Liu Xiang Focuses on London 2012, by Alfons Juck, Note by Larry Eder

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It was less than two days after Liu Xiang had withdrawn from the 110 meter hurdles in Beijing, shocking his nation, that this wall poster from People' Youth Daily, showed up near a watering hole/coffee shop that Pat Butcher, JIm O'Brien and I frequented, in the Gu Luo region of Beijing (the bell Tower). My favorite sign in the coffee shop was a small sign, in Chinese and English, stating: No gambling allowed. No drug trafficking allowed, no prostitution allowed. My comment to Mr. Butcher and O'Brien was this place must have rocked before the games...

The response to Liu Xiang was even bigger than the reaction in the U.S. Dan O'Brien in 1992--Chinese felt betrayed. The government reacted quickly, clearing off negative blog comments, and emails. However, moving through the nine Chinese TV stations, it was like a major leader had passed-Liu Xiang was that huge in China. Xiang's victory in Osaka was huge, and all of China knew of their famed hurdler. If ever a man had the weight of four billion people riding on his race, Liu Xiang felt that pressure.

Our sport is funny like that. As the late Payton Jordon once said, track & field is the world's first sport-and luck is involved in all competitions. One is only as good as their last race, and champions tend to rise from the ashes of unfortunate performances and injuries.

Liu Xiang is that type of athlete. In 2012, Xiang will be 27 years old, prime for a 110 meter hurdler. The 2007 World Champion wants to win, and has as a former U.S. president called it, " that vision thing." Xiang will work hard for the next four years, and if he is healthy, the race in London should be a tremendous one. Lucky for us athletics fans, Liu Xiang, Dayron Robles, Terrance Trammel, David Oliver will all be around--it should make the hurdles exciting!

Photo of Beijng People's Youth Daily, (600,000 circ), by Larry Eder

BEIJING (CHN): China´s top athlete Liu Xiang set his sights on London Olympic Games 2012. He said that after returning from USA where he underwent a succesfull Achilles surgery and a rehabilitation programme. “I know everybody expects my return to track and asks whether I will be able to run as fast as before. I do not know, but I m not worried. The feelings are better then before the surgery,“ he was quoted.

BRUSSELS (BEL) : After Tia Hellebaut, it is Kim Gevaert’s turn to announce she’s pregnant. The 2006 100m and 200m European champion, who put an end to her career with the 4x100m silver medal at the Beijing Olympics, is expecting her first child with partner Djeke Mambo, himself a former athlete.

PARIS (FRA): The president of the French federation, Bernard Amsalem, would like Ghani Yalouz (1996 Olympic silver medallist in greco-roman wrestling and current technical director of the French wrestling federation) to become the next technical director of French athletics. A second round of applications was opened after Amsalem and government sporting authorities failed to find an agreement.

LONDON/BERLIN (GBR): European indoors 60 metres champion Dwain Chambers admitted he still has a dream he may be allowed to compete at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Chambers also expressed his delight that Berlin Golden League meeting meeting director Gerhard Janetzky has said he will be welcome to run there on June 14.

Chambers has been unable to find races after Euromeetings, a consortium of 51 events, recommended to its members a year ago that drug offenders who had served two year sentences should not be invited. „This is good news. I‘m sure if I do get into Berlin this will have a roll-on effect for other meetings as well. I‘m just looking forward to competing again against the best guys in the world. We haven‘t even started looking at the outdoor season, it was important to get my indoor campaign out of the way first. I‘m absolutely very grateful to the organisers and I just hope more will follow, “ Chambers was quoted. Writes David Martin.

HENGELO (NED): Haile Gebrselassie will attack his own world record for the one-hour run at the Fanny Blankers Koen Games in Hengelo, Netherlands on June 1, event organizers announced. It will be the 11th time the double Olympic gold medalist will compete in Hengelo. The one-hour record is currently 21,285m, set by Gebrselassie in Golden Spike of Ostrava in 2007. Twenty kilometers was first surpassed by Czech Emil Zatopek in Stara Boleslav in 1951, and Mexican Arturo Barrios was the first to reach 21 km when he ran 21,101m in La Fleche, France, in 1991. It was Barrios‘s record which Gebrselassie broke in Ostrava. Gebrselassie also plans in March to attack the half-marathon world record in Haague this Saturday. American marathoner Ryan Hall has decided to bypass the Fortis City-Pier-City Half-Marathon and is continuing his preparation for Boston Marathon. Informs Race Results Weekly.

BUDAPEST (HUN): The All-Athletics.com website launched recently also its German language service. For example according to the scoring tables (created by Bojidar Spiriev and Attila Spiriev whos company Elite runs the website) the best event of the indoor season was the Sparkassen Cup of Stuttgart ahead of European Indoor Championships and Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham.

STUTTGART (GER): In comparison to indoor meetings scoring already published in EME NEWS (based on best 10 events), the latest (also 10 best events, but also 3 must be technical and one women technical) gives a slightly different order of top ten: 1. Stuttgart 35 668, 2. Karlsruhe 35 189, 3. Birmingham 35 168, 4. Prague 35 085, 5. Moscow 34 856, 6. Paris 34 810, 7. Athens 34 787, 8. Dusseldorf 34 785, 9. Stockholm 34 738, 10. Lievin 34 678.

LONDON (GBR): UK Athletics endurance coach (and top events meeting director) Ian Stewart believes the fast approaching IAAF World Cross Country Championships can be used by British competitors as a „stepping stone“ for their future development. Stewart recently appointed to his role with the task of raising standards of distance running within the country, admits the Aviva GB side will find it very difficult to win any medals in Amman on March 28. The team will be spearheaded by Andy Vernon and Stephanie Twell winner‘s of last weekend‘s McCain Inter-Counties and world trials titles in Nottingham. But even with her vast talent, the 19-year-old three-times European junior champion, will in her first season at senior level, find it a daunting task to overcome her more experienced rivals particularly from the African countries.

Also named in the senior teams are Frank Tickner and Hatti Dean the winners of this year‘s English national titles. The team – men: Keith Gerrard, Lee Merrien, Phil Nicholls, Michael Skinner, Frank Tickner , Andy Vernon, junior boys: Tom Farrell, Nick Goolab, Jonathan Hay, Simon Horsfield, Ronnie Sparke, James Wilkinson. Women: Hatti Dean, Freya Murray, Jane Potter, Sarah Tunstall, Stephanie Twell, Hannah Whitmore, junior girls: Kate Avery, Lauren Howarth, Laura Park, Lilly Partridge, Charlotte Purdue, Louise Small.

OSAKA (JPN): As Bret Larner informs on his website, Rikuren‘s new division charged with strengthening Japanese marathoning announced on Mar. 9 that it plans for the members of the women‘s marathon team for this August‘s World Championships to prepare together at a special training camp in Boulder, Colorado, U.S.A. The planned camp will begin in mid-May and last for about one month, ending before the June 25-28 National Track and Field Championships in Hiroshima. They do not mention the other confirmed team member, former national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo), which suggests she will not train with the others.

PARIS (FRA): The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that the 2012 London Olympics budget would not rise beyond a projected 9.3 billion pounds, admitting that account had to be taken of the economic downturn. „The problems with the financial markets have made things more difficult but the budget of 9.3 billion pounds will not be exceeded despite the economic crisis,“ Johnson said in the French city of Cannes during a visit to promote London at an international property show in the south of France. He also stated that after the Games, the athletes‘ accommodation is due to be converted into residential property. Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell caused a storm when she said recently that had the government been aware of the impending shock to the financial system and its implications Britain would not have bid for the Games. Agencies are informing.

SEOUL (KOR): The Seoul International Marathon at Sejong-ro Intersection will take place this Sunday in the South Korean capital. The marathon has become one of the most loved and supported sports in Korea by the general public from Kim Eun-bae and Son Ki-jung, who were Olympic stars in the 1930s, to Hwang Young-jo and Lee Bong-ju. Citizens of some 80 countries will partake in this year‘s run.

BERLIN (GER): The Local Organizing Committee for the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Berlin 2009 (15 to 23 Aug 2009) on Monday (9) presented the German “Faces of the World Championships” at a reception in the Red Town Hall (Rotes Rathaus) Berlin. 17 German athletes, led by the freshly-crowned gold medal winners from the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Turin, Italy, Sebastian Bayer and Petra Lammert, were officially presented as the German “Faces of the World Championships”. The Faces of the World Championships will be integrated into the communications activities leading up to the World Championships, helping to further increase enthusiasm for Berlin 2009. These are: Sebastian Bayer (Long Jump), Danny Ecker (Pole Vault), Ariane Friedrich (High Jump), Robert Harting (Discus), Betty Heidler (Hammer Throw), Raphael Holzdeppe (Pole Vault), Bianca Kappler (Long Jump), Petra Lammert (Shot Put), Irina Mikitenko (Marathon), Steffi Nerius (Javelin), André Niklaus (Decathlon), Christina Obergföll (Javelin), Robin Schembera (800m), Sina Schielke (Sprinter), Lilli Schwarzkopf (Heptathlon), Raúl Spank (High Jump), and Silke Spiegelburg (Pole Vault). Informs IAAF. The name for the mascot of the championships (a Bear) was chosen as “Berlino”.

BUSAN (KOR): „Busan 2020, Again ‚88‘“ is the slogan of the citizens of Busan celebrating the launch of their bid to host the 32nd Summer Olympic Games. Preparation for the bid began in 1997 with the city launching a strategy to host a series of international events. In 2002, Busan played host to the 14th Asian Games, which marked the first time a city other than the capital hosted such a large-scale international sports event in Korea. And continuing efforts earned Busan the right to host the World Boxing Championships in 2011. The International Olympic Committee will make the final decision in 2013. With the IOC‘s policy to rotate the host city by continent, Busan‘s chances are promising for 2020. Korean media are reporting.

ROME (ITA): Distance runner Roberto Barbi received a life ban Tuesday from the Italian Olympic Committee‘s anti-doping court. Barbi tested positive for EPO and ephedrine following the Mende half marathon in France on July 20. It was his third doping violation. Barbi had a marathon PB of 2:10:12 (2000) and was already banned 4 years ineligibility (2001-2005).

NAIROBI (KEN): The Kenyan team for the World Cross Country Championships was confirmed recently. SENIOR MEN: Moses Mosop, Mathew Kisorio, Mark Kiptoo, Linus Chumba, Mangata Ndiwa, Leonard Komon, SENIOR WOMEN: Florence Kiplagat, Iness Chenonge, Linet Masai, Linet Chepkurui, Ann Karindi, Pauline Korikwiang. JUNIOR MEN: John Kemboi, Paul Tanui, Japhet Korir, John Chepkwony, Titus Mbishei, Charles Bett Chepkurui, JUNIOR WOMEN: Mercy Cherono, Hilda Chepkemoi, Jackline Chepngeno, Jackline Chebii, Faith Chepngetich, Nelly Chebet.

STELLENBOSCH (RSA): The South African track and field season will reach a climax this weekend when the Yellow Pages SA Senior Championships take place in the „City of Oaks“, Stellenbosch at Coetzenburg Stadium on Friday and Saturday. Four athletes - Sunette Viljoen (javelin), Khotso Mokoena (long jump), Ruben Ramolefi (3000m steeplechase) and Janice Josephs (long jump) - have already ensured their selection to the World Championships in Berlin in August after achieving the IAAF A qualifying standard earlier in the season.

MADRID (ESP): Spanish media are quting the RFEA President Jose Maria Odriozola as saying, that he believes the new European indoor record of German Long Jumper Sebastian Bayer was a measurement error. „I was close to the landing area at the tribune and the judge was making mistakes all day withing putting the marker wrongly. No machine failed, but the man,” he was quoted.

MOSCOW (RUS): Olympic Games silver medalist in javelin Mariya Abakumova is the headliner of the Russian Team for European Cup Winter Throwing this weekend at Tenerife, Spain. But in other events Russia is sending a young team, another experienced member is the hammer thrower Aleksandr Zagorniy. Top seniors like javelin thrower Sergey Makarov and discus thrower Natalya Sadova are preferring the preparation for summer. The team – seniors: Anna Omarova (shot put), Olesya Korotkova, Olga Olshevskaya (discus), Mariya Bespalova (hammer), Mariya Abakumova (javelin), Soslan Tsidrikhov (shot put), Bogdan Pishchalnikov (discus), Aleksey Zagorniy (hammer), Aleksey Tovarnov (javelin). U23 – Anna Gavrilova (shot put), Vera Karmishina (discus), Aleksandra Lushchenko (hammer), Aleksandra Pakhmutova (javelin), Aleksandr Bulanov (shot put), Nikolay Sedyuk (discus), Anatoliy Pozdnyakov (hammer), Sergey Gromov (javelin).

VOLGOGRAD (RUS): Fresh European indoor triple jump champion and world leader Anastasiya Taranova-Potapova returned from Italy later then her team-mates. She was not allowed to fly with the team on Monday in Milano with the flight to Moscow. She arrived on Tuesday at midnight at home in Volgograd but was still welcomed by friends with flowers and champagne. The same happened to hurdler Anastasiya Solovyova and coach Vladimir Tupayev. All three spent a night at Milano airport and travelled only on Tuesday to Moscow. The reason why the Aeroflot flight did not take them was that they were too late. Taranova-Potapova also confirmed her goal for summer, to qualify for World Championships in Berlin.


RESULTS

PETONE (NZL, Mar 10): There was no Nick Willis and no sub-four-minute mile, but American champion Rob Myers did his best to thrill the crowd by storming home to win the $3000 exhibition mile race in Petone. Myers, ranked in the world‘s top 20, kicked in the final 100m last night to edge out promising 20-year-old Wellington runner Hamish Carson for the $1250 top prize in 4:13.79 vs. 4:14.24.

CHAPEL HILL (USA, Mar 8): US Indoor Combined Events champions are Jake Arnold with 5748 points in heptathlon and Diane Pickler with 4391 points in pentathlon.

RIBARROJA (ESP, Mar 8): Kenyan wins at Half-marathon here. Duncan Kibet clocked 1:01:37 and Pasalia Chepkorir 1:12:21.

MELBOURNE (AUS, Mar 7): Twenty-five years after she began participating in the sport, Sydney race walker Cheryl Webb has made the breakthrough of her career to seal a spot in the Australian team for this year’s world championships after winning Australian 20km race walking title in Melbourne in 1:29:44. World championship A qualifiers were the order of the day, led by dual Olympic medallist, Jared Tallent, who in the process of fulfilling his obligations as a pre-selected athlete for Berlin, came within a second of his personal best by recording 1:19:42 to win his second successive national crown at 20km. Ensuring Tallent’s pre-race prediction might be realised, his training partner, Adam Rutter came home 14 seconds inside the A qualifying time (1:22:16), to become an excellent chance of getting the nod from the national selectors for the third available spot for the worlds. 2008 World Junior Championships fourth placer Jessica Rothwell was competing at the distance for only the second time, but with a 1:30:25, she improved her previous mark by a massive seven minutes and moved to fourth spot on the Australian all-time list behind only Saville, Saxby-Junna and Webb. Third Claire Tallent achieved 1:32:12. Informs Athletics Australia.


Special thanks to Alfons Juck, EME News.

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