Unheralded But Impressive: Moscow Performances You Might Not Be Aware Of by Kevin Mangan

Kim Conley leading women's 5000 meter final, 
photo by PhotoRun.net

Kevin Mangan wrote this piece about some of the surprises in Moscow that we should see in the future...

Unheralded But Impressive: Moscow Performances You Might Not Be Aware Of
by Kevin Mangan

Julius Yego

The big surprise of the Men's Javelin was Julius Yego almost getting Kenya's first ever field event medal, only a 6th round rocket from Dmitri Tarabin denied him the bronze. He bettered his own Kenyan record by over 3 meters with a huge 85.40 (he has improved the Kenyan record by 7.2 meters since beating the old record of 78.20 in 2012). Last year he made the Olympic final and placed 12th. He is perhaps best known for emerging from a distance running nation by learning Javelin throwing technique by watching YouTube videos. Only 24 years of age, Yego should be at the forefront of the Javelin at every global championship for years to come. He is a rather an exciting prospect for Kenyan fans and Athletics fans from around the world.

Below is a good piece on Mr Yego from a Kenyan perspective from RunBlogRun's Kenyan correspondent, Justin Lagat.


Susan Kuijken and Zoe Buckman (Bideau knows what he's doing)

The former Florida State and Oregon standouts for the fist time have been able to put it together on the global stage. Under the guidance of Nic Bideau at the Melbourne Track Club they were both able to put together great performances in Moscow and make their first global finals and perform very well. Buckman won her semifinal en route to placing seventh in the 1500 final and Kuijken ran a smart race to take eight in the 5000 final.

Both Buckman and Kuijken had success at the NCAA level but hadn't been able to translate that to the global stage. Their only prior senior global championship experience saw Susan place 11th in her heat in the 1500 in Daegu and Zoe make the semifinal of the Olympic 1500 in 2012. After struggling in 2012, Kuijken felt like she needed a fresh start.

Enter Bideau, Buckman and a fresh season, 2013. Both women have been training together since the Australian summer and put in lots of hill work and repeats on soft surfaces. During the spring the MTC put in a good stint at altitude at Southern California's Mt Laguna. For the European season, the MTC was based in Teddington with Kuijken often going home to Holland. Training on three different continents seems to have paid dividends as Kuijken has set new lifetime bests in the 1500 (4:05.38), 3000 (9:07.04) and 5000 (15:04.36) in 2013. Buckman set new lifetime bests in the 800 (2:01.60), 1500 (4:04.82) and 3000 (8:58.0) this year as well. Buckman actually set her PB while winning her semifinal in Moscow. With two outstanding performances at the world championships, the Melbourne Track Club may be the next big thing in professional training groups. Well done Susan, Zoe and Coach Bideau!

Ignisious Gaisah

After jumping 8.30 or better every year from 2003 to 2006 and earning World Champs silver in Helsinki 2005, the past few years have been tough for the newly naturalized Dutch jumper. Formerly representing Ghana, Gaisah made 2013 a comeback year after not making a global final since taking 2nd in Helsinki. He set a new Dutch record of 8.29, which was good enough for a Silver medal, eight years after his first silver. This was his first time wearing the jersey of the Netherlands. He looks good in orange, and jumps well in it, too. He hadn't jumped that far since 2006 and he earned his new country their first medal since 2007.

Dafne Schippers

Going into the final event, the scores were very close. Dafne Schippers best ever 800 prior to Moscow was 2:15.52, much slower than Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Claudia Rath who were also in the battle for bronze. But we soon learned that Schippers 800 PB was not even close to her potential.

Dafne Schippers has some serious speed, coming very close to the Dutch 100 meter record and the 11 second barrier a few times earlier this year. She had the best 200 meter time of the Moscow heptathletes by over half a second. If she had run her 22.84 in the semifinal of the 200, she would have missed the final by four hundredths of a second to Charonda Williams, who went on to take 6th in the 200 final.

With her incredible speed, the strength and endurance gained from years of Multi-event training and sheer willpower, Schippers was able to run 2:08.62 and secure a bronze medal. She was 3rd in the Heptathlon 800 behind Rath and Johnson-Thompson, but her time was good enough to beat Rath by a mere 15 points. If she ran less than a 6 seconds lifetime best, she would have been out of the medals and if she equaled her 800 PB she would have finished sixth. A big time personal best and a clutch performance to earn the Dutch record and Holland's first ever Heptathlon medal.

USA 5k Women

With Molly Huddle, Shannon Rowbury and Kim Conley, America for the first time ever had 3 women in the final of a World Championships 5k and Huddle's sixth place was the best ever performance by an American woman. Shannon Rowbury wasn't too shabby either, finishing just behind Huddle in seventh. Other than Ethiopia and the USA, no country had 3 women in the 5k final, not even Kenya. Well done ladies. With Huddle, Rowbury and Conley, as well as Jenny Simpson's second consecutive world champs medal the resurgence of USA distance running is no longer a resurgence, it's greater. They are as good, if not better, than any generation of American distance runners ever.

Valeria Straneo

The 37 year old mother of two ran 2:25.58 SB in rather warm conditions in the afternoon (28C/85F) that saw about one third of the field drop out. She was born with spherocytosis which is an anemic condition, not exactly ideal for marathon runners. An emergency procedure to remove her spleen in 2010 finally allowed her to have better blood oxygen levels and her running career took off.

Sally Pearson

If you had told me in 2012 that Sally Pearson winning silver in Moscow would be a surprise I would have thought it because she finally made a mistake in a race. I would not have thought it possible for it to be surprising for her to get any medal. But as my boss said after the Moscow 100 hurdles final "Sally Pearson, the London gold medalist, had a very good day, with her silver medal. She only started hurdling, if I recall, in mid April, after a tough hamstring injury." The hamstring tear is often the bane of a sprinter or hurdler's existence, but Pearson showed the hard work and drive that propelled her to the top in 2011 and 2012 in her rehab and training. What a comeback by a true competitor who once again proved herself indomitable. The heart of a champion and technically sound hurdling earned her a silver medal. I'm very excited for Pearson to get a full season of training and join Brianna Rollins in the hunt for the World Record in 2014 and 2015. I think one of those two women will get to Rio 2016 as the fastest hurdler ever.

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