Christchurch, NZ hit by strong earthquake, by Alfons Juck, note by Larry Eder

A view of Cathedral Square, Christchurch, New ...

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Last weekend, while I was in Birmingham, I spent a few minutes catching up with Alberto Salazar, coach of Galen Rupp and now, Mo Farah, among others. Galen and Alberto were heading to New Zealand on Sunday to run a 10,000m in Christchurch, New Zealand.

As many of you know, a huge earthquake hit Christchurch. With a magnitude of 6.2 on the Richter scale, the earthquake and post event shaking has destroyed much of the second largest city in New Zealand. Reports of 75 deaths so far, and with 170 more missing or believed still buried, the toll will become higher.

Christchurch's QE2 Stadium is hallowed athletics ground. The 1974 Commonwealth Games, one of the most historic of athletics championships were held there. Consider this: Filbert Bayi broke the WR at 1,500m there, followed by John Walker , and a host of great milers.  In the 10,000m, Dick Taylor, coached by Arthur Lydiard, won a fast and tactical 10,000 meters. In the men's marathon, Ian Thompson ran the race of his life, and in second, 42 year old Kiwi, Jack Foster, ran the race of his lifetime, a long time masters record.

Nick Willis, Valeria Adams and Alan Webb, among other athletes in New Zealand, are working on a International meet to raise money for Christchurch. We will provide any information on how to make donations as soon as that information becomes available.
Please keep the people of Christchurch, New Zealand in your thoughts and prayers.



ALBUQUERQUE (USA): Albuquerque Convention Center will see on Saturday and Sunday US Indoor Championships as final meet of VISA Championships series. Top names and events include the 60 m with co-world leader Mike Rodgers, special will be the 60 m hurdles where for first time this season will meet world leader David Oliver with second fastest Aries Merritt. Shot put will see Ryan Whiting against Adam Nelson (Cantwell is injured and Hoffa in Australia). Bernard Lagat runs the 3000 m and Jesse Williams is the star of the high jump. In women events world champion Brittney Reese is the top name for long jump, but she plans to run also the 60 m where one of the worlds fastest Carmelita Jeter is entered. World leader Kellie Wells is the top name for 60 m hurdles and US record holder Jenn Suhr for pole vault. In the VISA series the current leaders are Ryan Whiting with 21.31 shot put worth of 1199 points and Amber Campbell with 24.10 weight throw and 1178 points. For example for hurdlers to top this scores Oliver or Merritt would need to run faster than 7.53 and Wells faster than 7.92.



TOKYO (JPN): Brett Larner informs that Shuhei Akaba, coach and husband of Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Yukiko Akaba, is in Christchurch. Not only Akaba but also eight other top Japanese women distance runners are on a Rikuren-sponsored training camp. Coach Akaba just posted report on today's earthquake on his blog. Runners at the camp include Akaba, Kayoko Fukushi, Mai Ito, Yuko Machida, Yoko Miyauchi, Yurika Nakamura, Azusa Nojiri, Risa Shigetomo and Kaori Urata. "It hit after lunch just as we were getting ready for afternoon practice. The shaking was so strong that we couldn't stand up in our rooms, and the ground outside was like a liquid. There was a big crack in the road surface just outside our hotel, too. In the hotel room the dishes and glass were all broken, and the electricity and water stopped. The main roads are flooded and full of muddy water and there are big traffic jams everywhere. There have been a lot of aftershocks, two or three of them almost as big as the first one. Another one just hit right now. It's seven hours since the earthquake hit but the staff at the hotel where we've all been staying didn't know when the electricity was going to be back on. We were nervous about our security there, so we've moved to a part of town that was relatively less damaged where the power is back on. Thank you for all of your concern, but the athletes and staff on the training camp are all safe and unharmed. But, the damage in town is massive and I heard that there are still people trapped in buildings and vehicles. Safety is our number one concern so we're going replan our schedule." Christchurch plans for Saturday International meeting with Valerie Adams, Galen Rupp etc. It remains to see what happened also to the QEII Stadium.







ATHENS (GRE): Leg problems are bothering long jump world leader Louis Tsatoumas, who improved during the weekend his national record to 821 cm. His ankle swelled considerably on Sunday and he was not too optimistic before Paris. Monday´s MRI and X-ray was clearly better, the damage is not as serious as it has been estimated. Next days will include a special programme with intensive therapies, but as Greek media are writing it will be a race against the time before Bercy.


LJUBLJANA (SLO): Slovenia is sending nine athletes for Euroindoors. Women are prevailing with 7 names against two men high jumper Rozle Prezelj and shot putter Miran Vodovnik. Biggest hopes are connected with triple jumpers Snezana Rodic and Marija Sestak. In long jump Nina Kolaric, in pole vault is Sara Bercan. Marina Tomic will compete at 60 m hurdles and two sprinters for 60 m are Nina Kovacic with Sara Strajnar. Pole vault record holder Tina Sutej remains in USA as she competes for a university.


VILNIUS (LTU): Lithuania is planning to send eight athletes. Four men and four women is the equal split. Egle Balciunaite is the hope for 800 m and world leader Austra Skujyte for pentathlon. Also in the team Lina Grincikaite (60 m) and Airine Palsyte (high jump). Two long jumpers Povilas Mykolaitis and Darius Aucyna are making this event strong here. Darius Draudvila is invited for heptathlon and Rytis Sakalauskas runs the 60 m.


PARIS (FRA): Home team France will be powerful at the Bercy event. All top names from last years Barcelona European Championships are headlining the squad. Christophe Lemaitre at 60 m, Renaud Lavillenie in the pole vault, Teddy Tamgho in triple jump and Myriam Soumare in the 60 m. Tamgho is also entered in long jump. Also leading the European lists of the year is Leslie Dhjone at 400 m and Mehdi Baala at the 1500 m. Young hurdlers Dimitri Bascou and Garfield Darien are also medal hopes. The 3000 m names will be announced on Wednesday. The team - men - 60 m: Lemaitre, Mbandjock, 400 m: Decimus, Dhjone, Fofana (for relay added Hanne, Lahaye and Macedot), 800 m: Oualich, 1500 m: Aarrass, Baala, Kowal, 60 m hurdles: Bascou, Coco-Viloin, Darien, pole vault: Lavillenie, Dossevi, Clavier, long jump: Gomis, Sdiri, Tamgho, triple jump: Tamgho, Rapinier, Taillepierre, shot put: Bucki, heptathlon: El Fassi, Gefrrouais. Women - 60 m: Soumare, Mang, 800 m: Marguet, 1500 m: Felix, 60m hurdles: Decaux, Gomis, high jump: Melfort, long jump: Lesueur, triple jump: Kessely, shot put: Cerival, penathlon: Nana Djimou, Aniceto, 4x400 m relay: Denis, Gayot, Guei, Hurtis, Michanol, Sorgnard.


BIRMINGHAM (GBR): British team for Paris is having strong 60 m trio headed by title defender Dwain Chambers with Harry Aikines Aryeetey and new-comer Joel Fearon. Mo Farah and Andy Baddeley is powerful 3000 m duo. Jenny Meadows with Marilyn Okoro are the force in the women´s 800 m. But the biggest gold medal hope is the invited world and european winner Jessica Ennis in pentathlon. Helen Clitheroe for women´s 3000 m is another medal hope. Other team members - men - 400 m: Buck, Levine, Strachan (for relay added Leavey, Lennon-Ford and C. Williams), 800 m: Osagie, J. Thomas, 1500 m: McCormick, McCourt, 60 m Hurdles: Clarke, high jump: Parsons, Grabarz. Women - 60 m: J. Williams, Wilson, 1500 m: Smith, England, 60 m hurdles: Ofili, pole vault: Bleasdale, 4x400 m: Massey, McConnell, Sotherton, Wake, Meadows, Okoro.


TALLINN (EST): Despite some health and injury worries top medal Estonian hopes for Paris should be at the end of the day ready to compete. Title defender in heptathlon Mikk Pahapill had fever for three and half days recently, but started already with the training. Ksenija Balta and Andres Raja with leg problems visited the doctor and he informed it is not as serious as it looked on Saturday at the Kuldliiga meeting in Tallinn.







NAIROBI (KEN): Last years World CC 8th placer Paul Tanui leads Kenyan team for the 2nd African CC Championships which will be held on March 6 in Cape Town. He will be accompanied by Stephen Kiprotich, John Mwangangi and Philip Kiprono. In women´s 8 km Pauline Njeri, Doris Changeiywo, Viola Kibiwott and Grace Momanyi are also building a strong team.


BUDAPEST (HUN): In latest indoor meetings rankings Stuttgart leads ahead of Dusseldorf, Lievin, Birmingham and Moscow. In the special competitions category pole vault in Donetsk is number one ahead of Pedros Cup in Bydgoszcz (3 events) and third is best only high jump meet in Banska Bystrica ahead of Hustopece and Arnstadt.


DEN HAAG (NED): James Kwambai, Tilahun Regassa and Samuel Kosgei are among the top names announced for the 37th edition of the ABN AMRO CPC Loop Den Haag on March 13. Kwambai (59:09) won the Rotterdam marathon in 2009 and is aiming at breaking the half marathon course record in Den Haag. But also 21-year old Ethiopian talent Tilahun Regassa (59.19) and Kenyan Samuel Kosgei (59:36), who just last year broke the world 25K record, should be able to attack the course record of 58:33. Organizers have made the course a little faster this year compared to previous years.


ROME (ITA): Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has turned down the opportunity to lead Rome's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, leaving the way clear for Italy's former Sports Minister Mario Pescante to assume the role. Pescante, 72, is the vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), should be formally confirmed as President of Rome 2020 on Wednesday February 23rd writes Insidethegames.


MELBOURNE (AUS): The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) will hold Twitter workshops to prevent athletes to get into trouble with the media at the 2012 London Olympic Games. The AOC has developed strict rules on athlete behaviour heading into the London Olympics and the 50-page team agreement that includes a special "social media clause" which stipulates that they will have no legal liability for anything posted on social media sites confirms Also the British Olympic Association has made a similar decision in the build up to the London Olympic Games.


PORT OF SPAIN (TRI): Former Olympic Trinidad and Tobago sprinter Georgie Lewis passed away last Thursday at age 94. Lewis was part of Trinidad and Tobago's first ever Olympic team at the 1948 Games, in London, England where he compete in the 100m and 200m.


LOS ANGELES (USA): World champion Allyson Felix updated about her training progress for IAAF: "My training is continuing to go well. I'm really happy with where I'm at during this part of the year. This year we have incorporated long runs into our training which I have noticed has been really beneficial. I'm looking forward to the next phase of training. I'm monitoring my training to see how it is going to see if I can run competitively the 400m along with the 200m. I'll continue to train and see how things go before I make a final decision about Nationals. But I know that I will run 400s during the year regardless. I'm a huge basketball fan so I have really enjoyed NBA all-star being in LA last weekend. I attended the dunk contest and all-star game and various other events that went on during the week."


ATHENS (GER): The two star sprinters at the centre of one of the greatest scandals in Olympic history defied a court order and did not appear at their Athens trial on Monday. Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou, the former apparently out of the country, are charged with making false statements to police in connection with an alleged motorcycle accident on the eve of the 2004 Athens Olympics. Informs


STOCKHOLM (SWE): Triple jump olympic winner Christian Olsson informed that he will do high jump at National Championships during the weekend. There is no big name as in past years (Holm, Thornblad) competing so his chances are bigger to win. Olsson was European junior high jump hampion in 1999. But first Olsson jumps today in his specialty at XL-Galan against Idowu, Oprea and Cubans.


LONDON (GBR): Latest blog of Pat Butcher is named "Year of the Rabitt" at







PERTH (AUS, Feb 18): Alana Boyd cleared 450 in pole vault at local meet.


SHAGAMU (NGR, Feb 18-19): Solid 300 m races at Nigerian All-comers meeting. Elvis Ukale clocked 32.85 in the men´s race and pretty fast the 36.92 in women category for Abogunloko Bukola. High jump record holder Doreen Amata cleared 185 cm.


KIENBAUM (GER, Feb 21): Discus world champion Robert Harting showed good early shape at German Winter Throwing trials for European Cup in March in Sofia. He achieved 65.94 and had also 65.66 in the series. Second Martin Wierig with 62.28. Markus Esser was also good in hammer with 76.45.



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