Amman Back-Flash, " 10,000 meter track race with one hill," by Alfons Juck, Note by Larry Eder

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The Chinese philosopher Lao-Tse was supposed to have said " a journey of one thousand miles begins with one step,". Well, watch the British distance ranks. Ian Stewart, new UK endurance mentor was very straight forward, as is his modus operandi, on the British cross country squad sent to Amman. His comment on the Amman course, " a fast 10,000 meter track race with one uphill," puts the 37th IAAF XC Champs in perspective.

Photo courtesy of PhotoRun.net.

One of the reasons for the renaissance in US distance running is that coaches, athletes, fans and media, for the past two decades, have been asking the tough questions. The same type of groundswell is happening in Great Britain. The first challenge is to admit that there is a problem. The second is to figure out what the problem entails. The toughest part is to find a possible answer to the challenges. It will be fascinating to watch Mr. Stewart as he and his team develop a strategy to improve the chances of UK endurance athletes on the global stage.

The issues with the World XC are another thing. I am concerned about the diminished interest, especially from sponsors in the World XC. It is more than a story about few Europeans winning medals or the complete stranglehold by Ethiopia and Kenya. Cross country is the meeting place of the miler and marathoner, as former RW and TFN writer Joe Henderson wrote three decades ago. The key is to find a one day format that keeps the runners from 1,500 to the marathon racing. That is the challenge that the IAAF must face over the next few years, does the World XC have relevance in its current form?


EME NEWS (MAR 30, 2009)


AMMAN BACK-FLASH

GREAT BRITAIN: UK Athletics endurance coach Ian Stewart whose pre-championship forecast that winning any medals was unlikely was proved correct, will now attempt to build a platform for improvements over the next few years. Informs David Martin. “We are where we are,“ said Stewart. „I think that our junior women ran really well and the junior men were mostly disappointing.

„You can’t fault our senior men for lack of trying, but I think we have got to work on getting their track times down before they can really challenge. “As for the senior women, it was a hard lesson for Steph (Twell) to learn, but she lives to fight another day and I’m sure she will come back stronger in the future. The course today was hard and fast. Really, it was like a 10,000m track race with a hill in the middle.“

STATS: In the end: 457 runners from 58 nations competed after Zimbabwe failed to arrive because of travel problems (a number of Tanzania runners also failed to make it to Jordan because of visa problems). 145 men, 121 junior men, 96 women and 95 junior women competed after taking into account those athletes who were entered but failed to start. Two statistics stands out. The overall number of runners was the second lowest since 1988 when the race was held in New Zealand. Only last year (448) was lower although for nine years in that period ((1998 to 2006 inclusive) there were two additional races. The senior men‘s race was also significantly down on last year‘s numbers 145 to 179 in 2008 (and 163 in 2007) although there were increases on last years numbers (particularly in the junior women‘s race where there were 95 compared to 65 last year) in the other three categories.

KENYA: Kenya’s team to the World Cross Country Championships in Amman was accorded a huge welcome on Monday with head coach Julius Kirwa saying they needed to revise their surveillance methods ahead of such international competitions. The Nation informs. On hand to receive the team, amid song and dance from the athletes’ family members, friends and well-wishers, were sports minister Hellen Sambili, Commissioner for Sport, Gordon Oluoch and the Athletics Kenya executives. Even after the big welcome, Kirwa apologised to Kenyans for his team’s failure to win all the individual titles at the world competition on Saturday as he had hoped for. However, Kirwa and the minister were in full praise of the team’s overall performance and especially the 1-2 sweep by Florence Kiplagat and Linet Masai in women’s senior race. They also pointed out Titus Mbishei’s and Mercy Cherono’s silver medals in junior races for praise. “Ideally, we had the best chances but never cashed on them. Kenyans wanted individual titles but we only managed one. I think something didn’t work well and I should take the blame for that since I’m the head coach,” Kirwa said. Kirwa noted that the inability to take someone to Amman to survey the weather conditions of the area and the course ahead of the competition played a great role in their failing to secure the individual titles. He said that while all his teams’ speed was superb, the perennial finishing problem persisted.


OTHER NEWS

ELDORET (KEN): Olympic 1500 m silver medallist Asbel Kiprop has been expelled from the IOC/IAAF Kipchoge Keino High Performance Training Centre (HPTC) in Eldoret. Informs East Standard. „I was fired (from HPTC) for being visited by my girlfriend alongside Andrew Kiptoo Rotich who was also involved. My girlfriend came to watch the World Cross on Dstv with me. That wasn’t allowed according to HPTC rules.“ The lanky athlete, who turns 20 on June 30, is reportedly dating a former World Youth champion. But in a swift rebuttal to the athlete’s claim, IOC member and founder of the camp, Kipchoge Keino said the decision was taken after Kiprop was caught sneaking the girl into the institution during the night. Kiptoo, a budding runner who finished third at the recent second AK Weekend Track Meeting in Nyeri, was accused of being an accomplice during the Saturday incident. Keino revealed that he had communicated to fellow directors among them IAAF Council Member, Isaiah Kiplagat, Athletics Kenya (AK) general secretary, David Okeyo and IAAF Regional Director, John Velzian on sanctions against Kiprop and Kiptoo. He threw the pair a lifeline, stating that written apologies to the centre’s management board and readiness to listen to counsel could see them re-admitted. In another twist, the Olympic silver medallist claimed he had gone to the home of Keino yesterday morning to seek pardon in the company of four athletes but was turned down.

DAEGU (KOR): As IAAF informs, the members from the National Assembly of Korea and key national dignitaries arrived in the city of Daegu on 26 March for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Athletes’ Village for the 13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics. Park Jong-geun, chairman of the National Assembly’s “Special Committee to Support International Competitions” expressed his hopes of seeing the Korean national flag being raised during the Awards Ceremony at the 2011 edition of the World Championships. To date, no Korean athlete has ever won a medal at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics. Located in eastern Daegu, the Athletes’ Village is just five minutes away from the Daegu Stadium and overlooks the Geumho River. The Athletes’ Village will feature 2028 rooms capable of housing up to 3500 athletes and team officials, as well as state-of-the-art training facilities. The IAAF World Championships in Athletics – Daegu 2011 will be held between August 27th and September 4th.

STELLENBOSCH (RSA): In just two weeks life has changed dramatically for new South Africa sprint king Simon Magakwe. The 23-year-old athlete arrived at the South African Championships staged in Stellenbosch just more than 10 days ago with little to his name. Today he is being head-hunted by a coterie of sports agents keen to represent him. South African media are reporting. „All his life‘s possessions were stuffed in a Shoprite Checkers carrier bag,“ Athletics South Africa (ASA) president Leonard Chuene said.Only two weeks ago he shared a single room with his mother, who is a domestic worker in Carltonville. Then the only job he knew was at home affairs. He was not even a trainee immigration officer, but a photographic vendor eking out a living from hustling to take passport photos outside the home affairs building. But March 13 heralded a new era in his life. Running in hand-me-down spikes from former 800m champion Hezekiel Sepeng, the little-known sprinter literally hit the big time when he clocked 10.21 -- an IAAF „A“ Standard qualifying time—to win the 100m. Today Magakwe is preparing to catch his first flight, not only to his immediate destination, Europe, but possibly to a new life for him and the only family he has—his mother. He will represent South Africa at the World Championships in the German capital of Berlin in August. His amazing talent on the track is now a national beacon of medal hope on the tough international circuit. The transformation of his life in the past two weeks has no doubt shaped the direction of his future. „I am a full-time, committed athlete now and that means no more football. My aim is to run the 100m in 10 seconds flat before the end of this year and break the South Africa record in the distance. I know this is achievable running against top athletes,“ said Magakwe.

SACRAMENTO (USA): Stacy Dragila and Amy Acuff will compete this summer in their last season. Dragila who is first ever Olympic gold medalist in Pole Vault from 2000 said: „I see myself making the team and going to Berlin. I think it would be a nice closure to the story.“ 33-year-old American high jumper, Amy Acuff, the acupuncturist who lives in Isleton, won six U.S. Outdoor high jump titles and five national indoor championships. She competed in four Olympic Games, finishing fourth in 2004 achieving her PB 201cm in 2003. „I‘m pretty optimistic,“ Acuff said. „I‘d really like to go to Berlin for the World Championships and put up a good showing there.“ Informs Sacbee.com.

PARIS (FRA): Many athletes have reported difficulties obtaining corporate sponsorship as companies cut costs because of the world financial crisis. 31-year-old French pole vaulter, Romain Mesnil has come up with an unusual way to try to secure a new sponsorship deal. The 2007 Osaka silver medalist contract with the sports brand Nike was not renewed when it expired last year, so he tried to attract the audience by running naked with his pole through the streets of Paris and posted a video of his caper online.

SHERWOOD (JAM): Triple Olympic gold medal winner, Usain Bolt has made good on a promise he made last year to get involved in the United Way‘s fire safety equipment initiative in basic schools with a contribution to four schools in Trelawny. Bolt, who was represented by parents Wellesley and Jennifer and manager Norman Peart, made donations to four schools - Piedmont Basic, Samuel Prospect Basic, Spicy Hill Basic and Sherwood Content Basic schools. The athletic star had made an initial contribution of $100,000 towards the initiative in December when he launched his shirt line. Winsome Wilkins, CEO of United Way, Jamaica told the Sunday Observer that Bolt was one of several donors to the Early Childhood Safety Initiative which was started by United Way and which helps basic schools to meet a requirement of the Early Childhood Commission.


RESULTS

CANBERRA (AUS, Mar 29): Olympic hurdles medalist Sally McLellan confirmed excellent shape at AIS Mini Meet when her would-be PB 22.66 at 200 m was supported by only slightly over limit aid +2.1. She also achieved 11.40 (0.0) at 100 m. Second from recent national championships Aaron Rouge-Serret came close to his 100 m PB with 10.37 (+0.6) and clear win over champion Joshua Ross (10.47). 23 years old Matt Davies improved at 200 m to 20.77 (+1.0). Jacinta Boyd leaped to 651 (0.0) in Long Jump.

ANCONA (ITA, Mar 29): Germany was the best country at European Indoor Masters Championships with 110-85-86 medal series. Second home Italy 73-87-82 and third Great Britain 44-34-35. In total 38 countries medalled. Also 20 new world indoor masters records (and one equalled) were registered. For example German Wolfgang Ritte cleared in Pole Vault in category over 55 years 440 cm.

MOBILE (USA, Mar 29): Morrocan Ridouane Harroufi won the Azalea Trail Run at 10 km with 28:14 just two seconds ahead of Kenyan Robert Letting (28:16). Kenyan win in women category by Genoveva Kigen (32:49).

READING (GBR, Mar 29): Kenyan Kiplimo Kimutai won the 27th Reading Half-Marathon after 1:02:46 beating home Phil Wicks (1:02:51). Joyce Kirui secured the women win also for Kenya with 1:12:49 ahead of Louise Damen (1:13:59). Informs Race Results Weekly.

MALAGA (ESP, Mar 29): Also here fast Half-marathon times in 29th edition of the race. Francis Kosgei of Kenya clocked 1:01:37 and Morrocan Malika Assasah a new course record 1:10:20.

DRESDEN (GER, Mar 29): Kenyan David Langat won the 19th City 10 km run of Dresden in 29:10 with one of the best current German marathon runners Falk Cierpinski second (29:52).

IURRETA (ESP, Mar 29): European Champion Marta Dominguez was only 4th at 5 km “Carrera de Iurreta” with final time 18:06. Winner Iris Fuentes-Pila achieved 17:59. Male winner was Morrocan Lhoussiane Dhame in 15:17. Spanish runners were beaten as Reyez Estevez was 7th (15:55).


CORRECTION

CHICAGO (USA): 30,000 runners did not participate in the Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago on Sunday as EME NEWS reported. Because of a freak snowstorm, fewer than 14,000 came to the race after entries were at 30 000 level.

Special thanks to Alfons Juck, EME News.

For more on our sport, click on www.iaaf.org

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