When I sat with Parker in Des Moines, as I asked him to give us an impression, nearly each day, that would give the person at home, reading the agate, and perhaps our columns, a unique view into the World Junior Champs.
Here is Parker’s first column:
The moment of minor genius for whoever put together the program for the World Junior Championships was to make the women’s 3,000m final
part of the Opening Ceremonies.
The official Media Guide proposes that this was intended as a preview,
to bring those attending the Opening Ceremonies back for more
competition later in the week, and perhaps that’s true. It certainly
makes an uninteresting ceremony (to me) into an event with some real
excitement. Maybe somewhere behind the scenes someone put together an
otherwise perfect schedule but couldn’t figure out quite where to seat
this last ten-minute event, and had the brilliant idea of planting it
in the middle of the opening ceremonies.
Whatever the motivation, it meant that an event which might otherwise
have been ignored was run in front of a sell-out crowd at the
Moncton packed the stadium tonight, without question. There were
barely any empty seats visible and most of them could be attributed to
people who were up for a drink or simply standing in the back row.
They stayed until the rain began falling, which fortunately was after
the 3,000m final.
Another bit of evidence that little things have been thought through
here was visible in the race photography. Much like the larger track
stadiums in the USA, the main stands in Moncton are along the
homestretch and the backstretch. However, unlike for example Hayward
Field, in Moncton additional bleachers have been placed around the
second bend rather than the first, so watching the bend of the 200m
rather than the start of the 400m. After the opening ceremonies, the
athletes who marched filled in those bleachers, and as a result the
background of the 3000m finish photo is a wall of spectators rather
than open ground.
Organizers could easily have sold standing room tickets on the grass
bank around the first bend, had they wanted to, however.
Jordan Hasay has been part of Youth and Junior competition for Team
USA for long enough that it was a little startling to me to learn that
tonight was her first international 3000m race. That additional fact,
however, explained a lot about how Hasay went in to the race and how
she reacted during it. The race was made with two moves, the first and
most dramatic being the point at which Mercy Cherono first dropped the
hammer and pulled her pack of six away from the rest of the field.
Cherono ran approximately 67 seconds from the 1600m mark to the 2km
split. Cherono’s winning time of 8:55 ought to be within Hasay’s
range, certainly, but if Hasay runs 8:55 that race is unlikely to
include a 67-second lap. It is equally unlikely to include the
62-second closing lap, which was delivered by not just Cherono but
three other women who finished practically on top of her.
Hasay learned a valuable lesson tonight, which is the kind of speed
she’ll need to be a contender in the open ranks. Hasay might
reasonably hope to contend for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in
2016, but Cherono may be a medal contender in 2012. Hasay now knows
not just that she’ll need to be able to run 8:55 (or sub-15, which is
the territory of Cherono’s 5000m PR) but that she’ll need to do that
in a slower-paced race which happens to include a lap or two run at a
significantly faster pace – a pace which may even be faster than Hasay
will run in the 1500m later this week.