Berlin 09 2009 Recap, August 15-23, 2009, by Larry Eder



Here is my recap of the nine days of the World Champs 2009 in Berlin, Germany, August 15-23, 2009:

Berlin, Germany is a city of 3.4 million, with people coming from 180 countries. The city of Berlin is now a global city. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, and the breakdown of the Wall in 1989, a united Berlin became the capital of Germany. Berlin does not walk away from its past, there were constant reminders of the past and the present woven on each street in Berlin. For nine days, the World Championships of Athletics made its home in Berlin at the 1936 Olympic Stadium, one of the most historic sites in all of Berlin. It was also my favorite stadium setting in nine World Championships.

That the stadium is actually standing is a miracle. At the end of the second world war, the Soviet forces fought street by street, to take Berlin against what was left of the Wermacht and SS troops. Neither side gave any quarter. Civilians were left to struggle, and survive, in a city without running water, sewage, food or shelter. A special group of the Red Army was assigned to find anything of value that could be dragged back to Moscow, as well as make sure a certain Mr. Hilter was dead and there was proof of that. Josef Stalin had no interest in rumors of the Nazi leader living in the woods, eating berries and talking about lebensraum.

Berlin has been rebuilt remarkably over the past five decades, and East Berlin over the past two decades, but reminders of the past are everywhere. A bell with a hole from Soviet artillery sits outside the stadium, with the swastika nearly sanded abound of Mussolini being greeted by Hitler and 180,000 Germans in 1937, in the Berlin Olympic stadium and accompanying grounds. The walk around the stadium has photos and comments on the history of the stadium, a fascinating walk back into history.

The Olympic Stadium and the welcoming German crowds were perfect hosts for the WC 2009. Over nine days of the championships the German athletes and athletes from 200 other countries gave track fans around the world something to celebrate.


Christian Cantwell, August 15, 2009, photo by

On day one, a herculean struggle between Christian Cantwell, the Olympic silver medalist, and Tomasz Majewski, the Olympic gold medalist came down to the last throw in the shot. Christian Cantwell lead through the fourth round, then Majewski took the lead. In the fifth round, Majewski threw 21.91m. Cantwell had one throw left, and on his sixth attempt, put the shot 22.03 meters, a world leading throw and won the gold! The responsive German crowds got their first medalist in Rolf Bartels, the grand old champion of the shot, who threw his best in years to take the bronze medal! The other final on day one was the women's 10,000 meters, which came down to the final 100 meters, where favorite Meseret Defar collapsed from first to fifth, in the last thirty meters, as Linet Masai charged to the win, with Mesalech Melkamu taking the silver and Wude Almeyu taking the bronze.


Women's 10,000m finish, August 15, 2009, photo by

In the 20k men's race walk on the morning of day one, Valeriy Borchin of Russia won the gold over Hao Wang of China and Eder Sanchez of Mexico-all the winners were under the ripe age of 23! For the first time the walks and the marathons would not finish in the stadiums--they were loops around the Brandenberg Gate, giving fans a nice venue to see the distance races.

On day two, in the 20k women's race walk, Olga Kaniskina of Russia took the gold, Olive Loughnane of Ireland took the silver and Hong Liu of China took the bronze. A trend in the race walks, as both the men and women's 20k winners were from the town of Saransk, in Mordoyiva, in western Russia.

The women's shot put gave the Germans something on day two to cheer about as Nadine Kleinart of Germany threw a pb of 20.20 to lead until Valerie Vili of New Zealand uncorked 20.44m to take the gold. Liliao Gong of China threw her pb in third to take the bronze. US's Michelle Carter (her dad was the former 49er and US shot prep record holder Mike Carter), took sixth, the best performance by a US women since 1997 and Connie Price-Smith's fifth place.


Jessica Ennis, August 16, 2009, photo by

For two days, the fans had been watching Jessica Ennis of Great Britain duel with Jennifer Oeser of Germany over the heptathlon. Ennis lead the 100m hurdles (12.93 vs 13.62), the high jump (1.92 vs 1.83m), while Oeser took the shot put (14.29m to 14.14m). Ennis came charging back in the 200 meters (23.25 to 24.30) to have the day one lead. On day two, Oeser lead in the long jump (6.42m to 6.29m) and javelin (46.70m to 43.54m), but in the end, Jessica Ennis came back in the 800 meters, 2:12.22 to 2:14.34, with the winning score, 6731, a world leader for Ennis, with Jennifer Oeser scoring a personal best in 6493. Kamila Chudzik of Poland scored 6471, taking the bronze, shadowing Oeser most of the way! Sharon Day of the US took tenth in 6126 and Diana Pickler scored 6086 in eleventh place. Bettie Wade of the US was twenty-fifth in 5124. The heptathlon finishers had to halt their victory lap for the final of the men's 100 meters.

Day two was all about the sprints, as Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay and Usain Bolt got through the rounds. In the final, Bolt got out fast, with Gay and Powell to his right. At thirty meters, Usain Bolt stood up and took the lead for good. Tyson Gay was about two strides behind, as Usain Bolt destroyed his world record, running 9.58, with Tyson Gay breaking the AR in 9.71 for the silver. Asafa Powell was third. The crowd went crazy, as did Bolt, who ran hard all the way, looking to the right to see Tyson and Asafa safely behind him and his Yaam's (name of his PUMA spike). Bolt has taken over the sport and his honest enjoyment of the stage that is the 100 meter straightaway. Six of the eight finalists had their own Usain influenced moves, and Tyson Gay smiled, bemused by what has come over his staid event. 9.58? Even though I predicted the exact time the week before, I still did not believe my eyes!


Men's 100 meter final, August 16, 2009, photo by

Day three was the women's 100 meters final. Shelly Ann Fraser of Jamaica took the gold in 10.74, a new stadium record and fastest legal time of the year. Kerron Stewart of Jamaica took the silver in 10.77, Carmelita Jeter of the US took the bronze in 10.84. The men's hammer had Primoz Kozmus of Slovenia throwing 80.15m in round five, then 80.84m in round six to put his name on that rectangular gold medal. Szymon Zlokowski of Poland had his seasonal best for the silver in 79.30m and Aleksey Zagornyi of Russia threw 78.09m to take the bronze. The Germans, Sergei Litvinov and Markus Esser, finished fifth and sixth and were cheered like rock stars each time that they came up for a throw! Cuba showed its prowess at the triple jump as Yargeris Savigne and Mabel Gay went 1-2, with Annay Pyatykh in third. Tatyana Lebedeva, who has five WC and Olympic medals in the long and triple jumps, finished sixth.


Women's 100 meter final, August 17, 2009, photo by

The women's steeplechase saw redemption and a promise of tomorrow. Marta Dominquez, who had fallen with three hundred meters to go in Beijing, took the lead in Berlin and won in world leading 9:07.32. Yuliya Zarudneva of Russia got the silver and Milcah Chemps Cheywa of Kenya took the bronze. But note fifth place: Jenny Barringer of the US, went from thirteenth to fifth in three laps, taking ten seconds off the AR with her 9:12.50 for fifth! Three seconds were the difference between Barringer and a medal.


Yelena Isinbayeva, August 17, 2009, photo by

In a pole vault ripe with emotion, Polish vaulters went 1-2, with Anna Rogowska clearing 4.75m, and Monika Pyrek clearing 4.65, tying for the silver with Chelsea Johnson of the US. Beaming in the stands, across from his daughter,was Jan Johnson (and wife Jannie), who twenty-five years before, took an Olympic bronze in Munich in the pole vault. All of this took place because a certain 24 time world record holder, Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia, missed at 4.75m one time, and missed her final two jumps at 4.80m. A tactic that had worked for seven years, did not, in these rarefied level of competition. The queen of the vault had fallen...


Kenenisa Bekele wins his fourth 10,000m title, August 17, 2009, photo by

And that was not all for day three! Running the first half the race in 13:40, Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, the world record holder at 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters, and gold medalist at 10,000 meters in 2003, 2005, 2007, added 2009 with a 53 second last lap to lead Zersenay Tadesse to the finish. Bekele and Tadesse ran the second 5,000 meters in 13:06, with the winning time being 26:46.1, a new course record. In third, Moses Masai would take the bronze. Note sixth place, one Dathan Ritzenhein. After a month of some " fast stuff, like 56 second quarters, and 20 milers at 5:30 pace, and tempo runs, " Ritz took sixth, the best ever for an American at the World Champs, and fourteen seconds off his personal best with a fine 27:22.28! Galen Rupp took a strong eighth and Tim Nelson was 18th!

Day four was one of the most amazing days of track & field. By day four, most fans and media noticed that every event was a true horse race-no one had a bye, not world record holders or former champions. Field events, not just the running events were enthralling the crowds, with huge leaps and huge throws, born from athletes calling their competitive natures, one event after another. The field was back in track & field!

Great Britian's Phillips Idowu had three legal jumps: 17.51m, 17.44m and 17.73m, his third, which put him, permanently, in the gold medal seat. Nelson Evora of Portugal had the lead in his first jump of 17.54m, and in his sixth round, made a game run for the gold, improving to 17.55m, but was relegated to the silver medal. Alexis Copello of Cuba took six jumps to go from seventh to third, with his final 17.36m!


Phillips Idowu, Triple jump gold medalist, August 18, 2009, photo by

In the women's javelin, Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic was supposed to win. One problem, Steffi Nerius, the German javelin goddess, did not get the playcard, and hurled a HUGE 67.30m throw in round one, which we call the Miklos Nemeth effect ( throw a huge throw, break a record in round one, tends to intimidate the field, as Nemeth did in 1976 in Montreal, breaking world record in first throw). Well, the German crowd was nuts, as Linda Stahl and Christina Obergfoil were performing well (sixth and fifth, respectively).

Being the competitor, Barbora Spotakova threw 64.94m, 64.26m, 66.42m, 61.29m, 62.25m, and 59.74m, but had to settle for the silver. Maria Abakumova of Russia got her best throw in round six, and that 66.06m earned her the bronze. But the night was Steffi Nerius, as all of Germany sang her praise!

Talk about pressure, Sanya Richards knows it. In 2007, she did not make the World Champs in the event she was ranked number one in the world in--the 400 meters. In Beijing, she fell back to the bronze, having gone out too hard. In both cases, one Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain took the gold. Well, not in 2009. This year, Sanya came in much more confident, much better rested and much better prepared. Running the final like a Clyde Hart textbook (her coach, the best 400 meter coach in the world): good first 200 meters (23.2), moving through the third hundred meters, and then coming off the straightaway full of running. Sanya Richards ran 49.00, a world leader and a gold medal performance. Shericka Williams ran 49.32 for the silver and Antonia Krivoshapka of Russia took the bronze in 49.71. But Richards, it was life changing: " I felt a huge amount of pressure leave me, and now I can run."


Sanya Richards, 400 meter gold medalist, August 18, 2009, photo by

The men's steeplechase came down to three Kenyans and a French North African. As the field hit the bell lap at 7:00.15, Ezekeil Kemboi, Richard Mateelong, Paul Koech and the gargantuan Bouabdellah Tahri in attendance. The four had eleven seconds on fifth place by the finish. They battled barrier to barrier. After the last barrier, Tahri opened his huge stride and put Koech in fourth and Richard Mateelong running, hoping like mad that the French giant did not catch him before the finish. Ezekiel Kemboi had sprinted hard from the last barrier and took the gold, once again, for Kenya!

The final event of day four was the men's 400 meter hurdles. In the race was the 2001 and 2003 champion (Felix Sanchez), the 2007 champion, Kerron Clement in the race. Also a newcomer, Javier Culson of Puerto Rico. The night before the final, I took the train back to the center city with his coach, who was bursting with pride that his athlete had made a final-a first for Puerto Rico.

Clement is a talented young man, who first came on the scene breaking one Michael Johnson's 400 meter indoor world record. In 2005 he took fourth in the 400 meter hurdles, but as his manager Caroline Feith knew, Kerron was the real thing. In 2007, Kerron won the Osaka global title and in 2008, he took the silver in Beijing. That was the year that Bobby Kersee got a hold of Clement. Kersee loves the intermediate hurdles. After a year, Clement's habit of hobbling over the last two hurdles stopped and the world beater, Kerron Clement showed up. In the final, Kerron Clement ran down the stagger and just did not stop, taking the gold in 47.91, the best time in the world. In second, Javier Culson, of Puerto Rico took the silver in 48.09, his best and a NR! Bershawn Jackson of the US took the bronze in 48.23! Kerron Clement joined only two men, Edwin Moses, 83, 87 and Felix Sanchez, 2001, 2003, in winning two 400m hurdle titles.


Kerron Clement, Bershawn Jackson, gold, bronze, 400m hurdles, August 18, 2009, photo by

Day five, the first day of the decathlon. This is hallowed ground in Berlin. Glenn Morris (he played Tarzan in movies) won the decathlon here in 1936 of the US won here, would an American win this time? By the end of day one Oleksiy Kasnyanov of Russia was in first in 4555, Yunior Diaz of Cuba was second in 4512, and Trey Hardee of the US was third in 4511, with day two being his day! Ashton Eaton, the NCAA champ, was fifth in 4355.

In the men's discus, Robert Harting of Germany gave the crowd something to just rock the stadium about. Until round six, Harting was in second place, as Piotr Malachowski of Poland threw 69.15m, a national record cemented, or so some thought the gold with his round five throw. Au contraire mes amis, as Herr Harting just eaked out a 69.43m monster to take the gold from Malachowski's hands. Gerd Kanter of Estonia took the bronze in 66.88m and he was supposed to be the winner! Robert Harting did his best body buidling pose and then lifted Berlino, the WC mascot up in the air, to the delight of the crowds! Virgilijus Alekna of Lithuania ( all 6-9 of him) was fourth in 66.36m with US's Casey Malone in fifth in 66.06m. Jared Rome of the US was eleventh in 62.47m.

The men's 1,500 meters was, well, what a race. Augustine Choge took the field through 59.54, and the 800 meters in 2:00.18. Deresse Mekonnen of Ethiopia, the 2008 World Indoor champ, took the lead through 1200 meters, upping the ante. On Mekonnen's back were Bernard Lagat, Asbel Kiprono, Augustine Choge, Mohammed Moustaoui, Lopez Lomong and Leonel Manzano and Yusuf Kamel on his shoulder. Yes, three Americans, a first ever in World Champs history that three Americans made a WC final! But as Mekonnen took off, Manzano went off the back and Lagat and Lomong were horribly boxed in the entire back stretch. As Mekonnen came off the final turn, Yusuf Kamel of Bahrain pushed to the front, Mekonnen was sprinting for dear life and Bernard Lagat did this sideways run out of lane one to find a clear lane three to sprint. Lagat caught Choge, Kiprop, and took third and held it. Yusuf Saad Kamel won in 3:35.93, with Deresse Mekonnen in 3:36.01 and Lagat in the bronze position in 3:36.21. Note that Kamel is the son of one Billy Konchallah of Kenya, two time world champion at 800 meters.

The curse of the 100 meter hurdles continues. Dawn Harper has run a 12.51 in the semi finals. In the final, she hit hurdle two, and this threw her steps off, no matter how hard she pushed, and the second hurdle did her in, relegating Harper, the Olympic champion to a heart breaking seventh place. Brigitte Foster Hylton of Jamaica continued Jamaica's claim to sprint and hurdle dominance with her 12.51 for gold. Priscilla Lopes Schliep of Canada took the silver in 12.54 and Delloreen Ennis-London of Jamaica took the bronze in 12.55.

In the only event to give this observer after taste, the women's 800 meters was the only example of unsportsmanlike conduct by the fans and absolute madness by the IAAF. Caster Semenya of South Africa had huge improvements at both 800 meters and 1,500 meters this year. IAAF spokesman Nick Davies noted that the South African federation had been been requested to do a gender test for Ms. Semenya. Suffice it to say that the young person, who was raised as a young women, was the focal points of questions of gender. I found this heartlessly cruel, as both the federation and the global federation knew of the issue, it should have been handled with some tact and consideration. Instead, a young person is the focus of the most cruel jokes and ridicule, and it is not their fault.

In the end, Semenya won from start to finish, running a 1:55.45, with Janeth Jepkosgie Busieni of Kenya taking the silver, barely, in 1:57.90 from Jennifer Meadows hard charging 1:57.93. At this time, we have not heard anything more on the results of the testing, but again, a hurtful way to handle such a sensitive issue.

The event that more than any enthralled the crowd was the women's high jump. It proved to be a battle between Crotia's Blanka Vlasic, Russia's Anna Chicherova and Germany's Ariane Friedrich.

Ariane Friedrich had set an new German record of 2.06m and the German press were all over her! Gunter Eisinger, Ariane's coach, had felt that Anna Chicherova was quite dangerous and could steal the event, and she nearly did. However, this was to be Blanka Vlasic's night and her clearance of 2.04m got her the gold. Chicherova could not clear 2.04 on three tries, but did clear 2.02m on her second attempt. It had taken Ariane Friedrich, who has this Gwen Stefanie meets X thing going has the dramatus personae of an actress in a Wagnerian opera. When she cleared a height, her stance on the pit was like a rock star. The crowd loved the difference between Vlasic and Friederich. The womens high jump had the crowd on its feet for much of the evening!

Day six opened with the decathlon.

The spirit of Glenn Morris was with Trey Hardee, as he pulled into the lead. In the 110m hurdles in 13.86, giving him 993 points, and then the discus, with a throw of 48.08, giving his 830 points. His pole vault of 5.20m gave him 972 points, his javelin gave him 859 for the 68.00 throw and his final 625 points for a 4:48.91 1,500 meters gave Trey Hardee his first gold medal in the decathlon, a 256 point personal best and a win by 150 points. Leonel Suarez, the Cuban vet, had a superb second day with a huge javelin throw of 75.19 for 969 points! Suarz scored 8650. In the bronze position, Aleksandr Pogorelov scord 8528, with Ashton Eaton in 18th and Jake Arnold in 24th.

After two years away from the sport, Lashinda Demus of the US challenged the Olympic gold medalist in the 400 meter hurdles. Demus challenged and Walker responded. Demus hit two hurdles, and ran 52.96 for the silver. Melanie Walker ran 52.42 for the gold and a world leader. Josanne Lucas of Trinidad ran 53.20 for the bronze medal. Note that the next three either ran seasonal best or personal bests. Something tells me that Lashinda Demus will be back, shooting for a move up on the medal stage.

The next event was the men's 200 meters. Common sense noted that Usain Bolt would run as fast as he needed to win. Well, that was not what happened. Getting his best start in a world championship, Usain Bolt used all six foot four of his height to take that turn and come blazing down the straight, inching closer and closer to the finish line, with the crowd screaming! Winning by .62 over Alonso Edward of the Panama , Usain Bolt ran a new world record of 19.19! Wallace Spearmon took third in 19.85. The superlatives for Usain Bolt have left me. Suffice it to say that he is the giant of his generation. I have no idea who could beat him over 100 or 200 meters.

The evening ended with the 110 meter hurdles (actually, it was the 1,500 meters for the decathlon after that, but give me some literary license). Ryan Brathwaite had run 13.18 in the semi finals. David Payne and Terrance Trammell of the US had run well. Dayron Robles of Cuba had hurt himself and did not finish the semi final, so the Olympic champion was out of the picture.

In the final, Terrance Trammell got out well, but was behind David Payne. Ryan Brathwaite did not get out as well as Trammell, but ate up the hurdles, just running clean and taking the lead by midway, with Trammell right next to him and Payne right on Trammell.

By the smallest of margins, Ryan Brathwaite of Barbados won the 110m hurdles in 13.14 over Terrance Trammell, who outleaned David Payne for the silver, both in 13.15. For Trammell, this was his third WC silver, and for Payne, this is his second bronze WC medal.


When the rain by

Day seven was the only day with rain. The rain came in the evening, and there was a short delay. In the finals, Allyson Felix won the 200 meters, defending titles won in 2005, 2007. Veronica Campbell Brown of Jamaica took second, with Debbie Ferguson of the Bahamas in third. In the 400 meters, Jeremy Wariner had the lead at 300 meters, as LaShawn Merritt charged down the final straightaway to take the gold, Wariner the silver. A battle of two Olympic champions, with Rene Quoy in third. Stephanie Brown Trafton, the Olympic gold medalist at the discus, had a bad day and finished twelfth. The bad thing of the day for the U.S. was the men's 4 x 100 meter relay. Great Britian filed a protest, claiming that the US was out of the exchange zone on the last exchange-we could not see it on the tape-but in the end, the US was disqualified, even with an official appeal....

The men's high jump was fascinating, as Yaroslav Rybakov of Russia cleared 2.18m, 2.23 on first attempts. Rybakov took two to clear 2.28m, and one to clear 2.32, but no clearances at 2.35m on three attempts. His two attempts at 2.28m would give him the gold. Greece's Kyriakos Ioannou cleared 2.18m, 2.23m on first attempts, then three to clear 2.28m, and cleared 2.32m on his first attempt with three attempts at 2.35m. His three attempts at 2.28 (cleared on third), gave him the silver.

Now, it got fun. Raul Spank of Germany and Sylwester Bednarek of Poland tied for the bronze. Spank cleared 2.18m, 2.22m on his first attempt, then 2.28m on third, 2.32m on two and three attempts at 2.35m. Bednarek took two attempts on 2.18m, one on 2.22m, two on 2.28m, two on 2.32m and three attempts on 2.35. As Spank and Bednarek tied, they both took home bronze medals!

Karma is karma. Stephanie Brown Trafton just destroyed the field in Beijing, first throw, party was over, have a sack lunch, do one's nails, clean the gun, etc. Not so in Berlin. Stephanie just could not get the discus flying like earlier in the season. Brown Trafton ended twelfth.

Nicoletta Grasu of Romania threw 65.20m in round two to take the lead, her seasonal best. In round five, Dani Samuels of Australia let her discus fly and fly it did, all the way out to 65.44m and a personal best. As Dani stopped jumping up and down and her coaches stopped the manly hugs, Samuels was noted as the best discus thrower in the world for 2009, with her gold here. In round six, Yarelis Barrios of Cuba hit 65.31m to move Nicoletta Grasu back to third!

Day eight was the first marathon day. The men's marathon was a very fast, as Kenyan blasted his way through the four lap, 10k course, starting and finishing at the historic Brandenberg Gate. At the halfway, Tsegay Kebede of Ethiopia, Asbel Kirui of Kenya and Deriba Merga of Ethiopia lead a pack of ten in 1:03.03. Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot of Kenya, BAA Boston and B of A Chicago winner, was also in the pack. Robert Cheruiyot made his move at 25k, taking the lead there, but Asbel Kirui took the lead back at 30k, and started to move away, making the
last lap of the four lap circuit a clear demonstration of his strength on this day, winning in 2:06.54. Emmanuel Kipchirir Mutai of Kenya was second in 2:07:48, and Tsegay Kebede of Ethiopia was the bronze medalist in 2:08;35.

In the the US team, Daniel Browne was the first finisher, running 2:16:49 in 24th place, Matt Gabrielson in 2:18:41 and Nate Jenkins in 2:32.16, giving the US team 13th. Justin Young, Eduardo Torres did not finish.

Following in the steps of Jesse Owens, Dwight Phillips wont the gold in Berlin in 8.54m, on his second jump. Godfrey Mokeono of South Africa was the silver medalist in 8.44m, and Mitchell Watt of Australia took the bronze with a 8.37m jump. Irving Saldino, the Osaka and Beijing champion, fouled three times. For Dwight Phillips, the journey back to his winning levels of 2003, 2004 and 2005 is back. Just how far can Dwight Phillips jump now?

Two jumps. Two jumps with such meaning. A sore groin made jumping an agony for Steve Hooker, the Australian gold medalist in the pole vault from Beijing. Hooker missed at 5.85 once and moved up to 5.90m. It was either gold or nothing. Taking his long run up, Steve Hooker went airborne and cleared 5.90m! Now it was up to the French star, who missed once at 5.90m, and then twice at 5.95m and Mesnil took the silver with his countryman, Renaud
Levillanie taking the bronze.

Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland broke the world record in the women's hammer in the second round, 77.96 and that held for the silver. Betty Heidler of Germany broke the German national record in round six, with her 77.12m for the silver. Martina Hrasnova of the Slovak Republic threw 74.79m for the bronze. US throwers Jessica Crosby and Amber Campbell were seventh and eleventh.

The women's 5,000 meters was another one of those "who would have thought?" races. Yurkia Nakamura of Japan lead the first kilometer in 3:06.2, with Sentayehu Ejigu of Ethiopia leading the second kilometer in 6:11.04. At this time, Kenya's Vivian Cheruiyot took over the pacing needs, hitting 9:15.05 for 3,000 meters and 4,000 meters in 12:15.79.

Running the last kilometer in 2:42, Vivian Cheruiyot, Meseret Defar and Sylvia KIbet, were, well close! As the finalstretch hit, Meseret Defar was in full run, with Vivian Cheruiyot and Kibet in full pursuit. Shocking Defar once again,Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot went by just before the finish line, to win in 14:57.97, with Sylvia Kibet in second in 14:58.33 and Meseret Defar in 14:58.41. Jennifer Rhines was ninth in 15:11.12.

In the women's 4 x 100 m relay, the Jamaicans won in 42.06 without Veronica Campbell Brown. The Bahamas was second and Germany was third! The U.S. had a mishap in the rounds, as Muna Lee collapsed with an injured hamstring after taking the baton, and did not advance.

In the men's 4 x 100 m relay, Jamaica won, with Usain Bolt in the third leg, and Asafa Powell taking it home in 37.31. Trinidad and Tobago set a NR in 37.62 and Great Britian took the bronze in 38.02. The US did not make the final, as they failed to make the final pass in the exchange zone in the rounds. This infraction was noted by Great Britain. Did we really upset them that bad when we renounced that colony thing? Did someone say something nasty about cricket or something?

In our final day, day nine, we had some fascinating reminders that this is, in the end, a sport. On the four lap course starting at the Brandenberg Gate, over 400,000 watched Xue Bai of China win over Yoshima Ozaki, 2:25:25 to 2:25:15. Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia took the bronze in 2:25:32. The favorite, Chunxiu of Zhou of China finished fourth and Xialolin Zhu of China was fifth.


Xue Bai wins the WC 2009 women's marathon, photo by

Spending much of the last thirteen miles in stomach distress, Kara Goucher finished tenth in 2:27:48, with Desiree Davila in 2:27:53, in eleventh in 2:27:58.

In the men's 5,000 meters, Kenenisa Bekele held the lead the entire race, " I wanted the pace slow", commented Bekele. With 100 meters to go, defending champ, Bernard Lagat came up on Bekele's shoulder with thirty meters to go, but that was as far as Lagat went, Bekele became the first man to win the 5,000 m and 10,000 m. Bekele controlled the race, leading the first kilometer in 2:54.35, then 2k in 5:34.17 and three kilometers in 8:14.63 and four kilometers in 10:52.22. The final kilometer was run in 2:25! James C'Kurui was the bronze medalist behind Bernard Lagat. Matt Tegenkamp was eighth and Chris Solinsky was twelfth.

Men's javelin is the world of one Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway who three 89.59 m in round two. He won by over three meters! That is nearly thirteen feet for you folks metrically challenged. (We should blame the French, as they accepted the metric system in 1792, after a few who failed to learn were guilloteened-nice teaching methods!). In second was Guillermo Martinez of Cuba, who threw 86.41m. Japan's Yukifumi Murikami took the bronze in 82.97m. US's Sean Furey threw 74.51 to take twelfth in the field.

In the women's 1,500 meters, three American women made the final. Heck, one had not made the WC final since 1997! In a very physical race, Natalia Rodriquez of Spain tried to get around Geleta Burka of Ethiopia by running right over her. Burka went down and all hell broke loose. Rodriguez went on to outsprint Mayram Yusuf Jamal of
Bahrain, Lisa Dobriskey of Great Britian and a charging Shannon Rowbury!

In the end Natalia Rodriguez was disqualified. Burka finished eleventh. Maryam Yusuf won the gold, Lisa Dobriskey of Great Britian was the silver and Shannon Rowbury of the US was the bronze medalist with Christin Wurth Thomas in fifth and Anna Willard of the US in sixth.

Shannon Rowbury, bronze medalists, women's 1,500 meters, photo by

In the 800 meters, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi of South Africa hit the 400 meters in 53.44 and just stayed on the inside and fought off all pretenders to the 800 meter crown. Alfred Kirwa Yego tried hard, and held on for the silver and Yusuf Saad Kamel, added a bronze to his gold from the 1,500 meters. Yuriy Borzakovskiy of Russia, the Olympic champion, was relegated to fourth.

In sixth Nick Symmonds made the final and was in great position for most the race, until the last twenty meters, where he started to loose form and finished sixth. Winning time was 1:45.29, and Symmonds ran 1:45.71. Nick will be back.

In the women's 4 x 400 meters, Debbie Dunn took the lead and ran 50.02, with Allyson Felix running a high 48 point, Lashinda Demus extending the lead, and Sanya Richards just putting the race out of reach, as the US ran 3:17.83, winning over Jamaica by three plus seconds and Russia in the bronze position.

In the men's 4 x 400 meters, Angelo Taylor took the lead, and Jeremy Wariner just blasted the second 200 meters, giving it to Kerron Clement, 400m hurdle gold medalist. Kerron ran hard and handed off to LaShawn Merritt, the 400m gold medalist, who just ran it home hard, as the team ran a fine 2:57. 86, the world leader. Great Britain was second and Australia was third.

What does the US learn from Berlin? While we did well in the medals count, winning wih 22 medals to ten for Jamaica, our dominance in the sprints is no longer there. We are doing well in middle distances, and some field events, but our recharging of coaching education and a new focus on High Performance are just in time. The failures in the 4 x 100 meters mean that we need to address what works and what doesn't. A national program and national relay team must be looked at. And promising young athletes must be supported. But, to do that, we need that proverbial $100 million sponsor who is not a footwear company, to take us and the sport to the next level.

All in all, Berlin was an amazing nine days of track & field!


One final, final thought.

A very special thanks to Victah Sailer and his team at, who give us photos, day in, day out, from events around the world. I hold Victah and team (including the fair Lisa Congilio, Vic's wife) in a special place. If not for, and a few others, our sport would be much the worse! During the WC, I do not believe Victah, our friend Errol Anderson, and others had more than three or four hours sleep at any stretch!

Photos courtesy of

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