World Junior Update, Moncton, Day 3, by Parker Morse, note by Larry Eder


Parker Morse continues his diaries from Moncton, as the World Junior Champs gets more and more interesting!

Track races are easy to get. It's easy to see who's leading, who's
trailing, and by how much, and you don't need to watch long to figure
out who's falling back and who's moving up. The only advantage an
experienced observer has over a new spectator (and there are plenty of
new spectators in the stands here in Moncton) is knowing the classic

For example, tonight's women's 5,000m final and last night's men's
10,000m final were textbook Kenya-Ethiopia duels, something which may
not have been obvious to the spectators. Obviously every race is
different, but the classic Kenyan style is to go to the front early,
control the pace, and throw in irregular surges to prevent the
competition from finding a comfort zone. Mercy Cherono in the 5,000m
and Dennis Masai in the 10,000m executed that strategy to perfection.
(Masai, by the way, is the youngest of a family of champions; both his
older siblings won medals at 10,000m at the Berlin World
Championships, and sister Linet's was gold.) It is a team strategy,
originally created for cross country and adapted and refined as the
Kenyans tried to beat the classic Ethiopian, Haile Gebrselassie.

The Ethiopian strategy evolved in response to the Kenyan strategy, and
it involves hanging close to the leaders, but never leading, no matter
how slow the pace. Then, when the moment is right, they kick for what
they can get. In the last decade, the only women to crack that
strategy have been Masai and her training partner Vivian Cheruiyot,
who ratcheted up the pace in their races to fully extend the
Ethiopians long before they had intended to start their sprints.

Masai was able to surge and shake with his teammate, Paul Lonyangata,
until he was able to finish off Gebretsadik Abraha of Ethiopia by
himself. Cherono was not so lucky, having Genzebe Dibaba on her
shoulder as they entered the homestretch and having her teammate Alice
Nawowuna - who ran barefoot, as it happens - out of touch very early
on. (Nawowuna ran a PB and was closing on Cherono and Dibaba before
the kicking started, but the early surges dropped her before she could
be much help to Cherono.)

Cherono still figured she had a fighting chance, but then she stepped
on the inside rail of the track, and it jolted her out of the zone.
That jarring moment wrecked her race, and Dibaba practically jogged
in. Afterward, Cherono fought to keep a straight face in the mixed
zone, but could barely answer a question without covering her face
with her hands and fighting off tears.


So, field events. It doesn't take more than one morning spent watching
discus qualifying for an inexperienced observer to conclude that field
events are opaque and uninteresting. The key is to wait for the
finals, and Wednesday night two different finals were won in the last
round, the most exciting way. Finland's Sanni Utriainen had silver
locked up already, but she produced a mark just 5cm longer than
previous leader Lina Muze of Latvia. Muze then had the chance to
respond, and she couldn't. Finland adds yet another javelin

Then look over at the long jump runway, where Canada's hope Taylor
Stewart sat fourth for much of the competition, trying to eke out
enough extra distance to take a medal. Enter the sixth round. First
Stewart gets bumped back into fifth when another jumper bests his mark
and moves into third. Then Stewart finally delivered, moving himself
into third place. The previous third-placer, Jhamal Bowen of Panama,
jumped next but was unable to dislodge Stewart; the crowd went wild.
Finally second-placer Luvo Manyonga of South Africa almost reached
8.00m, jumping 7.99m to move into the lead. Eusebio Caceres of Spain
tried to reclaim gold with the last jump, and came within a centimeter
of his previous best, but couldn't pull it off.

Describing this series of jumps concisely is a difficult exercise, but
presented well, as it can be at the venue, they have the essential
element of any great story: the viewer is constantly asking, "And then
what happened?"


Finally, two notes about finishing strong. Team USA's Ajee Wilson
thought she had a second-place big-Q qualifier for the 800m final
locked up, so she relaxed before the end of her semi-final heat. Then
Ekaterina Zavyalova of Russia ducked by Wilson at the line, and
suddenly Wilson was waiting for time qualifiers. She was the last to
advance at 2:04.33 (teammate Laura Roesler was the first to not
advance at 2:04.34) and it's a safe bet she'll run through the line
from now on.

France's Kevin Mayer was the on-again, off-again decathlon leader
throughout the day, his Day One lead eroding event-by-event until
Russia's Ilya Shkurenev took the lead in the javelin throw. Mayer
could have jogged the 1500m and called it a day with silver, but
instead he threw down a 4:22, just three seconds outside his best for
the event, and reclaimed the victory from Shkurenev. The decathlon is,
after all, ten events, and there's no
around-Paris stage in this event.

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