August 2008 Archives

Alfons had some comments on the Weltklasse from Friday night. TV in US was very good on ESPN 2 and ESPN. My time zone issues continue, so I was up for the 6 am showing on Saturday as well!

David Oliver, the bronze medalist from Beijing ran a fine 12.98 for second at the Weltklasse behind Dayron Robles.


Tom Goldman of National Public Radio asked me, after the 200 meters, what makes Usain Bolt tick? I had answered it in a radio interview that was not able to play, so I thought I would recount my comments to Tom and add a bit more! Usain Bolt is an amazing athlete, a young man who has talent, and with the right coach and right motivation, is now a world beater....

You will be able to watch the Weltklasse delayed today on ESPN 2 in the late afternoon-please check your local listings!

Olympic Gold Medalist Dayron Robles is part of the Olympics in one night celebration of our sport in Zurich, Switzerland, scheduled for August 29, 2008!

Kenenisa Bekele became the first male distance runner to double in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters at an Olympic venue since the late MIruts Yifter won the 5k/10k in Moscow in 1980....Bekele, like his countryman, possesses a solid kick, but he also has another tactic...he breaks down his competition, deliberately and right in front of 91,000 track fans. It is fascinating to watch, like viewing a train wreck, but in slow....


(Here is Sileshi Sihine, silver medalist, Kenenisa Bekele, gold medalist and Haile Gebrselassie, sixth place, after the Beijing 10,000 meters..)

What a difference a year makes...last year in Osaka, Usain Bolt was not pleased when Tyson Gay beat him, catching him from behind. Bolt was known at the time, as a, shall we say, not completely movitvated trainer. The story we were told was that Bolt then asked Coach Mills to get him into shape and Usain Bolt devoted this past year to making sure Tyson Gay did not beat him like that again..as you can see, Mr. Bolt was quite successful....

We were lucky enough to have Elliot Denman write our three pieces on the Beijing Walks. I had missed this piece in the craziness of the last four days there. Today is Wednesday, August 27, 2008, and I just arrived back last night from Beijing. Suffice it to say that my brain is somewhere over the North Pole right now. With that said, please enjoy Elliot Denmans' thoughtful observances on the women's walk:

Bryan Clay took the lead after his first event and built on that lead for two days, scoring 8,791 to take the Olympic gold, improving on his silver from Athens. Bryan Clay is the Worlds Greatest Athlete, per the tradition, since 1912 bestowed on the winner of the decathlon.

We will be following up tomorrow with a marathon appraisal and an essay on the major moments of the Olympics. Today was a travel day for many, and while I travel tomorrow, my final assessments of the Games will come in tomorrow.

More on the marathon, my best moments, etc on Monday night!

(The walks are being covered by our favorite 50k former Olympian, Elliot Denman. He is our expert on the walks...)

By ELLIOTT DENMAN
BEIJING – The spirit of Giuseppe Dordoni and Abdon Pamich
lives.
Thanks to the gutsy performance of Alex Schwazer, the newly crowned Olympic 50-

Hyleas Fountain shown here, in the hurdles during the Beijing Heptathlon..

Matt Tegenkamp of the US took his heat in the 5,000 meter rounds in 13:36.71. His first Olympic final could be classified as a learning experience.


The Beijing Olympics will not be remembered for being kind to favorites-all had to earn their medals here! Take Tia Hellebaut of Belgium, who was a former heptathlete....

Perhaps it was the rounds, perhaps it was the heat and humidity, but the field literally gave the race to Mr. Bungei, who took command early on, hitting the 400 meters in 53.55..

In a thrilling 1,500 meters, the field stayed close through the first 400 meters, lead by Anna Alminva or Russia. Shannon Rowbury of the US was in fifth, with Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain, Nataliya Tobias of the Ukraine, Iryna Lishchynska of the Ukraine and Natial Rodgriguez in tow. Alminiva took the pack through the 800 meters in 2:13.70 and the race was still in doubt. Then, Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain, the Osaka champion took over and it looked like Jamal was going to take this one going away...there was just one little problem, no one gave the script to Nancy Jebet Langat.....

Dear readers, This column is not for the weak of heart, weak of stomach, or weak of knees. This includes some of my gastronomic adventures in the city of Beijing, along with my to conspirators in gastronomic lunacies.....

Here are a few pictures with my thoughts from the past few days in Beijing....But first, here is Mike Hazle, the American javelin thrower, in a superb series by Victah Sailer, I just love this!

Steve Hooker's joyous run across the track to his coach, when he cleared 5.90m on his third attempt, which won his event! Here, Alfons Juck gives you his impressions of Friday night at the Birds' Nest.

Strange mood tonight, perhaps it is the two weeks in Beijing. Some great events tonight, yet one of them a gold medal performance, annoyed me, more about that later....

Tirunesh Dibaba made history with her 5,000 meter win, the first time a women has doubled in the 5,000 and 10,000 in Olympic history. ( Only three men-Emil Zatopek, Miruts Yifter and Lasse Viren, I believe). Unfortunately, she did it in the most boring and SLOW race in Olympic history...

Usain Bolt, shown here on his way to World record two, in the 200 meters, was part of a third world record this evening as Jamaica, with Bolt on third leg and Powell on fourth leg, ran 37.10 for the world record! In his column Bob Ramsak discusses that record and the rest of evening 8 in the Bird's Nest.

The men's 10,000 meters was a classic Bekele era race: first half fairly tame, then the hammer goes down and the suspense begins, when will Mr. B make his move? Here, your blogger considers the 10,000 meter for men, held earlier in the week and provides you with something to ponder.....

Here are a few of my thoughts and a personal photo gallery, I hope that you like this one!

Last year, in the heat of Osaka, Bryan Clay had to drop out of the decathlon with an injury. This year, his herculean effort puts him three hundred points ahead of the field, with Trey Hardee fighting for third.

The picture above is that of current bronze medalist in the heptathlon, Hyleas Fountain of the US. Current because, due to the positive A sample for "a steroid", Lyudmila Blonska,
the silver medalist is about to be banned for life (this is her second bust). My suggestion is that the IOC rerun the awards ceremony so second and third can
get their rightful celebration! What do you think?

About two months ago, I had a very conversation with one of the more astute observers of our sport in general, and USATF, in particular. This person noted that having the new CEO of USATF at the Olympics as his or her first gig would give said person a bird's eye view of what was a) good about USATF, b) weak about USATF and c) how the world views a) USATF, b) USOC and c) the sport.

Well, so far, Doug Logan does a very good blog. He is on message, he is not making any mistakes, and he had made it until night 7, when, as my father would say, All hell broke loose.

The baton fiascoes of the US 4 x 100 meter relay teams is a case in point. In this Olympics, the US has 20 medals, but in the sprints, Jamaica has outscored the US seven medals to four. How a country of less than four million could do that to a country with three hundred and three million people is a conundrum for many US sports' fans.

Logan, in his own words, shown below in its entirety, speaks eloquently on ths subject. I also suspect that the line in the sand is being drawn by Mr. Logan. An
able sports politician knows how to capitalize on a difficult situation. This fiasco requires some changes and I expect we will see some.

Here is the perspective of Bob Ramsak on this unusual night.

What a night of yin and yang. US drops batons on third handoff on both relays, then Felix takes silver and US sweeps 400 meter for men! Shannon Rowbury makes 1,500 meter final! And Payne and Oliver follow Cuba's Dayron Robles!

After a night of certain challenges for the US team, it was nice to see the US squad sweep the 400 meters, just like Athens. Merritt had a splendid race, Wariner had an off day and Neville ran his brains out.

I cannot believe it: On the third handoff between Darvis Patton and Tyson Gay, Darvis was unable to get the baton in Tyson's hand, and the baton dropped to the track, continuing a very special tradition of US sprinters unable to get a baton around the track in an event that they should own....

This race had been set up at the Jamaican Olympic Trials one month ago and the US Trials six weeks ago. First, Allyson Felix did not make the US 100 meter team and then, in a huge surprise, Veronica Campbell Brown finished fourth in her trials. The rainy day this Thursday has cooled track down for this most anticipated of sprint clashes...here is how I saw it....

Bryan Clay is leading the decathlon, Trey Hardee is in the fight and Tom Pappas has withdrawn. Also in this mix is the letter from Liu Xiang to the Chinese people, and a note on IOC President Jacques Rogge and his interpretation of Usain Bolt's antics after his world records.

The world record over 200 meters was one thing! Usain Bolt was amazing. But, during the victory lap, Wallace Spearmon was disqualified due to running out of his lane, rule 163.3. Then, after a US protest, Martina Churandy of Netherland Antilles, who had run 19.82, was disqualified, moving Shawn Crawford to second and Walter Dix of the US to third. Strange night.


Kenenisa Bekele shown here after his 10k victory-is the 5k gold in the cards for him?

Usain Bolt now has two world records, the 100 meters and the 200 meters. His 200 meter record of 19.30, broke a twelve year old record by Michael Johnson, which I also witnessed. Bolt's dominance of the sprints has the track & field world talking, this is how I saw the race...


USAIN BOLT

Here Alfons Juck continues to update us on the global world of the sport, plus offers some perspective on the events of last night, Day five in Beijing Track & Field.

Nick Willis, third in the men's 1,500, gave his country New Zealand their first Olympic medal at the event since 1976, when John Walker took the gold!

EME NEWS (AUG 20, 2008) FLASH

Ramzi not running the 5k

BEIJING: Fresh 1500 m olympic winner Rashid Ramzi will not run the 5000 m heats today. His management confirmed that he is too tired to compete today as he got back to his accomodations last night well after midnight.

Used with permission of Alfons Juck, Publisher of EME News.

Here Bob Ramsak gives you some background into Usain Bolt, how his competitors view him and a consideration of what Bolt can do when he runs his heart out. It is my belief that Bolt will run 19.4-19.5 for the win, other medalists-Spearmon and Dix.

Bob Ramsak, of the highly regarded newsletter Track Profile.com digs deeper into the stories of Tuesday night, August 19, 2008.


Delloreen Ennis-London of Jamaica, took fifth in the 100 meter hurdles, with the same time as Damu Cherry of the US in fourth, both in 12.65.

Here, Bob Ramsak wisely writes about two of the upcoming clashes in Beijing!

The Olympic 1,500 meters is one of the most grueling events in sport. With two rounds before the final, all over five days, the event is not for the faint hearted. Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain felt he had something to make up for in his career-his exit in the semi finals in Athens. His double win in Helsinki did not clear it up and his rough 1,500 meters in Osaka only made his more resolved....

Stefanie Brown Trafton, first Olympic US track & field gold in Beijing and first women's gold in discus since 1932! (First Olympic womens discus medal since
1984 by Leslie Deniz)

The San Jose Mercury News, one of the most respected newspapers in the country, continues to play the same old record. Anne Killion and Mark Purdy, two of the top writers and two of my favorites ( I lived an coached in the bay area for nearly two decades) note the demise of American Track & Field, yet fail to truly do their homework. Mark Purdy, in a column on Stephanie Brown Trafton notes that the performances were sub par, and the top performer in the world was caught as a drug cheat. So, Purdy is suggesting, that even though Brown Trafton gave the US track team its first old medal, it was really an easy and sub par field. Nice way to pat a local on the back. I am not sure Mark would say the same thing about the Earthquakes, the Giants or other teams, but that is his perspective.

I wanted to provide you with a few facts, but lets start with this--that the Russian discus thrower was not here was because she made the decision to cheat, and that is what drug testing is supposed to do-test drugs. Track & field tests more than any sport either Killion or Purdy write about, including NFL, MLB, MLS, NBA combined.

Secondly, it is fine to write about the negatives, but how about equal treatment for the postive changes in our sport. It takes research so in the interest of saving the Merc some time and money, here we go....

Watching a huge Estonian jog around the track and do his version of the lightning bolt of Usain Bolt was one of the true treats of the evening....

Andrey Silnov won the Olympic high jump on his jump of 2.36 meters. This was Silnov's first Olympic trip and he had to fight dearly for his place on the Russian team-it required an additional jump off to determine his position. Those Russian selectors should get a few rubles for their wise decision here!

It is a fact of life, in hurdle race, people hit hurdles..it is a fact of life, that Olympic races have lots of pressure and the urge to push harder than one can, to hurdle faster than one can need to be mastered..things happen and for Lo Lo Jones, it was a bad day. For Dawn Harper, it was a day of tremendous joy and surpise, but, this is the Olympics..

When Christine Ohuruogu won the gold in Osaka last year, with Nicole Sanders in attendance, the cynical observers said,well of course, the world's best is is not in the race...now, a year later, Ms. Ohuruogu is the Olympic gold medalist. This is how she did it and made Great Britain proud ( I had to say that, British Olympic committee is sitting right next to me)...

Welcome to day five, evening session. It is humid once again in Beijing, about 80 degrees with 40 percent humidity. My twenty minute walk from MPC-the main Press Centre had me dripping in my shirt. A good night of track and field in store!

Here is Walter Dix, one of my new favorite athletes. Walter knows how to get the job done and stays focused. That is a talent.

Welcome to day five. Well, the US finally had a decent day in Beijing on day four. Stephanie Brown Trafton takes the first US track gold in Beijing, and also first since 1984 for a US athlete and first for a US women since 1932! Jenn Stuczynski took silver in the pole vault and Angelo Taylor, Kerron Clement and Bershawn Jackson swept the 400 meter hurdles.

This morning all three US women ( Allyson Felix, Muna Lee, Marshevet Hooker) moved on in the 200 meters. Tonight we have the Women's 400 meter final, Women's 100 m hurdle final, Men's 1,500 final an Semis in the Men's 200m and 400 m, plus the Men's Discus final.

The mourning for Liu Xiang continues, Day 2. On Chinese TV there was a documentary about his family, his races, his coach on late last night and today it was announced that Liu Xiang apologized to the Chinese people for his injury. I do not know of anyone who had more pressure on them for the Beijing Games.

Athletes such as Liu Xiang, Tyson Gay, Bernard Lagat will have another day. This is the nature of our sport, pushing the body to its limits has its consequences. In the pursuit of excellence athletes push themselves, sometimes to the point of injury.

Take a moment and look at Osaka champions, many of them have fallen here. The Olympic stage is unforgiving....

The women's 800 meters, a 1-2 for Kenya, was the first gold medal for Olympic women in that event. It was also one of the furious of the middle distance races yet, in terms of pacing. Jelimo wanted to win, and lead the whole way, with Jepkosgei Busieni pushing her the entire race.

The men's steeplechase pace was strong, but not insane, which has happened in past, so that is part of reason why the unknown French steepler was in the game, but hats are off, as he broke up the top Kenyan runners in a race owned by Kenya for the past five Olympics.

Yelena Isinbayeva took two attempts to take gold, five to set Olympic record and three more to break world record. Isinbayeva is global branding at its best. She is fashionable, she is extremely competitive, she is most dominating athlete in a track event. When Yelena noted she will prepare for London 2012, watch her get Sergey Bubka's 34 world records in the pole vault and surpass.

An aside, last night while on the bus, I met Rodion Gatullin, the Russian pole vault Olympic medalist, now Pole vault national coach for Russia. When I asked Gatullin how high Yelena could jump, he smiled and said, " Very high."

Special thanks to adidas and Nike for providing us with info and letting us talk to their teams in Eugene. Here are some of the shoes that are being worn here for the Beijing Olympics. Some similar were worn at the US Olympic Trials as well....hope you enjoy!

It is early on Tuesday morning in Beijing, and the ground crew is cleaning the grass field. I am one of the last bozos in the National Stadium and am read to head to a) dinner b) sleepy place. Great night four of track & field. Should be a good day tomorrow! See you soon!

The women's pole vault is one of the most popular events on the global scene. One of the most popular, telegenic and dominating athletes in all of sports is the Russian Yelena Isinbayeva. In two attempts, she took the Olympic title, in five attempts, she took the Olympic record and in eight attempts, she set the new world record, here twenty-fourth! Jenni Stuczysnski of the US broke up a posible Russian sweep of the event with her silver....

Eight years ago, from lane one, Angelo Taylor made Olympic history, being the only guy to win the 400 meter intermediate hurdles from that lane. Now, in 2008, Angelo Taylor lead a US sweep in the 400 meter intermediate hurdles. Behind his gold medal and personal best performance of 47.25 was Kerron Clement and Bershawn Jackson, in that order. Here is how I saw the race:

Monday evening has been an amazing night of track and field! The men's steeplechase, the women's 800 meters and the mens' 200 meter rounds all kept the 85,000 fans entertained....

Lo Lo Jones continues her super hurdling, with a personal best of 12.43 leading the field. In the second semi, Susana Kallur of Sweden crashed into the first hurdle, ending her Beijing dreams...

Stephanie Brown Trafton won the gold medal in the discus, ending a 76 year gold medal drought for the US in the event. This is the first time an American women has won the discus since 1932! She is the elite athlete liason for the PA USATF, and works with our publication , Cal Track & Running News. Needless to say, we have a cover change coming for September/October 2008.

The last US women gold medalist? Lillian Copeland won the gold in Los Angeles.

STEPHANIE TRAFTON

MY SEAT AT THE BIRD'S NEST:

This is my view from Aisle 208, Row 14, Seat 5, just north of the finish line. Sitting next to me are Pat Butcher, FT freelancer and marathon writing bon vivant ( he also http://. www.globerunner.org, and James O'Brien, publisher of NYAC's winged foot (http://www.nyac.org).

Until today, the biggest moment of the Games have been Micheal Phelps 8 Olympic medals in swimming and Usain Bolt's 100 meter world record on the track! Well, move over sports fans! LIu Xiang, the second most famous athlete in China,
is hurt and will not compete in the Games! His achilles injury made it impossible for him to complete his hurdle qualifying round..

1.3 billion Chinese sports fans watched Liu Xiang wince during his warm up before the 110 meter hurdle qualifying this morning and watched him stop before the first hurdle in his heat, number six. Due to a now announced achilles injury on his right foot, Liu Xiang did not race at these games. The false start in his heat just added to the irony.

Chinese TV had a tribute up of him within a half hour of his race. I was watching a live press conference with members of the Chinese Federation and his coach, who weeped in front of the press.

The Chinese people have not been that forgiving. In a copyrighted story already going the rounds, online reaction on Chinese websites bas been brutal, "He is a dog." "He is a fake". "He is scared." "I hate him". These comments were posted on Baidu, an online web community.

"He only went out there (to the heats) to show off his shoes (for his sponsors)," was also posted.

I watched a TV commentator on Chinese national TV, so overcome, stop speaking several times. This story is not over....

The crowd in the Bird's Nest, in the stadium to see Liu Xiang hurldle this morning was shocked to see an injured Liu Xiang pull up before the first hurde in his sixth heat of the first round the Men's 110 meter high hurdles. This is a huge loss for China..as 1.4 billion Chinese sports fans see their favorite track & field athlete, the athlete who gave them so much to be thankful for in Athens, unable to defend his title due to an achilles injury sustained in the past week...

Guinara Galkina-Somitova used her Olympic stage to its fullest and gave the 85,000 assembled track fans one of the most amazing front running seminars in our sport history, setting a new World record of 8:58.81! In tenth, Jenny Barringer set the American
Record once again!

In the end Galkina-Samitova had to win, she had made a promise to Usain Bolt...

The key in the Olympics is to get through the rounds or the heats with as little damage as possible and with as little energy as possible. Unfortunately, in many of the events, one must run a personal best, as Anthony Famiglietti did in the steeplechase. Here, Sanya Richards keeps herself focused on the prize...On the men's 1,500 meter side, it was not a good night in the office, as fast distance running and tired miler do not mix...

In the medal counts pushed on television and in the stadium, the fact remains that most of the countries who compete here do not take medals home. 141 medals will be given out in track & field in Beijing and those medals will go to 41 countries. Cameroon is celebrating its only second gold medal in their history-both from the same athlete-Mbango Etone !

Jamaica has now won four of the six sprint medals so far given out in Beijing, with Usain Bolt's insane 100 meter world record last night and now, with the Jamaican Sweep in the women's 100 meters!

The marathon is a war of attrition and in Beijing it was. US hopes were dashed when Deena Kastor felt a pop in her right foot at the 5 kilometer walk, it was later revealed that, after an X ray, Kastor had a broken foot....Magdelene Lewy Boulet, who had hit her leg on a bus door the week before, retired midway, unable to run any farther....Blake Russell finished 27th....

More thoughts on the amazing evening session of August 16, 2008....

This is one of my favorite photos of the meet! Christian Cantwell was the lone US medal in the shot put!

HAMMER MOBILE:

We are privileged to have the observations and commentary of Elliot Denman. Elliot, a former Olympian from 1956 in the 50 race walk, has written about our sport for 52 years....

When Usain Bolt came out of the blocks in New York on May 31, I was shocked to see his speed and just physicality as he drove to the 9.72 world record. Everyone else was standing still. Well, I have seen the future of the 100 meters, and it is Usain Bolt......

In a stunning reversal of fortunes, Tyson Gay, the American record holder at 100 meters, the three time gold medalist from Osaka, finished fifth in his semi final this evening in Beijing, China. The story is below.....

Saturday morning dawned early for me, at 6.45 am local time. I looked out the window of my ninth floor apartment and could see to the center of Beijing, a forty minute taxi drive away! This is unusual for Beijing in August, according to locals....

August 15, 2008 was a great day for track & field. 85,000 plus fans filled the National Stadium in Beijing and were treated to some great events and superb finals. Christian Cantwell took the silver in the shot and Shalane Flanagan finished the 10,000 meters with a bronze and an American record! The first rounds of the men's 100 meters are building towards the climactic final on Saturday!

Christian Cantwell, on his last throw, hit 21.09m, moving from fifth to second! Shalane Flanagan, sick for all week, gutted it out and in the last two laps moved into third and captured the bronze in an American record of 30:22.20! More on Shalane in a few hours!



As we have featured the writings of Bob Ramsak and Alfons Juck all year long, we will continue to do that in the Olympic Games. See this as another vision of the Olympic experience!

Another treat, check out this video, featuring Donovan Bailey, 1996 Olympic 100 meter champion, as he previews the womens' 400 meters! http://www.roadstobeijing.com/news/737/57/Women-s-400m-PREVIEW/d,vid-full.htm

A Haiku to celebrate the first day of track:

Track is ready to start
Driving in fast taxi is
Not good on stomach

(look I know it is Japanese poetry, but bear with me),

Okay Sport Fans, it is here, that ten day period every four years where the world can stop spinning, but by God, you will have a cold beverage in your hand a remote in the other and track & field on the television! As we are multi platform now, as we say in the media biz, and to add entertainment value to your Olympic experience, we present with the Beijing 2008 Form Guide, courtesy of our friends at Athletics International.

Thursday gave us some rain, a press conference with Sanya Richards, Lo Lo Jones an Allyson Felix. All three are consumate stars and are three of the true new stars of our sport.What was ironic was that Doug Logan, the new CEO of USATF, had a chance meeting with some of the media after the press conference, including me.

My first impression of Doug Logan? Sincere, focused, driven, and he knows he has a great sport with fantastic athletes to market. The key is, can he convince the global sports marketing big whigs?

The day before track and field begins and I am up and heading to the Main Press Centre. Today will be my last day of visiting various places due to the two sessions a day of track & field. Note that Shalane Flanagan has experienced some difficult food poisoning on Tuesday and is recovering. Men's shot put is Friday as well, so it should be an exciting start to the Beijing Track & Field portion of this Olympic Games...

If drug testing is going to be taken seriously, then the stars have to be tested and out of competition is the only and best way. Asafa has not been happy with the inconvenience, but it sure must make his sponsors happy when he passes a drug test. Bernard Lagat said it best today at the US press conference, " Look, if I need to have my blood tested, during training and they take a little blood, so be it, that is what we have to do to show our sport is clean and we are competing on an even playing field. " Jeremy Wariner said, " Testing means that all are racing clean and that is what it takes to show that our sport is clean, then that is okay."

Just rolled in from Beijing, about 11.45 at night and text comes in from ad agency in New York-they read the blog and checked out the websites! Can we get out a proposal in one hour? I love this country!

Special treat: very cool video clip on Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica, who should tangle with Allyson Felix and Muna Lee in the 200 meters! http://www.roadstobeijing.com/news/707/57/Olympic-gold-medalist-Veronica-Campbell-Brown-on-defending-her-title/
d,vid-full.htm

Today is Tuesday, August 12, 2008. My sleep was fitful, but I stayed in bed for five hours. Getting up at seven in the morning, I was happy to see actual sky, mostly clouds and a thing called the sun...this is not a common occurence in Beijing for the month of August....

Sunday was windy, a bit overcast, and then the rains came. My evening in Beijing, my challenges getting home, Monday and some work, and deep thoughts before I head to my dream cycle....

Tyson Gay is ready to roll, according to a series of workouts he has done recently. Should be some tremendous track action at end of the week! Carolina Kluft is long jumping well and enjoying the sport again, but the world sports stage is less without her tremendous talent in the heptathlon...perhaps Hyleas Fountain and Kelly Sotherton will give her something to come back for!

Peter Coe, the father/coach of Lord Sebastian Coe, two time Olympic gold medalist at 1,500 meters and two time Olympic silver medalist at 800 meters, died on Saturday, August 9, 2008. He was 88.

In Kenny Moore's wonderful book, Best Efforts, a compendium of Moore's essays in Sports Illustrated, Peter Coe came alive in a piece observing the relationship between son and father before the Moscow Olympic Games.


Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Coe and his family.

Well, the first full day has been eventful! Read on about my travels and travails....

It is Sunday morning in Beijing and my first real day of discovery in Beijing...so, of course, I headed out for a walk in my neighborhood....

My flight to Beijing was pretty uneventful. The thirteen hours of flight gave me times to read four newspapers, sleep and relax. The Beijing airport is huge, and looks very new. Olympic signage from Samsung, Coca-Cola adorn the airport.

The Beijing airport was closed for ten hours, from midnight to ten in the morning on Saturday. This was a security precaution for the Beijing opening ceremony. By the end of Saturday, the day I arrived, 440 flights had arrived!

Beijing set a record, for this media person, by the speed at which we were credentialed. I think I was in line for two minutes-seriously. Compare that to 90 minutes at the US Olympic Trials.

My bag arrived quite easy and I headed to the arrival area, looking for the driver to Chateau Regalia, my hotel. As I was searching for the driver, a young Chinese LOC assistant, a young women of about twenty, asked me if she could help, in perfect ..

Alfons Juck, in his style, gives you the global perspective of the sport. Note that the most flagbearers in any sport came from track & field. 10,450 athletes will compete in Beijing, there are 15,000 members of the media, and there will be 304 gold medals given out during these games.

Last track fix for about fifteen hours! Enjoy and I will write soon from Beijing!

The BirdNest at 3 am Beijing Time....

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Elite Racing, the folks who brought us Rock N Roll marathons, are at it again! This time, it is the city of Seattle and the SeaFair Festival that are their focus! Elite Racing is now a part of the Competitor Group, and this, along with San Antonio, will be their two newest events.

In a newsupdate on SportsBusiness.com, the website for SportsBusiness International, (http://www.sportbusiness.com/news/167626/
ioc-bans-nine-network
), the IOC banned an Australian tv network from
the Beijing Games. This blogger thinks that the IOC needs to be careful..

From 1928 until 1972, the longest event that women ran internationally was the 800 meters. Women were thought to be too frail to run over 800 meters and the Olympics in 1928 were the last time the 800 was run until 1960!

During the US Olympic Trials, while I stayed in the dorms, I had the luck to have coffee a few times with one of my favorite running goddesses, Jacqueline Hansen. Jacqueline is one tough athlete. Although she can not run any more, she walks a hour a day and looks great. Jacqueline was the first women to run six minute mile pace, way back in 1975. An Laslo Tabori athlete for along time (San Fernando Track Club), Jacqueline ran her world record run in Eugene, Oregon.

During that race, she ran six minutes per mile to twenty miles. Feeling so good, she picked it up and ran her famous world record! A trail blazer for two decades, Jacqueline was part of the group, along with Janet Heinonen and Joe Henderson, who convinced the IOC and IAAF into opening longer events, the 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters and finally, in 1984, the marathon for women.

A great and colorful history is women's distance running. I have pasted in a wonderful piece by Mel Watman on the History of womens athletics that he did for the IAAF site.
(Make sure you check out the IAAF site each day, their info and blogs are superb--http://www.iaaf.org

One thing you do have to say for Mr. Logan: He is consistent. I like his approach-deal with the ugliest problem in our sport. The rank smell that pervades whatever performances are made-the odor of performance enhancing drugs. The grey area, that every athlete and coach has to deal with, the rationalization that everyone is doing it, so one has to do it to be at that level.

Our sport is a place where esoterica reigns. How many fathers and sons have broken the four minute mile? How many daugthers and fathers have made the Olympic team in the shot put? All of those intangibles and a great 100 meter race! A competitive 5,000 meter race where it comes down to the last fifty meters! It is about the competition!

In Olympic and World Champs, I have no problem with an absence of world records. It is all about the conditions and the competition! Drug testing is pretty tough at the World Champs and Olympic level, and this most recent sting of the Russian athletes shows that the testing is getting more intense.

Doug Logan is right. His mantra, Drug Cheats Get out, is the perfect mantra for a man who has been brought in to reorganize the federation, find new sponsors, grow participation, oh and save the sport.

Logan is off to a pretty good start. For a full transcript of his blog, check below:

If the Olympic movement is worth $7 billion by 2012, what will the cost of sponsorship be in the future?

In an exclusive discussion with Inside the Games bloggers(http://www.insidethegames.com/show-news.php?id=3055), the IOC Jacques Rogge is basking in the goodwill and growing value of the Olympic movement, what a difference one hundred and fourteen years make, when a Greek businessman gave $1.4 million of his own money to build the Olympic stadium in Athens...

Kerron Clement burst on the scene less than four years ago with his indoor world record at 400 meters. His first season as a professional was a stunner, with his world leader over 400 meter hurdles. Which event is Clement better at?

For now, the 400 meter hurdles. The 400 meter intermediate hurdles is a sadists' race. First, the most fit human can run all out for about 300 meters before the lactate acid takes over and the fastest human is left at a crawl. For the four hundred meters, the race truly starts at 300 meters.

Now, in the 400 meter intermediate hurdles, add barriers to that zap your strength, take your focus, so that by the final straightaway, it is the person with the most guts, and also the person who somehow gets over the hurdles at the end of the race.

Clement was on in Osaka, his world championship winning gold medal race was inspiring. He will need that type of race to win in Beijing. He has the raw talent, he needs the ability to make it over the last two barriers and sprint like mad to the finish. That will be the challenge for Kerron Clement in Beijing.

Paula Radcliffe is in a no win situation. Her amazing runner career has had its share of injuries and she is bereft of an Olympic medal. She will be running in Beijing but has been astute enough not to promise any medal.....

Alfons Juck is on his way to Beijing. This was his last email to me before he left for the Olympics. Alfons did a survey of the participants from World Champs in Osaka and the Athens Games. It will provide interesting reading. My predictions for all Olympic track & field events will be posted next Monday, August 11, 2008. (I leave for Beijing this Friday,
August 8, 2008.)

Doug Logan, who has been USATF CEO since July 17, has had a few good weeks. His letter to President Bush on the Marion Jones fiasco hit ESPN News and garnered, after some comments by sport geeks, much support. What follows are a series of questions I sent to Jill Geer at USATF for Doug. He answered them concisely, with very little room left for misinterpretation. Here is our interview:

Christian Cantwell and Matt Tegenkemp are both from Missouri. Both made the Olympic team. And most of the 8,000 subscribers of Mo Runner & Triathlete either know them, are related to them or follow them as fellow citizens in the Show Me State.

I am familiar with them both. As a former coach, I would observe that distance runners and throwers tended to get along pretty well. They both had enormous work ethics, they both had insatiable appetites, and both, as a generalization, enjoyed getting together after a track meet for sustenance and a few beverages.

Christian Cantwell and Matt Tegenkemp both have very serious chances to medal in Beijing. Cantwell is an odds on favorite for a medal and Teegs is the dangerous sleeper. Today we will speak about Christian.

The shot put is an event that celebrates speed, strength and focus. It is an event that requires thousands of hours in the ring, thousands of lifts and much soul searching. Shot putters are pretty thoughtful men and women. Controlled aggression is the best way I can describe a great thrower.

The US is fortunate to have four of the best five throwers in the world. There is the distinct possibility, if all goes well, that the US could sweep the event. In observing Adam Nelson, Reese Hoffa and Christian Cantwell, it is my belief that all three are focused, driven individuals who see Beijing as their destiny. They want to win, they have the ability to win, but only one will win.

Cantwell has all of the tools. His technique, when on, is a lesson in throwing. His ability is second to none. In my mind, it is all about how much he wants it. Bill Toomey, the 1968 Olympic gold medalist at the decathlon once told me that one must cover the gold medal in order to take possession of it. There is come truth to that.

The men's shot, according to coach Bubba Thornton, US's head Olympic men's coach, was noted to say that the men's shot on August 15, will determine the direction and spirit of the 2008 US team. Bubba may be right.

One thing is for certain, Christian Cantwell is going to be there, with Adam Nelson and Reese Hoffa. It will be a celebration of our sport, there will be grunting, screaming, tearing of shirts and some very, very long throws. And, on that muggy evening in Beijing, the gold medalist in the men's shot will be declared the old fashioned way-the thrower with the farthest legal throw will earn the Olympic title.

Reading animal entrails was the way of the Greeks, to determine the future. I have suggested that such readings would make local meteorology on television much more exciting, however, we shall not do that for the men's shot. I do suggest, dear reader, that one reads the following transcript of an interview with Christian Cantwell from Mizzou.

The Mizzou fans have waited since 1924, I believe, and one Jackson Shultz, for an individual gold in a track and field event. Perhaps, their wait is over....

Usain Bolt will run both the 100 meters and the 200 meters in Beijing, as announced by his coach Glen Mills. Bolt, as we all know, set the world record on May 31 in New York City at the Reebok GP with his astounding 9.72. I use the term astounding because I thought the Mr. Bolt ran a good race, but it was obvious that Mr. Bolt could run faster. In July, Mr. Bolt ran a 19.67 for 200 meters, which is probably his best event.

Well, with Tyson Gay's injury in the 200 meter heats at the US Olympic Trials, Mr. Bolt is the odds on favorite in the 200 meters. His victory at 100 meters is not so obvious, as Asafa Powell is in shape, running 9.82 for 100 meters in his last race, Tyson Gay is said to be rounding into shape, plus Darvis Patton and Derrick Adkins, in my mind is not to be underestimated as both of these guys are championship runners.

Beijing is less than two weeks away from the start of the Olympic track & field, the ten days of the real Olympics, but I will be prognosticating about that later....

Remember the picture of Michael Johnson, two time Olympic 400 meter champion, one time 200 meter champion, World record holder at 200 and 400 meters, finishing his career in Sydney, anchoring the 4 x 400 meters to a gold medal? Well, that medal is gone now.

In truth, MJ, a staunch critic of drugs in sports, sent his 4 x 400 meter gold back to the USOC months ago, after Antonio Pettigrew, one of his teammates, admitted using banned substances from 1997 to 2000 as part of the BALCO inquiry.

That admission meant that Pettigrew, both Alvin and Calvin Harrison, and Jerome Young, who either ran heats or finals in the 4 x 400 meters in Sydney, were admitted drug users or had been tested positive. Only Michael Johnson had not tested positive in the group. In a statement by MJ, he felt the medal was tainted and wanted no part of it.

This morning, in Beijing, on August 2, the IOC Executive board agreed......

The level of influence of a national federation and an elite athlete's agent? Where does it begin, where does it end? In countries such as Ethiopia, there seems to be a line in the sand between the Federation and Jos Hermans. The letter sent suggests a problematic situation--the Federation describes the positive influence that Jos has had on the Ethiopian athletes, but seems stung that the athletes actually listen to him and will not risk all for country and flag.

Some of this has to do with Haile Gebrselassie vocalizing his desire not to run the marathon in Beijing and Kenenisa Bekele racing the 5k/10k as a possibility in Beijing. The Federations do not like to see their word questioned and especially by a sports agent, who they tolerate, but at an arms distance. In reading the letter, I felt I was reading a papal encyclical from the fifties... more on this later

The other news is the Russian middle distance women's team is decimatd with the IAAF recent sting. Ana Alminova will run the 1,500 as Soboleva, Fomenko and Tomashova are all out.....

The Olympic Games were staged, every four years, from 776 BCE until 393ACE. They were canceled by Emperor Theodosius 1, a Christian emperor, who mandated the ending of all pagan sporting events. The ancient Games had lasted one thousand years.

The first event held was the stade, a long sprint of 192.7 meters. The runners would place their feet into grooved stones, with up to 20 contesting the event at one time. If one false started and it was deemed a purposeful false start, the judges would flog the offending sprinter with a whip ! The dialos, or two stades, (384 meters), came into the Games in 724 BCE, with a distance race in 720 BCE of 24 stades or 4,600 meters, called a dolichos. In 708 BCE, the pentathlon, the discus, standing long jump ( one would have weights in one's hands up to 4.6 kilograms) and a stade sprint. It was only if there was not a clear leader that the fifth event, wrestling, would take place.

In 2004, my son, Adam and I, visited the temples and stadiums of Olympia, which had been under mud and debris for over 1,000 years. In ancient times, the stadium sat 60,000 ( no women were allowed). I was able to jog the stadia, and start in the grooved rocks for the sprinters. Sprinters at the time would have a standing start, bent at the knees.

The Olympics as we know, were revived by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1894, with Athens holding the first modern Olympics in 1896. The Olympics has mirrored

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