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).
Well, it is evening in Beijing, Monday night, August 18, 2008, Day 4 in the Olympic Track & Field schedule. The media, fans and Olympics are still reeling from the loss of Liu Xiang and his injury was the focus of much speculation on the web sites. The Chinese athletes in the pole vault and discus are receiving a very warm welcome and cheer tonight.
Injuries happen. And as one is pushing the envelope as you do when you are training to get the most out of your body, elite athletes tend to get injured more than the everyday athlete.
Tyson Gay, hurt during the Olympic Trials in the US, is probably a few weeks short of his best shape, but he is healthy. He should be on the 4 x 100 meter team. Terrance Trammel today was hit by a cramp in the first round of the hurdles.
Liu Xiang, like all athletes, but more because of the responsibility he feels to the Chinese people, obviously did all he could to compete, but when you injure your achilles, that is something one must not ignore. He was obviously in pain during his warmpup and his subsequent dnf.
Consider again the number of track athletes here, from the over 190 countries, who are fighting for 141 medals. With over two thousand track & field athletes, and 141 medals, most athletes will compete here, trying to do their best, not using drugs, and enjoying the three weeks in the Olympic athletes village. We did hear that US vaulter Jenn Stuczynski had a game of while she was sitting in the cafeteria, trying to guess what sports athletes were in.
Consider Bernard Lagat, Osaka double gold medalist, who did not make the final for the men's 1,500 meters. Consider Nick Willis of New Zealand, who was disqualified from the World Indoor and now is sitting in the men's 1,500 meters, having run quite a race in the semi finals.
Consider the place of one Haile Gebrselassie. He of two Olympic gold medals at 10,000 meters, three World Championships at 10,000 meters, now having competed in four Olympic 10,000 meter finals and four World Championship 10,000 meters. He pushed the second 5,000 meters last night to 13:15, and had four guys rush by him over the last three hundred meters.
If one were to ask Mr. G, one would not here excuses, one would here something about his Olympic experience and his desire to race the best all of the time. That is the Olympic ideal.
Valerie Villi of New Zealand, the new shot put champion, is an athlete who puts it all on the line. I have enjoyed her World Championships victory and her domination of the Olympic shot put !
The men's 10,000 meters was an amazing race last night! More on that later, however, a tip of the hat to Galen Rupp, who ran within three seconds of his personal best in an Olympic final! Virtually all in front of him had run under 27:20 before. Rupp ran 14 minutes for his first 5k, then 13:36 for the last 5,000 meters! The US runners, Abdi Abdirhaman and Jorge Torres all ran competitive in the conditions. But Galen gets the tip of the hat.
Consider this, dear readers, the 10,000 leaders hit 13:48, running 13:12 for the last 5k, 2.26 for the last 1,000 meters and a smooth 54 seconds over the last 400 meters!
Side bars: Haile Gebrselassie
The Emperor Speaks
Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie, the greatest distance runner in history, talks about his sixth place finish in Beijing, who he favors for the men's marathon and women's 5000m, his goal run inside 2:04:00 at the Berlin Marathon, and his plans from now until the 2012 Olympics.
2008 Olympic gold medalist Valerie Vili
New Zealand's newly crowned Olympic shot put champion, Valerie Vili, meets her family for the first time since winning the Olympic gold medal, and talks about her impressive record and her goals as she moves forward in her career.
For more on the Olympics check http://www.american-trackandfield.com