Stuart Weir is one of the guys who has seen many of greatest meets in our sport over the past few decades. I am fortunate to have Stuart Weir continue to write for us, as he travels a bit still, and finds parts of the sport, many of us do not think about or consider most days.
Here are his observations from Day three.
Small is Beautiful
While most of the headlines from the World Indoor Championships centre around the exploits of the superstars of the sport – Trayvon Bromell’s win in the 60 metres dash, Barbara Pierre’s surprise victory in the women’s sprint and of course the royal couple Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton, winners of the heptathlon and pentathlon respectively, I have been looking at the event from the bottom up so to speak.
Let’s start with Christina Francisco who celebrated her 19th birthday by breaking the Guam national record for 400 metres in 1:00:08. She described competing in the World Indoors as “a once in lifetime experience which filled her with joy”. Guam in case you did not know is an island of 170,000 people in the Pacific.
DjÃ©nÃ©bou DantÃ© of Mali (West Africa) also set a national 400 record in 55.76. She said, “I am very pleased because I did my best and it is my first time at a major championship. My goal for the year is to get to Rio but I am a long way from the qualifying standard. Athletics is not well developed in Mali but we have a good President and we are going in the right direction”.
Mariana Cress of Marshall Islands, a Republic with 53,158 people situated in the Pacific, told me: “I have had a great experience. I realize a lot of countries take this seriously. The event is really big. The experience will motivate me to do a lot better”.
I also spoke to Zarinae Sapong of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands. It consists of fifteen islands in the North Western Pacific Ocean and has a population of 52,344. It is located just above the South Mariana Islands – no it isn’t I made that up but isn’t it strange how you can have a place called Northern when there isn’t a Southern equivalent? Anyhow, Zarinae told me: “It has been really exciting to be with other athletes from around the world and an amazing opportunity for me to run in the World Indoors. In my country we have our own track but we also do a lot of training in the hills, weight-training and plyometrics”. I asked her if she was hoping to get to the Olympics but she said that she did not think North Mariana competed in the Olympics. I sure she is right but it seems strange that you are recognized as a country by the IAAF but not the IOC.
Finally I love a good press conference. Medalists’ press conferences are often bland and boring affairs but not the men’s 60 metres. Asafa Powell had the roomful of journalists in stitches.
Here are four excerpts.
1 What is going on? “Two Chinese athletes and one Jamaican in a sprint final” noted Powell.
2 Trayvon Bromell was asked how his performance indoor would help the outdoor season. After Bromell answered, the questioner asked Asafa what he thought.
Reply: “Sorry what was the question, I wasn’t listening!”
3 When Trayvon said that he knew that if he was going to win he had to “start like Asafa”,
Asafa replied “See, he stole my start!”
4 Before I get to the Rio Olympics, I have to go to the Jamaican Olympics