Scott Blackmun, CEO/USOC notes Track & Field key to Olympic success, note by Alfons Juck, note by Larry Eder

Gateway Arch, St. Louis.jpgGateway to the west, December 1, 2011, photo by Larry Eder

The USATF Convention opened on Thursday night, December 1, 2011 with the opening address from Scott Blackmun, CEO of the USOC. Several things should be noted: 1) The obvious change in tenor of relationships between USOC and USATF, 2) The obvious high regard Chairman /Prez, Stephanie Hightower  is held in by USOC's Blackmun, 3) USOC's need for USA Track & Field to succeed for the Olympic medal count to grow, 4) for the USOC, Swimming & Track & Field are the key federation players at this time. 

It is also obvious, at least to me, that Stephanie Hightower would  have been a very effective CEO for USA Track & Field. That has not happened, and while we have done well this year, the lack of a CEO will bit us in the hind quarters one of these days. Mike McNees is doing an exempler job as acting CEO, so add his and Ms. Hightower's name to my short list of CEO candidates, and if one gave me an hour, I am happy to list 25 more candidates, some who would actually take the job if offered. 

USA Track & Field has three openings on the board of directors. Steve Holman, Jack Wickum and Max Siedel. Max Siegel is now consulting, through his company MSI, Inc. with USA Track & Field, to bring USATF into the 21rst century in terms of marketing, promotions and media. With MSI's success in NASCAR and also on ESPN, Max Siegel should shake up the status quo in the marketing of our sport.


PRAVETS (BUL): Balkan athletes of the year 2011 are Turkish javelin thrower Fatih Avan and Bulgarian sprinter Ivet Lalova. They were awarded at the first Balkan Athletics Gala held on Thursday evening in Pravets. Among the guests also IAAF Vice President Sergey Bubka and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. Lalova was the only European sprinter in the World Championships 100 m finals (7th) and Avan won the World University Games and was second at European U23 Championships in Ostrava. In the U23 category the top awards for Serbian decathlete Mihai Dudas (6th in Daegu) and Romanian hammer thrower Bianca Perie (European U23 Champion). The evening was organised by Association of Balkan Athletics Federations ABAF. Part of the day in Pravets near Sofia was also opening of a new outdoor track. The 2012 Balkan Gala will be held in Serbia.


BRUSSELS (BEL): Olympic high jump champion Tia Hellebaut is ready to return to competition at the Golden high jump Gala in Antwerp on January 28. Hellebaut told Belgian media she is happy to return to competition in her own country and is highly motivated to jump the Olympic standard of 195 upon her return. No other names for the Gala have been announced but Hellebaut has requested organizers to line up the best possible competition.


PARIS (FRA): Former world 110 m hurdles champion Ladji Doucouré still believes he can be back in top shape after three consecutive years of injuries. Doucouré told French newspaper L'Équipe that a lot of people have given up on him but that he remains training well and is preparing for 2012. Now 28, Doucouré will travel to Miami for two months for warm weather training and will run two or three indoor meetings upon his return from Florida.


LAUSANNE (SUI): Participation records are expected at the 2011 SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Velenje, Slovenia, on 11 December. After the deadline for final entries closed at midnight on Thursday, 489 athletes had been registered (521 including reserves athletes) by 33 Member Federations to compete at this year's Championships. The current record number of competitors is the 468 athletes that started at the 2006, 2008 and 2010 SPAR European Cross Country Championships. The breakdown of entries for the individual races in Velenje is: senior men 77, senior women 57, under 23 Men 101, under 23 women 47, junior men 113 and junior women 94. This means that there could be a record number of starters in no less than three races: the under 23 men's race as well as the junior men's and women's races. The records for the senior races are 106 and 80 which were set at the second edition of the Championships in 1995, and in the latter case equalled in 2002. However, this was before the advent of the under 23 races in 2006; when many runners who now compete in this category would have competed for their country as seniors. The highest number of countries to participate in the SPAR European Cross Country Championships were the 34 nations that made the trip to the town of Albufeira on Portugal's Algarve coast last year. Informs European Athletics.


ST. LOUIS (USA): USA Track & Field Chairman and President Stephanie Hightower, United States Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun and USATF Interim CEO Mike McNees highlighted Thursday at the Hyatt Regency in downtown St. Louis as the 33rd edition of the USA Track & Field Annual Meeting officially kicked off with the Opening General Session. Informs USATF. Hightower welcomed approximately 1,000 volunteers, officials, athletes, coaches and administrators who chart the future of the sport before introducing Blackmun as the keynote speaker. McNees concluded the evening by delivering his State of the Sport address. Blackmun thanked the sport of track and field for its continued success then discussed the importance of the positive relationship between USA Track & Field and the USOC. McNees concluded the evening by delivering his State of the Sport address in two parts. McNees spoke to the two portions of USA Track & Field's mission of driving competitive excellence and popular engagement in the sport. He attempted to answer the question of how the organization is doing. To prove the strength of popular engagement, McNees said in the past year USA Track & Field hosted 57 national championship meets and issue over 6,000 individual event sanctions. Total page views and unique views of the organization's website increased eight percent and merchandise sales were up 13 percent in the last 12 months. Social media has also increased to include 80,000 facebook fans and close to 20,000 followers on Twitter. Television viewership also increased 28 percent. Among Presidential Awards named also was former sprinter Jon Drummond for his work as President of the Athletes Advisory Council. The late Scott Davis (statistician, announcer, organiser) who will always known for his voice in covering track and field and for beating cancer twice was also recognized.


BOLZANO (ITA): The 37th edition of the International New Year's Eve Run BOclassic in Bolzano announced two world champions competing. Double track Daegu winner Vivian Cheruiyot from Kenya will be the women star of the race (and she also terrain world champion) and CC Gold medalist from Punta Umbria Imane Merga of Ethiopia the male top name. „2010 already was BOclassic's best edition ever. And so the event really is the most important new years eve run of the world", says athletes coordinator Gianni Demadonna. About 15,000 spectators will follow the race on the 1.25 km long round course through Bolzano's historical centre. Men will compete on 8 laps (10 km) and women 4 laps (5 km).


ADELAIDE (AUS): Pole vault olympic winner Steve Hooker looking towards the defence of his Olympic pole vault title next August will compete at the Adelaide Track Classic on January 28 which will herald the return of a national athletics meet to South Australia for the first time in six years. Hooker now fully recovered from some troublesome injuries which have affected his performances in the last two years, is adamant that he can regain the form which saw him lift the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games. "I'll be pushing for the Australian season, our Olympic nomination trials first and foremost, but across the season too hopefully. My body is back to where it should be I have put together a few good months of training already. My mind is a work in progress after what has been a tough year and it's a matter of trying to keep things moving forward and staying positive," he said for Athletics Australia.


LAUSANNE (SUI): European Athletics President Hansjörg Wirz met with the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Prime Minister Nermin Nikšic earlier this week to discuss the development of sport in the area. While in the capital Sarajevo, President Wirz also visited the National Olympic Committee, meeting with Bosnia and Herzegovina Athletics Federation President Djurdica Sisul, NOC General Secretary Said Fazlagic and National Olympic Museum Director Edin Numankadic. He also met with the Athletics Federation Vice President Nedjo Djurovic. Informs European Athletics.

CARDIFF (GBR): A potential bid by Cardiff for the 2026 Commonwealth Games has received a major boost after the Welsh Government confirmed that they have agreed to work alongside Cardiff Council to investigate the feasibility of staging the event reports insidethegames.

MELBOURNE (AUS): Athletics Victoria today announced that Micah Kogo, the sixth fastest man in history with a personal best of 26:35.63 set in winning the Memorial Van Damme in Brussels in 2006, will compete in the 10 000m at the first major event to be held at the new Albert Park track. In the Zatopek 10 he will meet national record holder Ben St Lawrence and Craig Mottram. Australian media are informing.

TOKYO (JPN): Brett Larner informs that on December 18 the six-stage, 42.195 km National Jitsugyodan Women's Ekiden Championships will be held for the first time in Sendai, Miyagi. Included in the team line-ups are Japan's top two prospects for the 2012 London Olympics marathon, 2004 Athens Olympics gold medalist and national record holder Mizuki Noguchi and half-marathon national record holder Kayoko Fukushi. Defending champion Team Tenmaya will field past Olympic marathoners Naoko Sakamoto and Yurika Nakamura, with last year's runner up Team Daiichi Seimei including 2009 World Championships marathon silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki on its roster. Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo has veterans Yoko Shibui and, still shooting for a comeback following a maternity leave Reiko Tosa.

MONTE CARLO (MON): The IAAF reports it has become the latest global sports body to sign an agreement with UK Anti-Doping, allowing the two organisations to share Athlete Biological Passport data and other doping-related information. As the UK's National Anti-Doping Organisation, UK Anti-Doping uses this information to monitor the levels in an athlete's profile. The agreement signed with the IAAF will allow both organisations to share this information and build their combined target testing capabilities.

KYIV (UKR): Ukraine is sending 13 athletes to Velenje to European CC Championships. Headliner is multiple winner of this competition Sergiy Lebid. He will be the only senior runner in the team. On the women side U23 runner will be Viktoriya Pogorelskaya and junior Mariya Khodakivska. Full teams will be running in men´s U23 and junior category.

LONDON (GBR): Prince William, his wife Catherine and his brother Prince Harry will promote British athletes in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics, their office announced. The trio said they were „honoured" to become ambassadors for Team GB and ParalympicsGB, and will play an active role encouraging the public to support the teams as well as paying visits to the athletes in the months leading to the Olympic Games.

KINGSTON (JAM): Valerie Wint, daughter of Jamaican Olympic champion Arthur Wint, has written a book about her father's running succes named A Longer Run; A Daughter's Story. The book comes at a time when Jamaica has forgotten how good it once was in the 800 meters, writes The Jamaica Gleaner. Wint won silver in the 800m at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics as well as becoming the first Jamaican Olympic champion in 1948 over 400m. The book will give Jamaicans new insight into Arthur Wint the man, his life and times, and his achievements on the track and off it.

NEW YORK (USA): The United States Sports Academy has named its nominees for the male and female athlete of the year. Among the men's nominees are world 400m champion Kirani James and Geoffrey Mutai, who impressively won both the ING New York city marathon and the Boston marathon this year. The women track and field is represented by World champions Carmelita Jeter and Tatyana Chernova as well as new US junior 100m record holder English Gardner.

LAUSANNE (USA): AIPS writes in an article by Alan Abrahamson that the International Olympic Committee has been rocked by the discovery that as much as $1.85 million has allegedly been embezzled from the accounts of the Olympic Museum, multiple sources confirmed Thursday. Swiss police and prosecutors in Lausanne, Switzerland, the IOC's base, have launched an investigation, targeting the former head of the boutique at the Olympic Museum, Hiroshi Grieder. He is believed to be in custody, a source close to the investigation said. The IOC has fired the three people who oversaw the museum's financial controls. The money -- somewhere between 1.4 to 1.7 million Swiss francs -- was tied to a scheme that dated back to the late 1990s, multiple sources said, speaking for publication on condition of anonymity.

PRAGUE (CZE): Prague International Marathon (PIM) announced a record in registrations for the upcoming races of the more and more popular As of December 2nd, 2011 PIM has received more than 10,140 registrations for the Hervis Prague Half Marathon and for the Volkswagen Prague Marathon. PIM now appeals on all who wish to be a part of the race series to register as soon as possible. An early registration brings a guaranteed start, high chance to gain an anterior start number with the athlete's name and last, but not least, a greater winter training motivation´. Hervis Prague Half Marathon, one of the first races of the series, will take place on March 31st 2012.

LONDON (GBR): Latest blog of Pat Butcher at whither AIMS?

FRANKFURT (GER): Germany filled the last open spot in the team for Velenje European CC event by Filmon Ghirmai. He will be competing in men´s senior race.

REGENSBURG (GER): Regensburg wants to bid to stage European U23 Championships in 2015. The main reconstruction issue will be to enlarge the track from 6 to 8 lanes. Braunschweig is bidding for European Team Championships 2014 and Berlin considers bid for European Championships 2018.

HALLE (GER): Former discus olympic winner Ilke Wyludda is fighter also in her post-athletics life. Despite leg amputation she is about to start a new chapter in her career as doctor in the Halle Hospital.

LONDON (GBR): The National Lottery have unveiled the ‚Class of 2012', featuring representatives from all 47 Olympic and Paralympic sports, including some of the UK's top medal hopes for London 2012. Ł2.2 billion is being invested directly by the National Lottery, and the class includes for example Athens 2004 4x100-meter relay gold medallist Marlon Devonish. Informs insidethegames.

KARLSRUHE (GER): Eurosport will broadcast in the coming winter German Indoor Championships. On Saturday February 25 (6-8.30 pm) and on Sunday February 26 (3.45-4.45).

CARACAS (VEN): Venezuelan athletics federation informed they already selected for World Indoor Championships in Istanbul men´s 4x400 m relay team and middle distance runner Eduard Villanueva who was a surprise finalist at the World Championships in Daegu (8th in the 1500 m).

MADRID (ESP): Spanish statistics blog lists top decathlon competitions based on average of top five performances. Leading is Gotzis 2000 with 8705.4 average, second place for Atlanta Olympic Games 1996 (8690.2), third place for Athens Olympic Games 2004 (8639), fourth is again Athens but with the World Championships 1997 (8625.4) and fifth Edmonton World Championships 2001 (8608.6).



SOFIA (BUL): Death of hammer thrower Viktor Apostolov (born 01 Oct 1962) is reported from Bulgaria. In the early hours of 30th November he suffered a heart attack. Apostolov was one of four bulgarians with pb over 80 meters (80.62 m from 1990). He was Balkan champion in 1990 (Istanbul) and Bulgarian champion in 1987. Apostolov also competed at Olympic Games 1988 and European Championships 1990.


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