This is Stuart Weir’s review of Day one of athletics at the Tokyo Olympics. Some moments of quality and drama, and some in need of common sense.
So, after a 5-year wait, the Olympics are underway. I know there was an opening ceremony a week ago and a number of other sports occurring but the Olympics isn’t the Olympics until the athletics (track and field) is underway. It was a full and absorbing day from 100m to 10000m, from shot put to triple jump, from hurdles to water-jumps the diversity of our sport was well represented.
The first event was the women’s 100m prelims. While Marie JosÃ©e Ta Lou’s 10.78 was the fastest of the day, no less effort was involved in Kimia Yousofi’s national Afghanistan record of 13.29 or Amed Elna of Comoros running a PR of 14.30 – and Amed and Kimia can call themselves Olympian for the rest of their lives.
The women’s 100 saw six ladies go under 11m – and this was only the prelim!. It also saw Mujinga Kambundji able to call herself Swiss record holder for all 5 minutes. Her 10.95 equaled the national record until Ajla Del Ponte ran 10.91!
The Men’s 10,000 was the only medal event as a straight-to-final race saw Selemon Barega’s surprise win in 27:43.22 over Joshua Cheptegei (27:43.63). The Ethiopian delegation seated in front of me seemed not to have received the memo about wearing a mask at all times and clapping politely as they screamed their heads off.
The 4 by 400 mixed relay made its Olympic debut with a dramatic disqualification of USA under rule 24.19, which from memory says that it is someone else’s turn to win (US were inaugural World champions and world record holders in the event).
Life was very harsh to Francine Niyonsaba. Remember her? She was banned from her medal-winning event of 800m over testosterone levels. Well, she ran the 5,000 prelims and qualified for the final, only to be DQed under rule 17.3.2, stepping onto the infield. Sorry, but in a race of 19 runners, running a slow tactical race there is always going to be the possibility of an infringement – but please can we have a little common sense in the application of the rules?
Let’s hope that the coming days live up to Day 1 in terms of quality and drama- but with a bit more common sense.