet looked well within herself. Lisa Dobriskey ran 8:56.56 to qualify in fourth. Tightly placed fifth place, in 8:56.72 was Yelena Sidorchenkova of Russia. Jen Rhines of the US ran 9:03 and does not look like she will go on.

The second round, Jessica Augusto of Portugal pushed the pace, with Meselech Melkamu of Ethiopia hitting 2:57.44 for the first kilometer. Augusto is followed by Meselech Melkamu of Ethiopia as they come up to the second kilometer, Augusto tries to get others to lead, but no one will! Augusto is followed by Melkamu, and Olga Komyagina of Russia. Second Kilometer passed in 5:53.68. Meselech takes back the lead, with Augusto, Komyagina, and Mariam Alaqui Selsouli. Now, the top four are just sitting on each other, waiting for the last tow laps, which have allowed all to recover. Komyagina takes the lead with two to go, increases the pace and Selouli of Morocco follows with Augusto and Meselech. Meselech takes off at 8:14.92, with one lap to go! Meselech, Komyagina, Silasou come into the final straightaway, with Meselech Melkamu running 8:46.34., Olga Komyagina in second in 8:46.44, a seasonal best. Mariam Alaqui Selsouli of Morocco was third in 8:48.22. Megan Metcalfe of Canada slipped into fourth in 8:48.56-a national record! Jessica Augusto of Portugal ran 8:48.41for fifth. (Notice that Maria Pia Nehme of Libya ran 10:31.92 for a national record for her country).

More observations...

The stadium is packed. My guess about 5,000 boisterous Spanish fans. When their triple jumper took a qualifying jump, the crowd went mad! When their male high jumper qualified, again, a boisterous applause. When Manual Martinez, (who won 2003 World Indoor title on the last throw from John Godina, with a throw of 21.24m and bronze in 01), the Spanish champion threw, my seats rocked!

Let's be completely honest. I am one of those global village kind of people. I find the differences in the people I meet fascinating. However, I feel that most people, if they actually try, can find some common ground.

That was brought home to me this morning as the BBC broadcast that eight Israeli students had been murdered in a school in Jerusalem, during the early hours of the morning. This act was done during increased fighting between Hamas and the Israelis.


Men's 3,000 meters, qualifying

The first kilometer was passed in 2:58.11, slower than the women's first kilometer in the second group! Javier Carriqueo of Argentina lead through the first kilometer and then took
off on the second kilometer, hitting 5:34.90. Right after that, Tariku Bekele took over, with a demonstration of how to run a final last kilometer. Running in control, Bekele ran the last kilometer just under 2:29, and he was beat! Edwin Cheruiyot Soi of Kenya caught Bekele at the tape for the first qualifying spot, in 8:03.54. Tariku Bekele of Ethiopia took the second
in 8:03.55. Mo Farah of Great Britian took third in 8:04.65 and Sergio Sanchez of Spain took the last auto qualifier in the 3k with 8:04.71. Fellow Wisconsinite Chris Solinsky was seventh in 8:06.29. Chris looked in there until the final lap when he could not kick over the last hundred meters with the gang of four.

The difference in the middle distances? High leg turnover! Look at the guys who can change gears from regular pace to final sprint!

The second round in the 3k for men has Mottram, Paul Kipsiele Koech, the silver medalist from the steeplechase in Athens, and Jon Riley for the US, with Nick McCormick of the UK. Mottram is in great shape, having run 13:11 and 7:48 in the Australian Champs. The crowd hit the kilometer in 2:46.81. Mottram took over after the second kilometer. Hitting the last lap in 7:36, Pual Kipsielie Koech took first in 7:54.46, with Abreham Cherkos of Ethiopia in second in 7:54.51, Craig Mottram of Australia in third in 7:55.27. Ali Maataqui of Morocco in fourth in 7:56.26. James Kwalia C'Kurui of Qatar in fifth in 8:58.13 and the U.S.'s Jonathan Riley in 7:59.12, a seasonal best. Riley and C'Kurui were named qualifiers due to their fast times.

Mottram let up at the end, choosing to save it for the final?

Women's Triple Jump Qualifying

Hyrsopiyi Devetzi of Greece, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist and Osaka WC bronze medalist is starting off 2008 in a grand way. She lead qualifying with a jump of 14.63m ( her Greek record is 15.32m). Yargelis Savigne of Cuba jumped 14.56m for the second spot. Marija Sestak of Slovenia jumped 14.46 m to move to the finals. Yamile Aldama of Sudan ( formerly a Cuban, courtesy of the late Andy Norman), moved on with a fine 14.38 m jump, her seasonal best! The final four qualifiers for the final are Olha Saladuha of the Ukraine, Olesya Bufalova of Russia, Limei Xie of China, and Olga Rypakova of Kazakstan.

Shani Marks of the U.S. jumping 13.33 m, did not move on. The qualifying mark was 14.30 meterar or top 8. the final four qualifiers were 14.26 m down to 14.20 m.

Men's high jump qualifying

To make the high jump final, the male jumpers had to clear 2.30 m or be at least in the best eight.

Nine guys cleared 2.27 meters so, thre are nine in th final. Andra Mason of the US, Stefan Holm of Sweden, Victory Moya of Cuba, Kyriakos Ioannou of Cyprus, Jesse Williams of the US, Yaroslav Rybakov of Russia, Jaroslav Baba of the Czech Republic, Dragutin Topic of Serbia, and finally, Michael Mason of Canada all moved to the final.

Stefan Holm of Sweden had this to say, after the high jump qualifying: " I think it was ok. I am quite used to training in the morning. It is always nice to qualify for the final. I was here in Valencia ten years ago for the Europeans Indoor and I missed a chance then, I hope this will be revenge. My only target is to win. I have done the indoor season very well, today it wasn't that good, but I think I can jump better tomorrow, I feel in good shape, we'll see."


Men's 60 meters qualifying

The biggest story of the meet is a non-story. Dwain Chambers of Great Britain won his first heat in 6.69 awith Isaac Uche of Nigeria also moving on , with 6.74. Chambers looks relaxed and rested and is here.

Papers all over Europe were writing about Chambers running here. The International Herald had quoted the head of the Spanish federation claiming that GB fans would boo him. Not the case at all.

My take is that the federations are being hypocritical. Chambers not only served his term, he admitted to using and was quoted as saying he did not believe that most athletes at the elite level were clean. That has caused him much grief. Chambers then went and tried out for US football and did not make it. When he came back, UK athletics could do nothing, but they were not happy.

My take is that Chambers is not LInford Christie, the one he is being compared to. So, on top of that in the UK, Linford Christie was invited to carry the Olympic torch, and then, it created such a stir that the Mayor of London wanted to un-invite Mr. Christie.

Here is my take. I want the four year ban to be put in place. I want real drug testing with real drug protocols. I do not want someone running WADA or USADA that hates one or more of the major federations or countries they are to support. But, if they want to have draconian standards, then say, this starts on this day and party is over. Treat all equally. I have never met Mr. Chambers, but he strikes me as someone caught in a maelstrom he did not start. And much of the writing on drug use in sports, for track and field in particular, in my mind is
just plain dopey. Athletes of course are going to push the envelope to whatever is legal, and for some, whatever is illegal. It costs alot of money to beat the system, so why not put the majority of testing on the top 25 and have them sign agreements that they give blood samples, DNA samples and they are kept and tested and compared?

The scary things to me is what will be done with cloning cells and gene testing. In Korea, a company is cloning a rich women's dog for $50,000! Do you not think that some wealthy couple somewhere is not going to try to order Einstein's brain and Sotomayor's high jumping skill? Not far off! And then, we will have some real rubbish to write about!

Leroy Dixon ran 6.64 in heat 2, with Francis Obikwelu of Portugal, one of my favorite European sprinters and European Champs at the 100 meters and 200 meters in 2006. Obikwelu ran 6.70 to move on.

Kim Collins, the 2003 World Champs gold medalist, got a real flyer out of this round and just womped the field.

a few more observations....

There was some early problems in the starting system, but that seems to be working fine now. False starts and false reactions have been rampant in the men's sprint rounds.

The stadia is a multi use facility, with the bike racing track on the outside of this Mondo 200 meter banked track. The signage is well done, with Nissan, Seiko, Mizuno, TDK, Epson, Mondo, VTB (Russian bank), Doha 2010, Berlin 2009 around the track.

Women's qualifying


Heat one saw Euro double champ Kim Gavaert win in 7.31 with Laura Turner of Great Britain in second in 7.34, Svetlana Nabokina of Russia and Inna Eftimova of Bulgaria also moving on.

In heat 2, Ena Franca Idoko of Nigeria ran a swift 7.19, which would hold up as the fastest of the day, to move on. In second was LaVerne Jones-Ferrette, of the British Virgin Islands, ran 7.23. Birgen Benavides of Cuba and Allis McSweeney of Ireland also moved on.

Guzel Khubbieva of Uzebekistan ran 7.24 for first in round three, with Yefgeniya Polyakova of Russia in 7.25 for second, Verena Sailer of Germany in 7.37 and Betina Muller-Weissina of Austria in 7.37 also qualifying. Alexi Joyce of the US and Nina Kavacic of Slovenia moved on as fastest loosers.

In round 4, Tahesia Harrigan of the US Virgin Islands won here, in 7.21, the second fastest time. Jeanette Kwakye of Great Britain ran 7.33, with Ivet Lalova of Bulgaria, Lena Berntsson of Sweden moving on.

In round five, Angela Williams of the US ran 7.29 to move on to the second round. Oladuamola Osayomi of Nigeria, Delphine Atagana of Camaroon and Vida Anim of Ghana move on to round two.

It is two pm local time here, and the smell of paella is too much to handle. I am leaving the stadium, searching for a good cup of coffee and a walk before some meetings. Next updates for this evening sesssion in about ten hours!

For more information, try the iaaf coverage:

LIVE RESULTS - http://www.iaaf.org/live/wic08/live.html

LIVE EVENT REPORTS - http://www.iaaf.org/WIC08/news/kind=108/index.html

LIVE RADIO - http://www.iaaf.org/WIC08/photo/radio/index.html

LIVE COMPETITION BLOGS - http://www.iaaf.org/live/wic08/live.html

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