Home Depot out of Olympics sponsorship, Oscar Pistorious will break 45.95, by Larry Eder, EME News by Alfons Juck

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As Gebre gets ready for the Dubai marathon and Usain Bolt plans for his first 400 meters of the year, which will be February 14-part of his season build up to racing at 100 and 200 meters, (he will move up, possibly in 2010), there are two real stories today: Home Depot is pulling out as USOC sponsor and Oscar Pistorius is again challenging the world of sport to run in the World Champs and Olympics.

First, Home Depot. Home Depot had 98 athletes working in programs where they worked and trained for the Olympics. Brian Sell did it for awhile, and Jake Arnold, a decathlete, is doing it now. The program was not only a good way for the athletes to live above the poverty level, it was a good entree into the world of business AFTER their sports careers. We wonder what happens to Carson City, which is the Home Depot Olympic Training Center?

Secondly, Oscar Pistorious. I like the young man and admire his work ethic. He has overcome his disabilities and is a great role model for disabled athletes and young athletes with no disabilities. But here is where it stops. The tools that Pistorious use give him an advantage over able bodied athletes-just read the research. The young man is training hard, and has the tools, to run 45 seconds. Under 45.95 and Oscar
has a shot at making the Worlds or the Olympics. Does the young man work hard? Yes! But is there a difference between his super state of the art lower legs and the newest pair of high end track spikes? What if Oscars' heart, and upper legs drive him to a sub 44, and an Olympic medal? Will someone cry foul or will someone say, yes, Oscar did it!Now, I am confused...

All Ready for Gebre

DUBAI (UAE): The Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon organisers are pulling out all the stops, to ensure that Haile Gebrselassie gets all the assistance he needs in his quest for a new world record in Friday morning's race in the United Arab Emirates. Gebrselassie, 35 and his pacemakers – who are aiming for 2.56 kilometre splits and 61:40 half - will be preceded by a giant digital screen on a flatbed truck, with running time, split kilometre times, average kilometre times, and projected half and full marathon times. Writes Pat Butcher. Meanwhile, the women's event is going to do it the old-fashioned way. Berhane Adere won the $250,000 prize last year, winning in 2:22:42. She is favourite again, the more so since her colleague, 2007 winner, and Berlin '08 second placer (2:21:31), Askale Magarska has a stress fracture. But another colleague, Bezunesh Bekele clocked 2:23:09 in her debut here last year, and Helena Kiprop of Kenya is a 2:25:01 marathoner. Gebrselassie´s performance should be boosted by thousands of Ethiopian fans who are expected to line the course, mobilized by both the Ethiopian community and the Ethiopian consulate here. According to Zewde Taye, Consulate General of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in the United Arab Emirates, so strong is the expectation of Ethiopians for Gebrselassie to break the record that they have postponed celebrations for the Ethiopian Epiphany, which were set for Friday, to come out in force and cheer Gebrselassie during his record attempt. Moreover, choir singers from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and three cultural bands will provide music along different parts of the course and at the finish line. The bands will have an overnight party for Ethiopians leading up to the race in downtown Dubai before scattering to choice viewing points on the course. Informs Race Results Weekly.

BOLT STARTS TO COMPETE AT 400 m

KINGSTON (JAM): Jamaica Observer informs about first this years competition of star sprinter Usain Bolt. „He's going to run his first race on February 14 at the Camperdown Classics, running the 400 metres, along with Ricardo Chambers and Yohan Blake," his coach Glenn Mills said. Last year he did the same thing and clocked 46.94 on January 26, But his best is 45.28 from May 2007. Coach Mills also added that in the plan is another 400 m race at the UWI Invitational on February 21 at the National Stadium. Asked where Bolt will be running his first overseas race, Mills replied: „We haven't touched (thought about) that yet." Interestingly, Olympic 400 m winner LaShawn Merritt told The News it would be a mistake for Bolt to think he could switch events and cruise to victory in the 400 m like he did in the 100 and 200 meters in Beijing. But Bolt uses 400 m race at the beginning of the season as part of preparation, similar approach is made also by Asafa Powell. Bolt also said that 2010 could be the year when he will seriously think about the 400 m.

TERESHIN WORLD LEADING 231 cm

OSTRAVA (CZE, Jan 15): Russian World Indoor 2006 silver medalist Andrey Tereshin improved on Thursday evening in Ostrava at 5th Ostravska latka High Jump meeting the world leading mark. He cleared in his third attempt 231 and improved the season best of his country-man Yaroslav Rybakov who jumped 230 last Sunday in Moscow. Second place for Czech 2004 Olympic bronze winner Jaroslav Baba who went over 227 and secured so his participation at European Indoor Championships in Torino. Baba was worried in his first meet of the year when jumping 224 only in third, but then leading after jumping 227 in first and Tereshin only in third. At next height all changed, Tereshin jumped 231 and Baba not. The Russian did not try higher. They will meet again twice next week at 5th Moravia High Jump Tour on Wednesday in Trinec (only some 50 km from Ostrava) and on Saturday in Hustopece but with more rivals like Linus Thornblad or Ivan Ukhov. Unexpected third place for Slovakian Michal Kabelka who jumped 220 and was better on count-back then fourth Dutch Martijn Nuijens and Czech hero Tomas Janku (he passed 224 and tried immediately at 227), both with 220. Janku started so his last season and plans only indoor meetings. Women winner returning from heavy achilles injury and subsequent surgery was Czech indoor record holder Barbora Lalakova with 184. She jumped all heights in first and missed only 187. "But Im satisfied, after such a long time I did not expect more," she commented and also looks forward to Moravia series next week.

OTHER NEWS

LOS ANGELES (USA): The Home Depot announced last week that it is ending its 16-year run as an Olympic sponsor. The company had offered Olympic hopefuls full-time pay and benefits for a flexible 20-hour work week. Decathloner Jake Arnold, who appeared in a national commercial for Home Depot this summer, is one of 98 employees in the program. He will work at the store until March 2. The end of the partnership presents a hurdle for Arnold, who is training for the 2012 Olympics. To help with the transition, USA Track and Field will give Arnold a $5,000 stipend and medical insurance until August. In addition, he is in the midst of negotiations with Asics on a two-year shoe contract. It won't be enough to pay all the bills, Arnold will need another part-time job, but he considers himself fortunate. After an extended layoff from competition, Arnold will begin his 2009 indoor season at the Lumberjack Invitational this weekend in Flagstaff, Ariz. He is training with an eye on the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in June in Eugene. His best is 8215 points from 2007. Informs pressdemocrat.com.

LONDON (GBR): AP writes that double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius is determined to qualify for this year's world championships in Berlin and prove himself against able-bodied runners on his way towards 2012 London Olympics. Pistorius hopes to compete in the 400 at the worlds in August and figures he will need to run 45.95 to qualify. He plans to compete in South Africa in February and March before returning to Europe for the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester and then focus on qualifying for Berlin.

BYDGOSZCZ (POL): Athletes coordinator Czeslaw Zapala confirmed that the European Athletics Indoor Permit in Bydgoszcz will be staged one day earlier as planned on February 10. The main event will be this year men shot put with duel of all three Olympic medalists Tomasz Majewski, Christian Cantwell and Andrey Mikhnevich. Other events men high jump and women pole vault.

OITA (JPN): Best foreign runner of the 58th Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon on Feb 1 will be Kenyan Peter Kiprotich with 2:08:47 best from 2007 Frankfurt Marathon. Defending champion Tomoya Adachi, who won last year's race in his marathon debut, will return to headline the field. Keita Akiba will make his highly-anticipated marathon debut after a dazzling run at the New Year Ekiden. Times are expected to be fast as runners will be competing not only for the win but also for a place on the 2009 Berlin World Championships marathon team. Informs Japan Running News. The domestic elite field includes 11 invited runners, foreign six. Australian Scott Westcott, who finished 2nd in 2005 and was 3rd last year, will return once again. His best is 2:11:36. 602 runners are entered in this year's race, an increase of 97 from last year.

BRNO (CZE): Top league basketball debut of 1997 Triple jump world champion Sarka Kasparkova (37) went well. She played her first regular basketball match since her high school time on Wednesday. Her total playing time was three minutes in which she scored two points. Her team Valosun Brno won the game and moved to third place in the current rankings. It looks like Kasparkova will continue in her short appearances during the games, her main role in the club is the athletics coach.

LONDON (GBR): Olympic triple jump silver medallist Phillips Idowu is still smarting from the heartbreak of not winning gold at last summer's Games in Beijing. He is now back in full training but even if coming up trumps at the European Indoor Championships in March and the summer's World Championships, victories there will not ease the pain of his Olympic defeat.

Idowu currently at a warm weather camp in South Africa, said: „Winning in Berlin would not make up for not winning in Beijing. Losing is never acceptable.

I don't expect to lose and there is never a good enough excuse. Nothing will ever make up for it. I cannot go back and change it. I have to just keep moving forward."

Idowu revealed standing alongside Evora on the medallists podium last August he was thinking of the world title. He revealed: „When they put the medal around my neck."

„I have to look ahead. That competition was over so I have to look forward to the next one. I am just glad I am in a new year and I get to improve on anything I have done in my career." Writes David Martin. Idowu still has ambitions of breaking the 18metres barrier something he has long insisted is in his armoury and to move in that direction has relocated from London to Birmingham for training. He has yet to decide if he will defend his Euro title in Turin but already has one eye on 2012 and competing on home soil in the east end of London.

„I plan to compete in one or two indoor meetings, hopefully Birmingham, to see how the work I have been doing over the last couple of months is coming together," he was quoted.

DEN HAAG (NED): Latest change in athletes representation concerns African 400 m record holder Gary Kikaya. He switched from Mark Block to Dutch Caroline Feith. The 44.10 runner is double semifinalist at last two Olympic games and runs for Democratic Republic of Kongo.

ROVERETO (ITA): Wilson Kiprop and Thomas Longosiwa from Kenya and Tatyana Holovchenko from the Ukraine are the top names of the Vallagarina EA Cross Country Permit meeting near Rovereto scheduled for Sunday. The Vallagarina celebrates its 32nd edition. Kiprop, who is also a 62:50 half-marathon runner, clinched the win in last year's race in Vallagarina defeating world and olympic 3000 metres steeplechase bronze medallist Richard Matelong. He will try to win his second consecutive Vallagarina Cross Country race on Sunday against compatriot Thomas Longosiwa (PBs 7:32.79 in the 3000 metres and 12:51.79 in the 5000 metres both set in 2007). Jamel Chatbi, a moroccan runner who lives in Italy with a 8:22.16 PB in the 3000 steeplechase, will be also in the line-up. Chatbi finished third in the 2007 Cinque Mulini in San Vittore Olona and took part at the 2008 World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh running for Morocco. Tetyana Holovchenko from the Ukraine, a European cross country champion in San Giorgio su Legnano 2006, is the top name in the women's race. Holovchenko will take on italian runner Federica Dal Ri. It will be a re-match of the Campaccio race between Dal Ri and Holovchenko. The italian prevailed over the ukrainian in a very close fight for third place on a snowy day on 6 January. The only kenyan runner in the field will be Pasalia Chepkorir Kipkoech who won a world youth silver medal in the 3000 metres in Sherbrooke 2003 and ran a 71:15 PB in the half-marathon in Lisbon last year.

MANCHESTER (GBR): Britain's most competitive 10 km road race, the BUPA Great Manchester Run, reached its entry limit of 33,000 just six days after registration opened, organizers announced. The event has more than tripled in size since debuting in 2003 when 10,000 runners entered. Scheduled for Sunday, May 17, the BUPA Great Manchester Run has been designated an IAAF Gold Label Road Race for 2009, one of four such races organized by Nova International. Last year's race was won by Austrian Günther Weidlinger in 28:10 and and Briton Jo Pavey in 31:58. The course records are 27:21 by Kenyan Micah Kogo in 2007 and 31:07 by Ethiopian Berhane Adere in 2006. Writes Race Results Weekly.

TORINO (ITA): With six-week to go for the 30th European Athletics Indoor Championships in the Italian city of Torino, the Local Organising Committee is leaving no stones unturned to ensure a grand show during the three-day event scheduled to be held between March 6 to 8. The construction work at the Oval Lingotto, the competition venue for the championship, restarted on January 13th after a brief break. The mainstand for the event has already been positioned near the final straight of the Oval track. The 5000-capacity stand is expected to be ready by the end of January. The stand for the media - TV, written press and online media-will be completed by the middle of Februray. The work on tracks are expected to last till the third week of February and will be tested through the Italian Indoor Championships to be held between February 21-22. The majestic venues was used for the speed skating events during the Winter Olympic Games in 2006. Informs European Athletics.

JOHANNESBURG (RSA): South African athletes looking to qualify for World Championships in Berlin will be able to do so via this years' edition of the Yellow Pages Series and Championships which kick off in Potchefstroom on January 23. Informs South Africa Federation website. The Yellow Pages Series will this year consist of six meetings, three at inland venues and three at the coast, to ensure that athletes in all events get opportunity to perform at their best. The Yellow Pages Series will kick off on 23 January 2009 at the Kenneth McArthur Stadium in Potchefstroom and will then move onto the ABSA Stadium at the University of Pretoria in Tshwane on 30 January. Thereafter the middle and long distance athletes will get their opportunity to impress when meetings will be held at King's Park Stadium, Durban, on 6 February, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Stadium, Port Elizabeth, on 20 February and Coetzenburg Stadium, Stellenbosch, on 27 February. The Yellow Pages Series will conclude on 6 March at Germiston Stadium when athletes will already be fine tuned for the Yellow Pages SA Senior Championships at Stellenbosch a week later. The SA Championships on March 13 and 14 in Coetzenburg will serve as a qualifier for the World Championships. All athletes should participate at three Yellow Pages events and in their specialist events, to be considered for selection in the World Championships team. The male and female athlete of the meet will receive R15 000.00 each during the six Yellow Pages Series events, while the top performing male and female athletes at the SA Senior Champs will receive R30 000.00 each. The athletes will be expected to donate 50% (ie. R7500 and R15 000 respectively) of theincentive, to a charity of their choice.

ZURICH (SUI): During the weekend begins the national indoor season in Switzerland with events in Wettingen, Locarno and St. Gallen. Main contenders who aim to qualify for European Indoor Championships in Torino are sprinter Retu Amaru Schenkel, Pascal Mancini, hurdler Andreas Kundert and long jumper Julien Fivaz on the men side. For the women sprinter Fabienne Weyermann and pole vaulter Nicole Buchler.

ROMA (ITA): Olympic walking bronze medalist Elisa Rigaudo plans for another succesfull year in 2009. The main target is obviously the world championships race in Berlin. But she will be one of very few top walkers competing indoors. She plans to appear during Italian Championships in Torino on February 21-22 a test event for the arena before the European Championships. Then next step will be Mexico and March part of IAAF Walking Challenge in Chihuahua.

MOSCOW (RUS): Triple relay Olympic medalist Lyudmila Maslakova was named new Russian national sprints coach. She is replacing her husband Valentin Maslakov who is now the senior head coach. Already earlier former succesfull decathlon athlete Lev Lobodin was named combined events head coach. Informs All-Sport.

POTCHEFSTROOM (RSA): Best Dutch thrower Rutger Smith injured his knee during winter training in South Africa and most probably will miss the coming indoor season. His coach said that it is unlikely that he will be able to do indoors. He hopes to be ready for summer World Championships in Berlin. Smith won a silver medal at European Indoors 2005 and was double finalist (Shot and Discus) at Beijing Olympics. Informs knau.nl.

RESULTS

GOLD COAST (AUS, Jan 10): Olympic hurdles medalist Sally McLellan started the season with flat races and clocked 11.72 (-1.8) and 24.15 (+0.8). It was in mixed races with men.

MELBOURNE (AUS, Jan 10): 32 years Nigerian Bolaji Lawal sensationally improved at 100 m to 10.29 (+0.7) here. Before he did not had a sub 10.60 in his records but a 45.84 400 m in 2004.

PERTH (AUS, Jan 11): Paul Burgess improved his season best to 570 at local meet and showed already an impressive pole vault shape.

KYIV (UKR, Jan 12-13): At Christmas meet which was indoor opening in the Ukraine the best result by pole vaulter Oleksandr Korchmid who cleared 560 cm. Also good 190 by Iryna Kovalenko in High Jump. Olympic 2004 hurdles medalist Olena Krasovska started her come-back season with two 7.55 flat times at 60 m. Serhiy Demidyuk who is world finalist and national record holder at 110 m Hurdles clocked 7.97 at the 60mH race.

Special thanks to Alfons Juck, EME News. Runblogrun is a proud sponsor of EME News.

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