I started this column after the AVIVA London meeting, trying to see what we could pick from the last major meeting before Daegu. I will be writing about many of the events this week before Daegu, so tell me what you think, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is the little voice that gets you. Perhaps ” little voice ” sounds a little too schizophrenic, however, all middle and long distance runners will tell you, that, sometime during a race, they know that they either have to commit or fall off the pace. It is called the moment of truth, among other things.
Throwers get it, sprinters get it, vaulters get it. The self doubt, the panic, the concern. The biggest challenge in World Champs is keeping ones’ wits about them to perform when called. That is the difference between a champion, a medalist and a finisher. ” You must want it, you must covet it, ” noted 1968 Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon, Bill Toomey.
In one week, we will see who, in their collective moments of truth, heed or ignore their “little voice”. From the AVIVA London GP two weeks ago, it is pretty obvious that some form charts are about to be challenged.
Here are my picks for some of the paradigm changers:
Mo Farah & Alberto Salazar, 2011 Nike Pre Classic 10,000m, photo by PhotoRun.net
Mo Farah: Farah has gone from being a good athlete to a great athlete. His victories in 2010 at the European Championships at 10,000m and 5,000m were just the beginning. His win at the Nike Pre Classic changed the complete ball game. Farah, born in Somali, raised and began running in Great Britain was a good kid with a lot of promise. The difference was, Mo Farah listened and changed things up a bit.
Alberto Salazar, a man willing to change things when he thinks the athlete needs change, is a fascinating study in an elite athlete becoming a coach. Salazar, a former world record holder and Olympian, knows where he erred as an athlete. He wants his athletes to make their own mistakes, not his (hell, he does not want them making ANY mistakes, the guys counts, checks, and monitors everything-that is why his athletes have complete confidence in a man who gives the term multi tasking real meaning. That Salazar’s glorious obsession is only matched by his concern and care for his athletes).
Farah knows he is prepared better than anyone else in the field, well, perhaps but his training partner, Galen Rupp. ” They are a nearly perfect training partnership,” noted Alberto just weeks after Rupp and Farah had trained together.
In his final race before Daegu, Farah ripped a 25.9 over the last furlong in a furiously contested 3,000 meters, where Irishman Alistair Cregg, running some of the best races of his life as he trains for a fall marathon, took the lead with 500 meters to go, and Farah took the challenge. The pace in the 10,000m in Daegu will be scary, but watch Mo Farah, he could take both races!
Christian Taylor: When you are coached, by one of the three top jump coaches in the world, you better get it. Dick Booth, Taylor’s coach is a man of immense humilty and Southern gentility. That he has also coached many of histories best long jump, triple jumpers and high jumpers should also be noted. His fine career at Arkansas, and recently, Florida can attest to his ability to coach and but also his ability to find tremendous talent.
Christian Taylor jumped 17.68m in the triple jump. That was not only his personal best, but the best jump by an athlete actually attending and jumping in Daegu. Phillips Odowu, two time World Champ, will have his hands full in Daegu with this young talent.
Kirani James: This young man is real. The nineteen year old just ran 44.62, and besides running the fastest time in the world, shows the racing sense of a veteran 400 meter runner. James will be in the gold medal hunt, and should put his personal best around 44.2 this year. Fast is just the start of it.
This young man has racing savvy that has surprised even the most seasoned observers. His wins in the NCAA race, and most recently, his win in AVIVA London
shows that James is ready to race the hard rounds in Daegu!
Sally Pearson: this year’s revelation. The Aussie hurdler has been around for some time, starting in the sport at the age of eleven, and running her first hurdle race when she was 14. ” I made the high school final and fell in the final, but, I loved the event, and have been with it ever since.” noted Sally in the media interviews before the AVIVA London GP.
Hurdling is about focus and precision. Controlling speed, getting as close to the hurdles as once can, and doing it, again, again, and again, and then, when you are about to burst, sprinting like mad for the finish. Women’s 100m hurdling is at such a brutally high level that Olympic and World Champions could miss the final in Daegu. Like Pearson, Danielle Carruthers and Kellie Wells should be in the medal hunt.
Pearson is so smooth and fast right now, she has won all of her Samsung DL races this year. She will be tough to beat in Daegu.
Carmelita Jeter: At the adidas Grand Prix this past June, I had a chat with Carmelita, and asked her the key to her success. ” You know, ” Carmelita smiled, ” When I listen to Coach (John Smith is Coach), I do well. When I do my thing, well, it just does not go that well. ” Three weeks later, after the semi-final in Eugene, Oregon for the 100 meters, Jeter smiled at me and noted, ” I am listening…”. And was she.
If speed is a natural occurrence, the development of a sprinter takes time and is all about the minutest of details. Jeter, over the past four years, has developed into one of the most dominating sprinters of her generation. Jeter now has the second fastest 100 meters EVER, 10.70 (run this year).
Jeter is also learning how to race the 200 meters. Read that line again. Per her coach, John Smith, Jeter has run the 200 meters, okay, raced it pretty good, but now, she is GETTING it. Her recent win over Allyson Felix shows that Jeter is not only listening to her coach, but preparing to battle Veronica Campbell Brown, Allyson Felix, Kelly Ann Baptiste and the other sprint stars from the Caribbe.
Jenn Suhr: The 2008 Olympic silver medalist and 2008 World Indoor silver m
edalist won the AVIVA London pole vault with some of her best jumping in two years. Suhr is the second highest women vaulter of all times and looks to be coming on. Can she challenge Fabiana Murer, Silke Spiegelberg and Yelena Isinbayeva? We shall see soon!
David Rudisha: The world record holder in the 800 meters is one of the mildest personalities that I have ever met. He is also a student of the event, discussing films of Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett, among others and how he wants to win at the championships. David Rudisha and Abubaker Kaki should be a great battle!
US sprint relays: Fascinating that two pick up teams, Stars & Stripes, with sprinters, and hurdlers, beat everyone else in the 4 x 100 meters, not only for men, but also for women. That tell us, dear and gentle readers, that US has the wheels, but it is how the wheels are assembled, that matters.
One week now until Daegu, lots will happen this week. Half of the fields will arrived overtrain or injure themselves. It will come down to a final five or six in each race, who decide how much they want it, who focus, and on the day, with much luck, perform beyond their wildest dreams.
One Olympic bronze medalist reminded me recently of this little rule he had in his ventures to the European, Commonwealth and Olympic Games. ” If you do not take everyone in the final seriously, then you better watch out, someone will surprise you.”
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