Beijing Updates, August 23, 2008, by Alfons Juck, Notes by Larry Eder


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....

who decided to hone her skills at the high jump. The high jump, undil 2.03m, looked like a solid gold for Blanka Vlasic, the rock star of the high jump for women. Vlasic took two jumps to clear 2.05m and Hellebaut, the high jumper with spectacles, took one to clear 2.05m. That was the difference between gold and silver. It also ended Vlasics's 34 competition win streak and gave Belgium its first Olympic track & field gold since Gaston Roelants won the Tokyo steeplechase in 1964!

On his very last throw, Ainars Kovals of Lativa, ranked eighth, improved his personal best by 4.01 meters! His throw of 86.64 gave him the silver Olympic medal and a sports hero in his wonderful country! The smile that erupted over his face when he saw his javelin just stay in the air, longer, longer and still longer was priceless-it was the Olympic moment of the day for me. Herculean efforts are required in the Olympic Games, that was Ainar Kovals.

Kenenisa Bekele became the first man since MIruts Yifter in 1980 to win both the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters. He did it in the 5,000 meters by literally running the field off its feet, he first ran four laps in a row in 60.1 to 60.9, then, when the two Kenyans were still hanging on, sprinted away madly, daring them to follow!

Running the last lap in 53.8, and smiling with 100 meters to go, putting one finger in the air, arm raised, Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia won by five seconds, setting a new Olympic record of 12:57.82, with 2003 World champion, the man who beat Bekele in Paris, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, who ran 13:02.80. Edwin Cheryuiyot Soi took third in 13:06.22! Americans Bernard Lagat stayed with leaders for six laps and then it was over, Lagat finished ninth in 13:26.89. Matt Tegenkamp was thirteenth in 13:33.31.

Lagat noted that he had had a virus over the past few day and Matt Tegenkamp focused on " How much I have to learn. I need to be able to run with these guys." We will watch for him in the future.

In the 4 x 400 meter relays, it was all about setting the record straight. The women's 4 x 400 meters was a battle royale between US and Russia. The Russians have four women who can not break 50 flat in a regular race, but who focus on the relay. And they would have won, but for the gutty stretch run of Sanya Richards, who executed perfectly and went by Anastasiya Kaapchinskaya with twenty meters to go. Richards did it with style and such brute force that the Russian was closed down! Russia took second and Jamaica was third!

On the men's side, 4 x 400 meters, La Shawn Merrit broke it open, David Neville kept it strong, Angelo Taylor beat the field up and Jeremy Wariner ran like crazy and the team won gold with a new Olympic record, in 2:55. 39. Barbados was second and Russia was third.

EME NEWS (AUG 23, 2008)

High jump women final:

Until 2,03m this high jump final looked like a safe gold medal for World champion and world leader Croatia's Blanka Vlasic who had cleared all heights since 1,85m in the first attempt. Unlike her, the other two remaining athletes, Tia Hellebaut from Belgium and Anna Chicherova from Russia needed a second or third attempt for some heights. But then, at 2,05m, Vlasic struggled and needed two jumps to clear whereas Hellebaut needed only one establishing a new national record. Chicherova could not follow them and won the bronze medal with 2,03m. As neither Hellebaut nor Vlasic was able to clear 2,07m, the gold medal went to Belgium's European champion. A surprise, but how many we had during this marvelous Olympics? And Blanka Vlasic, the queen in this event until today, had to take the silver medal, something that she had certainly never had in mind before because of her 34 competitions winning streak since June 2007 that is now over. 2004 Olympic champion Elena Slesarenko from Russia came fourth with 2,01m.

Javelin throw men final:

Andreas Thorkildsen from Norway was able to defend his Olympic title and his winning result was sensational! Leading from the first attempt (84,72m), he was able to improve his result steadily with throw number two (85,91m) and three (87,93m). And then came attempt number five where he threw new Olympic record 90.57. Symbolically the first record of Jan Zelezny had gone. His counterpart, world champion Tero Pitkamaki from Finland lost his silver medal in the very last round when Ainars Kovals from Latvia improved from 82,63m (rank eight) to 86,64m which is a new personal best for him. Pitkamaki, in his last attempt, threw also his best result of 86,16m but it was only enough for the bronze medal. Pre-competition world leader Jarrod Bannister from Australia came sixth with 83,45m.

800m men final:

Experienced Kenyan Wilfred Bungei took the risk and became pacemaker in a rather open race. He led after 400 metres (53,35s), after 600 metres (1:19,17min) and also after 800 metres (1:44,65min = SB)!! Nobody could catch him on the home straight, not even his countryman Alfred Kirwa Yego who clocked 1:44,82min as third or Ismail Ahmed Ismail from Sudan who crossed the finish line as silver medal winner after 1:44,70min. The first ever athletics Olympic medal for Sudan.

1.500m women final:

During the race, everything looked normal: Top favorite Maryam Yusuf Jamal from Bahrain had Anna Alminova from Russia made the pace. World champion Jamal took the lead on the last 500 metres. But then, a new star in the 1.500 metres event rose: Nancy Jebet Lagat from Kenya ran away from Jamal, in a great sprint on the last 200 metres. Jamal could not catch up with her again and was so shocked that she was also overtaken by three other runners and came only fifth (4:02,71min). The young Kenyan recorded a new personal best of 4:00,23min and was rewarded with the gold medal. Behind her, Iryna Lishchynska and Nataliya Tobias from the Ukraine crossed the finish line as second (4:01,63min) and third (4:01,78min = PB). Lisa Dobriskey from Great Britain clocked 4:02,10min as fourth, also a new PB.

5.000 men final:

The race started with solid Ethiopian teamwork - Tariku and Kenenisa Bekele and Abreham Cherkos took their turns to make the pace. And on the last two laps, Kenenisa Bekele accelerated strongly and only the Kenyans Eliud Kipchoge and Edwin Cheruiyot Soi could follow. On the final lap Bekele showed his famous kick and started a final sprint that let even his two Kenyan opponents far behind. He added to his 10.000m gold medal also the 5.000m gold medal in the Olympic record time of 12:57,82min. Nobody has achieved such a double since 28 years. Kipchoge clocked 13:02,80min and his countryman Cheruiyot Soi recorded 13:06,22min, a new season's best. After his bad luck in the 1.500m heats, Bernard Lagat from the USA was again a sad looser finishing as ninth with 13:26,89min and without any medal.

4x400m women final:

The relay from the USA was challenged at the beginning by Jamaica's Shericka Williams and later by Russia's Tatyana Firova and Anastasiya Kapachinskaya. But last leg Sanya Richards, running with a new red top like her teammates, ran an incredibly strong race overtaking the leading Kapachinskaya in a pathetic final sprint and thus assuring the gold medal for the USA in a new season's best of 3:18,54min. Russia also clocked a new season's best of 3:18,82min in front of the Jamaican relay (3:20,40min = SB). The relays from Belarus (3:21,85min) and Cuba (3:23,21min) established new national records as fourth and sixth.

4x400m men final:

The men's 4x400m relay was quite a safe thing for the USA. LaShawn Merritt, Angelo Taylor, David Neville and Jeremy Wariner clocked a new Olympic record and second fastest ever 2:55.39min in front of a strong Bahamian relay (2:58,03min = SB). Russia's bronze medallists set a new national record of 2:58,06min as well as fifth placer Belgium (2:59,37min).


UKRAINE: Heptathlete Lyudmila Blonska, who was stripped of her silver medal after a failed drug test for methyl testosterone and faces a lifetime ban for a second doping offense - has blamed her husband and coach for the positive test. "She expressed that she trusted him to take care of her training and diet. She indicated that they had expressly agreed that she would not take any prohibited substances. However, her relationship with her husband was currently conflictual." AP informs.

JAMAICA: Triple Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt of Jamaica made a donation of US $50,000 to the Chinese Red Cross Foundation for the children in Sichuan Province, where the terrible earthquake stroke last May, Xinhua informs.

KENYA: Elizabeth Muthoka, the Kenyan quartermiler who had broken the 24 year-old 400m national record at the national championships (51.56) in the last week of June and again at the Kenyan Olympic Trials (50.82) one week later, was withdrawn from the Kenyan team before the Games after failing a drug test during the national championships, AK secretary-general David Okeyo announced - Reuters informs.

SWEDEN: Multi-events queen Carolina Kluft informed after the long jump that she may return to heptathlon and wants to combine it with long jump. Berlin 2009 may see her back in her best event.

ZURICH: The organisers of first big meeting after the Games the Weltklasse of Zurich on Aug 29 announced that all Olympic male sprint medalists will run their 100 m race. Very special will be the first post-olympic appearance of Usain Bolt. Also competing will be silver holders Richard Thompson and Shawn Crawford and doublebronze winner Walter Dix. Coming into it is the sad hero Churandy Martina. The US 4x100 m relay which after a huge mistake did not qualify for the finals in Beijing will have the chance to compete in Zurich Trophy 4x100 m.

JAMAICA: Some stats to Usain Bolt:

100 m win: winning margin 0.20 the same record one as Carl Lewis in 1984.

100 m win: first gold for Jamaica at Olympics.

100 m win: speed average 37.152 km/h.

The first 100, 200,4x100 triple winner at the games with world records in all three events.

In the 200 m race average speed 37.305 km/h, with 9.96/9.34 halves.

After 32 years another 200 m gold for Jamaica (Quarrie in 1976).

200 m win: the biggest winning margin 0.66.

His 100/200 combination 28.99 well ahead of Tyson Gay 29.39.

The first ever sprinter having world records at 100,200,4x100 at the same time.

He sprinted together 1300 metres to his three golds.

First Jamaican ever 4x100 m male relay gold.

He is the fourth in history with Olympic golds at 100,200,4x100 in the same games (Owens, Morrow, Lewis).

BEIJING: The planned number of 4500 doping controls at the Olympic Games will be improved. Already by Thursday 4620 tests were staged, until the end of the games it should be 5000. All samples will be stored for 8 years. From all controls 10 were positive.

FRANCE: Former world champion and Olympic fourth placer Ladji Doucoure announced that his season is ending because of his injury. He achieved in Beijing European leading time 13.22. He plans to compete next indoor season.

POLAND: At the Pedro´s Cup international meet in Szceczin on Sep 17 Jamaican Olympic winner at 4x100 m and second fastest ever at 100 m Asafa Powell will be the biggest star. Also home Olympic medalists in throws Tomasz Majewski and Piotr Malachowski will be there

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

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