Sunday, 16 July 2017 00:37

Blake Reassures Fans After Pulling Out Of Rabat DL

Raymond Graham, Gleaner Writer

RABAT, Morocco:

Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake is reassuring fans that he will be ready for next month's World Championships in London, England, after his withdrawal from tomorrow's IAAF Diamond League meet in Rabat.

Blake was pulled from the meet after feeling pain in his groin during a training session on Friday for what is being described as precautionary measures.

Addressing reporters at a press conference on Saturday, shortly after it was revealed that the 2011 World 100m champion would not take his lane in the men's 100m at the latest Diamond League stop, Blake explained what exactly led to the decision but underlined his belief that he will be ready in time to push for a medal at the August 3 - 14 World Championships.


Blake said he felt tightness in the groin area during his training session but does not believe the situation is serious. He will be heading to Germany for assessment and treatment.

"After doing a few run throughs, I felt some discomfort in my groin and with the World Championships coming up I decided not to take any risk by competing at the meet tomorrow," said Blake, who only last season returned from a couple injury-plagued seasons to finish fourth in the 100m final at the Rio Olympics.

"I am very sorry to disappoint the fans but I am confident that I will be ready for the big show and I will still be going to Germany for some assessment to be made," added Blake.

Ristananna Tracey Hoping For Good Time In Rabat

RABAT, Morocco:

EUROPE has not been kind to Ristananna Tracey so far this season, with the Rio Olympics 400m hurdles finalist finding herself at the rear of the field in back-to-back races in Lausanne and London.

Tracey, now running on a different continent at tomorrow's Rabat Diamond League meet, is ready to change all that and enjoy some success in the final weeks before the World Championships in London.

The two-time national champion was upbeat ahead of tomorrow's assignment, and despite seventh- and ninth-place finishes in her last two meets, she remains confident that the problems she has experienced this year will be taken care of as her season progresses.

"I have been having some rhythm problems this season, and as you all know, the 400 metres hurdles is a rhythmic event, and I got back in training last Monday, and my coach and I worked on the problems I had, and I am confident of doing much better this time," she said.

It has been an extremely busy season for Tracey, who says that she is looking to get as many races in as possible after a quiet build-up to the National Senior Championships. Tracey only featured in two 400m hurdles races before the National Senior Championships.


"Basically, heading to the National Senior Championships, I did not get in enough races, so heading into World Champion-ships, I want to get in as many races as possible so I can better my rhythm so I can manage the rounds properly," Tracey said.

As it relates to tomorrow's race, Tracey, whose 54.49-second run for second place in the final at the National Senior Championships remains her season best, says she is looking to register a good time.

"I am hoping to go out and execute a good race, and once I do so, a good time will come, and once this happens, it will give me a lot of confidence going into the champion-ships," said Tracey.

Jamaica enjoy double sprint success at World Under-18 Athletics Championships

Jamaica enjoyed double sprint success as the World Under-18 Athletics Championships continued at the Moi International Sports Centre in Nairobi today.

De'Jour Russell headlined Jamaica’s day, winning the men’s 110 metres hurdles in a Championship record time of 13.04sec.

He was followed across the line by Chinese Taipei’s Hao-hua Lu and Thomas Wanaverbecq of France, who completed the podium in times of 13.41 and 13.55 respectively.

Russell’s achievement came shortly after his compatriot Antonio Watson earned victory in the men’s 400m, triumphing in a personal best time of 46.59.

He was pushed closely by Daniel William of Guyana and Turks and Caicos’ Colby Jennings, who posted personal best times of 46.72 and 46.77.

Jennings would take bronze on a photo finish with Jamaica’s Anthony Cox, who matched his time of 46.77.

The top four athletes in the women’s 400m would also set personal bests, with the Czech Republic’s Barbora Malíková coming through to win gold in a time of 52.74.

Kenya’s Mary Moraa ended as the runner-up in front of a home crowd by clocking 53.31, while Brazil’s Giovanna Rosalia dos Santos edged out Bahamas Doneisha Anderson for bronze by crossing the line in 53.57.

The host nation would celebrate double gold on the third day of competition, with George Meitamei Managoi and Caren Chebet earning victories.

Managoi won the men’s 1,500m in a time of 3min 47.53, with Ethiopia’s Abebe Dessassa claiming silver in 3:48.64.

The podium was completed by Dessassa’s team-mate Belete Mekonen in 3:50.64.

Chebet emerged as the winner of the women’s 2,000m steeplechase, achieving an under-18 world leading time of 6:24.80.

Fellow Kenyan Mercy Chepkurui and Ethiopia’s Etalemahu Sintayehu completed the medal positions, having clocked times of 6:26.10 and 6:35.79 respectively.

There was success for Ukraine in field events, with Mykhaylo Kokhan winning the men’s hammer throw with a distance of 82.31 metres.

India’s Damneet Singh and Germany’s Raphael Winkelvoss earned podium places by throwing 74.20m and 71.78m respectively.

Yaroslava Mahucikh then triumphed in the women’s high jump, with the Ukrainian managing a clearance at 1.92m.

Poland’s Martyna Lewandowska ended as the runner-up with 1.82m, while Germany’s Lavinja Jurgens jumped 1.79m for bronze.

In response to security fears in Kenya in the build-up to the event, the country's Government has imposed extra cordons around the venue.

All vehicles travelling to the facility must undergo security checking more than 100m away from the stadium, while additional police officers are in attendance.

There are of concerns of escalating violence across Kenya prior to the country's Presidential elections in August, while the threat of terrorism also remains high.

Six countries - the United States, Australia, Britain, Switzerland, New Zealand and Canada - all withdrew prior to the event due to security fears.

I was close to quitting admits Kadeena Cox

KADEENA COX has revealed she did a U-turn on her decision to quit athletics at the last IPC world championships in 2015.

The 26-year-old became the first Briton in 32 years to win Paralympic titles in two different sports at the same Games in Rio last year.

But a year before, she had contemplated turning her back on ‘first love’ track and field as she struggled to accept her times were slower than before her multiple sclerosis diagnosis in 2014, when she was a promising non-disabled sprinter. ‘I went from being able to do one time to being a lot slower. Even though I was better in the world, I found it quite hard to deal with mentally,’ she said.

‘It was just before the 2015 world championships I was going to quit athletics and never go back. I was going to retire and become a full-time cyclist. Then I went out there [in Doha], performed well [winning two world titles] and remembered exactly why I love it. Having the combination of the cycling, that I’d never done before and had nothing to compare to, with athletics brought back the love for athletics.’

Cox begins her campaign in London tomorrow as she aims to win gold in the T38 200metres before making a defence of her 100m and 4x100m T35-38 relay crowns.

Ojie Edoburun sprints to European U23 100m title

European junior gold medallist claims under-23 title in Bydgoszcz, while Konrad Bukowiecki throws championship record for shot put gold

Britain’s Ojie Edoburun was among the winners on day two of the European Under-23 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, as he stormed to victory in the 100m.

Clocking 10.14 for the second-quickest wind-legal time of his career, the 21-year-old beat Slovakia’s Ján Volko (10.18) and Norway’s Jonathan Quarcoo (10.29) to add the under-23 title to the under-20 gold he claimed in Eskilstuna two years ago, despite not feeling in top shape.

“The race was okay,” he said. “My start wasn’t good again and my finish was not the best.

“I was feeling some pains. I was bit ill. I am just happy I came and won.”

Fellow Brit Reuben Arthur placed fifth with 10.39.

Ewa Swoboda also won 100m gold in Eskilstuna in 2015 and she too added the under-23 title to her haul, clocking 11.42 for a win on home soil. Britain’s Imani Lansiquot narrowly missed out on a medal as she clocked 11.58 to match the time of bronze medallist Sina Mayer of Germany.

Another athlete putting on a show for the home crowd was European indoor shot put champion Konrad Bukowiecki as he threw 21.59m to break the championship record.

He had earlier thrown 21.44m to improve the championship record he set himself in the qualifying round.

Britain’s Taylor Campbell was just 1cm off a medal in the hammer as he threw 70.59m in a competition won by Bence Halasz of Hungary with 73.30m.

Two years after winning the under-20 title, another athlete to also claim under-23 gold was Switzerland’s Caroline Agnou as she recorded a national record 6330 points in the heptathlon, with GB’s Katie Stainton seventh with 5836 points.

Turkey’s double European champion Yasemin Can broke the championship record with 31:39.80 to win the 10,000m title, with British trio Phoebe Law (33:40.75), Jenny Nesbitt (33:50.37) and Philippa Bowden (34:04.57) fourth, sixth and eighth respectively.

The day before, Spain’s Carlos Mayo had won the men’s 10,000m title in 29:28.06, with Britain’s Ellis Cross fifth in 29:53.64.

GB’s Jacob Fincham-Dukes (7.83m/+2.5) was fourth in a long jump final won by Ukraine’s Vladyslav Mazur with a European lead-equalling 8.04m (+1.9).

Meanwhile, over in Nairobi the third day of IAAF World Under-18 Championships saw the world under-18 triple jump record broken by Cuba’s Jordan Diaz with his 17.30m leap. Jamaica’s De’Jour Russell clocked a championship record 13.04 for 110m hurdles victory, while there was a Kenyan one-two in the girls’ 2000m steeplechase with Caren Chebet getting gold from Mercy Chepkurui, 6:24.80 to 6:26.10.

World Championships Wonders - Tom Pappas

In the latest in our World Championship wonders series we look back on Tom Pappas’s glorious decathlon success at the 2003 edition in Paris.

BEFORE It is somehow fitting that former decathlon star Tom Pappas today runs a CrossFit gym only a mile from the iconic Hayward Field in Eugene.

For it was through the accomplishments of older brother, Paul, a former multi-eventer at the University of Oregon – which boasts Hayward Field as its home - which acted as the catalyst for Pappas’ involvement in the decathlon.

Inspired by his older brother, the former high jump and long jump specialist started his multi-events journey in 1995.

A quick learner just two years later the 1.95m tall American started to make his mark under the coaching of Bill Webb at the University of Tennessee.

“This is when I started to mature and develop and I realised that some of the marks I was hitting in training were as good as some of the best decathletes in the world,” he explains.

Just two years later at the age of 22 he qualified for the US team at the 1999 IAAF World Championship in Seville. However, badly compromised by injury – which was to curse so much of his career – he no-heighted in the pole vault and failed to finish in southern Spain.

Nonetheless, he refused to be scarred by the experience. “The biggest thing I took away from that meet was I realised the top guys were just human and I was capable of competing with them.”

His new-found confidence was not misplaced. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, he finished fifth with 8425pts – just 42pts short of his PB set when winning the US title two months earlier.

Shoulder surgery derailed his ambitions to compete at the 2001 World Championships in Edmonton but in 2002 he further improved, posting a new PB of 8583pts to place second at Gotzis behind Czech great and world decathlon record holder Roman Sebrle.

In 2003 and under the guidance of coaches Webb and Brian Brophy, Pappas had enjoyed an injury-free build-up and felt ready to challenge.

Training out of Knoxville, Tennessee, he started the year with a bang causing a big upset to strike gold in the heptathlon at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham two places ahead of Sebrle.

“Looking back, I might physically have been in the best shape I’ve ever been in,” he says of competing at the 2003 World Indoors. “I went in not even projected to finish on the top five but after winning, it gave me the confidence I could beat Roman at the 2003 World Championships.”

Not even an early season defeat to Sebrle by more than 200pts in Gotzis could dent the Oregon native’s confidence. Better conditioned than an any point in his career he had made particularly exciting progress in the long jump as evinced by his performance when setting a lifetime best score of 8784pts later that year to win the US title, which include stunning breakthrough leap of 7.96m.

“I had been a long jumper in the 7.35m to 7.45m range but it was a huge confidence boost to jump 7.96m,” he explains. “I knew in Paris, if I was firing on all cylinders and competing well it was going to be between me and Roman.”


It proved a prescient prediction.

After opening with a solid 10.80 in the 100m, Pappas made a huge statement in the long jump by leaping 7.62m - within 2cm of his Czech rival.

“Roman was typically an 8m jumper, so for me to jump around the same mark was a victory,” he says. A 16.11m shot further extended his advantage over the Czech.

After a disappointing 2.09m in the high jump --“I thought I was capable of 2.20m”-- he responded in outstanding fashion to wipe 0.64 from his 400m PB to run 47.58.

At the end of a satisfying first day he sat second on 4546pts – 53pts adrift of surprise overnight leader Dmitriy Karpov of Kazakhstan – but with a 123pt buffer on third placed Sebrle.

With “less room for error” on the technical second day he was relieved to run close to his PB with a 13.99 in the 110m hurdles followed by a “respectable” 46.94m in the discus. Holding a 146pt advantage from Sebrle, the tall American dared to dream after seven events -- “At this point I started to think it was mine to lose.”

Although it should be worth noting he was still second overall after seven events trailing Karpov by some 67pts, albeit with his weakest events - the pole vault and javelin - to follow.

Pappas finally assumed leadership of the overall competition for the first time after the pole vault gaining more ground on Sebrle after clearing a best of 5.10m compared to 4.80m.

However, Sebrle was an outstanding javelin thrower and the American - who was watching Sebrle throw in the first pool (Pappas was throwing later in qualification pool two) from the Nike hospitality tent - received a huge fright. Sebrle had nailed a 69.79m effort in round two only to launch the spear out to what appeared to be 75m in round three.

“My heart leapt (when I saw the throw) but luckily he fouled,” says Pappas.

Pappas responded superbly in the second pool, hurling the spear out to 65.90m – a PB by almost a metre-and-a-half.

“I then crunched the numbers in my head and realised I had a 28-second lead on Roman going into the 1500m,” he says. “I knew I could run 4:45 but I felt I could run 4:35, so I thought Roman needed to run around 4:05 to beat me.”

Despite starting aggressively, Sebrle slowed on lap three and at 1200m Pappas knew gold was his. He crossed the line in a PB of 4:44.31 – a little under ten second behind Sebrle, the silver medallist.

“It was hard to explains my emotions,” he says of the wake of winning gold. “My mind was racing, although I recall thinking a lot about all the people who helped me in my journey. I was very thankful for them.”


The following day he went sightseeing around Paris with his family and girlfriend and now wife, the US heptathlete Kim Schiemenz – not that the experience lasted long.

“The day after a decathlon is often rough. I remember feeling so sore, I just wanted to lay down and relax,” he says”

Unfortunately, Pappas could not follow up his golden year of 2003 as persistent injuries dogged the remainder of his career. He DNF’D at both the 2004 Athens Olympics and 2008 Beijing Olympics because of foot injuries and also failed to finish at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka. After placing second at the 2010 US Championships he retired from the sport aged 33.

Around the time of his retirement he was introduced to the sport of CrossFit through his younger brother, Billy. A self-confessed “weight room junkie” he felt a “natural attraction” to the high-intensity fitness regimen and in 2012 he and Billy opened Lane 5 CrossFit in Eugene.

“I love it,” says Pappas of his current role. “We have a great membership and it is fun to be around energetic people, achieving their goals. It is very rewarding.”

Pappas also personally competed in the highly-competitive 2015 and 2016 CrossFit Games after his team won the Western Regional competition, although this year he is taking a break to devote more time to his family life.

Married to Schiemenz, the 2003 World Championships heptathlete, and father to four children - Kinley, 11, Kendall, 7 and five-year-old twins, Max and Tucker - his life is understandably full.

Yet despite the years of injury torment the 40-year-old American looks back with pride on his career. “It was all worth it,” he says. “There were all those years when it didn’t go my way but to win those two world titles in 2003 are memories I will cherish for a lifetime.”