Beijing on TV, A view from the US, Day 8 Reviewed, by Jeff Benjamin

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ChinaMen4x1Q-Beijing15.JPGChinese 4x100m silver medal wining relay team, 38.01, photo by PhotoRun.net

For Jeff Benjamin, and millions of US track fans, their recourse is NBC and Universal, as the live streaming of the IAAF meet is blocked in the U.S. (not sure on that one, but another way it is harder to view global athletics in U.S.)

Here is Jeff Benjamin's review of Day 8.

A special thanks to Jeff Benjamin's wife and daughters, who, while they are track fans, have to watch a lot of track and field, sometimes!

Beijing on TV- Day 8- a view from the States
By Jeff Benjamin
This evenings' television episode (Beijing morning) was the longest broadcast (over 4 hours!) and,
despite the sparse stadium crowd, there was still lots of good stuff to show, as
hosted by the returning Brit crew.
As the women's Racewalk began, Rob Walker and Steve Ovett described the steamy conditions on this day. "Absolutely Baking hot", said Walker.
As the walkers were leaving the Birds Nest Ovett remarked on street conditions as well.
"The concrete road acts like a radiator"
Despite the heat, the 2 Chinese favorites totally dominated this race as it quickly became
the Lu and Liu show as Liu Hong and Lu Xiuzhi, much tithe delight of the
hometown crowd, made their contest look more like a testing walk among 2 friends
rather than a fierce competition.
As mentioned previously, the racewalk can be brutal in that one can foul out during
the competition and, as Ovett pointed out
the pursuers of the Chinese duo, whether out of the pressure to catch up or
fatigue in the heat, are much more vulnerable to an officials' warning and
disqualification card. "Your fiorm starts to deteriorate," said Ovett.
Sadly, Italians Rigaudo and Giorgi suffered that fate.
While Lu was issued one warning it did not deter her or her teammate as, to the
surprise of the commentators, the 2 walkers were talking with one another, even
as they were entering the stadium!
Liu then led her teammate through the finish line to victory clocking a time of 1:27:45 and finally getting a gold after previous Silver and Bronze performances.Once again, coverage of the racewalk
was topnotch securing, in my opinion, it's place of legitimacy on the Athletics event schedule (I believe Olympic racewalker and runblogrun contributing writer Elliott Denman will be happy to hear, this I think!!)
When the Men's decathlon 100 meters opened up the Brit team was rejoined this day by Peter Matthews who went on to explain how the 4th heat was set up with the fastest guys to score the most points. Although 3 of the 4 heats had false starts, the usual suspects - Ashton Eaton, Trey Hardee and Canadian Damien Warnamong them -all ran well.
Throughout this part of the program they showed the beginnings of the Men's High Jump qualifiers and it seemed that Universal did not shy away from this event, as it looked to this viewer like they were showing ALL of the high jumpers!
The Ukraine's Bondarenko, one of the best jumped over his heights quite easily, and, when Erik Kynard (Who won Silver in London in 2012) was shown, the announcers evoked the memorable performances of his American predecessors Charles Austin and Hollis Conway.
During the lull of the action between the Decathlon Long Jump and the Shotput, the camera was
able to show viewers that while the competition might be fierce, the Decathlon competitors, showed a camaraderie for each other not seen in any other event.
One thing I forgot to mention was how, during all of the field events, the athlete's coaches were
located in a special section blocked off by a skinny guard rail where they could communicate with their
athetes.
As this episode concluded it reminded me of those old VHS instructional videos sold by Track and Field News years ago (I'm showing my age!) on technique in the various disciplines. I sure hope those Field Coaches had their DVR set as this episode was definitely worth the price of admission !
-------------------------------
NBC
Quick History lesson--NOBODY expected the 13 colonies, which became the United States of America, to defeat their Mother Country, Great Britain to achieve Independence. To make along story short, the U.S. did, and, at the final surrender after the battle of Yorktown, the defeated British band struck up the tune, "The World turned Upside Down."
Once the NBC Team started their broadcast, I felt perhaps that this tuned should have been
struck up again 234 years later, only this time for the American athletes, where the unexpected consistently happened.
In an event which Ato Boldon predicted should be a U.S. medal sweep, 2008 champ Dawn Harper-Nelson fell and did not finish her heat, while a False start saw the end of Kendra Harrison's chances in the 100 hurdles. As happened the other night, officials painstakingly wasted precious time in determining the disqualification, something which Boldoncriticized. "In the 5 years since it's been implemented, it was supposed to speed things up and it hasn't." Hammond echoed that sentiment.
When the men's 1500 semis were beginning, Craig Masback could hardly contain his excitement, as
he proclaimed these races to be the Best semifinals in world championship history.
In the last Last semi hurdles, Brianna Rollins had an easy win, clocking 12.72.
Lewis Johnson then told Rollins she was the only American to make it into the final, evoking a
look of shock on Rollin's face. But Tom Hammond restated that Sharia Nelvis also made the final as well.
After Todd Harris reviewed the early Men's decathlon events and NBC showed Allyson Felix's gold medal
ceremony, it was on to some racing on the track.
When the men's 1500 semis were beginning, Craig Masback could hardly contain his excitement, as
he proclaimed these races to be the best semifinals in world championship history.
The first heat was VERY loaded, as Asbel Kiprop, Leo Manzano, Matt Centrowitz, Silas Kipligat, Nick Willis,
and Chris O'Hare to name a few, had to battle for their spots. After a slow 2 laps of 64 and 2:08
Kiprop, who was in last early, sped it up. Masback proclaimed, "Look at the majestic stride of Asbel Kiprop"
Aside from Kiprop's majesty, a fantastic move by was made by Centro with a lap to go, as he calmly (at least to me!) ran right through a pack of runners on the inside rail to get into a good position with a lap to go. The last lap
was covered in 52 seconds, as Kiprop led the way in 3:43, followed by Kipligat, Willis, Centrowitz and Manzano.
In his quick interview, Centrowitz, with his great composure, was thankful for the "man leaving
lane one open". Centrowitz, already in possession of a Bronze and Silver, was asked the obvious
question by Johnson, replied, "I'll be ready for anything".
The runners in the 2nd heat knew they had to run quick to get into the final by time and, led
by Kenyans Timothy Cheruiyot and Elijah Manangoi in a 59 first lap and a 1:59 2nd lap, were still bunched
together as Taoufik Makhloufi took over the 3rd lap, with the pack following in 56 seconds. A pack of 7 runners,
led by Manangoi in 3:35 flat, all qualified for the final. In last with 600, Robby Andrews was in a box, ("A dangerous position," said Masback) but on the last trurn, he showed his trademark surge as he finished 6th an made the final.
In a LOADED final, which Masback stated has 7 medalists, and 9 who have run under 3:30, Andrews sounded like a true excited patriot in his interview with Johnson. "A clean U.S. sweep," said the excited Andrews. "I don't care
what order but it's 1-2-3 for the USA!".
A mixture of the previous men's 200 and subsequent Bolt ceremony was shown, along with some more previously shown Decathlon performances along with a dose of the Women's High Jump.
What followed was nothing short of amazing, as Ashton Eaton set a world Decathlon record in the his heat of the 400, clocking 45 seconds flat! Eaton was justifiably joyous, with Williams also stating that Eaton is only 25 points behind on Day one of the World Record. Williams also stated that Eaton's coach said he's in 90% shape, which is a VERY scary thought. Postrace with Johnson, Eaton was amazed. "It's unbelievable. I'm competing with enthusiasm and joy" As for a potential Wrold Record, "There's No point total goal, but if it's there, I'll go for it."
Dafne Schippers was then the center of attention as she easily pulled away to win the 200 in a race that,
said Boldon, "lived up to the hype.....Schippers made up a lot in the straightaway".
In an excitingly shown Women's Long Jump Tianna Bartoletta jumped a world best lead of 23' 5" to get the U.S.
a gold over Britain's Shara Proctor.
After a Replay of the astounding men's 400 final, NBC did a great profile of Aires Merrit, his racing
and his upcoming Kidney replacement operation.
Even though he lost the 110 hurdles final to Sergey Shubenkov (who, at 12.99 became the first Russian ever to win the event) Merritt, who netted the Bronze behind Hansle Parchment , showed great sportsmanship in congratulating him.
As for David Oliver, Boldon said, "he took himself out" hitting the first hurdle and never recovered. Sounding like a lot of disappointed Amercian athletes in Beijing, Oliver echoed, "Today wasn't my day. I'll go and get ready for next year" In his postrace interview Merritt said, Hopefully I'll be alright...making the Olympic team next year would be an amazing thing... You can do anything if you put your mind to it." Boy, you definitely want to root for this guy! Good Luck, Aries!
Then, it was on to the Women's 110 hurdles final, an event dominated by the U.S. But not anymore, as
Danielle Williams of Jamaica, who Boldon shouted stunningly to the viewer had never been in a final
before, shocked everyone to win in 12.57. But all the more shocking that NO American medaled, as Rollins
and Nelvis finished out of the medal stand, something Boldon said, "never happened before in a final."
As the night concluded the NBC crew then discussed the upcoming relays Post meet preview of relays, along with
Masback justifiably proclaiming the men's 1500 final to be "a race for the ages!" As a funny side note it was
also mentioned that Moe Farrah and Genzebe Dibaba will be coming up in their 5K races too.
But, it was agreed that all eyes will be on Ashton Eaton, with Williams telling the University of Oregon that when Ashton and his wife, Canadian Silver medalist Heptathlete Brianne Eaton, have kids, the University should sign them up as soon as possible!
Now that would really turn the world upside down!!

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