U.S. No.1 overall-in a fast changing world, by Alan Abrahamson, 3WireSports.com, with comments by Larry Eder


U.S. No.1 Overall--in fast-changing world, by Alan Abrahamson, August 30, 2015, 3WireSports.com

Published on | by Alan Abrahamson

BEIJING -- With images of Jesse Owens and Luz Long on the big screens, Owens' grand-daughter kicked off the final night of the 2015 track and field championships by presenting Usain Bolt his gold medal from the men's 4×100 relay the night before.

This was, in a nutshell, the past and present of the sport. The future?

Usain Bolt on the medals stand Sunday night // Getty Images

Usain Bolt on the medals stand Sunday night // Getty Images

This, probably more than anything, from Seb Coe, the newly elected president of the IAAF, the sport's governing body, taking over from Lamine Diack of Senegal, who served for 16 years: "We are more than a discussion of test tubes, blood and urine."

He also said at a Sunday news conference, "We have a sport that is adorned by some of the most super-human outrageously talented people in any sport. Our challenge is to make sure the public know there are other athletes," not just Bolt, "in our sport."

This is not -- not for a second -- to discount the import of doping in track and field. But it's clear things are changing.

The men's 100 is often thought to be the dirtiest race in the sport; not so; a read of the historical record shows that, without question, it's the women's 1500.

And now that times in that event are often back at 4 minutes and over -- the final Tuesday saw a slow, tactical 1500, won by one of the sport's breakout stars, Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia, in 4:08 -- more women from more countries can claim a legitimate shot at a medal.

That, actually, is one of the two big take-aways from these 2015 worlds: more athletes from more countries winning medals.

And, despite a disappointing medal performance by the U.S. team, the other: the emerging political influence internationally, concurrent with Coe's presidency, of USA Track & Field.

Seb Coe, center, at Sunday's news conference, with IAAF general secretary Essar Gabriel, left, and communications director Nick Davies, right

Seb Coe, center, at Sunday's news conference, with IAAF general secretary Essar Gabriel, left, and communications director Nick Davies, right

Despite the chronic backbiting within certain circles -- sometimes, track and field comes off as the only major sport in the world in which its most passionate adherents seemingly find joy by being so self-destructive -- the sport could well be poised for a new era in the United States.

That depends, of course, on a great many factors. But everything is lined up.

Next year's Rio Games are in a favorable time zone.

USATF has, in the last three years, under the direction of chief executive Max Siegel, made significant revenue leaps.

Beyond that, Eugene, Oregon, last year played host to the World Juniors and a meeting of the IAAF's ruling council; the 2016 world indoors will be staged in Portland, Oregon; the 2021 world championships back in Eugene.

The 2017 track championships will be in London; in 2019, in Doha, Qatar.

By comparison: the swim world championships have never been held in the United States. This summer's FINA championships were held in Kazan, Russia; in 2017, the swim worlds will be in Budapest; in 2019, in Gwangju, South Korea.

To read the entire story, please go to: http://www.3wiresports.com/2015/08/30/u-s-no-1-overall-in-fast-changing-world/

Editor's Note: Alan Abrahmason wrote the piece on Sunday, at the end of the 15th World Championships. It was one of the strangest and most difficult performances that I have seen by a US team in the fifteen World champs (indoor and out) that I have attended as a journalist.

The normal events where we have success were fraught with issues. Either people were over trained or not up to the global standards. In the field events, we missed significant medals and in the distance races, we had more finalists, and even with some amazing performances as some of our athletes challenged for medals.

The men's 4x100 meter relay was a mess. We still not have come up with a program where four fine US sprinters can not focus and get a baton around the track at fast speeds.

18 medals is not anywhere near 30 medals. While Jill Geer, in her statement may speak of US being number one team, the public counts medals, and there is a problem.

Much like Max Siegel has been applauded for increasing our federations revenues and signing a long term contract for Nike, as the CEO, he leads in good times and bad times.

This is a difficult time for USA Track & Field.

There is a changing of the guard in our sport. There are issues with relays teams, from how they are picked, to how much training is needed.

The media was hoping to hear from USATF's leaders at Beijing.

It did not happen.

After the IAAF presser, with Seb Coe and Lamine Diack, a USATF press event was offered with Jill Geer speaking, as she does for Stephanie Hightower and Max Siegel.

Several media organizations boycotted the presser.

The issue is not Jill Geer, it is the lack of access at events such as this, difficult as they may be, of Max Siegel and Stephanie Hightower.

We respect that Jill Geer is the spokes person for USATF.

There are some times that that is not enough.

This was one of those times.

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