Beijing Diary, August 22, 2008-Hot Night at the Birds Nest, Day 8, by Larry Eder


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...

Women's 5,000 meters

Look, I understand tactics in distance running and after 20k of racing on the track in one week, Dibaba is entitled to slowing it down a bit, but the field just sat there and let her do what she wanted. So, Tirunesh Dibaba cranked a 61 second last lap and that was all she wrote. Elvan Abelegeysee of Turkey was second and Meseret Defar was third. The winning time? 15:46! and the first kilometer was run in 3:39.5! Dear God, I almost shot myself...

I am reminded of a reply that John Walker the Kiwi gold medalist at 1,500 meters in Montreal said. He noted that in an Olympic final he would prefer a field of senior citizens in order to keep the pace temperate. Well, it sure makes for boring viewing!

Kara Goucher was ninth, and Shalane Flanagan, the 10,000 meter bronze medalist fell back to tenth over the last couple of laps. Jenn Rhines was 12th. Here is what the American runners had to say:

Kara Goucher (Portland, Ore.): "I have a lot of work to do. The pace was slow, but they're amazing athletes. I maintained my composure. I know this sounds crazy, but I think I could have won that on the right night. I still have so much improvement left."

Shalane Flanagan (Pittsboro, N.C.): "The Ethiopians and Kenyans like to play around with the pace. I just had to deal with it, but my legs were tired and it was hard to change gears and just drop it like that. I tried to ease into every move because I knew that lactic acid was going to kick in if I went too hard. So when they made a move with three laps to go, I couldn't get there fast enough and I think it cost me two or three spots."

Jen Rhines (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.):

"There was nothing I could do out there. I hurt my foot on Tuesday. I've been getting treatment and our medical staff has been taking great care of me. I couldn't run normally. From the first move, I saw it, but I couldn't go. It's been my goal since the last Olympics to come in and run in a final. I accomplished that. Everything was perfect except for hurting my foot."

Mens Pole Vault....

The story here is Steve Hooker of Australia. Steve has had a few brutal years, and tonight, all of the frustration and misery are over. Taking three times to clear 5.90m, and getting the gold, Hooker cleared 5.96m on his third jump as well! Olympic champion for Australia!

After he cleared 5.90m, and won the competition, his coach ran on the track and congratulated him and then quickly ran off! It was honest and one of the fun moments of the night!

Evegny Lukyanenko of Russia cleared 5.85m on his third attempt and missed three times at 5.90m, he took the silver.

Denya Yurchenko of the Ukraine cleared 5.70m on his fist attempt, Derek MIles of the US cleared it on his second. Neither went higher, so Yurchenko took the bronze and Miles took fourth. After the pole vault battle, Derek Miles had this to say:

" It was a tough day. It was one of those days when I was forcing things. Nothing was clicking and falling into place. Fourth is tough enough, but to just not to be firing on all cylinders is the hard part. I'll wake up tomorrow and start enjoying the experience. It was an off day and unfortunately, it was the wrong day."

Men's Decathlon

We will analyze the decathlon tomorrow, but Bryan Clay had an excellent adventure today. He won by 240 points and just competed like the man deity he is, one event at a time, one throw at a time, and he focused, and his 8791 was a gold medal performance.

Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus took the silver in 8551, and he battled Clay for two days.

Leonel Suarez of Cuba took the bronze, with a national record of 8527, Suarez is a great all rounder.

In sixth, Roman Sebrele, at 35, the grand old man of the Decathlon, a man who holds the world record (9026 from May 27 2001) and the Olympic record (8893, from his win in Athens), scored 8241.

Men's decathlon winner Bryan Clay, who was the silver medalist in Athens, had these comments after his gold medal day: "I've been telling people that I'm in the best shape of my life. I really am. I've been training incredibly hard. Training's been going really well. You might not be able to tell by some of the results, but when you take into account everything we've had to go through the last two days, I think I did well. I'm very pleased with my score, of course I'm pleased with the medal and the title that comes with the medal. I can't tell you how happy I am to have worked for something for so long, and finally accomplish it, and have my dreams come true. I'm hoping to continue to do this through 2012. I hopefully can get another medal. I don't know if anybody's got three medals at the Olympic Games. That's maybe another goal."

Men and Women's 4 x 400 meters-Sanya Richards anchored US womens team to best time of night and so did Angelo Taylor, gold medalist from 400 meter hurdles and ery fast man over 400 meters..

Women's 4 x 100 meters

Just as Jamaica was doing the second to third leg handoff, Sherone Simpson did not get the baton to Kerron Stewart. In the end, Russian, Belgium and Nigeria took the medals! This was after Jamaica won six of seven sprint medals.

Men's 4 x 100 meters

Usain Bolt has three gold medals and three world records. His part of the 4 x 100 meter relay, third leg, busted the race open for Asafa Powell, who powered through the final leg, to take the world record down to 37.10! Amazing what three good handoofs will do.

A great evening, one more to go in the Bird's Nest for track & field!

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