December 2008 Archives

In no particular order, here are some of the most significant points of the compass for our sport in 2008:

In the middle of November, I received the following postcard from our roving
athletics troubadour, Bob Ramsak:

In early October 2008, as part of the NXN promotions we were working on, Josh Rowe was able to get about ten of their athletes to answer about ten to twelve of my queries. This is the response of Bernard Lagat.

I first interview Bernard in London at the Aviva London GP in 2006. Great interview, very thoughtful, quite relaxed. My thoughts on Bernard, and I still hold them: pound for pound, he is one of best middle distance runners in the world at 1,500 and 5,000 meters. His Osaka wins were excellent. Bekele pounded him in Beijing and he did not make the 1,500 meter finals--he was wiped out. Part of our sport is good days and bad days, and Lagat has had both.

Recently Bernard announced his goal to win an seventh Millrose Mile and tie the record of Eamonn Coglan, the Chairman of the Boards.

Special thanks to Josh Rowe, Nike and USATF biographical reports!

Global Perspectives is a new series of pieces that I am developing for our Shooting Star Media, Inc. publications. The idea is to give our readers a closer view of some of the spectacular global moments in our sport. The first was Usain Bolt, and it was received well. This is our second. I would love to hear what you think of this piece, so please email me larry.eder@gmail.com. Thanks!

Berlin is hosting the 2009 World Championships this coming August. Many observers of the German Athletics Association (DLV) are quite concerned about the prospects of the German athletes in Berlin, the Euros in 2010, Worlds in 2011 and London 2012. This letter was sent, and forwarded to RBR in order for us to see how individuals can work together to change a federation. We at RBR wish the undersigned much luck...

Note that in this picture, Jordan Hasay is running with the second pack in the FootLocker XC Champs, held in San Diego on December 13, 2008. She went on to win the race, her second victory and become only the second girl to win two FootLocker titles....how did she do it?

Dear readers,

This is another column from Brooks Johnson, from his blog, blogs and spikes, that
is, in my mind, one of the most AMAZING blogs around. Johnson is thoughtful,
articulate, and gives us fans a chance to see the world through the eyes of
an elite coach, but most of all, a man who loves our sport...read on...

RunBlogRun wishes you, your family and friends a very, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year! We hope that you find a nice new javelin, hammer, pair of sprint shoes, or perhaps a check for a resurfacing job on your local outdoor track facility under the old Christmas tree or from Hanukkah Harry. For your information, my tree is silver, with red glass ball ornaments and psychedelic color fan that changes the color of the tree.


My brother Brian and I are holding out for one of those hammer vehicles that they used in Osaka and Beijing! They are totally cool and would be quite helpful in my backyard this spring as I start to redo the terra firma.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah to all!


If you really need a fix, check http://www.american-trackandfield.com

A very Happy Hannukah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from www.runblogrun.com!

Dear readers, I encourage you to read this blog carefully. It is written by Brooks Johnson and it concerns several things of note, first the 1972 Olympic fiasco with our sprinters, but also the requirements to be an elite athlete.

Johnson notes that the attribute he found in all of his Olympic athletes, from the jumps to the distances, that none of them were 'normal'. There was the need of something in the psyche of an elite athlete to push them to excel and fight to make an Olympic team.

I was reminded of this when I watched a Sixty Minutes interview of Michael Phelps. Phelps spoke of workouts where he swam 10,000 meters ( about 2 hours, 30 in his fitness level) all out, to show that he could be competitive. Remember the workout in Once a Runner by John Parker, where the main character, Quentin Cassidy, runs 40 times the quarter to show himself that he was ready to race?

I would love to hear some comments on this one....

I missed both of these releases in the past month, as I was working on our business plans for 2009, sorry about that!

What I like about Mizuno's Ron Wayne, a huge supporter of the sport, and one of the best US marathoners in the 1970s, is that he gets it. Ron is one of Mizuno's longest employees in the US. He is their promotions guy, and he has done promo on volleyball and running for years.

Mizuno is picking up athletes for four years, giving athletes with modest but promising pedigrees to develop over the next quadrenium. Kudos to Mizuno for taking their sponsor dollars to give young American athletes time to develop.

Sponsorship is such that the more sports marketing spending brands spend the big bucks and focus on top athletes.

Brooks took the risk a few years ago and has sponsored the Hanson Brooks Distance Project, and Saucony has sponsored a group of young Americans who they hope develop into Olympic hopefuls.

Mizuno has taken their own unique view to sponsorship and their athletes, giving thse athetes the equipment and apparel that they need to train. That is a difficult cost for post collegiate athletes who are searching for a job where they can train.

The juggling job, training and work is intense, especially in the sub elite category. Those athletes who are emerging, who can not find any help, have the hardest time.
It is nice to see another company in the footwear firmament putting back into our sport.

The truth is, footwear companies do the majority of sponsorship of our sport of athletics, and especially in regards to athletes and coaches.

I have observed Nike, as a brand and a company, for thirty-five years now. I purchased my first pair of Nike shoes, Nike waffle racers in the Fall of 1975. I worked at Runners' World from 1981-1986, and have published my own publications since 1987. During that entire time, Nike has had a strong influence on our sport and my business. If one considers that the company has had significant influence from Eastern Philosophy, then the reader will be able to understand my allusions to Nike as a corporation and the current Chinese political system.

Usain Bolt was in the first row of the NBA game in Boston on Friday, December 21, 2008. He was watching the Celtics beat Chicago 125-108. Then, Presna Latina gives Usain Bolt the Best Male Athlete of the Year (Presne is the Cuban news agency). And finally, Universal sports gave Usain Bolt the Breakout Performance of the Year and Stefanie Brown Trafton as the Unsung Hero Award of the Year. Under disappointment, there were two American relay teams

Happy Hannukah from runblogrun.com!

Dear readers,

It is a cold Saturday in Wisconsin. Cross country in the US is over, and while some indoor meets are starting up, the season really gets going after the Holidays. In Fort Atkinson, we have about sixteen inches of snow, just from this week and expect another few tonight before the Artic Chill hits.

My walks to work have been cold, slipprier and snowier. I have to admit, as long as the sun gets out for a bit, I am fine with the snow. It is just that we are over 30 inches for the year so far, last year we were at 25 and we should hit 40 inches by end of December. So much for global warming. I am waiting for wooly Mammoths to walk down our main street.

I am heading to a warmer clime, Monday night, December 22, 2008 and will be returning January 2, 2009. Please note that, through the wonders of technology, there will be one posting from December 23, 2008 through January 1, 2009. They will be new posts, just programmed for daily arrival for the information-deprived. Have a Wonderful Holiday and Happy New Year!

This interview was done with John Capriotti, NIke Global Director of Athletics, during the second week of December. I gave Cap the questions, and he responded. We had discussed the idea at the NXN Meet on December 6.

Back by popular demand, a potpourri of products that should make someone in your life happy!

Michael A. McNees, a former college athlete, but a man who has developed a career in managing City and County administrations, with experience at managing budgets of $600 million and 1,400 employees, was named today Chief Operating Officer for USA Track & Field, effective March 1, 2009, by Doug Logan, CEO of USA Track & Field, and a man who has been in his job since July 2008.

I know nothing about Mr. McNees besides the resume that was quoted in the USATF release today. However, I applaud the appointment of a COO. This means, perhaps, that Mr. Logan will continue to focus on the BIG STUFF, and allow his staff to do what they are supposed to do-make it or break it on their own, within certain parameters.

Logan's job, in my mind, is to change the basic structure of USA Track & Field so that it can work in a professional manner. His ability to get the changes through the board, without any bloodshed that leaked out, his ability to get the changes through the National meeting without bloodshed is to also be applauded.

This move gives us a bit more insight into Logan: still too early to make a decision, but the guy is delivering change and some positive structure...

I first knew of Ian Stewart, watching him run down the late Steve Prefontaine in the 1972 Olympics. At 14, this was the first Olympics that I understood. I then remember reading of Stewart in the 1975 World Cross country in Rabat, Morocco. TFN, the bible of the sport, kept me informed of his exploits for years after that.

Mark Rowland, the 1988 Seoul Olympic bronze medalist at the steeplechase, is now the new coach for the Oregon Track Club. The press release and videos for the press conference can be found at http://www.OTCElite.com. Special thanks to the folks at www.runnerspace.com for the heads up!

Rowland is replacing Frank Gagliano, former Georgetown coach, known affectionately as Gags by his former athletes and those, like myself, who worship him from the stands. Gags has been an institution in American middle distance running for nearly thirty years. At the young age of 71, he is looking for some time with family and friends. That coaching life can wear won out. Seriously, on behalf of the former athletes I know, and runblogrun.com, I would like to thank Frank Gagliano by showing, day in and day out, that coaches do more that show one how to run a faster last three hundred meters, they teach them the key lessons to leading a rich and challenging life. Thanks for your hard work and your support of our sport!

Welcome to Mark Rowland and we look forward to seeing the crowd from the OTC this summer in Eugene!

The evening after the ING New York City marathon, I remember having a beverage with Ray Flynn, agent for Ryan Hall. The bar, Rosie O'Gradys, is the unofficial official marathon hangout during the ING NYCM marathon week. After the race were just the hardened few, plus exhausted NYRR staffers, members of the media and athletes, relaxing and rerunning the marathon. We were discussing what was needed in US marathons and how Kara Goucher had excited the media in New York.

The thirtieth Foot Locker Cross Country championships featured Jordan Hasay, who last weekend won her fourth Western regional FootLocker-never before done-and this weekend, won her second FL title, something only done before by one other women athlete. Erin Sullivan of Jericho, VT won back to back titles in 1997 and 1998.

Our informants told us that the Foot Locker " was the best produced ever." We also heard good things about the webcast and a TV show will be appearing on December 22 on ESPN something, I believe.

Special kudos to Saucony for coming in at the last minute to sponsor FL, an event that has had most of the past three decades American distance elite run at the event. From Carrie Tollefson to Todd Williams were at the meet this past weekend, cheering on the present generation.

I do have special praise for Jordan Hasay, who continues to develop as a racer. I can not help but think back to Armando Siqueros, her coach and a chat we had with Joe Mangan in the stands in Indy two years ago. Armando spoke about how Jordan needed different experiences racing and how she needed to trust her own judgement. It is a coaching method that is tremendous in the long run, but requires a mature athlete, a thoughtful coach and parents who act as parents.

Jordan Hasay is developing into a world class athlete. The maturity she showed in this race, moving late in the game and pushing through the finish, shows what this young women could be capable of in 2012 and 2016.

Congrats to Jordan and the other young women and men who ran Foot Locker and who last weekend ran NXN. You all have had wonderful experiences to cap off high school careers. Now, it is important to turn off the running and racing, be teenagers for a few weeks, stay up late, hang out with friends watch gross movies on You Tube or at the movie theatre, and just be human. It is time to recharge.....

Dear readers,

Many of you subscribe to runblogrun.com, and another 150,000 see the blog thru various sites, pass along, etc. Jim Ferstle responded to my commments on the WADA new testing protocols (December 12, 2008). I am not sure if there is anyone in the world who has covered drugs and sports as extensively as Jim. I know no one has done it with his candor and sense of ethics. Please read his comments:

Sergiy Lebid won the SPAR Euro CC for the 8th time! His win, by eight seconds over Mo Farah has put him a rarefied list of the cross country royalty.

In the U.S. McMillan Elite and Boulder Running/adidas won the men and women's club titles at the USATf Club XC Champs in snow and wind!

Then, on the other side of the world, Patrick Ivuti, 2007 B of A Chicago Marathon winner, took the Honolulu marathon in 2:14 on a typical humid and hot Hawaii day.

The national club championships are some of the most popular championships of the entire US schedule. Club championships give post-collegiate athletes who have not made the jump to elite an opportunity to compete. It also gives groups like McMillan Elite a major championship to focus on.

Look at the teams we now have, adidas Transport, Boulder Running company, Bowerman Athletic Club, ZAP Fitness, Hanson-Brooks all give young runners a chance to develop at their own pace. The challenge is, in this day and age, how to find sponsorship in such a tough economy. Major sponsors are cutting back on their athlete sponsorships in typical post Olympic fashion. The cut backs are exacerbated by the tough economic times we are experiencing.

One of the challenges over the next several years in our sport is to find new sponsors for sectors of the sport, such as club championships, without adding to the sponsorship burden that major sponsors have taken. The success and future growth of club championships will depend on USATF finding new sponsors who find the ability to develop a sector of championships where developing athletes get a chance to compete. Cross country needs to be sold as a sport by itself. We have to look outside the typical federation sponsors.

The key is, what benefits can be sold to new sponsors? That is our challenge.


Congratulations to all competitors who competed in the USATF Club XC Championships! And thanks to the sponsors and organizers of the Club
championships!

There is a value in living in this age of multi media platforms. If one is observant, the viewer can find a more complete picture of the focus of their attention. For example, today we have the video from the Under Armour Performance Running press conference, which is just below this note. Please check it out. It is short, but it gives you a good introduction into how Under Armour holds press conferences, launches products and finally, you get to see Steve Battista, Vice President, Brand Marketing, Under Armour Performance.

Battista is the focus of this interview. He graciously gave us his time, juggling a day of working on creative-Under Armour running, remember, launches January 31, 2009!

WADA has a new code for 2009. They are asking for a one hour window, 365 days a year where the elite athlete can be contacted or found. While this is similar to the rule in British athletics, which banned Christine Ohuruogu, the Osaka and Olympic champion at 400 meters, for one year, it is being criticized on several fronts.

My beef with WADA is that they are supposed to be the good guys. But, instead of finding protocols for testing that make sense and can be considered peer reviewed or scientifically tested, they play the ends justifies the means game. WADA needs to remember that a long term approach is better than something haphazard.

Our society values sports and wealth in unhealthy ways. People who we would not want for neighbors we watch on weekend cable TV as they play for professional teams. Something is wrong here.

The charm of our sport is its purity. Watching kids race across the playground or throw the javelin for the first time is fun. Those newbie javelin throwers would be in awe seeing Jan Zelesney throwing the javelin.

Think about Usain Bolt this summer. Pure racing. Was Usain happy after his races? That was not acting, that was a young man surprised even at his own performance? The 200 hundred meters, in my mind, was a tremendous race! It was the race that Usain wore himself out over!

We welcome testing in our sport. But we also have to make sure that athletes know that there is right and wrong, that athletes should be held at a higher standard, in training, in competing and in life.

The great dancer and choreographer, the late Martha Graham, said that " dancers were athletes of God. " Bill Bowerman, the coach from Oregon and co-founder of Nike, said that "If you have a body, you are an athlete."

I always like to fuse both Graham and Bowerman. We all have bodies, so we are athletes. Our movement, whether it be throwing, jumping, or running, can be interpreted in dance, so we are all celebrating movement, hence we are also athletes of God. Athleticism then becomes more a celebration of what we have, at whatever level. The honesty, and purity of movement is bastardized with performance enhancing drugs, whether one is caught by WADA or not. But that requires a conscience and ethics and a conscience are not much in fashion these days.

This coming weekend, in the US has the USATF Club XC, USA Junior Olympics and Foot Locker XC Champs. In Brussels, the SPAR European Cross Country Championships will be held on Sunday-the last big events of 2008.

But the 2009 season has started, down under in Australia. The Emil Zatopek Meeting has been a famous event for nearly three decades. The likes of Pat Scammell, Rob de Castella, Steve Moneghetti, Craig Mottram, Benita Johnson, Lisa Ondieki, among others. This year, Australian Laura Tamsett won the 10,000 meters in 32:56.19 and Dave McNeil won the men's 10,000 meters in 28:03.02.

In second place, US runner Bobby Curtis ran a fine 28:06.74 for second with Michael Shelly in third in 28:08.96, his personal best. Nice start for 2009 for Curtis, who recently graduated from Villanova and is sponsored by Reebok.

Under Armour announced their entry into the performance running market on Tuesday, December 9, with a media event in New York City. Their product will launch on January 31, 2009, but this was the day for the media to get a peak at the new shoe line (the Men's Apparition is shown here) and hear from Founder Kevin Plank, Senior VP of Marketing Steve Battista and Director of Footwear, Running and Training, Chris Brewer.

Chris is well known in the industry. He has had a career that has seen him at adidas, Mizuno and Fila, before coming to Under Armour. We interviewed Chris by sending him a set of questions, which he replied to today.

I think it gives the reader some insight into the absolutely tough competition in running footwear.We have also included several of the models of Under Armour's running footwear as well:

Men's UA Apparition™

I recently returned from the ASBA Technical Meeting in New Orleans. The American Sports Builders Association is an example of the kind of groups who can help a sport if one only looks for them.

I found out about the ASBA, then called US Tennis Courts & Track Builders Association in the early nineties, doing some research on how a coach could know the difference between a bad product and a good product for their track. It was then I met with Carol Hogan, who was the person running the trade group.

Our relationship with the group is now that we have six columns on track construction topics in ATF each year, plus in 2008, we did, for the first time, a Track Facilities Resource Guide, which was quite the success.

The ASBA is all about getting out good information on track surfaces, field surfaces, proper certification of the various players in the market and building it (your facility) right. I encourage you to a) send for a copy of our TF Resource Guide-email me at larry.eder@gmail.com. and b, check out their website (http://www.sportsbuilders.org).

I was lucky enough to give out the Awards for the best Track and Multi use Facilities in the country for 2008. I was also able to sit in on several of the technical meetings on track surfaces and their acclaimed track manual, which is in final revisions.

In looking out over the three hundred-plus builders, suppliers and architects, I told them the story about a phone call I received about ten years ago in my office. " Is this Larry Eder?" the phone call went. " Well, this is mmmm, and I just wanted to thank you for teaching my son about the javelin..." . My comment was, " Great, I am glad he likes it." I was not sure where the conversation was going, nor who the call was coming from.

Little did I know that Tom Carleo, then at Nike, now at New Balance, had me on loud speaker with the entire running staff listening in.." Hey, Mr. Eder, I do have a problem. You see, my son just put the javelin through his sisters leg and she is bleeding, and I want to know what you are going to do about it...."

Now, I was brought to the present. Going through my head was, how I was going to be sued, how little we had and what I could have said that got a young man to put a javelin through his little sisters' leg. The silence was deafening, as the voice came back, " Hey, Mr. Eder, do you have any suggestions? " Well, before I could respond, I hear this roar of laughter and finally, Carleo goes, " Larry, it is me, Tom Carleo, I had you scared didn't I? "

He did have me scared, but he also got me thinking. My next phone call was to a friend who studied catastrophic injuries in sports. He then told me that most javelin injuries were with another kid standing behind the javelin thrower and the javelin being thrust into their legs, hands, etc.

My response, after I started breathing again, was to develop a series of articles on prevention of injuries. Jan Johnson did the pole vault series that we did for a long time. My theory has always been that knowledge is power. The ASBA gives you, the coach or administrator access to information that is invaluable in making the decision about a great facility.

Well, the ASBA attendees roared over the javelin story and Tom Carleo is again famous outside of his environs, but, in fact, Tom did me a huge favor. It is always
something that goes through my mind on any story in our publications. How does it help the coach or athlete? Is there something that they can use right away from the article and where can the reader find more information if they want more details?

The ASBA has been a great resource and in 2009, we will be expanding their articles into Cal Track, Latinos Corriendo and Coaching Athletics.

(Special thanks to Cynthia Jordan, Fred Stringfellow, Carol Hogan, Judi Mellendick, Eileen Laidler of the ASBA, and Mary Helen Sprecher, former ASBA lifer, who now is a free lancer and is responsible for the columns in AT&F magazine. The ASBA staff, now lead by Fred Stringfellow, did an amazing job organizing the event in New Orleans, and should be applauded for keeping the events on schedule and interesting!)

In the end, the ASBA, like so many organizations in our sport, is filled with good people who love what they do and want to do it right. We are lucky to have such resources...

Testing does work. What I find fascinating is that every time someone is caught in track & field, the nay sayers come out of the woodwork. And so do new ways of cheating. This year, the sting on the Russian women distance runners caught the world and the cheating athletes off guard. This finding by the IOC, rumored for months now, has elevated Krisztian Pars of Hungary and Japanese super star Koji Murifushi to silver and bronze, respectively.

To get away with using banned substances, one must spend a substantial amount of time and money focused on cheating. Breaking the cycle, which means, focusing testing on the top 25 global athletes and testing 8 to 12 times a year, giving them little chance of cycling any known or unknown substances. It is not perfect, but gives athletes a wider playing field.

In Beijing, the absolute stunning victory was that of Steve Hooker, the brilliant but unlucky, up til then, Australian pole vaulter. He jumped high when he had to in Beijing and higher than anyone else under the most pressure and took the gold! Also joining Hooker will be Nick Willis, Kiwi bronze medalist at 1,500 meters and Jenn Stucyznski, US, silver medalist in the womens' vault in Beijing.

As part of our goal to make runblogrun.com into the track gossip column (joke, will never happen), Alfons has added a note on the divorce of Susan Tiedke, former long jumper. We hope that you will enjoy it. Soon, we will have pictures of Paris Hilton throwing the javelin. (Actually, never, but do not get me started on that conundrum).

Lots to write about, however, I am exhausted from travel and will catch up on
Under Armour and ASBA by Thursday. Thanks for your patience!

The first part of solving a problem is to acknowledge it. EA held a conference in which 46 countries were represented, to discuss how to retain the interest of the next generation in our sport. This is critical for future growth...

In Doug Logan's closing speech at the USATF convention, which concluded on Sunday, December 7, 2008 in Reno, Logan announced Project 30. Thirty clean medals for London 2012, $30 million in sponsorship per year by 2012 and a world championship in US by 2015. Ambitious goals from an ambitious man, who has, so far, stayed out of the limelight.

His reorganization of USATF is brand new, and there will be changes in the home office as well as several satellite offices that should appear in Southern California and a marketing office in NYC.

The world championships is a devil in the details. Government support, the right facility and MONEY to make the event work. World Champs have bankrupted NGBs, look at Sweden in 1995. But, in the end, Logan is right, the US must have a World Champs in the next decade at least.

In closing tonight, keep your thoughts and prayers with Kerryn McCann, two time gold medalist at the marathon in the Commonwealth Games, and three time Olympic marathoner. Kerryn lost her battle with liver cancer on Monday. She leaves her husband, Greg, their two boys and a little daughter.

I am in New Orleans for the ASBA Technical conference for track facilities and tennis courts. I am giving an award out on Tuesday for the Top Track Facility. More on that on Tuesday.

K. Ken Nakamura is the reason that many of us know about track & field and road running from Japan. His reports are super accurate and super detailled!

In NXN, version 5.0, Chelsey Sveinsson won the girls race in a course record and Reed Connor charged to the win in the boy's race, with Manilus taking the girls team and North Spokane taking the boys team.

But the five thousand or so cross country fans saw four great races, one of the best produced cross country events imaginable, with great racing, for both individual and teams.

The event also showed how our sport can be produced and highlighted. Amy White, the VP of Nike US Running noted that " cross country is part of our DNA at Nike." That was a good observation, as this day was all about becoming, as eight time US champion Lyn Jennings once said, "Become one with the mud."

On Saturday, while I was up at the NXN event, watching Reed Connor take the boys race and North Spokane take the boys team, and Chelsey Sveinsson won the girls race and Manilus won the girls, Jordan Hasay was winning her fourth Foot Locker Regional competition, a first for anyone, girl or boy.

I am taking a moment to praise Jordan Hasay and the thoughtful development of this athlete. Kudos to the parents for supporting her coach, Armando Siqueros, who, in my mind, is one of the best coaches in our country. Armando uses the Socratic method in his coaching technique. While he has ideas for the workouts and competitions, his overall theme is to give Jordan many different experiences so that she is a well rounded runner. Jordan is a bright young women, who has experienced the hard knocks of the Olympic Trials, the harder knocks of the World Junior champs and will be able to, if she chooses, go to the next level.

This is a combination of things. Jordan is one tough competitor. She also listens to Armando and her parents stay parents and allow her coach to be her coach. Without those lines in the sand, Jordan Hasay could never achieve what she has achieved.

In a masterful ending to a very high profile convention, Doug Logan addressed the Closing session of the USATF 2008 convention with a closing speech that aimed to do several things. Logan reminded the listeners that USA Track & Field is them, fast and slow, big and small, young and young in spirit, black, white, latino, masters, elite, prep athlete. It is in our diversity, that USA Track & Field mirrors the country. Using a very simple yet powerful phrase, "we are the sport of.." Logan is suggesting that the real American sport, one that shows our diversity as our strength, is track & field.

When Liu Xiang halted his hurdling at the Beijing Olympics in round one, after less than twenty-five meters of running, the sixty thousand fans in the Birds' Nest gasped. The rest of the day, on nine Chinese TV stations, the coverage of Liu Xiang went from shock to despair to eulogizing the athlete and his coach. Within days of his injury, Liu Xiang apologized to the Chinese people.

Well, all of China should be relieved that their most famous athlete has made it through his planned surgery in an hour long surgery. Four pieces of bone were removed from his
Achilles tendon on his right foot. His rehabilitation will begin in days, but it is not known when he should be able to resume competing.

Also, the BBC and UK Athletics worked out a deal for the televising of the major events that UK Athletics holds in thier country, with a deal that goes through 2014. This is important for the sport.

What is scary for the sport is that the EBU was not given a deal for the 2014 and 2016
Olympics by the IOC. That could mean that Olympic viewing will only be on cable or pay for view in Europe, drastically cutting down viewing options in Europe for those two Olympics.

In a highly anticipated election, Stephanie Hightower won the election for President of USATF, with 328 votes to Dee Jensen's 300 votes. This was a hard fought, and very close election, taking a second vote, in fact......

One Day Until Nike NXN!

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The regionals are done, the teams are in Portland, or on the way, and for the first year, individuals will be joining the fields at the Portland Meadows for a most unique day of cross country!

For a preview of December 6 at Portland Meadows, please click here: http://www.atf-athlete.com/nxn-2008-championship-preview.

It was May 1995 when I first saw Sergei Bubka jump outdoors. It was the Bruce Jenner Classic and Bubka cleared 19-6. 4,000 fans stayed after the meet to watch the greatest pole vaulter of his generation vault.

Yelena Isinbayeva is the Bubka of the women's vault. Her dominance, her confidence and her athleticism make her a global hit. We shall see how many times Yelena can break the WR this year....

The most important convention, perhaps in the history of USA Track & Field began this morning in Reno, Nevada. I am not in Reno, Nevada, but in the snow covered city of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, where I live and work.

As the group publisher of Shooting Star Media, Inc. and the President of the Running Network, LLC, I have been fortunate enough to see many of the great moments in our sport around the world. As a former athlete, coach, I have always been a track fan. My agenda, which sounds simple, is this: I love our sport of athletics, from prep track & field to local road races and the big city marathons. Each year, I visit most of the major marathons, most domestic major indoor and outdoor track meets and the major trade gatherings. That is part of my job.

The inevitable has happened. Competitor, formerly known as Elite Racing, will take over the ill fated Las Vegas Marathon, on December 8, 2008, the day after this years' race. The present owners, Devine Racing, will no longer be involved with the race. This action has been rumored for some time, and makes sense. Elite Racing is the most successful..

The USA Track & Field convention, which starts Wednesday, December 3, and goes through December 7, is a pivotal convention. Several matters that require, no, demand
your attention, will be happening there:

a. The reorganization of the Board, which will be cut to 15. The re org, championed by Doug Logan, has been done, so far, with a certian amount of civility and little blood letting. Let's hope that it stays that way.

b. The election for President of USATF. After the re organization, this will be the one thing that the constituency of USATF can still vote for. I encourage you to listen to the three following intereviews from FinalSprint.com:

Bob Bowman:http://www.thefinalsprint.com/2008/10/tfs-electioncast-2008-usa-track-field-presidential-candidate-bob-bowman/

Stephanie Hightower: http://www.thefinalsprint.com/2008/10/tfs-electioncast-2008-usatf-presidential-candidate-stephanie-hightower/

Dee Jensen: http://www.thefinalsprint.com/2008/10/tfs-electioncast-2008-usa-track-field-presidential-candidate-dee-jensen/

While I will make my endorsement tomorrow, I do encourage you also to read the series of articles by Final Sprint.com on USATF.

Here are my two cents: Within any organization, there are politics. Within the USA Track & Field, there are inherent politics: the national office, the board, the various groups of interest, from masters, to juniors, to elite, to roads, to track. Think of this like Yugoslavia.

When Marshal Tito, the ruler of Yugoslavia died, the country blew up. The age old hatreds, age old ethnic issues were used by various political groups to push their own agendas.

USA Track & Field should learn from that example. In 1998, USATF was both financially and morally bankrupt. Craig Masback used his skills, and those of CFO Jim Elias to bring the organization from the foot of bankruptcy to a federation that the USOC could no longer ignore.

The infighting within USATF during that decade changed in some ways, but it was and is still there.

Doug Logan is a different type of person than Craig Masback. He is looking at the big picture, which is what he was hired to do. The national office is expected to do their job, professionally and within parameters, but Logan, it seems, considers them adults and expects them to behave as such.

Logan's ability to push the reorganization is critical. While I do not want nor believe the USOC will have control of USATF, I do believe that change was needed. It is time for our sport to grow up. But, and I consider this very, very important, USATF can not be the lap dog of the USOC.

The series of stories done on USATF were done by someone who means well, someone who believes in journalism, but also someone who is, an outsider from track & field. He was able to get to information, much of it accurate, some of it colored by agendas, but what is real is that, in my opinion, our sport gets caught on the tiny ego detrius that hurts us.

Our sport has a historic opportunity between now and 2012: we either think out of the box, rebuild our sport, and our relationships, professionalize the sport and its communications and media, or we continue to be a secondary player in the world of globlal sports and sports marketing.

In my mind, USATF should not be someone looking for crumbs on the side of the road, which is how we are portrayed at this time. We should be thought of as a dynamic sport, appealing to men and women, with exciting and new grass roots opportunities to encourage black and white, rich and poor, young and old to get active, stay active and celebrate the athletes who can run, jump and throw farther than we can!

Who says the first week of December is quiet? First, we have the USATF convention, then we have the NXN Championships and also the Foot Locker West Meet!

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