World Junior Update, Day 2, by Parker Morse, note by Larry Eder

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For Parker's column on Day 2, he focused on who the local, Canadian crowd was
cheering for?
Every host country cheers loudest for its own team. As much as they
may support great performances from whoever comes ready to excel,
there's a special roar reserved for the home team doing well.

Tuesday morning it was Genevieve "Gen" Lalonde, a Moncton native, in
the 3,000m steeplechase. Lalonde broke away from her qualifying heat
early in the first lap and ran largely alone until overtaken by
Ethiopia's Bertukan Adama. The pair ran together to the finish, where
Adama sprinted for the heat win and Lalonde set a Canadian junior
record of 10:03.88 in second.

The international press led their morning roundups with defending 100m
champion Dexter Lee, who ran 10.38 in the qualifying rounds, but
nearly every story from the Canadian press was about Lalonde. Kids at
running camps gathered around televisions to watch her race. Lalonde
admitted in speaking to the press that her race "might have been a
little too fast," although she had the fourth-fastest qualifying time,
but Lalonde is coached by Canadian steeplechase Olympian Joel
Bourgeois, who told the Moncton Times-Transcript, "I've told her just
to live it, to experience the event as a whole."

Lalonde, a first-year at the University of Guelph, now has to run the
final on Thursday, and she will need to lower her new record again to
consider medaling. She has probably guaranteed tremendous turnout for
Thursday evening's session, however. She'll be back again on Friday in
the 1500m rounds.

Alistair Moona got a similar reaction Tuesday evening when he went
after Team USA's Errol Nolan in the 400m rounds. Moona went out hard
and led Nolan into the homestretch, and though he suffered badly down
the stretch as Nolan powered away, he held on for second in 47.22 and
qualified for the semi-finals. Moona wound up with the sixth-fastest
qualifying time, making him a pretty good bet to make the final,
especially if he gets a similar lift in his semi-final.

Those two were warm-up for the last event of the night, when Mohammed
Ahmed came through for a 4th-place finish in the 10,000m. When it
became clear that Ahmed was leading the pursuit of the medalists, the
crowd began urging him on as loudly as they did leader Dennis Masai of
Kenya. When Ahmed finished, he immediately turned and pointed back to
the stands: thank you. He raised his arms in shared triumph, then
clasped his hands and bowed his head in gratitude that spoke as
clearly as any words on the loudspeaker.

It's hard to tell, from my seat in the tribune, how many spectators
are in the West (main) stands; the East stand, on the backstretch, was
dominated on Tuesday night by athletes cheering their teammates in the
long jump and discus qualifying. Even if the stands are packed it's
unlikely that Moncton can create the kind of roar Berlin's
Olympiastadion had for Robert Harting as he slung Berlino over his
shoulder after winning the discus last summer, or the concentrated din
Seville produced for Abel Anton at the end of the 1999 marathon. But
this is the World Junior championships, and if Lalonde looks likely to
do as well as Ahmed they can, and probably will, get together a junior
roar.

---

In related observations, in yesterday's press conference the Local
Organizing Committee president, Larry Nelson, described Moncton as,
"Small, but mighty." I initially mis-heard his statement as asserting
that Moncton was "small, but pointy." Naturally there's a lot to be
said for being mighty, but certainly when it comes down to getting
things done, there's something to be said for being small and pointy
as well?

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