Thursday, 24 August 2017 16:03

Tips for being a polite hiker

GLENWOOD SPRINGS - Waits to get in the parking lot, which fills consistently before 7:30 a.m.

Patient (and impatient) parkers backed onto Interstate 70, waiting for one of 110 coveted spots.

Forest Service employees who never make it past the asphalt of the parking lot onto the trail because they're breaking up fights and moderating frustration.

For all of these reasons - and more - a common ‘bucket list’ hike in Colorado that sees more than 150,000 visitors per year will soon have some restrictions.

Citing ‘unsustainable’ levels of visitors, the US Forest Service has been working on a long-term solution at Hanging Lake for years, along with several other agencies.

Tuesday, it published its first draft of a long-term management plan.

New proposed visitor limits would cap daily hikers at 615. Currently, the area can see 1,000 or more on a peak day.

Changes could go into effect as early as Summer of 2018.

Social media has played an interesting role in the area’s cultural popularity as well as in its need for proposed visitors limits.

Postings online have been a boon to the lake’s popularity, an outlet for frustrations over its misuse, and a way to publicly shame those who abuse the trail or walk across its serene surface on a log that sits next to a sign reading “Please keep off the log.”

With nine out of ten Coloradans participating in some form of outdoor recreation every year - more than half doing so at least once a week - the state’s growing population is bound to take out its growing pains on gorgeous sites (or sights) such as Hanging Lake. (data from Colorado’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation plan, published in 2014)

The Hanging Lake Project Area consists of the parking area, Interstate 70 on- and off-ramps, a portion of the CDOT Recreation Path, Hanging Lake Trail #1850, the lake itself, Spouting Rock, and Dead Horse Creek.

Hanging Lake is located off of Interstate 70, about 10 miles east of Glenwood Springs, in Garfield County, Colorado. Its managed by the US Forest Service White River National Forest branch.

The Problem

Hanging Lake was designated a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service in 2011. In the past five years, the number of annual visitors has doubled.

The ranger district which helps manage and maintain the recreational area consists of a measly two to six members - depending on the season - and they also have to oversee 600 other miles of trails in their district.

To put it simply: they’re stretched thin.

The plan has been in the making since 2012. Short and mid-term plans have been implemented in the past, but this is the first true, long-term plan for the area.

Compiling the plan was complicated due to the area’s mixed land ownership.

In tracking visitors since 2012, the USFS has discovered the number of visitors is increasing at unsustainable rates.

On summer Saturdays, the trail could see 1,000 hikers, and not many fewer during the week - still nearly 800 per day. That means the trail can see upwards of 340 people on it at any given time.

As people step aside to let others pass, the trail degrades and ecosystems are damaged as people stand on rocks, etc.

The estimated annual visitors in 2014 were 99,632. That number had jumped to 147,578 after just two years (data collected in 2016).
The average daily traffic has nearly doubled in the past two years (273 in 2014 to 416 in 2016).
With increased usage, the paths become wider as more people stray off the trail - threatening native vegetation and causing erosion and habitat loss for native species. Water quality has also been adversely affected.

The trail’s infrastructure (the boardwalk surrounding the lake especially) is beginning to deteriorate from the sheer volume of traffic it sees. It was built recently, but it is already seeing significant wear and tear.

Six of the seven bridges along the trail were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. You can imagine the care it takes to maintain them and the damage they see from overuse.

Data collected from the USFS about visitors to the trail indicates they are less experienced than the typical hiker in White River National Forest.

Illegal activities on the trail have increased as a result of some hikers’ inability to ‘Leave no Trace’ or practice good trail etiquette.

Rangers have seen an increase in swimming, fishing, tree carving, bringing dogs, leaving graffiti and hiking off the marked trail - all things clearly marked as illegal on the nature trail.

Data captured in 2016 revealed it’s typically groups of 3-4 who hike the trail, with 40 percent of them coming from outside Colorado.

Those visitors to Hanging Lake represent a significant portion of tourism dollars to nearby Glenwood Springs, which sees an average of $836 spent per visitor group (from those who were surveyed while hiking the trail).

In 2016, these groups contributed to more than $33 million to the local economies.

But that boon is not without strain. The USFS, CDOT and CSP are pushed to their financial limits managing parking woes and trail damage - often times staffing to help direct traffic - or even organizing temporary shut-downs of I-70.

That's where the plan comes in.

The Plan

The long-term management plan was completed in part by the Volpe Center, a division of the US Department of Transportation.

The goal of the plan is to protect the area’s natural resources, manage congestion and overcrowding issues, enhance the public’s safety, improve the visitor experience and support local tourism, the Forest Service announced Tuesday in its published draft management plan.

Here’s the plan in a nutshell: year-round, you’d need to pay a fee to reserve a spot in the daily hiking queue.

The management fees would go towards restoration, maintenance, engineering controls and other visitor services.

Only 615 permits would be available for any given day.

This number was calculated based on the capacity of the trail and lake and to manage overcrowding and the number of passings. 615 visitors per day is about a 40 percent reduction from current use levels.

When purchasing a permit, visitors would have to get it specifically for the date and start time of their desired trip.

During peak seasons, visitors would take a shuttle to Hanging Lake from nearby communities.

Whether arriving by shuttle or personal car, everyone visiting would need a permit year-round. It’s likely the shuttle would run just during May to October - or peak season.

The shuttle would be paced so that groups of hikers can be more spread out across the one-mile-long-trail. It would be run by a third-party; so it would require some time to get bids and contacts arranged.

More rangers will also be present to help hikers have a better experience and abide by posted rules.

Reservations could be managed in a variety of ways: at an online portal (recreation.gov) through the National Recreation Reservation Service, through the Outfitter & Guide program, through a third party, or via a Special Recreation Permit and fee under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.

The USFS also plans more signage on its 'Leave no Trace' campaign, trail etiquette, and cohesive messaging to visitors.

More trail markers, cables, and signs will be installed to contain hikers to the trail.

After three years of data collection with the new restrictions, the plan will be reevaluated by the USFS. Safety, daily capacity limits, and resource degradation will be monitored annually.

The visitor experience will be monitored every three years to ensure it hasn’t degraded.

The Forest Service hopes to implement the changes for the 2018 summer season (if all of the public process goes through).

A Hanging Lake History

Hanging Lake is an incredible sight: home to a blue-green travertine lake and waterfalls, it formed by a geologic fault, which caused the lake bed to drop away from the valley floor above.

The steep hike takes you up 1,000 feet in just 1.2 miles.

Glenwood Springs purchased 760 acres of land in 1912 for less than $1,000. Since the Civilian Conservation Corp built the trail to the stunning lake in 1938, its popularity has increased exponentially.

The lake’s parking lot was designed to hold 110 vehicles, off of I-70, when it was built in the 1980s.

Much of its original infrastructure was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

The boardwalk around the lake was constructed from 2009-2010.

Utah Hike of the Week: Ontario Trail at Deer Valley

Ride the lift at Deer Valley Resort for this great intro-to-the-Wasatch hike.

Ontario Trail is a great intro-to-the-Wasatch hike that’s pretty easy if you have $20 for a lift ticket at Deer Valley Resort. Ride the ski lifts 2,200 vertical feet from the resort base to the peak of Bald Mountain. Enjoy the views from 9,400 feet, and then hike the Ontario Trail back downhill to Silver Lake Village, meandering through open slopes and forests. Flowers were blooming in early August but probably are mostly spent by now.

Directions • Begin at Snow Park Lodge at the resort base. Buy your tickets inside the base and then climb aboard the Silver Lake Express lift near the amphitheater. It will take you to Silver Lake Village, where you hop off the lift and walk to the Sterling Express Lift. It will take you to the top of Bald Mountain, where the trail begins.

Hike • From the lift, walk up the gravel road to the overlook and enjoy the views of the neighboring peaks. Take the gravel path to your left to the nearby rocky peak to catch a glimpse of Jordanelle Reservoir and return to the gravel road where you started.

From here, the Ontario Trail is clearly signed. It intersects mountain-biking trails at several points; hike defensively and always look both ways before crossing. The trail descends through fields of wildflowers and groves of aspen and enters a conifer forest near Silver Lake. Hikers should bring poles. Parts of the trail are steep, and the gravel is very loose on the service roads; several people in my group slipped and fell.

The trail deposits you at Silver Lake Village, 1,300 feet below Bald Mountain. You may enjoy Deer Valley’s swanky amenities before taking the Silver Lake Express back to Snow Park Lodge.

Hiking time: 2 hours
Round-trip miles: 2.75
Elevation loss: 1,300 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Trailhead restrooms: Yes
Dogs allowed: n/a
Bikes allowed: No, but extensive bike trails run from Mount Baldy
Fees: $20 for adults and teens, $15 for seniors and children 5-12, free for children under 5

Wolverine Nordic Society thinks Swanson could be looking at a world record after winning 18th of 19 Emperor’s Challenges

Last Saturday, mountain runner Kris Swanson won the 19th Emperor’s Challenge, the 20 kilometre mountain run that passes over the summit of Mt. Babcock south of Tumbler Ridge. Swanson recorded a time of 1:29:24, while Fort St. John resident Julianne Kucheran was the fastest female with a time of 2:01:28.

Swanson has won 18 of 19 races, the only exception was in 2007 when he was just pipped by three-time Victoria marathon winner Steve Osaduik. The pair were both on the course again in 2009, when Swanson won an epic battle.

The Wolverine Nordic & Mountain Society said that they believe there is no comparable feat in Canadian running or athletics history of an athlete winning a single event so many times. In a press release yesterday, the Society also said that in the global annals of mountain-running, Swanson’s achievement is unique.

Maurice Wilson, BC Athletics Technical Manager for Road & XC Running, commented: “The Emperor’s Challenge has repeatedly demonstrated itself to be the most popular off-road event of its type in BC, a testament to quality of the organization. Kris’ accomplishment is unheralded in Canadian running, demonstrating his enduring strength and persistence.”

When approached for comment Swanson said, “Nineteen years ago, The Emperor’s Challenge started out as a perfect excuse for me to return to Tumbler Ridge for some thrilling runs. Since then, the race has evolved into one of Canada’s, and as far as I’m concerned the world’s premier mountain running events. With the immeasurable passion from the race organizers and breathtaking geography of the Geopark, that’s not overly surprising. The Emperors Challenge has never been an easy event, but it has always been unique and rewarding and I’m honoured to be part of its history.”

The Emperor’s Challenge is one of the largest events of its kind in Canada. The field for the adult race is capped at 1000; registration opens 4 months before the race day, and in 2017 filled up in just 15 hours.

Next year’s event will be the 20th Emperor’s Challenge, and plans are already underway to make this an extra-special event. Not surprisingly, Kris Swanson plans to be there. The Wolverine Nordic Society is now asking: Can Swanson perhaps use the Emperor’s Challenge to set a world record for the greatest number of victories in a single event?

Trail could boost 'sense of community'

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — What started as a conceptual drawing of trails near Town Branch Creek in 1992 has expanded to a two-mile trail system connecting city parks, expected to be finalized this year.

"I fell in love with idea of a creek side set of trails and features and felt it was something that needed to be pursued," said Mayor Jason Nichols. "It took some time to roll out the concept and get everyone comfortable with that trend that had become so popular in other cities. But we've done that, and now there seems to be so much support for the idea that it almost feels like we're now trying to catch up to that support with the actual construction."

 

Nichols said trails contribute to a healthy and active community.

"They even help create a sense of community by making it more likely for people to interact with one another while using the trails, rather than doing everything in vehicle, which is somewhat isolating," he said.

City councilors at their Aug. 7 meeting matched a Community Development Block Grant that will help fund construction, finishing the trail system. The city was tentatively approved for $85,456.

According to the resolution, the city had been "required as a condition of acceptance of grant/release of funds to state the source of leveraged funds." The resolution stated the city dedicates leverage funds of $103,795.

"You can see that in the resolution, the leverage funds are more than a one-to-one match, but that's due to having to obtain quotes for materials and labor," Tahlequah Planning and Development Director Clinton Johnson told councilors.

Nichols said that although it will be part of an interconnected system, in terms of the project's being confined to the creekside project, about $225,000 in grant funds is available. However, the city will have some monetary, in-kind matching involved.

"We've incurred some previous expenses that were serving several goals and objectives simultaneous to the greenbelt project, which the trail system is a part of," he said. "The most obvious ones are the purchase of properties in the Basin Street area. But if all the expenditures were attributed to the greenbelt project, I'd estimate about $800,000 will have been put into the project over the course of seven to eight years."

The new, 10-foot-wide portion of the trail will use many of the amenities already available in the city's existing parks, as it will connect Sequoyah Park to Ross Park and to Felts Park.

"The new construction will include lighting and two emergency phone stations," Johnson said.

The city's street department will also be involved in the groundwork for the construction, preparing the ground to support the asphalt trail and laying the surface of the trail.

"Much of the trail will be crossing city parks and other properties owned by the city," said Tahlequah Street Commissioner Wayne Ryals. "We will either be performing the work to take the trail under bridges, or we will locate contractors to do that particular part of the trail."

Ryals added that construction of the walking trails should have minimal impact on traffic.

"The interruption to traffic flow will be when we close a lane to paint crosswalks, and possibly if we need to redesign and rebuild the edge of a street to make room for part of the trail," he said. "Otherwise, there should be no impact on local traffic because the largest part of the trail is away from the streets."

Clinton said the start date of the construction hasn't been determined, but it will happen during this fiscal year.

John Muir Trail: A landscape you'll never leave behind

SHORT TRIP FROM RENO TO PEAKS, VALLEYS, LAKES AND STREAMS THAT GIVE SIERRA NEVADA A SOUL

"We are given life but must accept that it is unattainable and rejoice in what can be held in the eye, the memory, the mind," -- Salman Rushdie, "Shalimar the Clown."

In the age of Big Data we measure everything. From the number of "likes" on our vacation photos to the number of stars crowd-sourced gadget reviews assign our latest toys, it's hard to find an experience that isn't digitized, categorized, ranked and judged.

Even the outdoors is no longer a refuge from obsessive quantification. Apps measure every footstep, GPS devices track elevation gains, websites compile judgments about what we buy and how much we spend to do something as simple as hike in a forest.

Sadly, this is the culture we impose on ourselves. We're the people who consume dozens of user reviews before buying $100 trekking poles and post to the world how many calories our smartphones say we burned during a trail run. The obsession was in our minds before we shared it online.

That's what makes it so hard to escape. And that's why escape is so valuable.

It's also why so many who set foot on the John Muir Trail in the heart of the Sierra Nevada find the experience moving. The approximately 210-mile trail runs through one of the dwindling number of places with the power to transcend compulsive measurement and competitive vanity.

I was recently fortunate to spend four days with a small group through-hiking the trail from Yosemite National Park to Bishop, Calif., a trip they expected would take 27 days. The portion I hiked covered about 35 miles from Tuolumne Meadows in the national park to the Devils Postpile National Monument near Mammoth, Calif.

The group included accomplished hikers and adventurers, including one member on his 12th through-hike of the trail and another who was on her second and made much of her own food and gear, including her backpack, for the trip.

The company on the trail and the landscape itself made it nearly impossible to remain trapped in the mindless distractions and background anxieties that typically hover over people's heads like a smoky haze that makes it hard to see or breathe.

By day the hiking was grueling at points, with multi-thousand foot climbs carrying a 25-pound pack. But the physical demand was dwarfed by the scenery which somehow managed to seem simultaneously intimate and infinite.

Evenings were quiet and reflective. By the time the group reached a new camp, which somehow managed each day to be at the top of a steep climb, there wasn't much energy left to do anything but set up tents, prepare for dinner and maybe shoot a couple of photos.

The closest thing to sitting around the campfire, by the way campfires are prohibited due to fire danger, was a few moments of reflection each evening that included some discussion of various insights from renowned climbers, adventurers, writers and thinkers compiled and read by the 12-timer, Peter Tremayne, of Reno.

Since the John Muir Trail experience is different for everyone, what follows is the description of my four days.

Day One

"Every man should endeavor to search for such a location as I am fortunate to have here. It is very peaceful and spiritual to me." from the novel "Unfeeling" by Ian Holding.

The day started at about 4:30 a.m. at a motel in Mammoth. After weeks spent preparing it was finally time to hike the trail. The previous evening we visited an overlook of the Minarets peaks in the Ansel Adams Wilderness which was my first peek at what was in store ahead.

The early wake-up call was in order to catch a bus from Mammoth Mountain Resort to Tuolomne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, where we were to begin the hike.

We drove separate vehicles from the motel to the resort. Since the vehicles were going to remain parked for several days it was important to remove any loose food, wrappers or scented items and seal up remaining sealed food to avoid attracting bears. The message was underscored as we left the motel to the sight of a large black bear rummaging through the trash bin. It was the only bear we saw during the trip.

About two hours after boarding the bus, which cost $9, we arrived at Tuolomne Meadows in Yosemite, elevation approximately 8,800 feet. In addition to trail access there's a large tent structure that's home to a restaurant and store.

The restaurant was selling breakfast items such as eggs, pancakes, bacon and coffee and the store sold snacks, light gear and maps. However postponing purchases to stock up at Tuolomne is probably a bad idea, as prices are higher and by the time you're ready to hit the trail you should already have food and gear packed and ready.

From Tuolomne we hiked through a campground and caught the trail toward the Lyell fork bridge. Although the bridge, our destination for the day, was about a nine-mile hike from Tuolomne it was a relatively easy day.

The first seven or eight miles were mostly flat and the trail ran alongside the Tuolomne River, which despie the drought was running strong. This stretch was one of the busiest of the entire hike and the only place where we ran into rangers who were interested in verifying our permits.

It was also teeming with wildlife. We saw several deer, including a large buck, and a coyote. Given the flat nature of the trail along river we also made good time and had plenty of opportunities to relax by the water.

The last couple miles marked the first true climb of the trip. The trail switchbacked and gained several hundred feet in elevation before reaching the camping area near the Lyell fork bridge. By the time we arrived two spots were already taken and more people arrived after us.

Still, it was nice to set up camp in time for a sunset and the first camp meals of the trip -- about 15 hours after the day started.

Day Two

"We had both taken too many steps away from the country that had borne us to belong anywhere with ease," John le Carre, "The Mission Song"

Our second day departure from camp was when the real hiking started.

We were headed toward camp nine miles up the trail with an estimated elevation gain of 2,200 feet. It was also our first taste of trail above the treeline and a glimpse of the best the Sierra Nevada high country has to offer.

The uphill hiking started at camp and continued for then entire first half of the day. From the bridge we hiked through and out of the forest and into a high meadow with stream, small lake and view of Donahue Pass at about 11,000 feet in elevation and where we would cross out of Yosemite National Park and into the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

After entering the meadow the trail was entirely exposed all the way up the pass. It meant exposure to sun and wind but also stunning views of the rivers, meadows and valleys we'd already hiked over and through.

The top of the pass was a great spot to take a snack break and put on some warmer clothes. There was a small, high altitude pond, signs marking the wilderness boundary and exhilirating views. Although it was windy we were able to get comfortable by sticking to the sunny, leeward side of some boulders.

The hike down from Donahue Pass to Rush Creek, roughly 9,500 feet in elevation, was the first spot to truly appreciate how smart it was to hike this four-day segment from north to south. By going this direction the longest grades, which also had little to no water, were downhill for our group.

At Rush Creek we took another break and prepared for the climb to Island Pass, elevation of about 10,200 feet, where we planned to camp. The hike up was mostly wooded and it ended just short of Thousand Island Lake, an iconic spot on the trail.

We decided to camp at the pass not only because it would be less crowded than the lake-area camping, but also because it is several hundered feet in elevation higher which meant fewer mosquitoes. The Island Pass site was also close to a small lake of its own that, at sunrise, gorgeously reflected Banner Peak in its waters. The reflection of the peak and color of the morning sun on the rocks was one of the best photography opportunities on the segment.

Day Three

"Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing afriend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself." Tecumseh, Shawnee Indian leader

The third day on the trail started at sunrise with stunning views of Banner Peak and only got better from there. The segment from Island Pass to Rosalie Lake, our destination for the next evening, passed Thousand Island Lake, Garnet Lake and Shadow Lake and stayed mostly within view of Banner the entire time.

It was also the first day we started hiking at a higher elevation than we ended, although there was still an estimated 1,400 feet of climbing.

The highlight of this stretch, at least for me, was Garnet Lake. The lake is set in a valley surrounded by snow-spotted peaks, including Banner, and the water is incredibly clear.

We took a snack break at an overlook high above the lake then hiked down to the edge where we spent even more time. This is where the Sierra Nevada landscape truly burns into the memory. And, based on what others who have hiked the trail numerous times report, the views always change with the season, the weather and time of day.

It was at Garnet Lake where I finally felt as though no matter what else happened the trip was worth the effort.

From Garnet Lake the trail heads up through a pass and then, for south-walking hikers, down a long, dry grade toward Shadow Creek. This is another time to appreciate the north-to-south approach.

There's a substantial bridge at Shadow Creek where we refilled the water and prepared for the climb, several hundred feet in elevation, to Rosalie Lake.

Although the final stretch was in the forest, which provided cooling shade, this was one of the more challenging sections. The switchbacks seemed to go forever and it came at the end of a physically and mentally exhausting day.

The climb was rewarded, though, at Rosalie Lake. From the campsites we could see the water shimmering through the trees and the lake is flanked by steep cliffs on two sides.

In the opposite direction, just a short hike from the campsite, was another cliff that overlooked the valley with Shadow Creek below.

Day Four

"Sleep -- and dream of all the things we attempted and all the things we saw," Roald Amundsen, explorer

For me this was a bittersweet day. While the group headed from Rosalie Lake to the Devils Postpile National Monument two members were preparing to resupply and continue while two others, myself included, were going to leave the trail.

The hike itself was pleasant and virtually entirely downhill which meant we covered eight miles of trail in just a few hours. The highlights included more deer sightings and magnificent pine and fir trees.

It was also another great stretch to be heading north-to-south because there was little water and, since we were heading down to about 7,600 feet in elevation, the weather was hot. Hikers starting at Devils Postpile and heading to Tulomne, a popular route, would face this hot, dry stretch for their first several miles on the trail when their legs are unprepared and their packs at their heaviest.

At Devils Postpile we caught a ride back to Mammoth with some friends of a group member. That's where the trip ended for me. The 35-mile section was unique and challenging enough to make me want to hike it again. It was also a good taste for what it would take to hike the entire John Muir Trail.

The great thing is, even though work obligations prevented me from accepting an invitation to join for another five days near Mount Whitney at the end of the trail, the part I did hike will be with me forever.

Backpacking trip went downhill thanks to my mistakes

 

Some people relive their latest outdoor adventure by whipping out a smartphone and scrolling through the Instagram posts.

When I want to remember my latest trek into the high Sierra, and even when I don’t, it only takes one glance at my bare feet.

My big toes are still bruised and black from slamming against my boots.

Not only did the pain make downhill hiking dreadful, it was one of several (self-inflicted) reasons I made the difficult decision to turn around midway and bail on the second half of the trip.

Bailing was a bummer for a bunch of reasons.

First, I was pulling the plug on a trip I’d been planning for weeks.

I’ve been hiking portions of the John Muir Trail each summer since 2014 with the goal of hiking the entire 210-mile route.

Backing out when I did meant missing out on 30 or so miles of John Muir Trail I had been hoping to knock out this summer.

It also made me feel as though I was disappointing hiking partner Peter Tremayne, an accomplished mountaineer who joined the backpacking trip at my invitation.

Lastly, but not least, backing out meant I’d need to admit to myself and others that I’d made a series of preventable mistakes that, in my mind, could make me look like a lesser hiker.

Still, I think bailing was the right choice. The hike could have gotten worse had we pressed on. And the decision to turn around was also a chance to put into practice some of the wilderness decision-making tactics I’d learned in wilderness first aid and avalanche avoidance training.

Heading into wilderness? Be sure to pack your brain
We also met and camped with an incredible backpacking family and took a break at the mythical Senor Muir’s Taco Hut on the way out. Had I not bailed we would have missed those great experiences.

The plan

The plan was to hike about 40 miles beginning at Onion Valley near Independence, Calif., and into the high Sierra over Kearsarge Pass.

From there we would hike over Glen and Pinchot passes on the John Muir Trail and then exit the mountains at Taboose Pass.

It entailed about 8,000 vertical feet of ascent and nearly 12,000 feet of descent over four days of hiking and three nights camping.

It was an ambitious plan even for summer hiking conditions made more challenging by the fact we’d be facing some snowfields and high stream crossings due leftover snow from the historic winter.

To deal with the snowfields we would pack crampons and ice axes, which increased the weight of my pack by several pounds.

The crampons also meant I’d need to wear winter mountaineering boots instead of the lightweight hikers I normally use during summer backpacking.

We anticipated two major obstacles along the route. The first would be Glen Pass on day two. The pass is nearly 12,000 feet in elevation and the north side, which would be our descent, is steep and still holding snow.

The second major obstacle we anticipated was a high stream crossing at the top of Taboose Pass on our final day.

Video posted online showed the creek was surging and the pass itself is narrow with high sides, which would make it difficult to find an alternative route to avoid the creek.

We planned to drive to Independence on a Monday and stay at Mt. Williamson Motel, a small motel that caters to John Muir and Pacific Crest trail hikers, and hike into the mountains the following day.

We also planned to join another group from Reno that was hiking in on the same day and already had permits. On Monday, however, we decided we would get our own permits, which would turn out to be a good decision.

The start of the hike (and my problems)

After getting a ride to the trailhead, included along with breakfast for anyone who gets a room at Mt. Williamson, we hiked out from Onion Valley at about 8:30 a.m.

Our plan was to climb about 3,000 vertical feet over five miles to the top of Kearsarge Pass then hike down the west side of the pass and two to three miles into the valley where we would camp.

It was my second time hiking over Kearsarge and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for an introduction to high Sierra backpacking.

The hike up passes four lakes and includes great views.

We crossed two snowfields, including one that prompted us to take out our ice axes so we could self-arrest in the event of a fall.

The only real delay, however, was a self-imposed break of about an hour when it looked like a thunderstorm was imminent.

It happened about halfway up and we stopped because we wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to start storming once we went above treeline.

The weather passed and we pressed on, making it to the top of Kearsarge around 1:30 p.m.

For me reaching the top of a high Sierra pass is the best part of hiking and backpacking, and reaching Kearsarge that day was no different.

I’ve crossed Kearsarge three times and it never gets old. The view from nearly 12,000 feet is stunning. To the east is Owens Valley and to the west is Kearsarge lakes and the high Sierra.

After a quick break for photos and snacks it was time to hike down to where we planned to camp.

This was the point where things started going downhill for my hike.

After just a few steps downhill I started feeling pain. My big toes were hitting the front of my boot with each step.

The pain slowed me down dramatically and took the fun out of hiking.

It also forced me to adjust to unnatural steps which made slowed me further.

Typically the downhill is when I’m walking faster and enjoying the scenery. But the hike from Kearsarge pass to our camp area was slow and painful.

At the time I didn’t mention the pain because it wasn’t going to change our plan for the day, which was to camp near a small, unnamed lake between Bullfrog and Kearsarge lakes. I decided to grit through hoping getting out of the boots and getting off my feet for the evening would help.

We made it to camp and after setting up my tent I removed the boots and didn’t see any evidence of blistering. It made me optimistic I could hike through the pain the following day.

As always, camping on the west side of Kearsarge pass was excellent. We made camp on a tree-sheltered knoll overlooking a small lake.

The breeze was just strong enough to help keep mosquitoes at bay and the lake was jumping with trout.

The next morning following a nice night’s sleep and after breakfast and breaking camp I felt optimistic my foot pain wouldn’t get worse.

My foot pain got worse and other problems

The plan for the day was to cross Glen Pass, which would require use of crampons and ice axes for descent.

We started hiking downhill toward Bullfrog Lake and the main stem of the John Muir Trail.

Almost immediately my toes started to hurt and the only relief came after the trail bottomed out and we started to climb.

The ascent was scenic with views of Charlotte Lake and the canyon around Charlotte Creek dominating the view.

We crossed another snowfield and reached the bottom of Glen Pass. The pass itself towers above a beautiful granite bowl with a stream and two lakes.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t fully enjoy it.

Not only did my toes hurt but I was uncomfortable with my pack, which was weighing in around 50 pounds and top heavy.

Before the trip I knew my pack would be heavy and wasn’t worried. My backpacking kit typically weighs in over 40 pounds and I figured a few extra pounds from the winter gear wouldn’t make much different.

What I failed to grasp was that I’m typically backpacking in lightweight boots with ideal trail conditions.

With big boots, foot pain and steep snowfields ahead the pack seemed like much more of a burden.

It was time for a conversation and a decision.

Decision time

We took a lunch break at the bottom of the pass and discussed my list of concerns.

My top concern was the pass. With my sore feet and top-heavy pack I wasn’t confident attempting to descend a steep snowfield.

Another concern was the remainder of the route. After Glen Pass we would need to climb and descend Pinchot and Taboose passes.

Taboose was a particular concern because once we crossed the top we faced a descent of more than 6,000 vertical feet which, given my foot pain going downhill, would have been brutal.

Tremayne raised another concern about Taboose Pass.

We had been following reports of the creek flowing on the east side of the pass and all indications were it was running high and fast.

To complicate matters further, the pass is steep and narrow and there was a chance we would have a tough time finding a safe crossing on level ground.

Since Taboose was our exit point we would have been low on food by the time we reached it. That would have increased the stakes because it could set up a choice between a risky crossing or backtracking our entire route with little food.

Several hikers passed during the discussion, including some who had just successfully crossed Glen Pass.

The fact others made the crossing without too much difficulty made it difficult to swallow the idea of backing out.

Fortunately, I recalled the decision-making portions of my avalanche avoidance training. The training emphasizes making risk assessments based on your own observations, knowledge and instinct instead of relying on others.

I decided it was time to turn around and Tremayne agreed. My feet weren’t getting better, my pack wasn’t getting lighter and I didn’t want to face the same problems on the other side of Glen Pass, which would have added another day to backtracking out.

The hike got better once we quit

I was bummed about quitting but there’s no denying that things improved fun-wise almost immediately after we turned around.

Within a couple hundred feet of turning back we ran into a group of nine hikers who had set up a makeshift beer and taco stand.

The group from Southern California makes annual trips on the trail to set up what they call Senor Muir’s Taco Hut.

It entails bringing taco ingredients, dishes and cookware and a few cases of beer up to the trail and offering free lunch and beer to whoever passes by.

We hung around the taco hut group for about an hour. It was a delight to see the stunned joy on the faces of hikers who happened by.

One woman broke down in tears of joy, grateful she didn’t have to choke down another peanut butter lunch.

After departing the taco hut we started hiking back toward Kearsarge and our previous camping location. After stopping near Charlotte Lake to chat with some backcountry rangers we hiked back up toward our planned campsite.

Just before we reached the site we ran into the O’Neill family from Bend, Ore.

Tremayne had met the family on prior hikes and we had spotted them that morning and chatted briefly.

But this time, since we were no longer on schedule, we had time to chat extensively with Julie, a teacher and author, and Cory, a teacher and landscape photographer, and their teens Cade and Becca.

The family has been taking extensive Sierra backpacking trips together for many years. The kids already have thousands of miles of backpacking experience.

The family was also rocking ultralight backpacks and a tent Cory made from scratch.

The following day we packed up and hiked out with the O’Neills. They also had a truck at Onion Valley so we caught a ride from the trailhead back to Independence where we parted ways.

My mistakes, lesson learned

Although we ended up having a nice time despite my problems, the failure to achieve the objective highlighted mistakes I might have otherwise overlooked.

My number one mistake was overlooking potential boot problems. While I had worn the mountaineering boots previously, I had never used them to hike on dirt. My previous treks with the boots were on snow and hiking downhill on snow is a different step than hiking on dirt.

Before this trip it hadn’t occurred to me that could be a problem.

My second problem was the heavy pack. Previously, I knew I was carrying too much but never seriously attempted to reduce weight.

Now that a heavy pack contributed to a failed trip I’m more motivated to cut weight for next time.

Another mistake was making a summer-style hike plan for a trip that included snowfields. On future trips when snow is involved, even if it will be warm-weather hiking, I’ll dial back my daily mileage and climbing expectations.

Despite the failure and mistakes I’m happy with the outcome of the trip.

Sure, it’s no fun explaining my own mistakes resulted in my failure to achieve an outdoors objective.

But having been through it I can say owning up to mistakes and vowing to improve and try again is better than ignoring problems and hiking further into a situation where I could have had bigger problems and fewer options to solve them.

HOKA ONE ONE Releases “The Speedgoat” Short Film

 

GOLETA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--

HOKA ONE ONE®, a division of Deckers Brands (DECK), announces the release of its new short film, “The Speedgoat.”

This Smart News Release features multimedia. View the full release here: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170731005206/en/

“The Speedgoat” chronicles the running career of Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer, the first HOKA-sponsored runner, who has won more 100-mile trail races than anyone and who set the speed record for the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail in 2016. The film highlights his active childhood in New Hampshire and his current training in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, documenting the training, career and motivations of this iconic professional athlete.

“HOKA is a brand that was born in the mountains, and a brand that originated with trail and ultra running,” said Lee Cox, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at HOKA ONE ONE. “Our partnership with Karl, our development of his signature trail running shoe, and our production of this entertaining and unconventional short film all reflect our continued commitment to the side of the sport that got us started.”

“The Speedgoat” also details Meltzer’s role in the development of the HOKA ONE ONE shoe that bears his nickname, the Speedgoat 2. Released in June, the style was designed with Meltzer in order to handle the rugged mountain trails on which he trains and races.

The full film can be viewed at http://www.hokaoneone.com/speedgoat-2.html.

About HOKA ONE ONE

HOKA ONE ONE® is the fastest growing premium running shoe brand in the world. Two life-long runners launched HOKA in 2009, after years spent handcrafting and shaping lightweight shoes with extra-thick midsoles. Initially embraced by ultrarunners because of their enhanced cushioning and inherent stability, HOKA now offers shoes for all types of athletes who enjoy the unique ride the shoes provide. For more information visit www.hokaoneone.com or follow @hokaoneone #hokaoneone.

About Deckers Brands

Deckers Brands is a global leader in designing, marketing and distributing innovative footwear, apparel and accessories developed for both everyday casual lifestyle use and high performance activities. The Company’s portfolio of brands includes UGG®, Koolaburra®, HOKA ONE ONE®, Teva® and Sanuk®. Deckers Brands products are sold in more than 50 countries and territories through select department and specialty stores, Company-owned and operated retail stores, and select online stores, including Company-owned websites. Deckers Brands has a 40-year history of building niche footwear brands into lifestyle market leaders attracting millions of loyal consumers globally. For more information, please visit www.deckers.com.

Hikes and hops: The best hiking trail and brewery pairs in Illinois

Nothing pairs better with the sounds and smells of nature than a cold beer—or room temperature brew, depending on the recommendations of the brewery at hand.

We picked out the best hiking paths in Illinois and paired them with a brewery close by to motivate you to get to the end of the trail. Grab your packs, your snacks and your hiking boots, and get out there to enjoy nature and the beer you’ll reward yourself with after.

Merwin Nature Preserve Trail and DESTIHL Microbrewery

Drive time from Chicago: 2.5 hours

Beer to try: Amra Mango IPA

The skinny: This 2-mile trail near the Mackinaw River (25777 N. 1925 East Road, Lexington, Ill. 309-454-3169) is good for hikers of all skill levels. DESTIHL Brewery (1200 Greenrbiar Drive, Normal, Ill. 309-220-9902) is only a 15-minute drive away, so you’re close enough to continue riding that post-exercise endorphin high when you roll up to replenish your energy. Their Amra Mango IPA is perfect for summer and to cool you down after spending some time in the great, humid outdoors.

Starved Rock and Tangled Roots Brewing Company

Drive time from Chicago: 2 hours

Beer to try: Kit Kupfer

The skinny: You’re not a true Illinoisan until you make your way to Starved Rock (2668 E. 873 Road, Oglesby, Ill. 800-868-7625). Arguably the prettiest of Illinois’ state parks, Starved Rock is home to many a canyon and Lover’s Leap—with a beautiful view, dismal as it may sound. Once you get your fill of nature, check out nearby Tangled Roots Brewing Company (812 LaSalle St., Ottawa, Ill. 815-324-9549) and its adjacent brewpub, The Lone Buffalo. Sip on a Kit Kupfer, a peachy amber ale brewed specifically to be enjoyed as a complement to outdoorsy activities.

Rock Cut State Park and Pig Minds Brewing

Drive time from Chicago: 1.5 hours

Beer to try: HappiDaze

The skinny: What has two lakes and 3,092 acres of wildlife to explore? Rock Cut State Park (7318 Harlem Road, Loves Park, Ill.). Take it easy on its titular trail path or kick it up a notch with the Pierce Lake trail, and enjoy fishing, swimming or camping before heading out of the woods to Pig Minds Brewing (4080 Steele Drive, Machesney Park, Ill. 779-423-2147). Their HappiDaze brew features a California golden ale with hints of blueberries to round out a perfect summer sipper.

Seth Atwood Park and Granite City Food and Brewery

Drive time from Chicago: 2 hours

Beer to try: Prairie Vixen

The skinny: Lace up your boots or grab your canoe to spend a day on the Kishwaukee River in Atwood Park (7074 Rydberg Road, Rockford 815-966-8747). You can spend the afternoon walking this 5.3-mile trail, or enjoy smooth sailing down the Kishwaukee before heading to Granite City Food and Brewery (7140 Harrison Ave., Rockford 815-332-7070). Check out their Prairie Vixen Hefeweizen beer, with hints of banana, clove and bubble gum.

Cavalier de LaSalle and Brickstone Brewery

Drive time from Chicago: 1.5 hours

Beer to try: Cherry Bomb

The skinny: This trail isn’t very long (Percy Drive, Bourbonnais, Ill). , but it ends at a gorgeous cave, perfect for getting your exploring kicks without leaving the comfort of your home state. Bring the pup(s) along—but keep ‘em on a leash—and make it a family affair. Head to nearby Brickstone Brewery (557 William R. Latham Senior Drive, Bourbonnais, Ill. 815-936-9277) to sample their award-winning craft beers, including the Cherry Bomb, a fruit ale made with Michigan cherries.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve and Skeleton Key Brewery

Drive time from Chicago: 45 minutes

Beer to try: Migratory Coconut golden ale

The skinny: The suburbs aren’t all strip malls and Panera Bread. Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve (south of Interstate 55 between Lemont Road and Cass Avenue, Darien, Ill.) is home to a beautiful waterfall and nearly 11 miles of trail to peruse. Once you’re done spending your day admiring the babbling brooks and flowing rivers, make your way to Skeleton Key Brewery’s taproom (8102 Lemont Road, Woodridge, Ill. 630-395-9033). Check out the Migratory Coconut golden ale, a traditional ale infused with toasted coconut, or their Friends Don’t Lie American pale ale with grapefruit.

Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site and Hand of Fate Brewing

Drive time from Chicago: 3 hours, 45 minutes

Beer to try: Cucumber saison

The skinny: This trail accompanies the historical village built to mirror the one Abraham Lincoln lived in as a boy (15588 History Lane, Petersburg, Ill. 217-632-4010). The path follows the Rocky Branch trail and Cardinal Ridge along the Sangamon River. If you’re lucky, you can catch some local theater stars at the Theatre in the Park. Once you’re done kickin’ it in the 1800s, check out Hand of Fate Brewing (107 E. Douglas St., Petersburg, Ill. 217-691-1098) to sip on their uber-refreshing summer brew, the Cucumber saison.

Elaine Thompson In Zürich: "I Have Nothing To Prove"

ZURICH, Switzerland:

Like she was at the IAAF World Championships in London, Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson will enter today's Weltklasse Zurich Diamond League 200 metres final inside the Letzigrund Stadium as the favourite for top honours.

Things might not have gone to script in the English capital, but the Jamaican speedster, while underlining that she does not feel that she has anything to prove, is looking forward to getting on track as she races towards the US$50,000 (J$6.4 million) prize money that awaits the winner and another Diamond Race triumph.

Last year's 100m champion will face rival Dafne Schippers, Marie-Josee Ta Lou and Shaunae Miller-Uibo in the half-lap event, with experienced Jamaican Simone Facey also qualifying for the 200m Diamond League finale.

NO PRESSURE

"Some of the best athletes are performing here, and so it's really good coming back here. I'm just going out there to have fun. There is no pressure on me," Thompson told reporters yesterday.

"I don't have anything to prove to the world; I am just going out there to have fun. It's my last 200m of the season, so nothing to prove. Yes, there is some disappointment, but still [it is about] having fun," said Thompson, who also dismissed suggestions that she suffered from the extra pressure after her Olympic double in 2016 and another dominant season on the circuit.

"Honestly, there was no pressure. Track and field is like life, and life is like track and field. Sometimes you plan, but it doesn't work out. I went into the championship and everything was smooth, but it didn't happen how I planned it, so I just have to look forward to the rest of my career," Thompson offered. "I myself don't know what happened, but what happened at the World Championships already happened. I can't dwell on that right now, I just have to move forward and focus on the rest of the season."

Three other Jamaicans will be hunting Diamond Race titles today - all three, like Thompson, looking to end a testing season with success on the circuit.

Asafa Powell won the men's 100m Diamond Race title last season, but has had a miserable year so far with injury ending his hopes of a spot on Jamaica's World Championships team back in June. Powell has only raced four times this season - once on the Diamond League circuit in Doha, where he registered his best time this year, 10.08 seconds.

World Champion Justin Gatlin is the favourite for the Diamond Race trophy, with challenges also expected to come from the likes of Akani Simbine, Chijindu Ujah and Ben Youssef Meite.

SPRINT HURDLES

For sprint hurdler Danielle Williams, London 2017 was a chance to confirm her status on the international championships stage, but the defending World Champion missed out on a spot in the final. She will today meet World Champion Dawn Harper-Nelson along with Sharika Nelvis, Christina Manning and Jasmin Stowers, the fastest in this field this season with a 12.47 clocking this year.

Kimberly Williams will be looking to put her London 2017 disappointment of missing out on the top eight at a major championship for the first time in her career behind her with a spring at the diamond in the triple jump event, where World Champ Yulimar Rojas and defending Diamond Race champion Caterine Ibarguen are expected to dominate.

Jura Levy, third at the Birmingham Diamond League meet a few days ago, will compete in the non-Diamond Race women's 100m along with Christania Williams and Schillonie Calvert-Powell, with Jamaica also expected to field a team in the event-closing women's 4x100m relay.

Jamaica Schedule

Women's Triple Jump - 11:25 a.m.

Kimberly Williams

Women's 100m (Race 2) - 12:03 p.m.

Jura Levy

Schillonie Calvert-Powell

Christania Williams

Women's 200m - 1:24 p.m.

Elaine Thompson

Simone Facey

Men's 100m - 2:08 p.m.

Asafa Powell

Women's 100m Hurdles - 2:35 p.m.

Danielle Williams

Women's 4x100m Relay - 2:54 p.m.

Jamaica

Clayton Murphy Joins Nike Oregon Project

PORTLAND, OR, UNITED STATES, August 23, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ -- Clayton Murphy, Rio Olympic 800 meters Bronze Medallist and 3rd All-Time fastest American over the distance, announced today that he has joined Nike’s Oregon Project. Murphy will join a training group that currently includes Olympic and World Championship Medallists Mo Farah, Galen Rupp, Matthew Centrowitz, Shannon Rowbury and Sifan Hassan. Murphy was coached collegiately and in his first year as a professional by University of Akron Coach Lee LaBadie. “I want to thank Coach LaBadie for everything he has done for me" Murphy said. "He has been instrumental in my success as an athlete to date. Most importantly I want to thank him for how he has helped in my development as a person. I cannot say enough about everything he has done for me.” Remarking on Murphy’s decision, LaBadie stated that “I’m excited to see Clayton move to such an elite training group as the Oregon Project. He has a great future in our sport as an individual and an American. We all at Akron wish him the very best."

Commenting on his decision to join the Oregon Project Murphy said “This is the right time as I begin to focus on building toward the World Championships in 2019 and Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. I am extremely excited to start working with the Oregon Project staff and to train with athletes like Mo, Galen and Matthew. The training environment and support system is a great fit for me and I am confident it will help me achieve my athletic goals.” Murphy will begin training with the Oregon Project in the Fall at Nike's World Head Quarters in Portland, Oregon.

Asafa Powell Is Back, Aiming For DL 100 Win

Races Gatlin in 100m at Zurich Diamond League today

Jamaica's former world record holder Asafa Powell makes a return to competitive action as he takes on freshly minted World champion Justin Gatlin in the 100m Diamond League Final in Zurich, Switzerland today at 3:08 pm.

Four other Jamaicans will be in action hunting Diamond League trophies as sprint queen Elaine Thompson lines up in the 200m, along with compatriot Simone Facey, while other Jamaicans Danielle Williams goes in the 100m hurdles and Kimberly Williams in the triple jump.

The winner at the final of each Diamond discipline will become “IAAF Diamond League champion” and be awarded a Diamond Trophy, US$50,000 prize money, plus a wild card for the next IAAF World Championships.

The best athletes of the current season qualified for the final based upon points acquired at the 12 preceding IAAF Diamond League meetings. US$100,000 will be awarded in prize money in each event, with individual event champions collecting $50,000.

Sixteen Diamond League finals will be on show and the new system provides for added suspense and drama, as the points collected at the qualifying meetings have no influence on the outcome of the finals. Everyone starts at zero.

The Weltklasse Zurich meet will feature as many as eight duels between reigning Olympic champions and newly crowned world champions.

Organisers have confirmed that 18 new world champions will be competing at the first of this season's two IAAF Diamond League finals. The other is in Brussels, Belgium on September 1 and several Jamaicans will be in the thick of things.

Relaxed Simbine Could Surprise Gatlin In Zürich

“Go out and just have fun.”

That will be coach Werner Prinsloo’s advice to Akani Simbine (Tuks/HPC) when he lines up tonight to compete in the 100m at the Diamond League meeting in Zurich.

Don’t get Prinsloo wrong - he firmly believes that Simbine can win. He has after all beaten the world champion, Justin Gatlin (USA), at the Diamond League meeting in Doha.

“But being his coach, I got to be realistic. It has been a long and hard season. I fully realise that at this stage he is physically and emotionally drained, so I don’t want Akani to be under unnecessary pressure for his final race of the season. Some of his best results came about when Akani was just racing for the sake of racing. His South African record (9.89s) last year in Budapest is a good example.”

Simbine’s next big challenge in the 100 metres is going to be next year when he is competing at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Prinsloo is of the opinion that because the Games are in April, it will favour the South African athletes. He bases his confidence on the fact that the South African Championships are usually in April which means the local athletes and coaches know how to peak at that time.

“I think it might be slightly more difficult for the athletes in the northern hemisphere to properly prepare for the Commonwealth Games.”

Prinsloo wants Simbine to win the 100m at the Games.

“He has competed in an Olympic and a World Championships final. So we have ‘ticked’ that box. His next challenge is to start winning titles. Akani was quite disappointed with his performance in the World Championships final. He made it clear to me afterwards that he has had it with fifth-place finishes in finals. He now wants to start winning.”

The Tuks/HPC athlete finished fifth at last year’s Olympic final and now at the World Championships

Prinsloo said that from now on Simbine’s main focus is only going to be the 100 metres. The World Championships in London was the last time he had doubled up competing in both sprints.

“International athletics has become quite specialised. That is why you find fewer athletes trying to be competitive in more than one event. Akani will race the odd 200 metres on occasion, but our main focus from now on will be the 100 metres.”

Prinsloo predicts that South Africa’s sprinters have the ability to win the 100m, 200m and 400m at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.

The world long jump champion, Luvo Manyonga (Tuks/HPC), will try and continue a year-long victory streak tonight in Zurich. Last year’s Olympic final was the last time he was beaten in the long jump.

Wenda Nel and LJ van Zyl (both Tuks/HPC) will compete in their respective 400m hurdles races in Zurich.

Röhler & Vetter To Renew Jav Rivalry In Zürich

Olympic champion Thomas Rohler and world champion Johannes Vetter have faced off against each other almost on a weekly basis in 2017 and the head-to-head between the two global champions and domestic rivals is poised at six competitions apiece heading into tomorrow night’s Zurich Diamond League.

“We have ruled the javelin for nearly three years,” said Rohler at the pre-competition press conference. “It’s fun for us and it’s fun to get better and it’s really helping that we are a big team in Germany at a high level. We push each other and by doing that, we are raising the level inside the country and get more of an advantage at an international level.”

Rohler opened his season with a massive throw of 93.90m in the Doha Diamond League - second only to Jan Zelezny’s world record on the world lists. Most observers would have predicted that mark would remain ensconced at the top of the season’s lists - unless Rohler could improve it himself - but a little over two months later, his domestic rival produced a magnificent series of throws on a cool and damp evening in Lucerne, the best of the six landing beyond Rohler’s world-lead and German record at 94.44m.

“It was an incredible competition. It’s difficult to find words,” said Vetter, whose lifetime best before the competition stood at 89.68m. “I was in really good shape and it was only two days after German Championships and I felt it in the warm up. I had one 89m throw and one 90m throw in warm up - I have to throw a little bit further in warm up for the self-confidence.

Olympic champion Thomas Rohler and world champion Johannes Vetter have faced off against each other almost on a weekly basis in 2017 and the head-to-head between the two global champions and domestic rivals is poised at six competitions apiece heading into tomorrow night’s Zurich Diamond League.

“We have ruled the javelin for nearly three years,” said Rohler at the pre-competition press conference. “It’s fun for us and it’s fun to get better and it’s really helping that we are a big team in Germany at a high level. We push each other and by doing that, we are raising the level inside the country and get more of an advantage at an international level.”

Rohler opened his season with a massive throw of 93.90m in the Doha Diamond League - second only to Jan Zelezny’s world record on the world lists. Most observers would have predicted that mark would remain ensconced at the top of the season’s lists - unless Rohler could improve it himself - but a little over two months later, his domestic rival produced a magnificent series of throws on a cool and damp evening in Lucerne, the best of the six landing beyond Rohler’s world-lead and German record at 94.44m.

“It was an incredible competition. It’s difficult to find words,” said Vetter, whose lifetime best before the competition stood at 89.68m. “I was in really good shape and it was only two days after German Championships and I felt it in the warm up. I had one 89m throw and one 90m throw in warm up - I have to throw a little bit further in warm up for the self-confidence.

“One of my goals this season was to catch the 90m mark and the crowd was crazy as well - so everything came together and it was why I threw that far in Luzern.”

And after Zurich tomorrow night, it is off to Berlin on Sunday for the ISTAF where they will go head-to-head on home soil a year before they will captivate the crowds again when the Olympiastadion stages the European Championships - an event they are both already looking forward to.

“The crowd is always really important for us; it’s more fun to compete if there is someone behind you, understanding the sport,” said Rohler. “That really propels every athlete - it can be noisy but if there is some rhythm, it helps you.”

Vetter added: “Everyone saw the amazing crowd in London last week and I think it’s a little bit more special in Berlin as a German so I think we will be really excited and we are looking forward to compete there.

“We can’t forget there are a lot of other javelin throwers in Germany - at first, I have to qualify and I’m pretty sure I will - but the key point is to stay healthy and we will rock the European Championships as well.”

Sooners Announce 2018 Schedule

NORMAN — University of Oklahoma Vice President and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione and Head Track and Field Coach Jim VanHootegem announced the 2018 OU track and field schedule Wednesday.

The Sooners open their indoor season on Jan. 12 at the Leonard Hilton Memorial Invite in Houston, Texas. The following week, OU heads to Nashville, Tenn., for the Vanderbilt Invitational on Jan. 19-20 before the Texas Tech Invitational on Jan. 26-27 in Lubbock, Texas.

OU will host one indoor meet, the J.D. Martin Invitational on Feb. 3. The team will then wrap up the regular indoor season at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., on Feb. 9-10.

Indoor postseason competition begins Feb. 23-24 at the Big 12 Indoor Championship in Ames, Iowa. The NCAA Indoor Championships are scheduled for March 9-10 in College Station, Texas.

VanHootegem said the indoor schedule will feature strong competition at several high-quality facilities.

“We’re excited that Texas Tech is opening up their new facility, and we like competing against them,” he said. “We respect them as a team and know that competing against them is going to be great competition, and it’s great to do that against a conference rival. We’ve heard good things about the Vanderbilt facility. They hosted the SEC Championship last year, and competing against Vanderbilt and at Arkansas, we always have the goal of going up against the best, so we like competing against the SEC schools, and not only those host schools, but also the schools that come to those meets.

“We’re always excited to compete at home in the J.D. Martin, and we thought that this year, Houston would be a good place to kick off our schedule,” VanHootegem continued. “Among other things, we have a lot of people from that area, so it gives them a chance to [compete] back home... They also have some great athletes there at Houston, too, so we’re always seeking competition.”

The Sooners begin the outdoor season one week after the conclusion of indoor, opening at the TCU Invitational March 16-17 in Fort Worth, Texas, prior to the Aztec Invitational on March 23-24 in San Diego.

OU will compete in the elite Texas Relays on March 28-31 in Austin, Texas, before heading to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the Crimson Tide Invitational on April 6-7.

On April 20-21, the Sooners host the 49th annual John Jacobs Invitational. The team will conclude the regular season at the prestigious Penn Relays in Philadelphia on April 26-28.

The Big 12 Outdoor Championship is slated for May 11-13 in Waco, Texas, and the NCAA West Preliminary Round is set for May 24-26 in Sacramento, Calif. Qualifying athletes will advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., on June 6-9.

“Everybody on our team is training for the Big 12 Championship,” VanHootegem said. “That can be a goal for everybody that’s a walk-on athlete or a younger athlete on our team. It’s the one thing that I think bonds our entire team, but we do place a very high emphasis on the West Preliminary meets because we want to qualify as many people as possible for the NCAA Championships, and that is still a very high goal of ours: to increase our national participation.”

 

Africa To Bid For '25 World Championships

Africa has never staged the biennial event, which started in 1983, despite being home to many world champions.
Hamad Kalkaba Malboum says he believes a bid is set to come from one of six African nations.
"We are talking with Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco - those countries have the facilities," said the Cameroonian.

"I have very positive sounds from some of them," added the president of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA).
Morocco is the only African country to have staged a leg of the Diamond League, the annual athletics series which runs from May to September around the world.

The Moroccan city Casablanca was also the last in Africa to try to stage the World Championships, having bid unsuccessfully for the 2011 event.

Kalkaba pointed to recent successes with March's World Cross Country Championships in Uganda and July's World U18 Championships in Kenya as reasons to be hopeful.

"People said that Africa could not host the World Cup in football, but we did it very successfully," he added in reference to South Africa's staging of the 2010 finals.

Kalkaba, who took charge of the CAA in 2003, said the president of athletics' governing body - the IAAF - backs the idea.
"President Coe is supporting the fact that Africa could host the World Championships," said the 66-year-old, an IAAF vice-president himself.

With the 2019 and 2021 events having been awarded to Qatar and the United States respectively, the next available championship to bid for is 2023.

Yet Kalkaba, who has been in talks with political leaders including Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, believes this is too early for the continent.

He said Africa has never previously staged the biennial competition because athletics was less popular than football and also "because we are facing many other social problems - health, education, building roads or railways - political leaders are sometimes afraid of spending a lot of money on hosting an event.

"But I think many now realise that [staging the championships] could put the nation on the world map in terms of publicity and promote tourism so there is a benefit from hosting the event. This was not the case in the past."

A decision on who will stage the 2025 finals is set to be taken in 2020.

Barshim's Only Target Is The World Record

IAAF/Zurich
Some athletes crumble under pressure. Others, like Mutaz Essa Barshim, thrive.

In an athletics discipline that almost always ends in failure – even for the winners – high jumpers have to be mentally strong. And this year Barshim has proven himself to be the strongest in the world in his event, both mentally and physically.

Not only has he gone undefeated for the whole season – a feat last achieved in the men’s high jump back in 2004 by Stefan Holm – but Barshim’s winning streak has also included the IAAF World Championships London 2017, where he won his first senior global outdoor title.

Having achieved his main goal for the season, Barshim headed to the UK’s second city one week later and jumped a world-leading 2.40m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Birmingham.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Barshim said after clearing 2.40m for the 10th time in his career, a tally bettered only by world record-holder Javier Sotomayor. “I knew I was in good shape, I just didn’t know how recovered my body was. I hadn’t trained at all since the World Championships. At that point of the season, resting is training. You need to recover.”

The 26-year-old Qatari surrendered his lead in Birmingham when world bronze medallist Majd Eddin Ghazal cleared 2.31m on his first try, while Barshim needed three attempts. But that was exactly the kind of pressure Barshim needed to go higher.

“I was a little bit tired and felt I wasn’t really kicking off but after knocking down 2.31m a couple of times, I started to find some of my rhythm again.

“I find it difficult to jump when there’s no pressure,” he added. “That’s why, once I’d won the competition, I moved the bar up to 2.39m. Then after a couple of attempts, I thought there still wasn’t enough pressure for me, so I thought I’d move the bar up to 2.40m. That was a challenge for me, so I’m really happy I did it. The meeting record was my target.”

The jump also meant that 2017 was Barshim’s fifth consecutive season of 2.40m jumps; a record streak for any high jumper in history.

“It’s 2.40m, it’s a magical number,” he said. “I’m so happy I got it this year. I knew I could do it, I knew I had the power.
“I think I was in better shape during the World Championships, but the target there for me was the gold. It was a championship, so it’s the medal that counts. Once I got that gold, I was so happy and I couldn’t really focus to jump higher, so that’s why I didn’t jump 2.40m in London.”

His win on Sunday was Barshim’s third consecutive victory in Birmingham. The next time he competes in the British city will likely be at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018.

“I love it here; I had the meeting record here from 2014 and I also won in Birmingham last year so it is a lucky place for me,” he said. “This is a good sign. I’ve never jumped indoors in Birmingham, so I’m looking forward to competing at the World Indoor Championships.”

After sailing over the bar with absolute precision, Barshim leapt off the high jump bed and was embraced by fellow competitors Ghazal, Gianmarco Tamberi and Luis Castro Rivera. Barshim then headed back towards the uprights, picked up the bar and walked off with it.

“I’m taking the bar home; I’m not joking,” he said. “I like that jump that I did; for me it’s special. I want to remember that jump every time I look at the bar.”

NATIONAL TREASURE
Before Barshim’s breakthrough world U20 title in 2010, Qatar didn’t have much of an athletics tradition. And while several athletes have won medals for Qatar over the past decade, Barshim is the country’s leading home-grown talent.

He hasn’t always been a high jumper, though. When he started in athletics, Barshim followed in the footsteps of his father, who was an international level endurance athlete, competing in long-distance running and race walking events.

He eventually discovered jumping events and stuck with the high jump because, he says, it was the one that hurt the least. Even then, it took a few years to make a mark.

“In 2007, when I was about 16 years old, I realised I had talent and I started training more seriously,” he says. “When I jumped 2.14m at age 17 to qualify for the World Junior Championships, that was big for me. I went to the World Junior Championships the following year and I won it.”

Barshim took Olympic bronze in London two years later and has featured regularly on championship podiums ever since. He is now just the fourth man in history to have won world titles indoors and outdoors in the high jump.

Given all that he has achieved, it is easy to forget that Barshim is still just 26 years old.

“I’m not in any rush,” he says. “My coach (Stanislaw Szczyrba) tells me that I’m still young and I’m not yet at my peak. I’m still getting stronger mentally and physically. Injuries have slowed me down a bit, but I’m happy that I’m starting to build back from that and I’m now healthy. The only target I have now is the world record.”

Questions about the world record have been a regular theme at high jump press conferences over the past few years, ever since the 2013 and 2014 seasons where numerous athletes jumped 2.40m. Of that crop – a group that includes the likes of Olympic champion Derek Drouin, 2013 world champion Bogdan Bondarenko and 2012 Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov – Barshim is the only jumper who is currently at full health.

He doesn’t take anything for granted, though. And, if anything, Barshim would love for his rivals to be back to top form.

“I don’t like to underestimate anyone,” he says. “If you’re getting more people in the field jumping high, we’ll push each other on to jump better heights. When there’s a strong field, you just want to win, then all of a sudden you realise it’s a great height.

“I still think the world record is possible,” he added. “I don’t want to put any limits on myself.”

Barshim in action in Zurich today
Zurich: Sixteen IAAF Diamond League champions will be crowned today at the Weltklasse in Zurich, the first of two 2017 IAAF Diamond League finals.

In all, 17 freshly-minted world champions and 14 reigning Olympic champions will be on the slate before a sell-out crowd of 25,000 at Zurich’s Letzigrund Stadium. In eight events, the two will be going head-to-head in the battle for the Diamond Trophy and each discipline’s US$50,000 winner’s check in a new championships-style format introduced this year.

Athletes competing in Zurich – and those who will compete in the remaining 16 Diamond disciplines in Brussels on Friday 1 September – earned their spots in the finals by accumulating points at the 12 IAAF Diamond League meetings leading up to the two finals where the winners of each Diamond event will be crowned the 2017 series’ champions.

The three jumps on the men’s programme all feature newly-crowned world champions who are unbeaten in 2017: Luvo Manyonga of South Africa in the long jump, Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim in the high jump, and Sam Kendricks of the US in the pole vault.
In the latter, the story line will follow Renaud Lavillenie, the bronze medallist in London, who is the only athlete to have won the Diamond Trophy in each of the series’ seven seasons. The 30-year-old Frenchman hasn’t won at a Diamond League meeting this season but arrives in the heels of back-to-back season’s bests: 5.89m in London and 5.91m in Warsaw one week ago.

Kendricks on the other hand, rides a 10-meet win streak to Switzerland’s northern reaches, and arrives as the world leader at 6.00m and clearly as the man to beat. Poles Piotr Lisek and Pawel Wojciechowski with 5.89m and 5.93m season’s bests, will figure prominently as well.

Barshim too arrives undefeated this season in nine competitions, and fresh off a 2.40m world lead in Birmingham. He’ll need to be pushed to go higher and perhaps even challenge his 2.43m lifetime best set in the Diamond League final in 2014. That’s not likely in a season in which Barshim is head and shoulders, figuratively and almost literally, above the rest of the field.

Farah Ready For Final 5000 Farewell In Zürich

The four-time Olympic champion will bring the curtain down on his glittering track career at the Weltklasse meeting.

Sir Mo Farah is braced for a tough and emotional final track farewell in Zurich on Thursday.

The four-time Olympic champion will bring the curtain down on his glittering track career when he races over 5,000 metres at the Weltklasse meeting.

The 34-year-old has the chance to gain revenge on the man who beat him to 5,000m gold at the World Championships in London earlier this month, Ethiopian Muktar Edris, ending his winning run at majors after 10 consecutive global titles.

“Now, finally, I can say, ‘This is it’,” Farah said at a press conference.

“Everything must come to an end at some point. Obviously I will be sad, I will miss it.

“I will try and not think about (the emotion of the occasion) too much.”

Asked if there would be tears at the finish, Farah, who is turning his focus to marathon running, said: “I don’t know, we will see.”

While Farah’s last track race in Britain was a comfortable 3,000m victory in Birmingham on Sunday, the Diamond League final is set to be a far more competitive affair.

The three Ethiopians who teamed up to defeat Farah on home soil 11 days ago are in the field, Yomif Kejelcha and Selemon Barega joining Edris, as is the bronze medallist from London, the Kenyan-born American Paul Chelimo.

“It’s definitely a tough one,” said Farah.

“It’s going to be hard, everyone’s in there, all the guys from the World Championships will be there, it’s exciting.

“I’m probably going into it as less of a favourite, but that’s a nice thing.”

Jamaica Lags In The Business Aspects Of Sports

Jamaicans got great psychic pleasure from going to the capital of the former promoters of the African slave trade and reaping a treasure trove of medals at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. When we failed to produce the same success at the just-concluded 16th IAAF World Championships, also held in London, we collectively became crestfallen, almost to the point of depression.

I have a theory that our pain at not winning the accustomed number of medals is made worse by the fact that we do not have much else to look forward to than the feeling that we beat nations that are bigger, richer, and more powerful than us. It is as if we are competing under the weight of a national inferiority complex, which is lifted only when our standing is near the top of the medals table.

Not so for the big, rich and powerful nations. They too want to win medals, but win or lose they are the ones laughing all the way to the bank. The reason is simple. They are active participants in the multi-billion US-dollar global sports industry. We are not. It's questionable whether we even have a sports industry.

In the United States, for example, the sports industry is a well-coordinated revenue generator for the economy. Estimates put earnings in 2014 at US$60.5 billion. This is projected to reach US$73.5 billion by 2019. Money pours in from four main revenue streams: gate receipts, media rights, sponsorships, and merchandise. Add to that the multiplier effect from massive public and private investment in sporting and training venues and facilities; the manufacturing of sports equipment, apparel, footwear and accessories; the contribution in terms of earnings from employment and other economic activities that are hard to disaggregate and value because they are so diffused, and one begins to get a measure of the significant economic contribution of an activity that's now part of an integrated global industry.

Other than jumping up and down in front of our television sets or in Half-Way-Tree shouting goooolllllldddd each time Jamaica wins a race, how much does the country really earn based on the athletic prowess of the likes of Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Asafa Powell, and Elaine Thompson? When it comes to the business aspect of sports, we have proven ourselves to be inept at even making the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium self-sustaining, much less viable.

Speaking on the topic 'Jamaica and the IMF' (International Monetary Fund) at the Distinguished Lecture Series put on by the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean, IMF Resident Representative Dr Lonkeng Ngouana was reported in the press making the following observation: “Jamaica should be reaping more economic benefits from the strength of the country's brand which is being under-leveraged. To leverage that brand your goods have to be found in shops in countries where people easily recognise the Jamaican flag.” We knew that all along. The big question is, why aren't we doing anything about it?

Usain Bolt, having demonstrated what is possible on the track to build Brand Jamaica, is showing in business what is possible to exploit Brand Jamaica. From a recent news release through the local press we learned that the Usain Bolt's Tracks & Records chain, in which he is a major shareholder, has signed with the United Kingdom-based Casual Dining Restaurants Group to open 15 outlets of the popular sports bar in the UK over the next five years. Gary Matalon, a partner in Tracks & Records, is quoted in the release saying the following: “This is the first time a local, home-grown concept has evolved into becoming an international franchise. This confirms Brand Jamaica's potential and gives us widespread hope that we can export many other Jamaican brands through this business model.”

Butch Stewart's Sandals Resorts Group, working against the odds, has kept Jamaica's tourism alive and growing by leveraging Brand Jamaica — itself being named one of the top 20 brands in the Commonwealth by Inter-brand Inc. GraceKennedy has, to a lesser degree, done the same thing to reach beyond Jamaican shores to a global market. And so too has a handful of other Jamaican enterprises, targeting mainly the Jamaican Diaspora market.

These efforts are to be lauded and emulated. But the inability to leverage Brand Jamaica goes beyond the actions of a few corporate entities. By my estimate, the value of Brand Jamaica exceeds US$32 billion; twice the country's annual gross domestic product. The question must be asked, why the gap between the value of Brand Jamaica and the value of the goods and services produced by the country?

Until we truthfully answer this question and take meaningful action to address the underlying problems, Jamaica will remain a country known for its athletic prowess — producing sports icons who earn wealth for themselves, but failing to increase the wealth of the nation and of the Jamaican people. Rising gross domestic product is the only thing that can do that.

Anthonique Strachan Hopes To Return To Prominence

Former world junior double sprint champion patient in her return from sports hernia surgery

In 2012, Anthonique Strachan was the best junior female sprinter in the world, winning the double sprint title at the International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) World Junior Championships, and carting off the IAAF's Rising Star Athlete of the Year Award at its end-of-year gala show. Strachan set her personal best mark in the loo meters (m) that year, and the following year, she turned in her lifetime best in the 200M.

Along with Shaunae Miller who was rising up with her, they were seen as the future of female sprinting in The Bahamas.

Strachan has produced sub-23 second races in the loom ever since, but has never really regained the form from 2012 and 2013. A sports hernia injury cut her 2015 season short, forcing her out of the Beijing World Championships. Now almost two years removed from surgery, Strachan is focused on maximizing her potential on the track. This past season, she was only able to record season's best times of 11.50 seconds in the loom and 22.84 seconds in the 200M, significantly off her personal best times of 11.20 seconds in the loom and 22.32 seconds in the 200M.

"I just have to be patient and keep working hard," she said. "I know within myself that I am going to be great. The talent that I have, I haven't seen anyone else with it. Right now, I'm just figuring out how to do things a new way. I'm disappointed in the times this year, but at the same time, I have to understand where I'm at, and where my body is at.

Right now, it's just a little bit of a learning curve for me. "I know the type of athlete that I am and I know the talent that I have. Everything happens within its own time. You can't force anything. When God is ready for me to get to a certain point, He is going to make it possible for me to get to that point. You can't get anything before your time." This year, Strachan was one of three Bahamians who advanced to the semi-finals of the women's zoom at the London World Championships. She finished eighth in her semi-final heat, and was 16th overall in 23.21 seconds. Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Tynia Gaither went on to represent The Bahamas in the final, with Miller-Uibo winning the bronze and Gaither finishing eighth.

Strachan knows that she has what it takes to get back to that level. "I'm proud of everyone who is doing well," said Strachan. "I could remember where we were when we first started to where we are now. When Shaunae was running at the Olympics and she won, I was happy for her and told her congratulations. At the worlds, I went to the track, watched the final of the 200 with Shaunae and Tynia, and was cheering them on. I'm really supportive of them and everyone else because everyone has their own struggles and their own dynamics of life."

As it relates to her injury and the ensuing surgery, Strachan said that it was a very difficult period of her life, but just something that she had to deal with. She's still in the recovery phase. "I got over it. Even when I was a junior, I was hurt, and as a senior, I dealt with a lot of the injuries that I had as a junior," said Strachan, who just turned 24 yesterday. "I had to handle the sports hernia injury and a lot of other injuries that I had. Right now, it's just a matter of maintenance and taking care of myself. I do feel that there is some progress, because where I was last year, I'm not there this year.

Last year, I didn't start training until February, and didn't open up until June, and still made the Olympic team. This year, I started training at the same time as everyone else, but there was some backlash from the surgery, and I had to get that dealt with, but it's just a learning curve for me." The upcoming season could be a big one for Strachan. She is expected to be fully recovered, and a return to prominence could be imminent. There aren't any world championships or Olympics next year, but on the schedule are events such as the Commonwealth Games and the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games. Also, a few early season performances might be enough to earn Strachan invitations to Diamond League meets.

The former world junior double sprint champion remains optimistic. "I'm always optimistic," she said. "I never count myself out of anything. If I'm not supportive of myself, then who is going to be supportive of me. If I don't think of myself as number one, no one else is going to think of myself as number one. I work hard every day just like everyone else. I train and eat like I'm supposed to. I go to bed on time like I'm supposed to and take the supplements when I'm supposed to. Everything happens in its own time." Strachan ended by thanking everyone here in The Bahamas for their prayers and support, and she hopes to represent The Bahamas well in 2018. She currently trains with Bahamian coach Henry Rolle in Auburn, Alabama.

Sanya Richards-Ross Introduces Her Baby Son

Aaron Jermaine II has made his on-camera debut!

In images shared exclusively with PEOPLE for this week’s issue, Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross and her husband, NFL cornerback Aaron Ross, introduce their 11-day-old son.

“This is, by far, the most gratifying moment of my life,” Richards-Ross, 32, tells PEOPLE of her baby boy. “He gives me greater purpose and a reason to smile every day, and I just want to be the best mom to him that I can be!”

For the track-and-field athlete — who has also written multiple books, including a new memoir titled Chasing Grace — becoming a mom is something she couldn’t have prepared for, no matter how hard she tried, because it was something she wouldn’t completely understand until she experienced it herself.

“People tell you all the time about the joys of motherhood, but it’s more than I ever anticipated,” she admits. “They instantly change you. Your heart grows and your love knows no bounds.”

The couple were married on Richards-Ross’ birthday in 2010 after being together for seven years. Baby Aaron is the first child for both the new mom and Ross, 34, who played his football career with the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens.

“Many parts of our lives have felt like a fairy tale, but this is our biggest blessing yet,” the couple told PEOPLE in February alongside their pregnancy announcement. “We are so excited to start a family and can’t wait to begin this new adventure!”

Usain Bolt's Final Act Of Greatness

For all of the great things that Usain Bolt has been called—The Lightning Bolt, the fastest man alive, inhuman—one thing no one has accused him of is being humble.

Rightfully so. Bolt has numerously stated that he is a “legend” and proclaimed himself the greatest athlete of all time. But at the heart of his supreme confidence that might make PR agents uncomfortable is an authentic energy that electrified Jamaica on tracks over the past decade.

Even as an international star, Bolt never played games with the public. He told us exactly what he wanted to do—become the greatest, and just how confident he was that he could do it—very. He danced around the track with the Jamaican flag proudly held in his hands after each victory.

His lifestyle might remind you of some of his favorite reggae songs—empowering, free and high-energy. He was a rebellious answer to the quiet-natured culture of track stars, a mega-star that embraced the spotlight and the interactions with the people of his nation. A nation that, in the wake of some of the world’s worst violence, could use a figure of hope.

As a sharp contrast to the ever-serious, over-worked sweat machines like Michael Jordan and Michael Phelps, it only makes sense that the final test of Usain Bolt’s greatness would be a different kind of challenge.

It came this past week, when Bolt lost one of the closest 100 meters races ever at the World Championships to, of all people, 35 year old Justin Gatlin.

When the results showed up on the scoreboard, the crowd was not pleased. Maybe partly because of Gatlin’s record of performance enhancing drug use, but probably more because of Bolt’s popularity; the surprising finish was met with a loud chorus of boos and dismay.

That’s when Bolt, who has already proven himself to be the rare athlete that does what he wants, even in the spotlight, walked over to Gatlin. His smile was as big as ever. He reached over to Gatlin, gave him a hug, and whispered what looked like words of encouragement into the American’s ear. Just like that, the boos began to dissipate.

Bolt might as well have won the race.

There aren’t many great athletes who lose a race to a long-time rival, smile about it, and we actually believe it. But that is what the greatness of Usain Bolt was always about. The message being this: It’s OK to believe in yourself, to be happy about who you are.

When it comes to all-time greats, we don’t generally reminisce on the final stage of their careers for good reasons. Most of us would rather not pay much attention to Michael Jordan’s middling stint with the Wizards or Pele’s tenure with the New York Cosmos.

With Bolt, I wonder if things might play out differently. What moment could better define Usain Bolt than a crowd so passionate that they actually booed the gold medal victor, and then Bolt gracefully quieting them down with a friendly hug?

Not long after, of course, came an even more devastating failure—Bolt tore his hamstring during the 4×100 relay, immediately collapsing onto the track. Perhaps predictably, if you know Bolt, he rejected the wheelchair that was offered him and made his way across the finish line with support of his teammates.

This was probably the only time we have seen the greatest runner of all time without a smile on his face. He looked disgruntled, maybe even angry, as he headed back to the locker room. Soon, though, he was greeting his fans again—fans that held up signs with his name on them.

Usain Bolt might not be considered a “class act” or remembered for any kind of modesty. But he is undoubtedly admired by just about everyone who got to watch him run, everyone who got to watch him break expectations of all kinds over and over again.

Perhaps somehow, Bolt was able to accomplish something even greater than just a 9.58 100m time. He created the exhilarating feeling among his fans that he was running for them.

Andre De Grasse Vows To Bounce Back

Instead of battling Usain Bolt one final time, Andre De Grasse spent the world track and field championships playing tourist in London.

The 22-year-old attended the Arsenal-Chelsea soccer game at Wembley Stadium. He toured the London and Tower bridges. He caught a couple of movies – War for the Planet of the Apes and Girls Trip.

“It was the first time I actually got to do something in a city, because I’m always focused on track, and I never get a chance to really go out and see things, so it was my first time actually doing that at a championship,” he said. “I just tried to be happy, be positive, and find other things to do.”

And he watched the dramatic 100-metre final from his hotel room, and couldn’t help but think: what if?

De Grasse, who enjoyed a meteoric rise up the sprint ranks before suffering his first significant injury, is back home in Toronto for rehabilitation on his torn hamstring and said he’s firmly resolved to come back better than ever.

“I guess everything happens for a reason,” said De Grasse. “You could say it was a humbling experience for me, just looking back and saying I accomplished a lot in the last couple of years. I wasn’t too upset with myself to say ‘Hey I missed an important chapter in my career,’ because I know there’s going to be more championships.

“I’m young. So for me it’s all about bouncing back for 2018 and then get ready for the next world championships (in Doha in 2019) and Olympics in 2020.”

The Markham, Ont., sprinter was poised to capture as many as three medals earlier this month in London, in the 100 and 200 metres and the 4x100 relay.

Instead, De Grasse suffered a hamstring injury in training and was forced to withdraw. It was only the first bit of bad news on a trip that completely unravelled for a Canadian team walloped by injuries and illness.

De Grasse had been gunning for Bolt and his 100-metre crown, but it was Americans Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman who stole the Jamaican’s spotlight in his career finale.

“It was pretty shocking,” De Grasse said. “I enjoyed watching it. I wish I could’ve been in there, but it was still a great race.

“I’m looking forward to getting back out there with (Gatlin and Coleman), because they said they’re not retiring. I’m looking forward to racing them next year.”

The three-time medallist from last summer’s Olympics said his recovery is on track.

“I’m jogging, a lot of isometric drills, high-knee drills, kind of just trying to get my hamstring strong again,” he said. “So a lot of gym workouts, nothing too complicated, about 30 minutes to an hour every day, working on my lower body, and then just two or three laps around the track.”

He plans to return to his training base in Phoenix in late September to gear up for a busy season that includes the Commonwealth Games in April (he plans to run one individual race and the relay), the NACAC championships in Toronto – which will feature teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean – and the Diamond League circuit.

While De Grasse’s injury robbed him of a final showdown with Bolt, the Canadian said there was no bad blood between the two Puma star sprinters. In the leadup to London, much had been made of an apparent and bitter end to their friendship, but De Grasse insisted that wasn’t the case.

De Grasse said he spoke to Jamaica’s nine-time Olympic champ a couple of times in passing in London, and a television camera caught a quick embrace between the two prior to the relay.

“We’re cool,” De Grasse said. “I know the media says we’re against each other and we’re enemies, but that’s not true. I still respect him, I still say ‘What’s up?’ or ‘Good luck’ or whatever it is.

“For me, I’m a competitor, so I never mean disrespect, I’m not a cocky person or an arrogant person, but obviously I always want to go out there and win just like everyone else.”

Abilene Christian Now A Div. I School

ABILENE, Texas (PRESS RELEASE) – Abilene Christian University has completed its move to full NCAA Division I status and is now eligible for all NCAA and Southland Conference postseason tournaments.

After a vote by the Division I Board of Directors, the NCAA on Wednesday delivered the news to ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert and director of athletics Lee De León, concluding a four-year transition from Division II that pushed the Wildcat athletics program to membership in the top tier of intercollegiate athletics.

"This is an historic day for ACU and its athletics program," De León said. "Numerous people and groups across campus have embraced the challenge and worked extremely hard to help us complete the reclassification process. I am proud of what ACU has done to demonstrate we belong at this level, and I'm grateful the NCAA has approved our status as full Division I members."

Since their first season competing at the D-I level in 2013-14, the Wildcats have won four regular-season Southland titles (women's cross country in 2015, women's basketball in 2015-16 and 2016-17, and men's tennis in 2017) and have earned wins over established Division I programs such as Arizona (baseball), Texas Tech (volleyball, women's basketball and softball), Texas-El Paso (women's soccer), Iowa (softball), Texas-Arlington (baseball and softball), New Hampshire (men's basketball), and Oklahoma State (women's basketball).

The women's basketball team has reached the Postseason Women's NIT each of the last two years and played in the Preseason WNIT in 2016-17, and last season the softball team qualified for the National Invitational Softball Championship.

Academically, ACU's student-athletes in 2016-17 had their best cumulative year on record by posting a 3.11 GPA. Among the academic highlights in 2016-17 were the accomplishments of women's soccer player Kelsie Roberts, who was voted a first team Academic all-America, ACU's first such honoree since beginning the transition. She was also the Southland Conference Student-Athlete of the Year and a finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

Away from the playing fields, ACU has aligned itself with some of the top companies and brands in the world, including Nike (apparel) and IMG (multimedia rights partner), among others. ACU also re-established the Wildcat Club, the official fundraising organization of ACU Athletics. The Wildcat Club raised more than $6.25 million in its first year, including donations to the Wildcat Annual Fund, capital and endowment gifts, and contributions to sport-specific excellence funds. The first-year membership goal was 500 and it reached more than 700 by the end of the inaugural year.

Since the transition officially began in July 2013, ACU Athletics has undertaken approximately $55 million in facility enhancements, including the two stadiums. Crutcher Scott Field (baseball) and Wells Field (softball) have seen dramatic improvements, while a new tennis facility is being built on the east side of campus. And in Moody Coliseum, two new video boards have been added to enhance volleyball and basketball contests, as well as other university events such as Summit, Sing Song, daily chapel and commencement.

The Teague Special Events Center also is undergoing a facelift that will turn the lobby into a celebration hall recognizing notable alumni and others affiliated with the university. Inside, an academic center will be built to give our 400-plus student-athletes a dedicated space for study halls and tutoring sessions.

In February 2014, the university announced the Vision in Action campaign, a $95 million initiative to build three new science facilities and two on-campus stadiums, transforming the campus in a way not seen in nearly 50 years.

The gifts – including the largest in school history from April and Mark Anthony – helped construct three science buildings and two new on-campus stadiums for its football, track and field, and soccer programs. New Elmer Gray Stadium – serving as the home venue for the track and field and soccer programs – opened in April 2015, and Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium for football opens Sept. 16, 2017.

"Prior to accepting a bid to join the Southland in 2012, we spent three years researching and analyzing the best fit for ACU within the NCAA," Schubert said. "Moving to Division I brings strategic alignment between athletics and the broader university vision. I'm confident this move will prove to be a significant positive milestone in the life of ACU, and I know Wildcat fans around the world will want to celebrate this important accomplishment with us."

The 2017-18 athletics year already has started with the women's soccer team posting a 1-1 record in its opening weekend of competition, including a 2-1 overtime win last Sunday at Texas-El Paso. The volleyball team opens its season Aug. 25-26 at the Rumble in the Rockies Tournament in Laramie, Wyo., and the football team plays its first two games on the road at New Mexico (Sept. 2) and Colorado State (Sept. 9).

Simpson & Martinez Highlight 5th Avenue Mile Field

Five-time champion Jenny Simpson and 2012 champion Brenda Martinez will headline the Fifth Avenue Mile women’s field on September 10th in New York City.

Having won the last four races and five of the last six, the 30-year-old Simpson will be looking to win her sixth Fifth Avenue Mile title. She comes into the event with the top time at 4:19.98. Simpson won silver in the 1500-meter race this summer at the World Championships in London.

Looking for her first title in five years, Martinez enters the race with a personal best time of 4:26.76.

Simpson and Martinez won’t be the only Americans in the race. Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs, who won gold and silver in the 3000-meter steeplechase at the World Championships this summer, will also be competing. Thirteen American runners will compete in the race, which goes from approximately 80th street to 60th street.

Christian Coleman Returns To College Life (video)

 

There’s appearing on the stage. And there’s embracing it.

Big difference.

Earlier this month in London, Christian Coleman stepped into the starting blocks, looked over his shoulder, and there was Olympic legend Usain Bolt toeing the same line.

Coleman, the guy who re-defined the Tennessee track program with six NCAA titles (indoor and outdoor) in his three years with the Vols, found himself in the rarefied air of the IAAF World Championships.

He didn’t wilt.

Undefeated against Bolt

In addition to winning the silver medal in the 100 meters behind former UT star Justin Gatlin, Coleman ended Bolt’s 45-race win streak by nipping him in the semifinals.

He became the only person in history to be 2-0 against Bolt.

Now that’s commanding the stage.

“(Bolt) is an icon,” Coleman said Tuesday. “He’s like a real-deal celebrity. Breaking outside the track world, everyone knows Usain Bolt.

“To line up on the same line as him was a humbling experience. To come across (the finish) line ahead of him, I can’t even put it into words.”

After winning the 60 and 200 indoor NCAA titles and the 100 and 200 outdoor championships to end his junior season with the Vols, Coleman chose to turn professional. He’s still enrolled in classes and is training on campus.

His goals have been enhanced exponentially.

With Bolt now retired, Coleman is on the cusp of being a dominant figure in the world of sprints.

He has entered this new arena without the burden of pressure.

“I felt more pressure because I was expected to win at the NCAAs,” Coleman said. “Coming on the world stage, people said I just should be happy to be there.”

Maybe Coleman was cool, calm and collected, but Beth Alford-Sullivan, director of UT’s track and field, said she was a wreck.

“The composure Christian has shown has evolved over the years,” said Alford-Sullivan. “He’s an even-keel guy. Nothing ever rides too high or too low.

“There’s no way to get past the world stage or the NCAA stage. Being in the stands at London, the one thing I was thinking was, ‘I’m glad that’s not me.’ ”

“When the pressure’s on and it’s the biggest stage, that’s the stage I want to be on,” Coleman said. “As a competitor, I wasn’t nervous. I was anxious and I was ready to compete.”

The 'it' factor

That approach to the sport didn’t just happen. It’s a trait that Coleman had long before it was needed.

“(Coleman) had what some coaches call the ‘it’ factor,” said UT sprint coach Tim Hall.

“He had the broad shoulder of responsibility going into the race. He was able to dictate terms in both races while going against a legend. It goes beyond what either of us could have imagined.”

All that’s left for Coleman collegiately is The Bowerman Award, track and field’s answer to the Heisman Trophy. Coleman, a finalist along with Texas A&M’s Fred Kerley and Lindon Victor, will find out if he won in mid-December.

“It’s a culmination of talent mixed with character,” Hall said of the award. “(Coleman is) very goal-oriented; very determined to be the best. He’s an example for the University of Tennessee and the rest of the sprint world.”

Natasha Hastings' Blog: "Pushed Out Of The Zone"

by Joanne Hastings |NatashaHastings.com

Since the final round of the 4x400M relay at the World Championships in London, I’ve been bombarded with calls, texts, tweets, DM’s and emails asking, “Where were you?”

I responded to those I trusted, explaining how I felt robbed of a moment, betrayed and played by someone and something that I’ve poured so much energy into. In this instance, I even began to rationalize the situation, but after some nudging from my mum and reading Tianna Bartoletta’s blog on her truth, I feel it’s time to share mine.

By nature, I am an introvert and I absolutely detest confrontation. I have a tendency to mull things over in my mind a million times and find my own resolve without addressing or facing what has offended me.

I want to make something clear. This is only meant to be MY truth. It is not a slight or anything against the four women chosen to run that 4×400 final. After all, they ran a brilliant race, and I was still afforded the opportunity to come home with another gold medal having participated in the semi-final round. This is not meant to bash USATF or anyone affiliated, but simply is an attempt to answer the questions you’ve been asking.

This is something I am still grappling with as I write this, as I strongly believe there are things meant to be voiced, and others that are meant to be, as my auntie-in-my-head, Wendy Williams, would say kept for “kitchen table talk.” But I’ve embarked on this journey through my YouTube channel, to be as transparent (as I am comfortable with) as possible. So, this is only to explain why I watched the final from the stands with my family, instead of being down on the field with my team.

It began with the final at the Outdoor U.S. Championship. I, like the seven other women in the final, knew what had to be done. Top three finishers would earn the right to represent the U.S. in the open 400M at the World Championships held a little over a month later. Despite running a season’s best, and the fastest I had run at a national championship since 2013, three women beat me.

I put on a brave face, and tried to practice what I preach—congratulate those three women, and even in what felt like a failure and letdown, find the space to celebrate the small victories and learn from this experience.

It’s in these moments that I believe a true champion is made. Yes, I hate to lose and I am extremely disappointed and angry with myself, but I must handle these moments with as much grace and poise as those moments that go my way. I knew that the opportunity to run the open 400M was gone, but I had the rest of the season to prove to myself that I am even better than I can imagine and have lots left in the tank. I had another chance to represent Team USA on the 4x400M Relay. I knew that while the decision was discretionary, my history on the relays and further display of fitness would ensure my spot.

Onto training camp in Birmingham, UK. I was a bit apprehensive, mainly because I’ve become starkly aware of my age difference with most of the team.

By the time camp ended, I felt more comfortable having been embraced and made new memories with new and old teammates. I was “the vet” or “Auntie Tasha.”

Things went as they would at any training camp. We did our own training regimens prescribed by our personal coaches, and then spent time becoming acquainted with one another. Training camp is really only mandatory for members of the 4x100M relay pools for obvious reasons, but it is open to all members of the team to either get adjusted to the time difference or be able to train with your personal coach who may be on the official team staff.

I noticed out of the “veteran crew” only myself, Justin Gatlin, Mike Rodgers and Allyson Felix were present. Another moment that gave me pause and reason to be grateful that I am still performing well at this level.

The 4x400M relay teams didn’t have our first official relay practice until we arrived in London. When we arrived, it was only myself, Shakima Wimbley and Daina Harper, as the other ladies had business to handle in the open 400M event going on at the time. Orin Richburg, the appointed relay coach, asked me to the help with showing the ladies the ropes and explain to them, “while they may have run many relays on the collegiate level, things could get a little chaotic, but they must remain composed.” He told me I am the veteran who knows how to get the job done.

We went through several runs and exchanges, and I stepped up where I felt needed or where it appeared the ladies weren’t quite grasping certain concepts. I emphasized that it may seem as though we were being sticklers or over emphasizing certain things, but “we are Team USA, and they will be looking for a reason to disqualify us. So, we almost have to be perfect.”

Afterwards, Richburg pulled me to the side and asked how I felt things went. I was confident the girls were picking up on what we taught them and with a little more practice we would be safe. He went on to say we would have another practice once the ladies competing in the individual 400M finished up. He told me for the semi-final round we would run Quanera Hayes to Kendell Ellis to Wimbley to me. For the final we would take the two young ones off, and bring on Phyllis Francis and Allyson. He looked me in the eyes and said in the final he thought I would run the second leg, since I do such a nice job there.

As promised, we had one more practice at the conclusion of the women’s individual 400M. Allyson was the only lady not present, as she had double duty with the 4x100M relay, but there really was no concern with her managing the exchanges. Practice went as planned. The orders were presented as Richburg and I had discussed, and we said our final words in the team huddle. We went on to run the semi-final round in the same order, winning soundly and clean. All three ladies ran exceptional legs, and put me way in the lead, leaving me to only have to cruise in for the final leg with an easy 50.20 seconds split.

Post-race press, cool down and post-race recovery all went normal, and the coaches all seemed pleased with our performance. It wasn’t until the next morning that things began to feel a bit odd.

Something felt off as there was no usual message through Team Works (an app used by the team to spread messages) to let us know our call times and when we would be leaving the hotel. We also never had a formal team discussion about who would be running what legs in the final, which is pretty standard the night before a final.

I happened to run into Richburg and my coach, D2, at lunch, and asked what the final order was for the final. Richburg told me we’d discuss it at the track. In my 10 years and 11 major championships of competing on the 4x400M relay, never have we been given an order at the track on the day of the final. I walked away with a knot in my stomach. I walked back over and asked, “Can I at least know if I’m running?” Richburg urged that I let him tell me and the rest of the ladies at the track.

We get to the track and are almost immediately pulled into a huddle for a meeting. It was there that Richburg went into the usual spiel coaches give before a big race. He then said, “The order for tonight will be Hayes to Felix to Wimbley to Francis.”

I was the only one that appeared shocked by this news. It was understood that Felix and Francis would be on the final as medalists in the individual. Hayes was U.S. Champ so that was also understood. Ellis showed tired legs by not advancing out of the preliminary round. That left me and Wimbley. I placed fourth at nationals, she placed fifth. I’ve displayed fitness since then, and I was told I was in the final.

I had to quickly gather myself as it was still required of me to warm up should there be any emergency and I would need to run. I also knew that the first line of business was getting that baton around the track and in first place. Whether I was running or not, I would not allow myself or this situation to become a distraction for the ladies running.

I went to the restroom to try to get myself together, and ran into Wallace Spearmon, a close friend and teammate, who also happened to be the assistant relay coach this trip. Wallace offered to go with me to speak to Richburg so I could gain some clarity on why this decision was made. Not liking confrontation, but knowing this was something I had to speak up on, I took him up on his offer.

We walked over to Richburg, and I just went right into my question. “What went into making this decision of not running me tonight?” He said, not making eye contact with me, that we had a 49.2 leg last night and I ran 50.20 so he went with the faster split. I said I was not aware that I was in a run-off for a position that he previously told me was mine. Had I known I was in a run-off I would’ve certainly run a lot differently, but I ran as the “veteran” that he’d been referring to me as all week, knowing that there was no need to over-exert myself with another 400 to run tomorrow in the final.

I’ve always said “our blessing is our curse,” and the fact is Team USA is deep enough that it really doesn’t matter who you put on the relay. As long as the baton gets around the track and through the zones safely, chances are we will medal.

One of the things that I respect most about our team selection is there is no favoritism or politics involved. You make the qualifying standard, place top three at nationals, you earn the right to compete in that event at the major championship. This same format does not apply to the relays, and this is why coaches in years past (this didn’t just begin this year) have been able to make the decisions they have.

There should be a clearer set protocol for deciding teams.

This is not only something that I do for a living, but something that like Tianna expressed in her blog, brings me much joy and a sense of pride every opportunity that I get to prove my worthiness and all my hard work to myself.

So, there you have it. There’s the answer to what so many have been wondering.

I will host a live Tea Time on my YouTube channel this Friday at 6 pm CST to answer anymore of your questions. (We will keep it classy ?)

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUnr7MStPskyxIrCeqV7-4g

5 Big Head-To-Heads At Zürich DL

Thompson v Schippers, Farah v Edris and more! The first IAAF Diamond League Final will throw up a number of exciting head-to-heads, as the world's top stars compete for the Diamond Trophy in Zürich this Thursday.

1. Farah v Edris
Mo Farah and Muktar Edris have been dominating the 3000m and 5000m this season, both in the Diamond League and elsewhere. Farah won in Eugene, and Edris fought back with wins in Paris and Lausanne, before pipping Farah to gold in London. Can the Brit take revenge at the Diamond League Final?

2. Ibargüen vs Rojas
Caterine Ibargüen is a four-time Diamond Trophy winner, and has dominated the women's triple jump for years. That was until Yulimar Rojas came along, beating Ibargüen in Rome and then at the World Championships in London. The two South Americans meet again in Zürich, with the Diamond Trophy at stake.

3. Kendricks vs Lavillenie
Sam Kendricks won four of the six Diamond League qualifying meets this season, as seven time winner Renaud Lavillenie surprisingly failed to win one. Lavillenie had to settle for bronze to Kendricks' gold in London, but he has never surrendered the Diamond Trophy, and remains the only person to win it in every year since the competitions inauguration.

4. Thompson vs Schippers
While Elaine Thompson suffered disappointment in London, she showed her class once again with victory in the 100m in Birmingham, and she will be keen to win the 200m Diamond Trophy in Zürich. Dafne Schippers, meanwhile, claimed gold in the half-lap sprint in London, so the two rivals' battle is set to be an exciting one.

5. Thomas Röhler vs Johannes Vetter
Thomas Röhler kicked off a sensational season in style in the men's javelin with his 93.90m throw in Doha. Compatriot and friend Johannes Vetter would go on to better that mark later in the season, and beat Röhler to gold in London. Can Röhler do what he did in 2014, and overcome the disappointment of a major championships by winning the Diamond Trophy?

The secret to U.S. discus thrower's road to success: spaghetti

By Christie Chen, CNA staff reporter

Sometimes all it takes is a bowl of spaghetti for a top athlete to be born.

That is definitely the case for Valarie Allman, a 22-year-old American discus thrower whose craving for spaghetti helped introduce her to the sport.

"It's a weird and crazy story," the Stanford University student, who is visiting Taiwan to compete in the Taipei Universiade, told CNA in an interview on Sunday.

In middle school and early high school, Allman was into dancing. She did ballet and jazz, "but my love was hip-hop dancing," she said.

During her freshman year of high school, she was selected by choreographers of the U.S. dance competition show "So You Think You Can Dance" to join the traveling dance program "The Pulse on Tour."

She would go to school during weekdays and travel with the program to different cities on the weekends to perform, said the athlete from Longmont, Colorado.

At the same time, she wanted to be more involved in school activities to feel like she was a part of the school community, so she joined her high school's track and field team, Allman said.

"I started jumping and running, and I was OK at best," she said.

"And then one day, the (discus) throwers were getting ready to have their annual spaghetti dinner, and they said that anybody who came and practice that day could come to the dinner," Allman said.

"And I love spaghetti. Love spaghetti. It's one of my favorite foods. So I went and tried it and just kind of found that I had a weird knack for throwing discus," she said with a laugh.

Of course, she said, she also went to the dinner that night and "even loved it more."

"Then after that I was like, 'yeah, I want to keep trying this.' It turned into one of my biggest passions," Allman said.

After delving into the sport, she said, she realized that there were many things that she carried over from dance to discus throwing, such as coordination and balance, which are important in both disciplines.

Allman finished third in the women's discus throw at the USA Track and Field Championships in June, giving her a spot on the U.S. national team at August's IAAF World Championships in London, though she did not make the final 12 in the event.

She had previously won the silver medal at the 2014 World Junior Championships, and she finished 6th in the women's discus throw at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2016.

As for her goal at the Taipei Universiade, Allman, who also competed in the 2015 Gwangju Universiade, said the event is a great opportunity to make friends and learn about different cultures.

"I think the goal is just to be able to learn about the Taiwanese culture and become immersed in the environment, as well as help bring out the competitive spirit of the games," she said.

"I always love when as an athlete you can bring out the best in people," she said.

But of course, she also hopes to take home a medal.

"I think it's hard wired inside me to want to be competitive, so I'll definitely be trying to be on the podium."

Allman took a positive step in that direction on Wednesday when she qualified for Thursday's women's discus final with a throw of 58.33 meters, the best throw of the qualifying round.

Allman, who studies product design at Stanford and is passionate about non-profit work, said that after her athletic career comes to an end, she would like to work for a big tech company or start a social entrepreneurship business that is focused on helping communities.

"Doing non-profit social work has always been something that's been taking a big piece of my heart," Allman said.

She said she hopes to use her expertise in product design to impact the non-profit sector and design goods for low-income communities.

For the time being, though, Allman is focused on spinning the discus, even if the fringe benefits aren't what they were in the past. Asked if she still has annual spaghetti dinners these days, she laughed and said not anymore, but "I make sure to eat it before the meets."

Carl Lewis On Usain Bolt: "Nobody Is Irreplaceable"

The last decade in world athletics belonged to Usain Bolt but the legendary Carl Lewis is not happy with the singular focus on the Jamaican showman.

Taipei City: The last decade in world athletics belonged to Usain Bolt but the legendary Carl Lewis is not happy with the singular focus on the Jamaican showman.

Considered the greatest athlete of all time, Jamaican Bolt drew curtains on his illustrious career after a disappointing performance at the World Championship in London, where he could only win a bronze in the 100m.

"The sport is not just about one person. Nobody is irreplaceable. Track and field survived many civilizations. Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson and now Usain Bolt. Men will all come and go but the sport will always remain," Lewis, who has won nine Olympic gold medals, told PTI in an exclusive interview.

With Bolt's retirement, Lewis feels that it's time to build on the sport now that people will get over their obsession with a singular man.

"We need to do more to build on the sport. We don't need to follow that trend that we have been in the last eight years, which was just about following one person (Bolt)," Lewis didn't mince words as he spoke on the sidelines of the 29th Summer Universiade here.

"Our job is to fill the void. In the last 10 years, the sport has not grown as the focus was just on one man. The point is we need to build competition. We now have a unique chance to rebuild and grow our sport. Now we have a chance to make a difference, grow our sport and not just grow yourself," Lewis' sarcasm on Bolt's cult status was pretty much evident.

Lewis, who won Long Jump gold in four successive Olympic Games (1984, 88, 92 and 96), is not at all amused that 'Brand Bolt' became bigger than the sport.

"We were just so caught up trying to make one person all about the whole sport and now we have a unique opportunity to spread it across the board and really allow it grow," said Lewis.

Lewis termed World Championship 100m silver medallist Christian Coleman and Rio bronze medallist Canadian Andre de Grasse are the ones to watch out for in the coming years.

"Christian Coleman was second (in World Championships) behind Justin Gatlin and he had the fastest time this year. Gatlin is 35 years old and that was probably his last Major championship. I think De Grasse and Coleman are both great athletes and I am really excited about them," Lewis is confident that they can maintain the standard set by Bolt.

Lewis, is in Taiwan as the assistant coach of the US track and field University team and named young Cameron Burrell as the next big thing among American track and field.

Young Cameron competes both in 100m and long jump like Lewis and is the son of Lewis' former teammate Leroy Burrell (a 1991 World Championship 100m bronze medallist) and Olympic relay champion.

Lewis and Burrell Sr also competed together for the famous Santa Monica Track Club.

"I was a long jumper who ran sprints. And now Cameron is trying to do that. I would love to see that. He is a great kid and he has the potential to become an Olympic champion," Lewis opined.

With Cameron's reference, Lewis took another dig at Bolt. "That's the great thing about our sport and I think Cameron is going to be an Olympics champion one day and Coleman is also going to be an Olympic champion.

"Everyone just wants to talk about the garden centre instead of lumber area or the clothing area. We have a great sport that we need to spread it across and talk about the unique relationships. Don't let people get into the box where it is about just one person."

Lewis however did not like termed the booing of Gatlin after winning the 100m dash at the recent World Championships ahead of Bolt as "childish".

"It was unfair. I am not saying what he has done is right. But it was childish," he said.

USA Team stocked with Cougars for Taipei contest

Four of the Houston track & field coaches have 15 Olympic medals between them.

Each day at practice, head coach Leroy Burrell, assistant coaches Carl Lewis and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie and volunteer assistant coach Frank Rutherford represent a model of success to student athletes.

The Olympic games are still three years away, 22 Cougar track & field athletes are competing as member of USA Team at the 29th Summer Universiade through Monday. Altogether, Cougars make up most of the 30 spots on the national team.

“When I took the position here that Coach Burrell offered me, I said that day that we wanted to be the best team in the world,” Lewis said in a November interview. “And how do you do that? By entering international competition.”

The Universiade is a bi-annual competition where the world’s top university athletes gather to compete in events ranging from basketball to badminton. It’s essentially a miniature Olympic games.

In November, Burrell was named the head coach for the USA Track & Field Team, meaning the vast majority of USA Team’s track & field athletes would be coming from UH.

USA Team has chosen an entire university team for one competition in the past. The University of Kansas Jayhawks notably represented USA Team in basketball at the 2015 games and took home the gold medal.

Validation of success

The track & field world knows very well who the Cougars’ coaches are, but USA Team’s decision for Cougars to represent the United States in collegiate track & field serves as validation for everything the Cougars have achieved in recent years.

“Being named as the USA representative for the World University Games is a tremendous honor for our program,” Burrell said in a press release last November, using another name for the competition. “This is an opportunity for the University of Houston to prove that we can compete not only on the collegiate stage but on an international platform as well.”

The Cougars are coming off their best season in recent memory. Not only did the men defend their conference titles, but the women had their first podium finish in three years. And at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, the men’s 4x100m relay team ran 38.34s in the final, winning the title.

Glory as a team

But for the Cougars, being named to the USA Team is a unique opportunity. Unlike the Olympics or the World Championships, where each athlete qualifies through their individual results, the coaching staff chooses athletes for the Universiade.

There is no qualifying tournament.

Coach Burrell has seen first hand what his athletes can do, making it an easy decision to select a majority-Cougar team.

At the Universiade, the Cougars get to showcase their individual skills and win acclaim for the United States and themselves — as a team. After training together on a daily basis in Houston, USA Team will hope to bring that camaraderie turns that success onto the track.

A Veteran Unit

Of the 22 Cougars going to Taipei, five have experience in international competition and seven have competed at the NCAA championships.

Senior sprinter Eli Hall-Thompson qualified for Team USA at the IAAF World Championships, but he decided to skip Worlds in order to fully rehabilitate an injury he suffered during the outdoor season. Hall-Thompson holds the school indoor 200m record, 20.75 seconds.

Senior sprinter Cameron Burrell did not qualify for the World Championships in the 100m, but he still ended his season on a strong note. Burrell ran sub-10 seconds in three straight races on his way to the NCAA Outdoor 100m final, where he finished second. In the process, he broke two records — UH’s and his father’s — with a 9.93 second run.

Junior Amere Lattin, a four-time AAC hurdling champion, competed at the IAAF U20 World Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland last summer, where he won a silver medal for the United States.

But 2016 graduate sprinter LeShon Collins is the only one with a gold medal from a senior track competition. Collins, an All-American sprinter in each of his four seasons with the Cougars, has continued to train with the Cougars as a member of Team Perfect Method, Lewis’s training program.

Collins recently ran the first leg for Team USA 4x100m relay team at the IAAF World Relays in April. The U.S. won the gold medal and qualified for the IAAF World Championships.

The History Of Cross Country Brought To Life

At colleges and universities across the nation students are settling into dorms, meeting new teammates, and learning routines for the soon to arrive cross country season. It’s an exciting time, and the promise is strong.

“Unlike track and field and road running, which had easy-to-manage lists of top athletes and times (along with historical venues with great traditions); similar attention had not been paid to cross-country,” writes Andrew Hutchinson in his voluminous new work The Complete History of Cross Country Running, From the Nineteenth Century to the Present Day. Untamed running was a wonderful opportunity for athletes looking to escape the track, but…there was nowhere an athlete could go to learn about the stories, legacies and processes in developing the sport. That had to change.”

Mr. Hutchinson’s book is that attempt. Like Tom Derderian’s magnus opus Boston Marathon, History of the World’s Premier Running Event, which saw its second edition come out last year along with a corresponding documentary movie, Hutchinson goes for an epic scale that matches his subject.

A door-stopping 400 pages in length, the book is arranged in chapters covering specific eras, from Chapter 1, 1800-1850, to Chapter 17, The 2010s. It is also interspersed with Event Spotlights like: “Hannes Kolehmainen Runs First Cross-Country Event at Stockholm Olympics (July 15, 1912)”, and “The Miracle in the Mud”—The U.S. stuns Kenya at World Cross (March 24, 2013).

From describing how a Hellenic goddess’s arrow became the symbol of the sport, to enumerating the sport’s beginnings in British prep schools, all the way up to the modern day exploits of champion runners from Europe, the U.S., and East Africa, Hutchinson covers his subjects exhaustively.

“As Apollo’s winged sandals associate with track and field, so too does twin sister Artemis’s golden arrows appear for cross-country running; a symbol of strength, and a reminder of the connection between these twin disciplines within athletics.”

In the Complete History of Cross-Country Running we learn that the earliest versions of what we now call cross-country emerged in British public schools in games called “Hunt The Fox” and “Big-Side Hares-and-Hounds” that mimicked on foot the horse-bound chases across open rolling fields and meadows.

“…the weathered books kept for The Royal Shrewsbury School Hunt contain the earliest accounts written by students themselves. In sketchy black ink, the records adjust annually with each new secretary. The oldest is dated 1831, and references indicate the sport was established at Shrewsbury by 1819.”

In reading Andrew Hutchinson’s involving new book (coming out January 18, 2018 via Carrel Books), I see how little has changed in the basic appeal of this grounding sport.

In the 1980s I was a member of a small but intrepid group of Boston area runners who made up a training game called Hard Cuts based on the maxim, “short cuts don’t cut it in distance running”. And so we sought the most difficult routes possible, especially so during the snowy winter months when more of the outside belonged to us.

From our farthest point from home we would run back as nearly as we could to how the crow flies, including through briars and brambles, over and under fences and across people’s vacant backyards and through teeming rush-hour traffic. The only barrier we didn’t take on was the Charles River.

Andrew describes British schoolboys over a century earlier writing, “as stolen fruit is always the sweetest, we determined to revive the good old custom of running out of bounds.” Stories recounted vaulting hedges, enraging a nearby miller, defying farmers, chasing off neighboring dogs, and taking off down a secluded road known as Fornicators Lane.”

Everything and everyone cross country can be found between these covers, the great champions, the most memorable races, the checks and laws (terms you will learn the meaning of) that molded the sport and saw its ranks grow to become a global contest pitting the planet’s best middle and long distance runners in a single contest where place not time was the measure of excellence.

With a forward by two-time World Cross Country champion Craig Virgin, the book is written in a flowing prose that mirrors a quick but steady running pace. It can be read like a long run start to finish, or just as easily by picking and choosing by personality, era, or event.

Now, as shadows begin to lengthen and the first edges of fall’s chill bring covers closer, we know the season on grass is near at hand. Whether you are a long-blooded harrier or newbie being fitted for freshman cross country, Andrew Hutchinson’s Complete History of Cross Country Running will quicken your spirit. He has fashioned a real winner, for sure, producing a long overdue chronicle of a grand history now fully delivered.

END

 

Farah says goodbye

Mo Farah‘s last track race is lined up to be one of his most difficult.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, is moving to road racing and marathons after this season.

The Somalian-born Brit’s decorated track career ends Thursday, at the first of two Diamond League finals meets in Zurich.

NBC Sports Gold coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. ET and continues through NBCSN coverage from 2-4 p.m.

It is by no means a coronation for Farah. He races the 5000m, the event he lost at the world championships in London two weeks ago. The man who beat him at worlds, Ethiopian Muktar Edris, is in the Zurich field.

As is American Paul Chelimo, who took silver to Farah in the Rio Olympic 5000m and bronze at worlds behind Edris and Farah.

Here are the Zurich entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

12:25 pm. — Women’s Triple Jump
12:35 p.m. — Men’s High Jump
1:10 p.m. — Men’s Pole Vault
1:25 p.m. — Women’s Javelin
1:35 p.m. — Women’s Shot Put
2:05 p.m. — Women’s 400m Hurdles
2:13 p.m. — Men’s 1500m
2:24 p.m. — Women’s 200m
2:31 p.m. — Women’s 3000m Steeplechase
2:45 p.m. — Men’s Long Jump
2:49 p.m. — Men’s 400m Hurdles
2:55 p.m. — Men’s Javelin
2:58 p.m. — Women’s 800m
3:08 p.m. — Men’s 100m
3:14 p.m. — Men’s 5000m
3:35 p.m. — Women’s 100m Hurdles
3:43 p.m. — Men’s 400m

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s 200m — 2:24 p.m.
Olympic champion Elaine Thompson is entered here after skipping the 200m at worlds. She will face the 2015 and 2017 World 200m champion, Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands, and the Olympic 400m champion, Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas.

Thompson shockingly finished out of the medals at worlds (fifth in the 100m), reportedly slowed by a stomach illness and an Achilles problem. The Jamaican looked closer to herself last Sunday, winning a 100m in Birmingham over the world silver medalist, plus Schippers and Miller-Uibo. But she has trailed off from consistently racing the 200m, which is Schippers’ preferred event.

Men’s High Jump — 2:35 p.m.
Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim is on the verge of capping the first undefeated season for a male high jumper since Swedish legend Stefan Holm in 2004. Who knows, there may be a world-record attempt on Thursday.

Barshim, 26, cleared 2.40 meters for the first time since June 2016 in Birmingham on Sunday, and then took the bar. The world record is 2.45 meters, set by Cuban Javier Sotomayor in 1993. Barshim took attempts at equaling or bettering that mark two of the last three years, but has not tried in 2017. This is his last chance to do so on the Diamond League stage until next spring.

Women’s 800m — 2:58 p.m.
Speaking of dominance, Caster Semenya can wrap up her second straight undefeated Diamond League campaign in the 800m in Zurich.

The scrutinized South African was in usual form at worlds, dusting Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba and American record holder Ajee’ Wilson with her trademark blowout finishing kick. All of Semenya’s closest pursuers the last two years are in Thursday’s race save Wilson.

Men’s 100m — 3:08 p.m.
Justin Gatlin lines up for his first 100m since upsetting Usain Bolt at worlds. Bolt may be retired, but perhaps an even more familiar foe is in Zurich: Asafa Powell. Gatlin and Powell once shared the 100m world record of 9.77, before Gatlin’s time was wiped away due to his four-year doping ban. Gatlin and Powell have gone separate directions since Gatlin’s comeback in 2010.

Powell has reportedly broken 10 seconds a total of 97 times since 2004, the most in history. But he’s never finished better than third at an Olympics or worlds. In Zurich, he’ll look to break 10 for the first time since this meet a year ago. Powell has broken 10 seconds in 13 straight years since 2004, if you include his 2013 results that were stricken due to doping. He’s running out of chances to keep the streak alive.

Men’s 5000m — 3:14 p.m.
Just 12 1/2 more laps for Farah, who may have revenge on his mind against Edris, the man who kept him from a winning goodbye and an 11th straight global distance title in the world 5000m two weeks ago.

Farah is trying to end his track career in a better way than many of the sport’s legends.

Bolt pulled up with an injury in his relay finale at worlds. Kenenisa Bekele, the 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder who is now a marathoner, failed to finish his last documented track race at Ethiopia’s Olympic Trials for Rio. Likewise, Haile Gebreselassie was seventh in his track finale at Ethiopia’s Olympic Trials in 2012.

SA duo headline star-studded Diamond League

Cape Town - IAAF organisers have confirmed that 17 freshly-minted world champions will be competing at the Weltklasse Zurich on Thursday, August 24.

South Africa's golden girl Caster Semenya will look to defend her 800m crown - after retaining her title at the World Championships in London.

Long jump sensation Luvo Manyonga will also be defending his title after taking gold with his second round jump of 8.48m this month.

Considering the star-studded entry lists, singling out individual highlights is almost impossible in the battle for a piece of the $1.6 million prize pot.

In Zurich, Great Britain's Mo Farah will run his final track race before moving on to the roads and longer distances.

Sport24 reported last week that world champion Wayde van Niekerk has withdrawn from the men's 400m race in Zurich due to a recurring back injury.

The IAAF Diamond League finals will be held according to the revised system for the first time this year.

The best athletes of the current season qualified for the final based upon points acquired at the 12 preceding IAAF Diamond League meetings.

$100 000 will be awarded in prize money in each event with individual event champions collecting $50 000.

WORLD CHAMPIONS AT WELTKLASSE ZÜRICH:

Diamond disciplines:
- Dafne Schippers (NED) 200m
- Caster Semenya (RSA) 800m
- Sally Pearson (AUS) 100m hurdles
- Emma Coburn (USA) 3000m steeplechase
- Yulimar Rojas (VEN) triple jump
- Gong Lijiao (CHN) shot put
- Barbora Spotakova (CZE) javelin
- Justin Gatlin (USA) 100m
- Elijah Motonei Manangoi (KEN) 1500m
- Muktar Edris (ETH) 5000m
- Karsten Warholm (NOR) 400m hurdles
- Mutaz Essa Barshim (QAT) high jump
- Sam Kendricks (USA) pole vault
- Luvo Manyonga (RSA) long jump
- Johannes Vetter (GER) javelin

Other events:
- Ekaterini Stefanidi (GRE) pole vault; will compete at Zurich Main Station on Wednesday
- Mo Farah (GBR) 10 000m; will compete in the 5 000m

The final events at Weltklasse Zürich 2017 will be:

Men
100m, 400m, 1500m, 5000m, 400m hurdles, high jump, pole vault, long jump, javelin throw

Women
200m, 800m, 3000m steeplechase, 100m hurdles, triple jump, shot put, javelin throw.

Flanagan Satisfied With Home Delivery Of '08 Silver

Shalane Flanagan of the United States, who has been upgraded to become the Beijing 2008 Olympic silver medallist in the 10,000 metres, was happy to receive her medal without ceremony after insisting she had "a wonderful moment" at the original award in the Chinese capital.

Flanagan has moved up on the podium following a retrospective doping positive for Turkey's Elvan Abbeylegesse.

The 36-year-old four-time Olympian told USA Today that the United States Olympic Committee had offered to hold a ceremony for her but she does not feel that she needs one.

"To be honest, I talked to my family and my coach and I said, "well, what’s important to you guys?,'" said Flanagan.

"Because I had my moment in Beijing.

"And the thing is, it was a wonderful moment - I have no regrets about it.

"I have the fondest memories of that experience of being in that stadium.

"I actually don't feel the need to change it, that experience.

"I got to stand on a podium."

Flanagan, who has competed at every Olympics since the 2004 Athens Games, and who finished sixth in last year's Rio 2016 marathon, is now the top-placing American woman in history in the Olympic 10,000m, followed by Lynn Jennings, who won bronze in 1992.

She also won bronze at the 2011 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Cross Country Championships.

The Beijing 2008 10,000m gold was won by Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba in an Olympic record of 29min 54.66sec, with Flanagan clocking 30:22.22.

"The US Olympic Committee would like to extend its congratulations to Shalane for her outstanding performance in Beijing," said the USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun.

"As one of our country's most decorated distance runners, we commend her for her success on the field of play, as well as her conduct off the field of play.

"She epitomises the Olympic values with her integrity, sportsmanship and unwavering dedication to competitive excellence."

Flanagan received her medal two years after she learned a retest of Abeylegesse's sample from the 2007 World Championships had tested positive for steroids.

Following the retest, the IAAF in March gave Abeylegesse a two-year suspension and stripped her results from August 2007 to 2009.

Like many athletes, Flanagan faces doubts about the competitions she enters.

"It’s really hard," she said.

"I feel like I've worked really diligently over the last seven years trying to prove myself as a marathoner to the world, and to myself.

"I can honestly say, I don't feel like I've had a fair shot.

"I definitely have had some really low moments and just like, why do I keep doing this?

"But I keep on thinking if I persevere long enough, my time will come."

Earlier this month, the IAAF reallocated the medals from the 2007 World Championships, where Abeylegesse's silver in the 10,000m was disqualified.

Kara Goucher of the US and Britain's Jo Pavey received their silver and bronze medals respectively at the IAAF World Championships in London.

New Film About Grunewald's Track Season w/ Cancer (video)

Brooks has released an emotional new documentary about professional runner Gabriele Grunewald’s fourth battle with cancer. “GABE” follows Grunewald as she tries to qualify for USA Track and Field Championships while also figuring out the best course of treatment for her disease.

In fall of 2016, Grunewald underwent surgery to remove a large tumor from her liver. This was her third time fighting Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma, a rare form of cancer. Although the surgery went well, Grunewald was unfortunately not cancer-free for long. A post-op scan this past March revealed many small tumors had once again formed on the liver.

Despite her diagnosis, Grunewald made the decision to keep chasing her dreams. The short film features interviews with Grunewald’s husband, coach, friend and competitors. Each one highlights the relentless enthusiasm she has for life and the positivity she brings to running.

“Sometimes I think we’re too quick to give up on the things that we love and the things that make us feel alive when something is going wrong in our lives,” says Grunewald in the film. “But I just really feel strongly that we have to hold on to them.”

Brianne Theisen-Eaton: Marathoner

Canada's Olympic medal-winning heptathlete was lost after retiring. But she found focus in going long

These days, Brianne Theisen-Eaton’s life is looking a lot different than it did when she was training at the highest level in the world. After years as a pro heptathlete, the Canadian Olympian won bronze in Rio, and decided to retire at the start of 2017. Now, she’s adjusting to a less regimented routine.

Days go like this: wake up at 6:30 a.m., take the dog out, answer emails over coffee, work out by 10 a.m. After that, she manages her and her husband, Ashton’s, website weareeaton.com (her husband Ashton Eaton, who competed for the U.S., retired at the same time and is the world record holder in the decathlon). It aims to help others eat right while also giving updates on the couple’s life.

Speaking of updates, here’s the latest: Theisen-Eaton is running a marathon. The Olympian is swapping out seven field and sprint events for the streets of Chicago, where she’ll run her first 42.2k as a member on Team World Vision.

“As a heptathlete, it’s very much about speed and power,” Theisen-Eaton says. “We trained doing 400’s, which is one lap of the track, so it wasn’t for distance,” she says. Prior to this, Theisen-Eaton’s longest run in practice would have been about 1,200 m. “So doing a 10-minute run, I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’”

Athletes are naturally goal-driven. After retirement, Theisen-Eaton felt at a loss. “When you’re done and have nothing, it’s like, ‘What am I even doing with myself?’” she says. While Theisen-Eaton threw herself into other fitness classes, workouts became a challenge, grappling to find a new purpose for physical activity.

Having a marathon on the schedule is filling the void. But don’t assume this Saskatoon-born track queen is setting any lofty time goals. She’s decided not to set a time goal, and not even pay attention to pace-per-kilometre splits. “The pace I run, I have no idea what that means,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to run a marathon – that’s what’s important.”

If you’re new to the 42.2, you might be surprised at how much you have in common with her. It’s not every day that an athlete who has stood on the podium on the world stage tells you that less than a year later, a couch-potato-to-runner program is her guide.

Had it not been for the beginner plan, the heptathlete may not have committed to Chicago. She started with the absolute newbie workouts. “I didn’t stay too long in that phase but it made me feel better that if you have to walk, walk,” she says. Ever feel like other runners are judging? Theisen-Eaton has been there. “When I suck, people are going to say ‘What’s wrong with her? She’s an Olympic athlete,’” she says.

When signing up for Chicago, her husband warned her about not letting her competitive side go wild. “After the toll that pro competing took mentally and physically, he said to enjoy this now. I wouldn’t have got that advice if we hadn’t both gone through that together,” Theisen-Eaton says.

When Theisen-Eaton decided to run for World Vision (a cause near to her heart) it was April. At the time of reporting, the marathon is three months out. So far, she has worked her way from 1,200 m to 21k. “I’ve done a half-marathon. That’s my farthest so far,” she says. “I did a 13-mile run, which absolutely killed me.”

Always supporting her is decathlete and husband, Ashton, who is likely to cheer her through the tough stretch, just as he was in the stands in Rio sporting the red Canada hat that brought on a storm of angry tweets from patriotic American viewers (and applause from Canadians). “He saw it and was like, ‘I’ll wear this!’” says Theisen-Eaton. “Little did we know…”

Leading up to her first marathon, Theisen-Eaton’s tone is chipper. Even though working up her mileage has been a grind, she’s in high spirits. “I don’t care if I’m an Olympian and people think it’s slow. I’m doing it for me and for a good cause.”

New UCLA Assistant: Jennifer DeRego

DeRego brings 14 years of coaching experience to UCLA.

UCLA Director of Track & Field/Cross Country Avery Anderson has announced the addition of Jennifer DeRego as a track & field and cross country assistant coach.

DeRego brings 14 years of coaching experience to UCLA. She comes to Westwood from Heritage High School in Brentwood, Calif., where she was the head cross country and track and field coach. DeRego had also coached at the collegiate level, serving as an assistant coach at the United States Military Academy in West Point in 2011 and at her alma mater, Cal Poly, from 2007-09.

"Coach DeRego brings a wealth of experience," said Anderson. "She will have a tremendous impact on our distance events that will allow us to elevate our program."

At Heritage High School, DeRego led her cross country team to five league championships in the last six years, as well as three individual champions. The 2013 Coach of the Year, DeRego coached Heritage's first-ever state qualifiers. On the track and field side, she coached seven league championship boy's teams and the 2017 California State Champion in the boys 800m.

DeRego graduated in 2002 from Cal Poly, where she was a member of two Big West Conference Cross Country championship teams (2000 and 2001). She was the 2001 Big West 10k champion and school record holder. DeRego went on to become a two-time qualifier at the Olympic Trials Marathon, competing in 2004 and 2008. She earned her Master of Science degree in Kinesiology from Cal Poly in 2009.

Kimberley Williams: Everything Happens For A Reason

BIRMINGHAM, England: KIMBERLY WILLIAMS finished second in the triple jump at the Birmingham leg of the IAAF Diamond League with a distance of 14.44 metres on Sunday. Her teammate Shanieka Ricketts placed sixth with 14.00m.

Having failed to reach the final of the IAAF World Championships earlier this month, Williams told The Gleaner that she was pleased to return to form following her London setback.

“I am pretty pleased and wish this had come a week ago in London. I really struggled in London. I just had a bad meet and today I was determined to put it behind me and focus on a new task at hand," said Williams. “I just believe that everything happens for a reason. God gave me my talent and I am just using it. If it does not go the way I want it to go, I need to understand that is not his plan.”

The experienced campaigner said she is now focused on ending her season on a positive note at the Zurich Diamond League meet and is already thinking about next season's Commonwealth Games, where she hopes to defend the title she won four years ago in Glasgow.

"My last meeting is Zurich. I really would love to finish the season with a personal best or season’s best. We will see. I feel good and just need to execute it.”

"First I have to make plans with my coach (regarding Commonwealth Games). I know we are going to do the World Indoors in Birmingham and since we are going to do that, we might as well do the Commonwealth Games, as it is just a couple of weeks after that in April. After the Commonwealth Games, I will take a little break and see what happens," Williams said.

The Gleaner asked Williams about Jamaica’s overall performance at the World Championships in London, which only yielded one gold medal compared to previous global meets in recent times. The triple jumper, however, believes the Jamaicans will bounce back and continue to be dominant on the world stage.

"We have been spoiled over the years," Williams said. "Whatever happened in London is all in God’s plan. We just have to be patient. I believe we will do better in future.”

On Usain Bolt’s departure from the sport she said: "I do miss my teammate. I miss him already. He is so funny. I know that whatever he decides to do next in life he will do to the best of his ability. He will stay connected to the track world.”

Kara Winger Analyzes The Night King's Technique

How is the Night King’s technique? We asked the American record-holder in women’s javelin.

The Night King is an ice man of many talents. He has the ability to turn human babies into White Walkers with the touch of a long-nailed finger tip; he’s the only one who knows when Bran is trying to spy on him; and Sunday night, he did what Qyburn’s big crossbow couldn’t: take down a dragon. With one toss of a frozen spear, the Night King pierced the nearly impenetrable skin of Daenerys’s dragon Viserion, causing the beast to implode and tragically crash to his death.

It was a horrific sight, but it was also undeniably impressive — after all, he killed one of the most intimidating figures in Game of Thrones with a mere flick of the wrist. Soon, many began lauding the Night King’s athletic skills, going so far as to declare him the next star of the Olympics, the Michael Phelps of javelin throwing. Before I totally jump off that ledge (The Ringer as a publication already totally has, by the way), I want to dive deeper into the Night King’s performance. Was it technically sound, or was the leader of the White Walkers exploiting some kind of supernatural spear enhancements? Is there evidence that the Night King is practicing the javelin and working on his form when he’s not slowly marching an army toward the Wall?

To find out, I called Kara Winger, a three-time Olympian in the javelin for the USA track and field team who holds the American record in the women’s javelin. Winger isn’t caught up on Game of Thrones the show — she’s read all five books — but she put aside all spoiler stress to watch the end of “Beyond the Wall” and evaluate the Night King’s spear-throwing skills.

So you’ve reviewed the tape?

I did, yes.

I think first we should talk about the Night King’s results, and then we can go deeper into his technique. So the results — are you impressed?

I mean, to kill a dragon with a spear is something that’d impress anybody. It’s hard to say — with the dragon coming at him, where he was standing, I’m sure the dragon’s speed played a role in the impact velocity — but he had to have thrown [the spear] over 150 meters, for sure. And then [when he missed Drogon], the spear flew farther and farther, so that’s — yeah, it’s probably even further than that. Maybe 1,000 meters.

And that’s good?

That’s like — that’s way past world records. Far, far beyond.

How heavy are the javelins that you throw?

The men’s javelin is about two pounds.

I’m guessing a spear made of ice is probably heavier than that.

Much heavier. Which, if you apply the same force to the heavier implement, it will be traveling with more speed and more deadly force.

So overall, the Night King did a great job at spear throwing.

Well, in terms of the outcome.

OK, so let’s go deeper: How’s his form?

So, yeah, the outcome is literally unbelievable when you watch him throw the spear.

Why’s that? Pick the Night King apart.

Well, he seems to get into a pretty good position with his right arm — he pulls the spear back behind him and it’s pretty long. The one shot where you can see the white part of the spear right down next to his cheekbone? That’s perfect; that’s exactly where you wanna be.

But it totally falls apart after that. He has no speed coming into the throw; he’s not nearly patient enough with his upper body to generate dragon-killing force. He shortens the arm at the last second, and he loses his chest — he doesn’t keep the tension, as we say.

What do you mean when you say he’s not patient enough?

Javelin is a reaction — it’s not really a throw, it’s a reaction to what the rest of your body is doing. So you have to be disciplined enough to keep your arm really long and relaxed behind you the whole time you’re doing the movement. So this guy gets into a pretty good position with his nice, long right arm, but you can’t throw the javelin your furthest if you break your elbow and turn it into a throw. You have to generate all of your force from your lower body, through your core, and into your upper body.

How’s his posture? He looks a little stiff to me. In some shots, he seems to just be standing upright.

Exactly. And when he goes to throw the spear at the second dragon, he doesn’t have any kind of approach at all. He’s basically doing a standing throw, which is not how you throw far … or kill dragons.

Did anything else stand out to you?

Well, he definitely had a good game face, I’ll give him points for that. And he has a caddy, a javelin caddy. I liked that.

Are the problems you pointed out ones that novice javelin throwers usually have?

His technical issues are the most common, for sure. Anybody who picks up a javelin and has never done it before is going to look like him.

But we’re in a results-driven world, and the Night King definitely got the results he wanted. At the same time, though, you’re saying you’re a little skeptical on how he got there.

Yeah — [something] supernatural, doping of some sort. … I think we need an anti-doping campaign, because his results are unbelievable with this technique.

Hopefully next episode Jon Snow’s like, “We need to open an investigation on this guy.”

Yeah! Drug test him!

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.

Indoor Track Returning To Georgia In A Big Way

Indoor track and field will be making a grand return to Georgia this coming winter. LakePoint Sports, Dunamis Sports Group and the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation (NSAF) announced today that they will host an open/professional, collegiate, high school and youth “Super Meet” from February 8-11, 2018 at the LakePoint Sports Champions Center in Emerson, GA (about 30 minutes northwest of Atlanta). It will be the first full-fledged indoor meet in the state in more than 20 years, since prior to the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

Preliminary plans include an open/professional and collegiate competition on Thursday-Friday, Feb. 8-9 followed by a high school and youth meet on Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 10-11. Athletes from around the country will be invited to join Georgians competing in a full slate of indoor track and field events (a complete schedule will be released later).

Dunamis Sports Group Managing Member Steve McBride, National Scholastic Athletic Foundation Executive Director Jim Spier, and Michael Grade of LakePoint Sports announced the event simultaneously today in New York, Dallas, Chapel Hill and Atlanta. The meet will be organized and produced by NSAF and hosted by LakePoint on a track owned and operated by Dunamis Sports Group. The event has been endorsed by the Atlanta Track Club, USATF Georgia and the Atlanta Sports Council. The group hopes to make this an annual event.

Quote from Jim Spier, Executive Director, NSAF:
“We are thrilled to be able to help launch and host this meet in a state that has produced so many great track and field athletes and contributed so much to the sport,” said Mr. Spier. “Georgia has always had a strong presence at our events and we’re excited that we can provide this opportunity for athletes throughout the region.”

Quote from John Ross, Managing Member, Dunamis Sports Group:
“Dunamis Sports Group is excited to partner with LakePoint Sports and the NSAF to bring an event of this magnitude to Georgia. We see this as a continuation of our commitment to the track and field world to bring super events to super venues.

Dina Asher-Smith hails 'inspirational' Mo Farah before his final home race

Britain's fastest woman Dina Asher-Smith has paid tribute to "inspirational" team-mate Sir Mo Farah ahead of his final track race on home soil.

The 21-year-old sprinter, who holds the national record over both 100 and 200 metres, is on the bill alongside the four-time Olympic gold medallist for the Muller Grand Prix in Birmingham on Sunday.

The event is scheduled to be Farah's last appearance on a track in this country before he hangs up his spikes and focuses on road races following the Diamond League final in Zurich on August 24.

Asher-Smith believes distance runner Farah is the perfect role model for aspiring British athletes.

"I think Mo's been so important for, not only Britain in how we do in the championships in terms of bringing back medals and being absolutely amazing and consistent in that, but also as a team-mate," she told Press Association Sport. "He's so humble, he's so down-to-earth, funny and always so positive.

"He really uplifts you and he's very inspirational. You see him work so incredibly hard and you think, 'Well, if I want to be a world champion, that's what I have got to do'.

"It's going to be very sad for us all when Mo retires because he is a very integral part of the team, he does spend a lot of time with us, he is really friendly and a lovely guy.

"He's definitely achieved everything that you can achieve, so congratulations to him."

This weekend's event at Alexander Stadium will see Asher-Smith continue her comeback from the broken bone which threatened to ruin her season.

She has been competing with screws in her foot following a fractured navicular suffered in February.

Her impressive return saw her finish fourth in the 200m at the World Championships in London last week, before picking up a silver medal in the 4x100m relay.

She feels her recent injury layoff and positive subsequent results could make her more resilient moving forward.

"Arguably, I think that probably has done more in the long-term for me mentally - showing myself what I can do and what I can overcome - than maybe having an easy season and getting a medal (individual), which sounds entirely crazy because a medal would be fantastic, I would have loved that," she added.

"But sometimes when you're younger you have to go through trials and tribulations to realise what real problems are.

"Because now, if I get a torn hamstring or anything, I'm going to rehab it properly and get over it because six weeks out, four weeks out, is nothing compared to three months."

Asher-Smith will line-up in the 100m on Sunday, competing against Dutch runner Dafne Schippers - who beat her to take gold in the 200m in London - and her British relay team-mates Asha Philip, Desiree Henry and Daryll Neita.

When asked how far she is from peak form, she added: "Running a 22.2 (in London) off not much training is really, really good for me so I'm hopefully looking to go a little bit faster in the near future and then we'll see.

"My foot's alright at the moment, it's fine.

"It still plays up now and again but it's just standard when you've got screws that your body is still getting used to having - kind of like a new-shaped foot.

"But, as far as I'm concerned, I'm back to my best now."

12 Of Team USA's Most Unforgettable Moments At The Track And Field World Championships

LONDON – Team USA’s performances at the IAAF World Championships were unparalleled, unexpected, sometimes unbelievable and totally unforgettable. Call it red, white and out of the blue.

For every Christian Taylor winning gold in the men’s triple jump, Brittney Reese capturing the women’s long jump or Sam Kendricks soaring to the title in the men’s pole vault, there were medals in events in which Team USA had rarely reached the podium (men’s discus and women’s marathon) or had never cracked the top three (gold, silver and bronze in the steeplechase).

Team USA won a record 30 medals – 10 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze – exceeding its 28 medals won in 2011.

The closest country in the medal table was Kenya with 11, including five golds, as 43 countries won at least one medal at London Stadium.

Allyson Felix, with three medals – two golds and a bronze – won more medals than 29 nations and now has an unprecedented 16 total world championship medals. She is tied with Jamaica’s Usain Bolt with 11 golds. Bolt has retired; Felix has not.

On the heels of the 32 medals won at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, this was the first time since the Olympic Games Helsinki 1952 and Olympic Games Melbourne 1956 that Team USA won 30-plus medals at consecutive global championships.

Here are a dozen notable Team USA performances in the order in which they occurred.

Mason Finley, Bronze Medal, Men's Discus

Finley got Team USA off on the right foot after a setback that could have knocked someone else off their game. When Finley went to grab his personal disc for his second throw in the qualifying round, he couldn't find it. ”It wasn’t there,” he said, “And they said somebody else threw my disc, cracked it and broke it.” Finley found a similar disc and met the qualifying mark. In the final, he again used a borrowed implement to throw a personal best of 68.03 meters (223 feet, 2 inches). Finley, who finished 11th at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, became only the third man in Team USA history to medal in the event and the first since 1999.

Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman, Gold and Silver Medals, Men's 100-Meter

All eyes were on Usain Bolt, who was running his last individual race at worlds. The British press called Gatlin a “gatecrasher” as he and Coleman spoiled Bolt’s last hurrah in the 100. Gatlin ran 9.92 seconds, Coleman 9.94 and Bolt 9.95 for the bronze. While Bolt has chosen to retire at nearly age 31, Gatlin became the oldest man ever to win the 100 at age 35 years, 176 days. Gatlin is also the first to win two titles 12 years apart after winning his first world title in 2005. This was the first 1-2 finish for Team USA in the 100 since 2001, when Maurice Greene and Bernard Williams captured the gold and silver. Gatlin, running in Lane 8, was overlooked as Coleman and Bolt dueled in the middle lanes. “I believed in myself,” Gatlin said. And the world believed it, too, when he crossed the line. Coleman, 21, who earlier the same night handed Bolt his first Olympic or world semifinal defeat, also turned heads. Sebastian Coe, president of the IAAF, said the meet marked the “emergence of Christian Coleman, quite possibly the future face of sprinting.”

Amy Cragg, Bronze Medal, Women's Marathon

The two-time Olympian gave up the Boston Marathon to focus on worlds, and her strategy paid off. Cragg became the first American woman to capture a marathon medal at worlds since Marianne Dickerson in 1983. She was part of the pack that broke away late in the race, then battled Kenya’s Flomena Cheyech Daniel for the final medal, kicking for the bronze and nearly securing the silver. Her time of 2 hours, 27 minutes, 18 seconds was the fastest ever by a U.S. woman at worlds. “Every medalist – past and present – I've always really looked up to and hold them above me, so it feels crazy to be in that group now,” Cragg said.

Tori Bowie, Gold Medal, Women's 100-Meter

While Bolt had the reputation – if not the recent results to back it up – in the men’s 100, his countrywoman Elaine Thompson had both in the women’s event. She was the Olympic gold medalist and had the fastest time in the world of 10.71 seconds. But Thompson actually wasn’t a factor in the final. Instead, Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Ivory Coast was bearing down on the finish line when Bowie, the Olympic silver medalist, leaned at the perfect moment to take the victory. Bowie’s time was 10.85 seconds, one one-hundredth faster than Ta Lou. “I bet I’m probably the only person in the world that believed I’d come out here and win the 100 meters tonight,” Bowie said. Unfortunately, Bowie’s momentum made her lose her balance and fall to the track, bruising her hip and giving her some abrasions. She withdrew from the 200, but was back to anchor Team USA to the win in the 4x100-meter.

Jenny Simpson, Silver Medal, Women's 1,500-Meter

Coming in as the 15th fastest performer this year on the world list, Simpson kicked from fourth place to second with 50 meters to go with a time of 4:02.76. “The final stretch, I just thought, ‘I can win,’” said Simpson, who finished .17 behind Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon. “And I thought, ‘No one’s going to believe I’m doing this again.'” In the last six years, Simpson has made the podium in three of the last four world championships, with an Olympic bronze medal last year. She lost a shoe two years ago at worlds, keeping her off the podium. “I finished and I thought, ‘The stadium is designed and looks like a tiara and I feel like one of the jewels just shining on the inside of it,’” Simpson said.

Sam Kendricks, Gold Medal, Men's Pole Vault

Kendricks was the favorite going in after becoming the 20th member of the prestigious 6-meter club earlier this year. He was nearly flawless as the competition progressed, becoming the only vaulter to clear the first five heights on his first attempt. Kendricks missed twice at 5.95 meters (19 feet, 6 1/4 inches), then cleared it on his third attempt for the victory. He is the first American to medal at the world championships in the men’s pole vault since Brad Walker won gold in 2007 in Osaka. Kendricks, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, is only the fourth American to medal at worlds in the men’s pole vault. The first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve took his victory lap with the American flag folded over his shoulder. “It covers up the little flag here (on his uniform), but sometimes the bigger flag is nicer,” he said.

Phyllis Francis and Allyson Felix, Gold and Silver Medals, Women's 400-Meter

An American whose last name starts with “F” was one of the favorites in the 400-meter, but it wasn’t Francis. It was Allyson Felix, the defending champion and Olympic silver medalist. The other favorite was Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas. But on the homestretch Miller-Uibo uncharacteristically stumbled, Felix faded and Francis was the surprise winner with a personal best time of 49.92 seconds. “I’m like, ‘holy smokes, I did it!” she said. Felix said it “was nice for her to come out on top,” but she was disappointed in her own performance. Even two gold medals in the relays didn’t make up for her loss. “That’s not the way it works,” she said. On the final day of competition, Felix ran the second leg and Francis the anchor as Team USA set a world championships record for largest margin of victory in a 4x400-meter, at 5.98 seconds. .

Christian Taylor and Will Claye, Gold and Silver Medals, Men's Triple Jump

In a repeat of their finish at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and the Olympic Games London 2012, Taylor and Claye went 1-2 for the first time in Team USA’s world championships history. Taylor’s winning jump was 17.68 meters (58-0 1/4) while Claye went 17.63 (57-10 1/4). Taylor and Claye join the legendary Mike Conley as the only triple jumpers to win three world medals. Taylor is the first triple jumper to win three world titles and the first to win two in a row, overtaking Claye on his third jump. Taylor said Claye pushes him “too much. He's pushed me from high school ranks and as annoying as it is, I'm also extremely grateful for it. I would not be able to go the distance and push myself without him.”

Kori Carter and Dalilah Muhammad, Gold and Silver Medals, Women's 400-Meter Hurdles

Carter’s “game-face” during the race introduction went viral as a meme, with her teammates mimicking her gesture in a video. Team USA went 1-2 for the first time since 1995, but Muhammad, the reigning Olympic champ, was considered the better bet for the top position on the podium. Muhammad had the lead the first half of the race, but Carter, in Lane 9, cleared the final hurdle practically even with her and sprinted for the win in 53.07 seconds, with Muhammad next at 53.50. “I could barely sleep last night because that was all I was dreaming of,” Carter said. “I kept waking up and thinking about it. And I just envisioned coming out on top.”

Brittney Reese and Tianna Bartoletta, Gold and Silver Medals, Women's Long Jump

Reese became the first woman to win four world long jump medals and is only the second woman to win four golds in a single world championships event, joining New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams. Reese jumped with a tribute to her late grandfather on the back of her bib. She had only two legal jumps, but her third leap of 7.02 meters (23-0 1/2) held up for the gold. Bartoletta, the Olympic champion, won the bronze with a jump of 6.97 meters (22-10 1/2) marking the first time Team USA won multiple medals n the women’s long jump at worlds. “My grandfather (King David Dunomes) passed away a couple of weeks ago,” Reese said. “He’s the reason I’m running track today. It was an emotional time for me. I’m glad I had the opportunity to come out here and get him a gold medal. He was my No. 1 fan. He was the type of person that will call a whole family to let them know I was on TV. To have him in my heart, I’m glad I came out with the gold.”

Dawn Harper-Nelson, Silver Medal, 100-Meter Hurdles

With Team USA filling four lanes of the eight-woman final, it was the 33-year-old veteran who hurdled onto the podium – then did her signature cartwheel in celebration. Harper-Nelson was the 2008 Olympic champ, 2012 silver medalist and 2011 world bronze medalist. She ran a season-best 12.63 seconds to finish behind 2012 Olympic champion Sally Pearson of Australia in 12.59 – just as she did five years ago at the Olympic Games on the same track. Keni Harrison of Team USA, the world record holder and pre-race favorite, hit too many early hurdles to stay in contention and placed fourth. Harper-Nelson said she was so nervous she was “shaking in the blocks.” Toward the end of the race when she saw Pearson out of the corner of her eye, she thought, “Of course it’s me and her! But it was so sweet for it to be me and her.” Harper-Nelson promised she would not be “laying her head down sad.” “Silver tastes like gold tonight,” she said. “You know when the gun goes off, you can count on Dawn!”

Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs, Gold and Silver Medals, Women's Steeplechase

This was the biggest stunner of them all. When Evan Jager won the bronze medal in the men’s steeplechase to become the first Team USA runner to win a world medal in the event, it elicited a trickle of excitement. Coburn and Frerichs unleashed a torrent. With a time of 9:02.58, Coburn set a championship record and smashed her own American record that she set while winning the Olympic bronze medal in Rio. Coburn became the first American since Hall of Famer Horace Ashenfelter in 1952 to win a steeplechase gold at a global championship. Perhaps even more amazing, Frerichs clocked 9:03.77 to take a whopping 15.32 seconds off her personal best, breaking the previous championship and American records.

“I thought on a perfect day I could sneak in for a medal,” said Coburn, who came in ranked sixth on time and fifth among the runners in the final.

In a race that saw one of the favorites, Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech miss the first water jump and have to double back, and a few falls, Coburn and Frerichs stayed with the lead pack. Frerichs briefly took the lead, and both flanked Hyvin Jepkemoi at the final water jump. Coburn raised her arms at the finish line, while Frerichs clutched her head in disbelief, then they hugged and fell to the track.

“I was kind of waiting for someone to come up and steal it from me,” Coburn said, “and no one did.”

The only global champions for Team USA at distances more than 400 meters are Madeline Manning in the 800 in 1968, Mary Decker in the 1,500 and 3,000 in 1983 and Joan Benoit in the marathon in 1984. Team USA had not gone 1-2 in any distance event since 1912, when Ted Meredith led a sweep in the 800.

Team USA Minnesota Adds 3 To Training Group

Breanna Sieracki, Tyler Jermann, Danny Docherty Join the Team USA Minnesota Training Group
Minneapolis/St. Paul - Aug. 22, 2017 - Team USA Minnesota has added three distance runners to its training group, including Breanna Sieracki, a University of Minnesota-Duluth graduate, Tyler Jermann, of Iowa State University, and Danny Docherty, whose collegiate running career was at Loyola University in Chicago. Sieracki, formerly Colbenson, is a mid-distance runner focusing on the steeplechase; Jermann competes in the 10 mile up through the marathon; and Docherty runs the mile up through the half marathon.

"Each of these athletes brings something special and unique to Team USA Minnesota," said coach Chris Lundstrom. "Breanna has improved dramatically over the last year and has untapped potential not only in the steeplechase, but in a wide range of distances.

"Tyler has shown huge improvements since graduating from college and we are excited to see what he can accomplish in the 10 mile to marathon distances over the next few years. Danny is a guy who has shown really good range and has a lot of potential both on the track and in the longer distances on the roads."

Sieracki, nee Colbenson, is a native of Spring Valley, Wisconsin, where as a prep at Spring Valley High School she won state championships in the 1600m and 3200m and made 14 WIAA State appearances in cross country and track & field. At UMD, she was an eight-time All American, a three-time NCAA DII National Champion Runner-Up, and was named UMD's Outstanding Female Senior Athlete and Top Female Scholar Athlete for 2016-17.

With a major in physical education and currently student teaching, Sieracki graduated last spring with bests of 9:34 in the 3000m, 9:56 in the steeplechase which qualified her for the 2017 USATF Outdoor Championships, and 16:10 in the 5000m.

Long distance runner Jermann grew up in the Chicago suburb of Naperville where he ran cross country and track at Naperville Central High School. He competed collegiately at Iowa State and graduated in 2015 with degrees in mathematics and finance. Since graduation, in addition to this work as a mathematics consultant and programmer, he trained two years at altitude in Flagstaff and qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon.

To date he has run seven marathons, including finishing third and then fourth at the 2016 and 2017 Pittsburgh Marathons respectively, with a best in the distance of 2:16. Last spring, he won the USATF 50k Championships with a time of 2:48.

Docherty is from St. Paul and was a prep at Cretin-Derham Hall High School, where he was a six-time Minnesota State Meet qualifier in the 3200m, 1600m and cross country and had the distinction of being a dual-sport fall conference champion in cross country and soccer in 2007. At Loyola, he qualified for the 10,000m in the NCAA DI West Preliminary Round, and has top five finishes in the Horizon League in the 1500m, mile and 5000m.

He has undergraduate degrees in English and psychology, has been coaching youth and high school runners, and is now pursuing a master's of education degree in sports and exercise science at the University of Minnesota. On the roads this past spring, he set personal bests in the 15k, 10 mile and half marathon.

About Team USA Minnesota

Team USA Minnesota is based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Founded in 2001, the purpose of the training group is to improve the competitiveness of post-collegiate American distance running and to develop Olympians. The athletes are coached by Chris Lundstrom. Team USA Minnesota's gold sponsor is Twin Cities In Motion. Its silver sponsors are the Houston Marathon Foundation, the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, and Twin Cities Orthopedics. For more information, visit the team's web site at www.teamusaminnesota.org.

Baylor's London aims to build on sizzling summer of sprinting

You can learn a lot from studying abroad.

Here’s what Wil London learned, or rather had reinforced: He can compete with the best runners in the world.

London, who started his junior year at Baylor on Monday, has a pretty great “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” tale to share. On Aug. 13, the former Waco High standout captured a silver medal at the IAAF World Track and Championships, logging the leadoff leg for the U.S. 4x400-meter relay team.

Better yet – he clocked the fastest split time (44.08 seconds) of any of the Americans in that race. And though London didn’t reach the final in the open 400 — stalling out in the semifinals with a time of 45.12, the 12th-best effort in the field – he is oozing with confidence after a highly successful summer.

“Of course, I have a lot more confidence going into (the NCAA meet) next year,” London said. “There’s going to be a target on my chest, of course. So, I have to go in and I have to work 10 times harder. I can’t go in lacking at practice, I’ve got to take leadership of the team and I’ve got to go in willing to work harder and get better.”

London finalized his travel reservations to the World Championships – fittingly, in London, England – by finishing third in the 400 at the USA Track and Field Championships. There, he put it all together with a personal-best time of 44.47, the third-fastest ever by a Baylor quarter-miler behind Olympic gold medalists Jeremy Wariner (44.00) and Michael Johnson (44.21).

That breakthrough didn’t surprise London, though. He sensed that it was coming.

“That wasn’t surprising at all,” he said. “Me and the rest of the team, we worked to get to that point. And the way we train at Baylor, we don’t want to train and drop fast times at the beginning of the season. And I just dropped it at the right time.”

Nothing would have satisfied London more than to have returned from England with a pair of gold medals stuffed into his carry-on bag. But he still wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. The first time he slipped on his bright blue USA singlet, it gave him chills.

“It’s great. It’s great enough having Baylor on my chest, but when you run for the country, it’s like no other,” he said. “You go out there and you run and you compete and you do it for not only the people in your city, but you do it for the people in the nation.”

The trip marked London’s first exposure to England. But he’s starting to collect an impressive array of stamps on his passport. Track has now taken London, who cut his track and field teeth competing for the City of Waco’s summer track program, to all over the globe, including Poland, Italy and Australia.

The trip to London turned out to be his favorite trip thus far.

“So far, it’s London, because the people there love my last name,” London said. “They showed the most love, and I love them for that.”

London finished eighth at the NCAA meet in the 400 in June, running 45.72 in the final. It was an All-America showing, but given how he performed at the USAs and World Championships, he knows he has medal-climbing potential.

He also is well aware that it will require a lot of work.

“In track, you never know what you’re going to get,” London said. “You just have to take it day by day, week by week. You have to take it from each track meet to the next. And it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be frustrating. But as long as I trust in the coaches and the training staff, then I should be fine.”

All-Time Diamond League Winners

As the IAAF’s DL has put year No. 7 in the books let’s check out who the biggest all-time overall winners have been since the series’ inception.

There has been only a single 7-timer, French vaulter Renaud Lavillenie.

Only a single man—Christian Taylor in the triple jump—has won 5 out of the 7 years. On the women’s side, Valerie Adams (shot) and Sandra Perković (discus) have scored 5-spots.

There’s also only a single man, Piotr Malachowski (discus) with 4 titles. Women, on the other hand, can claim 6: Milcah Chemos (steeple), Dawn Harper Nelson (100H), Kaliese Spencer (400H), Caterine Ibargüen (triple jump) and Anita Włodarczyk (hammer) and Barbora Špotáková (javelin).

Every event has had at least 1 multiple winner.

Note: all these stats include the hammer, which while not an official part of the DL, does have its own annual Challenge series.

MEN’S ALL-TIME DIAMOND LEAGUE WINNERS (2010–2016)


WOMEN’S ALL-TIME DIAMOND LEAGUE WINNERS (2010–2016)

Some Big Names Missing From The DL Finals

Posting on our Current Events forum, poster "Powell" points out a problem with this year's finales in Zürich & Brussels:

<<It shows a weakness of the new system, though, that the Zurich/ Brussels organizers aren't able to invite some people they would surely like to have. The two meets could be a lot better if they were free to chose the field.

Here's the list of London medalists who haven't qualified for the finals:

Men
100 Coleman/ Bolt (though Bolt surely wouldn't be interested in competing anyway)
200 van Niekerk/ Richards
400 Haroun
800 Bosse
110H Baji
HJ Lysenko
TJ Evora
DT Finley
JT Frydrych

Women
100 Bowie
200 Miller-Uibo
400 Francis/ Naser
800 Wilson
1500 Simpson/ Semenya
5000 Ayana
3000SC Frerichs
100H Harper-Nelson
400H Carter/ Tracey
JT Li/ Liu>>

Anybody Capable Of Being The Next IOC President?

In the absence of a genuine contest to determine host cities for either the 2024 or 2028 Olympic Games, it is hard to get too excited about the agenda for next month’s International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Lima.

As ever, though, the most interesting conversations will happen in private away from prying journalists and minutes-takers. Alongside the topics of Russian doping and French corruption investigations, it will be interesting to see if the long-term structure of the IOC and its leadership is also discussed.

This was something expertly tackled last week by my colleague David Owen when he explored whether the IOC and its members are being reduced to the level of a “superior PR agency” for the Olympics.

I found myself wondering when reading this who, out of the current flock, could potentially be positioning themselves to replace Thomas Bach as President in four or - more likely - eight years’ time.

This is a subject that has been raised to us by several people in recent weeks. But, to my knowledge, it is certainly not something which is so far being discussed at any great length in the wider Olympic world.

And why would it be, you may ask? Lima will mark the four-year anniversary of Bach’s triumphant ascent to the power a few thousand miles to the south-east in Buenos Aires. A lot has happened in that time and an awful lot more will happen over the next four years before his first eight-year term is over.

"It must be a very slow news day for you to be bothered about this now," grumbled one IOC figure when I raised the issue today.

When speaking following the Extraordinary Session in Lausanne last month at which his joint-awarding plans were approved, Bach repeatedly suggested it will not be his responsibility to choose the 2032 host, in 2025, because his term in office would have ended. His implied point appeared to be that we should not assume that he will automatically stand for a second four-year term to take him to the maximum tenure of 12 years. It is more likely, though, that Bach was being his usual wily self and that he does intend to continue until the end of another summer bidding contest in 2025.

But, be it in four or eight years time, there is certainly no obvious successor at this stage. At a similar point in his predecessor Jacques Rogge’s Presidency, I am told that Bach and others were already circling and plotting and making their ambitions clear.

So, for no better reason than stirring up some intrigue pre-Lima, who could the next IOC President be?

The most obvious figure, if you had to pick one, would still be Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and Association of National Olympic Committees President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah. “The Sheikh”, as he likes to be known, was labelled the “kingmaker” when helping engineer a triple whammy of a Bach Presidency, a Tokyo 2020 Olympics and wrestling’s return to the programme in 2013.

A close, probably the closest, ally of Bach, it was thought then that seeds were already being sown towards his eventual rise onto the Executive Board with a view to becoming vice-president in 2021. He would therefore have been in pole position to succeed four years later.

With hindsight, Buenos Aires now appears the high watermark of the 54-year-old’s influence. He fell out of favour in his native Kuwait the following year and, after backing the wrong horse in the 2016 FIFA Presidential Election, is now at the centre of a US Department of Justice probe into alleged bribery, which he denies, connected to the world football body.

He did not even attend last month’s meeting in Lausanne and played a minimal role supporting Bach in the 2024 and 2028 joint awarding process.

I am reluctant to discount him completely, however.

He certainly did not seem low-profile or struggling for confidence when working the room with customary panache at an International Swimming Federation Gala in Budapest later in July. I doubt that Bach and other top IOC brass would want to see him fall and, if he can survive the next year, he could still re-emerge in the long-term.

It would be very hard to convince much of the western press and public of his credibility but, as we know well, it is not they who determine the outcome of sporting elections.

Who else?

Other key allies of Bach or current members of the “ruling” Executive Board mostly seem either too old, too distracted or too lacking in sufficient political clout or support.

Australia’s John Coates would seemingly occupy the first category, Taiwan’s C K Wu the second and Turkey's Uğur Erdener the third. Ireland’s Patrick Hickey is handicapped by the first and second. Ukraine’s Sergey Bubka, while certainly young enough, probably fails the second and third. Talk will inevitably turn to a first female IOC President, but I cannot see the likes of United States’ Anita DeFrantz or Morocco’s Nawal El Moutawakel proving successful.

And, while it would certainly make for more interesting press conferences, there is more chance of Thomas Bach appointing Richard Pound as his new communications director than him becoming a serious Presidential threat.

In fact, it is hard to see anybody who has stood unsuccessfully against either Rogge or Bach before having much of a chance. Bach's closest challenger Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico has played an increasingly low key and disinterested role over the last four years and will thus presumably have little influence among the newest influx of members.

Could a Samaranch era mark II be a possibility? Juan Antonio junior has appeared the most capable of the four IOC vice-presidents or, indeed, any Executive Board member in recent months and could consider an attempt at the same time as a Spanish Olympic bidding tilt. He is young enough, at 57, and sufficiently savvy to have regained favour despite backing Carrion in the 2013 contest.

International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe will inevitably also be mooted as a possibility.

He certainly has more political ability than some of the above names but probably fails to meet all three criteria. He would celebrate his 69th birthday in September 2025, so is almost certainly too old. He is currently lacking experience within the specific IOC constituency and, because of his IAAF commitments, unlikely to gain much over the next few years.

Should the next generation also be considered? Conventional wisdom suggests that somebody with a serious ambition of becoming the next IOC President should already be on the Executive Board by this stage. In the age of Donald Trump and jointly awarded Olympics, however, political conventional wisdom has gone out of the window.

One name mentioned already is Tony Estanguet, the suave Frenchman who is the chief-in-waiting of both Paris 2024 and the IOC Athletes’ Commission? The former three-time Olympic slalom canoeing champion would have plenty of rapids to paddle past first. First of all, he would need to be elected as a full IOC member when his athletes term ends in 2020.

This is certainly not guaranteed. Germany’s Claudia Bokel did not get this luxury when her term ended last year and there appears little sign that American Angela Ruggiero will either next year. It will certainly not be lost on Bach that the last person to receive this treatment was Namibia’s Frankie Fredericks, who is now “temporarily self-suspended” as he attempts to deny corruption allegations surrounding Rio de Janeiro’s successful bid in 2009.

Estanguet would therefore have to convince the German that he is someone worth investing in. Regardless of this, he would probably be too busy with his Paris 2024 commitments to have time or motivation to campaign. His objectives, if he has them, are probably even longer term.

There are other young athlete turned administrators such as France’s World Rowing boss Jean-Christophe Rolland and Denmark’s Badminton World Federation head Poul-Erik Høyer who cannot be written off. Chile’s new Pan American Sports Organization head Neven Ilic is somebody else to keep an eye on while other people have mentioned a third Frenchman in the ambitious International Cycling Union Presidential contender David Lappartient.

Somebody who merits more serious consideration, though, is Switzerland’s Patrick Baumann. The International Basketball Federation secretary general is also head of the Global Association of International Sports Federations - formerly SportAccord - as well as the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympics, SportAccord Convention and the IOC Evaluation Commission for the 2024 and 2028 bid races.

As William Shakespeare wrote, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them". Baumann is somebody who is easily underestimated and, while still seen by some as an administrator more than politician, is already one of the safest pairs of hands in sport.

If asked, he would certainly claim he has no interest, but, as ever with these people, it is hard to tell. One point raised to me today is that the job of IOC President has changed under Bach to becoming a more overtly political role. It is now as much about hobnobbing with political leaders and sending out statements condemning terrorist attacks than organising the administration of sport. Could this put some people off and encourage a different clientele?

Another option if no viable contender emerges, of course, is that Bach could stay on for another term after 2025.

This would be against the rules but, as we have seen this year, the German is not immune to liberal adaptations of the Olympic Charter if it suits him. Or could he even change the structure somehow and shift power from the President to a permanent chief executive type figure of his choosing? This latter point is very unlikely given the overtly Presidential structure of almost all sporting bodies but would be an interesting idea.

On the other hand, the goalposts could change completely and some yet-to-be-seen factor could force Bach out of office far earlier. The German does seems to have re-cemented his grip on IOC power following the joint awarding success, but the horizon is still far from a clean one.

This will certainly be an interesting, if non-urgent, topic to observe in Lima and beyond.

Track Needs Fresh, Post-Bolt Strategy

The IAAF World Athletics Championships in London saw two legends exit the track.

Multiple world and Olympic medallists, Usain Bolt of Jamaica and Great Britain’s Mo Farah, both called time on their stellar track careers, with Farah taking up road running, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on his mind.

There is no doubt the two have been globally accepted superstars, and have increased interest in track and field over the last 10 years of their peak performance.

Full stadium sessions at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London whenever “Mo” was in action electrified the London championships, as did the equally vibrant crowd whenever Bolt was on the starting blocks.

In fact, on the final Saturday of action, tickets for both the morning and evening sessions at the 55,000-seater stadium sold out well in advance as Bolt’s name featured on Jamaica’s ill-fated 4x100 metres relay team line-up for the semis and final that day, while “Mo” was on the start-list for the 5,000m.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) along with the Diamond League and other meet directors will now have to dig deep to maintain interest in the sport, with innovation a sure way forward.

Athletes’ representative Jos Hermens, the veteran founder of Netherlands-based Global Sports Communications (GSC), has been spending hours with stablemate Valentijn Trouw and their team in Nijmegen burning the midnight oil, seeking solutions to the dilemma staring at the sport.

“I’m not so much worried about the future of athletics due to the departure of Bolt and Farah, because more stars will develop and come through,” he told me, reassuringly, in a post-championship interview.

VEST NUMBERS

“Usain attracted a lot of interest because he is a showman and people loved that. However, we need to think about how to innovate to keep the sport alive, because innovation is good for the sport and the only way forward,” he was quick to add.

One of the ideas on his mind is how to brand the athletes’ running kit differently, probably by introducing vest numbers — as is the case in basketball, volleyball, or even football — or sponsor logos on the apparel.

Already, GSC’s marathon wing has signed up a partnership with insurance and investment management company NN Group and launched the first professional running team with the aim of “bringing a new dimension to running.”

Among the about 60 members of the NN Running Team that has signed up to compete in 150 global competitions is Kenya’s Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, world marathon champion Geoffrey Kirui, Chicago Marathon winner Florence Kiplagat, Dutchman Abdi Nageeye, Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele and world half marathon and cross country champion Geoffrey Kamworor.

Hermens, a former three-time Dutch 5,000 metres champion, is looking to replicate the NN Running Team model in track and field where GSC manages a good number of global stars.

He has taken back control of the famous Hengelo track and field meet in the Netherlands, famously known as the FBK Games, that was briefly organised by former Belgian distance running star Bob Verbeeck of Golazo Sport, hoping to use the meet to try out fresh ideas.

“We can no longer only depend on shoe sponsors. The concept of a running team will offer possibilities for paid-up branding on the vests and shorts of the athletes,” he explains.

“It is no longer enough to only brand the running bibs and we need to do a lot more to attract extra revenues because the athletes too need to make a living out of track and field.”

Despite managing quite a number of top marathon runners, like Kipchoge and Bekele, Hermens is very much attached to track and field where his star athletes include Colombia’s Olympic triple jump champion Caterine Ibarguen who won bronze in London two weeks ago.

Hermens is worried by the number of young athletes quitting track for the marathons and other road races.

“The problem is there is too much money in road running and athletes are quick to shift from the track to the road, and rightfully so because there are just two or three 5,000m and 10,000m in the Diamond League all season which is not enough, as the athletes need to make a living. Previously, there were seven or eight races and the championships."

DEATH KNELL

At the London World Championships, GSC athletes panned a total of 15 medals — five gold, six silver and four bronze — their gold medallists including Kenya’s Faith Chepng’etich (1,500m) and Geoffrey Kirui (marathon).

The group’s Kenyan athletes are moulded locally by former Olympic steeplechase champion Patrick Sang who has emerged as one of Kenya’s most successful coaches.

From Hermens’ observation, a lot needs to be done for track and field to remain relevant, and Kenyan managers of the sport must take up the cue and rethink the way the sport is managed here.

Organising weekend meetings in the same fashion as they were run a decade ago is surely sounding the death knell for athletics development in Kenya.

Spotáková Still Going Strong At 36

It is nine years next month since that Saturday afternoon in Stuttgart where Barbora Spotakova smashed the javelin world record. And now, when 13 September comes around again, she will mark the anniversary as still being the best there is.

As she said: “I cannot imagine my life without athletics.”

Now 36, age seems to be an irrelevance; Spotakova is world champion once more, an amazing 10 years on from first winning the title for the first time in Osaka. A decade ago, she triumphed with what was a Czech record of 67.07m, now it was gold with 66.76m after her superb performance in London just over a week.

Spotakova could be on the path to another gold medal in Berlin next summer when the European Athletics Championships take place as part of the first multi-sport European Championships in conjunction with the Scottish city of Glasgow.

Spotakova now has five major titles to her name, with her two Olympics triumphs in 2008 and 2012, world championships gold medals in 2007 and 2017 and her European title from Zurich in 2014, when tears flowed as she cuddled her son Janek in her first major competition since he was born.

And it is to the Letzigrund Stadium she will head on Thursday again, looking for more glory at the IAAF Diamond League, as the event leader in the javelin’s Diamond Race.

Since winning at the Universiade in Izmir, in 2005, Spotakova has shown not much does go wrong when it comes to the heat of the big final.

In London, she regained the world title with victory from the second round and with it came such an outpouring of feeling, a real insight to what makes Spotakova tick. “The possibility of competing at this stadium once more motivated me to continue my career after the Rio Olympics. Winning this, I got the best feeling in my life.

“I thought I will never have stronger emotions than I did in Beijing, but they definitely were much stronger. The strongest emotions ever, even though my career is very long and very successful.”

She also revealed how she still gets through the process of performing at the very highest level. Talking of being “in this form at this age”, Spotakova told a Czech newspaper: “I really felt quite broken after qualifying. It is more and more difficult to recover from the competition. There are 300 things to do. You have to be cool. Of course, you also do not underestimate anything or anyone .”

But she sensed it could be her time again, having celebrated such glory at the Olympics in London in 2012.

She revealed her feelings on the day of the final and said: “From the moment I got to the stadium, it was so strangely calm that everything would go well that would be good. It was just a very strange feeling.

“I had this feeling in the past only in two stadiums – in Stuttgart, where I have always succeeded, and then in London. Such a special inner peace. I do not know why. It turned out that it was a good choice to stay in athletics even after Rio. It was worth it.”

Bolt Enjoying Retirement Party On Mykonos (w/ vid)

After marking his recent retirement with a number of consecutive nights out in London, Usain Bolt took the party to the stunning cosmopolitan island of Mykonos, Greece this week.

The Jamaican sprinter, 30, was flanked by a bevy of beauties, as he headed out for another evening on the tiles with friends. Usain Bolt partied as he hit up Mykonos Scorpios seaside bar with friends in the early hours of Sunday evening.

His sun-soaked break comes just a short while after Bolt partied up a storm in the UK, enjoying champagne-fuelled bashes at some of London’s biggest nightclubs, most recently DSTRKT.

The Jamaican sprint legend also shared a photo of himself posing with his companion on the beautiful Greek island.

Christian Coleman Returns Home To Georgia

A 2014 yearbook from Our Lady of Mercy knew then what the rest of the world knows now: Christian Coleman is a bona fide star.

Voted most likely to get a Nike endorsement in high school because of his talent on the track, it's no surprise to many around the Fayetteville Catholic school that he's lived up to his senior superlative.

"It's inspiring to me," Coleman said in an interview with 11Alive. "It's motivation, and it helps me to stay focused and stay on track knowing that I have people watching me."

A humble attitude considering how tough the track and field world can be. There's the best, like eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, and then there's the rest.

After competing in his first Olympics in Rio de Janeiro last year, Coleman set NCAA records at the University of Tennessee in the 100 and 200 meters this spring. He turned pro, and he shifted into a second gear that would allow him to beat the world's fastest man not once, but twice.

"We crossed the line, and I wanted to win. I wasn't sure who won or not and then I looked over and lost to my teammate," Coleman said. "Couldn't have asked for a better outcome."

Coleman won the silver medal at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London earlier this month, his first global medal. That teammate he referred to was Justin Gatlin, who won gold. Gatlin is a five-time Olympic medalist. Coleman took home a boost of confidence.

Bolt took the bronze in the 100 meters, and then Coleman and Gatlin beat Bolt and Jamaica again in the 4x100 meter relay by winning the silver. Bolt couldn't finish his final race, falling to the ground with a hamstring injury.

"Now I'm focusing on this next season and progressing. It's my rookie professional season making sure I come out and live up to my name."

Now, he's one of the elite. It's a small club, which is why during this break between running and the start of classes for his senior year at Tennessee he fully intends to finish his degree. But he managed to squeeze in some time to share his experience in the place where it all began.

"Seeing me compete at this next level knowing I came from the same places, ate at the same table, they realize they can accomplish come of the same things," Coleman said as the kids of Our Lady of Mercy school visited with him and took pictures with the Olympian.

"He's been to the Olympics," student Isiah Fernandez said. "He beat Usain Bolt. It's all these different things he keeps doing that are amazing coming from our school. That's like our idol. Our top dog."

A bona fide title Coleman now carries beyond the walls of his alma mater.

Rift In Jamaica Over Role Of Personal Coaches

Two of Jamaica's most respected voices in track and field believe that the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) must do more to manage the conduct of coaches and athletes on national duty overseas.

Since the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, which ended on August 13, there have been calls for coaches who are associated with athletes at international competitions to not be part of the senior coaching staff as conflicts of interest may arise.

Head coach Maurice Wilson, who was also coach of nine athletes on the national team in London, was singled out.

Other members of the coaching staff in London also had athletes on the team. David Riley coaches long jumper Ramone Bailey, while Paul Francis, who is head coach at the University of Technology and also affiliated with the MVP Track Club, had responsibility for athletes Stephenie-Ann McPherson and Shericka Jackson, among others.

A bust-up between McPherson and Jackson was made public by technical leader Donald Quarrie, who also questioned the decision of Francis to pull McPherson from the women's 4x400m relay.

JAAA MUST LEAD

Track analyst Laurie Foster says that the pool of respected coaches is so small that the mandate must come from the JAAA to manage the issues that may arise.

"Private coaches also happen to be the most senior of our coaches and the most knowledgeable. So although, in principle, I accept the view that coaches with athletes must not be part of the pool, where are you going to find the coaches to do that? They just don't exist," he told The Gleaner.

Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, who represented Jamaica at the Olympic Games from 1984 to 1992, agreed that the options are few, and, therefore, it is incumbent on the JAAA to resolve the issues.

"We have a small pool of good coaches who have a reputation, so it's going to be a little bit difficult to say the top coaches in Jamaica cannot be a part of the coaching teams going away. It's best if we have such a small pool (of coaches). We have to iron this out for the good of Jamaica. We can't go on the world stage again and let people hear of a 'cass-cass'," she said.

SUGGESTION

She added: "My suggestion is to fix whatever the problem that the JAAA may be having now with coaches interfering when you send a team away. Coaches must understand that [they are] also a member of the team," she said.

Meanwhile, JAAA President Dr Warren Blake dismissed the idea of excluding private coaches from national teams as "ridiculous".

"If we were to exclude these coaches, we wouldn't have anybody to take. We have usually chosen coaches for teams based on their success to getting athletes there. That is one of the criteria that we use. So if we were to suddenly exclude these coaches, we wouldn't have anybody to take because the senior coaches are the ones who happen to have athletes on the team," he said.

Farah Faces Edris Again in Zurich, Manangoi Lines Up

Thursday's Zurich Diamond League meeting will have as many as 17 world champions in action as this year's track and field season approaches its end, with world champion Mukhtar Edris of Ethiopia up against Great Britain's Olympic champion Mo Farah, again.

Edris dethroned Farah as world champion in the 5,000m at the recent World Championships in London and the Briton will be out to exact revenge in the final track race of his career.

The "Weltklasse Zurich" meeting will see eight duels between reigning Olympic champions and newly crowned world champions, organisers said on Monday as athletes changed location after last Sunday's Birmingham Diamond League meeting here.

Kenya's 1,500m world champion Elijah Manangoi will also be in action in his speciality.

"The men's 5,000m race is a particularly star-studded event: In his final track race, six-time Olympic champion Mo Farah (Great Britain) plans to set the record straight after his London defeat against world champion Muktar Edris (Ethiopia)," organisers confirmed in a statement on Monday.

"The race will be one of eight duels between new world and Olympic champions of Rio." The Zurich meeting is one of two finals in this year's series and the winners of 16 final events will be awarded one of the coveted Diamond Trophies and $50,000 (Sh5 million) in prize money. Thursday's Letzigrund Stadium meeting's entry lists "also include 14 reigning Olympic champions - an all-star cast that promises an unforgettable night of athletics on championship level at the sold-out arena and a setting that speaks for the new IAAF Diamond League format," the organisers added.

The final events in Zurich and Brussels (September 1) will now determine the champions of the global series. Zurich hosts the penultimate leg just four days after last Sunday's leg in Birmingham where Kenya's new 5,000m world champion Hellen Obiri struggled to fourth position in the 3,000m race.

The pre-race favourite was in the cockpit of the event where she was alternating with her compatriots, 2015 African Games 5,000m champion Margaret Chelimo and World Junior Championships silver medallist Lillian Kasait Rengeruk.

With temperatures at 18 degrees centigrade and thunderous cheers from the British fans, the Kenyan stars seemed composed in the first three laps.

But Obiri, who has already qualified for the Diamond League final, fell off to the fourth position clocking 8:30.21 while Chelimo came in third in 8:30.11 in the race won by Dutch woman Sifan Hassan (8:28.90) with Germany's Konstanze Klosterhalfen second in 8:29.89. It was easy to note fatigue on Obiri's posture since she was breathless and unable to stand after the race.

As a matter of fact, it was USA's Shannon Rowbury who gave her a helping hand to stand up.

Years in the making

Shalane Flanagan received an Olympic silver medal on Monday — nine years overdue. She does not want a makeup medal ceremony.

The U.S. runner was upgraded from bronze to silver from the Beijing 2008 10,000m, the delivery to her Oregon home coming Monday.

That happened five months after it was announced that the original silver medalist — Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegesse — tested positive for a banned steroid in a retest of a 2007 doping sample.

“Receiving my proper medal and having the record books changed is a dream come true,” Flanagan said in a USA Track and Field press release. “I greatly appreciate the USOC’s efforts to host a more formal medal ceremony in my honor, but with my coach and my family, I have decided to forego that option and instead celebrate in private. This news, and receiving my medal, are all that I need to feel incredibly fulfilled and happy.”

USATF added that Flanagan’s bronze medal was already returned to the International Olympic Committee. Kenyan Linet Masai, the original fourth-place finisher, figures to receive it.

Abeylegesse is one of a number of track and field athletes who received retroactive bans and were stripped of medals in recent retests of doping samples from five to 10 years ago.

But not all of the stripped medals have been reallocated. Many world championships medals were re-presented in ceremonies at the recently completed track worlds in London, but zero Olympic medal reallocations were made.

Scrapping World Records: "A Bad Good Idea"

By Pierre-Jean Vazel

World Record scrapping: one of the solutions being mooted is to cancel world records before out-of-competition began. It says 1991 but it was added to IAAF rules in 1989 and the program was launched at the Antidoping Comission in London on 6-7 January 1990. So I'm curious to know exactly when did OOC testing were effective. Depending on the date it would save the shot put WR by Randy Barnes set on 20 May 1990. According to newspapers, Barnes was tested at least 3 times in competition in 1990, 2 negative and 1 (controversial?) positive http://www.nytimes.com/…/track-and-field-a-strong-man-with-… but there's no mention of any OOC test.

EDIT: 80 out of competition tests were done in 1990, NONE in 1991 (should IAAF erase Mike Powell's 8.95 long jump in Tokyo?), 208 in 1992. Source The IAAF and its fight against doping in athletics, NSA 14:2, 1999. (See table)

Strip Barnes and Kevin Toth will become WR holder with 22.67 in 2003, a year before having tested positive for THG...

If Lisovskaya's shot put is discarded, the 61th best perf ever would become a WR, 21.69 by Viktoriya Pavlysh in Aug 1998. The problem is she tested positive 7 months later... Men's hammer throw (84.90 by Vadim Devyatovskiy in 2005) or women's discus throw (71.68 by Xiao Yanling in 1992) would also award a WR to athletes who were tested positive. If the intent is to restaure trust and credibility, not sure how well it will be received by the public...

Another point of interest is that this year a runner had never been tested of her life before she broke world records in road races... How does it fit with the rationale of being tested out of competition? What do we know about other post 1991 world record setters?

Ironically, JJK would lose the heptathlon WR (1988) but would gain long jump WR as she jumped 7.49 twice in 1994, the second best mark ever behind Chystiakova's 7.52 set in 1988.

It is worth mentioning that 2 world record holders (Florence Griffith-Joyner, 100m and 200m in 1988 and Nadezhda Olizarenko, 4x800m in 1984) have died and won't be able to defend themselves and challenge any decision...
For all these reason I'm not sure if these propositions can be implemented...

Antidoping controls are mandatory in the world record ratification process since the IAAF Council in Manilla on 16-18 dec 1983. The women's 800m WR was Kratochvilova was set on 26 July 1983... I don't know if a test was still done in Munich... If any, this WR seems to be the best candidate to be erased by IAAF...

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Remember When A Segway Took On Bolt?

It's legendary athlete Usain Bolt's birthday today; so we thought it would be a good idea to sprint back into the archives to unearth this gem of a sporting win from 2015... and a rather unfortunate battle with a cameraman's segway.

Usain Bolt proved once again that he is the finest sprinter in the world on Thursday by clinching the gold medal in the 200m final of the World Championships in Beijing.

The Jamaican was able to cruise across the line after easily out-pacing the rest of the field around the bend, including American rival Justin Gatlin who finished second.

Bolt's victory comes four days after he won the 100m final, again beating Gatlin, which many saw as a victory for athletics.

The sport's integrity has been called into serious question in recent months, with 28 athletes being suspended by the IAAF at the beginning of August for historical doping while two more athletes were suspended at the games this week.

Gatlin has returned to the top of the sport after serving a four-year ban after testing positive for a banned substance in 2006 just five years after serving a similar ban.

And Bolt? In his 2013 biography, the Jamaican revealed that he put away 100 Chicken McNuggets a day as his fuel for victory in the Beijing Olympics.

Life bans upheld for 3 officials in doping, bribery case

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Life bans for the son of former IAAF President Lamine Diack and Russia’s former top athletics official have been upheld in a doping and bribery case.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said on Monday its judging panel dismissed appeals by Papa Massata Diack and former IAAF treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev against bans by the governing body.

A coach, Alexei Melnikov, who led Russia’s long-distance running program, also had his life ban confirmed.

“The panel concluded that on the evidence adduced, the charges against Balakhnichev, Melnikov and Diack were established beyond reasonable doubt,” the court said in a statement. The full reasoned verdict is expected to be published at a later date.

Papa Massata Diack, then an IAAF marketing consultant, is subject to an international arrest warrant and believed to be in his native Senegal. He is wanted for questioning by France authorities in a corruption case linked to Russian doping and blackmail that also implicates his father.

An IAAF ethics committee imposed life bans in January 2016 for an alleged conspiracy to extort money from Russian runner Liliya Shobukhova, a former winner of the Boston, Chicago and London Marathons who later turned whistleblower.

The IAAF’s case followed a report by German broadcaster ARD in December 2014 alleging that Shobukhova paid 450,000 euros ($530,000) to Russian officials who threatened her with a ban for doping before the 2012 London Olympics. She competed at the Olympics, though did not finish the race.

When Shobukhova was eventually banned for two years in 2014, her husband reportedly received a 300,000 euro ($355,000) refund payment from an account in Singapore linked to Papa Massata Diack, the IAAF investigation found.

Banning the three men last year, the IAAF said they “acted dishonestly and corruptly and did unprecedented damage to the sport of track and field which, by their actions, they have brought into serious disrepute.”

Lamine Diack, a long-time International Olympic Committee member who left sport in 2015, is suspected by French authorities of taking more than 1 million euros ($1.18 million) to blackmail athletes and cover up positive tests.

Can Qatar host the World Championship?

London will be remembered for the departure of athletics’ biggest star- Usain Bolt.

The focus shifted to the 2019 Qatar World Athletics Championships after the curtains descended on the London edition of the biennial event.

London will be remembered for the departure of athletics’ biggest star- Usain Bolt. Mohammed Farah was yet another superstar that called it quits.

As we now turn to 2019, serious concerns come into play. The big question is whether Qatar has what it takes to successfully organize the event.

The tiny, wealthy Persian Gulf nation of Qatar was in the spotlight immediately it won the rights to host the 2019 athletics meet.

Qatar, with a population of 2.2m, had earlier also been selected as the site for the site for the 2022 Football World Cup.

Qatar’s choice as world cup venue generated widespread debate because of allegations of corruption in the bidding process and concerns about human rights issues related to foreigners’ working on construction projects.

The choice of Doha as venue for the next world athletics meet equally raised serious concerns. The biggest amongst these was the scorching temperatures.

Temperatures between 28 September and 6 October, when the event will take place, are likely to top 37C, which will be dangerous for middle- and long-distance runners.

You’ve certainly not forgotten what happened to Cheptegei at the World Cross Country in Kololo.

High afternoon temperatures had him burning out thereby missing out on possible gold before settling for a distant 30th position.

“It is not going to be easy. But we shall have to adjust,” says Cheptegei, who after Farah’s departure from rack, is seen as the next king of long distance running.

It is for similar reasons that an adjustment has been made in the marathon.

Both the men and women’s marathon will for the first time be run at night. This will be on a lighted course.

It will be interesting to see how Uganda adjusts to this innovation. If running on our streets during the day is dangerous what about at night?

The bulk of our streets are not lit. Then there is the scramble for space with cars and boda bodas. You then also have open man holes and sewers to maneuver!

And not only athletes are bound to be affected by the extreme temperatures. There is likelihood of half empty stands as spectators keep away from the intense heat.

Organisers are however putting up a spirited fight in their quest to assure the public that all will be well.

They made it clear in their presentation to IAAF that they were prepared to use cooling technology in the outdoor stadium if the world athletics body deems it necessary.

Qatar can paint the event as a paradise. The facts on the ground could however be a completely different issue.

So the sooner we started preparing for our sojourn in the desert the better.

Flanagan Receives Her Upgraded '08 Silver Medal

Shalane Flanagan already had her moment. Now she has her medal.

Without ceremony or fanfare, Flanagan got her silver medal for the 10,000 meters in Beijing on Monday, with a U.S. Olympic Committee representative delivering it to her home in Oregon.

That her acceptance of the medal, which was upgraded from bronze after Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegesse failed a doping test, came in low-key fashion was Flanagan’s choice.

The USOC offered to hold a ceremony for her, Flanagan said, but she didn’t feel like she needed one.

“To be honest, I talked to my family and my coach and I said, ‘Well, what’s important to you guys?” she said last week. “Because I had my moment in Beijing. And the thing is, it was a wonderful moment. I have no regrets about it. I have the fondest memories of that experience of being in that stadium. I actually don’t feel the need to change it, that experience. I got to stand on a podium.”

As retesting of samples has rewritten athletics history books, reallocation of medals has often come without the recognition athletes would have received during the Olympics. Perhaps most famously, American shot putter Adam Nelson received his gold medal from the 2004 Olympics in Athens, which was awarded after Ukrainian Yuriy Bilonog’s urine sample was positive in retesting, at the Atlanta airport in 2013.

Flanagan got her medal two years after she learned a retest of Abeylegesse’s sample from the 2007 world championships tested positive for steroids. The Turkish runner claimed silver in the Beijing race with Flanagan taking bronze.

Following the retest, the International Association of Athletics Federations in March gave Abeylegesse a two-year suspension and stripped her results from August 2007 to 2009.

Flanagan, 36, has been a vocal athlete against doping as her sport has been mired in doping scandals. Most notably, two investigations commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency in the past two years found widespread and state-sponsored doping in Russia.

The IAAF has yet to lift its ban of the country’s athletics association, one which dates back to November 2015. And the International Olympic Committee continues its inquiries into individual and systemic doping cases that were detailed in a December report from Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren.

Like many athletes, Flanagan faces the doubts about the competitions she enters.

“It’s really hard. I feel like I’ve worked really diligently over the last seven years trying to prove myself as a marathoner to the world, and to myself,” she said. “I can honestly say, I don’t feel like I’ve had a fair shot.”

The four-time Olympian pointed to the London Olympics, from which nearly 20 Russian and Eastern European track and field athletes have been sanctioned following positive retests.

The documentary Icarus details Grigory Rodchenkov’s turn from former director of the Moscow lab and orchestrator of the Russian doping scheme to a whistleblower. In that and the McLaren report, Flanagan sees more reason for doubt.

“I can constantly look at races I’ve competed in and just go back, well, geez,” she said. “I definitely have had some really low moments and just like, why do I keep doing this? But I keep on thinking if I persevere long enough, my time will come.”

On Monday, that time came in a small way. Flanagan said she recently returned her bronze, and a USOC spokesman said she received a replacement silver medal.

The IOC did not respond to USA TODAY Sports’ email inquiring as to whether Abeylegesse returned her silver medal from the race.

Earlier this month, the IAAF reallocated the medals from the 2007 world championships, where Abeylegesse’s silver in the 10,000 meters was disqualified. American Kara Goucher and Brit Jo Pavey received their silver and bronze medals, respectively, at the world championships in London.

Flanagan was glad to see that for her sport. She just chose a different way for herself.

“I don’t want people to think I’m disrespectful or just not appreciative,” she said. “I’m extremely appreciative. I just, I have that memory and I actually don’t want to change it.”

Greg Rutherford sets his sights on 2018 return

After being forced to sit out the chance to defend his world long jump title, London 2012 gold medallist Greg Rutherford has a newfound focus for his 2018 season.

An ankle ligament injury and hernia of the groin left Rutherford devastated at having to miss another chance to compete in the London Stadium – the scene of his famous Olympic triumph. Instead he watched on from the mixed zone as a summariser and interviewer for Eurosport, working with fellow former Olympic champion Jonathan Edwards. Now though, back at home and with his mind turning to 2018, a new challenge has appeared. “It was frustrating probably for the first two days, once the long jump was over though I completely fell into this whole role of talking about the sport and trying to give some form of opinion that was useful,” he said of his new role in front of the camera. “But obviously I would have given anything to have been in that long jump competition because it was a great competition and one I think I would have absolutely thrived off.

“Fortunately I still managed to be involved and had the level of understanding of the event that I wouldn’t have had if I was just at home. “I’m now focussed on getting fit and healthy again and having a very good year next year, and seeing what the future holds.

“I’ve got surgery in about two weeks’ time, that will hopefully repair the hole in my groin – which is the hernia I’ve got. “From there I start the rehab process again, and the aim is to be ready for the indoor season next year.” Already a gold medallist at all the major outdoor events in which he can compete, Rutherford is targeting a triple in 2018 – of more than one variety. With the World Indoor Championships being held in Birmingham in March, and the Commonwealth Games following a month after before the European Championships in the summer, Rutherford has three significant targets in the next 12 months.

“I’m hoping that I’ll be fit and healthy and have a really good run at the three majors that there are next year,” added the 30-year-old, who took on the role of tail walker for last Saturday’s parkrun event in Milton Keynes as part of UK Sport’s #teamparkrun initiative to allow elite athletes to say thank you to the public for their support. “If I end up winning the Europeans again I think I’ll set a record of three on the trot, which a long jumper hasn’t done before. “So I’m excited by the prospect of next year and really focussed on that going well.”

WC Throws Rankings: Bow Down To Poland

The best throwers in the world faced off at the World Championships this month for a chance at individual glory. At the same time, London also gave countries a chance to prove they were the best. Achieving the top team ranking is about more than producing one champion; it can only be achieved by having depth across multiple throwing events. As we have for the past two years, we ranked the top throwing countries by giving the top eight finishers in each event 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 points respectively. The results this year were a bit surprising and showed a changing of the guard.

What was the best throwing country in 2017?
Since starting our rankings two years ago, Germany has maintained a strong lead. They won by 19 points in 2015 and 9 points in 2016. Taking the pole position this year, however, was Poland. Their team was led by a strong effort in the hammer throw and multiple top eight finishers in four of the eight throwing events.

Poland actually only scored one more point than they did at the last championship. Therefore you could say that Germany lost the title just as much as Poland won it. At the last World Championships Germany scored 64 points. This year just 24. As a result they fell from first to fifth rank overall. America, ranked second in Rio, also slipped down to fourth position.

China was close behind in second position this year and was the only country to score points in every throwing event. What is even more interesting is that all of their points came from the women’s side. That’s an impressive feat, but history also has taught us many lessons about teams that have disproportionate women’s results. Led by strong javelin results, the Czech Republic also moved from 10th to 3rd place. America took third place, with nearly all points coming from the shot put. Germany made up for a a weaker discus with strong javelin results.

Overall 25 countries scored points in 2017, down from 30 at the Olympics last year.

Shot Put
America retained its title as the top shot putting country with a silver medal in the men’s shot put and bronze in the women’s shot put. In total they scored 19 points, down from the 32 points and two gold medals they won in Rio, but still very strong as they had five finalists in the shot put. China sent three women to the shot put final to score 14 points for second place.

Discus
Without Germany’s normal dominance, the discus throw showed the most parity of the throwing events. Nothing demonstrated this better than the podium where the men’s title was captured by a mere two centimeters and the women’s final also featured a close competition. Croatia and Lithuania scored the most points, but both had just one athlete leading their team. In terms of number of finalists, both Germany and China led the way with three finalists each. Also of note is that Jamaica had two individuals score points in the men’s discus, a rarity for the sprinting powerhouse.

Hammer
No country dominated one event like Poland dominated the hammer throw. They walked away from the meet with four medals: two gold and two bronze. They sent five hammer throwers to London and the worst one placed sixth. In the end they had nearly triple the number of points as the next best country, China. Russia, competing as Authorized Neutral Athletes, also picked up substantial points with two men in the hammer final.

Javelin
Germany had hoped to dominate the javelin and potentially sweep the medals in the men’s competition. But despite scoring more overall points than last year, they did not retain the title as best javelin country. The Czech Republic picked up gold in the women’s competition, and silver and bronze in the men’s competition to rank first overall.

Throws points rankings at the 2017 World Championships
You can sort the following table by event, gender, or total points.

Voisin’s golden touch

At the end of every major international event it’s the successful athletes who get all the praise while the coaches and team managers are seldom mentioned, applauded or even recognised.

Team managers are the first to rise on mornings to make sure everything is in place for the athletes and are the last to rest their heads after all those under their charge have checked in and are well tucked in too.

Ask why is it that team managers are so overlooked and arguably under appreciated by many and why they are seen as just pencil pushers?

In an interview, Dexter Voisin, manager of the T&T team that brought international joy after securing two medals (a gold and bronze) at the recent 16th IAAF World Championships in London, England, pointed out that a team manger’s job was in the background.

He lamented: “All supporters and fans see is the finished product, which is the athletes, but there are different aspects of creating and putting that product together and getting ready for display appears to be the least of John Public’s concern, but that’s okay. I’m sure that every team manager wants to see our athletes succeed.”

Voisin, one of several grandsons of T&T’s late queen of parang Daisy Voisin and the fourth of six siblings to parents Cecily and Anthony, said at the end of the day the manager’s job is to make sure the performance of the athlete is challenge free before every event.

The manager’s role is to ensure that the athlete is given all the necessary support to perform at his/her ultimate best when the competition bell rings, no excuses and failures must be aimed or directed at the manager, none. The Manager’s responsibilities and planning starts long before the team is even selected. ”

A native of the Siparia, which is dubbed the “The Sand City,” Voisin chose distance running over all other sports during his teenage years growing up on Coora Road.

He said: “During my teenage years, Siparia was a very rich sporting village with football, cricket, cycling, basketball and netball for the girls of course, but I decided that athletics and in particular distance running would be my thing.”

He recalled, “In 1981 I joined Mendez Athletic Club with the likes of Moses Ranghel, the 1983 T&T Marathon champion, Ben Basanta, my brother Paul, the 1990 T&T marathon winner, Randolph Henry and Kenrick Brown, and we competed in races all over Trinidad. Every weekend we were running, sometimes we would compete in back-to-back races on Saturday and Sunday.”

Voisin, a graduate of the Fyzabad Anglican Secondary School (1981-86) and San Fernando Technical Institute (1986-88), represented T&T at the 1987 and ‘88 Carifta Games in the 5000 metres event, winning the bronze in ‘88, pointed out that London 2017 was unique.

He said: “Once again the team achieved its best results at any World Championships in terms of finalists and medals. The feeling was different, it was the most amount of T&T flags displayed at the medal ceremony. Our Caribbean colleagues stayed back in the stands and sang our national anthem together with us displaying the red, white and black to the world like if it was theirs. What a feeling that was. I felt overjoyed and very proud.”

Voisin’s talent as an athlete earned him an athletic scholarship to the United States, but he decided against it and instead enlisted in the T&T Regiment in 1989, alongside his brother Paul.

At present, he holds the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1, Regimental Sargeant Major to the Defence Force headquarters.

He recalled: “My first tour of duty as a team manager was in 2005, where I was selected to manage the CAC Championship team in Bahamas and later that year the World Championships team in Helsinki, Finland, a selection which was not intentional by the then leadership (former Defence Force Sgt Major Kenneth Doldrun was NAAA president) at the time due to internal politics.

“There I was a young inexperienced administrator with just one year on the executive with a task to manage our senior athletes on the world stage,” he pointed out.

“I remember getting 100 per cent support from Hasely Crawford and other members of the executive. At that championships our men’s 4x 100 metres relay team of the very talented Darrel Brown, Jacey Harper, Kevon Pierre and Marc Burns won a silver medal and I was walking with my chest out and my head held as high as I could stretch my neck,” he laughed.

The seven-time World Championship team manager, the longest reign by an one individual in the NAAA’s history, said he had no regrets when he decided to choose the Defence Force over taking up a scholarship.

“The Defence Force presented me with opportunities to represent and serve my country and there’s no price tag on that. Only so many of us as nationals get such exclusive opportunities. Sports has developed me socially to become the person I am today in every aspect that I can think about.”

After deciding to hang up his road running shoes and track spikes in 1997, he became the head coach of the T&TDF athletic team in subsequent years and was appointed assistant secretary on the the NAAA executive in 2004, a post he held up until 2016, then elected unopposed as general secretary in November 2016.

Looking back and reflecting, he said Helsinki was his initiation to team management and this helped him gain the respect and confidence of other NAAA members to the point where in 2006 he was appointed to manage senior national teams at regional and international meets.

Managerial Assignments to date

• World Championships- 2017, 2015, 2013, 2011, 2009, 2007, 2005

• Brazil Rio Olympic Games - 2012

• CAC Championships - 2005

• CAC Games - 2006

• World Juniors - 2008, 2010

• Carifta Games- 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011

There’s no doubt as to why Voison holds his single Olympic Games managerial stint as his proudest assignment.

“My most memorable assignment is the Rio Olympics 2012, where we recorded our best results in the country’s Olympic history. We won our second Olympic Gold medal in 36 years and in an event (Javelin with Kershorn Walcott) that shocked the world and will remain in the history books for all different reasons. We achieved the most medals in any single Olympic Games.”

For the first time he revealed: “The night before the javelin finals, a decision had to be made by the team doctor and team management about whether to withdraw Keshorn from the event due to a back strain which occurred during the World Junior Championships the week before. The discussions surrounded the view of preserving a 19-year-old field athlete and thrower from T&T with the potential of a great future, of challenging the best in the world. In the end a decision was made by all parties which I participated in and it should be recorded as the decision which changed our Olympic history and ignited and united a country.”

He said the the memory of the team’s return to Piarco International Airport from the event still stands out.

“As we stepped off the plane the newly-crowned Olympic champion, his coach and his manager were hurriedly escorted into a private room while the rest of us were left to mingle with the general public and force our way out of Piarco. We were stuck in traffic for hours. The team doctor an I stood on the pavement joking about what just took place while we awaited our transport to arrive,” he said.

A proud father and husband, Voisin hailed his family (wife Joanne and children Jeneal and Tyrell) as his immediate support team.

Looking back, he said: “The institutional knowledge and experience that I have gained from my 27 years in the Defence Force are the ingredients that I’ve applied to my sporting experience. They have certainly helped me in my planning and execution as a team leader throughout the years.”

He ended: “Let me express congratulations again to those four young men, T&T’s gold medal winning team of Jarrin Solomon, Jereem Richards, Machel Cedenio and Lalonde Gordon for the great job they have done. They have made their country proud...Well done guys.”

Assistant Sports Editor

Tom Walsh proves mettle to go back-to-back over American rival Ryan Crouser

Tom Walsh takes the responsibility of being a world champion seriously.

So much so that when the big Kiwi went out and competed for the first time as official shot put champion of the world, in the Birmingham Diamond League early Monday (NZT), he felt a large weight on his shoulders.

But neither that, nor the groin injury he is shaking off to finish his northern hemisphere season, could stop him winning his first Diamond League competition of the year, and making it two in a row over his arch-rival, Olympic champion and best thrower in the world, Ryan Crouser.

Walsh came right when it mattered in Birmingham to haul in Crouser's first-round throw of 21.55 metres with his penultimate toss (21.75m) and then, as he did at the world champs in London, he put the icing on the cake with a competition-best 21.83m in the final round. He collected US$10,000 (nearly NZ$14,000) for the victory.

Crouser, who has failed to fire in the UK after a storming season hitherto, finished second with that first-up effort that he matched in the fourth round. Czech Tomas Stanek was third with 21.16m.

Walsh's series was: 20.75m, 21.29m, a no-throw, 20.92m, 21.75m and 21.83m. Crouser, who has a season's best of 22.65m, went: 21.55m, two straight fouls, 21.55m again, 21.53m and finished on a no-throw.

"That's what I wanted – to compete well and to compete like a world champion," Walsh told stuff.co.nz from Birmingham. "I wanted to prove I deserved to be world champion and I'm pleased that I did that. The first four throws weren't that good, but the last two were a lot better and to back up that world title and compete well is a big thing for me.

"I'm a competitive guy, and every time I go out I really want to win and to throw far, so just to do that again I'm really happy."

Walsh figured his winning throw of 21.83m was pretty close to a 22m effort, all things considered.

"It's probably 20 or 30cm uphill to the landing area [in Birmingham], so that definitely takes something off the throw for sure, and it was a little chilly which doesn't help things," he added.

"It's tricky because you've got some guys who have done what they wanted to at the world champs and you've got others who are trying to prove a point. Sometimes the guys who have done well find it hard to get themselves up and the other guys are trying too hard. That's why today's comp was a little bit up and down.

"But you never take winning for granted. At the moment men's shot put is crazy deep, and whenever I can win it's a good day."

There were no complaints this time either from Crouser, and Walsh confirmed some bridges had been rebuilt following the world champs controversy when the giant American's dual protests had carried over to just before the medal ceremony the night after the event.

In fact he went as far as to suggest their rivalry might even have gone to a new level with back-to-back wins now for the 25-year-old Kiwi.

"We're fine. We've had a few dinners together and been to a few other things, so we're all good," said Walsh. "He's still disappointed in himself in terms of the way he competed, and rightfully so.

"He's definitely got something to prove over these next few comps, so I'll have to watch my back because he'll be back in really good nick."

Walsh has two meets to conclude his season before he returns to Christchurch to hammer some nails in the new home he is building in Prestons Park with sponsor Mike Greer Homes. He will line up in Zagreb on August 28 (Euro time) and rounds things off with a shot at the US$50,000 (NZ$68,300) up for grabs at the Diamond League finale in Brussels on September 1.

"There is definitely a bit of a carrot there," added Walsh with a chuckle. "The Diamond League, behind the world champs, is what you want to win. It would be great if I could defend my title and come home with the cash as well."

The pride of Timaru has already banked close to $115,000 in prize-money this campaign, but it goes without saying the champ is hungry for more.

Mirror Sport: World 100m champion Justin Gatlin offers 'official apology' to athletics fans and admits London boos 'hurt'

Justin Gatlin has offered his first public apology to athletics fans for cheating and admitted the pain of being being booed after winning the World Championships 100m.

The American shocked Usain Bolt to win the blue riband event at London 2017 but didn't get the response he would have liked.

He was booed when he took the podium the following night to be presented his gold medal by Lord Sebastian Coe.

Speaking to ITV News, Gatlin was asked if his lack of public remorse for the drugs offence which saw him banned for eight years - reduced to four years on appeal - had been the source of the crowd's treatment of him.

"Yeah I can’t understand that," he said.

"If they want an official apology, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I apologise for any wrongdoings I’ve brought onto the sport.

"I love the sport. That’s why I’ve come back and run to the best of my abilities. I have worked hard to right my wrongs."

Gatlin has often pointed out the community work he's carried out in a bid to be a revered figure in the sport again, along with a letter of apology to the IAAF that never got the public airing he would have hoped.

His supporters point out that his first offence in 2001 was deemed by the Panel of the American ­Arbitration Association to be “at most, a ­technical or a paperwork ­violation”. He was given a two-year ban, cut to one year on appeal.

But the second, in 2006, has been harder to shake - he tested positive for testosterone.

He is still battling to be a hero on the track but says he's representing his country and loved ones on the track.

"I wanted people to respect me, to love me, to know I’m hard working like anyone else," he said.

"I felt it fell on deaf ears. It took away my focus on being a runner. I was so consumed by what people were thinking about me and judging me.

"I really had to dial in and focus on being a runner and my natural talent through all the talking."

Gatlin adds that those who booed him in London would do well to educate themselves about who they are chastising from the stands.

His message to them? "Go further than being a fan. Get to know an athlete… They all have stories, backgrounds, take the time to read the fine details rather than the headlines. Become a fan of the sport. Know who you’re rooting for and know who you're booing."

"I looked in the crowd who were barely half my age and definitely weren’t around in 2006, 2004 when everything happened to me. They couldn’t understand what I went through."

Farah Passes His Shirt & Torch To Andrew Butchart

Sir Mo Farah admitted he may not compete for Great Britain again after winning his final track race in Britain.

The four-time Olympic champion took victory in the 3000 metres at the Diamond League in Birmingham in seven minutes 38.64 seconds on Sunday.

He will retire from the track at the Diamond League final in Zurich on Thursday to focus on marathon racing.

Farah handed his vest to Scotland's Andrew Butchart at the end of the race and conceded it will take him two years to get to grips with the marathon so there are no guarantees he will return for GB.

The 34-year-old said: "To be honest, to have achieved what I have achieved has been incredible. If I come out of the marathon and I'm the best at the marathon, I might compete, it depends.

"But as an athlete, the next couple of years, it's going to take me at least two or three marathons to get it right, to learn from it, it's not easy. It could be my last time.

"This is it for me, that was my message for Andy - 'this is me done, take over from me and just inspire them, see what hard work is about and what it takes to be a champion'.

"He has got a great attitude and we need to inspire the next generation. I gave it to him because he's a great athlete, he gives 110 per cent and is learning over the years. He's a good guy."

Farah took the lead with just over a lap left and beat Spain's Adel Mechaal with Davis Kiplangat third and Butchart finishing fourth.

He will race in the Diamond League in Zurich on Thursday and intends to appear at the Great North Run in September but does not yet know when his first marathon will be.

Farah said: "All I ever wanted to do as an athlete is run for Great Britain. I remember when I did the mini marathon as a kid, I got interviewed and asked what I wanted to do, I said I want to run for Great Britain.

"Now it's finally done, I won't be competing for Great Britain, in terms of major championships, I won't be taking part. It feels a bit sad.

"It has been an amazing week – I've managed to have a bit of downtime with the family and relax but emotions have been high coming into this event; not as much as London [for the World Championships] but it is my last time at home and I really enjoyed it.

"I was just thinking about the race and who was there. I had to technically get it right.

"I never dreamed that I would become a four-time Olympic champion and multiple world champion. I now have to see what I will do on the road. I don't think I'll have the same pressure so I'll go and enjoy it.

"Running was a hobby when I was younger but it has become a job and I love it. It can be hard when you get the pressure but the roads will be something completely different."

Butchart, 25, finished sixth in the 5,000m Olympic final last year - which Farah won - and came eighth in the final at the World Championships earlier this month.

He said: "He [Farah] just said 'It's up to you now, do your best, it's your time to shine.'

"I don't know [what he'll do with the vest] but it is such a great gesture for him to give it to me. I'll definitely look after it and cherish it.

"It's going to be hard to follow him. We'll do our best, we always do, but I'm going to miss him massively. He's a massive inspiration.

"Every year he comes out on top. Every year he is finishing high up in the major championships."

Bittersweet Day For Jamaicans In Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM, England:

IT WAS a day of mixed fortunes for the Jamaican athletes at the Birmingham leg of the IAAF Diamond League as some of them tried to make up ground for a poor showing, by their standards, at the recently concluded IAAF World Championships in London.

In the 100m, double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson won in 10.93 seconds, which went some way to making up for her setback in London, where she fell ill. Jura Levy, who was part of the quartet that won a bronze medal in the 4x100m in London, was third in 11.08 seconds. Christania Williams, Natasha Morrison and Schillonie Calvert-Powell all failed to make the final.

Thompson is six points ahead of Ivorian Marie-JosÈe Ta Lou (who came second here) in the overall Diamond League standings for this event.

In a very tough 400m, which involved all the medallists from London 2017, the Jamaicans found the race a bit too difficult as Novlene Williams-Mills, Shericka Jackson and Chrisann Gordon finished in fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively. Williams-Mills clocked 51.62 seconds while both Jackson and Gordon were given the same time of 52.08 seconds.

Former World Junior champion Janieve Russell, who did not qualify for the World Championships, finished third in the 400m hurdles in 54.67 seconds.

Kimberley Williams pulled out a big jump in the triple jump event (14.44m) and finished in second place behind the World Champion Caterine Ibarguen. Her compatriot, Shanieka Ricketts, finished in sixth place with a distance of 14.00m.

In the overall standings for this event, Williams is now on 24 points, seven behind Ibarguen.

Preview Of A Look At Matthew Centrowitz

Article Preview

Chris Kwiatkowski is the co-author of Matt Centrowitz’s self-published memoir “Like Father, Like Son – My Story on Running, Coaching and Parenting”. A 2012 graduate from the University of Oregon where he competed for the Duck’s on the national stage, Chris holds PBs of 13:51 5000m, 28:56 10,000m, 48:17 10miles and 64:10 half-marathon. Currently, Chris lives and works in Washington, DC as an assistant track coach at American University and a free-lance writer.

Chris and Matt’s son, 2016 Olympic Champion Matthew Centrowitz, are best friends and former college roommates. This piece is in commemoration of Matthew’s 2016 Olympic gold medal run in Rio.

There are semi-packed bags scattered across the floor with various articles of clothing strewn about. You wouldn’t know if he was planning to leave or had just gotten back from a trip; as if to say his body stays here, but his mind is elsewhere. The walls are curiously bare, very uncharacteristic of an athlete with so many awards and allocates to his name – Matthew Centrowitz – the name strikes fear into the hearts of competitors around the world. The dimly lit desk in the corner of the room is adorned with open logbooks of training from the present and the past. This is his library, his place of study. His notes on the day’s efforts are highlighted and reviewed with previous efforts, strategies and cautious reminders. Only one picture decorates the blank walls above the desk. A quick glance at the very apparent dismay of it raises a puzzling question. Why would his only picture be of a crushing loss? “I don’t need any help remembering the races that I win”, he speaks softly with his hawk-like eyes focused on the picture. His thought is obvious; the images of this painful defeat replaying like a nightmare.

He has not always been in the spotlight and atop the podium. Like many of us, he has taken his turn at the hellish merry-go-round of injuries. Bad workouts, bad races, failure – time and time again. What sets him apart is not some genetic gift. It is not some lucky streak. For Matthew, track is all he ever thinks about.

His place is not unwelcoming, but it is by no means homey. When you step inside, the feeling is chilling. You are overcome with his sickness for success. The contagious thought process festers in your brain. The infectious drive sears your heart and burns your throat should you attempt to get rid of it. For a fleeting moment you understand how he feels every day, what it is that sets him apart. And you are forced to ask yourself – if you had the opportunity, in all of its glory and agony, would you really want it?

He sat right across the table from me slouched in comfort, collecting his thoughts with a presence of mind few are able to do. As we sat, drinking in his apartment, he revealed his secret to me, which little did I know would take him to the top of the world in the months that followed. His poise turned to passion as he spoke, “People don’t understand – ‘How are you so good’ they ask me, ‘You’re always screwing around, how do you get so lucky’ they say… I never stop thinking about the top, never!” he said, a fire brewing in his eyes. “I work harder than any mother fucker because this is all I got, I’m not going to make it anywhere else in life”, he barked. “I need to win, I have to be the best, I’m going to get to the top and believe me when I tell you … I’m going to stay there!” his fist slamming the table to accent each part of his statement. Chills ran down my spine. Nobody was going to beat him, and he knew it. Beware, the Track Man commeth.

End of preview

"My Greatest Challenge" With Tyree Washington

Tyree Washington won the world indoor and outdoor titles over 400m in 2003. Here the US sprinter talks about the difficulties he has endured throughout his life battling asthma.

BATTLING ASTHMA: 'MY DOCTORS ALWAYS JOKED AND SAID THEY COULDN’T UNDERSTAND HOW I HAD SUCH BAD ASTHMA AND YET I COULD RUN ONE OF THE HARDEST EVENTS ON THE PLANET'
“Many people don’t know that I have suffered from asthma for my whole life. I almost died from it on numerous occasions. As a baby the doctors told my grandmother, who raised me, I had 72 hours to live. My family was very spiritual and I made it through.

“When I was aged 14 or 15, I suffered smog inhalation in my home city of Riverside, California. My mother rushed me to hospital and I was taken to ER. My lungs were literally collapsing and everything was shutting down on me. For a while, I didn’t know if I was going to make it. Thankfully, I improved, but I remember when I left the hospital bed for a couple of weeks I couldn’t walk. It was very humbling.

“My asthma has been a constant battle through the years because my breathing capacity is at only 75 per cent. My doctor helped me maintain my asthma and I am just grateful I made it and excelled on the track. My doctors always joked and said they couldn’t understand how I had such bad asthma and yet I could run one of the hardest events on the planet. Both scientifically and medically they couldn’t explain it. I wasn’t supposed to win World Championships and become the fastest man in the world during my time in the 400m.

“My asthma made every year of my career very unpredictable. I often had to change my routines because the stresses of being involved in a high intensity sport like track and field would causes my asthma to flare up. I remember racing in Osaka in 1998 and enduring an asthma attack during the race. I wanted to stop at 200m and was telling myself to stop after the next 50 metres. Then I got to 300m and thought, ‘screw it, I’m going to finish the full race’. That race I ran 45.14 for third and I collapsed after the race. I was very stubborn. I wouldn’t go and see a doctor. I just wanted to race.

“Another time I couldn’t find one of my inhalers at home. I was on my hands and knees trying to find one, there was nobody home and I didn’t have my cell phone with me. Thankfully, I found an inhaler at the back of the cupboard. If I hadn’t, it would have been lights out for me.

“My career was always a constant battle. I guess pollen is my enemy – like kryptonite.

“For a long time when I looked back on my career, I felt really hurt I never made an Olympic team because of injury and illness. But over time, I realised that by winning the world indoor and outdoor titles in 2003 I had beaten all the best athletes in the world that year. Once I started to accept this, I could look back and think that despite my illnesses, I had a glorious and blessed career. I am part of a select group of athletes that have won world titles; my talent for track was a gift from God.”

Steve Landells for the IAAF

ASA ‘ran a good race’

Athletics SA (ASA) president Aleck Skhosana remains unapologetic for his organisation’s stringent selection criteria for the IAAF World Championships, despite heavy criticism.

Skhosana and company feel vindicated now that the country is celebrating its most successful achievement yet at the event.

In fact, a swashbuckling Skhosana says people must expect even tougher qualifying criteria for the next IAAF World Championships to be held in Doha, Qatar, in 2019.

He insists he has no time for critics and feels vindicated by the team’s haul of six medals – three gold, one silver and two bronze medals.

A small team of 27 athletes managed the record haul by South Africa, who only garnered three medals in Beijing in 2015.

However, as celebrations continue, there are a number of things that need to be addressed urgently, such as:

. The country needs sound representation in the men’s 800m;

. A woman javelin thrower;

. A 400m hurdles man;

. A discus thrower; and

. Both women and men high jumpers.

These should be cause for concern if SA are to maintain their performance at the next championships, in case a big name like Caster Semenya or Wayde van Niekerk sustains an injury as happened with javelin queen Sunette Viljoen, who was a guaranteed medal contender in London.

SA’s six medals also came from four athletes from a team of 27 and that is something that ASA has to work on as they cannot continue to rely on poster boy Van Niekerk and golden girl Semenya.

“We have set a benchmark and this is the time to celebrate,” said Skhosana.

“This is not a time to apologise. I’m not apologetic. For as long as I’m still the head of ASA. I’m not going to allow the team to decline in the world championships. We need to increase our medal tally.

“And the message is loud and clear: We will not lower the qualifying standards.”

He added: “The qualifying saga is now water under the bridge. We are not going to apologise to anyone and we are not going to feel sorry for anyone.”

The president said the ASA board was scheduled to hold a meeting to discuss the team’s performance at the world champs.

“We have not yet set the objective for 2019, but we sure want to better the standard.

Mo Farah refuses to let British summertime weather rain on his final parade in front of home crowd

Mo Farah’s farewell was as fitting as possible: a victory, a Mobot, a thousand selfies and, to cap it all, driving rain unleashed from a viciously dark Birmingham sky.

There were 19 world champions at the Birmingham Diamond League, but almost all the spectators inside the Alexander Stadium on Sunday were there for one man.

A man who, despite the continuing rumours, is Britain’s greatest and most loved athlete. Four Olympic and six world titles ensured that and, wearing the ‘Thank You Mo’ bibs that were handed out around the stadium, the Birmingham faithful were here to say goodbye.

Never again will their hero grace a British athletics track and, he revealed afterwards, never again will he represent his country, not even in his next guise as a marathon runner. “All I ever wanted to do as an athlete is run for Great Britain,” he said. “It’s been amazing. It’s been incredible. Now it’s finally done.

“I won’t be competing for Great Britain in terms of major championships. I won’t be taking part.

“It feels a bit sad. Obviously I think I will feel it more when I watch it on TV and see the guys, athletes I train with and people I have been in the circle with. I think it might detach me a little bit.

“But at the same time it has been an honour, I wouldn’t change any part of my career, what I’ve done.”

Introduced to the crowd from an open-top Bentley driven round the track before the action began, it was wholly understandable that the day had something of a testimonial feel about it.

Not one of his 13 rivals had inflicted a defeat on Farah during his track career and the chances of them doing so over 3,000m on Sunday were close to nil.

With two of the three Kenyans present employed to serve as pacemakers, Farah was content to keep himself far from trouble in the opening stages, bathing in the cheers that followed him round the track from his position at the back of the pack.

Only nearing the halfway stage did he decide to take closer order. Slowly he moved up – fifth became fourth, became third, became second until, entering the last couple of laps, he decided to take the lead.

From that moment onwards there was no passing him. With little need for a signature sprint finish in the closing stages, a simple steady acceleration was enough.

Clear by the time he entered the final straight, he raised his hands in a triumphant Mobot celebration as he crossed the finish line in seven minutes 38.64 seconds and sunk to his knees to kiss the ground. The 59th and final British track victory of his long and illustrious senior career.
Heralding the end of an era, he then took his shirt off and handed it to British team-mate Andy Butchart who finished fourth.

“This is it for me,” said Farah. “That was my message for Andy – ‘This is me done, take over from me and inspire, see what hard work is about and what it takes to be a champion.’ I gave it to him because he’s a great athlete, he gives 110 per cent and is learning over the years. He’s a good guy.”

One final track appearance remains in Zurich on Thursday, after which Farah will turn his attention to the road. The end of one chapter and the start of another.

The difficult questions will remain, no matter how strongly he argues against them – his protestations have become increasingly vehement in recent times.

As ever he was asked about his public mission to seemingly distance himself from his coach Alberto Salazar, who remains under investigation by the United Stated Anti-Doping Agency. Farah has recently insisted “for the last three or four years I’ve been pretty much by myself”.

That claim was scrutinised on Sunday morning when it emerged that photographs posted on social media appeared to place Farah alongside team-mates from Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project for 10 of the past 12 months, but he rebuffed queries while insisting that the day was about “enjoying myself”.

There are doubts and there are many who cannot believe. But those inside the Alexander Stadium were not among them.

They were there to say thank you – to witness their country’s greatest on a British track for one final time.

2018 World Indoor Champs Tickets Go On Sale

Tickets for the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018 will go on sale on Monday (21), with thousands expected to be snapped up in the next few days, following a superb summer of athletics.

Nearly 8000 tickets for the championships were bought on the first day of the pre-sale period at the end of May and organisers of the event, which will be held at Arena Birmingham from 1-4 March, have seen a huge increase in interest following the IAAF World Championships London 2017, so demand is expected to be high for general sale too.

“The IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018 will be one of the biggest sporting events of the year and is not to be missed,” said British Athletics Chief Executive Niels de Vos. “After the amazing success of the IAAF World Championships in London this month, we are already looking forward to welcoming the world’s best athletes to Birmingham for what will be a fantastic global event.

“Indoor athletics is all about excitement and drama and the state-of-the-art Arena Birmingham is the perfect venue, allowing spectators to get close to the action and offering the perfect view from any seat.”

Tickets prices have been set with families in mind. “We wanted to ensure that this event would be fantastic value for families in Birmingham and beyond,” said Councillor Ian Ward, Deputy Leader for Birmingham City Council, who are jointly organising the championships. “With all children’s tickets costing £5 and prices starting at £20 for adults, a family of four can come to some sessions of the championships for just £50.

“Staging this event in Birmingham, so soon after London’s hugely successful World Para Athletics Championships and IAAF World Championships, means that those people who missed out on tickets this summer now have another chance to experience the excitement of live athletics and to come and watch the world’s best athletes at a major championships and this time they’ll be competing in one of Birmingham’s world-class sporting venues.”

There are six different sessions for the championships, one on Thursday 1 March, two on Friday 2 March, two on Saturday 3 March and one final session on Sunday 4 March. The price of tickets varies across these sessions, with three categories of ticket (pink, green and blue) offering great choice as well as great value. Every single session has concession tickets available. The £5 tickets are available for children aged 2 to 16, students and people over 65 and no fees are charged on these tickets.

Those people who have signed up at wicbirmingham2018.com to receive updates about the championships will be given an hour’s head start on buying tickets at 9am tomorrow and general sale will then begin at 10am.

Alozie Says London '17 Pressure Sucked Amusan In

Former 100m hurdler, Glory Alozie has said up and coming Tobi Amusan failed to rise to expectations, as the youngster bowed to the pressure of competition at the IAAF World Championships in London, which ended last Sunday with Nigeria missing on the medals table.

Tobi

Amusan, based in the USA was rated as one of the favourites to reach the podium having ran a season’s and personal best of 12.57 seconds prior to the championships, in which she was making her debut. During the heats she produced 12.97 seconds, but in the semi-final she did 13.04 and crashed out of the final race won by Australian Sally Pearson with 12.59 seconds, Dawn Harper Nelson was second with 12.63 while German Pamela Dutkiewicz placed third with 12.72seconds.

“I wasn’t surprised our girl Tobi failed to make the final. I had a similar experience at the 2004 Olympics in Athens; my 12.62 couldn’t get me into the finals neither!

“Having run so fast before the championship put so much pressure on her, and there was a high expectation from every angle including her rivals. She is just a young athlete who may not know how to handle things.

“But I’m sure that she must have learnt a lot from this championships. I bet if the race is to be run again, she’ll do better than her performance now. In 1997 I couldn’t make the team to Athens 1997 Worlds, so that made me to go home and work harder and I was able to run the fastest time in the world in 1998.

“Let’s give Tobi a little time and everybody will see the good stuff she is made of. Running 12.57sec is not a child’s play over the hurdles. Only a very good and talented athlete can run that fast,” said Alozie who still holds the Africa record with 12.44 seconds achieved in the World Championships 1999 Seville, Spain.

Jessica Ennis-Hill: My favourite Sheffield hangout – and my least favourite airline

How often do you travel?

I travelled all the time, all over the world when I was competing. But since I retired from athletics, these days I’m mostly travelling for holidays. Recently, my family and I went to Portugal. We stayed at a villa just outside Albufeira and it felt so peaceful there.

What do you need for a perfect holiday?

To be able to relax, switch off and enjoy good food and nice wine. I’m happy to do nothing, relax around a pool and not worry about having to exercise as much as I did when I was competing.

Are you an adventurous traveller?

Ironically, I’m a “low-risk” traveller, despite all the daring things I’ve done in my life as a professional athlete. So you wouldn’t find me bungee jumping off a cliff or anything like that.

Most remote place you’ve been?

The Maldives. We were on one of the tiniest islands which you could walk around in five minutes.

Favourite place you’ve competed?

Osaka in Japan. It was so different from anywhere I’d been. When I had time off between competitions, I got to explore other parts of Japan, such as Kyoto, where I loved visiting the temples.

Favourite place for running?

The Peak District, quite close to where I live. It has the most beautiful scenery, with lots of lovely hills. Lake Garda is also a really scenic place for running.

Favourite holiday destination?

I like to try different places, but one of my favourites is Italy, where the people are nice, the food and wine are amazing – it’s a beautiful country. I’ve enjoyed breaks in Rome, and I’ve competed around the Lake Garda area, which is so beautiful.

Favourite hotel?

This incredible hotel, Qualia Resort, on Hamilton Island in Australia, where I had my honeymoon. It has a cool, contemporary design and we stayed in an amazing suite with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out to sea.

What’s one thing a first-time visitor to Sheffield must do?

Visit Made by Jonty, this lovely little café that’s great for brunch.

Favourite city?

New York. I’ve competed there a few times and had my hen-do there too. There are familiar bits everywhere, and you see an iconic building at every corner.

Favourite restaurant?

One of my favourites has been the Quay Restaurant in Sydney, which offers incredible views overlooking the harbour and the bridge.

Favourite bar?

I really enjoyed Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood in London recently, which has such a nice cosy feel to it. I also love SushiSamba, which has amazing views.

Favourite city for nightlife?

New York, especially the Meatpacking District. We went to the 40/40 Club near there, owned by Jay-Z, which was really good fun. The man himself [was] unfortunately not there.

Favourite airline?

Emirates. It offers such a luxurious feel. I didn’t enjoy flying with Delta Air Lines. It was one of those airlines that made you feel like passengers are an inconvenience. So you wouldn’t dare ask the cabin crew for anything for fear of being shouted at.

The most underwhelming place you’ve been?

I enjoyed most places I’ve been to, but I was anxious the first time I went to Rio de Janeiro. This was before the Olympics. I was there to attend a sports event and I was told not to wear jewellery, to avoid the beach and to stay on a certain side of the road, among other safety precautions. Even though I enjoyed Rio, it did make me feel a bit on edge.

Best health tips for travelling?

Keep hydrated, drink a lot of water, have electrolytes and wear compression gear, which helps limit swelling on your legs. Especially for long-haul flights, I always bring a good lip balm and moisturiser, such as Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream. An eyeliner is also essential for me.

Where next?

I’d love to see Sardinia. It looks stunning and I’ve wanted to visit for ages.

Evie’s Magic Bracelet: The Sprites’ Den (Hodder Children’s Books, £5.99) by Jessica Ennis-Hill is out now.

Interview by Soo Kim

Ahmed shows off range, runs 3:56 for the mile

The Canadian record holder over 5,000m and 10,000m hangs with some of the best middle-distance runners in the world and breaks four minutes in the mile

The Canadian 5,000m and 10,000m record holder is now a sub-four-minute miler.

Racing at the Birmingham Diamond League in England one week after the conclusion of the IAAF World Championships, Mohammed Ahmed ran 3:56.60 for the mile. He’s run 13:01.74 for 5,000m and 27:02.35 for 10,000m, both marks the fastest in Canadian history.

Ahmed beat several big names in the Emsley Carr Mile including Olympic silver medallist Evan Jager and 3:34.78 1,500m runner Robby Andrews. The St. Catharines, Ont. native finished fifth overall in the race, less than two seconds back of Jake Wightman’s winning mark of 3:54.92.

According to MileSplit’s conversion calculator, Ahmed’s mile (1,609m) time converts to a 3:39.14 for 1,500m, the more common of the two distances. Ahmed’s 1,500m lifetime best is 3:40.18, according to his All Athletics profile. The Birmingham mile is believed to be his mile debut.

The Canadian record in the men’s mile is 3:50.26.

According to Ahmed’s agent Dan Lilot, the 26-year-old will be running the 5,000m at the Zurich Diamond League on Aug. 24.

At the 2017 IAAF World Championships, Ahmed finished sixth in the men’s 5,000m and eighth in the men’s 10,000m.

Elaine Thompson returns to winning ways at Birmingham Diamond League

Reigning double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson returned to winning ways on Sunday to beat Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast in the women's 100 metres at the 12th meeting of the 2017 IAAF Diamond League in Birmingham, London.

The victory came 14 days after the 25-year-old Jamaican disappointed at the distance at the IAAF World Championships in London.

Thompson was expected dominate at the World Championships but finished a mere fifth in 10.98 behind gold medal winner Tori Bowie (10.85) of the USA, Ta Lou (PB 10.86), who claimed silver, and Dutch athlete Dafne Schippers (10.96), who won the bronze.

On Sunday, Thompson turned the tables of Ta Lou and Schippers by securing victory in 10.93 seconds. Ta Lou clocked 10.97 for second place. Thompson and Ta Lou were well clear of Jamaican Jura Levy, who finished third in 11.08. Schippers finished sixth in 11.22.

The other Jamaican sprinters Christania Williams, Natasha Morrison and Schillonie Calvert-Powell failed to qualify for the final

Williams (11.23) and Morrison (11.24) finished fourth and fifth respectively in Heat 1 won by Thompson in 10.97 seconds; while Calvert-Powell (11.23) was seventh in Heat 2 won by Ta Lou in 10.94).

Thompson's victory was the only Jamaican success in Birmingham, but Kimberly Williams was denied victory in the women's triple jump in one of the closest contests of the day.

The 2012 Olympic champion Olga Rypakova was the early leader before Williams took the lead with 14.44m in round two, matching it in round four.

Two-time world champion Caterine Ibarguen then produced the third 14.44m leap of the day but was second on countback to Williams. The Colombian saved her best for the final round, though, leaping 14.51m to take a late victory over Williams.

Shanieka Ricketts, the second Jamaican in the field, could only manage sixth place with an effort of 14.00m.

In the women's 400m hurdles, Jamaican Janieve Russell clocked 54.67 seconds for third place behind Czech athlete Zuzana Hejnova (54.18, a season best) and 2017 London World Championships silver medallist American Dalilah Muhammad (54.20).

Jamaican hurdler Ristananna Tracey, who won the bronze medal at the 2017 London World Championships, was listed on the provisional entry lists, but did not compete.

In the women's 400 metres, Novlene Williams-Mills (51.62 seconds) was the best placed Jamaican with a fifth place finish. Shericka Jackson (52.08) and Chrisann Gordon (also with 52.08) finished sixth and seventh respectively.

American Allyson Felix was beaten by 19-year-old Salwa Eid Naser.

The Bahrain athlete won in 50.59, with Felix clocking 50.63.

Jamaican Kemoy Campbell (8:07.26) finished ninth in the men's 3000m.

The race was won by Mo Farah, who delighted the home crowd in his final track race in the United Kingdom.

The 34-year-old, who became just the second man to complete the long-distance double-double at Rio 2016, will switch his attention to the roads after next week's meet in Zurich and signed off in his last race on home soil by winning in seven minutes and 38.64 seconds.

Farah, who won 10,000m gold and 5000m silver at the IAAF World Championships in London this month, sat in the middle of the field before making his trademark push with 600m remaining, taking the lead for his own on the final lap.

He paid tribute to the fans in Birmingham and expressed his excitement about moving on to the next stage of his career.

"Emotions were high, not as high as London, but it was the last time at home and I really enjoyed it," Farah told BBC Sport. "This is what it's all about.

"All I dreamed of as a youngster was racing for Great Britain. I want to continue to see what I can do on the road without having a target on your back and the pressure.

"It can get a little hard when you have some pressure. Going to the road it's going to be a new game and I'm excited."

HuffPost - "Let's Not Forget Justin Gatlin Is Human"

Harbir Singh - HuffPost

Justin Gatlin was booed at the Athletics World Championships, in London last week. He received his gold medal for his 100m victory, among a stadium full of boos and comments from the UK head of athletics: “dopers should be given lifetime bans and shouldn’t be allowed compete”.

The following few days were full of news stories about “the two times drug cheat” who beat Usain Bolt, in Bolt’s final race. This was not the end of the story that everyone wanted, but there are two sides to every story.

On the other side of the story, is a man who was banned in 2001 for taking a medication, which was a treatment for ADD (attention deficit disorder), which he has had since he was 14-years-old.

The United States Anti Doping Agency released a statement following the positive drug test stating, “Justin Gatlin had no intention to cheat, and did NOT cheat”. Nonetheless, the International Association for Athletics Federation rules dictate that if you test positive, you have to be banned, regardless of the circumstance, and so he was, and his reputation was permanently tarnished.

Next, he fought through the shame, loss of income, served his time and made an incredible comeback; winning the gold medal in the 100m finals at the 2004 Olympic Games. The past was behind him, and he silenced his doubters. He was cheered for when he received his gold medal. Wrong had been put right.

Until, 2006, another positive test, this time for testosterone, a drug which is hard to justify. Gatlin was tested 34 times before and after that event, and the other tests were negative, Gatlin pointed to sabotage by a disgruntled massage therapist in his team. It didn’t matter, the positive test resulted in an eight-year ban, effectively a lifetime ban, and the label of a two-time drug cheat.

Knocked down a second time, he could have retired a multiple World and Olympic Champion; an accomplishment most athletes would be proud of, but he did not. He wanted to clear his name, prove he had achieved it drug-free and so over the next four years, he visited schools to talk to youngsters, about drugs, he cooperated with anti-doping agencies and worked as an undercover agent for them, and did whatever else was needed to get his ban reduced.

Four years later, he was allowed to compete again, still a substantial amount of time when you consider the peak performance age for a 100m sprinter is 25-years-old. In a sport like sprinting four years can be a lifetime.

Fast forward to 2017, Gatlin he had served his time, and wanted to prove himself against one of greatest sprinters of all time, someone whom he had lost to in the past: Usain Bolt.

The rest of the story is well known; he beat Bolt and received criticism from attendees, the media, and high profile athletes.

Gatlin story could have been one of coming back against all the odds and beating the favorite, at 35-years-old, unheard of in that event.

His moment on the podium could have been the moment which made all of the challenges worthwhile. Instead, he will be remembered by most, as the two-time drug cheat, who beat Bolt and was booed.

Let’s not forget, he’s human like the rest of us, there are two sides to every story and we’ve moved on from being spectators at gladiator games in ancient Rome.

Bolt To Open Chain Of Fast Food Restaurants

The sprint legend is opening 15 Tracks & Records shops in Britain

Olympic Champion Usain Bolt might have had a disappointing end to his athletics career earlier this month, but now it seems that the Jamaican star has set his sights on a new career - in the fast food industry.

The sprint legend is preparing to open 14 Tracks & Records shops over the next five years.

The fast-food chain that serves jerk pork and burgers was launched in Kingston, Jamaica in 2011.

The restaurants will offer traditional Jamaican dishes when they open in the UK such as jerk pork, janga soup and pan chicken as well as the athlete’s own creation - burgers a la Usain - according to Caterer magazine.

Bolt said: "London has always been a special place for me [and this] is giving us the opportunity to share our vision and our culture with you all."

Earlier this month, we reported that Bolt blew £7,030 on booze in one night as he celebrated his retirement.

Along with pals, Bolt drank five bottles of Dom Pérignon Champagne – two of them £940 magnums.

He also ordered a bottle of vodka at £570, three bottles of £500 cognac, 23 Red Bulls costing £5.50 each and 18 cans of coke at £2.50 a pop.

Bolt – who pulled up with cramp in his farewell race two days earlier – also tipped £500 cash on top of a 15 per cent service charge added to the £6,530.23 bill.

One partygoer said: “He was buying everyone drinks. It descended into a crazy party.”

Bolt, 30, was with partner Kasi Bennett and Love Island stars at London’s DSTRKT nightclub during a three-day bender.

He posted a Snapchat video at 5am a day earlier pouring champagne in his ear and saying: “Don’t judge me. This is what I do. I don’t give a s***.”

Bolt – who has eight Olympic Gold medals – retired after the World Athletics Championships in London earlier this month.

He pulled up in the 4x100m relay.

The lifelong Red Devils fans was hoping he would be able to recover from his hamstring injury in time to be able to take part n Manchester United's legends match against Barcelona next month.

But then he revealed he faces three months of rehabilitation to fix a hamstring tear.

Bolt shared a scan of his world record-holding leg showing the tear.

"Sadly I have tear of the proximal myotendinous junction of biceps femoris in my left hamstring with partial retraction. 3 months rehab," he posted on Twitter, before deleting the post.

Bolt continued, refuting any suggestion he had not truly been injured at the World Championships.

He added: "I don't usually release my medical report to the public but sadly I have sat and listened to people questioning if I was really injured.

"I have never been one to cheat my fans in anyway & my entire desire at the championship was run one last time for my fans.

"Thanks for the continued support my fans and I rest, heal and move onto the next chapter of my life #Love&LoveAlone."

Barshim sets season’s best high jump record in Birmingham

Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim, who astonished the track and field world with his non-traditional hurdling technique on his way to becoming the reigning world champion in high jump this August, one-upped himself in Birmingham when he soared over the bar set to 2.40 meters. That’s just a smidge over 7 feet, 10 inches!

The men’s outdoor high jump world record is currently 2.45m, set by Cuba’s Javier Sotomayor in 1993.

At the 2017 Worlds, the 6-foot-2 Barshim cleared the bar at about 6 feet, 4 inches with his now famous feet-first maneuver.

At Birmingham’s Diamond League event his technique may have been conventional, but his final leap was no less breathtaking.

After trading jumps with Syria’s Majed Aldin Ghazal up to 2.35m, Ghazal decided to bow out, but the Qatari continued on. With the meet already won, Barshim raised the bar to 2.40m.

“I knew I had that jump in me but I needed that pressure on my shoulders,” Barshim said. “I love it here. I had the [meet] record here from 2014 and I also won in Birmingham last year so it is a lucky place for me.”

The 2.40m final jump for Barshim registered as a meet and season record. After climbing down off the landing pad, Barshim’s fellow jumping competitors mobbed him in celebration.

"No Need To Rush Talented Teenaged Athletes"

Tony Sharpe - Sports News Durham Region

A few weeks ago, I came across an article about the peak age of performance for athletes.

Based on the findings of a study done in France a few years ago, the average age was 26.1 years for peak performance. In the 100-metre sprint for example, the peak age for performance for males was 25.4 years and 26.1 years for female sprinters.

This led me to question some of the aggressive training methods being deployed by the coaches of high school athletes. Five or six days-per-week training programs are quickly becoming the norm for many.

Quite often, they are experimenting in the weight room with untrained instructors, which can lead to serious injury.

Even more disturbing is the high rate of injury among the more naturally talented athletes. These are the kids that showed significant potential before any formal coaching.

Then in comes that coach wanting to make a name for himself by aiming to put them on the Olympic podium before they graduate from high school. Or, perhaps, these excited coaches really do not know any better.

Overzealous parents are also to be blamed. They are sometimes guilty of getting caught up in the hype and losing perspective of just how long it takes for an athlete to reach full potential.

The millennial athlete is also a part of the problem. This is a generation where instant gratification is expected. I often hear very talented athletes talk about quitting because they are not running fast enough.

In part, this behaviour is being driven by some of the sensational high school performances we read about or stories of high school athletes representing their country at major international events. But we need to remember, those are the anomalies, not the norm.

In recent years, the term Long-Term Athlete Development has become a marketing line for many sports organizations, with many having no long-term development program in place.

As mentioned in the study, the average age at which an athlete reaches his peak performance is 26.1 years old, so why the rush?

As a sprint coach, I hate to say this, but let's slow it down.

Adam Gemili disqualified as Britain’s top sprinters are brought back to reality

• Gemili false starts in the 100m at the Birmingham grand prix
• Mitchell-Blake and Talbot struggle in 200m, Asher-Smith fifth in 100m

A week after soaring to scarcely imagined heights at the world championships many of Britain’s top sprinters came tumbling back down to reality at the Birmingham grand prix on Sunday.

Poor Adam Gemili, who ran a storming second leg as Britain’s 4x100m men’s relay team took gold, felt it hardest as he was controversially false started in the 100m. Meanwhile his relay team‑mates Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Danny Talbot faded to finish fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 200m. With Dina Asher-Smith, who inspired the women’s 4x100m team to silver, also coming fifth in a high-quality women’s 100m final, it was left to CJ Ujah to fly the flag highest for British sprinting by winning the men’s 100m in 10.08sec.

Inevitably, however, the eyes were drawn to Gemili’s pained expression as he was disqualified from what he intended to be his redemption race after an injury-hit season. “Honestly I didn’t feel like I false started,” he said afterwards. “It’s the first time in my career that’s ever happened to me. I just feel like I’ve let so many people down. It’s just absolutely gutting.

“I know I’m in great shape but I haven’t had an individual race since the world championships to prove it. I know it’s only the grand prix – it’s not the world champs – but it feels the same for me. This was my redemption race to show everyone that I am in good shape and back running fast. I just want to say sorry.”

Gemili does not have the best of luck here – two years ago he was taken off the track on a stretcher after ripping his hamstring while blasting under 10 seconds for the 100m for the first time, while he hobbled along the home straight during the UK trials in July and ended up missing out on the individual 100m and 200m at the world championships due to the hamstring injury that had blighted much of his season.

Ujah, however, was in much more optimistic mood after beating James Dasaolu by 0.03, with Zharnel Hughes third a further 0.02 back. “I was optimistic coming into this race and you can see my current mind-set in my result,” he said. “I am very confident at the moment.”

Mitchell-Blake, meanwhile, admitted he had to learn the lessons from his disappointing fifth in the 200m in a modest 20.46sec, behind the world champion Ramil Guliyev, who ran 20.17. “That was a brutal race,” Mitchell-Blake said. “Obviously the time wasn’t that pleasing but I just have to learn from it going forward. It has been a lot physically but a lot emotionally too to recover from the world championships.”

In the women’s 100m Elaine Thompson looked back to her best after a strangely subdued performance at the world championships as she won in 10.93sec. Marie-Josée Ta Lou was second in 10.97 with Asher-Smith fifth in 11.21. “I had to bounce back first time after a disappointing world championships but the time is nothing to get excited about,” Thompson said. There was better news for British athletes in the men’s 400m as Dwayne Cowan won a weak race in a personal best of 45.39sec. “I’m pleased to set a PB but maybe I could have run 44 something,” he said.

Meeting Birmingham men/women results

Aug 20 (Gracenote) - Results from the Meeting Birmingham Men/Women on Sunday

Men's 100m

1. Chijindu Ujah (Britain) 10.08

2. James Dasaolu (Britain) 10.11

3. Zharnel Hughes (Britain) 10.13

4. Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (Britain) 10.19

5. Ojie Edoburun (Britain) 10.25

6. Andy Robertson (Britain) 10.46

7. Kyle de Escofet (Britain) 10.78

. Adam Gemili (Britain) DSQ

Men's 200m

1. Ramil Guliyev (Turkey) 20.17

2. Ameer Webb (U.S.) 20.26

3. Aaron Brown (Canada) 20.30

4. Isaac Makwala (Botswana) 20.41

5. Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Britain) 20.46

6. Daniel Talbot (Britain) 20.47

7. Christophe Lemaitre (France) 20.53

8. Isiah Young (U.S.) 20.55

Men's 400m

1. Dwayne Cowan (Britain) 45.34

2. Vernon Norwood (U.S.) 45.52

3. Rabah Yousif (Britain) 45.58

4. Teddy Atine-Venel (France) 45.70

5. Brian Gregan (Ireland) 45.93

6. Kevin Borlee (Belgium) 46.23

7. Martyn Rooney (Britain) 46.28

8. Josephus Lyles (U.S.) 46.75

Men's 800m

1. Nijel Amos (Botswana) 1:44.50

2. Adam Kszczot (Poland) 1:45.28

3. Marcin Lewandowski (Poland) 1:45.33

4. Brandon McBride (Canada) 1:45.39

5. Elliot Giles (Britain) 1:45.44

6. Kyle Langford (Britain) 1:45.69

7. Asbel Kiprop (Kenya) 1:46.05

8. Guy Learmonth (Britain) 1:46.28

Men's Mile

1. Jake Wightman (Britain) 3:54.92

2. Chris O'Hare (Britain) 3:55.01

3. Benjamin Blankenship (U.S.) 3:55.89

4. David Torrence (Peru) 3:56.10

5. Mohammed Ahmed (Canada) 3:56.60

6. Jordan Williamsz (Australia) 3:56.89

7. Evan Jager (U.S.) 3:57.39

8. Thiago Andre (Brazil) 3:57.91

Men's 3000m

1. Mo Farah (Britain) 7:38.64

2. Adel Mechaal (Spain) 7:40.34

3. Davis Kiplangat (Kenya) 7:40.63

4. Andrew Butchart (Britain) 7:44.10

5. Patrick Tiernan (Australia) 7:46.99

6. Richard Ringer (Germany) 7:49.92

7. Hassan Mead (U.S.) 7:51.09

8. Soufiane Bouchikhi (Belgium) 7:55.55

Men's 110m Hurdles

1. Aries Merritt (U.S.) 13.29

2. Sergey Shubenkov (Russia) 13.31

3. Devon Allen (U.S.) 13.40

4. Balazs Baji (Hungary) 13.47

5. Orlando Ortega (Spain) 13.48

6. Andrew Pozzi (Britain) 13.53

7. David King (Britain) 13.65

. Garfield Darien (France) DSQ

Men's High Jump

1. Mutaz Essa Barshim (Qatar) 2.40

2. Majed Aldin Ghazal (Syria) 2.31

3. Tom Gale (Britain) 2.24

4. Luis Joel Castro (Puerto Rico) 2.24

5. Mateusz Przybylko (Germany) 2.24

6. Sylwester Bednarek (Poland) 2.20

7. Robert Grabarz (Britain) 2.20

7=. Michael Mason (Canada) 2.20

7=. Gianmarco Tamberi (Italy) 2.20

7=. Donald Thomas (Bahamas) 2.20

Men's Long Jump

1. Jarrion Lawson (U.S.) 8.19

2. Ruswahl Samaai (South Africa) 8.03

3. Mike Hartfield (U.S.) 8.02

Farah motors home in victorious adieu to home crowd

British athletics legend Mo Farah began the day taking a lap of honour in an open top Bentley and ended it by giving the crowd what they wanted in his final race on home turf -- a victory. The 34-year-old, who had agonisingly fallen just short of a third successive distance world double in London last Saturday taking silver in the 5,000 metres, cruised home in the 3,000m at the Birmingham Diamond League meeting. "It's been an amazing week," said Farah. "I have been tired but had a little downtime with family. Emotion was high, not as high as London but it was the last time at home."

Farah Bids To Give British Fans Emotional Farewell

LONDON: British athletics great Mo Farah will hope his final track race on home turf on Sunday will have a happier ending than last Saturday’s world 5,000 metres final.

The 34-year-old, who will compete in the 3,000 metres at the Diamond League meeting in Birmingham, produced a courageous performance just falling short of overhauling Ethiopian Muktar Edris.

That defeat, his first since the 10,000m in the 2011 world championships, ended a remarkable run of global titles in which he upset the Kenyan/Ethiopian hegemony in distance races and included achieving the 5,000/10,000 double in successive Olympics.

Farah, who came to England aged eight with his mother and two of his brothers after a long trek from war-torn Somalia, is assured of a warm reception from the spectators if not from the press at whom he fired a blast after his 5,000m defeat.

His relations with large parts of the British media have deteriorated over the years because of his association with controversial coach Alberto Salazar.

The spectators, though, have largely given him the benefit of the doubt and Farah admits Sunday’s race will have his emotions in turmoil.

“It’s definitely going to be emotional,” said Farah, who will make his final track appearance in the Zurich Diamond League meet next week.

“I’ve had a long career and to come here year after year, it’s been something special.

“But, at some point, anything we do in life must come to an end and this is it. I just have to take care of the race and respect my opposition. I have a job to do Sunday and to do well.”

Farah is intent on not letting the occasion get to him and believes he is still in fine fettle despite his exertions in London at the world championships.

“It’s important for me to go out with a win,” he said.

“I think people realise that it’s not as easy as me just turning up, you’ve got to be in the best shape. I’m in great shape and if I could come away with a win that would be great.”

Farah can also perhaps expect a surprise from UK Athletics after he has crossed the line judging from what their chief executive Niels de Vos said.

“Mo Farah is thought by many commentators to be the greatest distance athlete of all time,” said de Vos.

“I could not agree more. We are planning to commemorate his final track race in the UK in style on Sunday in what will be one of the highlights of the summer.”

In truth the field lining up against Farah should not present any problems but other events on the card have a far more competitive edge.

None more so than the women’s 100 metres which sees Olympic champion Elaine Thompson try and restore some of her lustre after flopping in the world final.

However, bitter rival Dafne Schippers, who finished in front of her in the 100m as she took bronze and boosted by retaining her 200m crown, will be intent on denting the Jamaican’s morale further.

Dual sprint world silver medalist Marie-Josee Ta Lou also lines up as does Australian great Sally Pearson, fresh from her remarkable comeback to regain the 100m hurdles world crown. --AFP

Without 2 Stars, Track Show Will Roll Gloriously On

The IAAF World Championships in London were a curious lot. The times were down, the drama was up and, while the world fawned over a pair of golden spikes running for the last time, a hedgehog stole the show.

Little went according to the script we had envisaged for London, and that may be no bad thing. We were left heartened, rather than with a heightened sense of expectation of the phenomenal parade of athletes on the international circuit.

At the end of a golden road for some of the brightest lights the sport has ever seen, the world of track and field chose to remind us that those stars, as untouchable as they seemed for periods of perfection, remain as mortal as the rest of the field.

The likes of Usain Bolt and Mo Farah have made it seem almost too easy, routine and obligatory, even, for them to mark these august occasions with a record or a dominant performance. Both left their ultimate stage looking distinctly human; Farah in tears, and Bolt brandishing an X-ray as proof that his last dash was snapped by the elements. Maybe they should have resisted temptation, and walked away in Rio gold. Leave them wanting more, and all that

Wayde van Niekerk, the heir apparent for the track and field crown, concealed a temperamental back for much of the 2017 season, but it didn’t stop him defending his one-lap title. It did, however, emphasise how difficult it will be to carry the torch of inspiration on his own.

The golden spikes of Bolt will not be easily filled by just one athlete. How could they be? He was a freak of nature, whose thumping chest entrance could only be matched for drama by his completely unexpected exit; forlorn on the track, watching the next generation streak away.

Of course, it is not how we will remember him, or Farah. They have inspired for a decade, and they leave the sport on a fascinating plateau. Maybe, just maybe, the next few years will not have a standout superstar in the Bolt mould; not one outrageous talent who rises above the rest.

Despite that reality, there is much to look forward to over the next few years. For one thing, these Championships reminded us that, in sport, nothing lasts forever. The Jamaican sprint dominance looks to be in its autumn, just as America rises once more.

Maybe, we will see the star dust sprinkled liberally around the sport, not just the track. Van Niekerk, in full cry, is destined to make more headlines, as he is yet to reach is peak. What a thought.

Caster Semenya, who medalled in the 1500m for ‘fun’, will continue to let her feet answer the mud-slinging that follows every title she adds to her collection. Akani Simbine has been in so many high-profile finals that a medal surely beckons one of these days.

Luvo Manyonga speaks of records, and such is the arc that he is currently on, only a fool would bet against him one day touching the stars that he seems to leap for at every major meeting he's in.

The optimism goes beyond the rainbow nation, of course. From the long-jump pit, to the high-jump bar, where you will find the freak that is Mutaz Essa Barshim, a man who can casually scissor jump well over 2m for kicks. The German rivalry in the men’s javelin, the US shot-put tussle

The compelling narratives are there, waiting to unravel themselves in due course.

Roll on Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games next year.

Roll on Doha, for the World Championships in 2019. Roll on Tokyo 2020, when all those narratives will reach their thrilling climax. The world may have lost Farah and its lightning Bolt, but their exit leaves the stage open for so many fresh faces of inspiration. The show will roll gloriously on. It always does.

Jamaica Urged To Use More Science & Technology

After a symposium with Japan and UK athletics deputy coach, London Queen Elizabeth Stadium away from the Jamaican crowd watching the World Championships wondering what we have gotten right as a nation and where we have gone wrong with Brand Jamaica athletics.

Japan, Bahrain and Botswana seemed to be emerging as formidable competitors in athletics. During the semi-finals, Isaac Makwala from Botswana seemed to be a serious challenger for the 400m title. I was a little sad that Makwala was denied entry into the stadium to compete against the defending champion, South African Wayde Van Niekerk.

I was, however, buoyed by the tremendous amount of goodwill the crowd had for Usain Bolt, who had failed to live up to the expectations of retiring as the 100m world champion. Bolt has transcended race, class and country to be no longer Jamaican but 'To the World'.

From earlier in the day during a coffee meeting at the University of East London (UEL) Docklands campus I had started to ponder what could be salvaged from Usain's goodwill. The UEL's lounge overlooking the river had served as a vibrant discussion area where Usain's importance to athletics and Jamaica as the athletic stimuli which forced Africa and the Caribbean to higher athletic achievement were discussed.

I was repeatedly asked about the science behind the athletic aura of Jamaicans. When I had left the meeting for the London Stadium I felt a deep, bone-tired sadness. Everyone wanted to study the Jamaican athletes. I had done minuscule scientific work with Maurice Wilson at Sprintec, which seemed to have paid off with 10 members making the team to World Championships 2017. However, no systematic research has been used in the athletic trajectory of Jamaica.

Is this why the cracks are now showing? Our foods are being marketed as sports food in the UK, yet GraceKennedy and others are lost in the global battle of the emerging sports food industry.

Days before, at a symposium on another campus, they had fed me saltfish, seasoned patties, hard-dough corn bread and baked banana chips as one of their signature dishes. They insisted that's what the Jamaican athletes ate. The dish is very popular with student athletes in the UK.

Usain gave Jamaica visibility, but there is a dark side to Jamaica that refuses to incorporate scientific ideas and technological strategies from those who they deem are not part of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) or Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) entourage. If these ideas are not coming from certain quarters, they are often stolen or go dead.

Professor Helen Asemota, a naturalised Jamaican and former consultant to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, was in London too. She and Professor Taku Wakahara from Japan enjoyed some of the salt fish patties. As Jamaican academics we were up in London in the euphoria of Bolt's departure, trying to market to a small group yam cookies and yam nutrient smoothies as bio-sports foods.

I tried to mileage the Jamaican sprinters to the Japanese as archetypes of runners who should be studied and honed with technique to produce who the sprinters of the future should look like. Tokyo mantra for 2020 “Is Winning Medals Using Science”. That is legal science.

The Jamaican high commissioner to the UK listened to our proposal of using science and technology to improve performance. He marvelled that such ideas were coming out of Jamaica. He was so stunned and literally blindsided, yet the Japanese investigators had noticed the work being done by us Jamaicans long ago and had flown in from Japan to meet us at a conference in London, which should directly start a collaboration that will help their athletes and make them a force to reckon with for Tokyo 2020.

Jamaica cannot, in this era, survive on just natural ability, as nature can be cloned and technique honed to produce better sprinters. We have an immeasurable reservoir of emerging talent in Demish Gaye, Yanique Thompson, Fredric Dacres, Rochelle Burton, Dejour Russell and others. How Jamaica harnesses this talent will determine if Jamaica remains dominant in athletics.

It cannot be done without science and technology. We are moving past the era that allowed Jamaicans to excel by natural ability and grit. We love our athletes and administrators but the time has come where a deeper analysis of what we need to retain Jamaica's dominance is necessary. We should not be having so many incidences of injuries in the cold as seen in World Championships 2017.

We should have kept records of how our most elite athletes adapt to certain environments based on notations of how they reacted before. I have seen Christopher Taylor and Jason Livermore not perform at their best because it was cold at the Penn Relays. One of my collaborators who has a MSc in Physical Therapy and who went with the youth team to Nairobi indicated that many did not perform as should because Kenya was colder than Jamaica was at the time of the youth championships.

If we have the data we are able to plan and have contingencies in place. Usain has done too much for the IAAF for our sport administrators to not have collectively lobbied federations from the tropics to make the IAAF provide leg warmers in the waiting areas for those athletes from the tropics who are not used to prolonged cold conditions. This would have minimised muscle cramping and muscle tears in London.

We should have been the first one marketing a sport dish around Bolt, yam, Trelawny and the Cockpit Country. GraceKennedy, Sport Development Foundation, JAAA — we need your support but believe me you also very much need new ideas; you cannot just sponsor those in your network.

The Government must not just entertain those who they are comfortable with. Too many useless people sit on sports boards and in administrations, and their worthless ideas get recycled ad nauseam. Some of us are not in the network of who is who in Jamaica, but we have done some detailed analyses of what can be done to improve sport performance. We have the scientific data from the brilliant exploit of the quadruplet of 1952 who set our first relay world record in the 4x 400m.

We know that someone like Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, because of her fantastic stride frequency, is prone to toe injuries, so we can use this data to work on the deficiencies in athletes like Jura levy and Sasha-Lee Forbes who are immensely talented but small in stature like Shelly-Ann with the same step turnover.

We have observed that Rusheen McDonald, who was on the last leg of the 4x 400m World Championships 2017 team which did not qualify for the final, needs psychological/psychiatric help to start believing in himself again. He is our national record holder; we must get him back to where he was pre-World Championships 2015, where he was ridiculed for setting a national record in his heat and exhausting himself so he could not qualify for the final.

The benefits of yam and ginger are documented inside and outside of Jamaica. They are using cinnamon and ginger and coconut water as alternate substitutes to Gatorade and Powerade in the rehydration and reduction of muscle inflammation in athletes. Ginger is legal by World Anti-Doping Agency and must be in our repository of anti-inflammatories for cold and immune recovery.

Yes, we have our orthopaedic surgeons and medical practitioners readily available, however we must put scientific policies in place that are technologically driven to ensure the best outcome for our athletes. As we plot Jamaica's athletic future post-Usain Bolt, let us use more science and technology to maintain our position in athletics.

Please provide access for some of us to help Brand Jamaica. Whilst we might not have social access in Jamaica, the world has become a global village and is willing to pay premium prize for our scientific work. We can become global merchants, however we would prefer to be patriotic.

Are Kenyans Losing Battle In Long Distance Running?

Former athletes and coaches say more needs to be done if Kenya are to remain dominant in most races once again.

Kenyan men surrendered three titles while women could not retain two crowns at the just concluded IAAF World Athletics Championships in London.

Questions still linger on whether Kenya can reclaim the 5,000m and 10,000m after a relatively poor show over the distances in London.

The performance in London were at par to the 2013 Moscow worlds. Kenyans are known to perform well in Asia than in Europe or America.

In 1988, the country posted a good show at the Seoul Olympic Games with John Ngugi winning gold in 5,000m. The Beijing Olympics (2008), Beijing worlds (2015) and Rio Olympics saw Kenya give an impressive show over the various events.

But Moses Tanui, the 1991 world 10,000m champion, differs with the trend.

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“There is nothing like good results in Asia. The results in 5,000m and 10,000m men in London were disastrous. The problem lies with the coaches.

“There was need for proper preparations, selections and a smart winning strategy. We just allow our athletes to do pace setting. Look at how Paul Chelimo (USA) and Joshua Cheptegei (Uganda) made brilliant moves in 5,000m and 10,000m and made away with medals. We need to review our coaching skills,” said Tanui.

Athletes prefer road races

However, disaster has been lurking in men’s 5,000m and 10,000m races for long and track coaches are now scratching their heads.

Bernard Ouma, the middle distance coach, said: “Running requires periodic long-term planning and a perfect programme tailored to boost endurance. This includes a balancing act between transitions and competition timing. For instance, if an athlete starts his preparation late, it’s mostly likely that his form will pick up late and he will hit top form after the competition,” he said.

“The best 5,000m runners are those who transited from 1,500m event. Asbel Kiprop and Timothy Cheruiyot can emerge as the best 5,000m runners for Kenya, watch out. Asbel just needs to start Commonwealth preparation early and I can assure he will be the man to beat in Gold Coast, Australia, next April,” Ouma said.

Douglas Wakiihuri, the first Kenyan to win London Marathon in 1987, said athletes in 5,000m and 10,000m opt to line up for road races, which pays handsomely.

“The emergence of many road races and lack of competition in 10,000m has made Kenyans to prefer road races to the track. There is the element of huge money in road races in big city races.

“There is need for Kenyans to graduate from track at the right age. You get athletes aged 22 competing in road races abroad. So, there is need for steady transition,” he said.

Hellen Obiri became the second Kenyan woman to win gold in 5,000m after Vivian Cheruiyot’s exploits in Berlin (2009) and Daegu (2011).

It remains a riddle as to when men will reclaim the 10,000m title that Charles Kimathi won in Edmonton, Canada, in 2001.

Kenya has three gold medals in Paul Kipkoech (1987), Moses Tanui (1991) and Charles Kamathi (2001) while Ethiopia lead with nine medals from Haile Gebreselassie (1993, 1995, 1997 and 1999), Kenenisa Bekele (2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009) and Ibrahim Jeilan in 2011. Britain boasts three titles from Mo Farah’s wins in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

However the bad show by the men in track distance running did not water down Kenya’s superlative show as women ventured into virgin grounds in 1,500m – winning first gold medal since IAAF introduced the race in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1995.

But London also witnessed Kenyans failing to retain the titles that they won in Beijing in 2015.

The men’s squad lost the 800m (David Rudisha), javelin (Julius Yego) and 400m hurdles (Nicholas Bett) titles even as Geoffrey Kirui reclaimed the marathon title last won by Abel Kirui in 2011 in Daegu. Elijah Manangoi retained the 1,500m title won by Asbel Kiprop in 2015 and Conseslus Kipruto changed the pecking order in 3,000m steeplechase, chalking up victory as Ezekiel Kemboi had won in 2015.

It was a tall order for Haron Koech, who had trained his sights on retaining his younger brother’s, Nicholas Bett’s, 400m hurdles crown. He bowed out in the semi-finals.

Bett, Olympic 400m silver medalist Boniface Mucheru and Eric Keter, who finished seventh in the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo to set the then national record of 48.70 seconds, stand out among Kenya’s high achieving hurdlers.

Keter also finished fifth at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany to slap a new national mark of 48.28 seconds and won the 1991 All Africa Games title.

Kipyegon Bett, who has 1:43.76 best personal in the two-lap race, could not retain David Rudisha’s title and settled for bronze. Emmanuel Korir, who has a world leading time of 1:43.10 set in Monaco Diamond League, carried the nations’ hopes after winning at the national trials and, more importantly, had not lost any race up to the semi-final in London.

He reportedly picked up a hip injury while in London.

Michael Saruni, who boasts 1:44.61 in the two-lap race but was dropped from London squad on questionable grounds to accommodate Rudisha and Ferguson Rotich despite finishing third in trials, stands as another prodigy to succeed Rudisha.

The women’s 800m title has remained a pipe dream for Kenyans since the entry of South Africa’s Caster Semenya on the global scene in 2009, where she overshadowed 2008 Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo and 2007 world champion Janeth Jepkosgei.

The entry of Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba into the battle has also complicated Kenya’s quest to reclaim lost grip.

Interestingly, some well-built and muscular women seem to have been dominant in 800m in the global scene since 1983 when Jarmila Kratochvilova of Czech Republic set the current world record of 1:53.28.

Margaret Nyairera, Kenya’s sole hope in London, finished fourth behind Semenya, Niyonsaba and America’s Ajee Wilson.

Manangoi became the second Kenyan to win 1,500m crown after Asbel Kiprop’s three wins in Daegu, Moscow and Beijing.

If their performances in the Diamond League meetings where Manangoi, Timothy Cheruiyot and Ronald Kwemoi top world rankings are anything to by, then Kenya would still continue to hold a firm grip on the race.

But Faith Chepng’etich, the Olympic champion, warmed fans’ hearts as she became the first Kenyan to win 1,500m crown in the IAAF World Athletics Championships history.

Winny Chebet, who has six silver medals in 800m before graduating to 1,500m this season, would emerge as Chepng’etich’s rightful team mate.

There is, however, a steady invasion into Kenya’s track speciality, the men’s 3,000m steeplechase.

Kenya has recorded three podium sweeps – 1997, 2007 and 2015 – as well as striking the 11th gold medal in the history of the World Athletics Championships.

London provided a perfect indicator that Kenya’s performance in the race is waning.

Frenchman Mahiedine Mekhisi-Benabbad and America’s Evan Jager have always spoiled the Kenyan party.

Still joy for Adelle

TEAM GB star and former Camelsdale Primary School pupil Adelle Tracey achieved two personal bests competing in both the heats and semi-finals World Athletics Championships 800 metres race.

But her 2:00.26 time in last Friday’s semi-finals was still not fast enough to take her through to Sunday’s final.

Adelle is now focusing on improving her running before next year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia and the European Championships in Berlin.

Frustrated to have missed out in London but delighted to have improved her times, she said: “Two personal bests in two days and an unforgettable experience at my first outdoor major championships in front of a home crowd! I’ve loved every second.”

Sprinter Mitchell-Blake Eyes More Invididual Success

The world 200m fourth-placer is keen to maintain momentum after his recent performances in London

For Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, any world gold medal-winning celebrations will have to wait a few more weeks as he looks to push on from forming part of GB’s victorious 4x100m relay team and achieve further individual success this summer.

The 23-year-old anchored the quartet – also including CJ Ujah, Adam Gemili and Danny Talbot – to European record-breaking success in London and now, a week later, they are all preparing to get back on the track at the Müller Grand Prix Birmingham.

Mitchell-Blake will contest the 200m – the event in which he also secured a fourth-place finish at the IAAF World Championships in London – along with Talbot, while Ujah and Gemili will line up in the all-Brit non-Diamond League 100m at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium on Sunday.

Given that they are now world champions, will their rivals – including Turkey’s world champion Ramil Guliyev and Botswana’s Isaac Makwala in the 200m – be considering them as ones to watch?

“I don’t believe there’s a target on us,” Mitchell-Blake says. “It’s a new race, a new atmosphere. It’s a week later, a lot can happen.

“We’re world champions, but that’s in the relay,” he adds. “Now it’s our time to perform as individuals.”

That mentality applies when it comes to future major championships, too.

“None of us are here just to make the championships or to get knocked out in the heats,” says the US-based sprinter, who was born in Newham and raised in Jamaica. “All of us have big ambitions.

“Track and field is a very competitive sport but we definitely expect ourselves not just to make semi-finals but to make finals and then push on for medals.

“We’ve always had the aspiration of getting medals, it’s not just now,” he adds. “I feel it’s only a matter of time, sooner rather than later, that you’ll see us reaping the rewards.”

Among those in London to witness GB’s golden relay success was the nation’s 2004 Olympic 4x100m title-winning quartet of Jason Gardener, Darren Campbell, Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis. Four days later, the Athens champions were back in action themselves, running as part of a golden relay event at the Manchester International.

Having the 2004 quartet in the London Stadium watching them was “pretty cool”, Mitchell-Blake says, adding: “They paid their respects to us. It was a pretty special moment to know that the guys that we look up to are now saluting us. It was like coming full circle.”

Exclusive interview: How gorgeous Faith Kipyegon downed Semenya and Dibaba in style

Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon won the 800m race beating world-renowned athletes
Her father was a runner in the 800m and 1,500m categories

It was billed as the penultimate race of the 2017 London World Championships, with a start list brimming with menace, speed, endurance and athletic power.

Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya of South Africa, US champion and Olympic bronze medallist Jenny Simpson, Great Britain’s Laura Muir, Netherlands’ world indoor champion, Sifan Hassa, defending champion and world record-holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia – all with below four-minute times in the 1500m women’s race.

And in that mix of gunpowder stood a coy, tiny gazelle from Ndabibit village in Kuresoi, Nakuru. That girl is Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon.

She didn’t disappoint. Cruising down the stretch, her legs cutting through the air with the rhythmic power of a well-oiled engine, Faith struck Kenyan women’s first gold medal in 1,500m in the IAAF World Athletics Championships history, leaving the sporting world dazed.

The 22-year-old Kenyan track queen is drop-dead gorgeous, an eye candy who stopped male athletes on their tracks at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. Her beauty and style side-lined the ‘yellow-yellow’ Ethiopian track superstars that Kenyan men drool over.

The lithe girl from far-flung Ndabibit village, who caught the world’s attention, running barefoot to finish fourth at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in 2010 is now a track assassin. Gorgeous in running kit and absolutely stunning in an evening gown, she is the perfect poster that would leave any pin-up model gasping in envy.

This beauty would no doubt cause a traffic jam on Moi Avenue if she crossed that road on a Sunday morning! Then meet her in her room at Keringet Athletics Camp in Nakuru County listening to a mix of Tanzania music super star, Diamond Platnumz – and you will confirm her unbridled love for Bongo Flava.

Her full lips sit pretty on her lovely, bright face, emphasising a beauty that the manicured nails and blow-dried soft hair crown with such great flair. Faith has come so far since her maiden trip abroad on July 4, 2011 for the IAAF World Youth Championships in Lille, France.

She has come a long way from the clean-shaven Winners Girls High School student who, as a junior, raced her peers to the ground.

When she threw down the gauntlet to race down her opponents, it was evident she has come of age. “I won the Olympics last year but the victory at the World Championships is sweeter because I fought the hardest,” says the 22-year old, who lined up for what was termed as the most unpredictable race of the championships.

“In Rio, I was only wary of Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia because I had a fantastic season. In London, Caster Semenya, Dibaba, Sifan Hassan, Laura Muir and Jenifer Simpson were all gold medal prospects,” she said.

The senior world championships gold was the only major medal lacking in her collection. She has achieved what most of her peers just dream of. Sample her calling card; World Youth (Under 18), World Junior (Under 20), World Cross, Commonwealth Games, World Relays and Olympic titles.

“I couldn’t sleep the moment we landed in London. I did not even feel hungry. It was an extremely difficult time waiting for the competition. The only good thing is that the pressure was not only on me but also on the rest of the field.

“It was well distributed among us, especially after I lost to Sifan at the Monaco Diamond League before coming into the championships,” said Faith, before making history as the first Kenyan female world champion in 1,500m since the race was introduced in Gothenburg Sweden in 1995.

“I knew it would be a tough race and everyone was going for gold. I knew nobody would go to the front in the first two laps and they would go faster in the last lap. So I trained for it,” she said.

She is managed by Dutchman Jos Hermens of Global Sports Communications, whose stable collected five gold, six silver and four bronze medals in London.

At times, Faith trains in Dutch’s oldest city of Nijmegen, where their management has a camp.

As a Form Two Student at Winner’s Girls High School in Keringet, Faith was among young athletes feted at the centenary celebrations of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in Barcelona, Spain, in 2012.

All along Faith had wanted to improve on her father Samuel Koech’s exploits in athletics.

“My father was a good 800m and 1,500m runner but unfortunately, he never boarded a plane. He would only win his races up to nationals and go back home as there were no big competitions like we have these days,” Faith said.

In 2014 during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, Faith, then a Form Three Student, exhibited exceptional courage to snatch the Commonwealth Games 1500m gold medal at Hampden Park Stadium.

She beat a classy field that included track star Hellen Obiri and a strong Australian and Canadian challenge to win her maiden track championship race since graduating to seniors, having won the Africa cross country championships in Kampala, Uganda, in March that year.

At only 22, she has a long career ahead, and no doubt, her charming smile will light up the finish line again and again, her athletic, beautiful frame draped in the national flag.

“You know, it’s really hard to say I’m the best or that I will the best ever. I prefer to make short-term plans to avoid putting too much pressure on myself. So far, I’m happy with my achievements,” she said.

Emmanuel Korir Goes Pro, Signs With Nike

According to UTEP Athletics, freshman sensation Emmanuel Korir has signed with Nike and will forgo the rest of his NCAA eligibility to run professionally. He will continue to train under UTEP associate head coach Paul Ereng in El Paso, Texas, while pursuing his education.

"Emmanuel started running well at the start of the indoor season, that's when the idea of turning pro came up", Ereng said in a UTEP Athletics press release. "He's ranked number one in the world in the 800m and top 10 in the 400m so he has the tools to become another household name for Kenya."

The 22-year-old Korir put the world on notice in his NCAA debut this year after moving to the United States from Kenya to train with Ereng.

2017 Highlights:
- He won the NCAA indoor 800m title after being out with an injury for three weeks leading up to the race.
- He ran a sub-45 second open 400m twice becoming the youngest to join the sub-1:47/45.0 club.

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}- He ran the No. 2 all-time NCAA 800m in 1:43.73 via a negative-split 52.48/51.25, becoming the third man to join the sub-1:44/45.0 club.
- He ran a 43.34 4x400m relay split.
- He won the NCAA outdoor 800m title.
- He won the Athletics Kenyan Trials 800m title in 1:43.86.
- He ran a 1:43.10 800m in Monaco.

As the 800m world leader heading into London two weeks ago, Korir didn't live up to his billing as he failed to advance to his first global championship final, but he did have to endure a much longer season than many of his competitors. Keep an eye on him as he begins to train solely for the professional circuit.

How Sally Pearson coached herself to be the one of the best athletes in the world

WHEN Sally Pearson walked off the medal dais after singing the national anthem inside the London Olympic Stadium for the second time in her career, an official was waiting for her with a package.

Inside was her athletes’ pass, information from the world championships final which she’d won an hour earlier, a box to put her gold medal in and then at the bottom there was another box.

“What’s this?” Pearson asked.

“That’s a medal for your coach,” the official said.

The Australian hurdles champion started laughing.

For the first time in the championships history the coaches of medal-winning athletes were also getting medals.

It was funny because Pearson would be giving the medal to herself.

Twelve months earlier the 2012 Olympic 100m hurdles champion had made a brave decision to coach herself, a move that raised eyebrows around the Australian track and field scene.

History wasn’t kind to self-coached athletes and the odds were certainly stacked against Pearson.

She’d missed the previous two years because of injury, was turning 30 and had from 2013 to 2015 gone through three coaches.

But this wasn’t just about coaching, this was about saving a career and Pearson had decided the only person who was capable of doing that was herself.

She’d had an epiphany on a plane from Sydney back home to the Gold Coast when she watched aerial skier’s Lydia Lassila acclaimed documentary ‘The Will to Fly’.

It charted Lassila’s rise to Olympic gold and then her return after motherhood.

Pearson had been dealing with her own demons after breaking her wrist in 2015 and then being forced to pull out of the Rio Olympics because of achilles and hamstring issues.

She was hating life but became inspired by how Lassila had fought back from so many setbacks that by the time she had left Gold Coast airport the comeback and coaching decision had been made.

On the first day of the athletics in Rio, Pearson and her husband, Kieran, sat down at their kitchen table and started mapping out a plan that ultimately would lead to one of the greatest comebacks in Australian sporting history.

“It took me hours and hours and hours on the first day to write a program out and decide what was best for me and what I could and couldn’t do, being an older athlete and having these injury troubles,” Pearson said.

She put together a small group that would be called ‘Team Pearson’.

It included a couple of close friends, her mum Anne, two training partners, a biomechanist, physiotherapist, manager Robert Joske, long-time race agent Maurie Plant and, of course, Kieran.

They all knew her well enough to know that once she set her mind on something, there was never going to be any deviation and they’d all better strap in for the ride.

“I never doubted it, she knows her body,” Kieran said about his wife’s coaching venture.

“She has been doing it more than long enough. She has got the determination that whatever she sets her mind to she is going to do it and she is going to do it properly so there were never any doubts about her achieving her dreams.”

Pearson had been with her first coach, Sharon Hannan, for 14 years before splitting after the world championships in 2013.

She then had brief tenures with former training partner Antony Drinkwater-Newman and then podiatrist and coach Ashley Mahoney.

Australian head coach Craig Hilliard was on board with the self-coaching from the start.

“She’s been a long time with Sharon her former coach who took her to a gold medal,” Hilliard said.

“You learn a lot through that. As a coach, you get to a point where if you can’t as a coach instil all those beliefs and how to program after a ten-year period, I would say as a coach I hadn’t done my job properly.

“She knows what’s right and wrong, she’s pulled in the people she wanted technically and to bounce ideas off. She’s got a biomechanist, she’s got the right team around her and she was comfortable.”

The one thing Pearson knew how to do was get fit. For the first few months of the comeback she quietly went about getting her battered body back in shape.

Hours were spent in the pool and gym, getting her legs back and bulletproof again.

At the start of February while the focus in Australia was on the new Nitro series with Usain Bolt the star, Australia’s biggest star quietly went to Europe for a series of indoor meets.

The trip was a costly exercise financially given she’d had her funding downgraded by Athletics Australia after two years out of the sport but it was seen as critical to get her back into international competition.

Pearson made the podium in every race and given she knew she was only three-quarters along in her training with virtually no speed work or specific hurdling, it was a timely confidence boost.

From there it became about positive reinforcement at each step along the way.

Next was the national championships where she ran the world championships qualifying time in the heat and then produced a wind-assisted 12.53 sec in the final which reduced her to tears afterwards.

They were tears of joy because for the first time she realised her legs could still move fast enough.

Another trip overseas was next to Boston, Manchester and then to Jamaica where she took part in Bolt’s final meeting at his home in Kingston.

She was beaten by reigning world champion Danielle Williams but not by much which added another tick to the confidence box.

Progress was being made and then just before she left Australia for the final time in July Pearson did a 100m flat race and clocked 11.25 sec. It was the quickest she’d run in years and the penny dropped ... her speed was back.

The key moment in the lead-up to the world championships came in the London Olympic Stadium, the scene of her greatest triumph five years earlier and the venue for the following month’s world championships.

American Kendra Harrison was the world record-holder, she’d broken it by clocking 12.20 sec in London the previous year just before the Rio Olympics.

Like Pearson she hadn’t actually competed in Rio but it wasn’t because of injury, she’d choked in the US trials and had missed a spot in the team.

In this Diamond League meet, Harrison won but it wasn’t by much. Pearson had pushed her all the way and ran 12.48 sec, her fastest time for five years.

Suddenly everyone was talking about the old champ and importantly Harrison was starting to think about the Australian.


At the Australian team camp in Tonbridge, Pearson made the important decision to take off her coaches’ hat and pass the responsibility to Hilliard and team hurdles coach Matt Beckenham.

She needed to just be an athlete for two weeks, they were given a program to follow but it was important she had a new sets of eyes on her training.

A couple of minor technical flaws were worked on in the camp and by the time of the world championships the steely resolve and inner belief that had been her strength when she was Olympic and world champion was back.

She found her heat run disappointing but returned to the stadium eight hours later in the semi-final and delivered a statement, clocking 12.53 sec to be the fastest qualifier into the final.

Harrison had made a meal of her semi-final, almost crashing at the first hurdle and then only just qualifying for the final by .01 sec.

The lane draw for the final played into the hands of Pearson as she was in three with Harrison on her inside in two.

Dealing with much-hyped Americans in major finals had been a constant throughout the Australian’s career.

Lolo Jones had been the hot favourite at the Beijing Olympics but clipped a hurdle in the final and faltered, allowing Pearson to grab a surprise silver medal.

She knew Harrison was mentally fragile and it was something the Australian prayed on given her biggest asset was strength of mind and determination in the biggest moments.

After two hurdles in the final they were together, by the third Pearson was in front and by the fourth it was over. Harrison was hitting hurdles, she was choking.

Pearson had no hesitation afterwards declaring her second world title her greatest victory given the circumstances.

It had been a masterclass in motivation, focus and discipline and some pretty damn good coaching.

“Every single emotion that you can hold in your body just came out when I crossed that finish line,” she said.

“It wasn’t surprise, it wasn’t shock, I was just proud, so proud of what I had done to get here.”

SWANNY’S WORLD OF SPORT: Dreary and undignified athletes, a muscle-bound slogger, biting the hands that feeds, an heroic referee

Thank goodness that’s over.

Hour-by-hour coverage of boring racing punctuated by hopeless analysis with the honourable exception of the great Michael Johnson.

I was going to make Mo Farah my hero of the week (he is at least very watchable), but then he launched a ridiculous tirade at the press. Still I suppose it deflected attention away his final-race flop. Then I was going to award the ultimate PT honour to Usain Bolt, but he held a press conference alongside the disgraced Justin Gatlin and attacked one journalist for daring to mention drugs. The biggest stars in athletics are in denial, flawed or both. As are those who run the sport and those who commentate on it. Athletics is a dreary, undignified mess. I won’t miss it.

A MUSCLE-BOUND SLOGGER

The Daily Mail, as well as other national newspapers I’m sure, need to realise there are many better, and indeed more relevant, golfers in the world than Rory McIlroy.

The blanket coverage of McIlroy is extremely irritating. He’s a muscle-bound slogger of a golf ball with no short game and a terrible putting stroke. His cockiness is out of all proportion to his current record. Give those column inches to those who actually challenge for the biggest events.

BITING THE HAND THAT FEEDS

Predictably, and irritatingly, first-class counties, who rely on ECB funding to survive, are racing to snap up Indian stars ahead of a Test series between England and India next summer.

HERO OF THE WEEK

It’s time to forgive Craig Pawson for awarding the dodgy free kick which relegated Posh in 2011.

Especially if he carries on making the big calls in the Premier League without fear or favour towards the big clubs. His dismissals of Chelsea cloggers Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas last weekend were highlights of the opening day.

Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake says athletics will never fill void left by Usain Bolt

Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake tasted glory in Usain Bolt's final race and is longing for more.

While the 23-year-old Londoner reckons it is impossible for track and field to fill the void of the newly-retired Jamaican, he hopes Great Britain's sprinters can build on their 4x100metres relay success at the London 2017 World Championships.

"Usain Bolt left a void but it's one that can never be filled," Mitchell-Blake said.

"What he's achieved in the sport is truly remarkable. Anyone can go on and achieve great things in the future but what he's done in the sport as an individual, I honestly believe no-one will be able to match that – not just on the track but off the track as well.

"He's a universal icon. He's more recognised than any other athlete in the world."

Bolt quit in agony at London 2017 after suffering a hamstring injury while he tried to take Jamaica's relay team on to the podium. Mitchell-Blake, meanwhile, anchored Britain to gold.

The juxtaposition of Mitchell-Blake's ecstasy and Bolt's agony was clear as the eight-time Olympic champion limped away from his final race.

"It's still so surreal," added Mitchell-Blake, who placed fourth in the individual 200m that Bolt opted not to run.

"Every time I see the celebration I relive it pretty vividly.

"I wasn't aware we'd won until the official time came on the scoreboard.

"I've watched the race a couple of times with family, with friends and by myself. It's a proud moment of mine."

What Bolt's departure does is create an opportunity, not least for Mitchell-Blake in the 200m, once Bolt's signature event.

The Londoner, who is based at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, United States, runs in the 200m at the Muller Grand Prix Birmingham on Sunday.

There he will compete against world champion Ramil Guliyev, the Turkey athlete who beat pre-race favourite Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa to gold in London.

British relay team-mate Danny Talbot will be running in a rival lane in an event full of pedigree and left "wide open" without Bolt.

"It probably brings back more of the competitive spirit, just because of the nature of the crazy times he was running," Mitchell-Blake added.

"The sport might take a step back in time. But everybody now feels it's more wide open and we are vying for gold."

Mitchell-Blake says Britain's sprint group can fulfil a potential demonstrated by the relay success, his own 200m performance and Reece Prescod's seventh place in the 100m final.

"We were all gutted not to get medals when we failed as individuals," Mitchell-Blake added.

"But I feel like it was fitting we got the relay gold at home. It just goes to show we're on the cusp of doing something special.

"It's now our time to build our own legacy and get our places in history.

"I believe it's only a matter of time, sooner rather than later, you'll see us reaping the rewards."

That Moment When… Krause Won Steeple Bronze

German steeplechaser Gesa Felicitas Krause earned the bronze medal at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015. Here the 25-year-old talks about the significance of that achievement.

“I have always been a girl who has dreamed big. I competed at my first Olympic Games as a 20-year-old in London, where I placed seventh in the final but I realised from that moment I wanted more and I had lots of scope to improve.

“My training in the winter of 2014-15 went well. For the first time, I had an altitude training camp in the autumn and we had four training camps in the countdown to the 2015 World Championships in Beijing where we increased the range of training. I remember I was away from home in Frankfurt for long periods of time and that was tough.

“I felt in good shape and I set my first PB in three years in Monaco (9:20.15) in the countdown to the World Championships. During my final pre-Beijing training camp in Davos, Switzerland, I created a mental picture of what I wanted to achieve and I felt well prepared. I was sure I was in great shape and I wanted to achieve a PB at the major championships. That was the only thing I could influence.

“In my heat, I finished second behind Olympic champion Habiba Ghribi and it was pleasing to comfortably qualify. In the final, my coach Wolfgang Heinig told me to be aware and awake, but to not stress.

“In the final Lalita Babar of India ran away from the field, but unusually nobody followed her. My focus was to stay with the world-leading girls that year in the chasing group. When the pace suddenly accelerated, it felt comfortable, and going into the final lap I told myself to be patient as I could finish anywhere from sixth to first.

“I remember leading going into the final 100 metres and I pushed as hard as I could. I didn’t quite have the speed to hold off Hyvin Kiyeng or Ghribi, but to get bronze (and set a PB of 9:19.25) was a huge achievement for me.

“It was a huge breakthrough moment and a beautiful and inspiring moment too. Winning the bronze medal made me believe that anything in sport can happen and even if I am not in shape to run nine minutes flat for the steeplechase, if you work hard enough on the day than the rewards can follow.

“Without doubt, winning bronze changed the way I was perceived in the public, but it also changed my belief and made me think it was possible to beat the African athletes. In this sport anything can happen.”

Steve Landells for the IAAF

Athletes set for World Champs rematches in Birmingham

World gold medallists Mutaz Essa Barshim, Tom Walsh, Katerina Stefanidi and Dafne Schippers look ahead to the Müller Grand Prix Birmingham

Many recently-crowned world champions will be among those returning to action on Sunday (August 20) as IAAF Diamond League series action continues at the Müller Grand Prix Birmingham.

Fresh from their gold medal-winning performances in London, high jump champion Mutaz Essa Barshim, shot put star Tom Walsh, pole vault winner Katerina Stefanidi and 200m champion Dafne Schippers reflected on their performances in the UK capital and voiced their hopes for further success in Birmingham.

“First of all I want to enjoy tomorrow,” said Barshim, who added the world title to his high jump bronze claimed in London five years before. “My target for this season was to win gold in London; it’s done out of the way so I want to go out there, enjoy and of course I want to jump good.

“I know I’m in good shape but I always want some pushing, some pressure to jump high,” added the 26-year-old, who set the joint meeting record of 2.38m with Bohdan Bondarenko in 2014. “I really would love to take a new meeting record. Of course that depends how I feel tomorrow, but I know I am in good shape. I’m just looking forward to going out there and jumping as high as possible.”

All of the London world medallists in the men’s shot put and women’s pole vault will be competing, while the women’s 200m medallists form part of a stacked 100m line-up.

“I think I’m in good shape,” said Schippers, who will race against 200m silver medallist Marie-Josée Ta Lou and bronze medallist Shaunae Miller-Uibo as well as Britain’s Asha Philip, Desiree Henry and Dina Asher-Smith. “I have had a good week with a lot of rest. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Stefanidi was a class apart in London but she said: “Pole vault is very open right now. I’ve had an undefeated season outdoors so it would be cool to keep that going. I think there’s many girls who can come out and jump high.”

Walsh added: “I pride myself on competing, and competing well, and the goal for me is competing like a world champion over the next comps I have. Not just turning up for the show, turning up and being right there.”

SA trio gear up for Diamond League

Three South African athletes will compete at the 12th of 14 legs in the IAAF Diamond League series in Birmingham, England on Sunday.

Ruswahl Samaai, who secured the bronze medal in the Long Jump at the recent IAAF World Championships in London and fellow long jumper Khotso Mokoena, are in the start lists for their specialist discipline.

While world champion Luvo Manyonga will not take part, they will face a formidable challenge, with all nine men in the field having leaped beyond eight metres this season.

On the track, amputee sprinter Ntando Mahlangu will turn out in the T42 200m men sprint, as the teenage prodigy aims to upset his senior opponents in the half-lap dash.

Mo Farah ready to bring curtain down on his track career as baton is passed to Britain's young guns

It was supposed to be a triumphant announcement, but social media rarely allows such things.

One response to news that Britain will take on the United States in a new head-to-head athletics competition next summer was particularly laced with sarcasm. “Less chance of finishing fourth I suppose,” said the Twitter wag.

They had a point – no country experienced more fourth-place finishes at the London World Championships than the hosts, while only the US produced more finalists missing out on the podium.

The natural question is: was this a case of missed opportunities or a springboard for the future? After all, Britain has never managed so many top-eight athletes in the history of the World Championships.

“I know everybody wants medals, but there are so many people that have never finished a competition as highly as they have done – and they are 20 or 21,” said Dina Asher-Smith, fourth in the 200m. “That bodes well, especially when those ahead of them are more experienced or reigning world or Olympic champions.”

The statistics support her case. None of the British athletes who finished fourth were over 25 and just three of the other dozen who made finals without winning a medal were over 26. If near-misses can provide the experience necessary to reach greater heights, there should be a glut of medal candidates at future global events. Which is handy because Britain certainly needs it. Following Jessica Ennis-Hill’s retirement, Sunday marks an historic moment for Mo Farah, who will imminently bring the curtain down on his track career. Sunday sees his last British appearance at the Birmingham Diamond League, before next week’s final track run-out in Zurich.

The duo have won nine of Britain’s 15 world titles over the past decade and – considering there was not a single other British individual medallist at London 2017 – a changing of the guard is vital to safeguarding the future of the sport in Britain.

Kyle Langford, 21, finished fourth in the 800m and insists transitional periods are natural in sport. “I think it’s a positive thing that so many people finished fourth,” he said. “I know the medal haul wasn’t massive, but it’s a young team and there are a lot of young people making finals, which is really good. It’s transition.”

Asher-Smith and Langford will hope to offer a glimpse into that future on Sunday, with Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake completing the trio of World Championship fourth-placers.

The London-born, Jamaican-raised, American-based sprinter not only finished fourth over 200m, but also anchored a British 4x100m team with an average age of 23.75 to gold. He maintains that experience can stand the current crop in good stead.

“There were some greats in that race – Yohan Blake, Justin Gatlin, Bolt, Coleman. The relay gold shows we’re on the cusp of something special, ‘‘ he said. “What Jess and Mo did is what they did. It’s now our time to build our legacy and get our places in history.”

By 5pm, Farah will have graced a British track for the final time. He will perform his Mobot, take off his spikes and turn to the next generation. Let’s see who will step up.

Tianna Bartoletta's Blog: "Clipped Wings"

I am.

If this were Jeopardy and "I am." was the answer given then the question would be this: “Who is Team USA’s best leadoff leg in recent history?”

Answer: I am.

I’m not trying to be cocky or arrogant it’s not actually my style. But like Liam Neeson a la “Taken” I do possess a particular set of skills…

Those skills include my ability to use geometry, physics, adrenaline, and pure savagery to destroy the stagger within 50 meters, sometimes sooner.

I know the second leg like the back of my hand. I know which foot she steps with first, and that that causes a slight delay in her acceleration even though her body is moving, I know the second step momentarily tightens the space I have between her and the inside lane. I know that I will run her down and that she will hit the turbo because I am screaming “go” at the top of my lungs in full speed into her left ear.

I probably yell “stick” but it’s unnecessary, it’s unnecessary because we can feel when the exchange needs to take place. That moment is akin to the split second before a whistling tea-kettle pierces the silence with its scream to announce boiling water.

When the gun goes off I’m at a gentle boil, when I catch the first runner I’m at a rolling boil, when I’m in the exchange zone I’m screaming that it's time.

And it is.

And we pass the baton.

And because I know she’ll take it from there I turn around and begin the trek back to the starting line to meet my team at the finish.

Yes, I often referred to the 4x100 meter relay team as my team.

Why?

Because I have been through a lot of horrible things in my life…and I’m somehow still standing, still managing to smile. So I am often uniquely qualified to explain to my team that we have everything under control.

In 2012, it was talking to a nervous Jenebah Tarmoh before the first round and making her laugh during the long walk from the call room to the track. It was adjusting her headband on her face and telling her I would do the hard part, that I would get her the baton and she could just run, and that after the race we’d talk about where we wanted to go on vacation. Before the final it was keeping the conversation light and fun as Bianca, Carmelita, Allyson, and I chose to talk about the epidemic of bad weaves present in the call room, where we stood on cruises, and Red Vines versus Twizzlers.

I kept them laughing.

2016 required a different kind of leadership. I was exhausted, the long jump final was the night before, I didn’t get in until after midnight and had to be back at the track at 7am. I sprain my ankle at takeoff in every championship final I’ve been in and that morning my ankle was not even weight bearing. I had them tape it for stability and I took some ibuprofen, and I asked my ankle (I know it seems weird) to just allow me to punish it on the turn for one more race and I’d get treatment.

Everything was going well…and then I saw the baton fly through the air.

I walked back to the start, and watched Morolake bring it in. The first and only question I asked of Allyson and English were if they were ok and if there were any injuries we needed to tend to.

The mixed zone was hard, I didn’t know what happened- I couldn’t see from my vantage point. But I saw the replay with Lewis Johnson of NBC along with the team. Allyson mentioned we would protest so we rushed through the rest of the media mixed zone and got back to the warm up area.

Once there, Allyson walked behind the tent and I followed her. I told her that I wasn’t there to talk to her, that I was just there to be with her. I told her she could cry and I wouldn't say anything or try to comfort her but that I would stand there with her.

She cried.

And I stood by her.

Later we found out we were running again by ourselves, a still controversial decision that fans of other countries continue to call me a cheater for. Our team was gathered and the solo time trial was explained to us.

I said to them, “okay, we can do this. But I need to go to sleep. I’ll be back. Eat and rest ladies. This is going to be fun”

I went back to my condo and fell asleep.

In the call room, when it was just us, I asked the ladies for their attention. I told them to be prepared to be booed. After all, we were in Brazil and we got them disqualified. I said to them that if that happens to just use it as fuel to go even harder. That it’s really hard to judge it you're running fast when you’re running alone so to just run with everything you had. I assured them that I’d set the tone.

I walked out to my blocks and stood there alone, looking at the outside lanes, stripped of the visuals that typically help me run devastating leadoffs.

I looked at my shadow…

Smirked a bit…

And thought, guess I’m racing you then.

By the time we got to the final, anxiety had reached a fever pitch, the feeling in the call room was as electrifying as it had ever been.

But we had lane one.

The reason Team USA didn’t pose when they announced us was my fault.

I assured my team that I would take it upon myself to make sure that our lane wouldn’t matter by the first handoff, I told them that I would catch two for them. I told them that we could be anywhere, run anywhere, and that we could get this done. That this was nothing, we were the best, the defending champs, the world record holders, that we were going to put on a clinic, that we were going to quiet all doubt about whether we belonged.

I pulled Allyson aside and said to her, "this gets done in two and we will watch English and Tori bring it home. But we get this done in two". Allyson gave me that intense stare she's known for before races. She nodded her head up and down repeatedly, her jaw muscles flexing and I knew she heard me, I knew she would deliver.

And then I told them all…"I can’t smile and pose guys, I’m sorry. I have to go to a different place to run this leg I promised you…

This isn’t cute…

This isn’t pretty…

This is war…

And I’ve never seen a soldier pose before battle."

They agreed.

They believed.

And you know what happened next.

41.01 from lane one.

I had no way of knowing that that would probably be the last time I represented Team USA at a global championship.

I had no way of knowing that those accomplishments would mean nothing to the new relay coach.

No way to foresee that Richburg would tell me on the phone the night before my flight to not even show up to Birmingham relay camp— essentially robbing me of a chance to even race off for the position.

No way to know after missing a week of long jump training to go to relay camp in Monaco that that would mean absolutely nothing in the big picture.

No way to know that Richburg would tell me in the lobby once we arrived in London that I still may run.

And they had no way to know that given everything that I was going through in my personal life that the last thing I needed was to be jerked around by older men making me feel disposable, and worthless, or that my previous accomplishments, and successful execution in that role didn't matter in the slightest.

Honestly, I tried to insulate myself from the drama that these relay selection processes seem to incubate in after Monaco when I recognized that this environment, this ambiguity, and this chaos was something that I probably couldn’t handle emotionally.

I asked my coach to help me, he stepped in made some calls because he knows me and he knows that I’m at my best when I have specific guidelines, rules, protocol. With that information, I can make the best decision.

The problem was that there were no guidelines, no rules, no protocols.

The whole process was breaking me down.

I wanted to run.

I wanted to fly.

I was available.

This hurt.

But my wings were clipped.

Congratulations to my Team USA ladies who brought home the gold medal anyway.

Blogger’s Note: I wrote this blog because I’ve remained mostly silent on why I did not run the first leg of the relay. Not wanting to distract from the team, I kept my mouth shut all while hearing rumbles that I was being a diva, or was making demands, none of this was true. I confronted Orin Richburg early during the champs and said to him, “It’s one thing to have been shut out of running this relay, it’s another to hear false reports of my character in the process.” He assured me it wasn’t coming from him, I made it clear I would set the record straight if it continued. So here we are. I’m setting the record straight.

Tianna Bartoletta

Track and Field's Hall of Shame

Every sport has moments it would rather forget

The 2017 IAAF World Championships came to a close on Sunday in London. As with the 2012 Olympics, which also took place in the English capital, the latest installment of the biennial event appears to have been a success. In terms of ticket sales, it was the most well-attended track and field world championships in history: 900,000 spectators turned out in droves to witness the grand finale of the Usain Bolt/Mo Farah era. With Eugene, Oregon, slated to host in 2021, TrackTown USA can only hope to inspire similar levels of enthusiasm four years from now.

Not that the IAAF wasn’t dealt a few wild cards last week. Some were minor, like the streaker who warmed up the track for the finalists in the men’s 100 meters on the eve of the first full day. In the subsequent race, alleged former doper Justin Gatlin won the 100-meter final, causing London Stadium to erupt in boos and IAAF president Seb Coe to admit that a Gatlin victory was hardly “the perfect script.” A few days later, gold medal contender Isaac Makwala was involuntarily barred from the men’s 400-meter final on the grounds that he had contracted a contagious virus—a decision that BBC commentator Michael Johnson suggested was “horribly wrong.” In the men’s 4x100 meters, Usain Bolt’s illustrious career came to a disappointing end as the sprinter suffered a cramp in his hamstring and crashed to the track in agony. His team blamed event organizers for allowing too much time to pass between warmup and the start of the race.

Embarrassing as these moments were, the sport of track and field has seen much worse. Here are some historical highlights.

Down Goes Decker

To a veteran athletics enthusiast, the boos that rained down on Justin Gatlin after the men’s 100-meter final might have brought back memories of another incident when the crowd was less than charitable to an athlete on the track. In the women’s 3,000 meters at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Mary Decker was the clear favorite—both to win the race and in the hearts of those in the stands. After all, Decker was the local girl, having grown up within 50 miles of the Los Angeles Coliseum. South African Zola Budd, meanwhile, had grown up on the other end of the world.

Competing for Great Britain (South Africa was barred from the Olympics because of its apartheid regime), Budd ran barefoot and hung at Decker’s side for the first half of the race. With just over three laps to go, Budd cut in front of Decker, who, moments later, would clip the South African’s heel, trip, and tumble off the track, injuring herself in the process. The degree of Budd’s culpability for taking out the hometown favorite remains debatable (watch the race below), but to the thousands who were present that day, Budd was the villain. Such was the intensity of the audience’s booing that it may have affected her race; she faded badly on the last lap and finished in seventh place. “The main concern was if I win a medal,” Budd said in a 2009 Runner’s World article, “I’d have to stand on the winner’s podium, and I didn’t want to do that.”

Marathonus Interruptus

The marathon-themed nightmare isn’t uncommon among dedicated runners, but most are spared the experience in waking life. Vanderlei de Lima wasn’t so lucky. With less than five miles to go in the men’s marathon at the 2004 Olympics, the Brazilian was having the race of his life. On the streets of Athens, de Lima was leading by half a minute when he was accosted by eschatologist wacko Neil Horan—the Irish “priest” whose other contributions to the world of sport include running onto a Formula One track toward oncoming traffic. A fan was able to help free de Lima from his kilted tormentor, but the attack cost the Brazilian a good portion of his lead, and he was noticeably shaken up afterward. De Lima ended up finishing third and was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal for sportsmanship in addition to the bronze. At the time of the attack, an Australian TV commentator spoke for most: “That is just the worst thing I have ever seen at the Olympic Games.”

The Steeplechaser You Love to Hate

One of the unexpected highlights of the just-concluded world championships was Hero the Hedgehog, perhaps the most versatile mascot in history. Fortunately, Hero never entered the crosshairs of steeplechaser and self-styled enfant terrible Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad. Following his win at the 2010 European Athletics Championships, the Frenchman made the mascot kneel in front of him, and then promptly pushed him to the ground. At the European Championships two years later, Mekhissi-Benabbad did it again, this time violently shoving what turned out to be a 14-year-old girl. Lest anyone should think Mekhissi-Benabbad’s résumé is limited to roughing up costumed cheerleaders, he is also known for engaging in post-race fisticuffs with fellow athletes, as well as premature shirtless celebrating. After a fourth-place finish last summer in Rio, Mekhissi-Benabbad helped get bronze medalist Ezekiel Kemboi disqualified for (literally) one misstep during the steeplechase.

A Violation of Privacy

The next development in the controversy surrounding Caster Semenya—the allegedly hyperandrogenic South African 800-meter runner who won the gold medal in London on Sunday—is expected to come sometime in September or October. At that time, the IAAF will once again attempt to convince the Court of Arbitration for Sport that athletes like Semenya must artificially reduce their atypically high testosterone levels in the name of a “level playing field.” “This is an incredibly sensitive subject,” IAAF President Seb Coe told the Guardian last week. Unfortunately the IAAF didn’t do enough to treat it as such when, during the 2009 World Championships, the organization revealed that Semenya had been asked to undergo a gender verification test, leading to a media frenzy. The disclosure was widely condemned as a careless violation of an 18-year-old’s privacy (sports scientist Ross Tucker recently referred to Semenya’s “outing” as a set of “almighty screwups”), the fallout from which the IAAF is still dealing with today.

Tainted Golds

All doping scandals hurt professional athletics, but when an Olympic gold medalist is involved, the pain is most acute. Nothing is more delegitimizing for a sport than when the athlete standing on the top of the podium in the premier competition turns out to be a fraud. Unfortunately, this regrettable circumstance has only become more common in track and field. The first high-profile case came at the 1988 Games in Seoul, when Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson was disqualified for steroid use a few days after winning the 100 meters and setting the world record. More recently, U.S. sprinter Marion Jones had her remarkable five-medal (three gold) performance at the Sydney Games stricken from the record after she confessed to steroid use in 2007; her abrupt retirement from track and field at the time was followed by a six-month jail sentence. No fewer than six track and field athletes from the 2012 London Olympics have since been stripped of their gold medals. Last April, Jemima Sumgong, winner of the women’s marathon in Rio, tested positive for EPO—prompting LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson to ask, “What’s the point of being a fan anymore?”

Bolt A Beacon Of Light In Darkest Days

The word 'legend' is thrown about all too often these days, but in some cases no superlative is enough.

But, for the best part of a decade, one man has stood out above the rest.

He has been the brightest beacon of light in athletics' darkest days, a beacon that dimmed with one final determined flicker here in London.

On Sunday, Usain Bolt bade farewell to the sport whose weight he has held on his shoulders as it battled against the greatest of struggles.

His success on the track of the Olympic Stadium will forever define London 2012. But this is a sport in crisis.

One in seven of all finalists that summer have been caught doping before or since, more than a third of finalists are connected to doping and while Russia are the worst offenders, Bolt's own Jamaican team doesn't escape censure.

But - for one night only - perhaps we could allow ourselves to just glory in the moment, as Bolt took in one final lap of honour in the place in which he solidified his status as the greatest of all time.

Granted, his final World Championships didn't exactly go as the script had entailed - missing out on the 100m title to Justin Gatlin and pulling up injured in the relay.

But, as more than 55,000 people took to their feet to salute the hero of a generation, it was apparent his legacy is far more than just his feats on the track; he is a king of the people.

"For me, the lap was brilliant. The support hasn't changed," said Bolt, struggling to keep his emotions in check as he waved goodbye.

"It is sad that I have to walk away now. The energy of crowd was great. I feel so at home and welcome here.

"I was saying goodbye to fans and saying goodbye to my events, I've dominated them for years. They have been everything to me. I almost cried, but it didn't come.

"One championship doesn't change what I've done. I have shown my credentials throughout my career so losing my last race isn't going to change what I've done in my sport.

"I've proven that by working hard, anything is possible. I personally feel this is a good message to send to youngsters to push on.

"If I can leave that to the younger generation, then that's a good legacy to leave."

It has been an era of the sport that, for many years to come, will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Bolt himself has been a victim of it - his relay gold medal from Beijing 2008 stripped away when Jamaican team-mate Nesta Carter tested positive in China.

Many saw Bolt as the only one who could save the sport, but yet even he fears for its future, warning athletics will 'die' if dopers continue to destroy its reputation.

So as the curtain falls on its hero's time on the track, where does world athletics go from here?

"I have always been strong on doping," he said.

"I've said it, athletes should get life bans if you go out of your way to cheat an athlete. The sport is now on the way back up and we have to do everything to keep it in a good light.

"I've shown that you can do it without doping so that's what I hope the young athletes will take from it."

Beijing was his birth, London his coming of age and Rio his swan song, yet while Bolt's feats on the track could never be described as anything less than remarkable, it's his personality off it that has catapulted him into a different stratosphere.

Try as you might, it's impossible not to like the man - his persona one that is so desperately craved by other sports the world round.

His very presence raises a wry smile, the not knowing of what is about to come next.

The talk this week has been about who will fill his size 13 spikes. But away from the stadiums, the arenas, and the training tracks, it could take some time.

Bolt exits the stage, his successor unknown, much like the future of his sport. Lightning doesn't strike twice.

Sportsbeat 2017

Sun Devils Reflect On World Champs Experience

Seven Sun Devil student-athletes -- past and present -- competed at the IAAF World Championships for track and field in London from Aug. 4-13.

Former NCAA champion Amy Cragg earned the bronze medal in the marathon, snapping a 34-year medal drought for American women with a time of 2 hours, 27 minutes and 18 seconds, just seven seconds off the gold-medal time and less than a second from the silver medal.

Bryan McBride advanced to the high jump final with a near personal-best leap of 2.29 meters and took eighth overall. Ryan Whiting advanced to the shot put final and finished seventh in his third outdoor World Championships since 2011. Chris Benard took sixth place in the triple jump with a mark of 17.16 meters. Shelby Houlihan (13th overall) qualified for the 5,000-meter final with a personal best 15:00.37.



NCAA hammer throw champion Maggie Ewen and long jumper Christabel Nettey also competed.

TheSunDevils.com caught up with four of those athletes for some quick thoughts on their experience. Here are their responses.

How did you feel about your performance?

Ewen: "I feel like my performance did not accurately represent where I was in my training. They were not the distances I would have liked to see."

McBride: "I felt bittersweet about my performance. I executed everything the way I wanted to in the prelims, which set me up to be in the finals. And during the finals, that execution wasn't there and being my first World Championships, I think competing back to back from prelim to final is something I'm not used to yet. But, overall, I am very happy with it! I ended eighth in the World at my first major championship and that is something I can be proud of!"



Houlihan: "Very disappointed in my performance. I didn't feel that the result reflected what I was fully capable of."

Whiting: "I felt like I could have performed better. Unless you have the gold in hand, that is kind of always the case. All things considered, it was a step in the right direction, making the finals and finishing seventh at the World Championships after not qualifying for the meet the last two years definitely feels good."

What was the most memorable part of the competition for you?

Ewen: "The most memorable part of the competition for me was watching the final of women's hammer. Watching such talented women in person and knowing that, someday, I could be down there competing alongside them, was really motivating."

McBride: "The most memorable moment would be when I looked at the screen and knew I made it to the finals! The finals is always the goal before the goal and coming off of a disappointing 2016 season not making a team, to be out there in front of 60,000 people and making the World Championship final is a feeling I will always remember!"



Houlihan: "Watching my teammates win medals. It was so amazing to watch and inspires me to want to be on that podium."

Whiting: "For me, the most memorable part of my competition was seeing the Kiwi, Tom Walsh, win the shot put competition. Tom is a good friend of mine and it couldn't have happened to a better guy."

What would you say you gained from the experience?

Ewen: "I obviously gained a lot of experience from this competition. I have never been to a meet like this so I did a lot of learning. Another thing I gained was a new appreciation for how hard I need to work. Competing on the national stage is tough but the world stage is a completely different animal."

McBride: "I would say that this experience gave me just that, experience. I can leave London now knowing how these major championships work and what to expect when you go through the warm-up area and the call room. I now know how it feels to have that many people watching you and some more efficient ways of handling that kind of excitement. I now know how it feels to go from prelims to a final and the amount of toll the body takes from that and I can do a better job of training my body for that in the future. I can now say I have experience under my belt when it comes to these meets and that is the most important thing I could have taken away from this."


Houlihan: "I gained experience in racing a 5k at the highest level. I'm still learning the event so that can be frustrating at times, especially this time, and gaining that experience in the event will only help me in the future."

Whiting: "I feel like I gained another notch in my belt, experience wise. This was my seventh national team and as I get older I feel like I can really appreciate what it takes to perform at the highest level year after year."

What was your favorite London moment, not associated with your competition?

Ewen: "I don't really have a favorite London moment, but I am very happy that I was able to experience such a beautiful and historic place with my family."

McBride: "The best London moment would be when I bit into my very first Nando's chicken! This food chain in London had some of the best tasting chicken I have ever had in my life! And I've had a lot of chicken. My chicken standards have risen to a higher level."



Houlihan: "Going to Platform 9¾ in King's Cross Station the day after my race! I'm a huge Harry Potter fan and I couldn't stop smiling because I was so excited."

Whiting: "Overall, the highlight of the meet for just about everyone has to be the fact that this was Usain Bolt's last major championships. Every time I have met and interacted with him he is gracious and a real asset to the sport."

With the World Championships over, what are your immediate plans?

Ewen: "My immediate plans are to rest, but knowing me it won't be long until I am back at the track. Also, school starts this week so my schedule's about to get really busy."

McBride: "I am currently heading back home to San Diego with plans to chalk up this 2017 as successful and over. It is definitely to rest, relax and enjoy my summer for a few months before I get back to the grind for the 2018 season."



Houlihan: "I'll be racing a 1,500 in Birmingham next!"

Whiting: "With World Championships over, I came home on Aug. 8 to be with my family (wife Ashley, formerly Evans, an ASU swim alum, my son 4 and my daughter 1.5). I have two more meets planned for the end of the season. I leave on the 17th for Birmingham, UK and then come back for my younger brother's wedding and return to Brussels for my last meet of the year on the 31st of August."

NCAA Champ Jefferson Started Out As A Swimmer

As a young girl growing up in the Boston Edison Historic District on Detroit’s west side, Kyra Jefferson loved playing and running around with her cousins. She had no idea that hanging out with them would turn into a long, successful career, and a national championship.

Now, not only is she a University of Florida graduate, but on June 10th, Jefferson became the 200-meter Women's NCAA Track Champion with a collegiate-record time of 22.02 seconds.

Now Jefferson is approaching the next stage of her life, while never forgetting those moments where it all began.

“A lot of my cousins ran track for Think Detroit Pal, so I decided to run track too,’’ Jefferson recalled. “I started when I was around 6 or 7 years old. I wasn’t that good, but I wanted to hang out with my cousins and friends in the summertime.’’

A diamond in the rough

Jefferson wasn’t the best track athlete because this was a new sport for her, according to her mother.

“Kyra didn't start out as a track athlete, she started as a competitive swimmer,” said Michelle Watkins, Jefferson’s mother.

Although Jefferson’s cousins helped her find a new interest in track, she still swam for most of her high school years. The motivation came from her mother to pursue both sports.

“Kyra and I actually had an agreement,’’ said Watkins. “She was in the eighth grade and said to me, ‘mom, I think I could get better if I just focus on track a little more,’ so in the ninth grade we allowed her to do both track and swimming.”

Jefferson swam for Cass Technical High School until her junior year and ran track at the school all four years.

Track practice was routine for Jefferson.

She would practice for a couple hours at Cass Tech after school, then again with her mother, who was the track coach for both Northwestern High School and New Breed Track Club. Just like Jefferson, this was new for her mother. Watkins didn't start coaching until her daughter started running track, although she ran track when she was younger.

“I saw a need for kids who weren't being taken serious because they weren't the superstar of the team, and my kid was one of those who wasn’t a superstar,’’ said Watkins. “She was kinda always being overlooked. I said, we are going to miss a diamond in the rough because she isn't the best right now.’’

An eye toward college

As Jefferson approached the end of her junior year she was faced with many decisions regarding college. She narrowed her choices from 10 schools to five, realizing she could only go on five official visits due to NCAA rules.

“I had offers from other schools, but I went on official visits to The University of Florida, Louisiana State University, University of Tennessee, Florida State University, and Texas A&M University,” said Jefferson in a recent phone interview with the Free Press.

And she went on her official visits alone. Her mother described this decision as a way of “pushing the baby bird out of the nest.’’

“We (Watkins and her husband) did all the research from an academic point because the key thing was that she was going to be a student athlete, student first then an athlete,’’ said Watkins. “But, she's going to be there by herself for four years so it had to be her decision” as to where to go.

Watkins wanted Jefferson to make a decision by Dec. 1, of 2011. This way she could enjoy the end of her senior year of high school, with no stress and pressure from college coaches.

“I choose the University of Florida because I liked the campus, I liked how the team seemed like a family, and I like how the coach (Mike Holloway) helped his girls,’’ Jefferson said.

“Some girls came in running 24 (seconds) and left running 23 (seconds), as compared to other schools where the girls come out only running a little bit better. I liked how the coach was coaching me to be better, not just to win championships.’’

Kyra accomplished both.

The big race

The NCAA 200-meter final in Eugene, Ore., was the last collegiate race of Jefferson's career at Florida.

“Going into that race I didn't know what to expect. I knew that the girl I ran against, (Oregon’s) Deajah Stevens, was going to be a really good competitor because she was the top person in the NCAA at the time,’’ said Jefferson. “I was nervous because I hadn't ran some of those fast times she was running, and I actually didn't know what to expect.

"My coach kinda just told me to just trust that I belong there, to believe that I belonged in the race and that I was just as good and better than anybody else.”

Right before the race Jefferson gave herself some last-minute encouragement.

“I literally remember what I was saying to myself a couple seconds before,’’ she said. “I just kept saying faith and focus, faith and focus and just tried to make sure that I stayed as relaxed as possible.’’

When the race concluded cheers erupted from the Hayward Field stands, which included some of her Gator teammates and parents. But one cheer stood out -- her mother’s.

“If you go back and play the big race, if you hear someone screaming in the background, that’s me,’’ said Watkins. “I didn't realize she broke a record at first, I was excited for the fact that she won her favorite race, her final track meet of her collegiate career.”

Jefferson’s time broke a collegiate record which had stood for 28 years. Dawn Sowell of LSU ran 22.04 in 1989. Jefferson ran 22.02.

“I turned around and screamed because I didn't even know that was the collegiate record at first. I just knew that I had PR’D (personal record), which I haven’t done in two years, so I was literally crying,” said Jefferson.

“I used to have this fear, I was scared to be great. I was scared that if I ran my hardest it would be too good to be true. My whole mantra this whole year is to always believe something good was going to happen, so during this race I knew that if I won or Deajah won I was going to run my hardest.”

Even though her collegiate track days were coming to an end, Jefferson's professional track life is just beginning.

Jefferson graduated from Florida in April with a bachelor’s degree in event management and a minor in mass communications. She finished with more than 15 track honors.

Jefferson, who still lives in Gainesville, Fla., just recently signed professionally with Nike. She is running with the team overseas as part of the Diamond League, a league for independent runners from across the world.

Jefferson might now be thousands of miles away from her family, but their support follows her wherever she goes.

“Her dad and I support her in everything that she does, I'll never stop doing what I’ve always done, which is attend the meets that I can,’’ said Watkins. “So every race that she runs in the U.S., I'll be there. My plan is to go to her professional race in Zurich in August which is the Diamond League Championship.”

Jefferson aspires to go to the Olympics as a competitor and leave a champion.

Outside of track, she has had a long obsession with HGTV. She is in the process of obtaining a real estate license so that she can also sell “million dollar homes.’’

From Detroit to Gainesville, now all over the world with Nike, Jefferson has had a long and adventurous "run." She may now be a professional striving toward Olympic dreams --- with a side of real estate --- but she will always be the young girl who just wanted to hang out with her cousins. The swimmer turned track star from the west side's Boston-Edison.

Driven Caster Semenya has ‘no time for nonsense’

She says her focus now is to study, graduate and create opportunities for athletes in Limpopo.

Caster Semenya eyes the reporter across the room, her relaxed demeanour and hearty chuckle replaced by a firm expression as she shifts forward in her chair.

She has again been asked about an invasive public probe into her gender, as she has on many occasions since she won the world title in Berlin at the age of 19.

Back then she was thrown to the wolves by administrators and politicians, who ignored a teenager’s vulnerability in order to flaunt a gold medal, and the subsequent global reaction ultimately locked a shy young girl deep within her shell.

She switched off, avoided most interview requests and closed herself down to the prying eyes of the outside world.

Semenya has never specifically avoided the question about her gender, but while at a younger age she was far more conservative in her response, she has finally emerged from her cocoon, and she now puts her foot down if she feels she’s being pushed.

“I have no time for nonsense,” she says after being asked about her condition and an impending decision on the matter during the World Championships in London.

She simply doesn’t want to discuss it any more, and one can hardly blame her as any decisions regarding the rules on hyperandrogenism are completely out of her control.

What she can control is her performances on the track, and elevated natural testosterone or not, she has proved her immense ability, both when it was believed her hormones were being suppressed by medication, and now that we know they are not.

Her inconsistent performances since 2009, while compounded by injuries, disruptive training and a wobbly switch between coaches, have been largely accredited to the belief that her condition gives her an advantage over her competitors.

However, whether that advantage is either real or fair remains under debate. Last year the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) suspended the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rule which forced athletes with hyperandrogenism to suppress their natural testosterone levels, supposedly through medication.

Running injury-free in a new environment, Semenya subsequently burst back to her best when she broke her seven-year-old national record to win the Olympic title in Rio last year in 1min 55.28sec.

Last week she charged across the line in 1:55.16 to win the world title in London and climbed to eighth position in the all-time women’s 800m world rankings.

Though she has had her ups and downs over the years, Semenya was one of the best middle-distance runners in the world even when she was believed to be taking medication which slowed her down.

She now holds the 24 fastest times on the SA women’s all-time 800m performance lists, and when Russian doper Mariya Savinova’s case is finalised, her silver medals at the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympic Games should be elevated to gold, making her South Africa’s most accomplished track and field athlete.

Away from the track, Semenya has a lot on her plate, and training and competition offer only one aspect of a well-rounded life. Recently married to former elite distance runner Violet Raseboya, she has settled well into adult life.

In her final year as a sports science student at North-West University, Semenya has already ventured into both business and philanthropy by investing in the Princess D menstrual cup which aims to provide sanitary options to teenage girls in rural and disadvantaged areas.

She also speaks fondly of the foundation she wants to start back home in Limpopo, and in other areas, to give talented athletes opportunities and direction.

“I still want to break world records but there are a lot of things on my mind,” she says, looking ahead to her future as an athlete, an entrepreneur and a spouse.

Her soft, bubbly expression evaporates once more as she draws herself away from her comfort zone on the track.

It’s time to be serious, and when Semenya sets herself a goal, it’s best not to stand in her way.

“Right now I have to go back to school and study. I still have to graduate, and that must come first.”

And as much as the debate on the CAS decision may still be raging in the background, Semenya has made it clear she will not lose sleep over it.

Regardless of the impending result, she has already moved on, and she is happy enough with herself that she doesn’t need approval. Nothing will sway her attention now.

“Like I’ve said before, my focus is more on getting healthy and competing,” she says.

British great bids to give fans memorable farewell

British athletics great Mo Farah will hope his final track race on home turf on Sunday will have a happier ending than last Saturday's world 5,000 metres final.

The 34-year-old, who will compete in the 3,000 metres at the Diamond League meeting in Birmingham, produced a courageous performance just falling short of overhauling Ethiopian Muktar Edris.

That defeat, his first since the 10,000m in the 2011 world championships, ended a remarkable run of global titles in which he upset the Kenyan/Ethiopian hegemony in distance races and included achieving the 5,000/10,000 double in successive Olympics.

Farah, who came to England aged eight with his mother and two of his brothers after a long trek from war-torn Somalia, is assured of a warm reception from the spectators if not from the press at whom he fired a blast after his 5,000m defeat.

His relations with large parts of the British media have deteriorated over the years because of his association with controversial coach Alberto Salazar.

The spectators, though, have largely given him the benefit of the doubt and Farah admits Sunday's race will have his emotions in turmoil.

"It's definitely going to be emotional," said Farah, who will make his final track appearance in the Zurich Diamond League meet next week.

"I've had a long career and to come here year after year, it's been something special.

"But, at some point, anything we do in life must come to an end and this is it. I just have to take care of the race and respect my opposition. I have a job to do Sunday and to do well."

Farah is intent on not letting the occasion get to him and believes he is still in fine fettle despite his exertions in London at the world championships.

"It's important for me to go out with a win," he said.

"I think people realise that it's not as easy as me just turning up, you've got to be in the best shape. I'm in great shape and if I could come away with a win that would be great."

'Greatest distance athlete of all time'

Farah can also perhaps expect a surprise from UK Athletics after he has crossed the line judging from what their chief executive Niels de Vos said.

"Mo Farah is thought by many commentators to be the greatest distance athlete of all time," said de Vos.

"I could not agree more. We are planning to commemorate his final track race in the UK in style on Sunday in what will be one of the highlights of the summer."

In truth the field lining up against Farah should not present any problems but other events on the card have a far more competitive edge.

None more so than the women's 100 metres which sees Olympic champion Elaine Thompson try and restore some of her lustre after flopping in the world final.

However, bitter rival Dafne Schippers, who finished in front of her in the 100m as she took bronze and boosted by retaining her 200m crown, will be intent on denting the Jamaican's morale further.

Dual sprint world silver medalist Marie-Josee Ta Lou also lines up as does Australian great Sally Pearson, fresh from her remarkable comeback to regain the 100m hurdles world crown.

Asha Philip backs new generation of British athletics stars to emerge

Medals last for ever but euphoria, Asha Philip admits, is temporary.

Six days after a superb Saturday when the sprinter revelled in the joy of a World Championships silver in the 4x100metres relay at the London Stadium, the circuit moves on and the 26-year-old has another target to shoot for.

Next stop, Birmingham, for Sunday’s Muller Grand Prix, with many of those who shone in the capital last week convinced to stay on for the Diamond League meeting as the athletics season nears its end.

The Alexander Stadium will bring Mo Farah’s last track appearance on British soil. Although there were inevitable declarations from UK Athletics that meeting their World Championships medal target of six was a sign of strength, the four-time Olympic champion was the lone individual gold medallist in London.

As yet, no candidate to succeed him in the lead role has emerged. Watch this space, though, argues Philip, who believes the scent of renewal is in the air, enriched by hopefuls like Callum Hawkins in the marathon, Kyle Langford in the 800m and her relay team-mate Dina Asher-Smith in the 200m, all close to a podium in London.

“Sport has that,” says Philip. “It goes in waves. I think we’ve shown with the number of fourth places that they’re almost there.

“But the next couple of years, you’ll see that new wave of names. It’s sad that legends are leaving but they can’t do it forever.”

The wheel must keep turning, she acknowledges. A world youth champion in 2007 before a knee injury curtailed her ascent, Philip has gone from prospect to veteran during a period that has seen Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford elevate themselves to Olympic glory and leave Generation Next keen to follow. “I hope kids have watched what we’ve done and believe in themselves,” Philip added.

But now it is back to competition. Next year, the Commonwealth Games and European Championships take place. Beyond that, another World Championships and an Olympics in Tokyo.

In Birmingham, the scrap for domestic supremacy will be renewed. But the bonds between the quickest women here are far from temporary. “As much as we like competing against each other, we still want each other to do well,” said Philip.

Usain Bolt reacts to cheating allegations at 2017 World Athletics Championships

'I don't usually release my medical report to the public but sadly I have sat and listened to people questioning if I was really injured,' says the sprint king.

Usain Bolt delivered a rebuke to those who questioned whether he really suffered an injury in his farewell race at the World Athletics Championships by revealing details of his hamstring tear on Thursday.

The Jamaican, stung by speculation that he had pulled up in the anchor leg of the 4x100 metres relay final in London on Saturday because he was too far behind to win the race, said the injury would need three months of rehabilitation.

Accompanied by an x-ray of the injury to his left hamstring, the eight-times Olympics gold medallist was also adamant in social media posts that he never cheated his fans.

The 30-year-old explained on Twitter: "Sadly I have tear of the proximal myotendineous junction of biceps femoris in my left hamstring with partial retraction. 3 months rehab. I don't usually release my medical report to the public but sadly I have sat and listened to people questioning if I was really injured.

"I have never been one to cheat my fans in any way & my entire desire at the championship was run one last time for my fans. Thanks for the continued support my fans and I rest, heal and move onto the next chapter of my life #Love&LoveAlone."

The posts on Twitter were removed shortly after they had been posted. Bolt had been three metres down on the two leaders as he took on the last leg of the relay, which was won by Britain, only to pull up sharply and fall to the ground, coming to a halt after a forward roll on the track.

He speculated on Sunday that the injury, which ended a wretched final championships for him after he only managed to win bronze in the individual 100 metres the previous weekend, might have been caused by having a long wait before the race.

Bolt, who won 19 global championship golds, is widely considered the finest sprinter in athletics annals.

Michael Johnson interview: ‘It’s time to simplify athletics – get rid of events that people don’t watch’

Michael Johnson enjoyed the World Championships more than most but tells Matt Dickinson that athletics is at risk of becoming peripheral

If a pundit’s job is not only to entertain and enlighten but to challenge, Michael Johnson can count himself among the best in his field. At the World Athletics Championships in London, the running great took on Steve Cram over the “demonisation” of Justin Gatlin live on prime-time BBC in what was a vital debate about how sport deals with cheats.

And as that instantly recognisable bass voice comes down a telephone line from the United States, reflecting on what those ten days in London told us about the state of track and field, Johnson does not shy away from difficult arguments. Indeed, he positively demands that his sport confront them.

Lincoln-Way East graduate leads U.S. relay team to gold

Usain Bolt, Mo Farah and Allyson Felix.

These are some of the big-name track stars who Lincoln-Way East high school graduate Aaliyah Brown said inspires her. Earlier this month, Brown was on the same world stage with the former Olympians at the recent IAAF World Championships in London as part of the winning women's 4x100-meter relay, which included Felix.

Brown was the rookie on the relay in this year's biggest international track meet. Like Felix, the other members of that team — Tori Bowie, and Waubonsie Valley high school alum Morolake Akinosun — are former Olympians.

The victory Aug. 12 in the women's relay was a first for Team USA since 2011. That same day, Brown's heroes fell short. Bolt, of Jamaica, pulled up with a leg injury in what would be his last career race in the men's 4x100 relay, and Britian's Farah finished second in the 5,000-meter run.

"I'm still in awe," Brown said in telephone interview with the Daily Southtown. "To go out for the first time and come out with gold has boosted my confidence as I continue to run."

The 22-year-old former Southland resident said the experience was a dream come true.

Since she was age 6, Brown ran track on various teams. She competed with AAU track clubs and Lincoln-Way East before joining Texas A&M University. She won multiple high school state medals and collegiate all-American honors. Brown, who recently completed college, now lives in suburban Atlanta.

Lincoln-Way East Athletic Director Mark Vander Kooi said it was clear that Brown's track skills were "special" the first time he saw her compete.

He said Brown led the the team to a state title.

"She was really spectacular," Vander Kooi said. "It didn't matter where we were at in the race, once she got that baton we were winning."

Brown said competing in high school played a role in her athletic development, recalling that the program taught her "how to be a great teammate."

Brown said she set her sights on running at the professional and international level at age 10. Brown said she made a vow last summer to be selected for this year's team in London.

"I always wanted to compete professionally and I always wanted to win gold," Brown said.

After securing the spot, Brown said she felt like she belonged on the big stage. Brown was the first leg of the winning quartet, handing the baton to Felix.

"It wasn't strange being there," Brown said. "I want to be like them, so I felt like I was in place."

Now that she has added Team USA to her athletic resume, Brown said she plans to continue progressing on the track. While she plans to compete at next year's indoor IAAF World Championships, Brown is training to win a spot in the 2020 Olympics.

"This will definitely motivate me to keep striving for greatness and keep the gold in America," Brown said. "I've always had my eyes on the bigger picture."

Ten memorable races from world track and field championships (video)

Ten memorable races from the world track and field championships, including Usain Bolt‘s last events before retirement …

Usain Bolt upset by Justin Gatlin in 100m finale (Day 2)

For the first 95 meters, eyes were glued on Bolt trying to catch young American Christian Coleman. But it would be Justin Gatlin, out in lane 8, who shocked everyone with an incredible late surge to win his first global title in 12 years.

Women’s marathon ends in close sprint, U.S. medal (Day 3)

The top four finishers were separated by 10 seconds. The silver and bronze medalists finished in the same time after 26.2 miles on the roads of London, ending on Tower Bridge. Amy Cragg snagged third with her final kick, the first U.S. marathon medal at worlds since 1993.

Tori Bowie’s perfect lean steals 100m (Day 3)

In three years, Tori Bowie went from last place in the world indoor championships long jump to fastest woman in the world. The soft-spoken Mississippi native used a textbook lean — showing poise of a sprinter with two or three times her experience — to beat Ivorian Marie-Josée Ta Lou by .01.

A 1500m sprint for the ages (Day 4)

The women’s 1500m was billed as perhaps the most competitive final of the meet. It delivered. The last 100 meters were chaotic to say the least. Kenyan Faith Kipyegon won, but American Jenny Simpson again proved her racing acumen, moving up on the rail for silver in a race that also included Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya (bronze) and world-record holder Genzebe Dibaba (12th).

Duck splashes in women’s 400m (Day 6)

The rematch between Allyson Felix and Shaunae Miller-Uibo provided another incredible finish. However, neither the defending world champion nor the reigning Olympic champion took gold in the London rain. Miller-Uibo came off the final turn in the lead, with Felix the primary chaser. But the Bahamian tripped after looking at the scoreboard. Felix didn’t have that extra gear. Instead, Phyllis Francis surged past both of them for her first individual global medal, a gold. Francis, a former University of Oregon standout, attributed her experience in Eugene for preparing her to race in wet, chilly conditions.

Wayde van Niekerk misses double on Turkey Day (Day 7)

Wayde van Niekerk’s admirable attempt to match Michael Johnson‘s 400m-200m double from the 1995 World Championships and 1996 Olympics came up two hundredths of a second short to an unknown.

Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev (born in Azerbaijan) stunned the Olympic Stadium by holding off Van Niekerk in the last strides of the 200m final. Guliyev came off the turn with a step on favorites Van Niekerk and Isaac Makwala — but the two Africans ran out of gas. Van Niekerk, tired from racing six times in six days, tightened up before his lean. Makwala, tired from his medical controversy and having raced a pair of 200m the night before, faded earlier in the stretch.

Shocking one-two in women’s steeplechase (Day 8)

In a meet full of upsets, you can make a strong argument this one-two was the most unforeseen. Americans Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs topped the strongest women’s 3000m steeplechase field of all time. Four years ago, the U.S. put no women in the world steeplechase final. Three years ago, Coburn was such an afterthought that East Africans thought she was a pacer in a Diamond League race. But in London, the Olympic bronze medalist Coburn lowered her American record and Frerichs set a personal best by 15 seconds. The next four finishers, all Kenyan-born, were four of the five fastest women of all time in the event.

Mo Farah beaten in last championship track race (Day 9)

For Mo Farah, it ended in tears. In his last global championship track race, the Brit lost at an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2011. He had won the previous 10 straight Olympic and world championships 5000m and 10,000m. But Ethiopian Muktar Edris relegated Farah to silver in the 5000m and celebrated with his own version of Farah’s famous “Mobot.” Farah, 34, intends to move to road running and the marathon after this season.

Usain Bolt tumbles in last career race (Day 9)

It was not a fairytale ending to Usain Bolt’s career. It was a disastrous one. Bolt pulled up with a hamstring injury and tumbled to the track while anchoring Jamaica’s 4x100m relay. He lay face down, his hands covering his eyes in pain. Bolt later got up and was helped across the finish line by his teammates.

One last surprise in 4x400m (Day 10)

Fittingly, worlds ended with a first-time champion upsetting a global power. Trinidad and Tobago, a twin-island nation of some 1.5 million people, won the 4x400m with an anchor-leg surge past the U.S., population 320 million.

Courtney Frerichs Still In Shock Over London Steeple (Video)

Nixa native Courtney Frerichs has watched the tape, so she has proof that it actually happened.

Frerichs and fellow American Emma Coburn shocked the international running community with their one-two finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Aug. 11 at the IAAF World Championships in London.

"Sometimes I still find myself wondering if it actually happened," Frerichs told the News-Leader this week in a phone interview from London.

Frerichs shattered her personal best by finishing the race in 9 minutes and 3 seconds. Coburn, meanwhile, set an American record with her time of 9:02.58. The women became the first Americans to finish first and second in the steeplechase at the Worlds or Olympics.

Kenyans have traditionally dominated the steeplechase, and Frerichs said she kept expecting one of her Kenyan competitors to pass her down the stretch.

"When I looked up at the scoreboard right there at the end, I was just in complete shock," Frerichs said. "It seems too good to be true. It was just an absolutely amazing feeling."

The race featured one of the favorites backtracking after completely missing a water jump and later falling down during another jump.

ESPN.com writer Jesse Washington called it "one of the best races in running history."

"I feel very honored that people think that," Frerichs said. "I am really proud of how far we have come."

So how did Frerichs do it?

Frerichs said her training went to another level over the last six weeks and she felt strong throughout the race.

"In that last lap, at that point I knew I was in fifth and my mentality totally switched," Frerichs said. "I didn’t come here for fourth or fifth, I’m going to do everything I can to get a medal."

The other key, Frerichs said, was trying to stick close to Coburn from the start.

"She’s obviously been very dominant in the U.S. over the last few years, and recently established herself on the international stage," Frerichs said. "So I was really nervous about that but knew that it was a good time to put myself out there."

Americans collected several other distance running medals at the world championships, and Frerichs said she hopes the Americans can build off of last week's performances.

Frerichs said the best thing about her strong performance last week was having Coburn by her side.

"It’s a scary thought to take on a group of really talented women by yourself," Frerichs said. "But when you have someone that you trust and you look up to that you’re doing it with, you suddenly feel like you are a greater power out there."

Frerichs said she will be back in the Springfield area in September and she plans on holding a track and field event for kids either then or closer to Thanksgiving.

And she'll have her silver medal with her.

"I will bring it with me when I come home so that my friends can see it," Frerichs said. "It’s definitely going to be one of my most prized possessions."

Russian triple-jumper Pyatykh gets four-year ban: CAS

ZURICH (Reuters) - The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has imposed a four-year ban on Russian triple-jumper Anna Pyatykh for violating rules on prohibited substances, the tribunal said on Friday.

The ban takes effect from Dec. 15, 2016, the date her provisional suspension began, it said in a statement.

"The CAS acted as first instance decision-making authority for this matter, substituting for the Russian Athletics Federation, currently suspended by the IAAF," it added.

Reporting by Michael Shields

Miller-Uibo "Still Young & Have A Lot More Years"

IT was a unique love affair all around in London, England, for Shaunae Miller-Uibo at the 16th International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) World Championships.

Still in the honeymoon phase of her February 4 marriage to her college sweetheart Maicel Uibo - a decathlete from Estonia - in the Crown Ballroom at Atlantis, Paradise Island, Miller-Uibo found herself chasing a feat in the women’s 200/400 metre double that has never been accomplished.

Since she was denied the opportunity to attempt the feat last year when she clinched the Olympic Games’ gold medal in the 400m in a dive across the finish line ahead of her American rival, Allyson Felix, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Miller-Uibo had petitioned the IAAF for a change in the schedule to go after the feat in London.

With her goals set to perfection as she was completing the perfect race in the 400m final, her legs just gave away as she relinquished almost a 10-20m lead in the last 50m and ended up in fourth place.

With no spot on the podium to receive another global medal, Miller-Uibo had to go back to her first love of the sport, the 200m, where she eventually rebounded from the crashing defeat in the one-lap race to snatch the bronze in the half-lap race.

In falling short of her goals, Miller-Uibo said she has to look at it as a learning process that will only make her stronger as she continues that quest for global supremacy in the years to come.

“I think it’s been a great experience for me. I’m still young and I still have a lot more years in me, so I’m just taking it one step at a time,” she said. “Obviously, the championships didn’t go as planned, but I don’t let things get me down.

“It only encourages me to go even better the next time so for right now, I’m happy with my performance. I think I came back pretty strong and I’m just looking forward to moving on from here.”

This weekend, Miller-Uibo is expected to be back in action in England at the Grand Prix Birmingham where she will get a chance for redemption against the World Championships’ three medallists, American champion Phyllis Francis, Bahrain’s silver medallist Salwa Eid and, of course, Felix, the bronze medallist.

She admits that because of her love for the event, the 200m will be more memorable for her than the disappointment that took place in the 400m that put a damper on the celebrations intended with her husband, family members and friends in London.

“Coming from the disappointment of the 400m, I was able to shake it off and come back and still be able to get a medal,” she pointed out. “I thank God for taking me through every step of the way.”

Despite not attaining her lofty goals this year, Miller-Uibo said it’s still on her ‘to do list” so she’s going to look at what the future holds as she prepares to come back and try it again in the 17th edition of the championships in Doha, Qatar, September 28 to October 6, 2019.

“The good thing I got from it is that it can be done,” Miller-Uibo reflected. “It was just so unfortunate what happened in the 400. I felt I had the race in control. Then in the 200, I went out there and I tried my best.

“We worked hard this season. I know in two year’s time, I will be more than prepared. I just hope the world is ready to see what we can bring in 2019. We’re definitely going back at the double and see how things work out. So I’m looking forward to it.”

Her husband, Maicel, who had double duties competing in the decathlon, was right by the side of his wife, cheering and supporting her every step of the way.

“It was particularly exciting. In the multiple events, we do it a little different from those in the individual event, but it was interesting to see how they go through the rounds,” he said. “It’s more of a guessing game to see how everybody will place in the final.”

Looking at the attempt by his wife for the rare double, he said he felt she gave it her best shot. “The trip in the 400m was unfortunate, but overall I think she did very well,” he said.

When they are both done, Uibo said he’s working harder because right now he wants to be able to match his performance with that of his wife when they have their conversation around the dinner table.

Coming from Estonia, a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe to the sunny isles of the Bahamas just off the coast of Florida, Uibo said he’s been warmly received into the Miller family and welcomed in the track fraternity.

“I like it. I feel like I’m in a good place,” said Uibo, who does most of his training in the Bahamas while Miller-Uibo is in Florida.

Miller-Uibo’s father, Shawn Miller, who had the pleasure of giving his daughter away twice – the first in a coaching change with George Cleare and the second in her hand in marriage to Uibo – said he’s proud of her achievements.

“I was very impressed with her performance. I have to mention the team around her. She had a new coach, Lance Brauman, who did an excellent job getting her prepared to go for the double,” he said.

“It was a little unfortunate what took place, but this is track and field. I guess it was God’s way of saying not now, or to test her faith. It was there. She was ready for it.

“I think Brauman did a great job in getting her ready. Her medical team also kept her fit for the whole year and her manager and agents did a good job in placing her in the right meets at the right time of the year.”

Despite not attaining the double, Miller said the good thing is that the world saw that she has the ability to do it. After the disappointment of the 400m, he said she was able to bounce back for the 200m and held on for the bronze.

“That was a bronze against the best in the world,” Miller said.

With the Commonwealth Games on the horizon for next year, the Miller-Uibo camp is looking forward to making a splash on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, April 4-15.

Before that, she’s also looking at participating in the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, United Kingdom, March 2-4.

#In the meantime, Miller-Uibo said she will try to squeeze in as much time as she can with her husband as they get ready to enjoy their honeymoon, which was delayed because of the vigorous training routine that they both had to endure after the wedding.

2024 Olympics Could Include Video Gaming

As athletes leap, lift and dive at the 2024 Paris Summer Games, will video game players also be competing for gold medals? Adding “eSports” to the roster could be the International Olympic Committee’s next attempt to attract younger viewers.

Tony Estanguet, co-president of the Paris Olympic bid committee, confirmed to the Associated Press that he will speak with the IOC and eSports representatives to assess the possibility of including eSports in the official Olympic program.

Anticipating pushback from critics who argue eSports would ruin the Olympic Games, Estanguet urged people to keep an open mind.

“We can’t say, ‘It’s not us. It’s not about Olympics,’” Estanguet told the Associated Press. “The youth, they are interested in eSport and this kind of thing. Let’s look at it. Let’s meet them. Let’s try if we can find some bridges.”

The move to consider gaming comes amid falling ratings for the Olympics, particularly among younger viewers.

The Rio Games in 2016 saw a 30-percent drop among television viewers between ages 18 to 34. To combat the decline, the IOC added 3-on-3 basketball and BMX to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

This fall in viewership has a lot to do with the sheer volume of entertainment competing for viewers’ attention, according to BTIG media analyst Brandon Ross.

“If you go back to even before cable in the 1970s when the Olympics were on or any show, there was very little to watch in terms of video on television,” Ross said. “So each piece of content got very, very high ratings. That’s just not the world we live in anymore.”

ESports has grown in popularity over the last few years. The world championship finals for “League of Legends,” a multiplayer online battle area, or MOBA game, pulled in 43 million viewers worldwide last year.

“Eighty-one percent of our fans are [between] 18 and 34,” said Craig Levine, CEO of ESL, the world’s largest eSports company. “Our fanbase is a digital-first audience. That’s where eSports and gaming have grown out of. Popular platforms like Twitch and YouTube and Facebook and Twitter — it becomes a home for this generation to consume media and to interact.”

However, in an interview with Inside The Games, IOC president Thomas Bach sounded skeptical.

“We are not yet 100 percent clear whether eSports is really sport, with regard to physical activity and what it needs to be considered sport,” Bach said.

The debate over eSports has been going on for years. In 2014, ESPN’s president said eSports were not a sport at all. Two years later, the company launched a dedicated platform to cover eSports.

Ken Hershman, CEO of the World eSports Association, is optimistic the Olympics will undergo a similar evolution.

“As people are educated around what these athletes do, people will see it for what it is and be very comfortable that this is a legitimate sport to add,” Hershman said. “It’s not kids sitting in their basements drinking Red Bulls playing around on a computer.”

The Olympic program will begin to take shape in 2019 with a final decision to be made after the 2020 Tokyo Games.

He Deserves A Spot On Any Greatest-Athlete List

ESPN loves lists, loves to rank plays, teams, high school kids, quarterbacks, slam-dunkers, exit-velocities, touchdown dances and superstars. That these lists and rankings so often are bereft of context and relevance is irrelevant.

In its eagerness to be socially inclusive, ESPN recently released the results of what it portrayed as an extensive survey of exclusion, one entirely based on race.

Respondents were asked to name the top 50 Greatest Black Athletes. The results are in. One through five are Michael Jordan, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Willie Mays and Jesse Owens.

It’s interesting that three (Jordan, Ali and Owens) were Olympians, because perhaps the most extraordinary black American Olympic athlete of all time didn’t even make the list, likely because few respondents ever heard of him.

That also was reflected in a 2000 survey in which ESPN personnel ranked the Top 100 athletes of the 20th Century. He didn’t make that list, either.

Milt Campbell, who in 2012 died at 78 to small notice outside of his hometown of Plainfield, N.J., was, by international definition, the greatest American athlete of any hue.

At Plainfield High School, he starred at everything he attempted: running back, bowling, track, swimming.

Also while in high school, he finished second to the legendary decathlete Bob Mathias in the United States trials — in Campbell’s first-ever participation in a decathlon. He was just a kid, who weeks earlier learned that such a 10-skill track-and-field event existed and thus decided he would give it a try.

Having made the 1952 Olympic team, he won the silver medal, finishing behind Mathias. At 18, Campbell arguably, but more likely indisputably, was the world’s second-greatest athlete.

Four years later, the Olympic decathlon was billed as an epic struggle between American Rafer Johnson and the Soviet Union’s Vasily Kuznetsov. Campbell beat both, winning gold and bettering Mathias’ Olympic record by 50 points.

Decathletes Mathias, Johnson and Bruce Jenner are known to most, if not all, as American champions with sustaining fame. Campbell? Sorry, wrong number.

At the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Campbell’s achievement was diminished by fate, as a series of rights disputes mostly prevented what was supposed to be televised in the U.S. Those Games showed up in movie houses as part of newsreels. And the Cold War “Blood In The Water” water polo match won by Hungary over the USSR in the midst of the anti-Soviet “Hungarian Revolution,” made the most news.

In 1957, Campbell was drafted by the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. In 1958 he was cut. Why?

The team’s coach and co-founder, Paul Brown, Campbell said, told him he was unhappy Campbell had just married a white woman. Campbell next played in the Canadian Football League through 1964.

Still, he wasn’t done. In 1972, at 40, he nearly qualified for the U.S. Olympic judo team.

I came to know Milt Campbell through his love of bowling and mutual friends, PBA Hall of Famer Johnny Petraglia and Lee Livingston, then owner of the massive Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick, N.J. I wanted — needed — to get to know Campbell. And I made sure to do so.

He was wonderful: engaging, candid, funny, opinionated, but open-minded. He seemed pleased by my questions and attention. We remained in touch.

When asked if he was bitter his Olympic achievements provided him only brief, long-forgotten fame and denied him the residual business opportunities enjoyed by Mathias, Johnson and Jenner — all three landed movie contracts — he answered: “I’m only human. How can I not be?”

And so there’s reason, beyond a lack of knowledge and research, as to why 48 years after he won silver in the Olympic decathlon while in high school, and 44 years after he won the gold, that Milt Campbell didn’t even make ESPN’s Top 100 of the 20th Century and its Top 50 Black Athletes survey.

And when I told friends — solid sports fans — that I had met and even dined with Milt Campbell, few had ever heard of him.

Dina Asher-Smith only sees silver lining after World Championships

Dina Asher-Smith is not the kind of person who does glass half-full or glass half-empty conundrums. To her it is a case of just how full that glass is – because it is never, ever empty.

Having earned the title of fastest British sprinter of all time before she had even left her teenage years, Asher-Smith is one of life’s big optimists.

So instead of dwelling on what might have been at the London World Championships last week, Asher-Smith, 21, takes positives from the fact that she was even able to run, let alone post a season’s best time.

Instead of ruing missing out on a 200m bronze medal by just 0.07sec, she gleans strength from taking a quantum leap in such a short period of time since breaking her foot in February.

It is a hugely admirable trait and one that leaves you wondering how on earth she manages it.

“Simply, because I’m young,” she says, laughing as ever. “If I was 28 and this had happened and I did that [finished fourth at a World Championships] then I’d be a bit more angry.

“But I’ve probably got another two or three Olympics in me. This is only my second World Championships as an individual and I finished fourth. Especially with the year I’ve had, I’m really happy.

“This has arguably done more for me in the long term mentally than an easy season and getting a medal would have.

“That sounds entirely crazy as a medal would have been fantastic – I’d have loved that. But when you are young you have to go through trials and tribulations to make you realise what real problems are.

“If I can have three months out and then run 22.22sec and still come fourth, it does fill you with confidence for the future.

“Sometimes things don’t pan out the way you’d want them to. I’d love to have had an injury free run to a home World Championships – that’s the way you’d want to do it.

“You do not want to break your foot a couple of months before arguably the biggest athletics event you are ever going to participate in – well possibly apart from Rio – but at the same time I’d rather get all my learning experiences and my mental tests in when I am younger.

“So when I am older I kind of have that mental prep to go out there and do the business when I am physically at my peak.”

It is an astonishingly mature answer for someone so young. Because there is little point denying it – had Asher-Smith not fractured the navicular bone in her foot during a freak accident in training, not had an operation to insert a metal screw, not had six weeks on crutches and not only been able to put her running spikes back on in the middle of June, she would have been challenging for gold in London.

Fortunately for Asher-Smith, she had a second bite at the cherry in the 4x100m relay, where she was part of the team that won silver behind the United States.

“With the relay girls it was slightly different because we’re already Olympic bronze medallists,” she says. “Did I think we’d come away with the silver medal? No. But you never know with a relay.

“You have to just see how it goes. But I’m so happy to have upgraded the bronze to silver.”

Unlike many of her British team-mates who ensured they peaked for the World Championships, Asher-Smith was only able to compete six times prior to lining up in London and is far from finished with the season.

Her next assignment sees her take on many of the world’s best over 100m at Sunday’s Birmingham Grand Prix, including double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson and Dafne Schippers, who won the world 200m title last week.

Sprint Battles | 100m contests in Birmingham

1.51pm - women’s T37/38 100m final

Two British world champions go head-to-head as T37 gold medalist Georgie Hermitage lines up alongside Sophie Hahn, who won the T38 title. World T38 silver medallist Kadeena Cox also competes, as does Olivia Breen, who finished fourth in London.

2.50pm - men’s T43/44 100m final

Jonnie Peacock intends to take a year off in 2018 after winning his second world title in London. He will expect to triumph here, where he resumes his rivalry with American Richard Browne, who was absent from the World Championships with injury.

3.23pm - men’s 100m final

A fascinating all-British affair sees the cream of the country’s crop take each other on. Chijindu Ujah and Adam Gemili head the pack after winning world gold in the 4x100m. Zharnel Hughes also makes a rare appearance over the short sprint.

4.08pm - women’s 100m final

The only event with heats and a final sees three of Britain's 4x100m quartet competing a week after they won silver at London 2017. They face a formidable field that includes Elaine Thompson, Dafne Schippers and Marie-Josee Ta Lou.

Having improved with every 200m run in recent weeks, Asher-Smith looks certain to surpass her modest 100m season’s best of 11.41sec set in her season opener at the start of July.

“I’m really excited because I’m going to go in there and see what I can run,” she says.

“Running a 22.22sec off not much training is really good, so I am hopefully looking to go a bit

faster in the near future.

“As far as I’m concerned, with the season I’ve had, I’m back to my best.”

UTEP track star decides to forgo collegiate career to run professionally

Adrian Broaddus, Editor-In-Chief
August 18, 2017

UTEP track and field star Emmanuel Korir decided to forgo his remaining three years of collegiate eligibility and run professionally after signing a contract with Nike.

“Emmanuel started running well at the start of the indoor season, that’s when talks of turning pro came up,” said track head coach Paul Ereng in a press release. “He’s ranked number one in the world in the 800-meter and top 10 in the 400-meter so he has the tools to become another household name for Kenya.”

Korir had a dominant freshman year as he debuted for the Miners claiming gold in the 800-meter race with a 1:46.50 time at the Vanderbilt Commodore Invitational. He set a world record in the 600-meter with a time of 1:14.97 at the New Mexico Cherry and Silver. He was also the first UTEP athlete to win a NCAA indoor title in the 800-meter as he won with a time of 1:47.48.

In the outdoor season for the Miners, Korir broke the program record in the 400-meter race at the UTEP Invitational with a 44.67 time. He won his second national title in the 800-meter race at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

This summer he captured gold at the Kenyan trials, which secured his spot on the Kenya national team, and he will participate in the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federation) World Championships.

Korir will train in El Paso with Ereng and plans to finish school at UTEP.

“The decision for him to turn pro not only benefits him, but also the program,”Ereng said. “We want the best for our athletes and if we can help them achieve the goals they want and help further their education, we will do everything we can to help them.”

Are Kenyans losing battle in long distance running?

Former athletes and coaches say more needs to be done if Kenya are to remain dominant in most races once again.

Kenyan men surrendered three titles while women could not retain two crowns at the just concluded IAAF World Athletics Championships in London.

Questions still linger on whether Kenya can reclaim the 5,000m and 10,000m after a relatively poor show over the distances in London.

The performance in London were at par to the 2013 Moscow worlds. Kenyans are known to perform well in Asia than in Europe or America.

In 1988, the country posted a good show at the Seoul Olympic Games with John Ngugi winning gold in 5,000m. The Beijing Olympics (2008), Beijing worlds (2015) and Rio Olympics saw Kenya give an impressive show over the various events.

But Moses Tanui, the 1991 world 10,000m champion, differs with the trend.

“There is nothing like good results in Asia. The results in 5,000m and 10,000m men in London were disastrous. The problem lies with the coaches.

“There was need for proper preparations, selections and a smart winning strategy. We just allow our athletes to do pace setting. Look at how Paul Chelimo (USA) and Joshua Cheptegei (Uganda) made brilliant moves in 5,000m and 10,000m and made away with medals. We need to review our coaching skills,” said Tanui.

Athletes prefer road races

However, disaster has been lurking in men’s 5,000m and 10,000m races for long and track coaches are now scratching their heads.

Bernard Ouma, the middle distance coach, said: “Running requires periodic long-term planning and a perfect programme tailored to boost endurance. This includes a balancing act between transitions and competition timing. For instance, if an athlete starts his preparation late, it’s mostly likely that his form will pick up late and he will hit top form after the competition,” he said.

“The best 5,000m runners are those who transited from 1,500m event. Asbel Kiprop and Timothy Cheruiyot can emerge as the best 5,000m runners for Kenya, watch out. Asbel just needs to start Commonwealth preparation early and I can assure he will be the man to beat in Gold Coast, Australia, next April,” Ouma said.

Douglas Wakiihuri, the first Kenyan to win London Marathon in 1987, said athletes in 5,000m and 10,000m opt to line up for road races, which pays handsomely.

“The emergence of many road races and lack of competition in 10,000m has made Kenyans to prefer road races to the track. There is the element of huge money in road races in big city races.

“There is need for Kenyans to graduate from track at the right age. You get athletes aged 22 competing in road races abroad. So, there is need for steady transition,” he said.

Hellen Obiri became the second Kenyan woman to win gold in 5,000m after Vivian Cheruiyot’s exploits in Berlin (2009) and Daegu (2011).

It remains a riddle as to when men will reclaim the 10,000m title that Charles Kimathi won in Edmonton, Canada, in 2001.

Kenya has three gold medals in Paul Kipkoech (1987), Moses Tanui (1991) and Charles Kamathi (2001) while Ethiopia lead with nine medals from Haile Gebreselassie (1993, 1995, 1997 and 1999), Kenenisa Bekele (2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009) and Ibrahim Jeilan in 2011. Britain boasts three titles from Mo Farah’s wins in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

However the bad show by the men in track distance running did not water down Kenya’s superlative show as women ventured into virgin grounds in 1,500m – winning first gold medal since IAAF introduced the race in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1995.

But London also witnessed Kenyans failing to retain the titles that they won in Beijing in 2015.

The men’s squad lost the 800m (David Rudisha), javelin (Julius Yego) and 400m hurdles (Nicholas Bett) titles even as Geoffrey Kirui reclaimed the marathon title last won by Abel Kirui in 2011 in Daegu. Elijah Manangoi retained the 1,500m title won by Asbel Kiprop in 2015 and Conseslus Kipruto changed the pecking order in 3,000m steeplechase, chalking up victory as Ezekiel Kemboi had won in 2015.

It was a tall order for Haron Koech, who had trained his sights on retaining his younger brother’s, Nicholas Bett’s, 400m hurdles crown. He bowed out in the semi-finals.

Bett, Olympic 400m silver medalist Boniface Mucheru and Eric Keter, who finished seventh in the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo to set the then national record of 48.70 seconds, stand out among Kenya’s high achieving hurdlers.

Keter also finished fifth at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany to slap a new national mark of 48.28 seconds and won the 1991 All Africa Games title.

Kipyegon Bett, who has 1:43.76 best personal in the two-lap race, could not retain David Rudisha’s title and settled for bronze. Emmanuel Korir, who has a world leading time of 1:43.10 set in Monaco Diamond League, carried the nations’ hopes after winning at the national trials and, more importantly, had not lost any race up to the semi-final in London.

He reportedly picked up a hip injury while in London.

Michael Saruni, who boasts 1:44.61 in the two-lap race but was dropped from London squad on questionable grounds to accommodate Rudisha and Ferguson Rotich despite finishing third in trials, stands as another prodigy to succeed Rudisha.

The women’s 800m title has remained a pipe dream for Kenyans since the entry of South Africa’s Caster Semenya on the global scene in 2009, where she overshadowed 2008 Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo and 2007 world champion Janeth Jepkosgei.

The entry of Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba into the battle has also complicated Kenya’s quest to reclaim lost grip.

Interestingly, some well-built and muscular women seem to have been dominant in 800m in the global scene since 1983 when Jarmila Kratochvilova of Czech Republic set the current world record of 1:53.28.

Margaret Nyairera, Kenya’s sole hope in London, finished fourth behind Semenya, Niyonsaba and America’s Ajee Wilson.

Manangoi became the second Kenyan to win 1,500m crown after Asbel Kiprop’s three wins in Daegu, Moscow and Beijing.

If their performances in the Diamond League meetings where Manangoi, Timothy Cheruiyot and Ronald Kwemoi top world rankings are anything to by, then Kenya would still continue to hold a firm grip on the race.

But Faith Chepng’etich, the Olympic champion, warmed fans’ hearts as she became the first Kenyan to win 1,500m crown in the IAAF World Athletics Championships history.

Winny Chebet, who has six silver medals in 800m before graduating to 1,500m this season, would emerge as Chepng’etich’s rightful team mate.

There is, however, a steady invasion into Kenya’s track speciality, the men’s 3,000m steeplechase.

Kenya has recorded three podium sweeps – 1997, 2007 and 2015 – as well as striking the 11th gold medal in the history of the World Athletics Championships.

London provided a perfect indicator that Kenya’s performance in the race is waning.

Frenchman Mahiedine Mekhisi-Benabbad and America’s Evan Jager have always spoiled the Kenyan party.

Farah "More Relaxed" As He Transitions To The Road

Mo Farah says he is relishing escaping the pressure of the track as he prepares for his final UK track race before switching to the road.

"I'm definitely more relaxed, more chilled," said Farah before Sunday's Diamond League meeting in Birmingham. "I don't have a target on my back."

"I will have more than fun. It's going to be different but I'm excited."

The 34-year-old has won four Olympic titles and collected his sixth world gold in London earlier this month.

Farah finished eighth in a time of two hours, eight minutes and 21 seconds at the 2014 London Marathon, his only attempt at the distance.

Dennis Kimetto's world record - set the same year in Berlin - is almost five and a half minutes quicker.

Farah admits it will be a steep learning curve to close the gap on the world's best over 26.2 miles.

"People expect me to do certain things in the marathon because I have won so much stuff on the track, but it is a completely different event," he added.

"I want to go in with a new mind and vision, forget about what I have achieved as Mo and learn and understand the event and see what I can do on the road.

"It will take me a couple of times at least to get it right."

Farah name-checked New York, Boston, Berlin and London as prestige races that he was considering.

The Daily Mail reported earlier this month that London Marathon officials were preparing a six-figure offer to tempt Farah to run the 2018 and 2019 races in his hometown.

The Zurich Diamond League and Great North Run will conclude Farah's 2017 season, but he says that a return to Birmingham will be a chance to relish what he has achieved with British fans.

"This weekend is about enjoying. I'll go out there and give 110%, but it is not as demanding or nerve-racking as London," he said.

"I want to take care of the race, get a good result and say goodbye.

Birmingham has been good to me and the crowd especially have been amazing. It is definitely one of my favourites."

Farah has accused sections of the media of trying to tarnish his legacy by questioning his association with American coach Alberto Salazar, who is under investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency.

Both he and Farah deny they have ever broken anti-doping rules.

Farah is one of 59 medallists from the recent World Championships who will be in action at Alexander Stadium.

Dafne Schippers, world 200m champion, will renew her rivalry with silver medallist Marie Josee Ta Lou in a 100m race that also includes London's 110m hurdles champion Sally Pearson and British-record holder Dina Asher-Smith.

All four of Great Britain's gold-winning 4x100m relay team are in action with CJ Ujah and Adam Gemili competing in the 100m, while Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Danny Talbot take on surprise world champion Ramil Guliyev - who beat Wayde van Niekerk to gold in London - and Botswana's Isaac Makwala in the 200m.

Bad Back: No van Niekerk At Zürich Diamond League

World champion Wayde van Niekerk has withdrawn from the men's 400m race at the Diamond League meeting in Zurich, Switzerland on Thursday, August 24, due to a recurring back injury.

Van Niekerk, also the Olympic champion and world record holder, has had to manage the niggle throughout the season, overcoming the setback to retain his one-lap crown and take the 200m silver medal at the IAAF World Championships in London, England last week.

"This injury has plagued me throughout the summer and I had to receive treatment from Dr Muller-Wohlfahrt," Van Niekerk said.

"Obviously you don't want your competitors to know if you are struggling in any way, so I've kept it quiet until this point."

Returning to training this week after his successful campaign at the world championships, the versatile 25-year-old sprinter felt the back injury flare up again.

After consultation with coach Ans Botha, it was decided to avoid the risk of competing again at this late stage of the season, as a precaution in the build-up to the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in April 2018.

"I am bitterly disappointed I won’t be competing in the last Diamond League event of the season as I haven’t won a Diamond League final before and was hoping to get my hands on one of the fiercely contested Diamond trophies, but we feel it is in my best interest to recover fully, in order to ensure I can take on the 2018 season in good health and at full strength,” Van Niekerk said.

Usain Bolt to miss Manchester United legends match because of injury

• Retired sprinter reveals left hamstring will need three months’ rehab
• Bolt had been due to play in match v Barcelona on 2 September

Usain Bolt will be prevented from achieving his lifelong dream of playing for Manchester United by the hamstring injury sustained in his farewell race.

United Legends take on their Barcelona counterparts at Old Trafford on 2 September in a charity match, raising money for the Manchester United Foundation and its work in the local community.

Ruud van Nistelrooy, Denis Irwin and Dwight Yorke are among those signed up for the Bryan Robson-managed side, who had hoped to be able to call upon the fastest man in history.

Bolt has long dreamed of playing at Old Trafford and was finally set to get that chance if he was able to overcome the hamstring injury sustained at the World Athletics Championships in his final race.

However, the retired sprinter will not be able to line up for the Legends following a scan on the injury sustained in Saturday’s 4x100 metres relay.

Bolt has long been keen to play for United Legends, whose previous matches against Real Madrid and Bayern Munich raised more than £1.8m for the Manchester United Foundation.

“Sadly I have tear of the proximal myotendinous junction of biceps femoris in my left hamstring with partial retraction. 3 months rehab,” he tweeted, before removing the post.

Bolt had also refuted any suggestion he had not truly been injured at the world championships.

He added: “I don’t usually release my medical report to the public but sadly I have sat and listened to people questioning if I was really injured. I have never been one to cheat my fans in anyway & my entire desire at the championship was run one last time for my fans.

“Thanks for the continued support my fans and I rest, heal and move onto the next chapter of my life Love&LoveAlone.”

Competitions have previously got in the way of Bolt making an appearance for United teams in such exhibition matches, but there is scope for the Jamaican to be involved at another point. Bolt’s love of football is well known, as is his fondness for United.

The Jamaican sprint great has been to Old Trafford on several occasions and last December went as far as to call into MUTV’s phone-in show to praise José Mourinho’s men.

Bolt has been “mind bent on playing for Manchester United” since his first visit in 2009 and has spoken with no little self-belief of his ability as a footballer.

“In my mind, I think I should do a trial and see if they would say, ‘All right, come on’ or if they would say, ‘No, you are not any good’,” he told MUTV.

“I think I would be pretty good because I am fit, I am quick, I can control the ball and I understand all of the play.

“So, I think if I do a trial then they would say, ‘You know what, here is a contract for five years!’.

“You are 30 years old, here’s a five-year contract. Let’s just do it!”

Costa Mesa alumna Day-Monroe fares well in IAAF World Championships

Two-time Olympian and Costa Mesa High alumna Sharon Day-Monroe polished off her fifth appearance at the IAAF World Championships with a season-best showing in the 800 meters.

She placed sixth with a time of 2 minutes 12.64 seconds, closing out the women’s heptathlon with a 926-point boost to her meet totals.

Day-Monroe placed 20th overall (6,006 points) among the 32 competitors in the heptathlon at the IAAF Worlds. A total of 20 nations were represented in the heptathlon competition, which took place from Aug. 5 and 6 at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Stadium.

Georgia’s Kendell Williams (12th; 6,220 points), the reigning NCAA champion, and Mississippi State alumna Erica Bougard (18th; 6,036 points) also competed for Team USA.

Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam (6,784 points), an Olympic gold medalist, captured the crown. She rallied to overtake Germany’s Carolin Schafer (6,696 points) on the final day.

Day-Monroe leapt 18 feet, 5 inches (27th) into a headwind of 0.6 meters per second. Her javelin throw soared 133-8, good for 21st in the event.

The former Cal Poly Mustang ranked 12th overall after a strong showing Aug. 5. She completed the 100-meter hurdles in 13.82 seconds. In the high jump, Day-Monroe cleared a height of 5- 8 1/2.

Day-Monroe also placed second to Thiam in the shot put with a mark of 49-8 1/4. She finished the day by winning her heat of the 200 in 24.97.

Pearson's Comeback An Inspiration

SPORTING comebacks: We hear the words often and they are usually associated with “epic failure” or “monumental success”.

This week Sally Pearson was one of the lucky ones and had a successful comeback to the elite level when she won her second world title at the World Athletics Championships in London. She did not beat the world-record time or even her personal best time, but a gold medal win shows she is still a force to be reckoned with after being away from the sport for three years. Will she be better than before she left the sport? Only time will tell — but does that really depict how successful her comeback is? If she is winning gold isn’t that all that matters? I believe so, but if you ask Pearson — a highly competitive and demanding athlete — she may not agree.

However, I am sure she would see her win in London as a fantastic start.

The organisers of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games would be almost more excited about Pearson’s comeback than she is herself. To have a gold medal chance on the track for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast is priceless. And a local girl at that — the fairytale couldn’t be written better.

While talking about the World Athletics Championships and the 2018 Commonwealth Games, it would be remiss of me not to mention the performance of Adelaide’s own Jess Trengove. She finished ninth in the marathon, the best performance by any an Australian female in the event at the World Championships, what a fantastic achievement. Our girls are really kicking goals. After winning bronze at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games she too is someone to pin our hopes on at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.

Now, back to comebacks. I think it is much easier to judge a successful comeback when the athlete is an individual sports person. You either win, or beat your personal best or you don’t. It’s as simple as that. Judging a successful comeback in team sports like footy or netball is much harder. There are so many factors at play. Time away from a team game at the elite level give others an opportunity to show their worth and while you may still be just as good as you used to be, the opportunity to show it may not be so forthcoming. Coaches may fear disrupting combinations that worked in previous years and to even get a shot at it again may be very difficult.

Being at the top is demanding physically, emotionally and the pressure to perform is a constant. The highs and lows of sport, while exhilarating, can also take a toll and over time and this combination can cause burnout. Players may still be at the top of their game when they chose to retire but emotionally have had enough. When time heals the emotional exhaustion, often players miss the game and the exciting life of highs and lows, and so decide to return.

Unfortunately, despite many being able to be just as good or better than before, the coach has moved on to the next player and so a comeback player never gets the chance. In netball this is why so many feared having children and making a comeback.

However, with the recent successful comebacks of Rebecca Bully and Renee Ingles, this fear may go and open the eyes of players and coaches. It’s exciting, it means we may see more players return to the game.

There was a point a few years back that I thought about making a comeback. I left the game because I was burnt out and because I felt that I was no longer getting any better. I guess I knew it would have to be unsuccessful for me because of this, and while I may have been able to offer something to the team it wouldn’t not have been something I was happy with. I knew I would be slower, not able to jump as high and just not quite as good, I didn’t want that frustration. And playing in the 2013 ANZ Championship grand final, in Adelaide and winning, how could I beat that?

Bolt Deletes Tweet Of Hamstring Tear Photo

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who suffered an injury in the final leg of the 4x100-meter relay at the world championships in London last weekend, released a medical scan of his hamstring injury over Twitter on Thursday, then later deleted the tweet. When Bolt sent the original tweet, he said he did it after listening to “people questioning if I was really injured.”

The eight-time Olympic gold medalist was in tears on the track after pulling up in his last race ever on Saturday. Bolt won’t appear in the Manchester United Legends match next month due to the injury.

“Sadly I have tear of the proximal myotendineous junction of biceps femoris in my left hamstring with partial retraction. Three months rehab,” Bolt wrote in the original tweet before deleting. “I have never been one to cheat my fans in any way & my entire desire at the championship was run one last time for my fans.”

Bolt has been considered the fastest man alive for nearly a decade. Nine years ago, he won his first Olympic gold in the 100-meter dash — by a landslide — and broke the world record.

World champions among stars set for Müller Grand Prix Birmingham

The Diamond League series resumes after the IAAF World Championships, with Mo Farah in action as he runs his final track race in the UK

Fresh from competing in London, a number of IAAF World Championships athletes will move on to Birmingham on Sunday (August 20) for the 12th meeting in the IAAF Diamond League series.

Held at the Alexander Stadium, the Müller Grand Prix Birmingham welcomes Mo Farah as he takes on his final track race in the UK and the packed programme will also feature a number of his fellow recently-crowned world champions.

Here we highlight some ones to watch. The full programme with entry lists can be found here, while fans in the UK can watch the action live from 13:30-14:50 on BBC Two and from 14:50-17:10 on BBC One on Sunday.

13:00 – Mixed hammer challenge

Hammer events do not form part of the Diamond League programme but the Müller Grand Prix will include a competition that sees Great Britain facing two other countries.

In a unique format, two men and two women from each country will compete with the combined distance of their best throws used to determine the winning nation. Olympic bronze medallist Sophie Hitchon and British champion Nick Miller throw for GB, while three-time world champion Pawel Fajdek and Joanna Fiodorow are set to compete for Poland and the Germany duo features Johannes Bichler with Carolin Paesler.

13:51 – Women’s T37/38 100m

Four World Para Athletics Championships gold medallists – Sophie Hahn (T38 100m and 200m), Georgina Hermitage (T37 100m and 400m), Kadeena Cox (T38 400m) and Olivia Breen (T38 long jump) – will race over 100m and will be joined by Katrina Hart and Bethany Tucker.

Four-time world champion Richard Whitehead contests the T42 200m at 14:42, while two-time world gold medallist Jonnie Peacock races the T43/44 100m at 14:54.

14:11 – Women’s 100m heats (final at 16:08)

All four of GB’s world silver medal-winning 4x100m team-members are in action, with Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita taking on stacked fields which also feature two-time world 200m gold medallist Dafne Schippers and double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson.

“To compete as a two-time world champion will be amazing and I know the race in Birmingham will be really exciting,” said Schippers, who claimed 100m bronze as well as her 200m gold in London. “I think it will be a great way to say goodbye to the UK for this year, after a summer that I will never forget.”

The impressive line up is also set to include world 100m and 200m silver medallist Marie-Josée Ta Lou, world 200m bronze medallist Shaunae Miller-Uibo and 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson as she switches competing over the barriers for the flat.

14:39 – Men’s high jump

World champion Mutaz Essa Barshim hopes to follow his success in London with another win as he takes on his fellow London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz, who will be looking to bounce back after his disappointment of finishing sixth in London.

World bronze medallist Majd Eddin Ghazal is also among those competing, as is Britain’s rising star Tom Gale.

15:57 – Men’s 110m hurdles

Six of the eight world finalists, including medallists Sergey Shubenkov and Balazs Baji, compete alongside Britain’s Andrew Pozzi and David King. Pozzi will be hoping to make more of an impact after reaching the semi-finals in London.

16:17 – Men’s 200m

Every member of GB’s world medal-winning 4x100m quartets are competing in one event or another in Birmingham and the men’s 200m features 4x100m anchor and 200m fourth-placer Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake as well as Danny Talbot. Adam Gemili and CJ Ujah contest the all-Brit non-Diamond League 100m at 15:23.

Also in the 200m, Isaac Makwala is back in action after missing out on the chance to contest the 400m final in London and then taking an unconventional route to the 200m final, where he placed sixth, after running a solo heat. World 200m champion Ramil Guliyev also races.

16:26 – Women’s 1500m

World silver medallist Jenny Simpson competes again on UK soil as she lines up alongside Britain’s world sixth-placer Laura Weightman and Sarah McDonald, plus other finalists in London – Angelika Cichocka, Rababe Arafi, Meraf Bahta and Malika Akkaoui.

16:45 – Men’s 3000m

Mo Farah drops down in distance to race in the non-Diamond League 3000m after winning his third world 10,000m title and securing 5000m silver in London.

The 10-time global gold medallist ran 7:32.62 at this event last year to break the 34-year-old UK record and this time he will go up against a field including fellow Brits Andrew Butchart, who placed eighth in the world 5000m, plus Nick Goolab, Marc Scott and James West, as well as Kenya’s Bethwell Birgen, Jamaica’s Kemoy Campbell and Australia’s Patrick Tiernan.

“To get the opportunity to say goodbye to the track in front of a British crowd is something that means a lot to me and I hope I can take everything in,” said Farah. “I’ve run many great races at the Alexander Stadium over the years, and have a history there, so it’s a fitting venue for my last (UK) track race.”

San Francisco 49ers player free to play despite athletics anti-doping ban

United States long jumper Marquise Goodwin has accepted a one-year ban from the US Anti-Doping Agency but is free to play for the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL this season.

Former Olympian Goodwin, 26, says he quit athletics "more than a year ago" to focus on American football and therefore stopped giving Usada his whereabouts for testing.

However, a Usada spokesperson told BBC Sport Goodwin submitted his whereabouts for the first quarter of 2017.

Usada therefore attempted to test him on 17 January, resulting in a missed test - his second whereabouts failure - while the body conducted an out of competition test on Goodwin in his capacity as a track and field athlete on 12 May.

Goodwin's first whereabouts failure occurred when he failed to submit his fourth quarter 2016 filings by the deadline.

His third failure came when he did not supply his second quarter 2017 filings in time.

Under the whereabouts system, athletes must specify where they will be for one hour a day, seven days a week, for three months in advance, as well as where they will be training each day.

A missed test or filing failure constitutes a whereabouts failure and any combination of three breaches in a 12-month period is considered an anti-doping violation.

For Goodwin, who finished 10th in the long jump at London 2012 and has played in the NFL as a wide receiver since 2013, this has resulted in a one-year ban from 1 April 2017, the date of his third whereabouts failure.

'He missed multiple opportunities to inform us'

In a statement, Goodwin said: "I discontinued all practices associated with competing in track and field, including submitting my whereabouts information.

"It appears that because I did not inform Usada of my plans, my name was inadvertently included in their 2017 testing pool."

Usada says Goodwin, who missed out on selection for Rio 2016 at US trials in July last year, has still not informed it in writing as required that he would like to retire from athletics, despite "multiple opportunities over months" to do so.

As an elite track and field athlete he was therefore entered into the world athletics' governing body (IAAF)/Usada registered testing pool.

"He sometimes filed his whereabouts, he was tested and he never informed us - despite being told in writing and through on-line education that he needed to inform us - that he wished to retire or otherwise not participate in the sport," said a Usada spokesperson.

Usada says Goodwin submitted a whereabouts form in the second quarter of 2017 and it conducted an out of competition test in May.

"We always ensure athletes are aware that we are the organisation conducting the tests," said a Usada spokesperson. "We are not involved with the NFL drug testing program."

Usada added they confirmed Goodwin's first whereabouts failure with him and, as with all such cases, notified him in writing that he was still in the registered testing pool.

"What is disappointing is that he was informed he needed to either provide his whereabouts and be available for testing or retire from the sport if he was no longer competing," said Usada.

"He had multiple opportunities over months to do this and was well educated on these procedures but he chose not to do either, and as a result was not able to be tested.

"This is clearly not ideal for us from a testing standpoint."

Why can he still play in the NFL?

Goodwin will not be subject to a ban under NFL rules, the 49ers say.

The NFL is not a signatory of Usada or the World Anti-Doping Code and has its own performance-enhancing substances policy.

Goodwin was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2013, playing 49 games in four seasons before signing a two-year deal with the 49ers in March 2017.

In a statement, the 49ers said: "Marquise informed the organisation some time ago that he has no intentions of competing in track and field and has been entirely focused on his football career for more than a year."

"We have been in touch with the League office regarding this matter, and understand that Marquise will not be subject to discipline under the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances as a result of Usada's decision."

Goodwin, who won the Diamond League event in Birmingham in June 2016, added he has never failed a test and has always been "compliant with each and every protocol and policy" during his competitive athletics career.

World Athletics Championships: Cleaner but slower sprinters

Some of the slowest timings in recent years were registered in the sprint events, the 400 metres and the relays at this edition of the World Athletics Championships. Here a look at why unprecedented out-of-competition doping tests, in the aftermath of the Russian doping scandal, could be one of the reasons for the slower timings.

400m men: slowest since 2011
2011 Kirani James 44.60
2013 LaShawn Merritt 43.74
2015 Van Niekerk 43.48
2017 Van Niekerk 43.98, Steven Gardiner 44.41, Abdalelah Haroun 44.48 (5 sub 45s)

5,000 out of competition tests
The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) increased vigilance and testing in the run-up to the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London.
The AIU was established in April 2017 and handles all aspects of the anti-doping programme for international-level athletes.

n In a 10-month period before the championships, 2,000 blood and 3,000 urine tests — all out of competition — were conducted in an effort to catch cheats. At the championships 600 urine tests were conducted. 600 blood samples were also collected before the championships and will be used to study Athlete Biological Passports.

Age and injury
In the men’s 100 metres the slower timings this year could be attributed to injury and the ‘old age’ of the sprint kings. Gatlin is 35 and struggled with injuries this season, and Bolt, 31, whose timings have fallen over the years had his own battles with body. However, Christian Coleman, just 22, clocked 9.94 for silver.

Women 100M: slowest since 2011
2011 Carmelita Jeter 10.90
2013 Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce 10.71
2015 Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce 10.76
2017 Tori Bowie 10.85
Marie-Josee Ta Lou 10.86; Dafne Schippers 10.96

200M: slowest since 2013
2013 Shelly Ann Fraser Pryse 22.17
2015 Dafne Schippers 21.63
2017 Dane Schippers 22.05
Marie-Josee Ta Lou 22.08; Shaunae Miller-Uibo 22.15

49.92 seconds
The winning time of the United States Phyllis Francis in the women’s 400 metres. This is the slowest time ever since 1983.
11 Number of winning times in sprints, including relays and hurdles, which were slower than in 2013.

Fredericks' temporary ban upheld by IAAF tribunal

BERLIN (Reuters) - An athletics disciplinary tribunal upheld on Thursday a ban on former Namibian sprinter and IAAF Council member Frankie Fredericks pending an investigation into potential ethics violations.

Fredericks, a multiple Olympic sprint silver medallist and a rising star among international sports administrators until this year, was temporarily banned in July.

He is being investigated by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) over payments he received from Papa Massata Diack, the son of former IAAF president Lamine Diack, on the day Rio de Janeiro won the vote to host the 2016 Olympics.

Fredericks has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. He admitted having received money from Massata Diack, but said it was payment for legitimate work he had done.

"Mr Fredericks appealed against the order for provisional suspension and his appeal was heard by an enlarged panel of the Disciplinary Tribunal," the AIU said in a statement.

"Having heard from both parties, the enlarged panel agreed with the AIU's submissions and it declined to lift the order for provisional suspension."

Earlier this year Fredericks, an International Olympic Committee member, stepped down as head of the team evaluating bids to host the 2024 Olympics.

He also removed himself from the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) task force investigating doping allegations in Russia, after the corruption allegations involving himself surfaced.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Alister Doyle)

Japan Sprinters Hungry For Greater Success

Another medal-earning feat by the Japan men’s 4×100-meter relay team at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London was certainly an encouraging sign, and now it hopes to achieve its ultimate goal: winning a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

That, of course, will not be an easy task.

Japan claimed a silver medal in the 4×100 relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and again at last summer’s Rio de Janeiro Games, and grabbed bronze in Britain last week. Yet each time, the Japanese benefited from some kind of luck, such as elite teams being disqualified or making mistakes in baton exchanges.

Such was the case this time in London as well. Japan finished third, but would probably have missed a spot on the podium had Usain Bolt, running the anchor leg for Jamaica, not pulled up with a hamstring injury.

On the bright side, Team Japan has added depth in the relay, which has become a strength. This was proven at worlds, where Japan took bronze without either Aska Cambridge or Abdul Hakim Sani Brown running in the final. Cambridge, who was in a slump, was substituted, with veteran Kenji Fujimitsu moving up before the final, while 18-year-old Sani Brown, who advanced to the 200 final, rested due to a mild injury.

“We have had six sprinters who have run in sub-10.1 seconds this year alone,” Fujimitsu said after the Japan national team returned home on Tuesday. “That’s evidence our overall sprinting ability has improved.”

Yoshihide Kiryu, one of Japan’s ace sprinters, has notched 10.01, the country’s second-best time ever, twice — in 2013 and 2016 — in his career. The 21-year-old, who is a Toyo University runner, insists he’s grown as an athlete since running 10.01 for the first time as a high school senior.

“On the surface, you might think my personal best has not improved,” said Kiryu, who did not qualify for individual disciplines for the world championships this year. “But I clocked a sub-10.1 seconds running in a headwind this year. Before, I was only able to do it when I had a tailwind.”

But Fujimitsu insisted that Japan has to work harder to get the result it wants.

“We have not broken the national record of 10.0 seconds (set by Koji Ito 17 years ago),” he said. “Hakim wasn’t able to advance to the final in the 100. We still have a lot of issues we need to overcome.”

Fujimitsu also said Japanese runners have got to have their top performances when it matters most. He noted that the overall times at this year’s world championships were not as fast as they usually are and that there were more upsets, pointing out a greater chance to make something big happen. But most of the Japanese athletes struggled to deliver.

“As much as times and marks are important, you have to outcompete your opponents,” the 31-year-old said. “That’s another issue we have going forward.”

In London, as was the case at the 2016 Rio Games, Japan was the only one of eight teams in the 4×100 final that did not have a single runner with a sub-10.0 personal best. But outstanding baton exchanges have given the Japanese a slight advantage.

The world is starting to catch on, however.

Shota Iizuka, who served as the second-leg runner for Japan in Rio and London, would not say other countries have begun emulating Japan, which has adopted an underhand baton exchange. But he feels they have gotten better at not slowing down during exchanges.

“I think Britain had practiced a lot going in (the world championships),” Iizuka said of the 4×100 relay gold medalists. “Maybe we’ve given them a little influence.

“There weren’t teams that used the underhand passing (France actually used it), but I think the level of the baton exchange has raised. Britain was really good and they took advantage of it (to win the gold medal).”

Japan is developing into a legitimate gold-medal contender in the discipline, but other countries are also trying to improve.

The quest for the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics will not be easy to achieve.

More Star Runners Moving From Track To Marathon

More Kenyan track athletes are switching from track to marathon as they grow older while opting for slower events.

The star runners who have announced their intent to scale to the energy-supping 42km race include Kenyans Vivian Cheruiyot formerly of the 5,000m and 10,000m fame, Ezekiel Kemboi (3,000m steeplechase) and Britain's Mo Farah (5,000m and 10,000m) among others.

They are following in the footsteps of earlier converts like Paul Tergat, Moses Tanui and Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya; Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele both of Ethiopia; and Shalane Flanagan of the United States - who have all won several elite marathon titles.

Geoffrey Kirui, who won the gold medal at the just-concluded World Athletics Championships in London, oscillates between the 10,000m and the marathon event.

"As athletes grow older, their legs give in speedwise especially when faced with younger and more agile runners. The old guards are therefore compelled to scale up to longer races which are slower but require more endurance," 1987 world marathon champion, Douglas Wakiihuri told Xinhua on Thursday.

Payout at elite city races is also one factor that compels track athletes to convert to marathon running where appearance fees, prize money and bonuses can jolt one's bank account upwards tremendously.

The prize money for winners of the Boston Marathon which stands at 150,000 U.S. dollars for example, is three times what a runner can make by winning Diamond League final on the track.

New York Marathon organizers dole out 100,000 dollars to the victors. Owing to the dynamism of the event, elite marathon runners do only a maximum of two races per year, with the rest of the time spent on training and recovering.

"The two-hour barrier in the marathon seems increasingly surmountable as more and more runners with tremendous pedigree are taking to road running and slowly nudging the marathon clock downwards," Nairobi-based sports scientist Bernard Migo, remarked.

World half marathon silver medalist, Bedan Karoki, and world cross country champion Geoffrey Kamworor both from Kenya are also heading to the road after their legs can no longer let them keep pace with the nimble upcoming runners that the east African nation churns out with regular consistency.

However, race-switching is not a new found novelty. Czech Emil Zatopek won the 5,000m, 10,000m and marathon races within eight days at the 1952 Olympics.

Frank Shorter from the United States won the marathon gold medal at the 1972 Olympic Games after running the 10,000m, whereas Finland's Lasse Viren won both long distance track events and finished fifth in the marathon at the 1976 Olympic Games.

U.S. Army Gives Runners Fast Track To Citizenship

5K specialist Paul Chelimo, others in program make their mark in U.S. track and field

U.S. runner Paul Chelimo delivered on the promise of a transcendent season when he captured the bronze medal in the 5-kilometer run last week at the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships — track and field’s biggest event apart from the Olympics.

In a tactical touch-and-go race in which not even the unbeatable Mo Farah could maintain his stronghold on first place, Chelimo displayed the racing agility and resolve that recently carried him ahead of world-class fields and positioned him close to the American 3K record.

If an Olympic sport like track and field lives on in the national consciousness through highlight-reel moments (think Derek Redmond), 5K specialist Chelimo has already been full of them in his two years running under the American flag. People who casually tuned in to the Rio Olympics last summer might remember Chelimo as the guy who got his silver medal taken from him and reinstated on live television. Last week, he topped himself in the theatrics department by falling in his semifinal heat, getting back up and catching up to the field in time to qualify for the final.

Chelimo runs for the U.S. Army under its World Class Athlete Program, and with his signature salute and his dominance in the past year, Chelimo has the makings of a star in his sport — to the degree that such a thing exists in track and field in this country.

Chelimo had been a Kenyan citizen competing for the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. NCAA distance running has been dominated by foreign talent, but for a few exceptions, like Bernard Lagat and Eritrean-born three-time Olympian Meb Keflezighi, a naturalization process that typically takes up to five years deters many of these runners from staying in the United States after college.

That was until the Army’s World Class Athlete Program started offering expedited citizenship for permanent residents after they completed basic training in 2009. Chelimo joined the U.S. Army in 2014 and got his citizenship the same year.

Chelimo’s rise to stardom is a reversal from the dominant narrative that the U.S. track and field community has been developing over the past 15 years in magazines and podcasts, a narrative based on native-born or long-naturalized citizens.

In 2001, the sports world briefly turned its attention to track and field when 18-year-old Virginian Alan Webb broke the national high school mile record set by America’s greatest miler, former world record holder Jim Ryun. Webb appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and on the cover of Sports Illustrated along with another distance runner, Michigan-based high schooler Dathan Ritzenhein, who finished third in the U20 World Cross Country Championships the previous fall. Considering that Ryun won a silver medal in the Olympics and no American has placed that high at the World Championships, it seems reasonable to think that the U.S. might finally be able to compete for distance medals in a sport that has primarily been won by East Africans over the past few decades.

As the years rolled by, the number of athletes capable of performances comparable to the best in the world accelerated. A decade ago, only one American runner had run under 13 minutes for 5 km, but in 2010, Ritzenhein and three other runners — Chris Solinsky, Lagat and Matthew Tegenkamp — joined the sub-13 club in the span of less than a year, breaking the American record three times. Each of these achievements was celebrated on magazine covers as a measure of America’s progress against the best in the world.

At the trials for the Athens Olympics in 2004, only three Americans met the qualifying standard of 13:25 for the 5K, and because one of the runners opted out to run the 10K, the U.S. was unable to send a full complement of three runners for the event. At the 2016 Rio Olympic trials, 11 runners met the standard. In other words, there was no shortage of U.S. talent. What was more striking, however, was the lack of fear against the best in the world.

“If you begin looking at the last few years, you start seeing that Americans are slowly climbing back up, that we’ve started to compete and beat Africans,” said 29-year-old American athlete Ben True in an interview with Deadspin. “I was aware that East Africans are dominant, but I never wrote them off as unbeatable.”

True was being interviewed in the middle of a hot streak in 2015 that saw him beating some of the world’s top athletes. When asked about his proudest achievement, he spoke of leading the U.S. team to a second-place finish at the World Cross Country Championships, finishing ahead of running superpowers Ethiopia and Uganda.

A year later, True lined up to run the 5K in the 2016 Olympic trials with Ryan Hill and Galen Rupp, the silver medalist in the 10K at the 2012 London Olympics, joining him as favorites. All three represented the U.S. in the event at the IAAF World Championships a year earlier, finishing a promising fifth through seventh in the final. For Hill and True, the race represented their first chance to call themselves Olympians, and for U.S. track and field, it represented two more weapons with unique racing styles on the world stage.

Thirteen and a half minutes later, all three were left in the dust. Instead, the top three were Kenyan-born Lagat, Somalian-born runner Hassan Mead and Kenyan-born Chelimo.

Lagat came to the United States in 1996 to run at Washington State University and attained U.S. citizenship while winning a medal for Kenya at the 2004 Olympics. He released a public statement declaring his intentions to live out the rest of his life in America in 2005. When he won two golds at the 2007 World Championships, he was rightfully celebrated. Similarly, Mead was a familiar site on the racing circuit, having emigrated in middle school and being an established runner in both high school and at the University of Minnesota.

Chelimo is a former All-American in cross country and track and field at UNC-Greensboro. He became a U.S. citizen and joined the WCAP three years ago.

Over the course of the 2016 Olympic trials, three other Kenyan-born WCAP athletes would join Chelimo on the U.S. National team: Hillary Bor in the 3K steeplechase and Leonard Korir and Shadrack Kipchirchir in the 10K.

The WCAP has been taking up a growing share of the world slots. Within a couple of years of True boasting about leading a squad that could match up against Kenyan runners at the World Cross Country Championships, the 2017 U.S. World Cross Country Championships squad was led by four Kenyan-born athletes: three members off the WCAP and a fourth, Stanley Kebenei, who is in the Army Reserve (Kebenei emigrated as a child and was already a citizen). At last week’s IAAF World Championships, the WCAP increased its contingent from four to six Kenyan-born athletes.

While this growth has been an astounding success for the WCAP, it has thrown some in the track community into a state of confusion. On the message boards at Letsrun.com, although the debate is mostly tempered with appreciation for the performances, one poster writes, “EZ-PASS to citizenship or honorable? Will I see Chelimo in battle if things go haywire? How do they have the time to train if they’re soldiers?” Another adds, “They probably have about 18 months of citizenship combined & definitely haven’t served in the ‘real Army’: a bunch of ‘1 & Done’s!’ ”

Robert Johnson, co-founder of Letsrun.com, said in an email: “I think instinctively most people have a problem with athletes representing countries where they don’t live or really plan on living permanently unless they or their parents were born in that country. Some of the Kenyans and Ethiopians that have switched allegiances to run for Middle Eastern countries still train and live in their home countries for much of the year. On the other hand, it seems that only a few people have a problem with athletes running for a country different than their birth if that’s the country where they actually live.”

Johnson primarily refers to Bahrain and Qatar, which have lured international stars in track and field as well as other sports. In a bid to become a world sports capital, for example, not only did the Qataris import over half their team when they hosted the World Handball tournament in 2015, they even hired 60 Spaniards to travel to the tournament to provide a cheering section. Similarly, Nigeria naturalized over half a dozen track and field athletes before Rio.

“If you come from an impoverished or extremely corrupt country, living in the United States could be a dream for you,” said David Wallechinsky, president of the International Society of Olympic Historians. “There are extremes that are unnatural like Qatar and Bahrain, so there’s an extreme that goes against the grain for me, but to a certain extent, its understandable from the point of view of the athletes.”

While active U.S. military personnel have been representing the United States since the inaugural modern Olympics in 1896, the World Class Athlete Program officially coalesced in 1997 in Fort Carson, Colorado.

“We didn’t have the level of success that the Army expected them to have, so we looked at each sport and we raised the entry for each program — not just track and field but for all the individual sports. At that time we recommended Dan Browne to take us to the next level,” said WCAP program manager Willie Wilson.

Browne was one of the first disciples of Alberto Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project, which has produced countless global championship medalists since its inception in the early 2000s. When Browne took over the WCAP distance program in 2013 as coach, he used everything he had learned from the marathon greats and briefly moved the team near Nike’s Oregon facilities.

It was the coinciding of the citizenship expedition process — launched across the entirety of the military, independent of the WCAP — and the return of one of the program’s greatest success stories — Browne is a 2004 Olympian and West Point alum — that allowed for an influx of runners who were able to meet the standards.

According to Wilson, the program doesn’t recruit but has become known through its success. He also mentioned that a number of the Kenyan athletes have raced in the same circle collegiately and they come from the same villages in Kenya, so there is a certain effect of agglomeration at play. Hillary Bor, for instance, is the younger brother of WCAP recruits Julius and Emmanuel Bor, who earned accolades at the University of Alabama with fellow WCAP runner Augustus Maiyo.

“Elite athletes want to continue to compete after their careers are over. The World Class Athletes affords the opportunity to do that from whatever university or from whatever country,” said WCAP’s new coach, Lt. Col. Sean Ryan.

Of the 16 soldiers who are currently runners in the WCAP, 13 are originally Kenyan and one is originally Ugandan, and all of those athletes got their citizenship while in the program. What Wilson is eager to stress, however, is that nine of these 13 athletes received their citizenship while serving in units around the Army.

“The vast majority of those soldiers did their work in units just like any other soldier. There were no exception in terms of communication abilities or meeting entry standards,” he said.

As for the work that they do, the WCAP spokesmen concede that once the athletes reach a world-class level, their work shifts to training, but they still have work details (known as military occupational specialties) and continued military training.

As the Army hopes that soldiers will pick up life skills that will last in their careers and make an impact, Chelimo is on track to do that as well. Having grown up in a village with severe water shortages and having been treated for dysentery (infection of the intestines) as a child, Chelimo is working as a water specialist in the Army in hopes of eventually establishing a water treatment plant in his native Kenya.

The athletes also conduct Total Soldier Enhancement Training (TSET), where they instruct drill sergeants across the board on the mental strength, attention control and resilience that produces high levels of physical performance.

“I’ve witnessed them training fellow soldiers and was immediately impressed by their ability to make meaningful and lasting connections that strengthen a trainee’s physical and mental resiliency. WCAP athletes expose soldiers to mental skill training that leads to consistently higher levels of performance,” said Army spokesman Scott Malcolm.

Wilson also noted that many of those soldiers speak Swahili, which is one of the 44 languages the Army looks for in recruiting. Maiyo’s special forces unit assignment was with the United States Africa Command. The Army did note, however, that Maiyo did not deploy to the area of operations.

This year, the program has grown by six recruits and has shown little sign of abating from the national scene.

“We did have four Olympians, which is nice, but what I’ve tried to instill in them is this is 2017. We have bigger goals, and my sights are on 2020 and we have [the Olympics in] Tokyo,” said Ryan.

Perhaps the best perspective on the externalities of the WCAP comes from Andrew Bayer, who missed qualifying for both the 2016 Olympics and 2017 World Championships by one place behind a WCAP runner. Although he questions the speed at which the citizenship is conferred, he supports the athletes 100 percent.

“I think our country was built by immigration. Welcoming new citizens is what the nation has been about,” he said. “At times I’ve gotten frustrated because I didn’t want to lose to them, but when I step back and see how we should be as a people, it’s a lot different.”

Team USA's Tianna Bartoletta medals at worlds despite being homeless for three months

Tears streamed down the face of Team USA's Tianna Bartoletta as she collected her bronze medal in the long jump during the final days of the IAAF World Championships last weekend. Having previously won gold in the event at worlds twice before, and being the reigning Olympic gold medalist at the long jump, Bartoletta's had better finishes, but she wasn't crying sad tears. Her tears came from relief - that she could persevere and even succeed through even the darkest of times.

"[Y]ou may find it hard to believe but this Bronze medal is THE most special medal I have ever won," the 31-year-old wrote on Instagram after collecting her hardware. "Because just three short months ago I had to run away from my own home, I had to decide which of ALL my belongings were the most important, I had to leave my dogs, I had little money, I still have no actual address, all to give myself a chance at having a life and the love I deserved - one that didn't involve fear or fighting, threats, and abuse."

Bartoletta shocked her fans, revealing that she's been homeless for three months, while she escaped what she has alleged was an abusive marriage to her husband of five years John Bartoletta. (For his part, John Bartoletta has characterized the couple's divorce as "amicable," per the BBC.)

"I took a huge gamble blowing my life up in such an important year for me career-wise. But it was about time for me to see that I was worth it," she continued. "It was worth it. Thanks so much for riding with me."

Not having a permanent address, however, was just one of the many obstacles Bartoletta had to overcome on her way to worlds. On Wednesday, she opened up to the BBC about the effect her relationship had on her mental health.

"I lost my personality," she said. "I felt like I became a stranger to myself almost."

Bartoletta said she even thought about suicide.

"It got so dark that I was contemplated walking off a train platform in front of a train in Europe last season because it just started to feel like I had no way out, no way out of the feelings of frustration and shame," she said. "It was just so tempting to call it quits."

Bartoletta told the BBC it took her a while to open up to people about how she was feeling, including family, but doing so put her on the path to feeling better.

"This has been my therapy - sharing this story with you, sharing the Instagram post, blogging," she said. "It has kind of been my way of healing."

Now she hopes to inspire others who might also be struggling.

"The most important thing is you're not alone," she said. "[Depression] is a very difficult situation, it's complex, it's confusing and hard for a lot of people who aren't in it to understand, but . . . I understand."

Others who suffer from similar issues haven't always followed a positive path. At least 102 former Olympians have committed suicide, according to statistics kept by Sports Reference. Twenty-one of them were track and field athletes.

While studies suggest elite athletes have a broadly comparable risk of developing depression relative to the general public, Bartoletta suggested her athletic success acted as an impediment to her getting help.

"[T]he most difficult thing . . . I was still being successful on the track, so I think it was easier to overlook the personality change because I was still bringing it home, medals in huge performances," Bartoletta told the BBC. "So I was able to rationalize the change in my personality, and other people would say, 'Oh, that's just what it took to be elite. It was the sacrifice. She's just the ultimate professional.' "

Going forward, Bartoletta said she has no foolproof plan to keep on the path of growth, but she appears confident that she'll continue to make strides and not just on the track.

"This [world championships] was the finish line for me. The thing that I've been focused on so much till now," she said. "I'm little bit lost again. Because I don't have that routine to fall back on but I'm figuring it out."

Copyright © 2017, Chicago Tribune

Double disappointment for triple-jump champ Taylor

World and Olympic champion Christian Taylor suffered a double failure on Wednesday as he attempted to break the triple-jump world record at altitude in Tignes, France.

The double Olympic and triple world champion not only failed to trouble Jonathan Edwards's 22-year-old record of 18.29m but he also finished second to American compatriot Will Claye.

Claye won with a modest effort of 17.42m while 27-year-old Taylor's jump of 16.99m was well off his personal best of 18.21m.

Competing at altitude has long been thought to give athletes, especially jumpers, an advantage.

But Taylor admitted he had some difficulty adjusting to the conditions and the elevated track.

"There was a lot of talk about the world record," he said.

"At the beginning I was a little lightheaded, I tried not to think about it, I tried to do everything as normal.

"I realised I needed to control my breathing but with every run I became a little more comfortable and also with the runway.

"I didn't do the indoor season so I'm really not used to elevated runaways. It's my first time since 2013 I've been on a track like this.

"I'm not used to the bouncy response, I was not able to get off of it. But once I realised what I needed to do I just started to increase, increase, increase but it was just not far enough. Now I know for the future what to expect."

Although the 3 000-metre altitude was expected to help in a world record attempt, strong winds made conditions difficult.

Taylor nevertheless said he "had the time of (his) life" competing against a picturesque backdrop of icy snow covered mountains.

"It was a new experience for me. The turnout was incredible, the views are incredible. I just had so much fun."

A few days earlier at the world championships in London, Taylor won with a leap of 17.68m, with Claye second after jumping 17.63m.

South African Luvo Manyonga backed up his world championship win by leaping 8.46m in the long jump, just two centimetres off what he managed in London, but well off Mike Powell's 26-year-old record of 8.95m.

"I was a little disappointed, the wind was pushing me. But I feel that I have 9 metres within me," said Manyonga.

The final athletics competition of the season will be the Diamond League meet in Zurich on August 23.

Hasely Crawford Predicted Jereem Richards Medals

GABRIEL BLACKMANN (NYLO INTERN)

TRINIDAD AND Tobago’s first Olympic gold medallist, Hasely Crawford, took the time off on his 67th birthday yesterday to comment on the remarkable achievements of the national athletes at the IAAF World Championships in London, England.

He spoke during a commemorative exhibition at the Alma Jordan Library, University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine campus.

Crawford, who witnessed the events live in London, said, “Before I left Trinidad, someone asked me ‘what medals?’ I told them we have four great chances. One of them is Jereem, I said it, Richards (in the men’s 200 metres); the (women’s 4x100m relay), Keshorn (Walcott in javelin), and the 4x4 (4x400m relay). I said, but they’ll have to earn it.” Richards was part of the victorious 4x400m relay team, while he copped bronze in the men’s 200m. The women’s 4x100m relay team placed sixth in the final while Walcott finished seventh in his final.

Crawford continued, “If you look at those guys (Jarrin Solomon, Richards, Machel Cedenio and Lalonde Gordon), the way they run in the 4x4, they went for it.

“You have to go for it, and as I said, you have to earn it. And they earned it.” Crawford said that if it wasn’t for Richards’ bad start in the 200m final, he would have won gold. And he had great praise for the athletes and the effort required to run the races and excel.

“You can’t just run like that. You have to be prepared to take your body beyond.

You have to learn to manage pressure. You have to learn to manage speed and you’ll get success.” The exhibition, titled “Hasely Crawford – National Hero”, is part of the annual National Heroes Project launched by the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (NGC) on July 21 this year. The initiative aims to recognise TT nationals who have excelled in their respective fields and whose legacy of service, contribution or inspiration has impacted the country.

This year’s focus is Crawford who, at UWI yesterday, took the time to converse with guests and sign autographs.

NGC chairman Gerry Brooks and NGC president Mark Loquan, were among the officials present.

The exhibition detailed his historic run at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Canada, with video footage of his historic race, as well as excerpts of past articles of races where he excelled.

Also on display were boards showing Crawford’s role as Head of Community Relations of 1996 and his role in the implementation of the Right on Track Programme and his continuous role of community engagement throughout the years.

The exhibition is one in a history of initiatives by the NGC to support local sport, which includes the recent Youth Elite Programme, and runs from July 25 to August 18 at UWI. It will then move on throughout various schools and NALIS libraries across the country.

World championships rematches in Birmingham DL

Several newly crowned world champions headline a Diamond League meet in Birmingham, Great Britain, on Sunday, live on NBC Sports Gold and The Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA.

Many stars made the 125-mile trek northwest from London, where worlds concluded last Sunday, to Birmingham for the last Diamond League meet before the finals in Zurich (Aug. 24) and Brussels (Sept. 1).

They include Allyson Felix, Mo Farah, Elaine Thompson and Shaunae Miller-Uibo, plus surprise world champs Emma Coburn, Phyllis Francis and Ramil Guliyev.

Here are the Birmingham entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

8:22 a.m. — Women’s Pole Vault
8:31 a.m. — Men’s Long Jump
8:41 a.m. — Women’s 800m
9:30 a.m. — Men’s Mile
9:39 a.m. — Men’s High Jump


9:47 a.m. — Women’s Discus
10:03 a.m. — Women’s 400m Hurdles
10:14 a.m. — Men’s 800m
10:23 a.m. — Men’s 100m
10:28 a.m. — Women’s Triple Jump
10:32 a.m. — Men’s 400m
10:40 a.m. — Women’s 3000m
10:53 a.m. — Men’s Shot Put
10:57 a.m. — Men’s 110m Hurdles
11:08 a.m. — Women’s 100m
11:17 a.m. — Men’s 200m
11:26 a.m. — Women’s 1500m
11:36 a.m. — Women’s 400m
11:45 a.m. — Men’s 3000m

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s 3000m — 10:40 a.m.
Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs, the surprise one-two finishers in the world championships 3000m steeplechase, race without the barriers and water jumps here. The two fastest American steeplers of all time face the two fastest Americans in the 5000m all time — Shannon Rowbury and Molly Huddle.

But the favorite has to be Kenyan Hellen Obiri, who is the fastest woman since 1993 in this non-Olympic event. Obiri dusted 10,000m world-record holder Almaz Ayana with her kick to win the world 5000m crown on Sunday.

Men’s Shot Put — 10:53 a.m.
Ten of the top 11 finishers from worlds are here, including the medalists — Tomas Walsh (NZL), Joe Kovacs (USA) and Stipe Žunić (CRO).

Nobody has been more impressive this season than Olympic champion Ryan Crouser, who will look to make up for his shocking sixth-place finish from London. Crouser owns five of the world’s top six throws in 2017, including a 22.65-meter heave at the USATF Outdoor Championships. That’s two feet farther than Walsh’s world title-winning throw.

Women’s 100m — 11:08 a.m.
An interesting field will race in two heats to qualify for this final. It does not include Tori Bowie, who in London became the first American woman to take a global 100m crown since 2005.

But it does include Olympic 100m champion Elaine Thompson, who earned zero medals at worlds while reportedly slowed by a stomach illness and an Achilles problem. World 100m silver and bronze medalists Marie-Josée Ta Lou and Dafne Schippers are also in the field.

Two Olympic champions making their Diamond League 100m debuts are Sally Pearson, the 2012 Olympic 100m hurdles gold medalist, and Rio 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo.

Men’s 200m — 11:17 a.m.
Who would have thought six months ago that a Diamond League 200m without Usain Bolt, Andre De Grasse, Wayde van Niekerk or Justin Gatlin would be one of the headline events?

After the surprise at worlds, this one is intriguing. Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev is entered after winning an out-of-nowhere gold medal in London. He’ll face a man with reason to carry a chip on his shoulder — Botswana’s Isaac Makwala. Makwala has the fastest 200m time in the world this year but finished sixth at worlds, likely in part due to his medical controversy and having to run an extra 200m heat alone the night before the final.

Women’s 400m — 11:36 a.m.
The three world medalists return here, hopefully to race in better weather conditions. American Phyllis Francis surpassed Allyson Felix and a stumbling Miller-Uibo to claim gold on a wet, chilly night in London last week in the slowest world championships-winning time ever. Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser clipped Felix for silver, with Miller-Uibo falling to fourth.

Felix still owns the fastest time in the world this year and, with Miller-Uibo choosing to race the 100m in Birmingham, is a quarter of a second faster than anyone in this field in 2017.

Pearson, Harper-Nelson To Renew Rivalry In Perth

Athletics WA hopes to write another chapter in the long-time rivalry between freshly minted hurdling world champion Sally Pearson and American Dawn Harper-Nelson next year.

A sponsor for the State’s premier athletics event has cleared the way to lure international talent to take on Australia’s best.
The Jandakot Airport Track Classic will be staged at the WA Athletics Stadium on January 13, a month out from the national championships and Commonwealth Games nomination trials on the Gold Coast from February 15 to 18.

Harper-Nelson will be the event’s No.1 target after she and Pearson again stood on the dais at the world championships in London at the weekend.

The 33-year-old American won gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 ahead of Pearson, who took gold four years later in London.

“There’s been a long-standing rivalry with Sally in particular,” Athletics WA chief executive Wayne Loxley said.

“We’ll definitely be focusing on getting Dawn to make that a real sort of blue-riband event.

“We’ve had her in mind before to get her out, but it’s never worked out. With the form Sally is in, that might be an added attraction to get her out here.

“Without their financial support of the event, we wouldn’t be able to talk about getting probably any real international quality.”

Harper-Nelson spoke of her rivalry with Pearson, 30, after claiming silver in London. The pair warmly embraced after the race.

“Me and Sally have just battled it out for years and it’s been so great to be here with her,” Harper-Nelson said.

“At the end, I could see Sally had won and I thought ‘it’s me and Sally again’.”

Rising West Australian Brianna Beahan is another strong contender in the 100m hurdles.

Loxley remained confident Pearson would come to Perth, with Athletics Australia encouraging its athletes to seek head-to-head contests rather than focus on times in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games.

“I have had discussions with my counterpart at Queensland Athletics David Gynther,” Loxley said.

“He has suggested that she has always liked coming to Perth. Sally loves strong competition and if we could secure Dawn that would just add more reason for her to want to come.”

It is also hoped discus star Dani Stevens would compete in Perth.

Catch up with inspiring Olympians Nikki Hamblin, Abbey D'Agostino

Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand stumbled and fell to the track. American Abbey D'Agostino tumbled over her, landing awkwardly. Just like that, their lives became forever linked and changed.

Their collision -- specifically, their reaction afterward -- was one of the most memorable and uplifting stories of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

ESPN.com caught up with the pair a year later to find out what the two have been up to since their fateful encounter and what's next for these global icons of sportsmanship.

The moment

It was in the second preliminary heat of the 5,000 meters on Aug. 16 when Hamblin fell to the track of Rio's Olympic Stadium. D'Agostino, running behind her, may have clipped Hamblin's feet. Or Hamblin may have been thrown off by another runner. Neither is sure what happened in that split second.

"All I remember is running in the pack and I remember sensing something up ahead and not knowing what it was, but the next thing is, I'm on the ground," Hamblin said. "I've hit the ground pretty hard and I'm laying there wondering, 'What am I doing on the ground? How has this happened? What is happening?'"

She recalls D'Agostino standing over her saying, "Get up, we need to finish this." Although Hamblin has no memory of getting to her feet, both women mustered the will to continue.

D'Agostino, meanwhile, didn't realize she fell again later -- and was then helped up by Hamblin, who stayed close for a while, encouraging her -- until she saw video the next day.

Hamblin, shaken but having avoided major injury, was able to finish the heat in 16:43.61, more than a minute and a half behind winner Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, the eventual bronze medalist.

When Hamblin turned to look back at the track, she was shocked to see D'Agostino still running. After helping D'Agostino to her feet with more than four laps left, she had assumed the American would have to stop. When Hamblin saw her in the final stretch, all she could think was, "Wow."

D'Agostino had torn the ACL in her right knee in the fall. Despite the pain, she'd kept running, praying the whole way.

"I didn't think she was going to finish," Hamblin said. "And yet she ran a mile with an injury."

When D'Agostino finished to loud cheers in 17:10.02, Hamblin met her with a hug.

"It was so special," D'Agostino said. "I think we both knew that what had happened was so crazy, but at the same time so beautiful. ... For both of us to be able to finish despite our dreams of what the race could have looked like, shattered, you know -- to just celebrate the good that came out of it -- that moment together was just unbelievable."

Race officials granted both runners spots in the final three days later, but D'Agostino was unable to compete and Hamblin, hampered by a sore ankle and Achilles tendon, finished last in the 17-woman field.

Their goodwill during their heat drew global attention. The two received the International Olympic Committee's Fair Play Award. President Barack Obama called D'Agostino's actions "exactly what the Olympic spirit and the American spirit should be all about."

"I say it sort of jokingly -- but sort of not jokingly -- like I could possibly still be lying on the track if Abbey had not done that," Hamblin said. "I don't know if Abbey hadn't done that whether I could have been able to get up and finish the race. [What she said] was that thing you need to bring you back into the real world instead of just being in shock. It was, 'Hey, get up, you have to get up and you have to finish and you have to honor what the Olympics is.'"

In February, they were reunited in Monaco for the Laureus World Sports Awards, where they were nominated for best sporting moment. They'd stayed in touch via email and texting, but the ceremony marked the only time they've seen each other since addressing the media the day after their race. This time they were in formal gowns for the ceremony, and they were able to share some downtime together, too.

"We forever will have sort of an unspoken understanding and connection because of the depth of what we experienced, not only in that moment, but also in the wake of it," D'Agostino said.

Hamblin: 'There's always a positive in everything'

Hamblin had hoped to compete in the world championships in London earlier this month, but that didn't happen. After taking three months off after Rio, she started training but suffered a foot injury in April.

"That's kind of ruled me out of racing for this year, but you know, I guess what Rio taught me is there's always a positive in everything, you just have to find it," she said.

She has dived into what she calls her first "grown-up job," working in membership for Cycling New Zealand. Living in the North Island town of Cambridge, she's enjoying being in a professional office environment for the first time and having a different focus. The 29-year-old also will complete her long-delayed sociology degree this fall. Although she can't run, she can cycle and will soon take part in her company's corporate challenge race.

"A goal for this year was to be in London at the world champs and be on that start line, but instead I'm going to be on the start line of a corporate pursuit," she said, laughing.

Once she's healed, she'll start training again with the goal of getting to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. After an Achilles tendon injury took her out of contention for the 2012 London Games, and then the Rio incident, the four-time New Zealand champion in the 1,500 meters and two-time Commonwealth Games silver medalist hopes she'll finally be able to compete without injury or mishap.

Though she wants to win an Olympic medal -- a dream since she was 15 -- she understands she has already done something special at the Games.

"The further time comes between the incident," she said, "when I can separate some of the sadness around it, I understand, 'You actually did a good thing.'"

Though Hamblin says she'd eventually like to be known for more than being "the girl who fell over," she's now comfortable talking about what happened. She laughs easily and sees the positives.

"My result on the track doesn't define who I am as a person," she said. "When I was growing up, my dad would always say to me, 'It's not about the destination. It's about the journey.' ... I didn't understand, like, 'What do you mean?' But Rio, now I get it. I get that quote and I understand what it means. I'm excited because it's changed the way I look at my running. ... I can find positive things about other areas of my life."

D'Agostino: 'I don't regret anything that happened'

The last time D'Agostino, a seven-time NCAA champion, competed on a track was that race in Rio. She had surgery to repair the ACL and meniscus in her right knee, then returned to training in March and April. But she strained her right hamstring, sidelining her again.

This fall, she expects to enter some cross-country or road races, with a return to the track next year.

"It's been more of two steps forward, one back, which I'm learning is what I should expect in the 18 months after surgery," she said.

Yet even without running, the past year has been good. She got engaged in June and will be married next summer. Also in June, she was presented with the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by Dartmouth, her alma mater, for her "gold standard" of sportsmanship.

D'Agostino also has taken joy in sharing with people -- in speaking engagements and at clinics -- what she experienced in Rio.

She says a confluence of factors related to her faith primed her for what happened that day. She had several pre-event talks about faith and miracles in the athletes village with Team USA chaplain Madeline Manning Mims, a former Olympic gold medalist, who spoke about how she had once been able to finish a race despite a serious injury.

Ten days before her race, D'Agostino also took part in a Bible study about the power of miracles. And before she stepped to the line for the 5,000, she wrote part of a Bible verse on her hand in ink, something she's done before. This time, it was "Now to him who is able," a piece of Ephesians 3:20: "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us."

"Because of so many things that were working in my life to prepare my heart to respond that way, I was able to show off the character of love and sacrifice that is natural only to God," she said.

Now, D'Agostino, 25, has much to look forward to. She was disappointed she didn't have a chance to compete for a medal in Rio but believes she'll get more chances. She's just grateful for the experience.

"Just to have that opportunity, to be on that stage, was incredible," she said. "So I don't regret anything that happened."

And she now sees running as more of a path than a destination. Like Hamblin, she views running as a wonderful part of her life, but not her entire life.

"It's just a vehicle for me to put on display the athletic and the mental and all the gifts and resources I've been given to be able to do this sport," she said. "It's a better, more mature life balance, I think. I'm developing a more sustainable relationship with the sport."

World Athletics Championships 2017 review

The highs and the lows of 10 tumultuous days at the London Stadium seen through the eyes of those who reported on the World Athletics Championships

Biggest star
Usain Bolt. Judging by the outpouring of love and affection he received it probably has to be him but the achievements of Wayde van Niekerk should not be overlooked. He came within 0.03sec of a 200m and 400m double despite clearly being exhausted after six punishing races. Hero the Mascot deserves an honourable mention too for keeping the crowd gasping and laughing during quieter moments. Sean Ingle

Usain Bolt. Even in defeat, the Jamaican was the man London 2017 organisers were using to sell the final remaining tickets for Sunday evening by reminding the crowd he would be completing a farewell lap of honour. Martha Kelner

Usain Bolt. Who else? Bolt compared his last race to Muhammad Ali’s final defeat to Trevor Berbick in 1981. It would have been a preposterous remark if it had been made by anyone else. Andy Bull

Usain Bolt. There is only one athlete who could end London 2017 with a disappointing bronze medal and a heartbreaking DNF, yet still be the star of the show. Lawrence Ostlere

Breakthrough athlete

Karsten Warholm. The 21-year-old Norwegian stunned himself more than anyone by winning 400m hurdles gold … and then turned up to the press conference in a viking helmet. But Yulimar Rojas, the brilliant Venezuelan 21-year-old triple jumper, who ended Caterine Ibarguen’s quest to become the event’s first three-time champion after an epic duel in the sand, was another who had a breakthrough competition. SI

Karsten Warholm. The Norwegian is only 21 and a former decathlete but he led from gun to tape in the 400m hurdles with one of the most commanding victories of the week. His scream at the end was sensational, too. MK

Karsten Warholm. His winning time in the 400m hurdles may have been the slowest since 1991, but he’s just 21, and has been specialising in the event for only three years. AB

Karsten Warholm. The Norwegian emphatically vindicated his switch from the decathlon to specialise in the 400m hurdles, winning the world title and plenty of fans with his endearing reaction. LO

Mo Farah. It’s hard to argue with him, given he won Britain’s only two individual medals of the championships. However, that was expected. Dina Asher-Smith returning from a broken foot to come fourth in the 200m and then win a silver medal in the 4x100m relay certainly wasn’t. Especially as she started running again only in June. SI

Mo Farah. He has carried the British squad since the world championships in 2009 and did so again as the only individual medallist. His 10,000m gold was arguably his hardest fought so far. MK

Mo Farah. Given no one else won an individual medal, the competition is not stiff. It’s a great shame he still thinks that attacking the press is the best way to respond to questions about his career. AB

Mo Farah. There were several impressive performances but only one athlete brought home an individual gold medal, and he did it in typically convincing style. LO

Best moment

Best is the wrong word, but probably the most thrilling moment came in the men’s 4x100m. As the batons changed hands for the final time, the USA and Britain were fighting it out for gold with Usain Bolt an outsider in his last ever race. As the crowd wondered whether the Jamaican might produce a fairytale finish he dramatically pulled up with cramp before collapsing on to the track, leaving Britain’s Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake to pip Christian Coleman for the gold. SI

Great Britain’s 4x100m gold because after years of bungled baton changes and tension behind the scenes they finally got it wonderfully, exhilaratingly right. The unconfined celebrations, where they were joined by the overjoyed women’s 4x100 team, were magnificent. It was a perfect example of talent maximisation, a team greater than the sum of its parts. MK

Sally Pearson’s victory in the 100m hurdles was particularly good to watch, especially given that she missed the Olympics last year because she tore a hamstring. It was a great race too, in which she had to overhaul Kendra Harrison and then hold off Dawn Harper-Nelson. Pearson’s first remarks? “That was bloody hard.” AB

Having just won silver themselves, the British women’s 4x100m quartet inadvertently created another memorable moment as they watched their male team-mates from trackside. Standing beside their American conquerors, they screamed GB’s men around the London Stadium before bursting into manic celebration as Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake brought home gold. LO

Worst moment

The conspiracy theories. On the track, they came when Shaunae Miller-Uibo clipped her calf just 10 strides from the line when cruising to victory in the women’s 400m and again when Bolt was injured in the 4x100m. The crazy suggestion the pair might be trying to avoid drug tests. Given they both won other medals in the championships, this was clearly nonsense. Off the track, it was also rubbish that the IAAF were deliberately stopping Isaac Makwala running in the men’s 400m to give their golden boy Wayde van Niekerk an easy path to a gold medal. Still, some believed it. SI

The IAAF’s handling of the Isaac Makwala incident. Not because it was incorrect to ban him from the 400m final and refuse him entry to the stadium but because of its news management. Reasoning was not relayed to the Botswana team, the crowd in the stadium or the media, and it resulted in an uninformed mess. MK

The men’s 100m final. We’ve heard a lot of worthy remarks about why it’s wrong to boo Justin Gatlin. If he had ever publicly come clean about what went on when he was working with his old coach Trevor Graham, or the cockamamie story he told when he failed his second drug test, I’d have more sympathy. AB

There were several reminders of the dangers inherent in athletics, none more so than Deborah John’s horrific head-first crash into the fifth barrier of her 100m hurdles heat. No serious damage was done, but the image of John lying face down and motionless on the track was a harrowing one. LO

Before Doha 2019 the IAAF should …
Realise that a world championships in Qatar would be terrible for the sport. Why? Well, the stadiums will be half-empty. And the event will take place in late September or early October due to the heat, which means the athletes will be tired so late in the year and it will struggle to get a look-in during the football and NFL seasons. Given the serious questions about how Doha won the bid, the IAAF could yet be justified in taking it to another city – Berlin, Paris, heck even London again. SI

It is an age-old problem with athletics but, too often, the crowd in the stadium does not know what is going on or where to look. A textbook example was on the second Saturday night when Mo Farah’s 5,000m was under way while two British women battling for medals in the high jump went largely ignored. What a waste. MK

Invite an independent authority to take a close look at the IAAF’s decision to hold the next world championships in Doha; stop telling the athletes that the onus is on them to replace Usain Bolt by becoming “more colourful”; stop telling everyone else that everything is rosy just because they sold a lot of tickets in London. AB

Boldly innovate the sport as a spectacle. Seb Coe has banged the drum for brave new ideas and now the IAAF must ride the wave from London 2017 and deliver. Bringing fringe field events front and centre in their final throes, like the climax to the women’s high jump final, would harness a swath of untapped entertainment. LO

South Africa: Sports Minister Hails Team SA On World Champs

Sports minister Thulas Nxesi has lauded on the South African athletics team after their stellar performance at the IAAF World Championships in London.

The SA squad earned the nation's best ever medal haul at a world championships, finishing third and scooping a total of six podium places.

"Congratulations are all in order to the entire team including Caster Semenya as she continued to carry out flag high in adding to our gold tally in the women's 800m final and the bronze in the women's 1 500m final - serving as a great ambassador to our women athletes," said a statement issued by Nxesi.

"Both her achievements couldn't have come at a better time as we continue with our Women's Month celebration.

"I also take the opportunity to further congratulate the following athletes for flying our flag high and for ensuring we ended up third in the medal standings. Our golden boy Wayde van Niekerk for pocketing both 400m gold and 200m silver, Luvo Manyonga for collecting gold and Ruswahl Samaai for his bronze," said Nxesi.

"I know this country is waiting in anticipation for the return of all our athletes so that they can be afforded the hero's welcome they deserve. Unfortunately due to their hectic calendar it won't be anytime soon as they still need to take part in the Diamond League...

"Lastly but not the least, congratulations to the entire Athletics South Africa team including those that didn't secure a medal. I urge them to go back and once more work extra hard.

"As for those who will be attending the Diamond League, they must go out there and represent the country well and we will be waiting in anticipation," ended Nxesi.

The IAAF Diamond League takes place in Birmingham on Sunday, August 20.

Sport24

Jamaica Failure Blamed On Junior Program Neglect

The 16th IAAF World Championships is now history. It is one which fans of local track and field will want to forget as quickly as possible as Jamaica walked away with just four medals - one gold and three bronze - to finish 16th overall.

This is unfamiliar territory for Jamaica. For the past six championships, the country has done quite well, finishing with eight or more medals and a place in the top 10, the best performance coming at the Berlin Championships in 2009 where celebrated with 13 medals - seven gold, four silver and two bronze. They placed second overall on the medal table, behind the United States, who ended with 22 medals including 10 gold.

The performance in London is the worst since Helsinki in 1983 and Rome in 1987. In Helsinki, Jamaica, led by Bertrand Cameron's gold in the men's 400 metres and Merlene Ottey's silver in the women's 200metres and bronze in the women's 4x100m, the county ended with three medals . Four years later in Rome, the tally was four - one silver, by Raymond Stewart in the men's 100m, along with two silver medals by Ottey in the women's 100 and 200m and bronze in the men's 4x100m.

Jamaica's team left for London with high hopes several weeks ago as with it being the final championships for the great Usain Bolt, many experts were predicting between 10 and 12 medals.

The athletes gave their best, but over the 10 days of competition, there were several mishaps, including injuries, resulting in many fans asking what really had gone wrong.

The reason is simple. A neglect of our junior programme over recent years has contributed significantly to Jamaica's poor performance. While the likes of Bolt, Yohan Blake, Asafa Powell. Veronica Campbell-Brown, Kerron Stewart, Melaine Walker, Sherone Simpson, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and others were bringing in the medals, the junior programme was put on the back burner despite announcements by the present administration that this programme would have been given a lot of attention. This has not been the case, and with majority of our senior athletes leaving the sport simultaneously, the transition will be a long process.

THE GREAT RISE

The reason for the great rise at the senior level by Bolt and company was the vibrant junior programme which was established under former president Pat Anderson, where the likes of Alfred Francis, Brian Smith, the late Charlie Fuller and Juliet Parkes played great roles. At the conclusion of Boys and Girls' Championships in those years, the top athletes from the respective schools, along with their coaches, were invited to weekend camps at G.C. Foster College. The athletes went in on a Friday afternoon and departed on Sunday.

These camps have been shelved, and this is definitely one of the reasons for our recent dismal performance. After the high-school championships, it is the coaches who have to take on the challenge of preparing the athletes for the national programme, and this is a problem as many of the coaches are not paid. Some have to dig into their pockets, and this should not be the case.

A look at the recent National Junior Championships was a perfect example. Many of the athletes who were outstanding at Champs did not turn up at the Trials.

While we were dominating, other countries, including the United States, were planning hard while we took things for granted. It is not too late. We need to go back to the drawing board and invest in our juniors, or we could find ourselves consistently picking up one or two medals at global meets.

'Three hamburgers a week, but no fries' - Usain Bolt receives irresistible offer to play professionally!

It seems like the offers are already flying in for aspiring professional footballer Usain Bolt, as Beira-Mar's amazing contract proposal demonstrates!

The legendary Jamaican sprinter hung up his track shoes for good following this year's Athletics World Championships in London, where injury ruined his swansong.

Moreirense 20/1 to beat Porto

He is now setting his sights on making it in football, with his agent assuring he has received a variety of offers to go pro.


It remains to be seen, however, if the bid made by Beira-Mar, currently in the fourth-tier Aveiro first division in Portugal and briefly the home of Eusebio in the twilight of the striker's career, turns the idol's head.

"Usain Bolt, you'll keep the yellow, we'll keep you a champion," the club proclaimed on Facebook as they rolled out the red carpet.

"Beira Mar, a club where dreams come true, announce that we are ready to make the dream of one of the best athletes of all time come true!

"Usain Bolt, come and make your dream come true, come and play for Beira Mar."

The club are nevertheless aware of their financial limitations, and stop short of promising Bolt the riches he enjoyed as the world's fastest man.

Among the perks offered in lieu of salary are "the honour of putting on our shirt, the world's best fans," and three steak sandwiches or hamburgers a week, depending on the time of year.

London '17 Set Guinness WR For Ticket Sales

This year’s IAAF World Athletics Championships will go down as the best ever for ticket sales after organisers were awarded an official Guinness World Record for the number of tickets sold.

Held in Britain for the first time ever, 2,200 athletes from 203 nations travelled to London as fans from around the world filled into the London Stadium (formerly Olympic Stadium) to make history.

The figure recorded on the official Guinness World Record certificate is 900,000 with Session 12 on the morning of Saturday 12th August the best ticketed session at 56,620.

This World Championships has helped the IAAF reach a landmark of 1.2million spectators at World Athletics Series events in 2017, almost doubling the previous record figure.

The London Stadium was not the sole focus for the Championships with the men’s and women’s marathons, held on the same day of the Championships (Sunday 6th August) for the first time ever, and attracting 150,000 spectators around its landmark filled 10km loop course.

With a backdrop of Buckingham Palace, crowds also flocked to The Mall in their thousands to witness the first ever Festival of Race Walks on Sunday 13th August, which saw all four races held on a single day for the first time ever.

Niels de Vos, Championship Director and CEO of UK Athletics, said: “As the organising committee of the IAAF World Championships London 2017, we are extremely proud to have delivered a Championships that has received such great support from the athletes and the public, whether watching in the stadium or at home.”

“From our record-breaking ticket sales to the fantastic dedication of our Runners and even to our official mascot Hero, it has been a pleasure to stage these Championships for every single one of the 2,200 athletes from 203 nations involved.”

Hamstring tear ended Bolt's World Championship dream

Usain Bolt has revealed he suffered a torn hamstring during the IAAF World Championships 4x100 metres relay - his final race at a major event.

Bolt had hoped to bow out in London with two more gold medals to take his Worlds tally to 13, but his competition ended in disappointment.

Having finished third in the 100m behind Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman to lose his individual crown, the Jamaican then pulled up running the last leg of the relay and was unable to finish.

Initially cramp was blamed for his early exit but Bolt has confirmed it was more serious, before lashing out at critics who had questioned the extent of his injury.

"Sadly I have a tear of the proximal myotendinous junction of biceps femoris in my left hamstring with partial retraction. Three months rehab," the eight-time Olympic champion posted on Twitter along with an x-ray of his leg, the first of four messages which were all subsequently deleted.

"I don't usually release my medical report to the public but sadly I have sat and listened to people questioning if I was really injured.

"I have never been one to cheat my fans in anyway and my entire desire at the championship was [to] run one last time for my fans.

"Thanks for the continued to support my fans and I rest, heal and move onto the next chapter of my life."

van Niekerk Vows Not To Do The Double Again

Cape Town - Wayde van Niekerk will not be doubling up at major athletics events in future after the completion of the IAAF World Championships in London.

Van Niekerk had a 2017 world championship to remember after successfully defending his 400m world title.

It looked as if the South African star would achieve the elusive 200m/400m double, which hadn't been done in 22 years.

Michael Johnson completed his 200m/400m double at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg and in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

However, Turkey's Ramil Guliyev ruined Van Niekerk's bid when he edged Van Niekerk in the 200m final in London.

Guliyev stopped the clock in 20.09 with Van Niekerk settling for silver a mere 0.02 seconds adrift to cap off his successful World Championship campaign.

Van Niekerk told CNN's World Sport that he'll be focusing on one event at major championships in the future.

"I'd love to improve all three events (100/200/400m), but I'm definitely not doubling up again," said Van Niekerk.

"I think it was a tough six days for myself.

"I really tried my best to give my best every single day because I knew every day would be a new challenge ... I really feel the championship was a success."

Van Niekerk now turns his attention to the IAAF Diamond League on Thursday, August 24 at the Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich.

“A tough six days … but I really feel the championship was a success” - @WaydeDreamer #London2017 #IAAFWorlds pic.twitter.com/p9yjSJw105

— CNN Sport (@cnnsport) August 11, 2017

Bolt Was The Best Ambassador For Brand Jamaica

Sunday ushered in an era many wanted to postpone. It's time to ponder world athletics without the incomparable Usain Bolt. It's a mark of respect for a career so great that it makes smiles appear.

His athletic brilliance is one thing. As strange as it seems, his monumental 100- and 200-metre records - 9.58 seconds and 19.19 seconds - may well be broken in the distant future. Theoretically, someone could match his stunning consistency with sprint doubles in three back-to-back Olympic Games. It's a stretch of the imagination but it's possible.

It's harder to imagine a better Brand Jamaica ambassador than Bolt. Along with the speed that has been passed down from his ancestors, Bolt broke the mould of the stony-faced running machine. During his decade at the top, he was the epitome of fun at high speed.

Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson, the previous kings of athletics, left the sport with far less fanfare than Bolt received last weekend at the World Championships in London. Lewis' detractors warmed to him and his tuxedo track suits near the end of his brilliant career. By comparison, Johnson was far quieter and less colourful than the tall man from Trelawny.

There were times when Bolt was a running machine and other times when he was a superhero. The first case was exemplified when his precise sprinting at the 2009 World Championships produced mind-boggling world records. The other came into stark relief when he bounced back from injury just in time to nip Justin Gatlin in the 100m at the 2015 World Championships.

MANY DOUBTERS

Sadly, there are Jamaicans who doubt him. One gentlemen beckoned me across on Tuesday at the supermarket only to ask, "Hubert, you tink him fake pull in the relay?" It's a sad thought about an icon who has always given his all.

Presumably, such Jamaican doubting Thomases are few. For me, the painful end to Bolt's career confirmed that he had run the thread off the tyre. Thirteen major individual gold medals, 52 sub-10 100m races and 34 sub-20 200m efforts will do that. Confronted with a deficit in the 4x100m relay, he drew for a gear that was no longer there.

It doesn't matter now. It doesn't even matter that the cramp may also have been caused by a long wait to race in ghastly London weather. What we saw at the end of the World Championships was an outpouring of love for Mr Brand Jamaica, Usain Bolt.

Fittingly, while he walked a coronation lap of the London Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Park, the air was filled with music by Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley.

Travelling Jamaicans know the difference he has made. When they ventured abroad in the past, their hosts would ask about Marley. If the journey was to an international athletics event, the question would refer to legendary Herb McKenley.

Now all they ask about is Bolt.

- Hubert Lawrence has watched Bolt since 2000.

President Of South Africa Congratulates Team

PRESS RELEASE

President Jacob Zuma has congratulated Team South Africa, who won six medals during the IAAF World Championships 2017 held in London, in the United Kingdom for their outstanding performance that earned South Africa a third place in the medals table of the championship.

"We wish to heartily congratulate our Team South Africa for their sterling performances on the tracks and a job well done at the IAAF World Championships 2017 in London," said President Zuma.

"The country is extremely thrilled and proud of our athletes, in particular those who won the six medals, for this remarkable achievement and excellent performance that earned South Africa a third place in the medals table, trouncing the most advanced countries in the tournament," the President added.

Team South Africa accomplished three gold medals through Mr Wayde van Niekerk who won in the men's 400m race; Mr Luvo Manyonga who won in the men's long jump and Ms Caster Semenya who won in the women's 800m race last night.

Mr van Niekerk won South Africa's only silver medal in the men's 200m while Mr Ruswahl Samaai won a bronze medal in the men's long jump and was joined by Ms Semenya who won a bronze medal in the women's 1500m race.

President Zuma has further extended his sincere gratitude to all South Africans, technical teams and management of Team South Africa for their continued support to all South African athletes.

The Presidency

Patriot Games: Turkish Sprinter's Gold Occasions Pride, Controversy, in Azerbaijan

After winning the 200 meters spring at this month's World Athletics Championships, Ramil Guliyev took a victory lap holding two flags - Azerbaijani and Turkish.

Guliyev was born in Azerbaijan when it was still part of the Soviet Union, but in 2011 he applied for Turkish citizenship. Azerbaijani authorities protested the move, called

him a traitor and demanded his compliance with international rules forcing him to wait three years before competing for Turkey.

Guliyev complied. And when he won on August 11 – bringing Turkey its first-ever gold medal in the country’s World Championship history – he was celebrated in Azerbaijan as well as in Turkey.

Following the race, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev wrote a letter to the victorious athlete. “I would like to note that for the first time, an Azerbaijani athlete becomes the world champion in athletics, he wrote.“It is gratifying that you raised the flags of Azerbaijan and Turkey. It shows that you are a patriot devoted to your people.”

But the same day, muckraking website haqqin.az dug up old interviews where senior sporting officials criticized Guliyev's patriotism. “I haven't heard that he's won anywhere,” said Chingzhiz Huseynzadeh, head of Azerbaijan’s Athletics Federation, in 2011. “That shows that the pursuit of money doesn't always bring success.” Huseynzadeh contrasted Guliyev with another athlete that he singled out as a “patriot.”

The ensuing controversy forced Huseynzadeh to address those old remarks. Speaking at an August 15 press conference he said: “Today he is a hero and we are proud of him. However, I stand by my words six years ago, that [when he sought Turkish citizenship] he committed desertion.”

In Azerbaijan, the government is deeply embedded in the sports industry. The country’s National Olympic Committee is headed by the country’s president, Ilham Alyev, and his wife and first vice president, Mehriban Aliyeva, sits on its board of directors. Many of the most powerful figures in Azerbaijani sport are also personally connected to the president himself.

Sports spectacles, including the 2015 European Games in Baku and a Formula 1 event and the Islamic Solidarity Games this summer, are being used as a form of public relations to boost the country’s international profile. They also, some critics charge, serve to whitewash Azerbaijan’s abysmal human rights record.

Much of this prestige is gained thanks to foreign talent. Azerbaijan sent 56 athletes to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last summer – the most in the country’s history. But more than 60 percent of them were foreign athletes who had recently gained Azerbaijani citizenship.

Government officials are quick to justify such figures. In an interview after the Olympics, Azerbaijan’s Minister of Sports Azad Rahimov said that “if athletes are willing to accept the offers of another country, why pose the question of how ethical the practice is?”

But the extent of the practice in Baku is abnormally high. Of the 14 female athletes sent by Azerbaijan to the Games, only three were native Azerbaijanis. In the larger men’s delegation, just 18 out of 42 of the athletes were Azerbaijani.

And brawn doesn’t come cheap. Successful members of the Azerbaijani team at Baku’s European Games in 2015 were well rewarded. Gold medal winners received 225,000 Azerbaijani manats ($213,750 at the time), with smaller prizes given to silver and bronze medalists. In total, Azerbaijani athletes were paid 8,000,000 manats ($7,600,000). For the Olympic Games in Rio, President Ilham Aliyev again signed an order to reward athletes who medaled in the competitions.

The practice of hiring foreign athletes got unwanted attention earlier this month when the British newspaper The Guardian published an interview with Lily Abdullayeva, an Ethiopian-born runner who competed internationally for Azerbaijan. Abdullayeva charged that Azerbaijani sporting officials withheld money she earned and forced her to take performance-enhancing drugs. At his press conference, Huseynzadeh also addressed Abdullayeva's claims, noting that she had made enough money to buy a house and start a business in Ethiopia.

Meanwhile, many accuse the Azerbaijani government of failing to provide for local talent. Explaining his decision to pursue Turkish citizenship, Guliyev claimed that facilities were limited and that he was not receiving adequate training for international events.

After winning a race in May, Guliyev again brandished his Turkish and Azerbaijani flags. Explaining the decision at the time, he said: “The audience reacted very warmly and there was not a hint of discontent. Everyone was pleased. People understand everything perfectly.”

Sports greats wish Usain Bolt a fond farewell

Usain Bolt is a man universally loved, admired for his historic achievements and his joie de vivre.

At the IAAF World Championships in London on Saturday, the 30-year-old Jamaican ran his final races. Eight Olympic gold medals, 11 World Championships golds, the fastest man in history has left a lasting legacy.
As Bolt brings the curtain down on an incomparable career, we have collected fond farewells from fans and world stars who tell us why they admire the greatest sprinter in history.

To find out what former Germany captain Bastain Schweinsteiger, four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, four-time Formula One world champion Alain Prost and the Jamaican's compatriot and team-mate Yohan Blake had to say, watch the video at the top of this page.

The Tricky Job Of Getting Olympic Medals Back

Gone are the days of Olympians receiving their medals in an airport food court, or having to hold their own medal ceremony.

Britain's 4x400m relay squad from the 2008 Beijing Games got their podium moment in front of a home crowd at the London Anniversary Games last month, finally becoming Olympic medallists after a nine-year delay.

They are among dozens of athletes who are receiving medals after their competitors were disqualified retrospectively and stripped of their achievements because of doping offences.

The new approach of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), as part of a stated commitment to supporting clean athletes, is to "honour accomplishments in a more systematic manner".

That has been reflected at the World Athletics Championships, where 16 medals were reallocated at the recent meet in London, with Britain's Jessica Ennis-Hill receiving her gold from Daegu in 2011.

Medal reallocation is not a quick and easy process. It is a minefield of retests, appeals and constant calls for disqualified athletes to return their medals, which can sometimes fall on deaf ears.

The Russian Athletics Federation has been asking for 24 Olympic medals to be returned by their athletes. To date, just three have heeded those requests.

If all else fails it seems, the IOC just makes a new batch of medals, as happened in the case of the British 4x400m relay quartet.

Why is this happening?
Athletes stripped of medals

The Russian doping crisis has dominated athletics since it was uncovered in 2014.

It culminated in Russian track and field athletes being banned from competing at Rio 2016 by the IAAF - athletics' world giverning body - after widespread, state-sponsored doping was uncovered in the country.

The IOC retested hundreds of samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, using new methods to uncover banned substances that would have gone undetected at the time, covering a number of sports.

As of April 2017, 1,053 samples were retested from Beijing, resulting in 65 sanctions, while 492 samples were reanalysed from London, with 41 sanctions.

The Russians have taken the headlines recently, with eight disqualified from Beijing and nine from London - some pending appeals.

But going as far back as the 1984 Olympics, in athletics alone, athletes from a total of 11 countries have been disqualified and asked to hand back their medals.

Reallocated athletics medals by Olympics*

'We all felt funny about that race'

On 23 August 2008 in Beijing, Michael Bingham, Martyn Rooney, Robert Tobin and Andrew Steele ran a season's best time of two minutes 58.81 seconds to finish fourth - 0.75 seconds behind third-placed Russia in the Bird's Nest stadium.

No quartet had ever run so fast but failed to win a medal.

"We all felt funny about it, felt it wasn't quite right and something didn't add up," Steele told BBC Sport. "It was a big shock for us."

Then, in May 2016, the IOC informed the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) that 14 Russian athletes were suspected of doping at the Beijing Games.

And in July 2016, 4x400m runner Denis Alekseyev told Russian news agency Tass that one of his samples had tested positive.

But it was two months later - on 13 September - that the IOC finally confirmed that the banned anabolic steroid turinabol had been detected in Alekseyev's sample.

The Russian team were disqualified from the 4x400m relay and ordered to hand back their bronze medals, diplomas and medallist pins, with the ROC tasked with ensuring their return "as soon as possible".

A tweet that changed everything

Steele was shopping in New York when he saw the news break on Twitter.

"It was just a relief to get official confirmation," he said. "That press release was the first I had seen. I had been hearing that this might happen and even a year before there were rumours.

"But I couldn't understand why they had not detected the substance in 2008."

Bans, appeals and a stock of blank medals

Alekseyev's disqualification was the start of a nine-month process for Steele and his team-mates to receive their bronze medals.

The 29-year-old Russian, who already served a two-year ban for another doping offence in 2013, was suspended for four years by the Russian Athletic Federation (Rusaf) in June 2017 for his Beijing infraction. He will be able to compete again from 15 November 2018.

Rusaf had appealed for the return of medals in February 2017, at a time when only Kokorin - who himself was not guilty of doping - had handed his back.

Kokorin, 30, did so in December 2016 and a press release at the time from Rusaf said: "The athlete confirmed adherence to the Olympic ideals and observance of the rules of the IOC."

Under IOC rules, the reallocation of medals takes place when "athletes/teams sanctioned have exhausted all their remedies of appeal and when all procedures are closed".

Medals are usually returned to the National Olympic Committees concerned, which sends them back to the IOC.

Team GB confirmed on 21 June of this year that they had finally received the medals from the IOC, but the ones handed to Steele and his team-mates were not the ones that Alekseyev and the Russians were given in Beijing.

To date, Kokorin remains the only member of the disqualified Russian relay quartet to have returned his medal.

The IOC told BBC Sport that four new medals were used to avoid delaying the award ceremony.

"The IOC has got a stock of blank medals for after the Olympic Games and those are engraved at request when it is justified," the IOC said in a statement.

An Olympic medallist... nine years later

It did not matter to Steele and his team-mates that the medals were not the original ones.

"It is nice to be able to say I am an Olympic medallist," said the Briton, who only found out he would be awarded the medal two weeks before the ceremony.

"In the rest of my career, I never got near a podium. It is shame I did not get to experience that at the time, but this was vindication - it means my career was not a waste of time, money and health.

"Having that medal makes it much more real, to actually own this item."

The Team GB quartet were greeted to a rousing reception from the home crown inside the London Stadium, something Steele describes as "surprisingly poignant".

He references the fact US shot putter Adam Nelson was given the Athens 2004 gold medal denied to him by drugs cheat Yuriy Bilonoh by a US Olympic Committee official at an airport food court eight years after the event.

He added. "It was the only podium moment I had in my career and I think I appreciated it more than if I had been younger. I am happy they made a fuss and it was the right thing to do. I guess, in retrospect, it all worked out in the end. "

Steele, 32, spent three years after Beijing struggling with injuries and glandular fever and ultimately missed out on a place at London 2012, finally retiring last year.

He added: "It is a shame we did not get it the medal at the time. It would have been an interesting change in my life trajectory because my career went downhill after that.

"If I had won a medal, it would have guaranteed four years of support. But I got ill with glandular fever and was forced to make sure I ran, as I was worried about my salary and income.

"Athletics became a job and I made myself worse. That may not have happened had I had four years of support."

However, Steele refuses to blame Alekseyev, saying he does not think the Russian had "bad intentions". Another of the Russian quartet - Dyldin - was also subsequently given a four-year doping ban.

"The Russians are good athletes and great guys but the real shame is that the wrong methods are being forced on them," he said.

"There is evidently a different approach to doping and the most upsetting thing is that the doping is from the boardroom level down, not just an individual cheating. When it comes from the men in suits, it is more worrying. "

And what about the rest?

Russia says some athletes' cases are still under consideration, so decisions have yet to be made about their reallocation.

Kokorin aside, Natalia Antukh returned her 4x400m silver from 2008 and Aleksandra Fedoriva-Shpayer gave back her London 4x100m relay gold.

None of that trio have been convicted of doping themselves, but were part of relay squads in which a team-mate has.

A further eight athletes are in the same situation, but have not returned their medals. And none of the 13 athletes disqualified for failing retests of their samples have handed back theirs.

The IOC says the reallocation process is not automatic and is done on a case-by-case basis. It says it is working closely with the ROC to make sure that all medals that have to be reallocated are returned in due course.

There are a further seven Olympic athletics medals reallocations under appeal.

That includes the potential British bronze medals from 2008 of Kelly Sotherton in the heptathlon and Goldie Sayers in the javelin, with appeals ongoing for Tatyana Chernova and Mariya Abakumova respectively.

Missouri Adds 8 To Finalize Signing Class

Illinois State Champ Conrad, Transfers Johnson & McClendon highlight group of signees

COLUMBIA, Mo. –

With the 2017-18 athletic year right around the corner, Mizzou Track & Field increased its roster by eight on Tuesday, with head coach Brett Halter announcing the addition of six freshmen to-be and two transfers with experience in NCAA meets. In the group of eight, Mizzou signed 2017 800m run Illinois State Champion Chris Conrad and added to the depth of its throws events group, with five of the new additions specializing in the javelin, discus, shot put or weight throw.

The signees join Mizzou's current 2017 signing class, which includes highly-touted recruits Austin Hindman, Arielle Mack, Stephen Mugeche, Jayson Ashford, Valeria Kostiuk, Landon Cuskelly, Jordan Speer and Jenna Lutzow. Hindmann, the Gatorade Runner of the Year, recently set the Missouri state record in the 3200m run by running an 8:43.40 at the Arcadia Invitational (April 8), which is currently the second fastest time in the nation. Mack currently ranks 12th in the nation in the triple jump with a mark of 12.38m (40-7.5), while Mugeche, an Arkansas transfer, won the 2014 Missouri State Championship in cross country.

Ashford, who signed with Mizzou in April, won the 200m dash Missouri state title in 2016 and finished runner-up in the 100m dash and 200m dash in 2017. Junior college transfers Kostiuk and Cuskelly each posted top-five finishes in the high jump at recent NJCAA meets and will have two years of eligibility remaining at Mizzou, while Speer and Lutzow both join Mizzou with state titles, as Speer claimed three Kansas first-place finishes in throwing events and Lutzow captured the 2016 Illinois 2A State Championship in cross country. Overall, Mizzou added 26 new Tigers to the class of 2017, including 13 hailing from Missouri and 10 athletes who have combined to win 20 state titles.

"The summer signees have closed out an exciting recruiting class for our program and represents the tireless work of our assistant coaches and staff members," said Halter on the 2017 class. "Each of the signees are terrific athletes, but they are even better people who will strengthen our family. Each member of the class understands and values our mindset while striving to put their individual signature on our rich history as an institution and program."

Chris Conrad | Mid-Distance
Previous School: O'Fallon High School
Hometown: O'Fallon, Ill.
800m: 1:49.91 (Ranked 6th nationally)

Coming off an Illinois state title in the 800m run in May, Chris Conrad (O'Fallon, Ill.) will join the Mizzou Track & Field program as a mid-distance specialist. Conrad crossed the finish line at 1:49.91 to claim first place, a time that is currently ranked sixth in the nation among high school seniors. Prior to the championship run, The O'Fallon High School product finished runner-up in the 800m run at the IHSA State Track & Field Championship in 2016 and was a top-15 finisher at the Nike Cross National Midwest Regional in November 2016.

"Chris comes to Mizzou as one of the top 800m runners in Illinois high school history," said cross country head coach and mid-distance assistant coach Marc Burns. "He is a fantastic young man and we are really excited about his future with our program."

Cecilya Johnson | Throws
Previous School: Tulsa
High School: Lutheran South High School
Hometown: St. Louis, Mo.
Discus: 53.41m (175-2.75)

A two-time Missouri state champion, Cecilya (CeCe) Johnson (St. Louis, Mo.) began her college career at Tulsa where she qualified for the 2016 NCAA West Preliminary Round in the discus as a true freshman. Johnson notched two top-10 finishes in the discus at the American Outdoor Track & Field Championships while at Tulsa, finishing seventh in 2017 and second in 2016 with a personal record throw of 53.41m (175-2.75). Prior to college, Johnson won back-to-back Missouri state titles in the discus in 2014 and 2015 at Lutheran South High School. Johnson, who has three years of indoor and two years of outdoor remaining, will be eligible for competition immediately.

"We are glad to have CeCe return to her roots here in Missouri," said throws assistant coach Rich Richardson. "She is a very talented and is already proven after throwing very good collegiate marks in the hammer and discus. CeCe hit it off immediately with the other throwers on her visit and she is very excited to get here and get to work. The Division-I experience she brings to the team coupled with her talent can only help this throws group grow, get better and score points at the SEC and NCAA meets."

Jordan McClendon | Throws
Previous School: LSU/Tulane
High School: John Burroughs School
Hometown: Black Jack, Mo.
Weight Throw: 21.11m (69-3.25)
Hammer Throw: 57.02m (187-1)

Jordan McClendon (Black Jack, Mo.) will join the Tigers as an in-conference transfer after spending her first two collegiate seasons at Tulane and LSU. As a freshman at Tulane in 2016, McClendon set the indoor weight throw school record at the American Indoor Track & Field Championships, registering a mark of 18.92m (62-1). As a sophomore with LSU in 2017, McClendon qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in the weight throw, where she finished 15th with a throw of 19.82m (65-0.5).

McClendon qualified for the NCAA Indoor meet after posting a weight throw personal record of 21.11m (69-3.25) in a first-place finish at the LSU Twilight. Prior to college, McClendon was a three-time Missouri 3A State Champion at John Burroughs School, winning state titles in the shot put in 2012 (as a freshman) and 2014, as well as a discus state title in 2015. She also finished runner-up at the state meet in the discus in 2014 and the shot put in 2015. McClendon will have to sit out the 2017-18 athletic year due to transfer restrictions, then will have two year of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2018 fall semester.

"Jordan is our second new addition in the throws group to return to her home state of Missouri," Richardson said. "Jordan will bring SEC and NCAA experience with her when she arrives on campus. Having qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in the weight throw early in her career has given her a glimpse into what she can do as an athlete at the Division-I level. We look forward to helping her achieve the big goals she has set for herself."

Jazmyn Shumaker | Sprints
Previous School: Cedar Hill High School
Hometown: Cedar Hill, Texas
200m: 24.31
100m: 11.64

Coming from the Lone Star State, Jazmyn Shumaker (Cedar Hill, Texas) will have an opportunity to make an immediate impact in sprints events after four female sprinters graduated from Mizzou this past spring. The Cedar Hill High School product clocked a top-50 time in the nation among seniors in the 200m dash at the New Balance Nationals in June, running a 24.31. At the Region 1-6A meet in April, Shumaker ran a wind-aided 11.64 in the 100m dash preliminary round, then followed that performance with a wind-legal personal record of 11.88 in the finals to place third.

"I am thrilled to add Jazmyn to our sprints group," said associated head coach Natasha Brown. "She is an impressive addition who will have a tremendous impact on our program.

Jason Edwards // Osage High School // Osage Beach, Mo. // Multi-Events

Megan Haley // Schuyler Country High School // Queen City, Mo. // Javelin

Cameron Meyer // California High School // California, Mo. // Throws

Blair Widmer // Father Tolton High School // Columbia, Mo. // Javelin

All hailing from the Show Me State, Jason Edwards (Osage Beach, Mo.), Cameron Meyer (California, Mo.), Blair Widmer (Columbia, Mo.) and Megan Haley (Queen City, Mo.) will all join the program and add depth to the multi-events and throws event groups.

"Jason is a well-rounded athlete who has had great success in the javelin and high jump and is very technically sound in the pole vault," said jumps and multi-events assistant coach Iliyan Chamov. "He has shown great potential to be a decathlete and will fit in perfectly in the SEC. I was excited to see his progress in high school and am even more excited to work with him in college."

"I had the opportunity to see Megan compete at the small school state championship this May and was very impressed with what she was doing in the javelin," said Halter. "Megan is new to the event. She has a diverse athletic background which will serve her well over the next few years. I am looking forward to watching her progression in the event."

"Cameron was a very good multi-sport athlete in high school and we are excited to see her be able to focus only on her throwing at the collegiate level," said Richardson. "A good student in the classroom and a big Missouri fan, she fits the profile of the kind of in-state athletes we like to have on the team."

"Blair spent a few weeks this spring working with our former school record holder, Darin File, and made significant improvements in a short period of time," said Halter. "Like Megan, Blair is new to the event. She has a tremendous work ethic and desire to see what she can do in the event. I am excited to see how the next few years unfold for her."

Meet Shot Diva Michelle Carter

Michelle Carter remembers the trip to Lancaster's Cinemark 14 during her sophomore year of high school. She wore a bright orange shirt, a colorful skirt and sandals -- one of her favorite outfits. It worked: A boy at the movies asked for her number.

Then she gave him her name.

"Michelle Carter?" he asked. "What school?"

Red Oak, she told him.

"Aren't you that girl who throws the shot put?"

Yep.

"But I'm so surprised you look like a girl."

Carter laughed.

She's still laughing, at that comment and so many like it, 17 years later, on a summer morning at Jesse Owens Memorial Complex where she trains. She's just 3.5 miles from the theater but has traveled the world since that day, winning back-to-back high school titles at Red Oak and a 2006 college national championship at the University of Texas.

Not to mention a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where she became the first American woman to win the event and the first to medal since 1960.

Carter is still a sharp dresser even while competing, from the pink straps of her Nikes up to her yellow nails and diamond-studded ears. A silver necklace engraved "I can" hangs from her neck.

But the focused eyes beneath the fake lashes and the five-ring Olympic logo tattooed on her left foot belie a strength unlike most certified makeup artists (yet another title she claims).

Carter is a throwing phenom, an inspiration to girls throughout sports and the 31-year-old baby girl of Michael Carter. Dad's a three-time Super Bowl champion, four-time All-Pro NFL nose tackle, 1984 shot-put silver medalist and the 20-year coach of Michelle Carter. She goes by "Shot Diva," the moniker she coined at UT a decade ago.

Michael has come to embrace the lashes, nails and bling that belong to his daughter and prized pupil.

"That's Michelle," he says. "She's not going to change, and I love it.

"She brought something back to the sport that's really needed. Being a girly girl in the throwing world associated with strength and grit and men and testosterone and all that? It was a refreshing thing to see."

Like father, like daughter

Michelle first took up shot put in seventh grade, unaware of her dad's Olympic success or that he held -- and still holds, 39 years later -- the high school boys national record. Michael questioned the coach who recommended she try shot put but eventually gave in on the condition he train his daughter.

Their first time out, he says, was "hilarious."

"She was throwing like a ballerina," Michael remembers. "She'd throw the shot and have her left hand over her head like she was doing a pirouette."

Shot Diva no longer sleeps beneath a life-sized Barbie drawn on the wall. But in Rio last year, she was lipsticked and sparkling while launching the 4-kilo metal ball a U.S.-record 67 feet, 8.25 inches.

Michael remained stoic, clapping on camera, thoughts whirling in his head. She did it. Back at his hotel, though, tears flowed "like a big baby," he says. "I mean, more than once."

He was proud Michelle had achieved at the highest level and proud she did it while sending a message:

"You can be a female, feminine, sweet and girly," he says, "and still do your thing and throw just as far as anyone else."

Prep work

In the center of a shot put ring, Michelle stays back over her right leg, careful to move her legs before her upper body for maximum torque, power and throwing distance. Pilates, plyometrics, cardio, abs, ice and Epsom salt baths all prepare her to throw.

Before her mirror, a ring of light bulbs surrounding the fresh face staring into it, Michelle gives similar dedication to her makeup routine. Eyebrows first, since they frame the face. Concealer to cover up the late nights of an elite athlete. Eye shadow before foundation, in case she messes up. Brightening powder, blush, lipstick and fake lashes to top it off.

The makeup isn't to cover her up or provide a false guise. She simply says if she looks her best, she'll feel her best and do her best. With makeup, like shot put, she's "just taking what's already there and making it even more beautiful."

As a plus-sized female athlete -- she's 5-9, 260 -- Michelle knows she's subject to preconceived notions. People "don't see me as an athlete," she says, when they're walking down the street.

NFL linemen like her father can rep 300 pounds and exude strength. Why can't women?

"I could beat sprinters in 20 meters," she says. "I have speed, I have strength, I have agility. I'm a full-blown athlete. I'm just not as cut. I'm a little fluffier than others, but my body is a well-oiled machine."

The throws ahead

Crouched on a concrete slab beside a silver throwing ring on a 90-degree Thursday in July, Carter shows that athleticism. She glistens with sweat as she jogs and stretches, throws with her left arm and right. At one point, she grabs a leaf to escort a caterpillar off the concrete so she won't squash it.

"You're so sweet," Michael chuckles as he coaches lightly from a charred bleacher nearby. He talks sparingly, mostly resorting to their set of a dozen hand signals after a rough throw.

It's a routine that's worked since seventh grade, since she swept the shot put and discus titles in high school and since the dumbfounded boy asked out the cute girl in the bright orange top at Cinemark 14. It's a routine they use to prepare for elite competitions like the yearly World Championships, as well as, each hopes, the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

But shot put excellence is no longer their singular goal as Michelle moseys into her 30s. She's planning to expand the You Throw, Girl sports confidence camp she debuted in May and wants to formally launch a Shot Diva makeup line already in the works. Michael wants her to think family.

"I want her to get married, have grandkids," he says. "I need to start on the next generation of throwers. Carter throwers."

Michael envisions taking three generations of Carters to an Olympics, especially if Los Angeles wins the 2024 bid. Michelle would be 38 and Michael 63, 40 years removed from his own medal in Los Angeles. Both admit it'd be special for her to win at the same site.

Three generations of Carters watching, for him, would be even more special. He'll beam yet again as his daughter crouches, readies her turn, executes her technique and explodes.

Maybe the boy from the movie will even tune into the Games. When it comes time for shot put, he'll be able to see that girl -- yes, that long-lashed sparkling shot put diva is still very much a girl -- win yet again.

At the Games, Michelle will be laughing.

Tale of the tape

Michelle Carter

Age: 31

Hometown: Red Oak

College: University of Texas

Family: Michelle's dad, Michael, excelled in the NFL and in field events. Her sister D'Andra won the NCAA discus title in 2009, throwing 182 feet, 5 inches while at Texas Tech. Her brother Michael Jr. was a thrower at South Plains College in Levelland. Mother Sandra wasn't the bearer of the sport gene but jumps in "for emotional support," Michael Sr. says.

Notable: Michelle grew up in Ovilla/Red Oak, lives in Grand Prairie and has been based in Texas her whole life since moving here when she was little. Her dad has coached the Texas Throwbacks youth team since Michelle debuted in 1998.

Family rivalry

Michael and Michelle have had a friendly competition with their shot put careers. Here's how they stack up:

Shot Diva origins

Michelle Carter's Shot Diva personality has reached acclaim via Twitter, Instagram and public stages such as the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. How'd she come up with it?

"There was a song on the radio, and then all the track girls would say 'track diva,' and I'm like, 'I can't say track diva because at that time at the University of Texas I was the only thrower on the team,' " Carter said. "Everybody else was sprinters. So track diva worked for them, but it didn't work for me. I kind of came up with my own, OK, 'shot diva.' That's my thing. I throw the shot. I'm a diva. That works. And it kind of just stuck."

Daddy's girls

Michael and Michelle Carter are far from the only D-FW father-daughter duo to achieve and compete. This year alone, three Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famers had daughters sign collegiate letters of intent to play soccer. A look:

Dad: Emmitt Smith, Florida, running back

Daughter: Rheagen Smith. Greenhill/Texas A&M, forward

Emmitt Smith rushed for 18,355 yards and 164 touchdowns, helping the Cowboys to three Super Bowls while playing for Dallas from 1990-2002.

Dad: Tony Dorsett, Pittsburgh, running back

Daughter: Maddie Dorsett, Prestonwood Christian/Texas, defender

Tony Dorsett rushed for 12,739 yards and 77 touchdowns in his career. After winning the Heisman Trophy in 1976, Dorsett took home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors with Dallas in 1977.

Dad: Charles Haley, James Madison, linebacker/defensive end

Daughter: Madison Haley, Ursuline/Stanford, forward

Charles Haley collected five Super Bowl rings with the Cowboys and 49ers, tallying 100.5 sacks and 500 tackles in his career. He was twice named NFC Defensive Player of the Year.

Importance of education

Even though all three of Michael Carter's children competed in college sports, education was valued first. Michelle says in high school she didn't set professional or Olympic shot-put aspirations.

"In high school, my goal was just to go to college for free," she said. "That was like my deal with my parents: You have to figure out what it's going to take to go to college for free. And when I realized I was great at the shot put, that's what I did."

Michael says the pressure was less about the scholarship than the pursuit of a degree.

"All I wanted her to do was go to school and if you were going to do it, give it your best," he said about chasing college offers. "Whatever happens after that happens."

Now, Michelle's "You Throw, Girl Sports Confidence Camp" includes a heavy emphasis on college readiness.

More on Michelle Carter

VIDEO: Carter gives some makeup tips and tricks

PHOTOS: The Shot Diva shows off shot put throws, Olympic gold

SPORTSDAY STYLE: Behind the scenes with more Dallas-area athletes

A Switcheroo: Harrison & Carter Trading Events?

LONDON – Training partners Kendra Harrison and Kori Carter have established themselves as two of the premier 100-and 400-meter hurdlers in the world. Next season, however, it could be the other way around.

That’s because Carter- the gold medalist in the 400 hurdles at last week’s London World Championships – and Harrison- fourth in the 100 hurdles – are planning on switching events.

“We want to make history in the sport,” Harrison told Excelle Sports, “and we know we can do more than one event, so it gives us an opportunity to go after something. We know we can dominate in our own events, let’s try to do it in some others.”

Going into the Championships, the 25-year-old Carter and 24-year-old Harrison had two things in common that they don’t brag about. They both faulted out in their semifinal heats at the 2015 Beijing World Championships. Then they each came in fourth place at the 2016 Olympic Trials, keeping them out of the Rio Games. Of course, Harrison gained fame breaking the world record (12.20 seconds) in the 100 meters at the London Muller Anniversary Games last July. Even after clipping a hurdle in the semifinal and qualifying by the skin of her teeth, Harrison was still the favorite going into Saturday’s final, where she finished 0.15 seconds behind champion Sally Pearson of Australia.

“I’ve been training with Kori, and we push each other,” Harrison said. “We all have really high standards. We like to reach our goals, and to have such a strong group of teammates, I think that’s why we are successful. Watching them run and get their job done pushes myself to go out there and do what I can.”

Edrick Floreal serves as Harrison and Carter’s coach in Lexington, Ky., where he also trains Jamaican athlete Omar McLeod, the men’s world and Olympic champion in the 110-meter hurdles. Floreal was coaching Carter at Stanford University, before coming to the University of Kentucky in 2012. In 2013, Harrison transferred from Clemson, where she already was an ACC champion, and Floreal groomed her into the NCAA champion. Carter also went on to win an NCAA title with the Cardinal.

“Coach Flo is a maniac and he is a genius,” Carter told Excelle Sports. “He always puts the work in and tells us we’re not going to be better than anyone else, unless we work harder. That is the sacrifice he puts into us every single day, and I am so appreciative of him.”

But could Floreal juggle the duo’s events and keep them in world class form? Harrison’s 400 hurdles personal best time of 54.09 (set two years ago) would have actually put her in fourth place in the final at London. Carter has a time of 12.76 in the 100 hurdles from 2013.

“I really think if I keep at the 100-meter hurdles, I can go to 12.5,” Carter said. “That’s my goal for next year. I feel like I have every credential. The last few years showed that I wasn’t rising to the occasion. I had to get back to the drawing boards and push myself to the next level because I felt like I had that in me.”

Maybe by the time the next Olympic Trials come around in 2020, Harrison and Carter can redeem their 2016 disappointments together. It just won’t be in the events we are used to seeing them run.

Jarrin Solomon Almost Missed Out On Trini 4×4 Gold

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Jarrin Solomon is still enjoying the gold medal he won with team Trinidad and Tobago at the World Championships in London.

The former University of New Mexico and La Cueva High track star came dangerously close to not being a part of the 4×400 men’s relay team that stunned the United States in its attempt for a seventh straight gold medal.

“They didn’t tell me I was going to run until Sunday at about 1 o’clock and then we ran at 9 o’clock at night… Yeah, so they didn’t even give me a heads up,'” said Solomon. “Like, the night before, I didn’t get real good sleep for two days before because I was upset I wasn’t going to run.”

Solomon considered leaving the event for home Saturday, but thought better of it.

It’s a good thing he did because one of his teammates who felt that he belonged on the team gave up his spot for him. Why was Solomon being left off the team in the first place?

“In pro sports there’s politics,” said Solomon. “There’s politics in everything, and a lot of things people don’t see happens in football, baseball, and basketball, that kind of stuff. Same thing in track and field.”

Solomon is glad he stuck around and extremely thankful for the outcome.

“Going from being in such a low place,” said Solomon. “It just tells people that God is good. You always trust because he can change the course of your life overnight.”

Solomon had won a silver and two gold medals at the World Championships in a past competition. He also has a bronze from the Olympics. The gold medal from last week in London is his first.

Solomon battled a lot of injuries in a season he described as tumultuous. He has a wait-and-see approach on whether he will continue to compete.

“You know I usually get back into training October time. Once I get back around that time I will start to see if I want to do it, if I have the motivation to run again next year, if I want to go to the 2020 Olympics or if I just want to end on a high.”

Tianna Bartoletta's Stressful Divorce (w/ video)

The sight of an athlete in tears on a podium is not a rare one in sport.

But Tianna Bartoletta has said the World Championship long jump bronze that she won in London was so much more than a medal.

In an emotional social media post, made just hours after the final, Bartoletta revealed that she had been homeless for the past three months, having run away to give herself a chance at a life without "fear or fighting, threats and abuse".

While her husband John Bartoletta says the divorce they are now going through is "amicable", Tianna Bartotella tells BBC World Service about what she says was the biggest gamble of her life.

'I felt that I became a stranger to myself'

Bartoletta, who won gold at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, struggled with her form in the early part of this season and was suffering torment away from athletics, too.

There were things that I loved in the beginning that I completely walked away from. I just lost sight of what I wanted.

Other people would say 'oh, that's just what it took to be elite, it was a sacrifice, she's just the ultimate professional' but really, it was just me withering away.

I lost my personality. I felt that I became a stranger to myself. I didn't trust myself to make the right decisions. It felt like I was just getting broken down and I just couldn't take much more of the negativity.

It got so dark last season that it got me contemplating walking off a train platform in front of a train. It just started to feel that I had no way out of the feelings of frustration and shame.

Last season, I wasn't competing very well until my trials in July. To deal with that on top of what I thought was an overwhelming personal situation... I felt like I got no break from the universe and it was so tempting to just call it quits.

'It's hard to ask for help'

For Bartoletta, reaching out to friends and admitting that she needed help to change her situation was a difficult step.

My relationship with my mum wasn't very close to start with, so we were already at arm's length, but when this situation started to happen, I withdrew and was isolated from friends and family.

My personality completely changed, and the most difficult thing was that while all of that was going on was that I was still being successful on the track.

Asking for help was the thing that required the most strength for me. A lot of people look at me and they're like: 'you're such a fierce athlete', 'you're such a strong woman', so it's hard to ask for help, right?

It was one of the hardest calls I had to make because I had to ask for help from people I didn't think were necessarily going to be there for me, because they hadn't been in the past.

When I first reached out, it wasn't to leave - it was just for the emotional support, to get a second opinion whether this was normal or if other people were going through this.

And then once I started to understand, because they were my mirrors reflecting my situation back to me, I was able to see that I needed to move on.

'You are not alone'

Bartoletta has been renting rooms to live in across Holland - where she trains - via a website. She does not regret speaking out about the struggles she has faced.

This has been my therapy - sharing this story with you, sharing the Instagram post, blogging. It has kind of been my way of healing.

What I love about this, even though it's incredibly uncomfortable for me to do, is that the responses I get are not just ones of encouragement, but people telling me their stories.

It validates my hurt a little bit in a way that says 'OK, you were strong enough to make it through', even though at times I didn't think that I was. For this person, to hear from you, that they can do it too.

The most important thing is, you're not alone. You know that, but you don't know it in your heart. You can be strong, or weak and it's not a reflection on you as a person. You're not any less of a person because you can't get out.

It's a very difficult situation, It's complex, it's confusing, and hard for a lot of people that aren't in one to understand. But take the time you need to look at yourself in the mirror and say 'you're worth more than that'.

And even though it is going to be scary, just keep making those decisions and you'll strengthen that muscle and it will become a little easier and lot less scary.

'I'm figuring it out'

After making the decision to start afresh, Bartoletta threw herself into her training to refocus.

I think that that is one of my biggest strengths as an athlete - I'm mentally tough and I knew that I could put all of this in a box and deal with it later.

I'm no stranger to traumatic situations and bad situations unfortunately so this is something I knew I would be able to kind of handle.

When you're at practice, you're at practice and you're safe, this is what you need to do... in a strange way, it forced me to be present because that was the only way I could to get through.

When I sit back and allow myself to think about the what ifs, it gets overwhelming and I freak out a little bit, but I've just been one foot in front of the other.

This [World Championships] was the finish line for me. The thing that I've been focused on so much till now, I'm a little bit lost again. Because I don't have that routine to fall back on but I'm figuring it out.

'Amicable divorce'

In a statement to BBC Sport, her husband, John Bartoletta, said that in their time together they "made an incredible team" and that he would be "forever grateful" for having been a part of her success which included three world championship gold medals.

He said that it was his understanding that they were going through an amicable divorce, that he was very proud of Tianna and wished her "the very best".

Breaking Down London Scoring By Nation

Everyone knows that athletics is a global sport, but this year’s World Championships showed that once again. The IAAF has 215 member federations and 66 countries produced a top 8 finish in London. That includes multiple countries from each continent. But among those countries there were some clear winners and losers.

To assess how the countries competed at the World Championships, Nick Garcia and I scored out the meet like a team competition, using the American-style scoring system of 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 points for the top eight places respectively. The IAAF has their own separate point table, but it does not give any extra bonus to the top places and does not break down by event. Using our point table you get a clear picture of which countries were hot, and which were not. You can scroll down to the end to see our complete rankings. But first we have some highlights.

Check It: HERE

Who’s Hot

USAAmerica showed that Rio was not a fluke with another 30 medal performance. While there were some disappointments, they also had new athletes step up and score unexpected points. Along with Great Britain and France., Americans had one of the most balanced teams with champions in nearly every event group. In addition, they showed their recent success in the distance races is still on an upward trajectory. While Kenya still retained the top distance ranking, America closed the gap on Ethiopia for second.

Poland
Poland was one of the big surprises of the World Championships. With eight medals, Poland ranked behind only the United States and Kenya in that metric. Using our point table, they also ranked fifth overall. The key driver for Poland has been the throwing events. They overtook Germany and America, the top throwing countries in Rio, to rank as the best throws nation at this World Championships, sending multiple throwers to the final in four of the throwing events. But their results were not limited to the throws. They produced success stories across all event groups.

Russia
Russian athletes competed under the Authorized Neutral Athletes banner in Rio and ranked just 10th overall in points. While this is historically low, it still counts as a victory for the athletes who have been banned for the last two years and fought hard to distance themselves from the actions of their federation. They have reassembled as a small but strong team ready to move Russia athletics forward. In fact, the smaller squad scored comparable points to the full team Russia sent two years ago.

Who’s Not

Jamaica
As Nick discussed on our podcast this week, most commentators said Jamaica’s sprint dominance was here to stay over the past few years. But as with Usain Bolt, Jamaica has lost its edge and they were miles behind the US in London . Usain Bolt’s bronze was their only medal in the individual sprint races. The relays added just one more. While they still produced incredibly strong results for a country of less than 3 million citizens, they were not the sprint powerhouse we have come to know in recent years. The bright side for Jamaica is that they produced multiple finalists in non-traditional events like the discus and 5000 meters.

Germany and Canada
The two countries most affected by the norovirus outbreak saw their points drop significantly. While that is not the sole cause, it likely played a role. Canada took home eight medals two years ago, and had none this time around. Germany lost its spot as the top throwing country , which contributed to a large drop off of points.

Ukraine and Belarus
Both former Soviet countries have strong athletic traditions, but were essentially non factors in London. Ukraine took home just one medal and Belarus none. Overall Ukraine ranked 30th in points, with Belarus further back in 45th. Both countries have relied on strong field events in the past and they just did not produce results this time around. Added to their was a drop off in the other events where they have both had medalists in the sprints, hurdles, and multi events. When Russia got banned many commentators asked why the IAAF wasn’t looking at cleaning up doping practices worldwide and also looking at other perennial offenders like Ukraine and Belarus. While neither country was directly under the microscope, the renewed focus on doping may be one reason for the poor showing in London.

Related Content

Craig Pickering gave a detailed break down of the IAAF data release for the men’s 100 meter final and analyzed why Usain Bolt lost the final. Also on this week’s HMMR Podcast, Nick Garcia and I look back at the World Championships:lost the final. Also on this week’s HMMR Podcast, Nick Garcia and I look back at the World Championships:

Ole Miss Extend's Price-Smith's Contract

OXFORD, Miss. – In her first two seasons as the leader of the Ole Miss Track & Field and Cross Country programs, Connie Price-Smith has directed the Rebels to never-before-seen accomplishments.

For her efforts, Price-Smith has agreed to a contract extension through the 2020-21 season (the longest allowed by the State of Mississippi), Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Ross Bjork announced Wednesday.

“From national champions to historic team finishes, the Ole Miss track record book is being rewritten under Connie Price-Smith,” Bjork said. “We have not only improved in every area of the program but are emerging as a national contender. On and off the track, Connie’s team is setting new standards.”

“I am excited, grateful and honored to have my contract extended,” Price-Smith said. “To me it shows the administration believes in me and my abilities to move the track and field/cross country program forward.”

Some of the Rebels’ notable accomplishments in Price-Smith’s first two years on the job:

Best NCAA men’s cross country result in school history (4th)
Best NCAA women’s cross country result in school history (23rd)
Best NCAA women’s indoor track & field result in school history (12th)
Best SEC men’s indoor track & field result in school history (3rd)
Best SEC women’s indoor track & field result in school history (5th)
3 individual NCAA titles (Raven Saunders 2016 outdoor shot put, 2017 indoor shot put; 2017 indoor men’s distance medley relay)
17 individual SEC titles
42 All-America selections

Since she arrived at Ole Miss, Price-Smith has served as Team USA’s women’s track & field head coach for the 2016 Rio Olympics, has been elected to the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame, and currently serves as the president of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

Is Bronze The New Gold For Jamaica?

And so it ends. A disappointing campaign at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London, bookended by reports of a catfight between two members of our mile relay team, moments before the final.

When the Legend pulled up with cramp on the final leg of the men's sprint relay, a few people would have wondered what else could go wrong at a track and field extravaganza that promised so much but ultimately delivered so little. None of those persons could anticipate that an argument over clothing could rob the country of the chance to add lustre to what has been an unpleasant outing in London.

Yes, Jamaica won four medals, a better return than 26 other countries who were also on the overall medal table. And, yes, it's good to see those who disrespected Omar McLeod after his achievements in Rio having to eat humble pie after he won what tuned out to be our only gold medal.

But given the country's record of having won 111 medals in World Championships history, comprising 32 gold, 44 silver and 35 bronze, and a reputation burnished by its dominance of the sprint events at recent editions, there was every right to expect that London 2017 would prove a happy hunting ground for Jamaica.

However, between the time The Legend crossed the line for third and an argument over whether the women's mile relay team should wear their black outfit or the yellow kit, disrupted the mood and forced one member to stand down from the team, the 2017 World Championships has left Jamaicans feeling bilious.

Remember Asafa's Bronze

And it's precisely because there has been so little for Jamaicans to celebrate in London that I have reacted with schadenfreude at how we have celebrated the medals won at this event. I confess to still being vexed with many people who belittled the achievement of Asafa Powell when he won bronze in the 100 metres at both the 2007 and 2009 World Championships in Osaka and Berlin, respectively. Aligned with his failure to win an individual gold at the Olympics, Powell was written off as a waste of time and a runner for profit, who only turned it on for the Golden League (became the Diamond League in 2010) races when big dollars were at stake.

Many spat on his achievements, asking, "A weh bronze a go?", while noting that a bronze is effectively no medal. This was a similar mindset to those who, a generation earlier, had derided the great Merlene Ottey and soiled her reputation with that nasty moniker, 'Bronze Queen'.

So imagine me having a rueful smile on my face when my office erupted in an orgasm of joy when the brave Ristananna Tracey dug deep and overhauled two-time World champion, Zuzana Hejnova from the Czech Republic to take bronze in the 400 metres hurdles final. It was a tremendous achievement from a woman who had advertised from she was a girl at Edwin Allen High that she had the talent to mix it with the best in the world.

Let me be clear: 'Rista's' bronze medal deserved to be celebrated under any circumstance. In fact, any athlete who makes a final at a major championship deserves a pat on the back. But among the many who cheered wildly as Rista won her bronze were people who have previously said that Asafa's bronze was worthless.

So in the time of plenty, when The Legend broke records and gold medals in the sprints were a certainty, Asafa's bronze medals could be disregarded, and it was fair game to disrespect him. But now that times are thin, amid the confluence of factors that caused an abatement in the gold rush at the London World Championships, a bronze medal is getting the respect it deserves.

Warren Weir's retirement has been met with some unpleasant comments from many who see his Olympic bronze and World Championships silver medals as nothing special, simply because he never won gold.

Both The Gleaner and Observer gave Ristananna her due with front-page coverage the morning after her bronze medal effort. My granny always spoke about 'scornful dog eat dirty pudding'. I see many of us chewing right now.

Selah.

London To Host A New U.S. vs. Britain Meet

In life, you have to capitalize on momentum and opportunity. Think of it like running a relay in track and field. It’s a lot easier to succeed when you have a running start.

Track and field is at such a moment, coming out of the 2017 IAAF world championships in London, which featured sell-out crowds at Olympic Stadium, breakthrough performances by the British relay teams and, as well, a U.S. team that won a record 30 medals, including a historic 1-2 finish in the women’s steeplechase that went viral on social media.

With that as backdrop, British Athletics and USA Track & Field on Wednesday announced a one-night, your team against my team throw-down next summer, back at Olympic Stadium.

Organizers are calling it “The Meet.”

When: July 21.

What and how: nine events — including, for sure, relays — and, most important, two hours.

Again, two hours: a show deliberately designed to be compact, fan-friendly and, as a USATF release put it, “to appeal to new audiences,” which is code for — in particular — a young, urban crowd.

“This is the head-to-head in world athletics,” Adam Gemili, who ran the second leg of the winning British 4×1 relay last Saturday night, said in a statement.

“We have a great sporting rivalry with the USA team and we look forward to seeing which nation comes out strongest at The Meet next summer. The event is all about power, speed and excitement. I can’t wait.”

Allyson Felix, who won her 16th world championship medal Sunday in the women’s 4×400 relay, said:

“Bringing team competition back to the London Stadium will be special. There is nowhere like it in the world for track and field, and it has been the site of some memorable Team USATF performances.

“We are really looking forward to The Meet.”

Full details remain to be worked out, including The Meet’s specific format and team rosters. Those are expected early next year.

Especially for American consumers, the notion of a team competition makes eminent sense.

There’s golf’s Ryder Cup. The Davis Cup in tennis.

Since 2003, swimming has seen what’s called a “Duel in the Pool,” at first pitting the U.S. against Australia, since 2009 an all-star European team.

Track and field history is of course writ large with exactly this sort of thing, in particular the U.S. v. U.S.S.R. meets from 1958-1985, a sports icon of the Cold War years.

One of the signature elements of the Penn Relays each April at Franklin Field: U.S. v. the World.

It’s not much of a stretch to see how that helped prompt the IAAF to develop the World Relays, which is now an every-other-year event in the Bahamas.

In principle, team competitions are great. To be obvious, to maximize the odds for success, when innovating you just have to make sure you have the right team. This was the problem with team tennis. It’s the challenge facing team track in the United States.

Again, just being obvious: you are way better off down the line if, for instance, you fill Olympic Stadium with 60,000 fans to watch top talent than otherwise — meaning “teams” that make no intuitive or emotional sense, meets that carry that high school vibe and attendance, even in a purported track hotbed like Portland, Oregon of (depending who’s counting) “a few hundred fans” or an estimated 1,300.

People vote with their pocketbooks, their feet, however you want to describe it.

To stage a mid-summer dual meet back at Olympic Stadium … when leading U.S. athletes would be in Europe, anyway, because it’s Diamond League season … and draw a packed house because British fans have proven, both at the 2012 Olympics and again at the 2017 championships that they will jam that venue … could and should be nothing short of a potential game-changer as track and field, leaning in particular on story-telling in social media, moves to re-brand itself as a sport with wow factor … particularly with young peop