Thursday, 13 July 2017 23:08

IAAF - Russell’s Championship Best Highlights Second Morning

The second day of the IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017 started on a cool, cloudy Thursday (13) morning with a session featuring qualifying rounds in six events and a number of quality performances.

The highlight came in the final track event of the day, the boys' 110m hurdles heats. Running in the first heat, De'Jour Russell of Jamaica took his personal best from 13.31 (already a world-U18-leading time this year) all the way to 13.08. The time made him the second fastest U18 athlete of all time, behind his compatriot Jaheel Hyde's world U18 best of 12.96.

Russell's time was all the more amazing given his slow reaction time of 0.221 and the fact he slowed down before the finish. With the semifinal and final scheduled for tomorrow, there may be much more to come from the Jamaican who recently clocked a world age-17 best of 13.32 over the senior height barriers.

None of the other hurdlers came near Russell's performance, but there were other notable runs, including the remaining heat winners: Enrique Llopis of Spain with 13.47 (a personal best by 0.25), Lu Hao-hua of Chinese Taipei with 13.57 and Saoud Al-Humaidi of Qatar with 13.72.

The early exit of Zayed Al Shamsi of the United Arab Emirates was also notable. The third fastest U18 athlete this year with 13.43 finished only sixth in his heat in 14.70 and was eliminated.

There was also some extravagant running in the heats of the boys' 3000m. Not content with merely qualifying for the final, the African favourites achieved some extraordinary times, especially considering Nairobi's altitude.

Selemon Barega of Ethiopia took the first heat in 7:55.73 after running the final kilometre in just outside 2:34. The performance took him to third on this year’s U18 world list. Stanley Mburu Waithaka of Kenya was the runner-up in 7:59.54, with Oscar Chelimo of Uganda and Merom Goitom of Eritrea both in the 8:08 range.

The pace of the second heat was only slightly more sensible. Edward Zakayo of Kenya took it in 8:04.85, evidently intent on proving a point to his Ethiopian rival Milkesa Mengesha, who finished second in 8:05.87. The final kilometre took just 2:31 for the winner, much faster than was necessary, considering the first non-automatic qualifier in that race finished some 45 seconds behind.

There were no such displays in round one of the girls' 800m, although the races featured some impressive running. The fastest of the qualifiers for the semi-finals was the Kenyan Jackline Wambui, winner of heat three in 2:08.24, 1.5 seconds ahead of Hirut Meshesha of Ethiopia. The event favourite, Kenya's Lydia Jeruto, took heat one in a relatively pedestrian 2:10.37, but looked strong, running the final 200 metres in about 31 seconds.

The second fastest among the entrants, Ethiopian Netsanet Desta strolled to what looked like an easy victory in heat two, but was subsequently disqualified for a lane violation, leaving Vimbayi Maisvoreva of Zimbabwe the winner in 2:11.09. The final heat winner, in what was the closest of the four races, was the Pole Milena Korbut with 2:11.67.

Sanique Walker of Jamaica, the fastest U18 in the world this year, was also the best in the girls' 400m hurdles heats, qualifying for Saturday's final with 58.74. The Lithuanian Gabija Galvydyte, running in the same heat as Walker, was the second fastest of the day with 58.94, a personal best by a whopping 1.7 seconds.

Chayenne Da Silva of Brazil with 1:00.05 and Zeney van der Walt of South Africa with 59.60 were the other heat winners. One major surprise was the elimination of another South African, Gontse Morake, the third fastest entrant in the event. After fading in the finishing straight, Morake finished fourth in 1:00.59 in her race, not good enough to earn a non-automatic-qualifying spot.

World U18 leader Nermin Stitkovac of Bosnia-Herzegovina led the way in the boys' shot put qualification with a first-round 19.60m, which remained the longest put of the morning. Germany’s Timo Northoff was the only other athlete to reach the automatic qualifying mark of 19.25m with his third-round 19.37m. Turkey's Alperen Karahan was the next best with his 19.00m.

While there were no major casualties in the qualifying competition per se, one medal contender who will be missing from the final is No.2 on the entry list, Jonas Tesch of Germany, a non-starter this morning.

Cuba’s world U18 leader Yaritza Martinez topped the standings in the girls' hammer qualification, needing just one attempt to qualify automatically with 67.90m. None of the other throwers got beyond the qualifying line, set at 67.00m. The other Cuban, Amanda Almendariz, and Gema Marti of Spain got closest, with 66.92m and 66.20m respectively.

There was at least one major upset, with world U18 No.2 Ana Adela Stanciu of Romania eliminated after three fouls. Also not making the final was the Ukrainian Valeriya Ivanenko, fifth on the entry list, whose best valid attempt of 55.91m put her down in 19th place.

Track and field becomes obscure in the U.S.

By Jaime C. Harris | New York Amsterdam News

The Green Packers’ superlative quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, arguably the NFL’s best player, could walk down the streets of Helsinki, Finland, Zurich, Switzerland or St. Kitts and Nevis—a two-island country in the West Indies—relatively unnoticed.

Same for Clayton Kershaw, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ wondrous three-time Cy Young award winner and 2014 National League MVP. Not so for Usain Bolt.

The nine-time Olympic gold medalist in the 100- and 200-meters, as well the 4x100 meter relay, is mobbed like a rock star across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Many other of his track and field brethren are also subject to being surrounded by adoring fans seeking autographs and photos for Instagram consumption while abroad.

But here in the United States, Olympic gold medal sprinter and Los Angeles native Allyson Felix, one of the world’s most recognizable female athletes, is as inconspicuous as she is fawned over outside of her home country.

For several decades, the popularity of track and field and its pre-eminent performers has gradually declined among U.S. sports fans.

There was a time when the sport was markedly more prominent in America than professional football and basketball. Jesse Owens became a historical figure and symbol of American pride when he single-handedly dispelled Adolf Hitler’s postulations of Aryan superiority by winning four gold medals at the Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany in 1936.

For a period during the 1980s, sprinter Carl Lewis was more famous than Michael Jordan. However, the globalization of basketball and exploding interest in the NFL, as well as the shift in the economics of sports, have rendered track and field a second tier sport in the United States.

So as the 30-year-old Bolt prepares to end his unparalleled competitive career at the World Championships in London next month, the sport’s lone transcendent personality will further tow track and field away from the American fans’ consciousness.

American Distance Great Chris Solinsky Joins Gators’ Coaching Staff

Solinsky helped William & Mary runners to 15 individual CAA titles, six All-America honors, and five CAA Cross Country team titles

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Chris Solinsky, the former American record holder and first non-African to break 27 minutes in the 10,000 meters, will join the University of Florida track and field and cross country programs as an assistant coach, head coach Mike Holloway announced Thursday (July 13) evening.

"Chris obviously made a name for himself as a runner, but what he's done as a young coach is impressive as well," Holloway said. "He's a fiery competitor, and he's a winner. We think those two things will enable Chris to bring a lot of passion and a lot of intensity back to our distance group."

Solinsky joins the Gators' coaching staff after three seasons at College of William & Mary (2014-17), three years at University of Portland (2012-14), a record-breaking professional career with Nike, and a standout collegiate career for University of Wisconsin (2003-07), where he was a five-time NCAA champion and 14-time All-American. Solinsky also helped the Badgers to wins at the 2005 NCAA Cross Country Championship and 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships.

"I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity Coach Holloway's presented me with at the University of Florida," Solinsky said. "With everything the University of Florida has at its disposal and the atmosphere of the team right now, I'm excited to pitch in my part to make sure the distance runners are contributing just as much to that success and culture.

After working as William & Mary's assistant men's and women's distance coach his first two seasons (2014-16), Solinsky was promoted to head men's cross country coach in 2016; he continued to serve as the assistant men's coach (distance) for the track and field team for the 2017 campaign.

Solinsky, a native of Stevens Point, Wis., was named the 2016 Colonial Athletic Association Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year last fall after leading the Tribe to their 17th consecutive team title.

On the track, Tribe runners won the 1,500 meters, 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters, and 3,000-meter steeplechase titles at the 2017 CAA Championships, in addition to accounting for 21 of the 30 scoring spots in the 800 meters and four aforementioned events. That staggering number included a sweep of all six scoring spots in the 5,000 meters.

Solinsky had a hand in six USTFCCCA All-America performances—all on the women's side—in his first two years with William & Mary. Two were outdoor first-team accolades, which came from Emily Stites' (10,000m) third-place finish, and Regan Rome's (5,000m) seventh-place finish at NCAA Outdoors.

Rome also broke the school record in the indoor 3,000 meters (9:09.74) in Feb. 2016 and ranks No. 3 on the William & Mary All-Time Indoor Top 10 in the 5,000 meters (15:58.07 – Feb. 2016). Those were two of the 12 William & Mary All-Time Top 10 women's performances Solinsky assisted in.

"I'm incredibly grateful for Stephen Walsh, the director who brought me (to William & Mary) three years ago, and now Coach (Alex) Heacock for bumping me up to head men's cross country coach," Solinsky said. "It's been an amazing three years. I'm really sad to leave all the guys. They accepted the challenges I gave them and performed really well consistently. Very grateful for the opportunity. I'll probably always be a fan of the William & Mary Tribe."

Solinsky's Coaching Notables
2016 CAA Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year
Helped the William & Mary women's team reach the 2014 NCAA Cross Country Championship by winning the NCAA Southeast Region Championship
Two women's USTFCCCA Cross Country All-Americans
Two women's USTFCCCA Indoor Second-Team All-Americans
Two women's USTFCCCA Outdoor First-Team All-Americans
Helped coach two CAA Women's Athletes of the Year (Emily Stites, 2015; Regan Rome, 2016)
Helped William & Mary runners win 15 CAA individual titles (13 track and field, 2 cross country)

Helped Carolyn Hennessey (2014) and Emily Stites (2015) to CAA Women's Cross Country titles
Assisted for 2014 and 2015 CAA Women's Cross Country Championship-winning teams
Two 2017 men's NCAA East Preliminary qualifiers, including William & Mary's first 1,500m national quarterfinalist since 1995 (David Barney)
Helped Ryan Gousse to consecutive men's NCAA East Preliminary qualifications in the 3,000m steeplechase (2015-16)
Helped men's runners to four William & Mary All-Time Top 10 performances
Helped women's runners to 12 William & Mary All-Time Top 10 performances, including Regan Rome's indoor 3,000 meters school record (9:09.74)

Solinsky's Coaching History
William & Mary (2016-17) – Head Men's Cross Country Coach / Assistant Men's Track & Field Coach (Distance)
William & Mary (2014-16) – Assistant Men's and Women's Distance Coach
University of Portland (2012-14) – Volunteer Assistant Coach
University of Wisconsin (2007) – Student Assistant Coach

What They're Saying About Chris Solinsky

"People who know cross country and distance running know Chris Solinsky … from his days as a multiple-time NCAA champion at Wisconsin, to his brilliant exploits as a professional runner. What they probably don't know is that Chris has been able to use those experiences to effectively coach and motivate the men and women in our program for the past two years.

"Chris is a great coach, but also a great competitor and I know he will do a great job in continuing to set the bar high for our men's distance runners and help them achieve great success under his tenure." – Alex Heacock, William & Mary Director of Track & Field and Cross Country, after promoting Solinsky to Head Men's Cross Country Coach on Sep. 5, 2016

Solinsky's Notable Running Achievements and Accolades

Solinsky is one of the most accomplished American distance runners in history, despite not making an Olympic team or earning a World Championships medal.

The highest note came on May 1, 2010 at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif. It was there the Wisconsinite demolished the American 10,000 meters record by 14.38 seconds (26:59.60). Solinsky had never run a 10,000 meters race prior to that evening.

Below are some of Solinsky's other achievements as a runner:

Only American and one of six men in history to run sub-27 minutes (10,000m), sub-12:56 (5,000m), and sub-3:36 (1,500m), according to athlete bios maintained by the IAAF
Others: Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia), Mo Farah (Great Britain), Haile Gebrselassie (Ehtiopia), Salah Hissou (Morocco), Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya)
Second-fastest American 10,000 meters runner in history (26:59.60)
Second-fastest American 5,000 meters runner in history (12:55.53)
First non-African to break 27 minutes in the 10,000 meters (May 1, 2010)

2009, 2011 IAAF World Championships qualifier (5,000 meters)
Sponsored professionally by Nike for eight years (retired in April 2016)
5-time NCAA champion – University of Wisconsin (2003-07)
2007 indoor 5,000 meters
2006, 2007 outdoor 5,000 meters
2005, 2006 indoor 3,000 meters
14-time All-American (3 cross country, 11 track and field—school record)

2007 USTFCCCA National Indoor Runner of the Year
2007 NCAA Indoor Championships team champion
2005 NCAA Country Championships team champion (individual bronze medalist)
University of Wisconsin Athletics Hall of Fame (Class of 2017)
Eight-time state champion at Stevens Point (Wis.) Area Senior High School