World Champs, Day 8-U.S. takes both 4 x 100 meters, Defar takes the 5,000 m, and finally, Roman Sebrele takes the Dec!


You know when you are starting that long spiral to getting sick, and there is just nothing you can do? Well, Saturday was that day for me. A fitful night sleep, followed by most of the day in bed, followed by dizziness as I went for a taxi for Saturday night's session. I decided to watch the session eight from the confines of my bedroom, with all in Japanese. It was fun! And in between some better sleep, I saw a great night of track and field!

September 1, 2007
Osaka, Japan
11 pm local time
11th IAAF World Championships

My day in my room......

Saturday was a down day for me. The travel, the jet lag, the late nights out all came crashing down on me. The morning session was the 50 kilometer walk, and since I knew that the Japanese TV station TBS would cover the entire four hours, I decided to stay in bed and watch from the confines of the Super Omedi Hotel. Here is what I saw;

Men's 50k Walk,

Nathan Deakes, who set the world record last year for 50k race walk in 3:35.47 last year in Geelong, Australia last December 2, has had injuries galore this year. For much of the year, he was not sure he would even compete in the longest event in the world Championships.

The 50 kilometer walk is a gruelling test of endurance and chess playing. Deakes played it well.

The first twenty kilometers were handled by Spain's Santiago Perez, China's Yu Chao-chong and Russia's Vladamir Kanaykin.

At twenty five kilometers, Nathan Deakes had moved into the lead, with Russia's Vladmir Kanaykin and Japan's Yuki Yamazaki. The Japanese television announcer was going crazy, as the 20,000 people who lined the two kilometer loop ( the walkers walked the loop 24 times) outside the Nagai Stadium.

Diniz of France challenged, but Nathan Deakes fought right back, and went into the lead. Diniz stayed in second and the bronze was won by Alex Schwazer of Italy, who made a late push over the last ten kilometers.

The only embarrassment for the Japanese federation was the dnf of Yukio Yamazaki of Japan, who, literally, was just holding on for the last ten kilometers.
He was sent into the stadium, one lap early and collapsed at the finish line, thinking he had taken sixth.

Men's 4 x 100 meters-safe and fast

Okay, this columnist has berated American coaches for the baton snafus of the past, but tonight, I stand corrected. The team of Darvis Patton to Wallace Spearmon to Tyson Gay to Leroy Dixon. The first handoff was good, the next two were yeoman, and the final was good.

LeRoy Dixon ran the race of his life as he held off the churning strides of the Jamaican behemoth, Asafa Powell, 37.78 to 37.89. The Jamaican team of
Anderson, Bolt, Carter and Powell) ran very well, but just came up short. The British team of Malcom, PIckering, Devonish and Lewis-Francis ran 37.90 for third. Brazil took fourth in 37.99 and the Japanese team, running an exemplary race, ran 38.03 for a national record.

Women's 4 x 100 meters--

The U.S. relay team got the baton around the track, and were rewarded with the gold. Running 41.98, the U.S. relay team of Lauryn Williams, Allyson Felix, Miki Barber to Torri Edwards, beat the Jamaicans 42.01 and the Belgium team took the
bronze in 42.75.

Women's 5,000 meters

When Meseret Defar destroyed the 5,000 meter world record at the Oslo Meeting, with her mind boggling 14:16.63 on June 15, 2007, Defar became the odd's on favorite for this final. When Tirunesh Dibaba pulled out after her tough 10,000 meter defense, Defar 's job was that much easier.

To the delight of the partisan Japanese crowd, who cheers for the Japanese athletes and politely claps for the other members of the competition, Kayoko Fukushi lead the first two kilometers, in 2:59.22 and 6:04.69, with Meseret Defar,
Vivia Cheruiyot, Priscah Jepletting, Sylvia jebwiott Kibet and Evlan Abeyleggesse of Turkey tightly bunched with Shalana Flanagan and Jenn Rhines all in the bunch as well.

Vivian Cheryuit took the lead at 3,000 meters in 9:11.98. She ran at the lead through four thousand meters in 12;13.05.

In the last 800 meters it was Defar, who took control and easily pulled away, running her last 400 meters in just under 61 seconds. But the moment of truth came at 250 meters, when Defar, who had been waiting for some of the Kenyans or the Turkish runner to challenge, took off, and that was it. Running a fine 14:57.91, Meseret Defar took her first World Champs gold medal, Vivian Cheryuiyot of Kenya took the silver in 14:58.50 and Priscah Jebletting Cherono of Kenya took third in 14:59.21.

Notable with their second through fourth places were the Kenyans. Also notable was U.S. runners Shalane Flanagan and Jenn Rhines. Shalane Flanagan, who had ten or fifteen meters coming off the last turn on Rhines, faltered and Jenn Rhines, calling that 1,500 meter speed that no one would suspect, caught Flanagan for seventh.

The race could have been fast, it could have been slow, the results would have been the same. Meseret Defar is the 5,000 meter world record holder and now the gold medalist at her prime distance.

Men's Pole Vault-Walker moves up!

Brad Walker had an excellent trip to Osaka, Japan. His first attempt was a failed clearance of 5.76, then he cleared 5.76m, 5.81m and 5.86 on his first attempts.

That was the margin of error tonight, as Romain Mesnil of France took silver on more attempts than Walker wit his jump of 5.86m. Danny Ecker of Germany was the bronze medalist in 5.81m.

Not a good day for Steve Hooker of Australia, who cleared 5.76meters finished ninth.

Today was Brad Walker's event. After taking the silver in Helsinki, then taking the gold in Moscow last year, Walker has added a nice gold to his collection.

N.B.--Brad Walker had a new haircut, which he says is a totem for competitions--he gets a new haircut before big competitions.

The vaulter, who has jumped 6.00 meters (2006) has a strong arguement for number one ranking.

Men's Decathlon, Day 2--Sebrele, finally, in a close one!

Roman Sebrele is a man of immense physique and commanding presense. I met him just before his world record in 2001. The media was at a luncheon and I met Sebrele. What struck me was not his size, but his concern for Daniela Zatopekova, the widow of Emil Zatopek. Roman and several Czech athletes surrounded the grand dame of Czech sports, who had won two Olympic medals in her day, and still holds the best throw ever with a women's wooden javelin, I believe. The concern, the gentleness, the sympatico between the large decathlete and the elegant Daniela has stayed in my mind for six years. I thought at the time that Roman was a pretty classy athlete. He has always been one of my favorites.

An event that was a cornerstone of U.S. medals in international competition in the 90's and first two Olympics and first three world champs of this new century is no more. Bryan Clay dropped out before the 400 meters and Tom Pappas dropped out after getting dusted in the high hurdles. And with that, the winners from Paris and Helsinki were out of the competition.

This decathlon was, through the pole vault, the Maurice Smith show. Smith, from Jamaica lead through the hurdles, shot and the pole vault, where he vaulted 4.80m.

Roman Sebrele, two time European champion, Athens gold medalist, plus world record holder in the decathlon (9026 from 2001) has never won a world championship gold. Sebrele has won two silvers in world championships, but not the gold. In the pole vault, Sebrele has other troubles--he was in danger of fouling out, with two attempts at 4.40m, Sebrele had to take his third attempt to clear a height. A sigh of relief for Sebrele.

The decathlon is ten events. The nature of the event is such that you muc perform well in all ten events in order to have a chance to medal. Have a sub par performance and the party is over.

Roman Sebrele used a huge personal best in the javelin-a throw of 71.18 meters to take the lead over Smith, who threw a personal best in the javelin as well, his throw being 53.61m.

With a lead of 44 points, Sebrele took the lead, with Smith have only 18 points over Karpov in third. This would be a tough 1, 500 meters.

Smith and Sebrele knew that they had to run well. Smith needed seven seconds to distance himself from Sebrele to take gold and Sebrele had to keep him close...and that is what he did.

The first 1,100 meters of a decathlon 1,500 meters are traditionally a death march. However, Smith took off with 400 meters to go and sprinted hard, pushing to break Sebrele, who was staying right on his shoulder.

Maurice Smith's sprint gave him a final time of 4:33.52 for 744 points. Roman Sebrele's time was 4:35.52 for 710 points. In the gold medal position, 8,676 was Roman Sebrele of the Czech Republic, Maurice Smith of Jamaica took the silver with a score of by the total of 8644. Dmitriy Karpov of Kazhakstan was the bronze medalist in 8586. Less than 100 points separated the medalists.

American performers were Paul Terek, who scored 8120 in tenth and Robert Jacob, who scored 8,004 in thirteenth.

Also notable in his performance, as well as his name is one Alberto Juantorena, Jr of Cuba. The son of Olympic double champion in Montreal, Alberto Juantorena, El Caballo, the younger took nineteenth in 7,657 points in the competition. Some will recall that his father, after having won his first heat of the 800 meters in Helsinki in 1983, slipped and sprained his ankle on the track's inner border, and was not able to compete in the World Championships...a son completes a father's work....

For complete results for Sepember 1, 2007:

For a related story, from the iaaf:

For live coverage in the U.S. please check out:

For complete coverage from American Track & Field:

For the interactive digital version of American Track & Field resource guide:

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