It is Thursday evening, and I am in the Affinia Hotel, in New York City. Long day of travel into the Big Apple. Started at 3 am in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, driving to Madison for first flight of day, at 5.30 am. Second flight, 8 am, to LaGuardia, slept a bit then met a fascinating person from Chicago Tribune.
The Press conference, with Asafa Powell, Dawn Harper, Nesta Carter and Veronica Campbell-Brown was very good, with a fine turnout. I will write about that event later tonight. I also interviewed Dathan Ritzenhein, who was giving out the Gatorade Athlete of the Year award for cross country today. Great guy, and a class act, he has recovered well from his Houston race.
Kenenisa Bekele is one of the greatest athletes in the world. 5,000m and 10,000 world record holder, Bekele can race from 1,500m to 15k. Soft spoken, for many years, Bekele let his racing do his speaking, but if one listens closely, Bekele speaks his heart. That is all one can ask.
Such a gentle soul off the track, one wonders where all of that focus, spirit and athleticism come from, but it is beyond despute, Kenenisa Bekele is one of sports’ greatest stars and one of its greatest talents. Over the past week, Kenenisa Bekele showed that he is much more than a talented distance runner. He is also quite adept in the art of persuasion.
The Ethiopian Federation was about to make 2012 the year of no elite Ethiopians less than a week ago. There were some very upset people, to say the least and tempers, were, well, flaring, one might say some were incendiary. Into this walked Kenenisa Bekele.
It was, per Alfons Juck, the thoughtful persuasive argument put forth by Kenenisa Bekele on behalf of himself and his fellow 34 athletes that had the Ethiopian Federation reconsider their banning of most of their major athletes due to no-shows at a camp that was, well, lacking. An observer might note that the effort it takes to run a 52 second last 400 meters at the end of a 5,000 meters pales to the effort and coolness of spirit Kenenisa must have have used to change such points of view.
Perhaps Mr. Bekele, after he hangs up his spikes, will consider sports politics. Cool heads are needed in the Federations.
NEWS (JAN 26, 2012)
WITH MAJOR PART
(GBR): Ethiopia’s double Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele played a major
part earlier this week in persuading his national federation, the Ethiopian
Athletics Federation (EAF), to revoke the ban on him and 34 other athletes
which had put their participation at the London 2012 Games in jeopardy. Bekele’s
manager Jos Hermens told insidethegames: â€žThere was a big meeting at the
federation headquarters in Addis Ababa early in the week involving all the
athletes and coaches, and Kenenisa played a major part in the discussions.
He was the athlete who had most to say on the different issues. I’m very, very
happy that the federation have changed their minds about the ban. Hermens added
that Bekele, who is spending $1 million (Å641,700/â‚¬772,600) of his own money to
construct a track 10 kilometer outside Addis which has a softer
surface more suited to distance runners, had had to spend a day in
Djibouti following his meeting, as the containers holding the synthetic track
material were being delayed by a problem with customs.
AND DEFAR FOR BOSTON
(USA): Reigning double Olympic Champion Tirunesh Dibaba headlines a group
of seven Olympic and World Championship medalists in the middle and long
distance events who have confirmed their participation in the New Balance
Indoor Grand Prix, organizers announced. Other medalists include Olympic and
World Champion Meseret Defar and World Championship medalists Daniel
Kipchirchir Komen, Silas Kiplagat, Haron Keitany and Shannon Rowbury. Dibaba
will run the 2 miles, Defar will race in the 3000m against Rowbury and
previously announced 1500 m world champion Jenny Simpson. Silas Kiplagat will
be contesting the 3000m against the previously announced Dejen Gebremeskel of
Ethiopia and Matthew Centrowitz of the USA. In the Men’s Mile, Kenya’s Daniel
Kipchirchir Komen, a two-time World Indoor Championship medalist, and his
compatriot Haron Keitany, the 2010 IAAF World Championship bronze medalist at
1500m, will race the against the previously announced IAAF World Champion Mo
Farah from Great Britain and American Galen Rupp.
(JPN): Brett Larner informs that the organizers of the 2012 Tokyo Marathon have
announced the elite men’s and women’s fields for the Feb. 26 Olympic-year race,
and on both sides the fields are the best since the Tokyo Marathon began in
2007. Former world record holder Haile Gebrselassie lines up alongside last
year’s winner Hailu Mekonnen, 2010 winner Masakazu Fujiwara, 2008 winner Viktor
Rothlin, 2:05 runner Jafred Kipchumba, 2:06 runners Gilbert Kirwa and Michael
Kipkorir, top-ranked Japanese man Yuki Kawauchi. For the Japanese men a spot
or two on the London Olympic team is at stake. No Olympic spot is in contention
for the Japanese women, which makes the presence of Daegu World Championships
5th-place Yukiko Akaba a surprise that can perhaps be read as a confirmation
that she is likely guaranteed a place in London on the strength of Daegu.
Leading the way in the foreign elite field is 2011 Venice Marathon course
record holder Helena Kirop of Kenya. Ethiopians Atsede Habtamu and Eyerusalem
Kuma make up the remainder of the strongest end of the field, both with best
marks at the 2:24 level. 2:25:10 Russian veteran Lidiya Grigoryeva will apparently
attempt a double after running the Jan. 29 Osaka International Women’s
(JPN): Olympic marathon winner from Beijing Constantina Dita of Romania
celebrated on Monday her 42nd birthday being already in Japan. On Sunday she
will run the Osaka Women Marathon. â€žI’m in Osaka for the marathon, I feel
good and I hope to run well. I had good training, now it remains to
see what I can do in the competition,”she said for Romanian media
ProSport. Her last completed marathon was London 2010 with 2:41:12.
MARATHONS IN APRIL
(USA): Great piece of research by Race Results Weekly. With the Roman Catholic
Easter holiday falling on April 8, right in the middle of the traditional
spring marathon season, race organizers have moved their events to avoid the
holiday, creating a super marathon weekend, April 14-16. The ABN AMRO
Marathon Rotterdam, which is usually held in early April, has moved to Sunday,
April 15, along with the Paris and Vienna Marathons, two other high-level
competitions. The Boston Marathon, which is always held on the third Monday in
April, falls on the 16th making for an action-packed two days of marathon
running. The following weekend is nearly as busy with the Enschede, Virgin
London, and ZÃ¼rich marathons taking place, amongst others. Given the men’s
fields lined up for Rotterdam and London, it is possible that the world record
could be set, then broken, on consecutive weekends.
VS FRIEDRICH VS HELLEBAUT
(GER): The traditional high jump meeting with music in Arnstadt on February 4
will have superb fields for the already sold out hall with 1200 spectators. In
the 36th edition of the event World champion Anna Chicherova will face olympic
winner Tia Hellebaut and local star Ariane Friedrich. Italian record holder
Antonietta Di Martino will open the season here and both top Russians from
Cottbus yesterday will also not be missing (Svetlana Shkolina and Irina
Gordeyeva). The field of 8 is completed by US Chaunte Howard Lowe and SwedenÂ´s
Emma Green Tregaro. In the men competition so far 7 names are confirmed. World
Champion Jesse Williams, World Indoor Champion Ivan Ukhov, World silver winner
Aleksey Dmitrik, home star Raul Spank, Czech Jaroslav Baba, Ukrainian Dmytro
Demyanyuk and young Russian Sergey Mudrov.
(FRA): The organizers of the IAAF Indoor Permit meet in Lievin on February 14
announced the participation of Russian pole vault queen Yelena Isinbaeva. It
will be her second meet after debuting last weekend in Volgograd with 470 cm.
She will face her Russian rival Svetlana Feofanova and French record holder
Vanessa Boslak. In the menÂ´s pole vault Renaud Lavillenie will compete against
Cuban world medalist Lazaro Borges and PolandÂ´s world champion Pawel
Wojciechowski. European Champion Christophe Lemaitre is the star of the 60 m
and Cuban olympic winner Dayron Robles at the 60 m hurdles.
(USA) : Hannah Willms (20) will not return to the Iowa State University
volleyball team for the 2012 season head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch announced.
Willms is leaving the volleyball team to focus on her track and field
commitments at Iowa State. Willms placed 5th at the 2010 IAAF World junior
championships with a mark of 181 in the high jump. Her best is 185 from
POTOSI (MEX): Olympian Leo Manzano has been training at altitude in the
mountains of central Mexico. The 27-year-old Austin resident said in a telephone
interview to My San Antonio that he has been working out for upcoming meets
with a group of athletes near San Luis Potosi at altitudes between 6,000
and 7,200 feet. Manzano also confirmed that he will run the mile at the Tyson
Invitational on February 11.
(GBR): Overseas athletes will not have to pay British income tax if they
compete in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, encouraging big names to
build the event into their schedule writes UK Eurosport. â€žI’m pleased to
announce this special exemption for Glasgow 2014 which will prolong the Olympic
legacy and help spread the long-term benefits into Scotland,” Treasury Minister
Danny Alexander was quoted. A similar waiver is already in place for this
summer’s Olympics in London.
(KEN): Kenyan media are writing about the possible comeback of olympic 800 m
winner Pamela Jelimo. She said she is back and focused to compete in her 800m
specialty after staying out of action for three years. This week she was in
training with sprinters at the Nyayo Stadium in the first Athletics Kenya (AK)
sprints and field events build-up competition. “My training has been successful
and I am hoping this will continue as we approach the major events,” said
Jelimo. “And with the look of things, I will be at the Olympics, she
added. Jelimo clocked 52.0 in the 400m race and said it was part of her endurance
test that combines 200x100x100x400m. “I am putting a personal target of 50
seconds in the 400m and I am sure this will help me fine-tune my speed in
(FRA): LÂ´Equipe reports that European pole vault champion Renaud Lavillenie is
back to special training. After his surgery after a fracture of his left
hand on December 6, he got the green light from his surgeon on Wednesday. The
national record holder wasted no time and conducted a session. â€žThis was
first time with a pole to see my sensitivity of the palm and fingers. I can
say I’m the same as before my injury. I am pleasantly surprised, â€žhe said.
Lavillenie plans to jump in Donetsk on February 11 and Lievin on February 14.
(GRE): Athletes of the Year 2011 in Greece are high jumper Dimitrious
Hondrokoukis and pole vaulter Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou. The poll of national
federation SEGAS was done via internet, third from the public, third from the
media and third from the officials and coaches. Second male pole vaulter Kostas
Filippidis and third 200 m runner Likourgos Stefanos-Tsakounas. Triple jumper
Paraskevi Papahristou and third pole vaulter Ekaterini Stefanidi.
(JAM): MVP Track and Field Club will be focusing on four main events for the
2012 athletic season. Club president Bruce James, speaking at the recent launch
of the presentation of the UTech Chancellor’s Medal to Olympic Games 100m
bronze medallist Asafa Powell which will take place on February 4 at the Terra
Nova Hotel, said members of the group will be focusing on the World Indoor
Championships in Istanbul, Turkey in March; the World Junior Championships in
Barcelona, Spain in July; the ongoing IAAF Diamond League, and culminating with
the Olympics in late July. â€žThe coaches believe that some of the athletes will
actually benefit from competing indoors and could lead to greater performances
outdoors,” James added and said the coaches were watching the progress of 2009
world 100m hurdles champion Brigitte Foster-Hylton. â€žWe’re just watching her
progress. Brigitte is doing very well in training and she will be running at
some of the local meets which is the foundation for us at MVP.” Writes Jamaica
(USA): Sanya Richards-Ross told ESPN she is very excited about competing
indoors this season. “For the first time in five years I’ll be competing
indoors, and I can’t wait. My first meet of 2012 will be the Millrose
Games on Feb. 11 in New York City, which seems fitting given New York is where
I’ve spent most of the offseason, training and supporting my husband, Aaron
Ross, cornerback for the New York Giants.” Richards-Ross was quoted.
(GBR): Kenya hopes to raise more than 5 million dollar to help market itself
during London 2012 writes Insidethegames. Brand Kenya, the agency set-up by the
Government in the East African country to help bring investment into the
country, is currently searching for a property that can act as â€žKenya
House” during the Games. The group will also market Kenya’s remarkable success
in distance running to help give a positive image of the country and
persuade people to invest there.
(GBR): PACE Sports Management is pleased to welcome middle distance athletes
Shannon Rowbury (USA) and Andrew Osagie (GBR) to its roster for 2012. Shannon
Rowbury, 27, has been one of the top 1500m runners in the world over the past
few years and is coached by John Cook and trains with PACE client Leo Manzano.
Andrew Osagie, 23, placed 4th in the 800m in the 2011 European Indoor
Championships, won the British 800m title and progressed to the semi-final of
the IAAF World T&F Championships in Daegu. He is coached by Craig Winrow
and trains at St. Mary’s University College in west London. Andrew is a black
belt in karate, as is his brother, sister, uncle and cousin.
(ESP): The IAAF World Junior Championships 2012 have formed the Organizing and
Executive Committees of the event and are set for the preparation phase. The
city Barcelona will once more host an important international athletics
competition on MontjuÄc Mountain after the 1992 Olympic Games, the World Indoor
Championships in 1995 and the 2010 European Athletics Championships. The
Organizing Committee is co-presided by Maite Fandos, Deputy Mayoress of
Barcelona, and the president of the Royal Spanish Athletics Federation, JosÃ©
Maria Odriozola. The Executive Committee is presided by Barcelona 2012 General
Director Monica Barra.
(USA, Jan 25): At USC Opener Fred Townsend clocked 7.19 at 55 m hurdles, Amber
Campbell achieved 23.44 in women weight throw.
PAULO (BRA, Jan 25): South American record holder Ana Claudia Silva clocked
11.39 at 100 m during a local meet here. Mauro Vinicius leaped to 788
(+1.7) in the long jump. Sandro Viana was the best in menÂ´s 100 m (10.52) and
400 m (47.42).