Friday, 18 August 2017 17:11

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.


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.


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.”

 

The #1 Track Team in the World got me! ??? I love my amazing teammates and @usatf for this. Show me your #TheKoriCarter !

A post shared by Kori Carter (@thekorimonster) on 

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.”


Is The WC As Important As the Olympics?


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 people.

Back to Gemili’s formula: power, speed, excitement.

What, looking ahead to next July, are the challenges?

First and foremost, marketing. Making it an event. Drawing the target audience.

Here, too, a key challenge:

— While the Americans won 30 medals, the Brits won six. Distance standout Mo Farah won two. The other four came in relays: men’s 4×1 gold, men’s 4×4 bronze, women’s 4×1 and 4×4 silver. That’s it. Farah has said he is done with track racing and plans to move to the roads; he would seem hugely unlikely to run in The Meet. The upside for UK Athletics, which USATF receives significant government funding, is that it has every incentive to get better, and what better way than to race the best?

For true track and field geeks:

In the placing table, scoring events 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 for places one through eight, considered the best indicator of true team strength, the U.S. finished with 272 points. Then came Kenya, 124. Then Britain, 105. (Then, Poland, 86, and China, 81, with 66 nations scoring points.) So matching the United States and Britain next July is, genuinely, a competitive thing.

The trick will be formatting the two hours. In the relays, no question the Brits can take it to the Americans. In other events?

Meanwhile, The Meet would seem likely to achieve other significant objectives as well:

— The stadium’s chief tenant is now the West Ham soccer team. But keeping the track was a major political focus in the run-up to the London Games of then-2012 chief Seb Coe, now IAAF president. Every time the track gets used for a major event, it’s good for UK Athletics and, by extension, Coe and those who supported his fight to keep the track.

In turn, that’s good for the IAAF and for track and field.

— A considerable challenge with the 2018 international track and field calendar: there is no major outdoor meet, only a world indoor championships, set for early March in Birmingham, England. So, as Gemili pointed out, The Meet can be more than a meet — it can be, if done right, a happening.

— Finally, in contrast to a slew of disasters at recent worlds and Olympics, the U.S. teams got the stick around during the 2017 championships without a hitch. Credit to new relays coach Orin Richburg. The Meet means more high-level relay practice. All such practice, pointing toward the 2019 worlds and, even more, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, can only be a good thing — both for the U.S. and, of course, British teams.

” ‘The Meet is a great idea and will be a fantastic event for athletics fans, especially as it’s at the London Stadium, which is an amazing venue and has given me so many memories over the years,” Mo Farah, the distance standout, said in a statement.

Farah, of course, has announced his intent to move to marathon racing. Given the likely format of The Meet, he would in any event seem to be a spectator. As one of the faces of British track and field, he was nonetheless asked for a few words and also said, “I think the UK has the best athletic fans in the world and I have no doubt they will be there to cheer the British Athletics team on when they compete against Team USATF.

“It is going to be awesome.”


Should Britain Have Had A Better Medal Return?

The ever-estimable Michael Johnson has raised the pertinent question - while making it clear it was a question and not an indictment - as to whether six medals and sixth place in an International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships on home territory was a reasonable return for the £27 million ($35 million/€30 million) lobbed in the direction British Athletics by UK Sport.

He suggested it may be a matter of "concern" while pointing out that he could think of no other athletics federation which received such a huge amount of money.

It was a good question and a fair one from one of the few BBC sports pundits who calls it as they see it.

You can be sure that throughout the seven days before the final weekend, there was some uncomfortable foot-shuffling in the VIP box of the Olympic Stadium in London by the denizens of UK Sport who had set a medal target of between six and eight of any colour.

Until last Saturday (August 12) there had been just one, a gold, inevitably from Sir Mo Farah, followed by a clutch of fourth places and also rans. But of course under UK Sport’s no-compromise, winning-is-everything diktat even fourth represents failure.

Until Sir Mo’s subsequent sobering silver and the cavalry, in the form of those magnificent relay squads charged to the rescue, it seemed as if the funding body would be facing some serious quizzing as to whether athletics still deserves that degree of investment or whether some of that money should have gone to sports now struggling on the breadline having been denuded of their own funding.

So, there were huge sighs of relief all round when Britain’s 80-plus team had hit the low end of their generous target. Just.

Good enough? Johnson leaves it for others to say yes or no.

We heard from those others about how much burgeoning individual young talent there is for Tokyo 2020 and possibly beyond. That is certainly true.

But the medals at these World Championships were spread among 40 nations and many of those countries have emerging talent equal to the Brits.

Surely only two individual medals, from the same athlete, one of less value that anticipated, was not really what it should have been.

Steve Backley must have wondered where our next outstanding field eventers are coming from as must Seb Coe and Steve Cram in respect of Britain’s middle distance runners while dear old Daley Thompson surely pondered whether British decathletes have lost the will to count up to 10 in the discipline he once so brilliantly dominated.

But you wouldn’t find anyone other than a neutral such as Johnsom hinting that Britain’s athletics efforts were inadequate among the BBC’s galaxy of back-slappers and pom-pom wavers.

At times, the unabated chauvinism came close to that which irritatingly emanated from the United States media during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Objectivity seemed to fly out of the commentary box window and Johnson apart, what the BBC need are more proper journalists, not more moonlighters who recoil from anything contentious, especially drugs, or asking awkward questions, with one notable exception in Gabby Logan who was heavily criticised when legitimately asking one obout the medical exclusion of Isaac Makwala from the 400 metres.

What we tend to forget is that sport is no longer just about what happens on track or field, but matters of interest arising off them, some of which are deeply controversial and need airing.

Which is why David Coleman, trained as newspaper journalist with an eye for a story and how to report it (witness the Munich massacre), still has no peer.

At times, I was reminded of the occasion many years ago when, as a young sub-editor on The Times in London, I was dealing with a report from the paper’s shooting correspondent, a retired Army brigadier, on the national championships at Bisley.

There had been an incident during the day’s event when an official was accidentally shot, though thankfully not seriously wounded, when walking behind the target as a competitor fired.

Obviously it was quite a story, but when I read through the Brigadier’s report there was no mention of it. I telephoned him to ask why.

“I deliberately left it out” he brusquely informed me.

“Why?” I asked incredulously.

“Bad for the image of the sport,” came his reply.

I rest my case.

My armchair observations from a brilliantly-organised championships (no-one does big events better than London, as we were constantly reminded by the BBC) was that we had bags of watchable drama and the curiosity that no-one was running faster, jumping higher or throwing longer that in the last Olympics or previous World Championships.

Was it because of a more intensive drugs testing programme? Even Usain Bolt baulked at this suggestion.

It was also apparent that Sir Mo’s testy relationship with the "ingrate" British media is as fractious as that of Donald Trump’s with the American press corps. An inwardly seething Sir Mo didn’t actually use the phrase "fake news", but that was what he implied when castigating much of the press for any innuendo that he may not be as clean as he insists he is.

He pointed out in one of his rare interviews that he sleeps well at night, has never failed a drugs test and is as clean as the proverbial whistle. No doubt.

But he must know we heard exactly the same protestations of complete innocence from Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones.

So I am surprised that Sir Mo cannot understand why questions are now asked of all constantly winning athletes, especially in the light of his continuing association with the under-investigation coach Alberto Salazar, who chose not to accompany him to London.

No matter. He retires from the track with the appreciation of his public and a record as one of the supreme athletes of all time.

And, of course, so does Bolt, arguably the supreme athlete.

Much has been made of the comparisons between himself and Muhammad Ali, and rightly so.

Both are the only two sports figures in history who have transcended not just their own sport, but sport per se. Both remain universally worshipped will be throughout the ages.

Ali used to boast: ”Parachute me into High China and everyone will know who I am.”

Now the same can be said of Bolt.

Both found initial fame and enduring adulation through winning Olympic gold medals and somewhat ironically and symbolically, both left us in the same rather sad manner, losing their last two fights and races respectively as vulnerable shadows of the supermen they once were. Out of sorts and out of condition.

I was there with 18,000 others in a converted Las Vegas car park when a stumbling Ali was humiliatingly defeated in his penultimate fight by Larry Holmes, who repeatedly beckoned to the referee to stop the fight before Angelo Dundee compassionately took it upon himself to do so.

I confess I shed a tear at ringside that night.

And you know what? My eyes were damp again as Bolt was lefty trailing in third place by a drugs cheat, Justin Gatlin, and later pulled up in agony during the final leg of what was to be his valedictory appearance in the sport he had breathtakingly graced with such dignified domination for a generation.

As I wrote at the time of Ali’s own emotional exit. “The Greatest has gone. Finally, a legend has been licked.”

E tu, Usain.


Taylor hunting down record again - at altitude

Tignes (France) (AFP) - Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor will target the world record on Wednesday at altitude in the French Alps, just a week after coming up short in the same bid at the IAAF World Championships.

The American did enough to hold off his compatriot Will Claye to take gold in London, but his winning effort of 17.68 metres was well down on his personal best of 18.21m, and Briton Jonathan Edwards' 22-year-old world record of 18.29m.

Taylor has long been tipped to beat Edwards' mark, and he will try again at 3,032 metres above sea level in Tignes.

"It's been 22 years, so you know how difficult this mark is," the 27-year-old Taylor told AFP.

"My best is 18.21 and my all-time best. When I thought 'this is my moment', it was still too short. This shows me how crazy this distance is.

"For me, 17.68m is not so far. It's not what I went there for. I wanted 18 metres, if I jumped 18m in London, this would be very difficult, emotionally and physically, it takes so much."

Competing at altitude has long been thought to give athletes, especially jumpers, an advantage.

For example, Bob Beamon set his long-time world record in the long jump of 8.90m in 1968 at 2,250m above sea level in Mexico City.

But Taylor insists he would consider a record set on a specially-made jumping track in France as legitimate.

"We have officials, they've done everything for it to be appropriate," he added.

"If the distance comes, I will know I have passed the world record. The 'A' mention (for altitude) from the IAAF on the best marks is not a problem for me."

South Africa's long jump world champion Luvo Manyonga will also be attempting to break his event's world record on Wednesday, the 8.95m effort by Mike Powell back in 1991.


Usain Bolt in numbers — Why the Jamaican is the greatest

A glorious sporting career has come to an end. Usain Bolt, an eight-time Olympic champion, the fastest man in history, retired after the IAAF World Championships in London.

He is a sprinter who has broken records and left a legacy. We look into the numbers which made the 30-year-old Jamaican the greatest sprinter to have lived.

All four of the fastest 100m times in history belong to Bolt. Known in his early years as a prodigiously talented 200m runner, he burst onto the 100m scene by breaking the world record in New York (9.72) in 2008. Eleven weeks later, in Beijing, he improved on his time, clocking 9.69 as he claimed his first Olympic title.

He has dipped under 10 seconds in the sport’s blue riband event 52 times — putting him fourth on the sub-10 seconds all-time list. But Bolt, who last lost in 2013, is a man who peaks for championships. Three of his quickest times have been achieved on his way to winning either Olympic or world gold.

His times have been in decline over the years and the days of him breaking world records are clearly over. The gold-medal winning times aren’t what they used to be, either — from 9.58 in Berlin to 9.81 in Rio last year.

In winning 100m bronze in London, his final solo race, he finished in 9.95 seconds. It was only the third time he had gone under 10 seconds this year.

Men of Bolt’s size aren’t usually speed freaks. His frame is meant to be an obstacle in an event which requires explosive power out of the blocks.

“We never saw prior to Usain Bolt a sprinter who is 6’5 running the 100m,” former Olympic champion Michael Johnson tells CNN Sport. “Typically, that type of athlete would not be able to get out of the blocks and get through the drive phase in the first 30m or so when short, powerful, massive pressure and power is what’s required.”

With his height and weight, the world record holder would not look out of place on the basketball court. He is notably taller than his rivals, as well as the greats of the past. Christian Coleman, the world silver medalist stands at 1.75m, while the new world champion Justin Gatlin is 1.85m.

Scientists have been studying the secret of Bolt’s supersonic speed for years. He hit a top speed of 44.7.8 km/h between 60m and 80m during his world record 100m sprint in Berlin and is almost as explosive as smaller sprinters in the early stages of a 100m race.

Once out of the transition phase, his height comes to his advantage — the Olympic champion needs only 41 strides to cover 100 meters while other elite runners need 43 or 45. And once he has reached top speed, he is able to maintain his momentum more efficiently than others, which is crucial in a race won not by the person speeding up at the end but slowing down the least.

Bolt — who since 2008 has contributed to 40% of the country’s medals at Olympic Games and World Championships — is as cherished as the late singer Bob Marley in his homeland.

Over 30,000 watched him run his last race on home soil in June. But the world record holder is also universally loved. Not only is he one of the wealthiest sportsmen on the planet — according to Forbes he is 23rd on the list of the highest-paid athletes in 2017 — but he is also one of the most popular too, with over 7m Instagram followers and 4.7m on Twitter.


USA, Britain to face off in new track and field dual meet

Coming off a 30-medal performance at the world championships, U.S. track and field athletes will have a chance to compete in London again next summer in a new event called "The Meet."

USA Track and Field and British Athletics announced Wednesday their teams will go head-to-head on July 21, 2018 in the London stadium that hosted the world championships, which ended Sunday, and the 2012 Olympics.

"The Meet" will feature running, jumping, hurdling and relay events in a two-hour competition. Athletes from Britain and the U.S. will score points for their countries in nine events.

"Team competition captures the attention of fans in a way that brings excitement, attention and focus to our sport," USATF CEO Max Siegel said in a statement. " 'The Meet' will bring track and field back to the future by reviving dual-meet team competition in a way that caters to modern fans."

London Stadium was sold out for morning and evening sessions at the recent world championships with a record 705,000 tickets sold for the event.

While the events haven't been announced for "The Meet," relays look to be a highlight for fans. The British men won gold in the 4x100 at worlds, while the USA took silver. American women won gold in the 4x100 and 4x400, with the British women finishing second.

Published By USA TODAY Sports


'As long as he doesn't want too much money' - Manager replies to Usain Bolt rumours

Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough has rubbished suggestions that the club are set to offer eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt a trial at the club.

Brewers chairman Ben Robinson previously claimed he was interested in signing the 30-year-old on the back of his retirement from sprinting, challenging the Jamaican to transfer his enthusiasm and dedication from track and field to football.

And while Clough has ruled out an official move for Bolt, he conceded he would at least add some pace to the Championship side if he were to join.

"I didn't know he [the chairman] picked the players, he'll have to come down and spend ten minutes in the technical area and see how he goes," he told Sky Sports following the club's 2-0 defeat on Tuesday evening.

"Would that be a loan or permanent? I'm not quite sure. He would certainly add some pace.

"He's done great things for athletics and if you look at Adam Gemili, who was in the 4x100m relay, he played football when he was younger. We would be very interested, obviously.

"He's done a tremendous amount for his sport. If he can apply the same amount of enthusiasm and dedication to soccer then who knows what might lie ahead."

Speculation only grew when Bolt's agent, Ricky Simms, revealed the sprinter "has a million opportunities" to achieve his aim of becoming a professional footballer.

“Usain is 30 and could still race for another four years and go to the 2020 Olympics but he has achieved everything he needs to achieve,” Ricky Simms told the Daily Star.

“There are a million other opportunities for him and he is ready to move on to the next chapter."

Bolt, a Manchester United fan, has agreed to play for the Old Trafford club in a charity match against Barcelona on September 2, should he recover in time from a hamstring injury.


"Heavyweights" Expected At Brussels DL

The AG Memorial Van Damme boosts a night full of running, falling, flying, throwing and even some utter kind of powergame one day ahead of the meeting. Because Tom Walsh and Ryan Crouser are two of the world’s most impressive powerhouses that you can imagine.

Tom Walsh (NZL) and Ryan Crouser (USA) already qualified to compete in the Shot Put Diamond League Final. They will show up for nothing less than an awesome feature on August 31st at Square de la Monnaie in Brussels.

The Shot Put Diamond League Final will also be the great final of the AG Urban Memorial Series. Walsh and Crouser are world class athletes in their event.

Walsh became the World Champion with a put of 22.03m. Olympic Champion Crouser had to settle for 6th place only, but he remains the Diamond Race leader and holds the world leading performance. So there is really something special to look forward to on Aug. 31st. Come and discover some world class Shot Put action at Place de la Monnaie in the heart of the city of Brussels !

..........................................

AG Memorial Van Damme


Zürich DL To Host 18 Freshly-Minted World Champs

Organisers have confirmed that 18 freshly-minted world champions will be competing at the Weltklasse Zurich on 24 August, the first of this season's two IAAF Diamond League finals.

Considering the star-studded entry lists, singling out individual highlights is almost impossible in the battle for a piece of the $US 1.6 million prize pot. But in at least three events, the scenarios seem to guarantee athletics blockbusters providing thrills and goose bumps for everyone attending.

The men’s 400m will not be a rematch, but rather a postponed duel between world record holder, Olympic champion, and world championship gold medallist Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa and his rival Isaac Makwala of Botswana. Makwala missed out on the London 400m due to illness. Now, he is looking forward to challenging van Niekerk in the IAAF Diamond League title race.

Meanwhile, Great Britain's Mo Farah recently added another 5000m silver medal and 10,000m title to his four consecutive double triumphs at global championships to wrote another chapter to the sport’s history books. In Zurich, Farah, one of athletics’ greatest, will run his final track race before moving on to the roads and longer distances. Letzigrund Stadium is a worthy arena for Farah's final bow to cap an impressive track career. Zurich is where Farah broke the 13-minute barrier for the first time in 2010, and it is where he was crowned double European champion in 2014. His final track appearance, over the 5000m distance, could quite possibly come with an IAAF Diamond League title. His opponents will include the five top London finalists including world champion Muktar Edris of Ethiopia.

Swiss stars will also be getting a particularly warm welcome at Letzigrund. The Zurich crowd will be treated with finalists from both 400m hurdles contests, Lea Sprunger and Kariem Hussein. There will certainly be thunderous support for the Swiss women's 4x100m relay team when they step onto the track for the Zürich Trophy. In London, they finished fifth.

NEW FINAL SYSTEM
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 Diamond League meetings. $US 100,000 will be awarded in prize money in each event with individual event champions collecting $50,000.

“The new system enhances the status of our meeting even further, and it 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," said Andreas Hediger, Weltklasse Zürich Co-Meeting Director.

Hediger also noted: “All 16 final events feature the new world champions of London. The IAAF Diamond League thus also proves to be an ideal forum to get to the top of one’s game for major championships.”

IAAF World Championships London 2017 champions at Weltklasse Zürich -

IAAF Diamond League final events:
- Dafne Schippers (NED/200m)
- Caster Semenya, (RSA/800m)
- Sally Pearson (AUS/100m hurdles)
- Emma Coburn (USA/3000m SC)
- Yulimar Rojas (VEN/triple jump)
- Lijiao Gong (CHN/shot put)
- Barbora Spotakova (CZE/javelin throw)
- Justin Gatlin (USA/100m)
- Wayde van Niekerk (RSA/400m)
- 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 throw)



Other events:
- Katerina Stefanidi (GRE/pole vault; will compete at Zurich Main Station on Wednesday)
- Mo Farah (GBR/10000m; will compete in the men’s 5000m)

Organisers for the IAAF


Jo Pavey Aims To Defend European Title At Age 44

Jo Pavey is aiming to defend her 10,000m title at the European Championships in Germany in 2018 - a month before her 45th birthday.

Pavey became the oldest woman to claim European gold when she won the 10,000m in Zurich in 2014, aged 40.

The British five-time Olympian missed the World Championships with a heel injury, but has no plans to retire.

"Next year I'll be mostly focusing on trying to qualify for the Europeans - that's the goal," Pavey said.

The 43-year-old has ruled out competing at the Commonwealth Games in Australia in March, but is keen to continue for at least one more season on the track.

"With the Commonwealths being in March, and having a family and all the different phases of my life I'm at now, I just think it's the Europeans that I'm most interested in," Pavey told BBC Radio Devon.

"It was frustrating getting injured early in the season because I was quite pleased with the way the track sessions were starting to unfold.

"I actually felt younger this year than I did maybe in the last year or two, so I was looking forward to trying to put some good track performances in.

"I suppose I have to retire one day, but I'll never completely retire - I'll always keep running."

The Devon mother of two received her 2007 World Championship bronze medal at the London Stadium during this year's event, after Turkey's Elvan Abeylegesse was retrospectively disqualified for an in-competition doping offence.


Claye Hopes To Find Right Beats For World Record

For most competitors, athletics is predominantly about championships. The attempt to peak for that one day a year, when the medals are up for grabs, is at the forefront of their minds for the full season leading in. It’s almost as if nothing else matters.

Yet, when USA’s Will Claye stepped out of the London Stadium after taking silver in the triple jump at the IAAF World Championships London 2017, behind his compatriot and long-time rival Christian Taylor, it was clear he was not satisfied. His aspirations were not merely defined by the colours gold, silver or bronze, but by the weight of history. With this in mind, there was really only one thing the world’s media wanted to know.

When is Jonathan Edwards’ enduring world record going to be broken?

“We were put in this position for a reason, to push each other to break the world record,” said Claye. “I feel like it will come one day, and I think it just comes down to executing and having the right conditions.”

INTO THIN AIR
Both Taylor and Claye’s obsession with Edwards’ 18.29m world record is visible to all, and they are planning to go to extreme lengths to try to accomplish it. The search for perfect conditions will take them to an unusual destination this Wednesday (16), as they intend to compete in the ski resort of Tignes in the French Alps, at an elevation of approximately 3,700m (12,000 feet) above sea level. Should that fail, they’ll have a final bite of this illusive cherry, for the time being, at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Brussels on Friday, 1 September.

“We are both going up there to try to break the world record. It may have an asterisk beside it, but hey, I’ll take it,” said Claye. “After that we have some time to reboot and get ourselves back together, so Brussels will be big.”

London was Claye’s third time finishing in the silver medal position at a global outdoor championship, after the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. On each occasion his USA teammate Christian Taylor has got the better of him. Despite his admiration for his rival, Claye admits he is growing tired of consistently finishing second best.

“I’m going to work my butt off so I don’t lose ever again,” he says. “It’s like a brotherly rivalry. You don’t want to lose to your brother. It’s very competitive but at the same time you love him.

“I’m always going to have that chip on my shoulder and I’m always going to want to win. I got second, and I don’t ever want to get second again.”

In London last Thursday, Claye achieved a distance of 17.63m with his third-round jump, and finished an agonising 5cm down on Taylor. Despite having a very consistent series, with four of his five other jumps measuring 17.49m or better, the 26-year-old was left unsatisfied by his performance on the night.

“I feel I didn’t execute as well as I could,” he said. “I felt like I left a lot of distance out there. For my furthest jump I didn’t hit the board. That is unacceptable and that is something I’m going to have to live with and work on for the next time.”

MUSICAL TALENTS
Away from athletics, Claye has finally decided to pursue one of his other big passions in life: music. His area of expertise is in the genre of hip-hop, and he released his debut album, entitled ‘Look What You Created’ in April of this year. For now, he sees it as a welcome distraction from the high-pressure world of elite athletics, but he hasn’t ruled out a longer-term future in the business.

“I started making music before I started triple jumping, so I’ve been at it a long time, but I’ve decided now I want to put it out there for the people.

“It gives me a good balance in life. It gives me an outlet to vent and it’s my little diary to just give off who I am. If the right situation comes about in the future, it’s definitely something I would entertain doing professionally. Maybe one of these years I’ll take a year off track and work on a real album with some serious artists.”

That’s all for the future. For now, there’s the small matter of Jonathan Edwards’ long-standing mark, lurking prominently like a back itch that just can’t quite be scratched.

“I feel like Jonathan sees it in us, he sees that we are capable of it,” said Claye. “It seems to be the topic of conversation between us when we meet. You can feel him starting to let it go. He knows that it is coming.

“It’s more about who gets it last, rather than first. Once it’s broken, it’s going to continue to get broken. Just like when the four-minute-mile barrier was broken, it just started to flood afterwards.

“It’s just going to open new boundaries.”

James Sullivan for the IAAF


18 New World Champions Confirmed For Zürich DL

On 24th of August the world’s best athletes are heading to Zurich where the first of two IAAF Diamond League finals will take place in its new format for the first time. 18 new world champions will try to become a Diamond League champion and to win a share of the 1.6 million US dollar prize money on offer.

The eyes of athletic fans were on London during the past 10 days. The first of two IAAF Diamond League final events will no doubt again demand the full focus of the London protagonists. The audience at the Letzigrund Stadium on the other hand expects and is certain to be treated to a night of athletics at its best. The stars of London will be the stars of a two-hour international programme packed with exciting athletics action.

Goosebump moments guaranteed

Considering the star-studded entry lists, singling out individual highlights is almost impossible. But in at least three events, the scenarios seem to guarantee athletics blockbusters providing thrill and goosebumps for everyone attending.

400m duel between Van Niekerk and Makwala

The men’s 400m will not be a mere rematch, but rather a postponed world championship duel between world record holder, Olympic champion, and world championship gold medallist Wayde van Niekerk (RSA) and his greatest rival Isaac Makwala (BOT). Makwala missed out on the London 400m final in a dramatic manner. Now, he is looking forward to challenging top favourite van Niekerk in the IAAF Diamond League title race.

Mo Farah’s farewell

Mo Farah (GBR) just added another silver medal (5000m) and a title (10,000m) to his four consecutive double triumphs at global championships and wrote another chapter to the sport’s history books in the process. In Zurich, Farah, one of athletics’ greatest, will run his final track race before moving on to the road and to longer distances. Letzigrund Stadium is a worthy arena to bow out of an impressive track career. It is where Mo Farah broke the 13-minute barrier for the first time in 2010, and it is where he was crowned double European champion in 2014. His final track appearance, the 5000m race, could quite possibly come with an IAAF Diamond League title. His opponents will include the five top London finalists.

The Swiss stars and their home crowd

After their impressive appearances in London, Switzerland’s stars will be getting a particularly warm welcome at Letzigrund Stadium. The legendary Zurich crowd will be cheering for both 400m hurdles finalists, Lea Sprunger and Kariem Hussein. And there will be thunderous applause for the Swiss 4x100m team when they step onto the track for the Zürich Trophy. In London, they came in fifth in the final – a historic success. Next week, they will be up against the best sprint relay teams once again. Mujinga Kambundji (200m), Selina Büchel (800m), and Fabienne Schlumpf (3000m SC) all missed the championships finals narrowly, and will get another opportunity to prove their skill and top form.

The new format stands the test: All new world champions qualified

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 could qualify for the final at the 12 preceding Diamond League meetings. 100,000 US dollars will be awarded in prize money in each event. IAAF Diamond League champions will win 50,000 US dollars.

“The new system enhances the status of our meeting even further. And it 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. In addition, the prize money at stake has been increased considerably,” Andreas Hediger, Weltklasse Zürich Co-Meeting Director, explained. The revised qualification procedure has already stood its first test, according to Andreas Hediger: “All 16 final events feature the new world champions of London. The IAAF Diamond League thus also proves to be an ideal forum to get to the top of one’s game for major championships.”

The London world champions at Weltklasse Zürich

IAAF Diamond League final events:

Dafne Schippers (NED/200m)
Caster Semenya, (RSA/800m)
Sally Pearson (AUS/100m hurdles)
Emma Coburn (USA/3000m SC)
Yulimar Rojas (VEN/triple jump)
Lijiao Gong (CHN/shot put)
Barbora Spotakova (CZE/javelin throw)
Justin Gatlin (USA/100m)
Wayde van Niekerk (RSA/400m)
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 throw)

Other events:

Katerina Stefanidi (GRE/pole vault; will compete at Zurich Main Station on Wednesday)
Mo Farah (GBR/10000m; will compete in the men’s 5000m)


World Record Beckons For Caster Semenya

LONDON - World champion Caster Semenya has her sights on the more than three-decades old 800-metre world record held by former Czech athlete Jarmila Kratochvilova.

The South African won her third world title on Sunday evening, adding to the gold from Berlin 2009 and Daegu 2011 tying her with her former coach Maria Mutola of Mozambique at the top of the all-time 800m world championship honours board.

Although Semenya has always been reluctant to talk about her ambitions to break the world record, she admitted the global mark featured on her to-do list.

“The world record is achievable but it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be able to run a fast time like that, and we haven’t planned to run faster than that,” Semenya said.

“I am in line to do that but I am a patient athlete and the most important thing is to win as much as I can, focusing more on winning medals.”

Crossing the line in a new South African record time of 1:55.16, she edged slightly closer to track and field’s longest standing record of 1:53.28.

Semenya moved into eighth place on the world all-time performer’s list as the second-fastest African athlete behind Kenya’s former champion, Pamela Jelimo, who holds the continental record of 1:54.01.

Semenya’s coach Jean Verster said breaking the record featured low on their list of priorities.

“For the last three years we’ve had this attitude of racing, and enjoying what we are doing and trying to win titles,” Verster said after his charge added the 800m gold to the 1500m bronze from earlier last week.

“I’m a firm believer that the time when it comes, she feels good at the moment. It’s almost impossible, that is such a quick record, if the race is quick and the other competitors are also going for it, if the pacemakers are going for it, she will make an attempt.”

Two of the athletes who could aid Semenya in a world-record attempt flanked her, sitting at the winners table on Sunday evening.

Olympic silver medallist Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and American middle-distance ace Ajee Wilson gave Semenya a good run for her money.

Niyonsaba had to be content with second place behind Semenya after she and Wilson took the race out fast.

Semenya had too much kick left in her legs, as she blew the duo off the track in the final 30 metres to bag the title.

Niyonsaba clocked 1:55.99, with Wilson rounding off the podium bagging bronze in 1:56.65.

Verster said before they could even consider the world record, Semenya would first have to dip below 1:55.

“It’s almost like baby steps, our first goal and I know the other girls as well, are all thinking ‘let’s get under 1:55 first’,” Verster said.

“If we can get somewhere below 1:55 then we know we are a bit closer, but only when there is good pacemaking, good weather, and the rest of the competition working together, we will see those 1:54s coming.”

Semenya was a relaxed figure at these championships, where she interacted with the crowd while she walked the gauntlet of awaiting journalists in the mixed zone.

After fielding questions at the post-race press conference, Semenya insisted that the media pose questions to Niyonsaba who was sitting quietly to her right.

A shy Niyonsaba playfully nudged Semenya for putting her in the spotlight.

“She (Semenya) is maturing as a person, and growing, I’ve said it many, many times that Caster is maybe one of the nicest people you would meet in your life,” Verster said.

“If people can only see the real Caster, they would also change their opinions.”

The Mercury


van Niekerk Sporting A $120,000 Watch

Now that's a hefty price tag, but I guess only the best will do for this world class athlete.

The 400m world champion has scored an ambassadorship role with Richard Mille.

The role came into fruition shortly after van Niekerk broke records at the Olympics in Rio last year.

The custom-made watch, the RM 67-02, is all about comfort and weighs only 32 grams.

It is officially the lightest automatic watch in the Richard Mille collection.

It's the watch van Niekerk wore when he won the 400m final at the IAAF World Championships in London on Sunday, 6 August.

This model is now also already available at retail, where it may be purchased for $120,500 - a whopping R1.6-million in local currency.

The Richard Mille website says the non-slip and hyper elastic qualities of the strap allow it to perfectly fit each wrist by adapting to individual morphology.

Tennis star Rafael Nadal also wears a Richard Mille when on the court.

Van Niekerk made world history in June when he became the first man in history to go sub-10 for 100m, sub-20 for 200m, sub-31 for 300m and sub-44 for 400m, according to the International Association of Athletics Federations.

It happened when van Niekerk set a new world record in the little-run 300m at the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

In July, the Olympic gold medalist clinched the 400m title at the Diamond League Series in Lausanne, Switzerland.

He did it in a time of 43.62s, a new meeting record.

Just last week, van Niekerk took silver in the 200m final in London.


The Best & Worst Of The World Championships

The summer of sport came to a glorious end last night with the conclusion of the World Championships in London as both British 4x400m relay teams finished on the podium to round off ten days of competition in great style. It has been a strangely anti-climactic world titles: full of drama and upsets, abrupt shifts in mood and momentum. But it is now time to hand out our post-championship prizes (before Seb Coe ‘retrospectively’ beats us to it):

Best Individual Performance Mo Farah. At a home world titles, it was always going to be about Farah, and though he proved fallible in his shorter event, his 10,000m performance that brought him his tenth successive major gold medal was simply breathtaking. Farah was twice clipped from behind on the final lap as the group jostled for position, but he was still able to unleash one more trademark surge to take a magnificent victory in 26 minutes 49.51secs, the world’s fastest time in 2017.

Worst Individual Performance Rosangela Santos. The Brazilian, who won bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games as part of the 4x100m relay, brazenly told reporters she had purposefully false started in the semi-final of the 200m to save energy for that same relay. Not that it mattered, given her team were not medal favourites in that event and they ultimately finished only seventh out of eight teams and behind the British women, who won silver. Still, her lack of respect was contemptible. Best Team Performance Britain’s relay teams. The GB relays have long been a byword for near-misses and also-rans, but in some of the most dramatic finals of the championships, national pride was restored as they unbelievably all finished on the podium. Rarely does sport culminate in such upheaval as the men’s 4x100m, but as Usain Bolt hit the deck in his final major race, watching Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake claim GB’s first gold in the event since 2004 left us with unbridled joy.

Worst Team Performance Jamaica. The athletics powerhouse has endured a disastrous championships, claiming only a solitary gold medal when just a year ago, its athletes won a staggering five out of a possible six sprint titles at the Rio Olympics. Sure, Bolt was not at peak form and won bronze in the 100m, Shelley Anne-Fraser Price was unable to compete owing to her pregnancy, and hamstring injuries scuppered their relays, but all in all, it was a rather poor showing. Greatest Overachiever Isaac Makwala. The crowd favourite for the 200m final was undoubtedly the athlete from Botswana. In 48 hours, he missed the 400m final, ran a 200m solo time trial, qualified for the semi-final, and then came sixth in the final. While there were several bewildering stories from the championships here, his was by far the most mind-boggling. His ability to dominate the headlines and reinvent himself into something of a cult hero deserves great credit.

Greatest Underachiever Katarina Johnson-Thompson. There is no denying her potential. Had the 24-year-old matched her effort of 1.92m in the high jump during the earlier heptathlon, she would have likely finished that event with a brilliant silver. Alas, it was again not to be for the hugely talented athlete, who managed to clear only 1.82m in the heptathlon and came fifth on a total of 6,558 points. Incidentally, her lifetime best of 6,691 would have also been enough for a medal. Least Controversial Figure Hero the Hedgehog. Initial impressions of the bizarrely furry creature and its occasionally obnoxious persona were not positive, yet, over time, it became impossible not to warm to the mascot’s wonderfully heartwarming antics. On the track, it somersaulted, tried the high jump, and painfully fell on the steeplechase hurdle. Off the track, it zip-wired, wrote messages and caused consternation. The standard for future mascots has been set terrifically high.

Most Controversial Figure Justin Gatlin. Already the sport’s pantomime villain, denying Bolt his golden farewell in the men’s 100m, the event he had made his own, was never going to bring the two-time doping offender a loving and heartfelt reception. But booing aside, when even the president of the IAAF made no attempt to hide his disdain and publicly admitted he would rather have awarded someone else the gold, the most decisive figure in global track and field is obvious.


Michael Johnson Says Brits Should Be Concerned

  • Michael Johnson has commented on Team GB's performance this past month
  • Johnson has said a haul of six Team GB medal was a concerning number
  • Team GB won a total of two gold medals at the World Championships

Track legend Michael Johnson says British Athletics should be concerned despite hitting their World Championship target with a late rush of relay medals.

UK Sport set the British team a goal of six to eight medals in return for funding of £27million. They managed six after taking five in the final weekend.

Four came in the relays but it is reasonable to question the depth of the success with only Mo Farah's 10,000 metres gold and 5,000m silver to show for the 80 athletes in individual events.

Considering Farah has run his last track race for Britain, there would appear to be a lack of proven contenders before the Tokyo Olympics.

While Neil Black, the GB performance director, has spoken of the squad's great promise, four-time Olympic champion Johnson asked if the return was value for the investment.

He tweeted: 'Four thrilling relay medals. One individual medallist. Farah. He's retiring. £27m investment. I'd be concerned.'

Black drew criticism during a seven-day spell when no British medals were won, so would be entitled to celebrate a vindication of sorts.

But it is a worry that of the athletes held up as medal contenders — Andy Pozzi, Holly Bradshaw, Sophie Hitchon, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Robbie Grabarz, Laura Muir, CJ Ujah and Tom Bosworth — none actually made the podium.


Race Analysis: Why Did Usain Bolt Lose?

by HMMR Media

Athletics fans love statistics, and I’m no different, which is why it was so exciting to hear that the IAAF and Leeds Becket University were to collaborate on a biomechanics project at the recent World Championships, giving us some insight into what makes up a world class performance in athletics. As the Championships finished last weekend, the first initial reports were released for the men’s 100m and 10,000m, men’s discus final, and women’s pole vault final, which you can find here. The extended analysis will come in time, but the initial analysis does contain plenty of interesting bits of information. As my athletics knowledge is primarily limited to the sprints, that is where I’ll focus. The initial report itself does a great job of presenting the pertinent points, but I hope to add a little extra context where possible.

Analyzing the race meter by meter

The first 60 meters

From the data, we can piece together a decent narrative of the race. When the gun fired, the athletes all recorded reaction times of between 0.123s (Coleman) and 0.224s (Su). Bolt reacted in 0.183s, the second slowest of the race. At 10m, likely due to his superior reaction time, Coleman was winning, although Gatlin and Blake had the fastest 0-10m split, clocking 1.74s. Also at 10m, Bolt was in just sixth place , with a split of 1.78s, the equal fourth fastest of the finalists (along with Simbine). For the next four consecutive 10m splits, Coleman had either the fastest or equal fastest 10m splits of the finalists: 1.00 (10-20m), 0.90 (20-30m), 0.88 (30-40m), 0.87 (40-50m). Because of this, at 50m, Coleman had the lead, with Gatlin in second, and Bolt in fifth (with Blake and Vicaut ahead of him). Between 50-60m, we see athletes (aside from Blake) achieving their fastest 10m split; the fastest comes not from one of the main protagonists, but from Simbine, with 0.84s. Bolt clocks 0.85s, and Gatlin and Coleman clock 0.86s. Coleman still had the lead from Gatlin, the margin 0.06s, with Bolt now in fourth, the big man making his way through the field.

60 to 90 meters

From 60m onwards, it becomes a battle to see who will maintain their speed the best. As we’ve come to expect over the years, the athlete who is initially most successful here is Bolt, who clocks the fastest 10m splits for 60-70m (0.85s), 70-80m (0.86s) and 80-90m (0.86s). This speed maintenance moves him into third place at 90m. Coleman is still winning – just – although he is consistently 0.01-0.02s slower than Gatlin for each of these splits. Simbine, having clocked the fastest 10m split of the race earlier, is now dropping off, going from 0.84s for 50-60m, to 0.88s for 80-90m. During these segments, Bolt’s total drop-off is 0.01s across the 10m splits, which is matched by Gatlin, although the American does so with less total speed. Blake exhibits no drop off in speed in these sectors (he oscillates from 0.88s to 0.87s, back to 0.88s, and then again to 0.87s; this is potentially due to rounding during the analysis), maintaining his speed well, but at a lower speed than his Jamaican compatriot.

The final 10 meters

With ten metres to go, Coleman is spent; he produces a 0.92s 10m split for 90-100m, tied for slowest of all the finalists for this section of hte race and 0.04s slower than his previous 10m segment. Gatlin, on the other hand, produces the fastest 90-100m segment of all competitors in the final, clocking 0.87s and finally overtaking Coleman for the win. Bolt, in a position where he has previously been so dominant, drops off by 0.03s from his previous 10m split, clocking 0.89s and finishing third.

In terms of difference between maximum speed, which occurred between 50-60m, and final 10m segment time, the athlete who best maintained their speed was the winner, Gatlin, with a difference of just 0.01s between the fastest segment and final segment. Gatlin won the race with his speed maintenance . Coleman and Simbine were the worst here, with a difference of 0.06s between their fastest segment and the final segment. Bolt also dropped off by 0.04s.

How fast are the fastest in the world?

Before we analyze Bolt’s race in more detail, it is interesting to look at some of hte other data released. It shows us some interesting facts about speed and maximum velocity:

  • All athletes except from Prescod and Su (seventh and eighth place respectively) had at least one 10m segment where they were the fastest, or equal fastest, in the race.
  • The fastest split, 0.84s, equates to a top speed of 11.9 m/s
  • The slowest fastest-10m split, 0.89s, was recorded by Su. This still equates to top speed of 11.24 m/s.
  • Coleman’s average speed between 10-20m was 10 m/s, which illustrates incredible acceleration.
  • Gatlin produced two fastest 10m segments of all the finalists: the first 10m, and the last 10m.

Dissecting Bolt’s Race

In terms of Bolt, it’s easy to say he lost the race at the start; his losing margin was 0.03s, and his reaction time was 0.04s slower than Gatlin. His 0-10m split was also 0.04s slower than Gatlin’s. Bolt covered the final 90m of the race quicker than everyone else, so it’s easy to point at the start of the race and hold it up as the reason he lost. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

We also have data available from the 2009 World Championships 100m final, where Bolt ran 9.58s, still the World Record. There, he got to 20m in 2.89s (reaction time of 0.146 and 0-20m time of 2.74s). In London, he got to 20m in 2.98s (reaction time 0.183 and 0-20m time of 2.80s). The slowing of reaction time accounts for less than half of the difference between 2009 Bolt and 2017 Bolt. If you want to look at the bigger difference between those two races you have to look at what happened after. In Berlin, Bolt’s best 10m split was likely 0.80s (I’m extrapolating as we only have 20m splits available; he clocked 1.61s between 60-80m). In London Bolt was a full 0.05s slower in a 10m section than at his best; greater than his losing margin.

His top speed is far below what it used to be, as is his speed later in the race. In Berlin, he closed around 0.83 or 0.84s for the final 10m segment (again extrapolating from the 20m segment data provided), whilst in London he finished with a 0.89s split. The difference here is also greater than his losing margin in London, although the drop off in 10m split time is the same (assuming 0.84s in 2009) or similar (assuming 0.83s in 2009) between 2009 and 2017.

Based on this, we can likely conclude two things:

  1. Bolt is no longer the force he was primarily due to a loss of top speed and speed endurance , as opposed to issues with his start; and
  2. Bolt’s slower reaction time and 0-10m segment was still enough to cost him this particular race.

Understanding the role of reaction time

Before we wrap up this analysis, let’s take a deper look at reaction time. As I alluded to on Twitter after the final, reaction time data perhaps doesn’t tell you what people think it tells you. Even the the IAAF/Leeds Beckett report mischaracterize reaction time as the block clearance time. Reaction time is simply the time between the starting signal and when the athletes produce a set threshold of force. So it doesn’t measure how quickly you react to the gun, but how soon you produce that set threshold of force. This is why female sprinters tend to have slower reaction times; not because they react slower, but because it takes them longer to reach that threshold). Reaction time data is collected to ensure that athletes aren’t jumping the gun; it was never intended as a performance metric.  However, because it’s one of only two metrics commonly available (along with 100m time), it is often used as one.

Logically we can argue that, had Bolt met that threshold of force 0.04s earlier – like Gatlin did – he would have won. It’s hard to argue with that. But, similarly, had he achieved the top speeds he was capable of in 2009, he would have won at a canter, even with his slower reaction time. This tallies nicely with the conclusions of the IAAF/Leeds Beckett report, which is that reaction time and performance in the very early stages of the race remain key determinants of race outcome, but that achieving high running speeds and maintaining these running speeds may also equally determine race outcome.

Another reason we should not overvalue reaction times is that it is not correlated with fastest overall times. Between 1999-2015, in WC finals the fastest median reaction times were recorded by athletes in sixth place, with third, fourth, and fifth place also having faster median reaction times than the race winners. So, whilst reaction might be important, it appears not to determine race placing, and each athlete likely has a “normal” reaction time that is individualized to their make-up, height, and other factors. Perhaps the safest conclusion is that a good reaction time doesn’t win you the race, but a slow time can lose it for you . Here it was certainly a contributing factor to Bolt’s loss, but so too was his lack of speed relative to his former self.


"My Greatest Challenge" With Christian Taylor

World and Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor is one of the world’s most high profile athletes. Here the US athlete, who claimed his third world title in the event in London on 10 August, explains how the major technical changes he made in 2013-14 were his greatest obstacle.

MAKING THE TAKE-OFF SWITCH FROM LEFT LEG TO RIGHT
“For me, the greatest challenge of my career was switching from jumping from my left leg to my right. I have always had a weakness in my knees, which was something passed down from me by mom and grandma, who have had also had their issues.

"My knee is not smooth and round like most people; it is quite sharp and this causes a lot of crunching and irritation in the cartilage. Since puberty I have had knee problems – an issue which has become much worse by increasing those forces on the knee 15-fold by triple jumping.

"Persistent problems with the patella tendon had created inflammation which hampered my ability to train and compete. It all came to a head at the 2013 World Championships when in Moscow, as defending champion, I finished back in fourth. I said that wasn’t acceptable. I dreamed of chasing the world record but at that stage of my career I didn’t even know if I could take all six jumps in a competition.

"I had never had surgery on the knee. I’m not the sort of person to take short cuts, preferring to take time off and correct the problem through strengthening, so going the surgery route was not what I wanted.

"Instead my coach (Rana Reider) and I made the decision to jump from that other leg. I did this for the first time at the 2013 Brussels IAAF Diamond League, where I jumped 16.89m. I thought, if I could jump nearly 17 metres jumping for the first time off my right leg, then all hope is not lost.

"It was far from an easy challenge. For one, the timing of the jump is completely different as was my weight distribution. I was used to coming into the board and positioning my body to jump off the left leg but now I had to be prepared to shift my weight in the opposite direction. I had to completely re-learn these movements.

"I had to strip everything back to basics and take baby steps. I would start by doing a standing triple jump and then maybe a triple jump off a one-step approach. It wasn’t easy and one of the toughest parts was dealing with the media. I was losing every week and they kept saying, ‘Can Christian return?’

"I reckon it took eight solid months to consider myself a triple jumper off the right foot. I jumped 17.51m to win in Zurich at the end of the 2014 season and that was a huge moment for me. That made me believe my right foot was no longer the weaker foot and that jumping 18m was a possibility.”

In 2015 Taylor jumped beyond 18 metres on three occasions, highlighted by a mighty 18.21m effort – the second longest jump in history – to win the world title in Beijing.


How Many Medals For Collegians In London

NEW ORLEANS – Past and present collegians turned in memorable performances at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London last week.

Those athletes who honed their skills at the collegiate level combined for 55 medals between August 4 and August 13 inside London Stadium. Of those 55 medals, 25 were gold, 18 were silver and the remaining 12 were bronze.

RESULTS: IAAF World Championships

If you’re wondering about collegians from the 2017 track & field cycle, they accounted for 13 medals – six golds, six silvers and one bronze. Christian Coleman and Jereem Richards were the big winners from the World Championships as they each captured two medals.

See below for a full list of past and present collegians that stood out on the world stage.

Corrections and additions to these lists are welcome — email those to Tom Lewis at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

* U.S. collegian in 2017


Goodwin banned but free to play NFL

The United States Anti-Doping Agency suspended Marquise Goodwin on Tuesday for one year for failing to provide his whereabouts for drug testing, but the San Francisco 49ers wide receiver said in a statement that he is no longer competing in track and field.

USADA said in a statement that Goodwin received three whereabouts failures in a 12-month period. USADA requests the information from a select group of athletes for out-of-competition drug testing.

USADA said Goodwin's suspension began on April 1, the date of his third whereabouts failure.

Goodwin, however, said in a statement provided by the 49ers that he decided to stop competing in track and field so he could focus on his football career and therefore did not supply his whereabouts information to USADA.

"Never in my life have I failed a test," he said. "I have never been opposed to testing and, in fact, have always been compliant with each and every protocol and policy associated with my competitive career in track and field. More than a year ago, I decided to cease competing in the sport in order to concentrate 100 percent on my NFL career. Therefore, 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. I greatly appreciate the support of the San Francisco 49ers and the National Football League as I work to clarify this matter," he said in the statement.

The 49ers confirmed that Goodwin had given up his track and field career in order to fully concentrate on football. The team also said that the NFL will not discipline Goodwin under its policy against performance-enhancing drugs.

"Marquise informed our organization quite 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," the team said in a statement.

Goodwin, 26, failed to qualify to compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics, when he finished seventh in the men's long jump at the U.S. Olympic team trials in Eugene, Oregon, last July. He jumped 27 feet, ¾ inches, more than a foot short of Jeffrey Henderson's winning jump of 28 2¼ inches.

Goodwin, who was with the Buffalo Bills when he competed in the trials, signed with the 49ers as a free agent, receiving a two-year, $6 million contract with $4.45 million guaranteed.


The Athletes Hoping To Continue Mo Farah's Legacy

Last week marked the end of an era for Mo Farah and British athletics. The 34-year-old ran his final track race in a major event, settling for silver in the 5000 meters at the world championships. It was an emotional experience for onlookers inside the London Stadium as the search begins for the next star of the sport.

During Farah’s career, he claimed a total of four Olympic and six World Championship gold medals. A YouGov survey named his double triumph at the 2016 Rio Games the stand out moment of the entire Olympics for the British public. Illustrating how he has managed to become a heavyweight in the world of sport.

"There are athletes out there who have won more medals, but the quality of those medals and for Mo to have led an event on his own... wow. I don't know how you can't see him as our greatest ever athlete," former sprinter Darren Campbell told BBC Sport.

As the Somali-born Brit prepares for the challenges of the marathon, his teammates are already trying to fill the void. Last week in London Team GB achieved 11 top-four finishes with a total of six medals. Out of those medals, two were won by Farah. He was the only Brit to claim an individual medal, but it doesn't necessarily reflect on the current state of British track and field.

The next generation

Laura Muir has already established herself as a world class athlete at the age of 24. At this year’s European Indoor Championships, she won both the 1500m and 3000m title. Impressively, she broke both championship records, including one that was set back in 1985. Last year she ran a 1500M race in 3:55.22 to become the quickest British female athlete of all time over the distance.

"I think I've got at least two, even three more Olympics in me. What events? I don't know. Certainly, so much scope for the future," she said.
Besides Muir’s athletic ability, she also inspires many with her academic dedication. The Scot is studying for a degree in Veterinary medicine at Glasgow University and will miss next year’s Commonwealth Games due to exams.

Middle distance runner Kyle Langford grew up living opposite boxer Anthony Joshua. Now the 21-year-old is bidding to create some sporting history of his own. Last week in London, he missed out on a medal by just 0.04 seconds. An impressive achievement for somebody who entered the event as the 40th best 800M runner in the world.

Langford now finds himself in the media spotlight, an opportunity he hopes to capitalize on.

"I'm not saying I'm going to overtake Mo or dominate like him, but it's more that I would love to fill his boots," he told the Press Association. "I feel like I can. I'm not going to say I've got the personality - I hope I do - but people can probably relate to me.”

"Hopefully with my personality, I can get other people involved in athletics. My aim is not to just win Olympic gold or get a world record or be the face of the sport, it's to try to get people involved,” Langford added.

Dina Asher Smith broke her foot at the start of the year in a training accident. Less than six months later, she finished fourth in the women’s 200M world championship final.

The best performance by a British woman in the discipline since Kathy Cook in 1983. She was also part of the women’s 4x100M relay team, who won silver in London.

"Dina is just a lovely member of the team," Race Walker Tom Bosworth stated in The Telegraph. "It's frustrating because she is so bright, so athletic and has it all."

As far as men’s sprinting is concerned, talent is shining brightly. Britain won gold in the 4x100M relay. Three out of those four members are only 23-years-old and have already broken the 10-second milestone - Adam Gemili, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Chijindu Ujah.

A British athlete emulating Farah’s achievements might still be far away, but there is hope for the future. The legacy left by the 34-year-old is unquestionable, but only time will tell if it has had any impact on the rising stars of the sport. A waiting game that will be filled with both apprehension and excitement.

British medals won at the 2017 World Athletics Championships

GOLD - Mo Farah (10,000 M)
GOLD - Men’s relay (4x100M)
SILVER - Mo Farah (5000M)
SILVER - Women’s relay (4x100M)
SILVER - Women’s relay (4x400M)
BRONZE - Men’s Relay (4x400M)


Muir Urged Not To Skip Commonwealth Games

Sportscotland's director of high performance Mike Whittingham hopes Laura Muir will change her mind about skipping the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Muir has said her veterinary medicine exams will mean she will not make it to Australia's Gold Coast.

The 24-year-old finished fourth in the 1500m and sixth in the 5,000m at the World Championships in London.

"We hope to sit down with her and her coach to see if we can persuade her to run," Whittingham told BBC Scotland.

"We are always mindful of people's studies and would do all we can to accommodate her.

"She isn't competing because obviously she's got to put her studies first, but we are regularly in contact with her and so are Scottish Athletics.

"There may be an outside chance she just looks at the programme and thinks, 'well, I didn't win a medal in Rio and was agonisingly close in London', maybe she'll just look at the Gold Coast 1500m and, who knows, we might be able to persuade her to have a fleeting visit."

Muir aims to complete the final year of her studies, with her exams in May. Next year's Commonwealth Games run from 4-15 April.

"We're not going to put pressure on her, because obviously her studies are important, and we believe in supporting an education alongside an athletics career, because it's really important under our duty of care for our athletes," added Whittingham.

"But having said that, I think Laura would like to win a medal, she hasn't as yet won a medal on the world stage, like World Championships and Olympics, and if you look at that pecking order, European and Commonwealth would fit within that global stage.

"So, there's an outside chance she might sit down with her coach and look at the 1500m."

Whittingham's comments came as it was announced that 65 Scottish athletes "with the potential to make the podium" at the 2018 Commonwealth Games or the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea have been handed individual sportscotland Athlete Personal Awards (SAPAs).

The £312,250 will go to athletes across 16 sports, with beneficiaries including Callum Hawkins in athletics, Kirsty Gilmour in badminton, and boxers Sean Lazzerini, Lee McGregor and Aqeel Ahmed.


Chris Brown On The Way Back For The Bahamas

Brown plans to give it a run in the 2018 season

Don't look now, but "The Fireman" is on the way back.

Former Bahamian national record holder in the men's 400 meters (m) Chris "The Fireman" Brown said that he wasn't convinced to give it another run by the results from the 16th International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) World Championships in London, England, but rather this is something that he was contemplating for a while, and he just decided to go full steam ahead with it.

Brown confirmed that he will compete in the 2018 athletics season, starting off with indoor meets and looking to qualify for the world indoors. The 17th IAAF World Indoor Championships is set for March 2-4, 2018, in Birmingham, England, and it could be Brown's swan song in competitive athletics.

The soon-to-be 39-year-old runner said that he knows he can still produce top times at the world level. He's won five individual medals at the world indoors in the men's doom — a gold, a silver and three bronze medals, and is the most decorated athlete of all time at the world indoors.

Brown has personal best times of 43.58 seconds indoors, and 44.40 seconds outdoors. He's The Bahamas' number two athlete of all-time in both events.

The savvy veteran said that it is highly unlikely that he will compete beyond next year.

"I know what I've done throughout my career, and I know what I'm still capable of doing," said Brown. "Some people don't appreciate it, but that's life. I know I could still get out there and drop a fast time. Next season, I plan to be in great shape and competitive at the world indoors. That should be it for me, but I'll do whatever the good Lord has planned for me to do. I'm just taking it one day at a time."

Brown took in the recently completed world championships from his home base in Atlanta, Georgia, and said he was disheartened by the results of the men's 4x400m relay. Brown has been a mainstay on the team over the past 18 years, but this year he missed out. This was the first world championships he missed since he became a senior athlete almost two decades ago.

Notwithstanding The Bahamas' men's 4x400m relay team was without its fastest runner and national record holder in the person of Steven Gardiner, Brown said that he expected a bit more from the team.

"I am a bit disappointed by them not advancing to the finals. I felt they were in a great position to advance based on the heat they were in," said Brown. "With the amount of medalists that were on the team, particularly with us having a quarter-miler who won a silver medal in the open 400, the results were just shocking."

Of course, that quarter-miler didn't run, and the team of Alonzo Russell, Michael Mathieu, Ojay Ferguson and Ramon Miller, in that order, went on to run 3:03.04 in their heat. They were sixth in their heat, and finished nth overall. That wasn't nearly enough to get them through to the final, as only the top three finishers in each heat and the next two fastest times moved on.

This year Gardiner was the only Bahamian to run a sub-45 second race. For the most part, the others struggled to get in that range. Brown said that he felt they still had the leg speed to get it done.

"When you look at the Olympics last year, we weren't running fast and people counted us out. We got to the Olympics and still got on the podium with those same 45 and 46 runners," said Brown. "I feel like the foundation that I help to lay is strong enough to result in continued success. I can't run forever, and that's why I was confident that with a strong group of world and Olympic medalists in the mix, that we would have still experienced success."

According to reports, Gardiner, who blazed a trail of 43.89 seconds in the semi-finals of the men's doom, chose not to run in the relay, even after being asked to do so, because he didn't want to run with guys who were "running 45s and 46s". Brown said that if that is the case, it's just unfortunate, adding that he would have never refused to run for his country when asked to do so.

"When one looks at my career, it's quite obvious what I would have done," said Brown. "When I'm present and on a team to run, I go out there and run like it has been every year for the past two decades. I go out there and represent The Bahamas like I always do."

Brown was particularly disturbed by the results of the men's 4x400m relay at the world championships this year because he felt that The Bahamas had an excellent shot, not just to win a medal, but a gold medal at that.

Trinidad & Tobago shocked the United States in the final, coming from behind to win the gold in 2:58.12. The United States settled for the silver medal in 2:58.61 and Great Britain won bronze in 2:59.00.

Brown is confident that a healthy Bahamian team could have run a 2:58 in the final, or faster.


Bolt: "Someone Told Me Ali Lost His Last Fight Too"

LONDON – Usain Bolt took an emotional final bow on the track at the end of the World Championships in London on Sunday before declaring that, definitely and definitively, there was no way he would ever return to sprinting.

After embarking on a special lap of honour so slow that you could not believe that we were saying farewell to the world’s fastest man, Bolt was asked by reporters already missing him whether he might ever change his mind.

“No, I’ve seen too many people come back and make things worse and shame themselves. I won’t be one of those people who come back,” Bolt said firmly.

Twenty-four hours earlier, the 30-year-old Jamaican’s matchless sprint career had ended painfully on the last leg of the 4x100 metres relay final as he crumpled to the ground in the London Stadium with a hamstring injury.

Bolt, who admitted that it had been a terrible end of a “stressful” championship for him after also losing his 100m crown, said he had felt consoled on Sunday when someone told him “Muhammad Ali lost his last fight too – so don’t be too stressed about it”.

Already he was looking forward to an exciting future, he said, with his management camp talking to IAAF president Sebastian Coe about what he might be able to do for the sport in an ambassadorial capacity.

He also revealed that his coach Glen Mills, the sage of Jamaican athletics, wanted him to become his coaching assistant.

“So, we’ll see how that goes,” Bolt smiled about the man who has put him through a lifetime of pain.

And the great man even had reporters laughing when he gave them a vision of what a 50-year-old Usain Bolt might end up doing.

“I’ve no idea. Hopefully, with three kids, married, still in track and field, trying to help the sport, watching it grow,” he said.

“I don’t know if I’d take my kids to the track, though. I won’t be one of those parents who force their kids into things they don’t want to do.”

It was a wonderful night of celebration for athletics’ greatest entertainer, with Bolt honoured one last time at the stadium where he achieved the second of his three Olympic sprint doubles.

Coe and London mayor Sadiq Khan presented him with a piece of the 2012 track as a memento before he embarked on his celebration lap, slowly soaking up all the non-stop cheers from the 56 000 full house – all to a Bob Marley soundtrack.

He went over to the 200 metres and 100 metres start lines, knelt down and crossed himself.

“I was saying goodbye to my fans, but to my events also,” he said, admitting he had been close to tears.

And after taking rather longer than the 9.63 seconds it took him to win the 100m crown here in 2012, he eventually stopped at the finish line and gave everyone his trademark lightning bolt impression.

Before he had set off on the lap, he had told the crowd he just wanted to entertain and put on a show.

He did just that before, also getting a rare round of applause in the press room from “some of you guys who wrote bad things about me”.

Asked what he hoped his legacy would be, he paused for a moment before saying: “I’ve proved with hard work, anything is possible. I personally think this is a good message to the kids. ‘Push on, be strong, be as good as you can be’ – that’s a good legacy to leave.”

He was also adamant that he would “preach” to youngsters about avoiding the evil of performance-enhancing drugs.

“The sport hit rock bottom last year and the year before, and now we’re on the way back up,” he said.

And his immediate aims? In typical Bolt fashion, he just smiled and declared: “The first thing I’m going to do is have some fun. Have a party and have a drink. I need to chill.”


SA’s best finish at world champs

The South African athletics team’s luggage will be just a little heavier on their return to the country after a record medal haul at the World Championships in London.

The country’s previous best was four medals, including two golds, won in Paris in 2003 to finish joint seventh. But, with Wayde van Niekerk and Caster Semenya earning themselves two medals each in London and a gold and bronze coming from the nation’s long jumpers, South Africans can celebrate a record haul of six medals. That meant they finished in third place behind the USA and Kenya on the medal table – another first to be applauded.

It’s a massive achievement for a team that, heading into these championships, was rattled by a selection shambles that saw many of the country’s athletes left at home. Nevertheless, Van Niekerk, Semenya, Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai ensured the flag was well represented in London.

Thanks to Lebogang Shange’s fourth-place in the 20km walk and Akani Simbine’s fifth place in the 100m, South Africa finished 11th with 52 points on the placing table, which awards points for places in finals of events. Obviously larger teams have a better chance of a higher finish, with the USA topping that table as well with 272 points, Kenya second on 124 and Great Britain third with 105.

“Obviously I think it’s really, really good – our most medals ever and third on the medal table,” said Semenya’s coach, Jean Verster, after his athlete powered to 800m gold on the last night of competition. “But I also think it’s important to look at that fourth place in the walk and Akani’s fifth place in the 100. It would be nice if we had more placings as well.

“Looking at it critically – I think we need to look at the next generation. We’ve got a few stars now but we’ve got to make sure that the new bunch come through as well. What we’ve actually done quite well over the last decade is getting youngsters exposed to these kinds of championships and I’ll just confirm again that I believe we should have brought as many as possible and the guys that stayed behind should have been here,” he added, referring to the questionable selection policy that Athletics South Africa employed.

Semenya herself was enthusiastic about the performance of Team SA, but also pointed to the next generation. “It’s fantastic. We are growing a lot and hungry enough to be the best in the world. We just have to go back and inspire the young ones so that they can do better,” she said. “But I think it’s also all about the development in South Africa. If we focus more on grooming the young ones, I think we can be a better nation.”

Speaking about the nation’s rise up the medal table, she added: “I think it’s about hard work and dedication. We are inspired by the other generation. We had great runners before and what we tried to do was to improve and take over. I think we are hungry enough.”

The 800 world and Olympic champion pointed to the great performance of the country’s youth athletes who recently topped the medal table at the World Under-18 Championships in Nairobi.

“Those young ones, they actually inspired us. We thought if those ones can do it, we need to come up with something, spice it up, and give it our all. Fortunately we were able to win three golds, a silver and two bronzes which is fantastic. For us, being in the top three in the world – that’s the best thing that’s ever happened to us,” she said, pointing out that top-class coaching has played a massive part in that success.

Verster, meanwhile, hailed these World Championships as one of the best to date.

“It’s been a different championship to be quite honest. There have been a lot of surprises and it just shows you they are all human,” he said.

“This was an excellent world champs in the sense that it just showed again – this is how the sport should be. If you go to the medal table and just look at gold medals, there are 24 different countries that won a gold medal. That I think might be a record. I remember over many years between the Americans, Jamaicans, Kenyans and Ethiopians, almost three quarters of all the gold medals went to them but this year it’s been spread around a lot more countries. That is fantastic for our sport.

“Just as an athletics fan, I think this was one of the best champs we’ve had in the sense that we never knew what was going to happen.”

SA Medallists:

Wayde van Niekerk (400m gold, 200m silver)

Caster Semenya (800m gold, 1500m bronze)

Luvo Manyonga (long jump gold)

Ruswahl Samaai (long jump bronze)


Manyonga will try to set new world record

The world long jump champion, Luvo Manyonga, had his sights set on the world record for quite a while now and just maybe tomorrow in France it might happen.

It is certainly going to be a unique world record attempt. If the Tuks/HPC-athlete, or any of the other six athletes competing succeed in doing so, there is bound to be some controversy because they are competing at 3 032 metres above sea-level on a specially built long-jump track. Most of the world record attempts happened at sea level.

The athletes will warm up at an indoor facility in Tignes and will then be flown up by helicopter to the track in the Alps. It is about a two-minute flight.

Mike Powell, who jumped 8.95 metres in 1991 at the Tokyo World Championships, holds the current world record.

It is interesting to note that when Bob Beamon (USA) set his world record of 8.90m at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, he competed at 2 250 metres. At the time it was argued that Beamon had an unfair advantaged competing at such a high altitude.

Earlier this season Manyonga set his South African record of 8.65 metres in Potchefstroom, which is only 1 341 metres above sea level.

In South Africa athletes often do high altitude training in Dullstroom, which is 2 077m above sea level, while the Tuks/HPC-rowers do their high altitude training at Katse Dam in Lesotho, which is at 2 100m.

It will be a definite challenge for Manyonga and the athletes to compete at 3 032 metres. The problem with competing at high altitude is that there is less oxygen, which means an athlete’s respiratory rate and heart rate speed up.

Neil Cornelius (Tuks/HPC coach) made it clear that it is not going to be a case of fools rushing in where angels fear to tread.

“We have planned for the world record attempt. Karen Gibbs (physiotherapist) has been helping Luvo with special breathing exercises to prepare him from competing at 3 000 metres. We also made provision for special thermal clothing should it be really cold in the mountains.”

Cornelius admits that many an athlete has failed in the past when officially going for a world record.

“Although all of this has especially been organised to help the athletes set a world record, Luvo is not obsessed with jumping a specific distance. Obviously, we want Luvo to do that really big jump. I honestly believe he is capable of doing something remarkable.

“But nothing is going to change. Our approach will be the same as at the World Championships in London. Luvo’s goal will be to make sure that his first jump counts because we believe that with a good first attempt you ‘buy’ five more jumps. It is important that Luvo should have fun because the more relaxed he is, the better he performs.

“Competing at such a high altitude certainly creates its unique challenges. For example, I know that Luvo is going to be much faster in his approach than normal, so we will have to make certain adaptions to it to compromise for the extra speed.”

As to whether the IAAF will recognise a world record set at such a high altitude, Cornelius said he foresees no problems.

“All of this is legal. What might happen is that the statisticians will put an ‘A’ in brackets behind whatever distance is jumped to indicate it happened at altitude. Personally, I don’t view this as any different than Luvo jumping at Tuks, which is also at altitude.”

According to Cornelius, the organisers have set three days aside for this world record attempt. If the weather is not perfect tomorrow, the athletes might only compete on Thursday or Friday. But all indications are that tomorrow the conditions will be as near perfect as they can be.

There will also be an attempt at the world triple-jump record at the same time. It is understood that Jeff Henderson (USA), the Olympic long-jump champion, and Christian Taylor (USA), the world triple-jump champion will also be competing.


Watch 'Smile', A Film Celebrating Mo Farah's Historic Career By Nike

In celebration of Mo Farah's legacy, as he steps onto the London Stadium track to compete in his final campaign for double gold, Nike launches new film Smile.

The film highlights the tremendous sacrifice and resilient mindset behind his record-breaking career, showcasing Farah's intense training and dedication, all the while maintaining that unbeatable smile.

Smile chronicles the mental strength beneath the smiley persona, providing insight into his journey and the toughest moments within it. His hometown of London provides the backdrop to the film.

British spoken word artist George The Poet provides a powerful tribute that captures the human truth we all recognise: behind every smile, there is a story that is never as easy as it seems.


Usain Bolt to play for Manchester United at Old Trafford in legends game against Barcelona - if he can recover in time

Usain Bolt's athletics career finale didn't go to plan with the fastest man of all time breaking down on the home straight of the 4x100m relay in London.

But a lifelong dream for the now-retired Jamaican sprinter could become a reality at Old Trafford.

It has been reported that Bolt is to be named in the star-studded line-up for Manchester United's legends match against Barcelona.

Now after a career of dominating his opponents on the track, Bolt has to race against the clock to be fit to play in the match.

Bolt is recovering from a hamstring injury suffered in the relay and has until September 2 to be ready.

“This has been his dream for many years. He’s desperate to do it as long as he can get over the injury,” a source told The Sun.

Man United Legends manager Bryan Robson will welcome Bolt's speed to the line up which includes the likes of Edwin van der Sar, Paul Scholes, Dwight Yorke and Phil Neville.

Other former Red Devils stars include Denis Irwin, Ronny Johnsen, Louis Saha, Mikaël Silvestre, Jesper Blomqvist, Quinton Fortune and Dion Dublin.

The Catalan legends will be managed by Jose Mari Bakero, with stars including Gaizka Mendiaeta, Eric Abidal, Migel Angel Nadal, Gheorghe Popescu, Ion Andoni Goikoetxea and Julio Salinas


Semenya 'thrilled' to be 'amongst best in the world'

CAPE TOWN - South African middle distance star Caster Semenya says that she is thrilled to be amongst the best athletes in the world after she picked up her third 800m world title at the IAAF World Championships in London on Sunday.

Semenya won the 2017 final in a time of 1:55.16, setting a world leading time over the distance in the process. She also bagged her second medal at the athletics showpiece, adding the 800m gold medal to the bronze she won in the 1,500m last week in her first major final in the event.

"It is the best (performance) I have ever produced in my life. If you see, it is 1:55.16, it's my lifetime best. It's eighth on the world list, so I'm quite thrilled and it's an amazing feeling to be amongst the best in the world.

The South African now has three World Championships golds to go with her two Olympic winner's medals.

The dominant South African has also equalled Maria Mutola's World Championships record of three 800m gold medals.

Speaking after her final, Semenya dedicated her win to the women in South Africa.

"It is Women's Month and I dedicate this to all South African women and I thank them for all the support, they've been fantastic. I give this glory to them.

"South Africans are proud. I know they're jumping up and down now. It's all about giving back to them now, they deserve this. It's also for the younger generation, it's all about inspiring them, showing them that anything is possible if you work hard and you believe."


Sanya Richards-Ross 'healed' by support after abortion revelation

Former Olympic 400m champion Sanya Richards-Ross says she has helped other women by speaking publicly about having an abortion.

Richards-Ross, 32, revealed in her new book that she had a termination a day before leaving for Beijing 2008, where she won a gold and bronze medal.

She later claimed that every female athlete she knows has had an abortion but the issue is "not talked about".

"There is a brokenness there," the American told BBC Radio 5 live.

"For me, it was really healing to be able to share that with other friends.

"Now I've had other women reach out to me, not just in track and field but all over the world. They've said 'your courage is helping me to heal myself'. That's meant a whole lot to me.

"I feel bad because I think people misinterpreted when I said 'everyone I know'. I don't intimately know a lot of women in this sport.

"When I started to share my story I was like 'wow', so many women around me have been through the same thing and no matter how close you are, it's something that people don't share."

'Thanks for making it cool to wear make-up on the track'

Richards-Ross won three Olympic golds in the 4x400m relay for the USA, with her first and only individual gold coming in the 400m at London 2012.

She also claimed seven medals at the World Championships - including five golds - before retiring in 2016.

During her career, the Jamaican-American athlete became well-known for her style on the track - which included wearing make-up and nail varnish while competing.

She hopes that her image, as well as her sporting achievements, will inspire female athletes in the future.

"People ask me 'why do you wear make-up when you run?' and 'why are you so stylish?' and a big part of it for me was to show young girls that you don't have to be butch or masculine to be a great athlete," she said.

"I've had so many girls during my career saying 'thanks for making it cool to wear make-up on the track'. My hope is that I've empowered some young women to go towards sports because sport is one of the best life teachers you can have."

Dopers making 'impact' on athletics

Richards-Ross' time of 48.70 seconds in the women's 400m is the fastest since 2005.

The world record of 47.6 was set by East German athlete Marita Koch in 1985 but there has always been doubt cast over the time.

Koch competed during a period when it is known that East Germany was doping its athletes but she has denied any wrongdoing and never failed a test.

When asked about doping in track and field, Richards-Ross said: "The more we hear about these horror stories of the best athletes in the world not being clean, it definitely impacts on our sport.

"I think the IAAF [International Association of Athletics Federations] needs to go back as far as they have records to ensure the records we are competing against are clean and fair.

"I want to see the IAAF do everything they can to make sure the sport is clean."


Daily Mail: "At Least Coe's Tainted Sport Won't Be Back Soon"

  • Lord Coe was thanked by the BBC for laying on the greatest games ever
  • Coe also returned the praise to the broadcaster for their wonderful coverage
  • Athletics is undermined by drugs, corrupt execs and state-sponsored doping

The World Athletics Championships ended, predictably, in an orgy of self-congratulation.

Lord Coe, of the IAAF, was thanked by the BBC for laying on the greatest games ever, Coe returned the praise to the broadcaster for their wonderful coverage. Back in the studio all the talk was of how soon the event could return to London. We're so fine, do-lang, do-lang, do-lang, as The Chiffons didn't sing.

'That's why athletics is the greatest sport in the world,' cooed a commentator, surveying a podium containing one Russian athlete, running as a neutral because his country is so bent it is banned, and a gold medallist from Qatar, who has the unique distinction of being the first medal-winner from that country to be born there.

Like Qatar's Bulgarian weightlifters, his predecessors were always imported, at a price.

That little peccadillo — the ruthless corruption of nationality in sport — did not stop Qatar getting the 2019 edition of the Championships, though.

And the issue of fixing and other questionable practices now being investigated in the United States, did not stop the 2021 event going to Nike central in Eugene, Oregon, either. Capacity at Eugene's Hayward Field venue is only slightly smaller than the ground at MK Dons.

So, there's the reality. Not that athletics is coming home any time soon, but that it is a tainted pursuit that sells off its main event to the highest bidder, and the warmth felt for it at the London Stadium was a brief moment in time, no more.
'There is growing confidence within the sport,' insisted IAAF president Coe. 'People are proud to be involved.'

Look, this is Britain. It does not take much to make us proud. The economy is starting to tank and we're still banging on patriotically about hard Brexit. We win a few medals in the relay and we're kings of the world. Give us a big event and we'll get behind it.
Last year, 81,781 turned up at Wembley to watch a football team that had just been beaten by Iceland play Malta.

We go to Test matches in big numbers, whether we're any good at cricket or not. We fill huge stadiums for para athletics events. We were the worst performing host team in Rugby World Cup history, and you still can't get a ticket at Twickenham for love nor money.

You'd want us in the front row at every gig you played but, let's be honest, we're not the most discerning crowd. We laugh at any joke, applaud any entrance. We're up for it all, the best house a rotten turn could hope for.

So, Coe might not want to take London to the bank just yet. Normal service will be resumed in Doha in 2019, where attendances are typically low. Just 15,000 tickets were sold for the Para Athletics Championships there in 2015, compared to 230,000 in London this summer. The Asian Cup and Qatar Open tennis were also sparsely attended.

Yet Doha and athletics are a lovely fit. That's where the event should be held, really, so we can see it for what it is. Full of apologists and cheerleaders and in thrall to commerce. This is also why Nike — the company that endorses and embraces the drug cheat Justin Gatlin, booed in London don't forget — gets its payback in 2021.

Eugene was the host award that bypassed a formal bidding process, a decision so suspect it is being investigated by the FBI. Before London, the IAAF took their marquee event to Russia and China. You can't claim 2017 as a typical year for the sport.
It was Gatlin who talked of the narrative being about white hats and black hats — good guys and bad guys — but in athletics even the white hats are often grey around the edges.

At the time the 2021 host city was being debated, Lord Coe was on the IAAF Council and the payroll at Nike. He made plain his support for Eugene to a senior Nike executive, Craig Masback, a fact revealed by the BBC. Maybe those in front of camera don't watch their own channel.

So, anyway, to answer the queries of the BBC panel: 2023. That's the earliest the IAAF World Championships can return, by which time Laura Muir will be 30. But it won't return then because the sport the BBC think they are covering, the one they called greatest in the world, does not exist.

It should, because there is nothing in essence purer than a foot race or a throwing contest, but athletics is undermined by drugs and corrupt executives and state-sponsored doping and participants who sell their passports to the highest bidder, and there will be plenty of vested interests jostling to host in six years' time and all are ready to pay. Azerbaijan, come on down.

So, for all the phoney euphoria, Qatar is welcome to it. Eugene, too. Anywhere but London. The love of the common people shouldn't be turned into handy camouflage for the IAAF. Let Doha show athletics for what it is.


New UCLA Head Anderson Talks Legacy, Future

UCLA track and field sent more athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships this season than it had in any year since 2004. However, 2017 hardly resembles the 20th-century glory days that saw both teams place in the top-10 – if not the top-five – nearly every year.

The new director of track and field and cross country Avery Anderson competed in Westwood alongside dozens of internationally renown legends of the sport from 1992 to 1996, and Daily Bruin Sports had the opportunity to catch up with Cal State Northridge’s former director on what the past culture was like at UCLA and how he plans to reshape the program.

Daily Bruin Sports: What does it mean to you to be the director of your own alma mater’s program? Did you ever see yourself in (former coach Bob) Larsen’s shoes?

Avery Anderson: No, it’s absolutely incredible. It’s hard to describe – it’s still surreal. I’ve been here a few weeks now, but it’s an awesome feeling to know that I’m able to come back and charged with bringing the program back to the caliber it was when I was here as a student-athlete. I just always knew it to be the best program out there. That’s what I see, and so I’m excited to get the opportunity to do that and lead us back there.

DB: What was the culture like for UCLA track and field back then? Is it similar or different now?

AA: It’s definitely different now. I think the excitement of that time was kind of unrealized every moment when you go out to practice every day and you live through the days, and the weeks, and the months and the whole season. We knew that it was something special, but even looking back it was far more special.

I don’t think that culture and atmosphere and environment will ever necessarily be duplicated – I think that what we’ll do when we get back to the top is going to be in a different way. The difference is, then, you had the men as a team and the women as a team and those were separate programs, but you had legends on opposite sides of the track.

John Smith was the sprint coach and hurdle coach; Bob Kersee was sprints, hurdles, jumps coach on the other side. Some coaches shared duties, (like coaches) Art Venegas and Bob Larsen. So I think just the caliber of the athletes that were on the campus at the time and on the track and even working on opposite sides of the track – it was pretty awesome to see and take in. Now looking back, I’ll know that that’s what existed then. I think we’ll get back to that point, but we’re not there right now. It’s different now.

DB: What do you see as the future of UCLA track and field culture then?

AA: I think that the accomplishments can be duplicated; I have actually every intention on even surpassing the accomplishments. But when you look back and you realize I was training with (Olympic long jumper and heptathlete) Jackie Joyner-Kersee, that’s something that I think will be duplicated, in the sense that we’ll have elite athletes of that caliber; we’ll have Olympic champions and world champions and world record holders, but I think the era was different.

When you have the (Olympic sprinter and hurdler) Gail Devers and the on and on and on, (Olympic hurdler) Kevin Young and people like that, I think that those caliber athletes are what UCLA track and field is. I think that’s what we’ll get back to, and I hope we supersede some of what happened.

The couple championships that were won I want to be many more. I think there’s a different way that it’s going to happen. The basics are the same – bring athletes in, you coach them, and you win – but I think the day and age of track and field now is going to require a different method.

DB: Is that just because the sport is so much bigger now than it was in the ’90s, or are there other factors as to why it’s going to require different methods?

AA: It’s a bigger sport. I think, worldwide, it was always that way. In the U.S. now it’s more college-focused, whereas when I was growing up it was the Carl Lewises and the Evelyn Ashfords, and the people were the professionals, and you had the great college teams of UCLA and USC, but not on a national scale. …The sport now in the U.S., I think, is really college focused.

Even though there are the professional athletes that still aspire to go to the world championships, there are a lot of college athletes that are doing that, and back then there weren’t as many. But the sport, the knowledge, the science of it, it’s enhanced at the college level. I think that’s where the development is happening, to take that step from high school to elite, so I think that’s one of the challenges right now that exists.

DB: What’s your analysis of why the program has gone downhill since then, and what do you plan on doing to get it back up there?

AA: I don’t want to look back in a way that might come across as criticizing; I really want to focus on moving forward. There are things that I see and I have an opinion about, but I wasn’t sitting in (the director’s) chair, so I really don’t want to comment on too much of it.

But in ways that I see moving forward, it’s about excellence. This is the best university in the world to me and, I think athletically and academically, the balance is that we have to be what UCLA is, and that’s compete on a level of excellence. That includes recruiting the right student-athlete – and that means the character of the person, the student and the athlete all have to be a mesh that makes it so that we’re on the same page of achieving excellence, and that’s kind of where you start.

And then the coaches: There has to be the same level of expectation with the coaching staff – for myself, but also my assistant coaches. We have to understand that the standard is a lot higher than maybe it’s been and that’s where we’re going as we move forward. So we coach student-athletes, including mentoring them as young people to develop into the most successful person they can be. A big part of that is going to be their athletic development, and we’re aspiring to great heights with that. There’s, I think, no limit to where we can reach. But I know we’re not going to have a standard so low that there’s room for the program to exist where it has.

DB: What was your favorite memory from when you were an athlete in the program?

AA: That’s a good question. There’s a lot. It’s funny because it’s really the experience, and that’s a memory that’s broad – it’s specific but it’s broad. It’s being at practice, it’s being around the team. A lot of it is centered on what I remember about practice in that corner at Drake Stadium, but also on that bus and on that plane and at that track meet. So really it was the experience, the overall experience with the teams that we had and the great people.

Some of them were great athletes, but a lot of them were great people. The coaching staff then (are) still great friends of mine now, and great mentors and great leaders. I think that’s the thing that I’d say was one of my favorite memory was just the experience.

DB: Academically and athletically, you said you want to draw the best people here. What’s your pitch to get those type of athletes here?

AA: I don’t want to give you my secrets (laughs), but honestly it’s just what I mentioned. There’s a level of expectation that we’ll have and it just operates on the side of being excellent, being great. Like I said, this is the best university in the world, we’re in the best city in the world, we’re in the best location in that city, we have the best facility in the country in my opinion. All of these things align with one common theme, and that’s “the best.” That’s what the pitch is: This is the best, you want to be the best, (and) it’s here for you in Westwood.

DB: This is a kicker, but in about a span of a week or so this past month, UCLA had (men’s sprints coach Darrell) Smith go, (NCAA 400-meter-hurdles runner-up) Rai Benjamin transfer to USC, (NCAA 110-meter-hurdles qualifier) Misana Viltz transfer to Cal and (sprinter) Angie Annelus go to USC with Rai. Does that present any obstacles going forward as far as sprints go?

AA: You know, I realize why that looks like it presents an obstacle, and obviously, it’s an obstacle when you lose talent like that. Before they transferred, I did meet with all of them. We had a great conversation. Them transferring had nothing to do with me personally; I understand that and they were clear about that. That’s just where they were with the experience they had here, up to that point before I got here.

But in terms of the overall mission of UCLA track and overall goal in the long run, it doesn’t present as much of an obstacle as it would if you have people who are here who don’t want to be here. That’s a bigger problem. This is UCLA; if a person does not want to be here, then they’re free to leave. There’s not going to be many people that fit that bill, and so those athletes that decided to transfer, I can only wish them the best. I don’t have any ill will toward them; I’m going to cheer for them and root for them and things like that, but it’s not going to stop what we’re going to do.

Our mission to be the greatest track and field entity in the world, that’s what I’m about. And that is going to be inclusive of people that want to be here and are on board; and those that aren’t, it’s ok.

DB: We’ve talked a lot about track, but the second half to the job is cross country. The men are coming off one of their best seasons last year; what do you expect from cross country this fall?

AA: I think that momentum that’s been built is what we expect to keep going. We’re in different places on the men and women’s side, but I think the goal will still be the same – we want both teams to get into the national championship meet, run as well as they can, and, through the season, build.

There’s a lot more focus on doing better this year than we have in a long time, on the part of the student-athletes. And I know coaching-wise … what we’re looking at is how we navigate the season and to be as good as we can nationally.


Coe: Track Will Miss Bolt's Voice More Than Medals

ATHLETICS chief Sebastian Coe described the sight of Usain Bolt pulling up injured in the final race of his glittering career as “horrible”.

The Jamaican collapsed to the track on the final leg of the 4x100 metres relay at the World Championships in London on Saturday.

Coe, president of world athletics governing body the IAAF, said: “The athlete in me tells me it’s a devastating moment if you’re in mid-race and something starts not to work, it’s horrible.

“Whether the Jamaican team were in a medal position or not, the reality of it is you don’t want to see anybody not being to be able to fulfil what they warmed up to do and what they prepared to do.

“What we are going to miss about Usain Bolt is not the three back-to-back Olympic Games or the clutch of world records or the medals, it’s going to be because he has an opinion, he has a view, he fills a room. We have some really terrific talent that’s identified themselves at these championships, but that’s not the same as filling that void.”

Bolt’s team-mate Yohan Blake blamed the 30-year-old’s injury on the delay to the race, which started 10 minutes later than scheduled.

“I think they were holding us too long in the call room. The walk was too long,” the former world 100m champion said as he hit out at the organisers. “Usain was really cold. In fact Usain said to me, ‘Yohan, I think this is crazy’.”

But Niels de Vos, the chief executive of UK Athletics and London 2017, said: “It’s an unfortunate inevitability that the final event of any World Championship is often slightly later than timetabled.

“I expect Usain himself would be the very last person to complain, not least because often he’s been the cause of events being delayed because of the mass celebration that happens around him.”


What's The Future Of British Track?

The UK Athletics team may have won six medals at this year's IAAF World Championships, but the best could yet be to come.

Great Britain came sixth in the table, winning two gold, three silvers and one bronze medal.
The chair of the team, Richard Bowker, says Britain has a "fantastic rich crop of young talent".
Here are four promising young athletes who could be topping the medal tables in the future.

Kyle Langford

Kyle is a middle-distance runner who competes mostly in the 800m race.
At 21, he's already competed in the World Championships twice.
He didn't advance beyond the first round in Beijing in 2015, but two years later he managed to get to the 800m final, narrowly missing out on a medal by coming fourth.
He ran a personal best of 1 minute 45.25 seconds, so expect to see a lot more of him in the future.

Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake

Londoner Nethaneel is 23 and is a sprinter specialising in the 200m.
At this summer's World Championships he won a gold medal as part of the men's 100m relay and also came fourth in his own 200m race.
He is only the second British man to break both 10 seconds for the 100m and 20 seconds for the 200m - so is a promising prospect in UK running.

Adelle Tracey

Middle-distance runner Adelle was selected as one of the promising British athletes who got to light the London 2012 Olympic torch and has certainly lived up to those expectations.
The 24-year-old achieved two personal bests at the World Championships in the 800m heat and semi-final, but sadly missed out on making the final by three-quarters of a second.
She's hoping to get a medal at the upcoming European Championships in Berlin.

Desiree Henry

Desiree is21 but the sprinter from London already has a bronze medal from the Rio Olympics and a silver medal as part of the 100m women's relay team from the World Championships.
She has recently improved her personal bests - 11.06 seconds for the 100m and 22.46 seconds for the 200m.
She is Britain's third-fastest female sprinter of all time.


Was London More About Losers Than Winners?

Bolt was never tainted by track's doping scandals

Of the seven men who have run 9.80 seconds or better in the 100, Bolt is the only one who has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

The intangibles also matter

Bolt finally was beaten in his last 100-meter race at this past week's World Athletics Championships, but that does not erase his magnificence. His world record of 9.58 in the 100 is set in stone. No current athlete is within shouting distance of his 19.19 in the 200. He won three sprint golds in three straight Olympics, when no other athlete has done that twice. (One relay gold was later revoked, due to a teammate's positive drug test.)

But just as much as these astonishing numbers, Bolt's personality set him apart -- the energy, joy and excitement he delivered every time he stepped onto the track.

After finally defeating Bolt in London, Gatlin did not exult or strut. He literally bowed down to Bolt. "It was paying homage to someone who has changed the game, who has come along and took the sport to another level," Gatlin said. "Not just sprinting, but the sport, and helped sports in general be lifted to a different plateau."


Why No Steven Gardiner On Bahamian 4x4?

LONDON, England — The issue of Steven Gardiner not running the men's 4x400 meters (m) relay for The Bahamas at the 16th International Association of Athletic Federations' (IAAF) World Championships, in London, England, made headlines locally and internationally. It is understood that the decision might have come from his American coach, leaving Bahamian coaches and team officials in awe as to how a foreigner could have so much power over a Bahamian athlete and so much say in how Bahamian teams are made up.

Gardiner is 21 years old, and is coached by American Gary Evans, of Pure Athletics in Clermont, Florida. He won the silver medal in the men's 400 meters (m) at the world championships on Tuesday night, running 44.41 seconds in the final. He set a new Bahamian national record of 43.89 seconds in the semi-finals, becoming the first Bahamian to dip below 44 seconds in the men's doom.

The first round of the relay was four days after the final of the men's 400m, so fatigue shouldn't have been a factor at all. 
Gardiner, believed to be healthy, could have given The Bahamas two rounds of the relay — the heats on Saturday, and the final on Sunday, had they qualified. Even former world record holder Michael Johnson, commenting for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), spoke to the matter. Johnson was critical of Gardiner for not running the relay, particularly since the final of the men's 400m was done from Tuesday.

Team Bahamas' Head Coach Diane Woodside-Johnson voiced her displeasure. "As the head coach I requested of him to run in the heats, because I thought that we would have done a lot better, but he refused to run. That's a problem that we have to deal with," she said. "The team as a whole was in very good spirits. Most of them did what they were supposed to do. It's a very young team, and we have to keep them together some way, somehow, in a certain program where they meet several times per year.

"We must make some changes in this elite part of our program in The Bahamas, though. We must have something in place, whether it's developmental, consequences for not doing what you're supposed to do, or whatever. I'm going to initiate that in my report and hopefully something comes out of it." In Gardiner's absence, the team of Alonzo Russell, Michael Mathieu, Ojay Ferguson and Ramon Miller, in that order, ran 3:03.04. They finished sixth in their heat, and were nth overall. Just the top three in each semi-final heat, and the next two fastest times moved on to Sunday's final. Out of the four relay teams, the men's 4x400m squad was the only one to record a time. Both the women's 4xioom and 4x400m relay teams didn't finish, as the 4.xioom squad dropped the baton, and veteran quarter-miler Christine Amertil fell in the 4x400m race; and the men's 4x1oom squad was disqualified for a lane infraction.

"We've had some good spots and some bad spots — the nature of meets like this," said Woodside-Johnson. "In the sprint relays, we had some very good exchange practices, but we had a rough day. We just had some incidents out there. I'm disappointed, but the athletes went out there and did their best. Things just happened and we didn't fare very well. It was unfortunate that happened to the men's sprint team, and the girls were pretty okay. Based on the exchanges that we did, I think that was the best possible combination at that time."

The real tension and turmoil of Team Bahamas centers Gardiner, though. Many can't believe that he refused to run

Bronze medalist in the women's loom Shaunae Miller-Uibo didn't run the rounds of the relays as well, but she had just completed six straight days of running from doing three rounds each of the women's 200 and 400m, and it is understood that she would have been available for the final of either relay, had the teams advanced. Gardiner not running is a serious issue. The Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) is yet to release a statement on the matter. 
BAAA President Rosamunde Carey left London for The Bahamas on Sunday and was unavailable for comment.


US medal dominance could reflect doping cleanup in track

LONDON (AP) — For years, athletes from the United States have quietly wondered how they might have fared if they had been competing on a level playing field. This year, they may have found out.

Final figures from the medals standings at the world championships that wrapped up Sunday offered evidence that track and field’s attempt to crack down on a global doping crisis could be making a direct impact on the results themselves.

Exhibit A: The United States won 30 medals, while athletes from four countries that have been under the doping microscope — Kenya (11), Russia (6), Ethiopia (5) and Jamaica (4) — combined for 26.

Two years ago, the results looked like this: United States 17, Kenya 16, Jamaica 12, Ethiopia 8, Russia 4.

Four years ago, with Russia competing on home turf and in the midst of what investigators have determined was a state-sponsored doping conspiracy, they looked like this: United States 26, Russia 14, Kenya 12, Jamaica and Ethiopia 10 each.

“Maybe the only good byproduct of the past corruption and scandal is that it forces sport to make sure it never happens again,” said Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. “Ultimately, that’s good for clean athletes.”

Among the changes that have taken place over the last two years:

—The suspension of the Russian track federation. Only 19 Russians competed at this year’s worlds, 100 fewer than were present in Moscow in 2013. The 19 competed as neutral athletes because the IAAF determined they’ve been under proper anti-doping controls.

—Five countries, including distance-running powerhouses Kenya and Ethiopia, have been placed on a doping watch list — meaning they are being closely watched because of evidence that has surfaced about less-than-robust anti-doping procedures in those countries. Jamaica has also been under increased scrutiny, which has led to the stripping of a 2008 Olympic relay medal because of doping by one of Usain Bolt’s teammates.

—The IAAF has established an independent testing authority that takes responsibilities for conducting the anti-doping program out of its hands. A handful of former IAAF leaders are under investigation for their roles in doping cover-ups and related corruption.

“We have to be open about it,” IAAF president Sebastian Coe said. “There’s been a disproportionate amount of damage to the sport produced by a relatively small number of nations, and we just have to get on top of that.”

As a sign of the IAAF’s willingness to tackle the issue head-on, the meet began with the reallocation of medals from 11 races dating to 2007.

“It’s not a Russia thing, but it is a thing that sometimes you get out there and you wonder, ‘Do I have a fair shot at this? If I’m doing the right thing, is everyone else doing the right thing?’” said American sprinter Natasha Hastings, who received a reallocated relay gold from 2013.

It’s a refrain shared up and down the roster in the United States, where athletes are widely considered to be subject to one of the world’s toughest anti-doping programs.

“It’s not uncommon for athletes in our training group to get tested every month,” said U.S.-based track coach Loren Seagrave, who trains athletes from several countries. “On some occasions, you get tested on one day, and they show up again the next day. I think they’re as vigilant as they can be.”

Of course, it’s a delicate proposition to attribute all these numbers to doping, or to assume all the problems are fixed. From Marion Jones to Tim Montgomery to Tyson Gay, Americans have a history of doping positives, reflected most starkly during this meet by the fans’ reaction to Justin Gatlin. The 100-meter champion was roundly booed at every turn because of his doping history — he’s served two bans.

“I thought in 2012, I was in a cleaner race, and it turns out that Olympic final was probably one of the dirtiest in history,” said American middle-distance runner Shannon Rowbury, who finished out of the medals in a race in which no fewer than five of the 1,500-meter finalists have been investigated for doping violations.

Exhibit B (perhaps): Eleven of this year’s 14 winning sprint times, including relays and hurdles, were slower than in 2013, which was the last world championships held the year after the Olympics. But a portion of that — as well as Jamaica’s paltry showing, with only four medals — could be attributed to Bolt’s rough week; he won bronze in the 100 meters and pulled up lame in the 4x100 with a hurt left hamstring.

The champion took umbrage to the linking of slow times and doping, calling it “disrespectful.”

“There’s something called injury and sometimes, everything doesn’t go as smoothly as you want,” Bolt said. “We came out and put on a good show for everyone.”

Nobody enjoyed the show more than the Americans, whose 30 medals were only two short of what they picked up last year at the Olympics in in Rio de Janeiro, when some of the reforms were starting to take hold and Russia only sent one track and field athlete.

“There was a lot of shuffling, some medalists were completely unexpected,” said American long jumper Tianna Bartoletta, who won a bronze medal. “Whatever the explanation, it’s promising. I’m encouraged by what I saw here this week.”


Manangoi Can Break 1500 Record Says Kiprop

LONDON, Aug 13 (Reuters - Kenya’s new world 1,500m champion Elijah Manangoi can break the 19-year-old world record for the event, Asbel Kiprop said after losing his title to his younger compatriot on Sunday.

“I see Elijah as a fresh talent, a new guy, who will take the event to the next level," Kiprop told reporters after failing in his attempt to win a fourth consecutive 1,500 gold medal at the World Championships. "He is new, young, strong and smart; he is the guy to run under 3:26.”

Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj set the world record of 3:26.00 in Rome on July 14 1998.

Kiprop, 28, finished ninth on Sunday, more than three seconds behind Manangoi's time of three minutes 33.61 seconds, and said he would now move up to the 5,000 metres.

“I used a wrong tactic and used a lot of energy in closing the gap. When the race settled, the pace had become too hot for me.

“I will move to the 5,000m to fill the void being left by Mo Farah and to try and bring the title back home,” he said.

The last Kenyan to win the world 5,000 title was Benjamin Limo in 2005 in Helsinki.

Manangoi, who finished ahead of fellow Kenyan Timothy Cheruiyot, thanked Kiprop for mentoring him but was coy about his world-record ambitions.

“I thank everybody who made this possible," Manangoi, 24, said. "It is like a dream. I particularly thank Asbel for mentoring me. As for the world record, let’s not talk about it.” (Editing by Clare Fallon)


Which British athletes could be contending for medals at the Tokyo Olympics?

Great Britain finished the London 2017 World Championships on Sunday with six medals as attention swiftly turned to the athletics team's prospects at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Here Press Association Sport looks at six athletes who could be on the podium in Japan.

:: Likely medallists

Laura Muir

The British record holder over 1,500 metres and 5,000m, Muir finished fourth over the shorter distance. She is still a relative novice at 5,000m, but showed at London 2017 her calibre cannot be questioned.

Adam Gemili

His decisive second leg run in the 4x100m relay win on Saturday night gave a hint of what might have been had the selectors opted for Gemili in the individual 100m and 200m. With Usain Bolt retiring, the 200m, in particular, could be wide open.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson

Surely the heir apparent to Jessica Ennis-Hill is going to get it right sooner rather than later? A poor performance in the high jump – usually one of her strongest suits – saw Johnson-Thompson fall out of medal contention in the heptathlon, but if she can put it all together in two days, she should be challenging for gold.

:: Staking a claim

Dina Asher-Smith

Five years on from carrying athletes' kit at London 2012, Asher-Smith recovered from a broken foot to finish fourth in the 200m and win a silver medal in the 4x100m relay. She will be optimistic of further major championships success, if she can stay fit.

Kyle Langford

The son of Watford fish and chip shop owners, Langford placed fourth in the competitive 800m before vowing to go for gold in Tokyo. Some big names, and Russians, were absent, though, so he has plenty of work to do.

Callum Hawkins

Hawkins was a surprise fourth in the marathon, an event usually dominated by Africans. Four-time Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah is stepping on to the road post-London 2017, but may not be around for Tokyo, so Hawkins has an opportunity to take his team-mate's mantle.


Bolt bids farewell: Americans shine at world championships with 30 medals

LONDON—Usain Bolt took a last leisurely stroll around the track, placed his hands over his heart and then pointed toward the stands, where barely a soul had left.

The running had been over for nearly 30 minutes. As always, though, Bolt had a way of making everybody stay.

The world championships came to a melancholy close Sunday with an on-track tribute to the man who made the sport fun again. There were 11 gold medals at stake on a frenetic final day in London, and yet it was the sight of the hobbled champion walking slowly around the track—stopping to kneel at the starting lines for the 100- and 200-meter races he dominated for a decade—that made for the evening's best theatre.

"I think I almost cried," Bolt said. "I was just saying goodbye. That was it. Saying goodbye to my events. Saying goodbye to everything."

The United States says goodbye to London in possession of 30 medals, the most it has ever taken from the worlds. Of those, 10 were gold, including the capper in the women's 4x400 relay final, where Allyson Felix won her 16th medal to finish as the most-decorated athlete of all-time at the worlds.

Felix also won gold in the 4x100 relay, but the bronze she took in her only individual event, the 400, makes this a less-than-perfect trip for her.

In that way, she's got something in common with Bolt. Between the bronze medal in the 100 and the hamstring pull and tumble to the track that ended his anchor leg of the 4x100 relay—and still made him wince when he had to negotiate big steps around the stadium—the championships went nothing like he planned.

"Someone tried to blame me, and said I started it," Bolt said of a 10-day run filled with upsets and surprises. "It was just one of those things. It was one of those championships where everything does not go your way."

Winners on the final day included:

_ Caster Semenya of South Africa, who added the 800-meter gold to her 1,500-meter bronze from earlier in the meet.

_ Elijah Manangoi, who led a 1-2 Kenyan finish in the 1,500 meters.

_ Hellen Obiri of Kenya, who pulled away from favorite Almaz Ayana with 250 meters to go to win the 5,000-meter race.

_ Sandra Perkovic of Croatia, who added this latest discus title to her two Olympic golds.

_ Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, who won the high jump by clearing 2.35 meters without a miss.

_ The men's 4x400 relay team of Trinidad and Tobago, whose anchor, Lalonde Gordon, beat American sprinter Fred Kerley to the line.

_ Yang Jiayu of China, Yohann Diniz of France, Eider Arevalo of Colombia and Ines Henriques of Portugal in race walking. Henriques set a world record in winning the first women's 50-kilometer walk at the worlds in 4 hours, 5 minutes, 56 seconds.

There's not a household name in the bunch, and though all the performances were remarkable in their own way, this sport's lack of star power with Bolt out of the mix is hard to gloss over.

"What we're going to miss about Usain Bolt isn't the three back-to-back Olympic Games or the clutch of world records and medals," said Sebastian Coe, the leader of track's governing body, the IAAF. "It's because he has an opinion. He has a view. He fills a room. We have terrific talent that's identifying itself at these championships. But that's not the same as filling that void, and we have to work at that."

Bolt's standing-room-only news conference was scheduled for 15 minutes but went about 35. He discussed his past, the future and the sport he leaves behind.

He said over the long term, he could see himself coaching track and occasionally stepping into the TV booth for the sport's biggest events. His immediate plans? "I need to go out and have a drink," he said.

Asked one more time about doping, he said he thinks track is on an upward trajectory after two dispiriting years involving a doping scandal in Russia and problems across Africa and in his own country, Jamaica.

"I've proven to the world that you can do it, that you can be great without doping," he said. "Hopefully young athletes can look at me."

As far as a comeback is concerned, he insists it simply won't happen.

"I've seen too many people retire and come back and make it worse and shame themselves," he said. "I personally feel I won't be one of those people."

But he has no regrets about running in this meet, or concerns that the results will tarnish his legacy. In a way, he said, the jaw-dropping losses were similar to the breathtaking wins: They showed that when he's on the track, anything really is possible.

"For me, it was brilliant," he said of the week that was. "I'm just really sad I have to walk away now."


Dwight Stones Not Happy w/ NBC's HJ Coverage

A Facebook post from the ever-quotable former WR holder:

<<It's difficult to listen to the NBC commentators talk about today's men's high jump competition and repeatedly allude to someone clearing 8ft. No one has been within 3 inches of that height this year. The field event "analyst" doesn't know the correct height of the favorite, Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar. Barshim is 6'4" and the commentator has him at 6'2" and recently corrected it to 6'3", still incorrect. The commentator also has no clue how to state heights and/or distances, insisting on saying "Two point three, five" instead of "Two, thirty-five" as an example of how he states EVERY height and distance.

The producers, in their ignorance of the event, chose to focus on Barshim hurdling 6'4" as part of his warm-up/introduction today. The world record for hurdling in the high jump is over 7ft. Then the commentator, with support from the play x play announcer, start setting Barshim up for ultimate failure by pushing this world record/jumping 8ft. scenario. They keep driving the hurdling and 8ft. theme. Barshim is past his sell by date for setting PRs. He can absolutely still win medals and is an overwhelming favorite to win today but he squandered his world record chances back in 2014.

At age 26, the world record window has closed for him, which means we must continue to endure the drug-fueled record set by Cuba's Javier Sotomayor for the foreseeable future. This coverage is nearly unwatchable in its amateurishness. Nothing has or will change and this network has exclusive rights to cover the professional level of our sport and has rights to the Olympics through 2032!>>


World Championships 2017: Why athletics is still worth fighting for

So this was a disappointing World Championships. Justin Gatlin beat Usain Bolt. Seven days later, cramp beat Bolt again. Wayde van Niekerk couldn't win his 200m/400m double. Isaac Makwala couldn't even start both.

Mo Farah, after 10 global golds on the bounce, finished with silver. Britain went fourth rather than conquered. Only one new championship record was set. On most days it was grey and on several nights it was as cold and wet as autumn.

It was also a Worlds where the old guard was superseded by the new in electrifying fashion. Upsets were everywhere: double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson out of the medals in the 100m, world record holder Keni Harrison off the podium in the sprint hurdles, Olympic 400m hurdles champion Kerron Clement overshadowed by charismatic young Norwegian Karsten Warholm.

There were comeback stories - Sally Pearson from a shattered wrist that almost led to amputation, South African long jump champion Luvo Manyonga from an addiction to crystal meth. Ding-dongs were everywhere - in the women's triple jump, in the long jump where six centimetres covered the first four athletes, in the women's 1500m and the men's 800m. Both steeplechases were thrillers.

So it was disappointing for Great Britain. Going into the final weekend, the largest squad they had assembled for a Worlds had just one medal to show for it, and that was Mo Farah's 10,000m title in the first night. £27m in funding over the four-year Olympic cycle, went the prevailing argument, should be bringing home so much more.

And then the relays happened. Gold for the men's sprint quartet, silver for the women. Silver for the women's 4x400m team, bronze for the men. Along with Mo Farah's 5,000m silver it meant Britain finished with six medals - on its target, the same number as after the last two Olympics, at the Worlds of 2013 and 2009.

Disappointments and great excitement, a struggle but a success. This is where athletics is, and the Worlds of 2017 brought both old doubts and fresh hope.

Britain wanted more. Maybe, in a Worlds without Russia, in a sport which is possibly cleaner than it used to be, it should have taken them.

Those relay medals were wonderful, each achieved through hours of drills and a tightness between the constituent parts that cannot be faked. They are also the lower hanging fruit on the track tree; only 16 teams invited for each. There is a reason they are targeted by British Athletics.

But athletics medals are hard to win. There are 208 member nations of the IAAF. It is a more truly global championships than that of track cycling or rowing, the two great engines of the British medal machine across the past three Olympics.

Last summer on Rio's Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, British rowers dominated the regatta, winning three gold medals and two silvers. With 43 athletes they also had the biggest team of any nation there. Forty-nine of the nations there qualified teams of fewer than 10 athletes - 32 of them had a team of just one or two rowers.

Only nine nations apart from Britain won a gold. At London 2017, 43 different nations won medals, 27 different nations gold.

Then there is the spread of the past 10 days. Five fourth-place finishes might sound like five failures, yet each was a stretch achievement for the individual who took it.

The IAAF produces something called a placings table, which aims to give a broader indication of each nation's strength. Eight points are awarded for a first place, seven for a second, down to one for eighth.

At the 2005 Worlds, Britain came 12th on this ranking with 35 points. Across the five Worlds since then they have hovered between fifth and seventh, their biggest total the 94 points of two years ago in Beijing.

Here in London they ended third, racking up 105 points. Maybe it means nothing compared to medals. Maybe that strength in depth won't convert to medals over the next four years. Maybe too it suggests encouragement, even as issues remain with the quality of coaching available, with the development of promising juniors into successful seniors, with the glaring gaps in several key disciplines.

There were an almost overwhelming number of reasons to be pessimistic about track and field coming to London. The end of Bolt, the ongoing struggle against doping, only the start of the complete rebuild the sport's governance and image requires.

All those issues were here right in front of you. There were several performances that wise insiders struggled to make sense of, the sight of returning cheats taking titles, athletes who have switched nationality for purely economic reasons winning medals for nations where they have never lived.

Eleven individuals and five relay teams were reallocated medals denied them by cheats in the recent past. If that was both welcome and dispiriting, so too was the warning from IAAF president Seb Coe that other nations may yet join Russia in mass exclusion from the biggest stage.

And yet impossible to ignore too were the great strengths of this beleaguered sport, the spells of magic that set it apart from others, the allure that still shines through when circumstances are right.

Over its 10 days, 705,000 people came to watch these championships. Never before has a Worlds brought in so many.

If that won't happen in Qatar in two years' time, neither does it happen in the same way at other great events in this sport-mad nation. An athletics crowd is untouchable in its diversity: families, kids, a blend of ethnicities that reflected this host city but was light years away from the far narrower demographics at Wimbledon, or Twickenham, or Lord's.

Then there is what they see: more nations brought together than at any other sporting championship, a wider range of skills and sizes, the action on those big nights happening all around the stadium at a dizzying lick.

It is both a simple sport, in that even a newcomer can work out how an event is run and won, and one with depth - running at astounding speed, throwing an astonishing distance, jumping longer and higher than we could ever imagine.

It can be easy to let the cynicism win. Everyone is at it. Too many of these results won't last. When the Worlds leave London's embrace the magic will dissipate and with it the crowds and energy. The troubles are still right there.

So too is the allure. There are clean athletes, and there are great champions. There are nights, like Saturday, when the thrill can still be pure and unrivalled.

It can be a beautiful sport. It is worth fighting for. Don't give up on it, even when it can feel so easy to do so.


Mo Farah tells media: ‘If you say I’ve done something wrong, prove it’

Mo Farah has accused sections of the media of trying to “destroy” his achievements on the track with unfounded allegations against his legendary coach Alberto Salazar and insinuations about how he attained his success.

Speaking the morning after his glittering championship track career came to an end with a painful 5,000m defeat in the London Stadium, Britain’s most successful ever athlete insisted his 10 world and Olympic titles had come about purely through hard work.

“History doesn’t lie,” Farah told his critics. “What I achieved over the years, people are proud of me. You can write what you like. The fact is I’ve achieved what I have from hard work and dedication. Putting my balls on the line, year after year and delivering for my country.”

As the exchanges grew more heated, Farah asked why some journalists kept bringing up his relationship with Salazar, who helped turn him from a very good athlete into a great one after he joined the coach’s Nike Oregon Project training group in late 2010. Salazar has been under investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency for the past two years but has always vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

“It’s like a broken record, repeating myself,” said Farah, who gave everything during a thrilling last lap only to finish second to the Ethiopian Muktar Edris on Saturday night. “If I’ve crossed the line, if Alberto’s crossed the line, why bring it up year after year, making it into headlines? I’ve achieved what I have achieved – you’re trying to destroy it.”

As Farah pointed out, while Salazar has been his coach on paper – which includes writing his workouts – the day-to-day training has been facilitated by the British team. “How many races has he been to this year for me or last year?” Farah asked. “He hasn’t been to any.

“I‘ve been pretty much by myself with the guidance of Alberto, as you all know. I was capable of doing the job. It didn’t make any difference to me. I know what I wanted to do. I was in a training camp for the British team.”

Farah also suggested that parts of the media, which has questioned the nature of his relationship with the controversial coach Jama Aden and then reported on the leak of his athlete’s biological passport by the Russian hackers Fancy Bears, had an agenda against him.

Mo Farah lies on the track after finishing second in the men’s 5,000m final as the winner, Muktar Edris, reaches down to comfort him. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex Shutterstock
“There’s nothing else to be said,” he said. “Sometimes I find it bizarre how certain people write certain things to suit how they want to sell the story. You guys get to me – you never write the facts. The fact is, over the years, I have achieved a lot through hard work and pain.

“So many times, you guys have been unfair to me. I know that. But say it how it is. I want you to write the truth about what’s out there and educate people out there. But be honest with them. If you say Mo Farah has done something wrong‚ prove it.”

Farah refused to say whether he would be coached by Salazar next year when he tackles the formidable challenge of the marathon. But he admitted he was sad to leave the track after so many glittering successes.

“It has definitely hit me,” he said. “I got emotional on Saturday night. All good things in life must come to an end at some point. What goes up must come back down. I wanted to end on a high. But it happens. The better man won on the day. That’s part of athletics. Fair credit to the other guys to be able to go. They had three guys in the team – they said ‘one of you won’t get a medal’. To beat Mo, it’s taken them six years to do it but you’ve got to give it to them.”

He also conceded that stepping up to 26.2 miles would not be easy. “No one is going to give it to me. The roads are a whole new game. I’ve got to learn it and understand my weakness. It’s going to take a while to understand the marathon.”

Farah also insisted that he was open to the idea of helping the next generation of British distance runners. “It’s important that we get into the sport and help others,” he said. “Christine Ohuruogu has been helping out with the relay and will continue to leave a legacy behind.

“It’s about not thinking selfishly, not thinking financially. If we love the sport, you try to help others and I believe the knowledge and what I’ve learned over the years, I can contribute towards the younger kids and make a difference.

“You see Kyle Langford, Laura Muir, the relay boys – there are a lot of youngsters coming through,” he added. “I think we can make a difference.”


Golden London run has triumphant Pearson eyeing Tokyo

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia's Sally Pearson will reward herself with "volumes" of greasy food after winning her second 100 meters hurdles world championship but plans to keep herself in top shape in the long-term for a tilt at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Pearson's brilliant win at the London Stadium on Saturday capped two years of injury heartbreak and made her Australia's most decorated track athlete of the modern era.

The 2012 London Olympic champion was denied a chance to defend her title last year at Rio due to a hamstring injury but hopes her body can stand up for Tokyo in 2020, when she would be just shy of her 34th birthday.

"Of course, you always think about Tokyo," the rejuvenated hurdler told state radio ABC.

"I've always want to go to three Olympics. Missing out on Rio was heartbreaking but obviously it was there for a reason.

"As I've said, I've got to look after my body. Definitely (running at) the Commonwealth Games next year. And who knows what will happen after that?

"Tokyo is only three years away ... I just have to listen to my body and be smart about it."

After missing out on Rio, Pearson coached her own way back to the top, reasoning that after multiple injury setbacks, no-one knew her body like she did.

She will cast off the unflinching self-discipline for a brief period to eat what she wants before plotting a path to victory at next year's Commonwealth Games, where she will be the headline attraction near her home on the Gold Coast.

"Volumes of food .... I like to reward myself with greasy food," said Pearson, who won her first 100m hurdles world title at Daegu in 2011 and grabbed a silver at the Moscow championships two years later.

Also a silver medalist at the 2008 Beijing Games, Pearson's third individual world championship medal surpassed the record of iconic Aboriginal sprinter Cathy Freeman, who won back-to-back 400m titles in 1997-99 and clinched gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

A week after mourning the death of Betty Cuthbert, the only athlete to win 100, 200 and 400m Olympic golds, local media hailed Pearson as Australia's "latest golden girl".

"Cuthbert was the center of a much cherished and glorious part of Australian sporting history," prominent local pundit Patrick Smith wrote in The Australian newspaper.

"That spirit lives on. It is indestructible. It lives on in Sally Pearson who sometimes has a fragility that is a decoy for the toughness that lines her body and soul."

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)


'Superhuman' wanted -- Bolt exit leaves vacuum to fill

Usain Bolt's retirement leaves a huge vacuum to fill but athletics is moving in the right direction in rebranding itself after scandals that damaged its image, according to sports marketing experts. While athletics was left reeling by allegations about former athletics boss Lamine Diack as well as the Russian doping scandal, under the leadership of Diack's successor Sebastian Coe, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the governing body says it is beginning to take the right steps in restoring its image. "The authorities are making it more accessible and improving its presentation and taking it into an urban environment with street races," Jon Tibbs, chairman of leading sport public relations firm Jon Tibbs Associates (JTA), told AFP. Tibbs says the sport needs to find a "superhuman" replacement, equating the loss of Bolt to how golf has suffered since Tiger Woods went into meltdown.


Bolt gets the cheers, and Americans get the medals at worlds

LONDON (AP) -- Usain Bolt took a last leisurely stroll around the track, placed his hands over his heart and then pointed toward the stands, where barely a soul had left.

The running had been over for nearly 30 minutes. As always, though, Bolt had a way of making everybody stay.

The world championships came to a melancholy close Sunday with an on-track tribute to the man who made the sport fun again. There were 11 gold medals at stake on a frenetic final day in London, and yet it was the sight of the hobbled champion walking slowly around the track - stopping to kneel at the starting lines for the 100- and 200-meter races he dominated for a decade - that made for the evening's best theatre.

''I think I almost cried,'' Bolt said. ''I was just saying goodbye. That was it. Saying goodbye to my events. Saying goodbye to everything.''

The United States says goodbye to London in possession of 30 medals, the most it has ever taken from the worlds. Of those, 10 were gold, including the capper in the women's 4x400 relay final, where Allyson Felix won her 16th medal to finish as the most-decorated athlete of all-time at the worlds.

Felix also won gold in the 4x100 relay, but the bronze she took in her only individual event, the 400, makes this a less-than-perfect trip for her.

In that way, she's got something in common with Bolt. Between the bronze medal in the 100 and the hamstring pull and tumble to the track that ended his anchor leg of the 4x100 relay - and still made him wince when he had to negotiate big steps around the stadium - the championships went nothing like he planned.

''Someone tried to blame me, and said I started it,'' Bolt said of a 10-day run filled with upsets and surprises. ''It was just one of those things. It was one of those championships where everything does not go your way.''

Winners on the final day included:

-Caster Semenya of South Africa, who added the 800-meter gold to her 1,500-meter bronze from earlier in the meet.

-Elijah Manangoi, who led a 1-2 Kenyan finish in the 1,500 meters.

-Hellen Obiri of Kenya, who pulled away from favorite Almaz Ayana with 250 meters to go to win the 5,000-meter race.

-Sandra Perkovic of Croatia, who added this latest discus title to her two Olympic golds.

-Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, who won the high jump by clearing 2.35 meters without a miss.

-The men's 4x400 relay team of Trinidad and Tobago, whose anchor, Lalonde Gordon, beat American sprinter Fred Kerley to the line.

-Yang Jiayu of China, Yohann Diniz of France, Eider Arevalo of Colombia and Ines Henriques of Portugal in race walking. Henriques set a world record in winning the first women's 50-kilometer walk at the worlds in 4 hours, 5 minutes, 56 seconds.

There's not a household name in the bunch, and though all the performances were remarkable in their own way, this sport's lack of star power with Bolt out of the mix is hard to gloss over.

''What we're going to miss about Usain Bolt isn't the three back-to-back Olympic Games or the clutch of world records and medals,'' said Sebastian Coe, the leader of track's governing body, the IAAF. ''It's because he has an opinion. He has a view. He fills a room. We have terrific talent that's identifying itself at these championships. But that's not the same as filling that void, and we have to work at that.''

Bolt's standing-room-only news conference was scheduled for 15 minutes but went about 35. He discussed his past, the future and the sport he leaves behind.

He said over the long term, he could see himself coaching track and occasionally stepping into the TV booth for the sport's biggest events. His immediate plans? ''I need to go out and have a drink,'' he said.

Asked one more time about doping, he said he thinks track is on an upward trajectory after two dispiriting years involving a doping scandal in Russia and problems across Africa and in his own country, Jamaica.

''I've proven to the world that you can do it, that you can be great without doping,'' he said. ''Hopefully young athletes can look at me.''

As far as a comeback is concerned, he insists it simply won't happen.

''I've seen too many people retire and come back and make it worse and shame themselves,'' he said. ''I personally feel I won't be one of those people.''

But he has no regrets about running in this meet, or concerns that the results will tarnish his legacy. In a way, he said, the jaw-dropping losses were similar to the breathtaking wins: They showed that when he's on the track, anything really is possible.

''For me, it was brilliant,'' he said of the week that was. ''I'm just really sad I have to walk away now.''


Scots Zoey Clark and Eilidh Doyle inspire Great Britain to win relay silver medal at London 2017 World Championships

Great Britain won a silver medal in the 4x400m relay race after a fantastic team performance in the final.

Zoey Clark, Laviai Neilsen, Eilidh Doyle and Emily Diamond finish with a time of three minutes and 25 seconds.

The team were 0.41 seconds ahead of Poland with both Clark and Doyle playing a key role in the victory - finally giving Scottish athletics fans something to shout about.

The gold medal went to the United States but Emily Diamond was able to hold on in the anchor leg to make second.

Perth-born Doyle ran an impressive third leg before tiring but it was Diamond who used every ounce of her experience to ensure success for her country.


Canada Went Viral At WC (not in a good way)

Stomach virus, injuries combine to let down athletes, track & field fans

The 2017 IAAF track and field world championships were supposed to be 10 days filled with golden goodbyes and a clash of rivalries.

Unfortunately for athletes and fans, the farewells were not so fond, and it turned out that the biggest rivalry that played out in London, England, was between the human body and a stomach virus.

That sickness – which afflicted scores of athletes and coaches – and key injuries threw cold water on the big moments many were expecting and were also a large reason why Canada saw such a regression from two years ago.

The last world championships brought eight medals, including two gold, but this year Canadians are leaving worlds without a single podium finish for the first time since 2001.

Here's everything you need to know about what happened at the 2017 event.

De Grasse sidelined for Bolt's goodbye

The first sign that something was amiss in London, at least for Canadian track fans, was that a hamstring injury nixed what was supposed to be a final showdown between Andre De Grasse and Usain Bolt.

That was a shame for plenty of reasons, chief among them being that De Grasse was looking to use a strong performance to prove he was ready to become the heir apparent to Bolt and take on the mantle of the word's fastest man.

There was also the drama factor that this moniker would carry, especially since before competition began, Bolt said the last person he anointed as the 'next one' had disrespected him. While the Jamaican didn't specifically name names, an astute track fan could connect the dots about who he spoke of. It seems the two Puma arthletes have made up, as they were spotted exchanging plesantries in London.

So while Bolt failed to retire from the 100 as world champion, it wasn't De Grasse who dethroned him, but the crowd's favourite villain, Justin Gatlin of the U.S.

Gatlin's win also presented its own share of drama, especially when IAAF president Sebastian Coe – who placed the gold medal around the American's neck – told CBC Sports' Scott Russell that he still believed those caught doping, as Gatlin had been in 2006 and served a four-year suspension, should be banned or life.

Not the ideal farewell tour

Bolt wasn't immune from the injury bug, either. His final race at the world championships will be remembered not for him powering Jamaica to another golden finish, but of the 30-year-old pulling up on the homestretch with a leg injury.

Great Britain's Mo Farah also had his goodbye race overshadowed, albeit without the injury or stomach bug getting in the way. After claiming gold in the men's 10,000, Farah faltered in the 5,000, settling for silver in his final race. Canada's Mo Ahmed put down a Canadian record in the 10,000, finishing sixth, while rookie Justyn Knight was ninth in the 5,000.

Bishop comes up short against Semenya

Canada's Melissa Bishop, who just missed the podium at the Rio Games, made it through to the women's 800 final, but watched once again as the event was dominated by South African phenom Caster Semenya.

Semenya has a condition known as hyperandrogenism, which causes some women to produce higher levels of male sex hormones such as testosterone – one of the key ingredients contributing to an athlete's strength and speed.

Bishop, who finished fifth, told CBC Sports after the race that Semenya's testoserone levels weren't something she focused on.
Other notable Canadian results on the track include Crystal Emmanuel finishing seventh in the final of the women's 200; Sage Watson's sixth-place finish in the final of the women's 400 hurdles, and Genevieve Lalonde set a Canadian record with her 13th-place finish in the women's 3000 steeplechase final.

Van Niekerk denied the double

In another shocking result at an event chock full of them, Ramil Guliyev of Turkey upset Wayde van Niekerk's attempt at the 200/400 double, earning Turkey's first world championship gold medal in the 200.

The 25-year-old Van Niekerk, considered by many to be the heir apparent to Bolt as the next global figurehead for the sport, was attempting the 200/400 double in London after the South African won the 400 earlier in the week.

Isaac Makwala of Botswana finished sixth after a hectic schedule due to his bout with the stomach virus and quarantine forced him to miss qualifications. Makwala was granted a shot to qualify, but in an odd sight, ran the track on his own.

Makwala made it through that test, and semifinals on the same day, but missed the podium in the final.

Missing from all this drama was Canada's De Grasse, who was also favoured to land on the podium in the 200.

Warner can't capitalize on Eaton's departure

The stomach bug responsible for so many athletes and coaches forced to be quarantined also hit decathlete Damian Warner.

Widely expected to dominate in London – especially with his chief rival and good friend Ashton Eaton retiring – the London, Ont. native struggled in the first day of competition, and revealed that he had been one of the unlucky ones stricken with the virus.After posting the fastest time in the hurdles on Day 2 of the event, Warner moved up to third overall, however he could not stick around in podium position, ending up fifth.

Drouin, Barber no longer defending champs

Canada's top high jumper may have avoided the stomach virus, but a nagging Achilles injury forced Derek Drouin to abandon his world title defence.

"I knew I was dealing with an injury that would make my chances of competing come down to the wire," Drouin said in a statement. "My support team did everything they could to give my Achilles time to heal, we didn't want to rush back. We just ran out of time."

Shawn Barber was left as the only Canadian reigning champion available to mount a defence, but he ultimately fell in the men's final, finishing eighth.

The field events saw plenty of Canadian content: Alysha Newman and Anicka Newell finished seventh and 12th, respectively, in the women's pole vault, Brittany Crew made Canadian history with a sixth-place finish in the women's shot put final, and Liz Gleadle was 12th in women's javelin final.

Looking ahead to 2020

Canada head coach Glenroy Gilbert, who replaced former coach Peter Eriksson following a surprise firing after the Rio Olympics, said despite not cracking the podium, there are some positives to take from worlds.

"Obviously it's disappointing we weren't able to get the eight medals we were after," Gilbert told CBC Sports' Perdita Felicien. "We're looking at 12 top-eight performances from a lot of new athletes that are in our system.

"So we're looking more towards 2020 and hoping that those top eights... become our medal targets."


Perkovic dominates discus to clinch second world title

By Christian Radnedge

LONDON (Reuters) - Double Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic eased her way to a second world discus title after being the only athlete to throw over 70 metres at the World Championships on Sunday.

The Croatian, who first won the world title in 2013, threw 70.31 on her second attempt which was enough to triumph in the same stadium in which she won Olympic gold in 2012.

The 27-year-old had the top three throws of 2017 going into the competition, and led from the first attempt in the final to secure her country’s first gold of the championships.

"I really enjoyed this competition like I never did before," she told reporters. "I am happy to get my world title back.

"My goal today was to throw over 70 metres because that I was sure that would be a medal mark."

Perkovic’s romp to gold was only seriously threatened on the final attempt by Dani Stevens of Australia.

The 29-year-old was concentrating intensely as she strode into the throwing circle and launched the discus one last time for glory.

It resulted in a personal best 69.64 metres which was enough for silver, her first World Championship medal since she won the title in 2009.

"I am in utopia right now," Stevens said. "I am so excited. Everything came together at the right moment. I cannot believe it. I did not think that I could throw that far."

Melina Robert-Michon of France also achieved a lifetime best throw, with 66.21 getting her the bronze medal to go with the Olympic one she was awarded in Rio last year.

There was no joy, however, for 2015 champion Denia Caballero of Cuba, who could only throw 64.37 to finish fifth.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)


Great Britain win silver and bronze in 4x400m relays on final night of World Athletics Championships 2017 in London

Great Britain continued their impressive relay form with medals in both the men's and women's 4x400m relays to boost the hosts' World Championships tally.

The women's team of Zoey Clark, Emily Diamond, Laviai Neilsen and Eilidh Doyle finished behind the United States for silver to give the home crowd plenty to celebrate on the final evening.

GB finished in two minutes 56.60 seconds as the hosts claimed their fifth medal of the championships.

The sixth followed straight after Matthew Hudson-Smith, Martyn Rooney, Rabah Yousif and Dwayne Cowan took bronze.

The quartet clocked a season's best of two minutes 59 seconds behind winners Trinidad and Tobago and second-placed the United States.

The medals follow last night's gold and silver for the men and women in the 4x100m events.


Usain Bolt insists there will be no comeback

Usain Bolt insists he will not go back on his decision to retire after a painful end to his glittering athletics career, and says he has no regrets about racing for one more year following his success at Rio 2016.

Bolt made history at last year's Olympics by winning both the 100 metres and 200m for the third time in succession, but there was to be no fairytale send-off for the sprint icon at the IAAF World Championships in London.

Having finished third in his last individual race, the 100m final, Bolt sensationally pulled up lame with cramp in his left hamstring when running the anchor leg for Jamaica in Saturday's 4x100m relay.

Asked at a news conference on Sunday if he would consider a comeback, Bolt replied: "No. I've seen too many people come back and make things worse and shame themselves. I won't be one of those people who come back."

Explaining his decision to compete in 2017, he added: "My fans wanted to see me compete for one more year. Without them, I wouldn't have accomplished everything over the years. If I could come out here and give the fans a show, that's fine with me. That's all I wanted.

"One championship doesn't change what I've done. After losing the 100m someone said to me, 'Muhammad Ali lost his last fight so don't be too stressed'.

"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."

Bolt's injury was diagnosed as cramp by Jamaica's team doctor, but the 30-year-old added: "I will see what it is tomorrow [Monday] to see if it is worse than I think it is."

Commenting on his lap of honour in front of a packed London Stadium, Bolt said: "For me, it was brilliant. The support hasn't changed.

"It is sad that I have to walk away now. The energy of the crowd was great. I feel so at home and welcome here.

"I was saying goodbye to fans and saying goodbye to my events also, I've dominated them for years. They have been everything to me. I almost cried, but it didn't come."


U.S. ties all-time world championships medal record

The U.S. ran away with the medal lead at the world track and field world championships, claiming 30 total medals. Kenya finished a distant second with 11 total medals.

U.S. athletes earned 10 gold medals in London. No other country earned more than five golds.

It was the best-ever performance for the U.S. at worlds. The previous U.S. record was 26 total medals, set in 1991, 2007 and 2011.

30 medals matched East Germany’s record from 1987 for the most total medals at a single world championship.

The U.S. has earned the most total medals at 12 of 16 editions of worlds, and at every edition of the biennial completion since 2005.

U.S. sprinter Allyson Felix, who earned three medals in London, now has the most career world championship medals.

Usain Bolt and Felix both entered the competition with 13 career world championship medals, one shy of the record held by retired Jamaican sprinter Merlene Ottey.

Bolt claimed his 14th medal by finishing third in the 100m at what is expected to be his final world championships.

Felix now has 16 career medals. She was the bronze medalist in the 400m, which was won by fellow American Phyllis Francis. She also earned relay medals in the 4x100m and 4x400m.

Unlike Bolt, the 31-year-old Felix is not done yet. She reiterated to The New York Times that she intends on racing through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, meaning she could compete at worlds in 2019 in Doha, Qatar.

Medal table at track and field world championships

2017: U.S. (30 total medals)
2015: U.S. (18)
2013: U.S. (25)
2011: U.S. (26)
2009: U.S. (22)
2007: U.S. (26)
2005: U.S. (25)
2003: Russia (20)
2001: Russia (18)
1999: U.S. (17)
1997: U.S. (17)
1995: U.S. (19)
1993: U.S. (25)
1991: Soviet Union (29)
1987: East Germany (30)
1983: U.S. (24)


Trinidad deny U.S. seventh successive 4x400 world title

By Brian Homewood

LONDON (Reuters) - Trinidad and Tobago denied United States a seventh successive world 4x400 meters relay title when Lalonde Gordon overhauled Fred Kerley on the final straight to win a breathtaking final at the World Athletics Championships on Sunday.

The U.S led for most of the race and appeared to be on course for another win after Michael Cherry ran a strong third lap to extend their lead before handing the baton to Kerley.

But Gordon gave chase and ran a superb final lap for the Caribbean islands, catching the American on the home straight to give Trinidad their first world title in this event and add to the list of upsets at the championships.

It was just reward for Lalonde who was part of the Trinidad team which took bronze on the same track at the London Olympics five years ago and won silver at the Beijing World Championships in 2015.

Jereem Richards, bronze medalist in the 200 meters, and Machel Cedenio also kept them in contention in the second and third legs as Trinidad claimed their first and only gold of the championships.

Martyn Rooney put up a brave chase for Britain but was unable to haul in the leading pair and the hosts took bronze.

Trinidad's time of 2:58.12 was the fastest this year.

Jamaica and Bahamas, Olympic silver and bronze medalists respectively in Rio de Janeiro last year, both failed to qualify for the final as did Botswana, another of the favorites, after they dropped the baton in the semi-finals.

The United States, who are also Olympic champions, last failed to win the world title in Paris in 2003.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)


Allyson Felix and U.S. women claim 4x400m gold by nearly six seconds

Allyson Felix and Phyllis Francis won their second gold medals at the world championships by helping the United States win the 4×400-meter relay.

The favored Americans, with 400 champion Francis running the anchor, won in 3 minutes, 19.02 seconds. They finished about 50 meters ahead of silver medalist Britain. Poland took bronze.

Felix also won gold in the 4×100 relay on Saturday. The latest medal was the 16th of her career at the world championships, going back to 2005.

In the men’s race, Trinidad and Tobago swept past the United States to earn the last big upset of the world championships in the final event.

Lalonde Gordon stayed in the slipstream of Fred Kerley for most of the last lap but then pushed past the American to win in 2 minutes, 58.12 seconds. The U.S. team was second in 2:58.61. Britain took bronze in 2:59.00.

The United States had not lost at the world championships since 2003, but the Americans did lose in the Olympic final at the 2012 London Games in the same stadium.


Barshim sails to dominant world high jump gold

(Adds details, quotes)

LONDON, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim secured the global high jump title his talent has promised for so long when he completed a faultless series in the World Championships on Sunday, culminating in a winning leap of 2.35 metres.

The Qatari, whose 2.43m best is the second-highest in history after Cuban Javier Sotomayor's 2.45 set 24 years ago, has won silver and bronze at the last two Olympics and silver in the 2013 World Championships.

But he was a class apart on Sunday, having qualified without a fail he went through the final never looking remotely close to dislodging the bar as he flexed his body into biology-defying shapes.

With the gold secured he went agonisingly close to clearing 2.40 but there was no disappointment and the 26-year-old can target a crack at the world record on home soil when Doha hosts the next World Championships in 2019.

Russian Danil Lysenko, competing as a neutral athlete, took silver with 2.32m while Majd Eddin Ghazal of Syria had the best record of three men who cleared 2.29 to take bronze - his country's first world championship medal for a man.

"My first big world championships gold and I was so determined to win it," Barshim said. "I was expecting it tonight so I am glad I managed to fulfil my target.

"Let's say, I was recovering last year. I did not want to put too much pressure on myself but now I am back in shape and feel I can go even higher. I do not want to retire one day with the feeling that there is still something left."

Lysenko revealed that he had injured nerves in his lead leg a week before the championships.

"It was very painful even in qualification but especially during my warm-up tonight," he said.

"I even wanted to refuse to continue in the final but after my first attempt at 2.20m I decided that I could do something special. I was trying not to hurt my leg, so my technique was not brilliant."

Canada's world and Olympic champion Derek Drouin was unable to defend his title in London because of an Achilles injury. (Editing by Ed Osmond)


Olympic champion Caster Semenya wins women's 800m at the World Championships in London

  • Caster Semenya came from behind to win the women's 800m in London
  • The Olympic champion added gold to the bronze she won in the 1,500m
  • Francina Niyonsaba took the silver medal, with America's Ajee Wilson in third
  • Britain's sole finalist, Lynsey Sharp, finished in eighth at the London Stadium

South Africa's Caster Semenya produced a personal best performance as she continued her dominance of the women's 800metres with World Championship victory on Sunday.

The 26-year-old, who had already won bronze in the 1,500m at the London Stadium, took the bell towards the back of the pack and was third behind Ajee Wilson and Francine Niyonsaba heading into the home straight.

But she timed her kick to perfection to ease past her rivals to take gold in a new national record time of 1:55.16. Niyonsaba took silver, with Wilson finishing in third. Britain's Lynsey Sharp, who was temporarily disqualified before being reinstated to the final, missed out on a medal, finished eighth.


Obiri wins 5,000 meters with astonishing last lap

By Brian Homewood

LONDON (Reuters) - Kenyan Hellen Obiri produced an astonishing last lap to break Almaz Ayana's resistance, win the 5,000 meters at the World Athletics Championships and claim her first major title on Sunday.

Ethiopia's Ayana, winner of the 10,000 meters at the championships, and Obiri broke clear of the pack after one third of the race and opened up a huge gap as they set a blistering pace.

Ayana led with Obiri on her tail into the final lap until the Kenyan, silver medalist in Rio de Janeiro last year, suddenly burst past with 300 meters left and stormed home to win in 14:34.86, more than five seconds clear of her rival.

Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands prevented an East African clean sweep by taking the bronze.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)


Coe bemoans Bolt's 'devastating moment'

By Mitch Phillips

LONDON (Reuters) - Sebastian Coe said he felt huge sympathy for Usain Bolt after the Jamaican pulled up with a hamstring problem during his final event on Saturday, but believes the great sprinter's departure will open the door for new talent to shine.

"It's a devastating moment if you are mid-race and that happens, it's horrible," the IAAF president told a news conference ahead of the last night's action at the World Athletics Championships on Sunday.

Bolt pulled up while running the anchor leg for Jamaica in the 4x100 relay, his final race before retiring. He will do a farewell lap of honor in the London Stadium on Sunday evening before heading into retirement.

"I do think this gives us an opportunity to cast a light on the young talent that's out there," Coe said.

"I can't remember a time when the competition has been so competitive and the stories around them so compelling," he added.

"We have had some of the youngest-ever medalists and the emergence of such extraordinary young talent is what many people will remember this event for," Coe said.

"This is a really comforting place to be in at a time when we are asking what the sport looks like after Mo (Farah) and Bolt and for example with the emergence of (American 100 meters silver medalist) Christian Coleman we may be looking at the future face of sprinting for the next five years."

LARGE NUMBERS

Coleman was beaten by compatriot Justin Gatlin and large numbers of the 60,000 crowd that packed the stadium each evening loudly booed the man who has served two drug suspensions.

Ed Warner, co-chairman of the London 2017 organizing committee, was surprised by the extent of the booing but understood the reasons.

"My view as the organizer is the fans have the right to come and express their views about doping in our sport and people feel very passionate about it," he said.

Coe said he did not like to hear jeering but accepted that fans felt strongly about the issue.

"I would rather not see athletes who have tested positive winning some of the biggest titles in our sport but he is entitled to be here," he said.

"I don't think the IAAF has singled Gatlin out but we’re not here to choreograph public opinion.

"I thought in a way the athletes took the lead in a dignified way that Usain dealt with he situation took some of the tension out of the response by the time we get to the medal ceremony."

After two years during which the sport has been battered by doping and corruption issues Coe said he felt the last 10 days had helped the process of recovery.

"I'm speaking to federations, coaches and athletes more than ever before and my instinct is that there is a confidence and people are proud to be involved and seen to be involved in athletics," he said.

Coe believes the sport needed to learn lessons from the success of London and apply them to the Diamond League and other events and create a calendar that everybody can understand.

"If we don don’t get those things right then everything we've achieved here will be a happy memory but won’t be a springboard," he said.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)


Coleman & Stefanídi Offer The Sport New Hope

The departure of Usain Bolt, track and field’s greatest weapon, means athletics needs to unearth new names to appeal to the next generation

When Sebastian Coe wakes up on Sunday morning he will have a 6ft 5in-shaped headache. Usain Bolt, track and field’s greatest weapon as well as its biggest crutch, has run his last race. Mo Farah is heading to the roads. And the question of how the sport can shout loud enough to be heard by casual fans without the great Jamaican or the most successful British athlete in history – or a major global championships on the horizon – will move from a theoretical to an intensely practical problem.

If Lord Coe, the president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, feels this huge weight on his shoulders, he does not show it. He believes London 2017 has highlighted a number of new stars to go alongside established big names such as Wayde van Niekerk, Allyson Felix, Kendra Harrison and Nafissatou Thiam. He just wants them to promote themselves and their sport better.

“The agents and managers are incredibly cloying,” Coe claims. “They say: ‘You don’t want to say this, you don’t want to say that,’ to their athletes. We need to be relaxed about what they say. Look at Conor McGregor, who has got my kids talking about UFC. I’m not saying people should be like him – but I want more of them to give a view on things and to show their personality. “We’ve got to encourage the athletes to be themselves. That will make the media find them more interesting and help the public to become more engaged.”

Coe adds: “Usain Bolt, for whatever reason, was probably a personality the second he walked into his classroom. You are not trying to choreograph that but I do think it is important that athletes realise they are part of the entertainment business. The reason Usain is going to be missed is not because he wins all those medals – it is because he is prepared to give a view about things. He has instincts. He is not looking either side to his handlers.”

Coe believes Christian Coleman of the USA – who has an unbeaten record against Bolt having beaten him in their 100m semi-final and final – can help fill the void. Coleman says: “I have the utmost respect for Usain Bolt when I heard that I am only the only person who is unbeaten against him, I thought: ‘That’s pretty crazy.’ When I get older, that’s something I’m going to tell my grandkids. He pushed the sport along but we have other great athletes coming forward – and hopefully one of those is me.”

Other athletes have shown their personalities at these championships, too. They include the French runner Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, whose exuberance on television having won the 800m gold earned him thousands of new fans, and the Norwegian Karsten Warholm, whose shocked face when he won the 400m hurdles showed that he was more surprised than anyone else.

Coe accepts the IAAF also has to do more to promote its sport and stars. According to preliminary research conducted by athletics’ governing body, 75% of respondents said that track and field has to change – not only in how it does things in the stadium, but how the sport is shown on TV and online.

“There’s more need for us to really demonstrate that we have some incredible talent out there,” says Coe. “If you just look at the youth which has surfaced in the championships – it’s the youngest cohort of medallists, youngest cohort of winners. We had a 21-year-old who won the 400m hurdles and the youngest ever finalists in the men’s 800m. It’s very good out there – we just have to make sure that people know that.”

One of the stars in London this week was the Greek pole vaulter Katerina Stefanidi, who delighted the crowd in dancing to Zorba the Greek after taking gold. She urged Coe to do more to talk to millennials, push field events into the centre of the area to give them more attention, and find ways to make the whole sport move a bit quicker.

“Even little things can make a difference,” she says. “It sounds silly but when I won and they played that music I got 20,000 followers on Twitter. I just wish I could dance better.”

Coe, incidentally, still believes that engaging with young people is the main challenge he faces – not doping. And he knows that Bolt, even as he heads to retirement, plays a key part. “I was chatting to him before the medal ceremony and, slightly tongue-in-cheek, he looked at me and said: ‘So what do you want me to do now, boss?’” Coe says. “And I went: ‘Anything you want to do, really.’” A more rounded answer to that question cannot come soon enough.


Read this, because you likely missed one of the best races in running history

LONDON -- Admit it, sports fans. Yeah, you -- the one waiting for football season (American or European) to start. The one who plays fantasy, wears jerseys and spouts trivia. You couldn't care less about the women's steeplechase.

But, right now, you should care. You're missing something amazing.

You may not even know what a steeplechase is. To appreciate the improbable, entertaining madness of what happened Friday night at the IAAF World Championships, you need to know that the steeplechase is a race of 3,000 meters, on a track, featuring 28 barriers and seven water jumps. (Full disclosure: I had to Google for that info.)

You need to know that Americans Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs had NO BUSINESS winning gold and silver. I've never used all caps in a column before, even when Justin Gatlin beat Usain Bolt in the 100 meters a few days ago. But Americans beating Kenyans in this steeplechase was like Gatlin beating Bolt in the 100, with the added excitement of trips, what looked like a tackle, and the front-runner having to double back as if she forgot her cellphone at home.

Even Coburn and Frerichs admitted they had no business medaling. On the final lap, Coburn said, "I was just waiting for three Kenyans to pass me."

"I was just hoping to finish in the top five or six," said Frerichs.

Coburn's time was nine minutes, two-point-five-eight seconds (track people call that 9:02.58). It was the fastest she had ever run, and the fastest time ever in the world championships, which is like scoring your career high and setting the record for most points ever in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

And Coburn didn't even run the most remarkable time.

Before Friday's race, Frerichs' fastest steeplechase time was 9:19.09. She beat that time by an enormous 15 seconds to win silver in 9:03.77. That's like scoring a hat trick in a World Cup soccer game after totaling three goals all season.
In third place was Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi, who ran 9:04.03. She is Kenyan. She sat at the postrace press conference looking like Pat Riley when LeBron James left the Heat and went back to Cleveland.

You sports fans see where I'm going with this, right? With the metaphors? I'm trying to explain just how huge these women's performances were in a sport with no next possessions, no bottom of the ninths, just one chance to make or break your entire season. As if the entire Stanley Cup finals consisted of one penalty shot.

Speaking of hockey, there were some serious collisions in this race. That's another reason to enjoy the steeplechase. Remember the barriers? They're not called hurdles for a reason. Hurdles get knocked over. Barriers knock runners over. Barriers are thick, long and heavy. They may even be attached to the track. (Google didn't say.)

The mayhem started when the front-runner, Beatrice Chepkoech, who is of course Kenyan because she was the front-runner, approached the first water jump. For some reason, she simply ran around it. Totally ignored the barrier and just kept moving, like she hit a single and proceeded straight to second base.

Chepkoech's trance was broken by the water splashing from the feet of runners to her left. She skidded to a halt, U-turned, ran 10 yards in the opposite direction as everyone else, and then jumped over the barrier. This put her so far back of the lead, you might have thought she was American.

Incredibly, she caught up to the pack. Then came another barrier. Chepkoech stumbled on the far side and, while falling to the track, took down a few other runners with her.

After all that, Chepkoech still finished fourth, in 9:10.45. That's just how Kenyans roll.

After Coburn and Frerichs crossed the finish line, they shared an exhilarated, exhausted embrace and traded incredulous profanities. "'Holy guacamole' is the PG version," Coburn said. "Courtney just kept saying, 'Am I dreaming? Am I dreaming?'"

No American had won a world title in steeplechase since 1952. No U.S. women had ever finished 1-2 in any world championship distance race. Track nerds -- why isn't there such a thing as a football nerd? -- are calling this the most thrilling race of the 2017 World Championships, and one of the greatest moments in American distance running history.

You sports fans can just call it amazing. Like a football game where -- nah, forget that. After a race like this, nobody cares about football.


Felix Wins Record 15th World Championships Medal

out there and when that guy hits the zone coming in, make sure you take off and make sure you get the stick and get around that track.”

He said Great Britain was helped by the crowd of more than 55,000 at London Stadium.

“When you’re in your home country, you get 10 bonus points in energy,” Gatlin said. “It’s like a video game. You get the energy of the crowd. They’re cheering for you, so it can either go up or it can go down. They took that energy and they didn’t let it become pressure and they did a great job. The women did a great job as well. I can’t wait till 2021 (when the world championships come to Eugene, Oregon). I might not be running, but I can’t wait to see these guys running on home soil as well.”

From his vantage point, Gatlin could see Bolt go down.

“I’m a runner just like he is, so I understand what it means to sustain an injury,” he said. “Especially his last race, my heart goes out to him. You don’t want to go out with a hamstring tear or anything like that. I hope it’s just a cramp, he’ll be able to rub it off and enjoy his night and enjoy his legacy.”

And come back after a year?

“Oh yeah,” Gatlin said, “he’s going to come back. You owe me $100.”


 After Rio, Gold All The Sweeter For Schippers

Twelve months ago in Rio de Janeiro, after lying despondent on the side of the track for some time, Dafne Schippers got up, took off her spikes and flung them to one side in frustration.

As the third fastest 200m runner in history, she was expected to add the Olympic title to the gold medal she won at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015, but defeat to Jamaican Elaine Thompson left her irritated and confused. Her ambitions were lofty and silver was no longer good enough for the Dutch woman.

“There’s been a bit more pressure on me to perform since winning in Beijing,” she said. “A lot of that pressure is put on me by myself as I always want to win regardless of what I’ve done before.”

Fast forward one year, and the 25-year-old is back on top of the world. In claiming the 200m title at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 on Friday night, Schippers became the first European to win two gold medals over the half-lap distance, and joins Jamaican Merlene Ottey and USA’s Allyson Felix as the only athletes to successfully defend a world title in the event.

“It’s a great feeling to be world champion for the second time,” she said. “I was a bit nervous beforehand, but I’m a final runner, and bring my best in finals, so I’m very grateful for the experience today. There were so many Dutch fans in the stadium, all wearing orange. To win this two times in a row is brilliant.”

With Olympic Champion Elaine Thompson opting not to contest the 200m at these championships, Schippers’ main challenge came from Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou, who finished ahead of the Dutch woman in the 100m five days earlier. On this occasion the roles were reversed with Schippers edging a close race in 22.05 seconds, just 0.03 ahead of Ta Lou.

“During the first 100m I could not see anybody because I was in lane six and was in front of the rest,” she said. “Once I hit the straight I saw Ta Lou right there to my left and I just had to fight as much as possible to the finish line to stay ahead of her. I knew she’d be a tough competitor. She ran a very good 100m earlier in the championships, so I’m very happy to manage to beat her today.”

COACHING CHANGE
After her defeat in Rio, Schippers opted for a change. With Bart Bennema as her coach, she had transitioned from a world-class heptathlete, winning bronze in the IAAF World Championships Moscow 2013, into a multi-medal-winning 100m and 200m sprinter. However they both felt that to progress, she had to try something different, and so she joined up with Rana Reider, and his group containing Christian Taylor, Adam Gemili and Desiree Henry among others.

“It was not the easiest season for me,” she said. “When you change coach everything is different. I changed a lot in my training and I worked very hard this season.”

Working with Reider, the focus was purely on peaking for London. As a result she entered races on the IAAF Diamond League circuit this year during periods of heavy training, and her times early season were slower than she is used to running.

“I just had to trust the process and that I would eventually progress. I believed in my coach and I just did what he said. He’s a great coach and I couldn’t be happier with how everything has turned out.”

HOMETOWN SUPPORT
While she’s a fearless competitor on the track, away from the high-pressured arena of elite athletics she cuts a much more reserved figure, preferring a simple life of walking her dog and reading, rather than higher adrenaline interests. However, since her first world title in Beijing two years ago, she has found it much harder, back home in the Netherlands, to live the normal quiet life she craves.

“Since Beijing it’s been totally different,” she says. “When I walk on the streets people want to get photos or autographs. It has become a lot more normal for me now, but at the beginning it was difficult to deal with that. But at the same time, it’s also really cool because it means I’ve done a great job.”

Her performances over the past few years have not gone unappreciated in her home country. In April of this year, a new pedestrian and cycle bridge, named after her, was opened in her home city of Utrecht. One hundred and 10 metres long, it crosses the Amsterdam Rijn Canal, connecting the city centre with the growing suburbs and serves approximately 11,000 cyclists per day.

“To have a bridge named after me is a very special thing,” she says. “It’s the most important bridge in our country. It’s very special to have my name on that.”

After her success in London, they may need to rename of the canal too.

James Sullivan for the IAAF


Mo Farah launches astonishing attack on media - 'You're trying to destroy everything I have achieved'

In an attack as astonishing as any of his last-lap sprints for gold, Sir Mo Farah has accused the media of trying to “destroy” his reputation by misreporting the controversies to have engulfed him.

The morning after ending his major championship career on the track with a shock defeat in the 5,000 metres, Farah staged a press conference at which his legacy was inevitably the major topic of discussion.

As was right and proper, he was first asked to reflect upon his unprecedented achievements - 10 successive global titles, including four 5,000m and 10,000m doubles - following his amazing transformation from an also-ran into Britain’s most successful track-and-field athlete and an all-time great of distance running.

What followed were questions about matters infinitely more in the public interest, and the consequences of them for his legacy, including his ongoing relationship with Alberto Salazar - still under investigation for alleged drugs offences - his links with Jama Aden - arrested last year in connection with a doping inquiry - and evidence he had been given medication that endangered his health.

Not mentioned were his two missed drugs tests before the 2012 Olympics, the failure of a British Athletics doctor to properly record his use of a restricted substance before the 2014 London Marathon, and documents leaked just last month in which he was named as “likely doping” before being cleared.

The 34-year-old, who the media have never accused of cheating, all but branded reports of these facts as fake news, saying: “It’s like a broken record, repeating myself. Why bring it up year after year, making it into headlines? I’ve achieved what I have achieved – you’re trying to destroy it.”

He added: “You can write what you like. The fact is I’ve achieved what I have from hard work, putting my balls on the line, year after year and delivering for my country.

“There’s nothing else to be said. History doesn’t lie. I find it bizarre how certain people write certain things to suit how they want to sell the story.

“Sometimes, you guys get to me – you never write the facts. The fact is, over the years, I have achieved a lot through hard work and pain. If I have crossed the line - ‘Mo Farah has done something wrong’ - then prove it.”

Farah was in no doubt how he saw his legacy, one of a Somalian refugee who repaid his adopted homeland with some of the greatest sporting feats in its history.

“I’ve done my country and many people proud,” said Farah, who began his morning by performing his iconic ‘Mobot’ while perched atop one of the capsules on the London Eye.

“It makes me proud to be British, to put British distance running on the map.

“Growing up in Teddington and seeing the Kenyans and Ethiopians winning, I never thought, ‘One day, we’ll be able to challenge them and beat them at their own game’.

“I hope I can leave that legacy behind – and get behind younger British kids and see what we can do.

“It will take 10-15 years to get the next best distance runner in terms of winning medals. But we need to start somewhere.”

After two final farewell races on the track, Farah will switch to the road in a bid to end Britain’s long wait for a male marathon champion.

“I don’t like to keep still,” he said. “I want to continue on. I like the pain and the challenges of being an athlete. I think I can do something on the road. But I think it will take a few years and few marathons to get it right.”

Revealing he wanted to be known as Mohamed rather than Mo in future, he added: “My road name is Mohamed and I just feel like Mo is done. I need to forget about what I’ve achieved and what I’ve done.”

Farah refused to be drawn on whether Salazar, who denies breaking anti-doping rules, would be part of that future, with the American conspicuous by his absence from London 2017.

“I haven’t thought that far ahead,” Farah said. “I’ve a few races left, then I’ll take a nice break and see how it goes.”

He added: “Either way, if he was here or not here, day after day, I’d still be putting my balls on the line.”

With the questions he clearly did not like out of the way, the conversation switched to Farah’s desire to pass on his experience to the next generation. But he could not resist a parting shot at those he accused of being out to get him.

“Over the years, you guys have done many things to build a person up and bring them back down,” he said.

Beating his chest, he added: “The reality is, no matter what you do, I’m going to still keep fighting, keep working, making my country proud.

“I’m proud to be British and put my GB vest on and do it for my country. You can write what you like but, at the same time, I’m a clean athlete. I sleep well at night, hugging my kids, loving my kids, and showing them what’s right. And that’s all that counts.”


Semenya leads the pack on final day of competition

LONDON, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Caster Semenya will attempt to reclaim her 800 metres title on the final day of action of the World Championships in London on Sunday.

The South African, who was awarded gold retrospectively in the event in 2011, already has one medal to her name this week, after winning bronze in the 1500 metres on Monday.

However, it's the two-lap race that is her strongest, the event in which she won Olympic gold in Rio last year.

Semenya's race is among the highlights of the final session at the London Stadium.

Having taken back the women's 4x100 metres relay title from Jamaica the day before, the United States will aim to repeat that feat on Sunday in the 4x400 metres relay.

The final event will be the men's edition of the race as hosts Britain go for one last gold.

The day's action begins across the city at The Mall, where the men and women's 50km race walk gets under way at 0645 GMT, with the 20km versions following afterwards. (Reporting by Christian Radnedge,; Editing by Neville Dalton)


Jamaican sprint team furious over Usain Bolt injury as they blame delays for ending his career in relay agony

The Jamaican relay team hit out at the World Athletics Championships’ organisers in London as Usain Bolt labelled the delay to his final race on Saturday “crazy”, with the sprint legend ending his career in agony after being struck down by injury.

As Great Britain powered their way to a stunning gold in the men’s 4x100m relay with the third-quickest time in history, Bolt was struck down midway through his stint with what has been revealed as cramp in his left leg.

The race started 10 minutes later than planned, with the teams being held in the warm-up area for nearly 30 minutes before they were able to run out into the London Stadium, and Bolt’s teammate Yohan Blake spoke afterwards of their concern with how the preparations were dragging on.

The concern was so great that Bolt turned to Blake before the raise to express his unhappiness, and Blake furiously hit out at organisers immediately after the race after having to watch the women’s high jump medal presentation overrun.

“I think they were holding us too long in the call room,” Blake said on Saturday night. “The walk was too long. Usain was really cold. In fact Usain said to me, 'Yohan, I think this is crazy'.

“It was 40 minutes and two medal presentations before our run. We keep warming up and waiting, then warming up and waiting. I think it got the better of us.

“We were over warm. And to see a true legend, a true champion go out there and struggling like that...The race was 10 minutes late, we were kept 40 minutes and it was a 300 metre walk. It was crazy.”

Jamaica failed to finish the race as Bolt lay prone on the track, but he dismissed the aid of a wheelchair to get up and cross the line before waving goodbye to the crowd, with Bolt now unlikely to race in Zurich as had been hinted if the injury proves worse than first feared. The Jamaican team medic, Dr Kevin Jones, played down any long-term injuries though and claimed the injury was just cramp.

“It's cramp in his left hamstring but a lot of pain is from disappointment from losing the race,” Dr Jones said. “The last three weeks have been hard for him, you know. We hope for the best for him.”

However, his other two sprint teammates, Omar McLeod and Julian Forte, were in agreement with Blake that 30-year-old Bolt’s final farewell had been doomed to fail because of the delays.

“It's heart-wrenching,” said 110m hurdle gold medallist McLeod. “I gave it my all and I really wanted Usain to leave golden, or even if it was just a medal, it was really heart-wrenching.

“I couldn't believe it, I'm in shock, utter disbelief.

"It was ridiculous, man. We were there around 45 minutes waiting outside, I think they had three medal ceremonies before we went out so we were really trying our hardest to stay warm and keep upbeat, but it was ridiculous. We waited a really long time. I drank like two bottles of water.”

Forte added: “I really wanted to be a part of the team that sends Usain off in style. Unfortunately it's one of those things, it's part of sport.

“They kept us in the call room for an extremely long time in our running kits, and it's not the warmest over here and they had us around there for quite a while, so I think they really need to look into that and do something about it.

“We were excited, we were ready, we had been doing some hand offs and everybody was feeling good, but they kept us hanging around for a long time, you know. So it's just really crazy.”

The frustration with the long wait before the race was not contained to the Jamaican team, with USA sprinter and 100m gold medallist Justin Gatlin expressing sympathy for his long-time rival Bolt as he agreed with the cause of the injury.

“You can't really have this night or championship define what he's done in the past. From 2008 on, Usain Bolt has done amazing things. Tonight is not going to define who he is. He is still the man,” said Gatlin, whose USA team finished runner-up to Great Britain.

“This is a farewell tour, we take our hats off to him and we hope he gets better.

“I know it’s TV magic, and everybody has to be prepared on time to make everything happen for the viewers at home, (but) I personally think that we were held in the stadium a little too long without our clothes on, and there was a little draught in there. I lost all my sweat and body heat.

When asked if he thought that contributed to Bolt's injury, the 35-year-old Gatlin said: “I believe so.

"Knowing how Usain performs, he’s always ready, he’s always making sure he’s not injured and it’s very rare to see Usain injured when he comes to performances.”

However, Gatlin believes that London 2017 will not be the last time that Bolt is seen on the track.

“I'm going to win my 100, he's coming back in a year or two,” Gatlin added. “He'll be ready. He has a passion for the sport, he loves the fans, the fans love him. It's something you can't walk away too easy from."


Oh Mo! Farah gets golden send-off from press

London (AFP) - British athletics legend Mo Farah was hailed by the British press on Sunday despite his glorious track career ending with defeat in the 5,000 metres world championships final.

Although his silver medal performance was pushed out of the limelight by the drama of the men's 4x100m relay, which saw fellow legend Usain Bolt collapse with cramp on his own swansong as Britain pulled off a remarkable victory, as well as the thrilling opening of the Premier League season, Farah still commanded many column inches.

The 34-year-old saw his global championship win streak of 10 gold medals dating back to the 5,000m at the 2011 world championships ended as Muktar Edris of Ethiopia held off his desperate charge in the finishing straight.

"End of the track for Mo" headlined The Sunday Times, adding that it was a "shattering defeat in front of an adoring crowd".

However, the paper eulogised about the performance by Farah -- who came to Britain with his mother and two of his brothers from Somalia via a spell with his grandparents in Djibouti aged just eight -- in the stadium where he had memorably achieved his first Olympic double in 2012.

"If defeat is the making of a true champion, then Mo Farah left the track at the Olympic stadium last night as the greatest champion of all," wrote its sports writer.

"That he failed, beaten finally, for the first time at a major championships since 2011, by Muktar Edris of Ethiopia, stripped nothing from the legend."

The Sun on Sunday, never one to miss out on an eye-catching pun, perhaps unkindly went with "Slow Mo".

However, Farah -- who has had a tense relationship with large sections of the British media over the questions raised by his loyalty to controversial United States-based coach Alberto Salazar -- would have been happier with what followed.

"The 34-year-old is hanging up his spikes to take to the roads in the marathon after a stellar career which has seen him establish himself as one of the all-time greats of the sport," purred the Sun correspondent.

"Yet despite the huge support from the home crowd packed into the London Stadium, Britain's hero was finally knocked off his perch as the king of long-distance running."

- 'I was going to take Mo down' -

The Mail On Sunday headlined their tale of Farah's final bow "Oh Mo!"

They called it a "disappointing silver" but pointed to the remarkable career of Britain's most successful ever athlete.

And they took aim at America's Kenyan-born bronze medallist Richard Chelimo for making Farah's trademark 'Mobot' gesture and then running his hand across his throat as the 5,000m runners lined up before their race.

"It is what it is, I just meant that I was going to take Mo down," said Chelimo.

The Observer remarked that those who had come in their thousands with their faces painted with "Go Mo!" and banners with "Run Farah Run" were to be left disappointed.

It also commented on how his soon to turn five twin daughters Aisha and Amani had never seen him lose a major final before Saturday.

"He curled into the foetal position at the finish, beaten in a major final for the first time in six years," wrote the correspondent.

"Silver on this occasion stung like defeat and salt was rubbed into open wounds by his conqueror, Muktar Edris of Ethiopia, performing the iconic Mobot at the finish."


Coe Tells Athletes To Stop Being Bland

Lord Coe warned athletes and their entourages on Saturday night they must stop being so bland if athletics is to prove there is life after Usain Bolt.

On the day track-and-field’s greatest showman ran the final race of his legendary career, Coe called for the next generation of stars to fill the void by showing more of their own personalities, accusing their managers and agents of preventing them being themselves.

With Sir Mo Farah also running his last 5,000 metres at a major championships on Saturday, athletics is on the brink of losing both of the only men guaranteed both to fill stadiums and draw millions of viewers on television.

Coe, the president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, said the World Championships in London, which end today, had proven there was no shortage of young talent ready to step into Bolt and Farah’s shoes.

Admitting part of the IAAF’s job was to promote those new names, he challenged the athletes themselves to do the same.

Coe said: “I want athletes with opinions, I want them with views. Sometimes, they’re going to be uncomfortable.

“But I sense sometimes that the agents and the managers are sitting there curtailing that kind of engagement.

“We have a young reporters’ programme [with people] from all backgrounds and they think our athletes are less communicative and less engaging and engaged than a lot of other sports.

“We’ve got to encourage the athletes to be themselves. When they are, you are going to find them more interesting.”

Coe hailed men’s 400 metres hurdles champion Karsten Warholm for showing the kind of personality the sport was crying out for.

“He’s absolutely what we need to start building the sport around,” Coe said of the 21-year-old Norwegian, whose reaction to his gold medal run captured the imagination last week.

“I was actually in the Hilton the other night, to talk to the federations and he walked in wearing his Viking helmet and absolutely shocked at what he’d done.”

Coe also confirmed he would speak to Bolt, who hung up his spikes after last night’s 4x100m relay final, between now and the end of the year about keeping the Jamaican involved in the sport.

Indicating that would be in an ambassadorial role engaging with young people, he revealed Bolt had tried to open discussions just before collecting his 100m bronze medal last Sunday.

Coe said: “I was chatting to him before the medal ceremony and, slightly tongue-in-cheek, he looked at me and said, ‘So what do you want me to do now, boss?’”

“And I went, ‘Anything you want to do, really’.”

Reflecting on a championships dominated by Bolt’s defeat to two-time convicted drugs cheat Justin Gatlin and a norovirus outbreak that sparked a major row over the participation of Botswana’s Isaac Makwala, Coe said the IAAF was taking steps to avoid such controversies in future.

He spoke about plans to stop athletes being drawn into doping in the first place and revealed the communication of medical decisions such as that which saw Makwala blocked from entering the stadium would be reviewed.

He also said the IAAF was awaiting a date for a hearing to determine whether it could resume forcing intersex athletes like Caster Semenya to take medication to reduce their naturally-occurring testosterone.

Confirming he expected that to take place next month or in October, he added: “I don’t want athletes being demonised but it is the responsibility of the federation to create a level playing field in female sport.”


'Infinite love for my fans' - Bolt thankful for support as stellar career ends

Jamaican icon Usain Bolt expressed his love for his fans after bowing out of athletics in unfortunate circumstances at the IAAF World Championships.

Seeking a record-equalling 15th World Championships medal in his farewell race, sprint king Bolt pulled up injured during the men's 4x100 metres relay in London on Saturday.

Having been forced to settle for a bronze medal in his final individual race – last weekend's 100m decider – a 12th World Championships gold was on Bolt's mind via the 4x100m relay but the 30-year-old's career ended painfully after he failed to finish.

Bolt fell to the ground and he was later diagnosed with cramp in his left hamstring, and as the curtains closed on a memorable journey, the eight-time Olympic gold medallist used social media to thank his supporters.

In a photo uploaded to Instagram, Bolt wrote: "Thank you my peeps. Infinite love for my fans."

While all eyes were on Bolt, Great Britain claimed a shock gold medal in a time of 37.47 seconds, with the United States and Japan second and third respectively.


Blake points finger at organisers following Bolt injury woe

An angry Yohan Blake suggested a lengthy wait in cold conditions contributed to Usain Bolt's career ending in painful fashion, after the iconic sprinter sensationally pulled up injured in the men's 4x100m relay at the IAAF World Championships.

Having been forced to settle for a bronze medal in his last individual race, last weekend's 100m final, Bolt had hoped to bow out with a 12th World Championships gold.

However, after taking the baton in the anchor role for Jamaica, Bolt dramatically failed to finish, instead falling to the ground with an injury later diagnosed as cramp in his left hamstring.

The final race of Saturday's evening session started later than initially planned, following medal ceremonies for the men's 5000m and women's high jump.

"They were holding us too long," said Blake. "To be holding us so long was atrocious.

"That long wait contributed. Inside it was cold. We kept on warming up.

"You have to think about the athletes ... because we were in the mixed zone too long, over 40 minutes.

"That's our true friend, Usain, that's our training partner. I felt it. A hero of the sport to go down like that? As a true friend, I didn't like it one bit.

"He was saying he was sorry, but there was nothing to be sorry for, he's done it for us [over his career]."

Dr Kevin Jones, the Jamaica team doctor, said of Bolt's injury: "It's cramp in his left hamstring but a lot of pain is from the disappointment from losing the race.

"The last three weeks have been hard for him. We hope for the best for him."


Gatlin hails Bolt the 'showman' despite relay flop

London (AFP) - A sentimental Justin Gatlin hailed Usain Bolt as an "amazing showman" whose career would certainly not be defined by him pulling up with cramp in the world 4x100m relay, the Jamaican's final competitive race.

There was high drama in Saturday's relay as anchor man Bolt received the baton in third place behind eventual gold medallists Britain and runners-up America.

Less than 50 metres down the track, Bolt suddenly pulled up, clutching his left leg, tumbling to the track with what was later diagnosed as a hamstring cramp.

"This is farewell time, I am sentimental about it already now," said Gatlin, who stormed to 100m gold in London, US teammate Christian Coleman taking silver to relegate Bolt to a disappointing bronze in his individual send-off.

"In the warm-up area we give ourselves respect and greet each other," Gatlin said of Bolt, who bows out of competition with a startling haul of eight Olympic gold medals and 14 world medals, nine of which are gold.

Gatlin, who has served two doping bans, put the blame for Bolt's cramp partly at the amount of time the athletes spent on the track before the starter's gun went off.

"There was a cool breeze out there. But the conditions were the same for everybody," said the 35-year-old, who won the 100m at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and the 2005 worlds in Helsinki before serving his second ban between 2006-10 for taking testosterone.

- Chilly conditions unhelpful -

"I think it was the elements. I am sorry he got this injury. He is still the best in the world.

"It was a recipe. I don't want to say this but I understand we need to be ready early but I think we took our clothes off a little too early. It's a little chilly in here so I think that's where the cramp came from. That's what he suffered with. He was running out there cold."

But Gatlin, who was roundly booed at the London Stadium before both the 100m and relay, insisted: "Usain Bolt is a great athlete.

"You can't let this championships define what he's done in the past. He has done amazing things. He's still the man, you know. The was his farewell race and we wish him the best and hope he recovers soon."

Referring to Bolt's mooted future ambassadorial role within athletics' world governing body the IAAF, Gatlin added: "He's coming back in a couple of years. He'll be ready, he has a passion for the sport.

"He loves the fans and they love him. He loves the sport too much to walk away. He's a showman."

Japan snatched a surprise bronze medal, Kenji Fujimitsu moved to comment: "Thank you, Bolt. He was an inspiration for us."

Omar McLeod, the newly-crowned 110m hurdler and Jamaica's lead-off runner in the relay, added: "Usain Bolt's name will always live on."


Does Farah leave the track as greatest distance man?

By Ian Chadband

LONDON (Reuters) - Right at the last, Mo Farah's unbeatable air could not stand up to another examination by the world's best distance runners as he was denied one final global triumph in his farewell championship track race on Saturday.

As the Briton was consoled -- and congratulated on a peerless track career -- by his competitors following his world 5,000 meters silver in the stadium where his legend was first properly sculpted in 2012, the only question that remained was where he stands in the annals of track distance running.

There is a powerful argument to say, after 10 straight global championship victories stretching back to the 2011 world 5,000 meters triumph in Daegu, that the 34-year-old is the greatest distance racer we have ever seen on the track.

Despite his defeat on Saturday, his ability, time and again, to fend off every challenge and tactic thrown at him -- from Ethiopian and Kenyan athletes ganging up on him to being spiked and bruised in physical races -- and still sprint to victory was unprecedented during an incredible six-year reign.

His ability to strike for home with that long, loping stride, anywhere from 600 meters to 100 meters out -- and then to find yet another gear when it seemed as if he was flat out -- marked him as a unique talent.

Yet being considered the best racer is very different from being seen as the greatest distance athlete of all-time.

Seb Coe, the president of the IAAF and a massive fan of Farah, set the ball rolling when declaring in Friday's Evening Standard newspaper that Haile Gebrselassie was the greatest.

"When it comes to the debate on the greatest distance runner of all time, I'm tough on this," said Coe, who himself is in the shake-up for the title best middle-distance runner of them all.

"For me, it's not Mo Farah — and that's not to do a disservice to Mo, who is one of the greats of all time.

"For me that still has to be Haile Gebrselassie, for the distances that he covered, the titles he won and the world records he broke."

In championship running, Farah won 10 on the trot before Saturday's setback, compared with Gebrselassie's six in a row at 10,000 meters and Kenenisa Bekele's best run of four championship wins in succession at both distances.

Yet the two Ethiopian greats also went chasing records to extraordinary effect, Bekele setting a total of three new world marks at 5,000m and 10,000m and Gebrselassie seven at the two events.

Farah has never been down that route, with his capacity for really fast times never examined.

It remains an extraordinary fact that the most successful championship runner ever at 5,000m with five global titles, is ranked only the 31st-fastest runner of all time, at 12 minutes 53.11 seconds. Bekele holds the world record at 12:37.35.

At 10,000 meters, in which Farah has also won a record five global golds, he is also still only the 16th-fastest (26:46.57), nearly half a minute down on Bekele's world record of 26:17.53.

Bekele, a year older than Farah at 35, won nine global golds, once went unbeaten for eight years at 10,000 meters, won 11 world cross-country titles and now holds the second-fastest marathon time in history (2 hours 3 minutes 3 seconds).

For the moment, even if Gebrselassie was the great Ethiopian trailblazer, it seems fair to rank Bekele the highest for his all-round achievements on the track, country and roads.

Yet Farah, who has run only one marathon, finishing eighth in London in 2014 in a relatively modest 2:08:21, believes he can make a big impact on the roads.

The most amazing tale in the annals of British athletics may not quite have run its course yet.

(Reporting by Ian Chadband,; Editing by Neville Dalton)


Pain no gain as Bolt and Farah's farewell party falls flat

London (AFP) - Athletics legends Usain Bolt and Mo Farah experienced some of their greatest moments in their careers at the 2012 Olympics in London but five years on and back in the same stadium, misery replaced joy on Saturday.

Bolt, who won the individual 100 and 200m and the 4x100m relay in London in 2012, collapsed to the track injured anchoring the Jamaica 4x100 metres relay team.

Jamaican team doctor Dr Kevin Jones said Bolt had suffered from "cramp in his left hamstring".

"But a lot of pain is from disappointment from losing the race," Jones said.

"The last three weeks have been hard for him, you know. We hope for the best for him."

The organisers brought on a wheelchair but Bolt shrugged them aside and he limped across the line, grimacing.

Jamaica's 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod and relay team-mate said nothing had changed with regard to the reputation of Bolt.

"Usain Bolt's name will always live on," he said.

Briton Farah, who had won the first of his four global double doubles of 5,000m and 10,000m to deafening cheers in London in 2012, put up a spirited and courageous effort but for the first time in six years of global championship competition he had to settle for silver behind Muktar Edris of Ethiopia.

Farah, who started the championships in grand style by winning the 10,000m, had been left by Edris as the bell went and as hard as he tried he just didn't quite have the legs to pass his younger rival in the finishing straight.

"It's been amazing. It's been a long journey but it's been incredible," said Farah who was embraced by his fans as he made his way around the stadium on a lap of honour, stopping to sign autographs and pose for 'selfies'.

"It doesn't quite sink in until you compete here and cross the line -– I had a couple of minutes to myself -– that this is it."

The despair and disappointment of Bolt and Farah was in stark contrast to another hero from 2012 -- Australia's 100m hurdling great Sally Pearson.

The 30-year-old's grit and determination to come back from two years of injury hell -- she feared that she would have to have her hand amputated when she suffered a bone explosion in her wrist in 2015 -- was rewarded with her second world title.

The Australian celebrated in exuberant style, her mouth spread in a broad grin as she charged to the stands.

She tried to find her English mother Anne McLellan -- who had taken two jobs when she was raising her daughter as a single parent so she could go to training and achieve her dream -- and husband, childhood sweetheart Kieran but without success.

"Far out, that was bloody hard," gasped Pearson.

"It's been a long journey back from injury, but to get this moment and go and celebrate in front of my family is unreal."

Bolt's dramatic failure to medal permitted American great Allyson Felix to sit on top of the overall career world medals table with 15 after she was part of the women's 4x100m relay gold-winning team.

The Americans had to fight hard to edge out the British team but in Bolt's relay it was the reverse as the host nation pulled off an impressive but shock win over the United States -- for whom 100m world champion two-time drugs cheat Justin Gatlin was booed by large sections of the stadium as he had been in the 100m even after he won the gold.

Elsewhere there was a gold for Russian Maria Lasitskene, competing as a neutral, who defended the women's high jump title and extended her winning streak to 25.

It was the first gold for Russian athletes competing at the championships but whose federation are still banned due to the doping scandal that affected all sports in the country.


U.S. reclaim 4x100m world title, Britain take silver

(Adds details)

LONDON, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Individual champion Tori Bowie anchored the United States to victory in the women's 4x100 metres relay at the World Championships on Saturday.

The Americans, Olympic gold medallists in Rio last year, were led off by Aaliyah Brown who flew out of the blocks to start the run that brought them the world title they last won in 2011.

Allyson Felix, part of that winning team in Daegu, ran the second leg before passing on to Morolake Akinosun who handed the baton to Bowie, the 100m world champion.

The 26-year-old had pulled out of competing in the 200m earlier in the week due to suffering cuts and bruises in her sprint triumph last Sunday.

However, she looked in no discomfort as she surged down the final straight to win in 41.82 seconds.

Bowie was shadowed all the way to the line by Briton Daryll Neita who led her team to silver, in 42.12, ahead of 2015 champions Jamaica who were missing their usual anchor runner in Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

It was the sixth time the U.S. have won the event and the gold was also a record 15th World Championship medal for Felix. (Editing by Ed Osmond)


Injured Bolt fails to finish final race as GB take shock relay gold

Usain Bolt's illustrious athletics career finished on a painful and shocking note at the IAAF World Championships, the iconic sprinter pulling up with an injury as Great Britain claimed a shock gold in the men's 4x100m relay.

Bolt set off on the final leg behind the United States' Christian Coleman and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake of Great Britain and pushed too hard to reach the front, appearing to pull a hamstring and falling to the ground as he failed to finish.

While the Jamaican lay prone, it was Britain who crossed the line first in a world-leading time of 37.47 seconds, the US – booed upon entry with 100m champion Justin Gatlin on the second leg – second and Japan taking the bronze.

The crocked Bolt was soon joined by his team-mates Omar McLeod, Julian Forte and Yohan Blake, who helped him to his feet and across the line before departing down the tunnel.

Rather than bemoaning a far from fitting end to the 30-year-old's distinguished career, the crowd inside London Stadium were lost in celebration for the victorious home nation.


German Vetter wins javelin, Rohler misses out on medals

LONDON, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Germany's Johannes Vetter won the javelin at the World Athletics Championships on Saturday as his great rival and Olympic champion Thomas Rohler missed out on the podium.

Vetter's opening throw of 89.89 metres was enough to win the gold and the 24-year-old was overcome with emotion after clinching the title, mopping his tears on a German flag.

Czech Republic pair Jakub Vadlejch and Petr Frydrych threw personal bests of 89.73 and 88.32 respectively to take silver and bronze.

Rohler, who like Vetter has thrown over 90 metres this season, was beaten into fourth with 88.26.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)


Mo Farah misses out on fifth consecutive distance double

Britain's Mo Farah missed out on a fifth consecutive major championships distance double as he finished second in the world 5,000m.

The 34-year-old, who won 10,000m gold at the start of the championships, was swamped by his rivals in the final lap, with Ethiopia's Muktar Edris breaking clear to win gold.

Farah kicked again to take silver at the London Stadium in his final major track championships.

USA's Paul Chelimo claimed bronze.

Four-time Olympic champion Farah will finish his track career with a record of 10 golds and two silvers in major championships.

He is set to focus on marathons after his final track appearance at the 5,000m Diamond League final in Zurich on 24 August.

Great Britain have now won two medals at London 2017, with Farah taking both, as the hosts look set to fall short of UK Sport's target of six to eight.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt will race for the final time in his career in the men's 4x100m relay final from 21:50 BST, with the British team hopeful of winning a medal.


Pearson roars back to win world 100m hurdles gold

LONDON, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Australia's Sally Pearson completed one of the great sporting comebacks when she overcame two years of injury agony to win the world 100 metres hurdles title at the age of 30 on Saturday.

Pearson, world champion in 2011 and Olympic gold medallist in 2012, missed the last two seasons through hamstring and achilles injuries and a badly broken wrist but blasted back to win in 12.59 seconds, screaming "oh my God" repeatedly after crossing the line.

"I've worked so hard, I don't know what has just happened out there. I'm so tired but I'm sure it will sink in soon," Pearson said.

Dawn Harper Nelson, who won gold at the 2008 Olympics and was one of four Americans in the final, took silver in 12.63 ahead of Germany’s Pamela Dutkiewicz (12.72).

Favourite Kendra Harrison, who set the world record in the London Stadium last year having missed out on Olympic selection, again clattered too many barriers as she did in the semis and finished fourth in 12.74.

Defending champion Danielle Williams of Jamaica failed to make the final while last year's Olympic champion Brianna Rollins is banned for a doping violation.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)


Frustrations of fourth place becoming all too familiar for Britain

LONDON -- Fourth is the bridesmaid placing of track and field, the position that is agonisingly close to the tangible reward of a medal. The margins between success and failure are often miniscule, but the attention goes to the three rivals in front who then stand proudly on the podium.

Yet for Britain, the host nation at these World Athletics Championships, fourth is fast becoming the story of London 2017.

Dina Asher-Smith was the latest British hope to experience being left on the outside looking in, just behind the medalists, in the women's 200 meters on Friday night.

She finished in a season's best of 22.22 seconds, just seven-hundredths of a second behind Shaunae Miller-Uibo, one of the prerace favourites, in third. While Dafne Schippers successfully defended her title ahead of Marie-Josee Ta Lou, Asher-Smith became the fifth British athlete to occupy fourth in their event at these championships, putting them one ahead of Jamaica and Kenya in that particular statistic.

Fourth is also comfortably the most common placing for the host nation, with three sixth places the next most. The reactions from the athletes, not surprisingly, have been mostly filled with confusion and contradiction.

"I was so close!" said Asher-Smith, who broke a bone in her foot last February and did not return to the track until June. "I had absolutely no idea that I could do that tonight.

"To do that, which is faster than I did last year in an Olympic year, I am over the moon with that. It hurts to just miss out but at the same time I am so happy to be that close.

"That was so close to my personal best that I am really happy. To finish fourth in world final after having a broken foot is really good and my best-ever finish [at a major championships]."

Asher-Smith was upbeat and smiling as she talked to reporters after her race but even she expressed mixed emotions, and it seems most athletes -- certainly those not used to medalling -- just don't know what to think of fourth.

Laura Muir was in tears after her 1,500-meter final, saying: "Fourth. That says it all." After taking a day to analyse things and then return later in the 5,000 meters, it was a different story. "Fourth in the world is bloody good," she said. "And it's the best I've achieved in a global final ... it's the closest I've been to the front. It's hard to take but fourth in the world is really good."

Callum Hawkins, fourth in the marathon, was disappointed because he had hoped to "sneak" a medal and was a matter or meters from doing so. Despite the fact that he had run a personal best and equalled the highest finish for a Briton, a record set 22 years ago, he said: "To actually see it [third place] as I was finishing was a bit tough."

Kyle Langford also recorded a personal best in the 800 meters to finish fourth, and the reaction of the Briton was a now-familiar one. "You sit down and say 'fourth, I'll take that,' but I know in myself and I know in my heart that I wanted to get a medal out here, so it is gutting not getting it."


The other Briton to feel the frustration of fourth was sprinter Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake in the 200 meters, but he was unequivocal about what it meant to him. "Nothing's perfect in the sport," he said. "You just execute in the best way you can. At the end of the day, regardless of how I feel about the race, it wasn't enough to get a medal."

At the rate the British team are going, you might expect them to finish fourth in the medals table, too, but right now that looks unlikely.

They were joint 13th -- with one gold medal -- at the end of Friday, with Lithuania, New Zealand, Greece, Norway, Belgium and the Czech Republic for company. Mo Farah's gold in the 10,000 meters, the very first of the championships, remains the solitary British medal and the pre-event target of 6-8 medals appears way off beam with two days to go.

If Britain achieve such a medal haul -- and there are still 14 finals to come before the championships close on Sunday -- they will have to have quite a weekend. All they can do now is be bold, and go forth.


Bartoletta Blew Up Her Whole Life

It's genuinely difficult to find inspiration in athletics today, but for all of the mendacity and malfeasance, there are still some truly amazing stories to tell. One example is that of Tianna T. Bartoletta, an American track and field athlete specialising in the long jump. Today she won bronze at the World Championships in London, having won gold at the same event two years ago.

Not that she was disappointed at the result. In an emotional Facebook post, Bartoletta said that this was the "most special medal" she has ever won, and revealed the plight she has endured in the build-up to this tournament.

She has been the victim of an abusive relationship, and today, she revealed how she left everything behind to escape.

Here's the post:

I knew defending my title would be difficult. And you may find it hard to believe but this Bronze medal is THE most special medal I have ever won. 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 no 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.

To stand on the podium today after not even being in the mix for 4 rounds means the world to me. 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. It was worth it. Thanks so much for riding with me.

She is the reigning Olympic champion, but this is her most amazing victory thus far.


Here’s why track and field needs to change

LONDON — Coming into these 2017 IAAF world championships, the American Fred Kerley was the next big thing in the men’s 400.

More precisely, Fred Kerley of Texas A&M was the next big thing. He came to London having run 15 individual 400s in 2017. He had won 15.

It didn’t go Kerley’s way in the 400 final. He finished seventh, a result pre-figured in the semifinal, when he just barely qualified for the final on time. This is not to beat on Kerley. Just the opposite. It’s to pay him respect. He’s 22, and — counting the rounds and the final here — he ran 18 400s this year, plus a bunch of relays, plus some 200s to boot.

The NCAA system is the world’s diamond polisher. It doesn’t send up just Americans every two years to the world championships or every four years the Olympics. A great deal of the entire world sends its best to the United States, and in turn the NCAA sends its best back to the world, or the Olympics.

But take a good look around at these 2017 world championships in London. This may be a last go-around for the way a lot of things that have traditionally been the case in track and field.

The sport is looking at a great number of changes. To be candid, and with sincere respect for that tradition, it needs to change.

Change has been the hallmark of IAAF president Seb Coe’s first two years in office and any reasonable observer can see that change to the way track and field does things, in particular its presentation and its calendar, have to be on the agenda, and sooner than later.

Purists may shudder. That’s OK. All change is hard. All interest groups have interests. That’s understood.

Track and field has a historic opportunity in the United States owing to the 11-year timeline between now and the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. If the sport can make a powerful move in the U.S. market, it could and should prove transformational.

It’s also the case that the post-Usain Bolt era, which literally begins Sunday, after his final race Saturday (the men’s 4×100 relay), offers a clean break.

The London 2017 championships are a sell-out, which traditionalists can well cite as evidence that matters are on course. They’re not. Track and field simply can’t keep keeping on and expect to keep its self-identified position as the No. 1 Olympic sport, much less emerge a dynamic sport for the 21st century with appeal to young people.

Track and field has two options. It can change. Or it can have change forced upon it in crisis.

Better to choose option A.

The worrying signals are there for all track and field lovers, and this is the big one: aquatics will have more medal events at the Tokyo 2020 Games, 49, than track, 48. Swimming, along with gymnastics, is now what the International Olympic Committee calls for revenue distribution purposes a Tier A sport. Track used to occupy that category all by itself. Volleyball, which just concluded a hugely successful beach volleyball worlds in Austria, is banging on the Tier A door, and hard.

Better, again, to choose option A.

Teen girls, for instance, want to see Snapchat stories in which, say, the runners are adorned with stickers as they fly down the track.

They love the bright-pink colors of the sweatshirts that are part of the uniforms here.

But that ‘70s and ‘80s classic rock over the stadium loudspeakers? Come on, that’s when people who are literally in their 40s and 50s, ohmigod, were in school. Old. In case there is any doubt, and there should not be: old is not good.

Why are there three “semifinals”? Semifinal means two. Everyone knows that. (Trying to explain to teen girls that there are three so that athletes and officials from around the world can go back home with the pride of saying they were a world “semifinalist” when back home very few not in and of the track and field world understand it was made comparatively easier to make a semifinal because there are three, not two — this draws blank stares from a teen audience.)

And every night! For 10 nights! Too much, and too long! Like even Coachella, the music festival, runs on consecutive three-day weekends in April. Who really wants to hang out at a track meet (maybe with parents or grandparents, ugh) for 10 nights?

Friday’s “afternoon session” started at 5 p.m., with the high jump portion of the decathlon. It picked up again at 7:05 p.m., with (the three) semifinals in the women’s 100 hurdles. It ended just before 10, with the only final that anyone under 21 might reasonably care about, the women’s 200, because that race takes about 22 seconds and is easily Instagrammable — or, to use the lingo, good for the ‘gram.

It’s Friday night! There should be a headliner. Is that so difficult?

And why oh why are there so many events going on at the same time? It’s like going to the gym and watching people do stuff. It’s not a show! A show has a beginning, a middle and an end. It tells a story. There’s no thematic story to whatever it is that was out there. Just blips: in the race just before that 200, Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs of the United States went 1-2 in the women’s steeplechase (why is it 3000 meters? why is water at some of the jumps?). So many rules. So many places to try to look at, all at one time. It’s super-confusing for someone new, and when the announcer has to tell you what screen to look at, that’s a problem.

A big problem — like, at an NFL game, even if you don’t know the first thing about football, you know to watch the quarterback.

The central question, as ever: is track and field a made-for-TV event in which the stadium and audience serve as backdrop, or is the thing the stadium experience?

Indeed, presentation and time are at the core of many of the track world’s pressing — alternatively, most creatively intriguing and constructively provocative — challenges.

Those tensions make for a fascinating impact on athletes, coaches and more.

And they serve as an important driver as key players study what to do next.

Take Kerley and his Texas A&M coach, Pat Henry. (No tension there, to be clear.)

“I was ready to go,” Kerley said of the 400 final. “Coming home, I didn’t have that push like I normally did. I didn’t have no nerves. My body didn’t tell me to go like four or five weeks ago.”

The NCAA grind affects different people differently. Christian Coleman, a Tennessee junior, took silver in last Saturday night’s men’s 100, behind Justin Gatlin, ahead of Bolt. Trinidad & Tobago’s Jereem Richards, a junior at Alabama, grabbed third in Thursday night’s men’s 200.

And, as Henry pointed out, Kerley not only “still felt like he had something in the tank” before the 400 final,” what “got him here was running those [17 prior] 400s.” He added, “Without those, he wouldn’t have been here. It’s that time in his life. It’s that time to learn who he is, what his capabilities are. If you don’t run races, you don’t get that figured out. Many people might say it’s too many races. Sure. If the young man knew who he is and what his capabilities were — that’s track.”

As Henry also stressed, college track and field is not about getting an athlete ready for the world championships. It’s about aiming to win an NCAA championship.

“For a young man or any member of a team to be a contributor to a team sport, that’s first,” Henry said, and he’s right.

“What athletic department,” he asked rhetorically, “is going to support a track program if it’s all about the individual? That cannot be.

“I will be criticized for saying that. I am always criticized. That’s OK. We are at a point where we have to make those decisions.”

One of the factors likely to force such decisions is the next IAAF world championships, in Doha, Qatar, in 2019.

Here’s a secret: the big whisper backstage here in London — from athletes, delegates, officials and media — is all about Doha. In sum: who’s going, and why?

In an intriguing way for the IAAF, that creates opportunity.

The downside to Doha is that the meet is scheduled for September 28 to October 6, 2019. That’s obviously because of the heat.

Putting aside the heat issues, and looking at Doha from the downside of a bigger-picture calendar perspective:

Having a world championship in October in the year before an Olympic Games, when the track meet at the Games will be held the first week of August 2020, means everything will be askew in 2019. Television-wise, at least in the United States, the track and field worlds will be up against the NFL. If you like to bet, you might bet that the NFL will kill the track meet in the ratings.

Now, switching it up:

The upside to Doha is that the meet is scheduled for September 28 to October 6.

That means the IAAF, finally, can take a look at a long-overdue re-do of its calendar.

The track and field calendar has always been totally screwed up.

What sense does it make to hold your world championships and then carry on with more meets — like nothing happened?

Only track and field.

Do you see more NFL games after the Super Bowl? More basketball after the NBA Finals? More baseball after the World Series?

Yet year after year, track holds its worlds, or the Olympics, and then carries on with more Diamond League meets in Europe. What sort of business model is that?

A central question, going forward, is what is — or ought to be — the one-off? 2019? Or 2020?

To view this from a USA Track & FIeld perspective, and wrapping back to the NCAA issues:

Of the 138 athletes on the U.S. squad here in London for the 2017 championships, 23, including those who turned professional after the college championships, were NCAA-eligible. Of those 23, all were Division I with the exception of one, Chris Belcher, the 100-meter sprinter from North Carolina A&T.

Hypothetically speaking: even if those 23 were to take part in whenever (and wherever) the U.S. selection meet was to be held in 2019, in all likelihood none of them would be on a 2019 U.S. team going to Qatar that September and October because they would be in fall semester (or quarter) at school.

Granted, those numbers would vary because, for instance, 13 of the 23 are seniors now. But no matter because, of course, in just a few days or weeks U.S. colleges will welcome freshmen. Case in point: Sydney McLaughlin, the Rio 2016 400-meters sensation who this fall becomes a freshman at the University of Kentucky and by September 2019 would be a junior.

Bigger picture, at least for the Americans:

How many “emerging elite” and “development” athletes, as USA Track & Field calls the categories, will still be competing at a possible mid-August championships and, even more so, at a September 28 to October 6 world championships?

Doesn’t the question answer itself?

Because of projected lower numbers of entrants in a potential if not likely late summer nationals, the USATF championships format and time schedule could be radically different.

Same for the IAAF.

Knowing heads-up from Snapchat sticker corner: that is not rocket science.


1st Lesson From London: There Is No Next Usain Bolt

Attempts to anoint Wayde van Niekerk were doomed to fail. As for exotic gastric viruses, there is no link to the London Stadium’s wretched food

It is not uncommon for athletes contractually obliged to address the media to sound like disciplined hostages being paraded by their captors: name, rank, serial number, monosyllables, grunts. When Wayde van Niekerk attended his press conference after winning the 400m on Tuesday night, he sounded more like a hostage with Stockholm Syndrome. “How does it feel to be the most well-known person in track and field?” an American journalist asked.

“It’s always an honour … massive responsibility … continue performing … continue winning medals … continue the great legacy … important for each and everyone to build a positive image for our sport … a massive honour and I thank the Lord every day … it’s a journey, it’s life … embrace every moment … thank the Lord.”

Nothing has epitomised the sense of desperation that lies close to the surface of the World Athletics Championships so much as the ludicrous attempt – not only by the press but also by officialdom – to anoint Van Niekerk as the new Usain Bolt. Perhaps nothing quite so mad has been seen since Australian cricket spent about half a century trying to unearth the next Don Bradman.

There was no next Bradman and there is no next Bolt, whose combination of freakish physique, focused determination and PR genius has been matched only by Muhammad Ali. Van Niekerk is a lovely mover, a seemingly honourable and sweet young man and someone whose physical and mental vulnerability is being tested beyond reasonable endurance, as if he were a real hostage.

By Thursday night, having come within a blink of an eye of completing the 400m-200m double, he needed a live-TV hug, lasting about 20.09 seconds in itself, from the BBC reporter Phil Jones before he could jabber again, and this time the desperation had fallen entirely on him: “I worked for tonight [sniffle] … just as hard as every other competitor [sniffle] … I show everyone else respect [sniffle] … I think I didn’t get respect tonight … I feel it is very unfair.”

Then he thanked God and walked sadly away. In due course he may thank God for the defeat. It may do something to deflect unrealistic expectations and allow him to chart his own course without having to do Sebastian Coe’s job and save this benighted sport from its own outrageousness.

Football’s corruption, like the Great Wall of China, can be seen from space. But at least as the season starts we can be confident that on the field there will be fair cheating all round. At these championships officials and pundits have been thanking God for the absence of world records as a sign that perhaps the sport is becoming a little less doped up. It is a sort of motif for a planet on which progress has been abolished.

London hoped for a mini-reprise of the 2012 Olympics. But athletics, served singly, cannot provide it. JB Priestley described marriage as “a long, dull meal with pudding as the first course”, a quote that came to mind on day two when the schedule, having served up Bolt and Mo Farah in the first 48 hours, had little left to offer, which explains much of the pressure that was heaped on poor Van Niekerk.

This is not easy to remedy. You cannot easily Twenty20-ise athletics: “Hey, the 100m is way too long – can’t we make it 25?”

Much of the narrative has revolved around exotic gastric viruses, as in the tropics. Yet the weather has been parodically British: 2012 took place in a fine spell after a dismal midsummer; this time the reverse has happened. I have had wetter sporting experiences than Wednesday night in the stadium (Pontypool rugby, Folkestone races, where you could get drenched at the back of the stands); I have been colder (Nottingham Forest). But it is hard to remember wet and cold combining quite so malevolently, at least not in August.

The crowd trudged through the beckoning lights of the shopping centre, past a joint called Potbelly and a branch of Fatface, getting damp even under the roof, out on to a route that was like the steeplechase course in reverse – one long watersplash with the occasional island. If there was an Olympic-style party scene round that windswept and dystopian open space known as the park, then I never found it this week (story of my life) but colleagues assured me they never found it either.

Nonetheless, the turnout has been very good, if not quite a sell-out (£155 Sunday night tickets were still gettable through the official website on Friday). This should ensure the event is not a financial disaster, as will the price of the wretched stadium food: not very hot dog + not very hot Bovril = £8.50.

I first realised that Londoners were now willing to put up with, and turn up to, absolutely anything at Will and Kate’s wedding in 2011. It became obvious, talking to the crowds on the streets, that this was not a massive outpouring of support for royalty: it was an expression of an urgent need, by people who experience life through screens, to be part of something, no matter what. They would have been just as happy to watch the monarchy overthrown.

This was followed, most obviously, by the mass suspension of disbelief that constituted the Olympics as well as the vast numbers who stood all day to watch several seconds of the Tour de France in 2014 and the huge crowds that support American football’s increasingly frequent invasions of the capital. The public manifestations of Corbynmania may fit the same template.

The BBC coverage of the week started at peak hysteria (“We’ve got the rights to something! How special is THAT?”) but seems to have become more measured. The commentariat have still been at pains to praise the knowledgeable crowd, and indeed the spectators do seem to have grasped the essentials: that the medals are normally won by those who travel the fastest, jump the highest or throw the furthest, and any variation on that usually comes to light only after they have all gone home.

Frankly, athletics is either very simple or exceedingly technical, and there is not much scope for the kind of halfway-house knowledge possessed by followers of most sports.

The shortage of British medals has obviously been a calming influence: “It’s another fourth for Great Britain!” This takes one back to the balmy days of Olympic reporting when it was possible to go out for a dinner that did not comprise tepid dogs and Bovril without fear of missing yet another British gold.

Is there perhaps a growing realisation of the extent of the con-trickery that lay at the heart of the entire London Olympics phenomenon?

On Friday the Directory of Social Change, a charity that services the voluntary sector, issued a press release to mark the 10th anniversary of what it called “the Big Lottery Fund raid”, the diversion of £425m earmarked for charities to finance Olympic costs. This was supposed to be repaid by the sale of Olympic assets after 2012. “So far,” said Rachel Cain, senior researcher at the Directory, “little has been sold off to reimburse the Lottery.”

The middle-class takeover of the East End was happening anyway. And we now know the fate of the promised post-Olympic boom in sporting participation.

The age of Blair and Cameron, the PR PMs, is over and the country is notionally governed by a woman who has some trouble grasping public relations at all. One advantage of this may be the end of an era when Britain treasured gold medals for their own sake, and funded elite sport and stadiums at the expense of necessary facilities.

Every time I have looked at a medals ceremony this week, the honours were being handed out by a member of the IAAF council. Lord Coe and his No2, Sergey Bubka aside, they tended to look exceedingly well-fed: no stadium grub for them. Perhaps they worry about their deeply troubled sport, perhaps not too much.

Over the weekend we can all sit back and say a final farewell to Bolt and Farah. And that is unmissable. West Ham can then return to their stately home, a gift from a generous nation. And the rest of us can return to watching something else on our multiple screens, and paying occasional visits to Potbelly and Fatface.


Hurting Blake Doubtful For Men's 4x1 Final

(Reuters) - Jamaica's Yohan Blake is a doubt for the 4x100 metres relay final at the World Athletics Championships and will be assessed by medical staff before Saturday's final, head Coach Maurice Wilson said.

Blake has not been able to train at full pace in the leadup to the race, which will be sprint great Usain Bolt's last on the track.

“Well I cannot speak definitively on it until I have had conversations with the medical staff,” Wilson told Television Jamaica.

"The possibility exists that we may have some niggles."

The coach was asked whether Blake had trained with the team in relay practice on Saturday.

“Well he did some hand offs today at about half-pace and we’re expecting that if there is a problem he’s a professional athlete, he’s an experienced athlete; he will have that conversation with the medical staff, he will also be examined by the medical staff if there is a problem,” the coach said.

The Jamaican men’s quartet of Tyquendo Tracey, 100m semi-finalist Julian Forte, debutant Michael Campbell and 11-time world championship gold medallist Bolt clocked 37.95 seconds, the third fastest time to advance to the final.

The U.S. team featuring Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman, logged a world leading 37.70 seconds to win the first heat, followed by Britain on 37.76 seconds.

Reporting by Kayon Raynor; Editing by Toby Davis


Reese Wins Tightest Long Jump Final Ever

He had one failure and skipped two rounds before reaching 5.95 metres where he was agonisingly close on his second attempt, clearing the bar but nudging it on the way down.

Lavillenie then opted to move to 6.01 where his challenge ended.

Titleholder Shawn Barber of Canada struggled all evening and never looked in contention.

He had one failure at the lowest height of 5.50 and only just avoided elimination at 5.65 which he cleared at the third attempt despite clipping the bar, before going out at 5.75.

Germany's Raphael Holzdeppe, who won the title four years ago in Moscow, fared even worse as he was eliminated in the very first round at 5.50.

Belgian's Arnaud Art made an unfortunate exit at the first height, falling on his third attempt after his hands slipped from the pole. (Editing by Ed Osmond)


Van Niekerk defends world 400m title

- South African Wayde van Niekerk got his bid for an audacious 200/400m double off to a flying start when he defended his one-lap title. Van Niekerk, who also set the world record when winning Olympic gold in Rio last year, was in imperious form, running a devastating final bend to finish in 43.98 seconds, easing up a full 15 metres from the line. Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas claimed silver in 44.41sec, with Sudan-born Qatari Abdalelah Haroun taking bronze (44.48).


Jenny Simpson Savors Another Silver (Video)

She kicked past two runners in the final 100 meters to win her third medal at a world championships.

In what was one of the greatest women’s 1500-meter fields ever assembled, Jenny Simpson claimed a third world championships medal in London tonight, the 30-year-old American unleashing her trademark finishing kick to finish a superb second in 4:02.76.

With a field of intimidating quality in opposition—including Olympic 800-meter champion Caster Semenya, Olympic 1500-meter champion Faith Kipyegon, and world No. 1 Sifan Hassan—Simpson ranked as an underdog for a medal, but she toed the line with remarkable confidence.

“I said to myself: You have to be a mountain, you have to be unshakeable, because everybody here is fit, everyone is in good shape, so what’s going to make the difference is who is the most confident,” Simpson said. “You’d be surprised how confident I am in myself. I really believed I could do it.”

The early pace was slow, with British heroine Laura Muir taking the field through 800 meters in 2:17.11. But with 600 meters to run, Hassan sprinted to the front, which set off a chain reaction in the pack.

Simpson assumed pole position behind Hassan and Kipyegon, who hit full throttle out front with 300 meters left, leaving Simpson to battle with Muir and Semenya for the minor medals. While Kipyegon came home strongly to win in 4:02.59, Simpson had to summon all her courage in the home stretch to overtake Hassan, edge past Muir, and hold off the late charge of Semenya to take silver.

“I went down the stretch and thought: Just run your guts out, run the hardest you’ve ever run in your life [even if] you black out,” Simpson said.

The moments after the finish were just as nerve-wracking as the start line, with Simpson unsure if she had won a medal and gazing up at the big screen to see her fate. When her name flashed up in second, she erupted in celebration.

“It felt amazing,” she said. “I had a slow start to the season but my coaches really prepared me to be ready late in the season and it paid off. I wanted to win tonight, but I look back and get to say I’m lucky. I’m really proud of it.”

Simpson, the 1500-meter world champion in 2011, the silver medalist at the world championships in 2013, and the Olympic bronze medalist last year, had defeated not just the local favorite in Muir, the world’s best half-miler in Semenya, or the fastest athlete this season in Hassan, but also the controversial figure of Genzebe Dibaba, the 1500-meter world record holder whose coach, Jama Aden, is awaiting trial in Spain after being implicated in a doping scandal.

Afterward Simpson was adamant her performance showed it was possible to win clean.

“I want a clean sport so it feels amazing to come out and beat people [under suspicion],” she said. “If I’m second in this race, you beat cheaters because there’s not zero cheaters in the race or the world. But they’re not all stealing my moment. I’m so lucky I get to have those moments on the podium.”


Gatlin: "Athlete Of His Time, Not A Villain"

The sprinter Justin Gatlin is a tailor-made stand-in for the doping ills of track and field.

He served a four-year suspension after testing positive for steroids. He came back and continues to run fiercely in his 35th year, laying down the fastest times ever for a runner his age. Last weekend, in London, he spoiled the retirement run of the great Olympic champion Usain Bolt, whom some writers revere as the symbol of a clean sport. Gatlin ran 9.92 seconds in the 100 meters on Saturday night at the world championships, and took the gold medal. Bolt settled for the bronze.

Fans showered Gatlin with boos; British sportswriters waxed righteous about their pantomime villain (“Gatlin is a shameless fraud” was one of the milder takes); and Sebastian Coe, president of track and field’s international governing body, was beside himself for having to award a medal to Gatlin.

“I’m not eulogistic at the thought of somebody who has served two bans in our sport walking off with one of the biggest prizes,” Coe said.

This narrative is fractured and self-righteous. Gatlin has sinned, but the outrage, particularly from those who know better, edges toward the absurd.

Let’s start with what is, by now, the standard indictment: Gatlin is a “two-time drug cheat,” with “unrepentant” added as the adjectival chaser.

This is inaccurate. His first offense was no offense at all.

In the summer of 2001, after his freshman year at the University of Tennessee, Gatlin tested positive for a very small trace of amphetamine after running as an amateur in an event sponsored by USA Track & Field. Amphetamines are ingredients in Adderall, for which Gatlin has carried a prescription since he was 7 years old and learned he had an attention deficit disorder. He took Adderall while preparing for summer midterms three days before the race.

His decision was consistent with N.C.A.A. rules and guidance given to professional athletes. Nonetheless, Coe’s organization, the International Association of Athletics Federations, handed down a two-year ban. Gatlin appealed and got the suspension cut to a year. The grand executioners in the press corps might want to page to the decision’s conclusion:

“Mr. Gatlin neither cheated nor intended to cheat,” the appeals panel wrote. “He is certainly not a doper.”

So Gatlin is a one-time doper. In 2006, he tested positive for a steroid and was suspended for eight years, a sentence reduced to four years after he cooperated with federal investigators. He would lose four peak years and millions of dollars in earnings, a considerably tougher penalty than those meted out to athletes in pro baseball, basketball or football. (World soccer has adopted the Olympic Code and consequently levies tough penalties).

That seems a suitably stiff sentence for a first offense.

Let me now back off a step or three and interrogate my own righteousness.

A month ago, I talked with the American high jumper Chaunté Lowe about the moment last November when she learned she had won a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics. The international antidoping agency, taking advantage of technological advances, retested the blood of three jumpers (two Russians and a Ukrainian) who finished ahead of her at those Games. It disqualified all three. Lowe learned of this by Facebook and felt caught between elation and sorrow, aware of opportunities lost, not least that joyous moment atop a podium.

A year ago, I sat atop a mountain outside Oslo and heard two top American biathletes, Susan Dunklee and Lowell Bailey, talk about the frustration of competing to their lung-straining best and suspecting that some of the athletes a few paces ahead of them might have a chemical advantage.

These athletes work too hard to think we can just slap them on the back and murmur que será, será. They enjoy precious few years at their peak. Several of them told me they would like to see career suspensions for first doping offenses.

There is, too, the peculiar challenge presented when nations or Olympic committees cover their eyes, with all the advantages and subterfuge that implies. The United States Olympic Committee, for many years in the 1980s, enabled a pervasive doping problem. Its leaders knew that American swimmers, runners and jumpers were doping with the complicity of top Olympic coaches.

The United States has cracked down hard. But Russia has taken on the mantle and gone far beyond, running a state-sponsored doping program with a thuggish insistence that gives its athletes and coaches little choice. This represents an existential threat to clean sport.

I called Max Cobb, the president of U.S. Biathlon and an insistent reformer, and asked about the question of appropriate penalties for athletes like Gatlin. He is not by temperament the sort who favors blanket lifetime suspensions, and he sees considerable mitigating factors in Gatlin’s case. He also sees a place for lifetime bans as a threat.

“If you are engaged in systematic blood manipulation, you are deliberately trying to cheat the system,” Cobb noted. “It cannot be an accident, and that’s where the option of a lifetime ban would really help.”

Track and field’s reputation as irreparably tarnished by doping may be unfair and owe paradoxically to its growing ability to ferret out offenders. The doping era may have reached its body-distorting peak at the turn of this century, when athletes from many nations imbibed all sorts of steroids. Olympians break records with less regularity now; some women’s records set in that period have stood for decades. Scientists speculate that cheating athletes now take smaller doses to avoid detection.

As for Bolt and Gatlin, too many reporters and fans remain invested in fairy-tale dichotomies. Bolt is a glorious runner and a joyous showman for the ages, and he has passed every drug test without a glitch. So writers fit him for a crown as the king of clean sport.

What, however, explains the urgency in fitting Gatlin for the crown of thorns? Gatlin is an athlete of his time and place. He finished third in the 100 meters at the 2012 London Olympics. Five of the eight men who ran that day have served doping bans. There were runners in London last weekend who had served doping suspensions and returned to competition.

Track and field offers a complicated world.

Coe’s rhetoric is steely, and he has accomplished some good since becoming chief of the international federation. He was also forced to acknowledge in 2015 that Nike had paid him $150,000 annually to serve as a company “ambassador.” French prosecutors are examining whether anyone bribed top international track officials to steer the 2021 world championships to Eugene, Ore.

Shadows, too, have fallen across the sporting goods companies, which wield great influence over the sport. Nike, its pre-eminent power, runs a top track program out of its facilities in Oregon, and its coach Alberto Salazar has faced repeated reports suggesting his approach is tainted by chemicals.

My intention here is not to throw up a cloud and allow Gatlin to slip untouched off the stage. His athletic history is a cross of his making. After a four-year absence, he returned overweight and slow, turning in embarrassing times in places like Finland.

He found a new coach, who had himself once tested positive, and dismantled and reworked his form. He began to explode out of the blocks with surgical precision. By 2015, he was laying down eyebrow-raising times, peaking at 9.74. That led even sober analysts like Ross Tucker, whose website Science of Sport is much respected, to wonder aloud if he was doping again, or had ever stopped.

That moment likely has passed.

The championship race in London was an old man’s affair. Gatlin won with a 9.92. Had he run that time at the world championships in Beijing in 2015, he would have finished far behind Bolt. He is tested randomly by the United States Anti-Doping Agency; screeners checked his blood four times and his urine 10 times last year before the Olympics.

He passed all of those.

Age is the runner that will track Gatlin to earth. When I saw him in Oregon in May, he acknowledged mental fatigue and hamstrings and thighs that growl like old hounds.

He is a personable man; he is flawed. There’s no need to turn him into a hero. But the villain stuff plays like the cheap tricks adults use to distract from bigger problems.


Britain's WC Woes Based On "Mentality"?

British athletes are underperforming at the World Championships because of issues with their mentality, says ex-Olympic champion Darren Campbell.

UK Sport's target is between six and eight medals but, after five days of competition, Britain have one - Mo Farah's gold in Friday's 10,000m.

While Campbell believes there is "hope" for the future, he told BBC Radio 5 live: "Clearly there's something wrong.

"We can't pretend it's not happening. If medals are not won, funding is cut."

On Monday, Britain's Laura Muir just missed out on a medal by finishing fourth in the 1500m, while Olympic bronze medallist Sophie Hitchon was seventh in the hammer throw.

The previous day, Katarina Johnson-Thompson finished fifth in the heptathlon, Holly Bradshaw was sixth in the pole vault and Andrew Pozzi failed to qualify for the final of the 110m hurdles.

"I am the last British sprinter to win an individual global medal, at the 2003 World Championships in Paris, but the talent we have is better than that," said Campbell.

"The problem we have is the mental side of things."

Many high-profile athletes missed the British trials in July, which formed part of the selection process for the World Championships in London.

Campbell said: "We were told that the top athletes who weren't there were being rested for the Worlds. Well now we're here, where are they producing what we were told they would?"

Campbell, who won 4x100m gold in Athens in 2004, said the experience of former athletes such as Brendan Foster, now a BBC commentator, should be utilised.

"You've got Brendan up here, in five minutes you can see his experience. We're not tapping into that? Wow."

'A reminder that sport is brutal'

UK Sport funding is already set for the Olympic cycle up to 2020 - with athletics the second-highest Olympic recipient behind rowing.

When the funding was announced in December, UK Sport CEO Liz Nicholl said the decision to cut funding from several sports was "based on a judgement of potential number of medals".

"With only one medal at the halfway stage, it's not going to plan," former Olympic javelin thrower Steve Backley told BBC Sport. "That is the simple message.

"There have been some marginal performances that went the wrong way. With medal hopes like Hitchon, Muir, Bradshaw, Johnson-Thompson, we could have had three or four medals in the bag by now.

"But sport is brutal, and this is a reminder of how tough it is out there. There aren't that many more chances left."


Will Usain Bolt win his final career race?

Your last chance to watch Usain Bolt race is very likely Saturday.

Bolt, one week after being upset in the world championships 100m final, is expected to anchor the Jamaican 4x100m relay team during NBC’s live coverage from London from 3-5 p.m. ET.

Bolt and the Jamaicans crossed the finish line first in all seven Olympic and world championships relays dating to the 2008 Beijing Games.

However, the island nation is losing its sprint dominance. Not only was Bolt relegated to 100m bronze by Americans Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman, but Jamaica also lacks depth.

Former relay stalwarts Asafa Powell and Nesta Carter have aged and didn’t make the world team. Yohan Blake, the primary global rival to Bolt in 2011 and 2012, was a respectable fourth in the 100m last Saturday, but the Jamaicans are lacking depth.

Like in the 100m, the U.S. could spoil Bolt’s farewell party yet again in the relay.

Add up the 100m times from Gatlin, Coleman and U.S. bronze medalist Christopher Belcher, and the Americans were a net .01 faster than the Jamaican trio of Bolt, Blake and Julian Forte last Saturday.

The key will be clean baton handoffs. The Americans have botched the relay consistently, missing the podium due to bad exchanges or disqualifications at five of the last six global championships.

Jamaica is much cleaner passing the stick, plus it has the biggest intangible in its favor: Bolt on anchor, which could intimidate whoever is running the last leg for the Americans if it’s a close race.


Tori Bowie follows her instincts to 100-meter gold at worlds

LONDON -- Lying on the track, shoulder and hip burning from her fall after crossing the 100-meter finish line, Tori Bowie had no idea what to expect.

"I was just trying to get to the finish line," Bowie said. "I knew I was in the mix, I knew I was in the top three. I didn't know if I had won or not."

The 26-year-old American used a furious charge over the final 20 meters to close in on the frontrunner, Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast. Bowie leaned so hard at the tape, she tumbled forward, ripping the skin off her shoulder and bruising several other parts of her body.

When Bowie stood up, the winner still had not been announced. When the scoreboard flashed her name in first place at 10.85 seconds, .01 ahead of Ta Lou, the moment knocked her back down.

The fastest woman in the world lay on her back and covered her face with her hands. "I was like, 'Oh my God, I can't believe this just happened. This is the greatest night of my life,'" Bowie said.

Bowie is a slender, shy country girl from rural Sand Hill, Mississippi. At several points during interviews after Sunday's race, she was overwhelmed by emotion and took some time to compose herself. But there is steely determination beneath her reticence, which fueled her devastating late-race charge.

"I don't know where the finishing comes from. I guess, just hungry -- a determined, motivated moment," she said. "It just comes from instinct, from wanting it so bad."

The favorite Sunday was Elaine Thompson of Jamaica, who won the 100 and 200 in Rio, the first woman to complete that double since Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988. On Sunday, Thompson stumbled slightly when Bowie passed her halfway down the track. She finished fifth in 10.98, well off her season best of 10.71. Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands finished third in 10.96.

"Honestly, I don't know what happened," Thompson said. "I came out here with a brave heart and a strong mind. It didn't go as I planned, but you have to give those other girls a lot of credit."

Last year at the Rio Olympics, Bowie used another closing burst to move from fourth place to second, losing by a step to Thompson. On Sunday, Ta Lou led the entire race from Lane 4, and had no idea Bowie was bearing down on her from Lane 7. Ta Lou did not lean at the tape, and looked to her left with a shocked expression as Bowie flashed past.

"I didn't see her coming," Ta Lou said. "But it's OK, I have a medal."

Bowie, though, has the gold. She specialized in the long jump at the University of Southern Mississippi, and many consider the 200 to be her best event. Yet she insisted on focusing on the 100 in London.

"I'm probably the only person in the world who thought I could come out here and win the 100 meters tonight," Bowie said. "I learned a lot from tonight. I learned to always follow your heart."


"Mr. Silk" Omar McLeod Brings Joy To Jamaica

LONDON, Aug 7 (Reuters) - As Usain Bolt takes his leave of athletics and the desperate hunt grows to find charismatic new trailblazers for the sport, another young Jamaican, Omar McLeod, demonstrated in winning the 110 metres hurdles title on Monday why he may fit the bill.

He's young, cool, bright, very fast and likes to style himself as "Mr Silk" with the smooth hurdling technique.

After a weekend where it was all doom and gloom back home after the 100 metres losses of Bolt and Elaine Thompson, 23-year-old Mcleod chose the perfect night to bound headlong to world championship glory and cheer his nation.

"Happy Independence Day, Jamaica! I love you guys!" he declared with a laugh, recognising that everyone was watching him on the island's public holiday as he became the first man since American Allen Johnson in 1997 to pull off the Olympics/World Championships 110m hurdles double in successive years.

"I'm elated, completely overcome with emotion and I especially wanted to dedicate this win to Usain. I felt it was up to me out there to bring the boost back to Jamaica and I think I've done that."

Yet while he saluted his peerless hero Bolt, who was only able to win bronze in his final individual 100m, he also looked and sounded every inch the sort of talismanic figure who could ensure swiftly that Jamaica has a new male superstar to savour.

For after comfortably defeating what he considered the best 110m hurdles field in history in 13.04 seconds, the U.S.-based speedster made it clear that he felt this was just the beginning of something even more spectacular.

NEW WORLDS

Nobody is suggesting that Bolt is anything but irreplaceable but here is an athlete who actually has strings to his bow that even the great Usain never had.

For not only is he already the only man ever to have run under 10 seconds for 100 metres and under 13 seconds for the 110m hurdles, he can also spread his talent across events as varied as the 400m hurdles and the 200m.

Next year, he declared after his victory, would be the time to see him spread his wings.

"I've got new worlds to conquer now," he beamed. "I really, really want that world record now so we'll see what happens next."

The man who holds the 12.80 seconds mark that he is after, American Aries Merritt, could only finish fifth in the final and the future of the event now lies in McLeod's quicksilver feet.

He is the only top high hurdler still taking eight steps to reach the first hurdle and, though he was planning to move down to seven this season, he put that plan back to next year to ensure he did not mess with his world championships ambitions.

Next year, though, he will definitely experiment.

"It was probably the best line up in history tonight. I knew in order to win I had to do it the Omar McLeod way," he said.

"I had to bring my own spark back. I had to get out and take control of the race. And just go out and have fun. And I did that."

There was, he said, a special reason to deliver. "My mum is here, so I had to do it for her," he said, after having given her a big hug at trackside. McLeod looks to be a breath of fresh air for the sport. (Reporting by Ian Chadband; editing by Ken Ferris)


Laura Muir refuses to enter Caster Semenya debate after heartbreak

• Briton pipped to 1500m bronze by Olympic 800m champion 
• London organisers close hotel floor over gastroenteritis outbreak

Laura Muir was close to tears after missing out on a world championship 1500m medal by seven hundredths of a second to South Africa’s Caster Semenya.

Muir had led for much of the race but ran out of gas down the home straight and was beaten to bronze by Semenya, the Olympic 800m champion. South Africa’s Semenya later attempted to shut down debate over hyperandrogenism, the medical condition she has which is characterised by excessive levels of male sex hormones such as testosterone.

Athletics’ world governing body, the IAAF, is putting together a case to convince the court of arbitration for sport that Semenya’s condition gives her an unfair advantage over her rivals. Semenya could be forced to undergo hormone replacement therapy or face being unable to compete in the future.

“I really don’t have time for nonsense,” she said. “I do not think about something that might happen in eight months. I don’t focus on the IAAF. It’s not my business. My business is to train hard and see what I come up with in competition.”

Muir refused to be drawn into the complex debate round Semenya’s participation in these championships. “I’ve not got anything to say about that,” she said.

The race was won by Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon in 4min 02.59sec while experience proved valuable for the 30-year-old American Jenny Simpson who ran an exquisitely judged race to take silver.

London 2017 organisers have ordered a floor in one of the hotels used by competitors to be quarantined after an outbreak of gastroenteritis.

Botswana’s Isaac Makwala, a medal prospect in the 400m, was given medical dispensation to withdraw from the 200m heats after throwing up in the call room.

A number of other athletes staying at the same hotel also have gastroenteritis, including the Ireland 400m hurdler Thomas Barr. “I’m gutted to have to withdraw from the semi-final. My whole year has been focused on the world championships. To not be able to go out and compete for Ireland is beyond disappointing.”

An organisers’ statement read: “Those affected have been supported by both team and local organising committee medical staff. In addition we have been working with Public Health England to ensure the situation is managed and contained.

“As a result, further advice and guidelines have been issued to team doctors and support staff – standard procedure for such an occurrence where a number of teams are occupying championship accommodation.”


Kipyegon wins world 1500m, Semenya bronze

Faith Kipyegon of Kenya added the world title to her Olympic crown after sprinting to victory in the women's 1500m on Monday.

In a fantastic race that erupted on the final lap, Kipyegon held off allcomers down the home straight to clock 4min 02.59sec.

American Jennifer Simpson claimed silver, at 0.17sec, with South Africa's 800m specialist Caster Semenya taking bronze (4:02.90).

Defending world champion Genzebe Dibaba finished 12th and last, more than 4sec off the winning pace.

Laura Muir, one of two Britons in the field led from the off, laying down a 65sec first lap, with Kipyegon a constant companion on her outside shoulder.

Semenya was her usual comfortable self in the middle of the pack, with Dibaba behind her and the Netherlands' world indoor champion Sifan Hassan, who took bronze two years ago in Beijing, bringing up the rear.

They went through 800m in a relatively sedate 2:17 before Hassan moved up the field and kicked, Kipyegon following.

Suddenly the pack split, Hassan and Kipyegon looking to have the battle for top of the podium to themselves.

But it was not to be, at least for the Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman.

Semenya left it late for her attack, eating up the yards from ninth place with 200 metres to run.

As they hit the home stretch, Hassan tied up in dramatic fashion, 2011 world champion Simpson timed her tactically astute race to near perfection and Semenya powered through for bronze on her coattails.

Muir pipped Hassan for fourth, while world record holder Dibaba could muster nothing worthwhile in the sprint finish as she went backwards.


5 Gator Alums Qualify For World Champs Finals

Kerron Clement is into his sixth 400 hurdles final, and Novlene Williams-Mills became the oldest woman in history to make a 400 meters final

LONDON – Five Gators advanced to finals, and incoming freshman sprinter Hakim Sani Brown qualified for the 200 meters semifinals Monday (Aug. 7) night at the IAAF World Championships.

For a second consecutive day, 400-meter hurdlers Kerron Clement (2004-05), the reigning Olympic gold medalist and a two-time world champion in the event, and TJ Holmes (2015-17), this year's USATF Outdoor Championships bronze medalist, won their respective heats.

Clement, who could become the first man in history to win three 400 hurdles world titles, posted the fastest overall time (48.35 seconds) to qualify for his sixth World Championships final. His six finals are the second-most appearances in meet history.



Jamaican team captain and six-time World Championships medalist Novlene Williams-Mills (2003-04) finished third in her heat, but advanced to the final as the fastest non-automatic qualifier. At age 35, Williams-Mills is the oldest woman in history to make the World Championships 400 meters final. Russia's Tatyana Alekseyeva (33 years, 301 days in 1997) was the oldest prior to Monday. This will be Williams-Mills' sixth final, the most in meet history.

Two-time reigning Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion Christian Taylor (2009-11) only needed one attempt to automatically make Thursday's (Aug. 10) triple jump final. Fellow American and reigning two-time Olympic silver medalist Will Claye (2010-11) also qualified for the final, posting the fifth-best jump of the night.

Sani Brown's bid to become the youngest 200 meters finalist in World Championships history continues, as he finished second in his heat and automatically qualified for the semifinals.



Tuesday's events do not feature any Gators. Clement, Holmes, and Williams-Mills all compete in Wednesday (Aug. 9) finals Sani Brown's 200 meters semi is Wednesday as well.

Two-time steeplechase Olympian Genevieve LaCaze (2009-12) and 2015 World Championships long jump silver medalist Shara Proctor (2007-10) begin their respective events Wednesday. Proctor is making her sixth World Championships appearance, trailing only Williams-Mills' seven for the most by a female Gator.


Clement eases into position for third hurdles gold

Olympic champion Kerron Clement put himself in pole position to win a third world title as the American went through the gears before cruising into the final of the 400 metres hurdles at the London Stadium on Monday.
The gifted 31-year-old, who won his first title a decade ago and has made such a revival late in his career that he struck Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro last year, won his opening heat to ensure he was the fastest qualifier in 48.35 seconds.

It had looked briefly off the final bend that the Trinidadian-born Clement might have his work cut out.

Yet he actually timed his run in lane seven with considerable precision to reel in the field, headed by the second automatic qualifier, powerful young Norwegian hope Karsten Warholm, in what was to prove by far the fastest heat.

It left Clement delighted as he seems to have rediscovered his best form at just the right time after an indifferent season, having also won at the London Stadium in last month's Diamond League meeting.

"I trust my strength and I know I am the best off that last hurdle. If anyone is within arm's length of me at the last hurdle, it's a wrap," said Clement, who despite the titles to his name is still seen as a slightly unfulfilled talent.

"I just need to concentrate on the turn because that can be my Achilles heel. I need to make sure that goes smoothly for the final."

Clement's US colleague TJ Holmes won the slowest, faintly shambolic, heat in 49.12 seconds, but did look to have enough in reserve to be a potential threat to his illustrious compatriot in Wednesday's final.

However, American hopes of having a powerful three-pronged assault on gold were thwarted by national champion Eric Futch's poor run on the inside lane in the other heat dominated by two of the sport's growing legion of 'allegiance transferees'.

Heat winner Abderrahaman Samba, who won in 48.75, now runs for Qatar, having switched his allegiance from Mauritania, while Turkey's European champion Yasmani Copello, who eased home just behind him in 48.91, used to run for Cuba.


Stat Blitz: World Championships Day 4

(from K. Ken Nakamura)

Day 4

WTJ

Rojas became 4th TJ to win both World Indoor and World Championships

2cm is the smallest winning margin in the history of WC WTJ; previous min was 4cm in 1997 and 2003

Difference of 35cm between 3rd and 4th is the largest ever in WC WTJ; previously, 18cm in 1995 and 2003 were max

WIth a silver medal tonight, Ibaguen now has a complete set of WC medals at WTJ

Rojas won the first medal of any kind for VEN at WC WTJ

W1500m

Kipyegon also became third (after Liu Dong and Genzebe) runner to win both WOrld and WOrld Junior at W1500m

Kipyegon also became third runner to win both Olympics and WOrld Championships (after Masterkova and Bulmerka) at W1500m

Kipyegon won first gold for KEN at WC W1500m

Difference between 1st and 3rd was 0.31 second, smallest ever for WC W1500m, replacing 0.44sec from 2009

Faith Kipyegon become the first CWG champion to win World Championships at W1500m

Faith Kipyegon become the first World Youth champion to win World Championships at W1500m

110mH

McLeod also became fifth hurdler to win both WC and World Indoor

McLeod won first gold for JAM in 110mH at WC

Baji won first medal for HUN at 110mH in WC

Shubenkov won silver, thus he joined Jackson and Liu as one of the three hurdlers with complete set of medals.

McLeod joined Allen Johnson and Liu as one of the three hurdlers with both Olympic and World Championships gold

WHT

For the first time in the history of WC, a nation (this case POL) won two medals (Wlodarczyk & Kopron) at WHT

77.90 is the British all comers' record improving her own mark, 77.60 from the Olympics

Wlodarczyk won third gold in WC WHT, tying Moreno for the most gold in this event at WC

It is also fourth medal for Wlodarczyk, also tying Moreno with a number of medals in WC WHT


GOLDEN MUM Who is Jessica Ennis-Hill? Olympic heptathlon gold medallist who’s pregnant with a second child – all you need to know

The 31-year-old is one of the most-decorated British sportswomen in history, but has now retired from competition

JESSICA ENNIS-HILL DBE is one of the most decorated British sportswomen in history, having conquered the world as a heptathlete.

As a professional, she has won gold medals in the Olympics, the World Championships, the World Indoor Championships and the European Championships.

However after last year’s Olympics in Rio, she retired from competing, leaving behind a glittering career that brought her vast amounts of success.

Here’s everything you need to know about the 31-year-old…

How old is Jessica Ennis-Hill? What’s her background?

The superstar was born on January 28, 1986 in Sheffield, where she is one of two daughters to father from Jamaica, and a mother from England.

Both her parents had an interest in athletics – her dad was a keen sprinter, whilst her mum preferred the high jump – and they introduced her to the sport as a child taking her to the Don Valley Stadium to watch events.

She ended up joining the City of Sheffield and Dearne Athletic Club aged 11 where she excelled, and attended King Ecgbert School, before graduating from the University of Sheffield with a 2:2 in psychology.

What was Jessica Ennis-Hill’s career record?

In junior competitions, Jessica won two silver medals in the 2004 Commonwealth Youth Games, and won in the heptathlon at the 2005 European Athletics Junior Championships.

Her professional career took off when she took home a bronze in the Commonwealth Games in heptathlon in 2006 at Melbourne.

In 2009 she won the gold medal in World Championships, a whopping 238 points ahead of Jennifer Oeser in second, and in 2010 took won the gold in the World Indoor Championships and the European Championships.

In 2011 she won a silver medal in the World Championships, although this has now been upgraded to a gold medal after Tatyana Chernova was proved of being a drugs cheat. She also won at the World Championships in 2015.

After winning a silver medal at the 2012 World Indoor Championships Jessica cemented herself in Great British folklore after picking home the gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

However, she couldn’t defend her title in Rio last year as she had to settle for a silver.

When did Jess get married? How many children do they have?

In 2013, Jessica Ennis married Andy Hill in Derbyshire, and announced she would be known as Jessica Ennis-Hill.

She was forced to withdraw from participation in the 2014 Commonwealth Games as she was pregnant with her first child – her son Reggie was born in July 2014.

On March 16 Jess announced she’s pregnant again on Instagram with a photograph of Reggie holding a book entitled “I’m Going to be a Big Brother!”.

She wrote: “Someone’s going to be a big brother ? Another little Ennis-Hill on the way. So happy.”

What does DBE mean?

In 2017, Ennis-Hill was appointed as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2017 New Year Honours list.

The 31-year-old was awarded the second highest class for her services to athletics in which she has achieved so much success.

What is Jessica doing now?

Since retiring from athletics in October 2016, she has put her focus on spending time with her family after ten years as a professional competitor.

Before announcing that she was pregnant, Jess was rumoured to be in the running to be a contestant in the next series of BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing in the autumn.


Damage Control: IAAF Considering A Name Change?

  • Atheltics' governing body contemplating changing its name as part of overhaul
  • Ex-president Lamine Diack was found to have collaborated with drug cheats
  • Organisation has sunk so low that it may need a new name to market the sport
  • They plan on considering all branding issues during this calender year

Athletics' governing body, the IAAF, is considering a name change in an attempt to overhaul its tainted reputation.
The IAAF name was dragged through the mud two years ago when it was revealed disgraced former president Lamine Diack collaborated with Russian drugs cheats.
Current president Lord Coe has repaired some of the damage from Diack’s regime with a reform programme, but the IAAF name has sunk so low that some within the federation believe a fresh title such as World Athletics would help market the sport.

The IAAF will consider all branding issues this year with a possible name change on the agenda, especially as what IAAF stands for is not widely known outside athletics — the International Association of Athletics Federations.
The sport still has to cope with the fall-out from the full disclosure of Diack’s actions, which have yet to reach court. He is currently under house arrest in Paris. There is also an international arrest warrant for his son Papa. He remains a fugitive in his native Senegal, who will not agree to his extradition.
When Diack was arrested in Paris, his son was on the runway in Dakar on a flight bound for Paris. Papa was quickly off the plane and has not risked leaving Senegal since.

It seemed remarkable that Sky could announce a revamped Soccer AM — the breakfast programme will include former Hull midfielder Jimmy Bullard — without mentioning the departure of excellent presenter Helen Chamberlain, the original ladette, after 22 years.


But Sky say Chamberlain, whose contract was not renewed, did not want any fanfare.

Athletes are concerned about the number of people who have gained access to the practice track at the London Stadium. 
The area is swarming with agents, team delegates and friends and family, forcing runners to dodge idle spectators crossing the lanes as they warm up.

Olympics president Thomas Bach’s decision to go on holiday after only attending the first weekend of the World Athletics Championships did not break any IOC obligations. 
But his absence was all the more conspicuous because his predecessor Jacques Rogge is staying on a lot longer.

Stadium strikes a chord

The London Stadium is gaining ground on Wembley as the best outdoor music concert venue in the capital. 
Depeche Mode, Guns N’ Roses and Robbie Williams all played shows there before the championships. 
Promoters like the Stratford base because it has more room for standing on the pitch and large gangways mean concert-goers can get out of the stadium within six minutes.
After the West Ham security nightmare at the start of their tenancy a year ago, the biggest problem for stewards has been keeping order among women of a certain age who had queued all night to be in the front row for Robbie’s show.

Brendan Foster brings an end to a great broadcasting career at the weekend and calling Mo Farah to another triumph on Saturday night would be the perfect send-off. 
Foster targeted the championships in London — and the Farah races in particular — as his TV swansong in the knowledge that there won’t be another athletics occasion as big until Tokyo in 2020, which is in the wrong time zone to attract BBC audience peaks like the 7.5million who watched Farah’s 10,000m win.

It is difficult to see why athletics fans at the championships have been forced to put up with money-saving expert Martin Lewis as their trackside athletics pundit. 
Lewis, who has been doing a similar role at lower-profile British Athletics meetings, is a friend of BA chief executive Niels de Vos. 
In contrast, the stadium commentary, in the hands of athletics expert and experienced broadcaster John Rawling, has been top class.


Sore Bolt To Run In The 4x1 Heats

Usain Bolt will run in the 4x100 metres relay heats for Jamaica on Saturday despite being a bit sore after winning bronze in the 100m final at the weekend, he told Reuters on Monday.

"We'll see, we haven't done any baton changes as yet with the guys, but I feel we are ready," said the 11-time World Championships gold medallist.

"I have talked to Julian Forte (100m semi-finalist) a little bit. I haven't really talked to the youngsters so we'll see when it comes to the baton changes, but I'm always excited to run relays and we see what the guys are prepared and ready to do."

Yohan Blake is the only other experienced member of Jamaica's sprint relay pool to have won medals at the World Championships or Olympics.

"Physically I am alright, there is a little bit of pain, but nothing a massage can't cure, I'm taking it easy," Bolt said of his condition two days after clocking a season's best equalling 9.95 seconds in the 100m final.


Omar McLeod preserves Jamaican glory; U.S. shut out of 110m hurdles

Omar McLeod finally gave Jamaica a gold medal to celebrate at the world track and field championships.

After Usain Bolt and Elaine Thompson lost 100m finals, it was McLeod who won the 110m hurdles title in London on Monday night.

The Rio gold medalist prevailed in 13.04 seconds, one tenth ahead of Sergey Shubenkov, who was part of Russia’s exclusion from the 2016 Olympics. Shubenkov, the 2015 World champion, competed as a neutral athlete in London.

Hungary’s Balazs Baji grabbed bronze, while 2012 Olympic champion and world-record holder Aries Merritt was fifth.

The U.S. failed to earn a world 110m hurdles medal for the first time, one year after failing to earn an Olympic 110m hurdles medal for the first time (excluding the 1980 Moscow Games).

Full worlds results are here.

In other events Monday, Kenyan Faith Kipyegon took gold in the women’s 1500m, .17 ahead of a hard-charging Jenny Simpson. Scrutinized South African Caster Semenya earned bronze with a late surge.

Kipyegon, the Rio gold medalist, became the first Kenyan woman to win a world 1500m title.

Simpson captured her fourth global medal following her 2011 World title, 2013 World silver medal and 2016 Olympic bronze medal.

Semenya, scrutnized after a gender-testing controversy in 2009, made the podium in her first 1500m outside of Africa since 2011. Semenya is an overwhelming favorite in the 800m (final Sunday) after taking Olympic gold in that event.

Allyson Felix and Shaunae Miller-Uibo set up a rematch in Wednesday’s 400m final. Felix topped Miller-Uibo for the 2015 World title, but Miller-Uibo edged Felix in Rio with that famous finish-line dive.

Wayde van Niekerk, looking to join Michael Johnson as the only men to sweep the 200m and 400m at an Olympics or worlds, headlined the qualifiers from the 200m heats.

Van Niekerk races the 400m final Tuesday, the 200m semifinals Wednesday and, if he advances, the 200m final Thursday.

Both the 200m and 400m are lacking superstars. Neither 2008 Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt nor 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James is in the 400m final. Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin skipped the 200m this year, and Olympic silver medalist Andre De Grasse withdrew before worlds with a strained hamstring.

Olympic champion Kerron Clement led the qualifiers into Wednesday’s 400m hurdles final.

Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk repeated as world champion in the hammer throw, one year after repeating as Olympic champion. Wlodarczyk, who last lost in June 2014, threw 77.90 meters to win by six feet, but she was 17 feet shy of her world record from last August.


Justin Gatlin: From Despair To Destiny

LONDON — They introduced Justin Gatlin to the Olympic Stadium crowd here Sunday evening, just before they put a gold medal around his neck, before The Star-Spangled Banner played in his honor, and along with some cheers a chorus of boos rang out.

The cheers — great. The boos — this fell somewhere between disappointing and reprehensible. Olympic-style sport is not the English Premier League, the NFL or NBA. It is supposed to be about promoting three key values: friendship, excellence and respect.

Saturday’s men’s 100-meter final immediately became arguably the biggest gold-medal victory in the history of the event. Gatlin defeated the sport’s biggest legend, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt. It’s how the race will forever be remembered: who beat Bolt, and in Bolt’s last individual 100? Gatlin. And who, before Saturday, was the last guy ever to beat Bolt? Gatlin, in Rome in 2013.

None of that takes anything away from Bolt. It does, however, catapult Gatlin. The two respect each other, unequivocally.

The sport’s establishment and significant segments of the British media nonetheless remained fixated Sunday on the same tiresome narrative (cue boos): Bolt and Gatlin as a clash of good and evil, even though that narrative holds no factual support.

How about — the truth?

The truth does not care about demonizing a champion for the sake of a grotesque caricature of a narrative. Instead, the truth turns to a real story about a real person who learned to overcome, as all of us must, to succeed. It includes, in measure, acceptance, gratitude, humility and, centrally, love. With love — for each other and what we do — anything is possible.

The truth tells us all how Justin Gatlin went from despair to what destiny had in store for him Saturday night in 9.92 seconds.

On July 4, Gatlin ran a 9.98 for the win in the 100 at a meet in Budapest.

That night, he, along with his longtime coach, Dennis Mitchell, and Dave Pascal, a Cary, N.C.-based chiropractor who focuses on severe neurological injury and whose practice also includes an extensive sports background, piled into a van to drive to Vienna. Pascal’s track roster includes a host of other superb U.S. athletes, including Sunday’s women’s 100 winner, Tori Bowie.

Mitchell was riding shotgun; Pascal in the middle bench of the three rows; Gatlin in the way back, on the driver’s side.

Twenty minutes into a two-and-a-half hour trip, on a pitch-black two-lane road, a truck traveling in the opposite direction crossed the center line. Both vehicles were traveling roughly 70 miles per hour. That’s a combined closing speed of 140.

Mitchell saw the crash coming. He knew the truck did not have enough time to get all the way back onto the right side of the road. He slumped back into his seat, resigned to whatever was next.

Bam!

A head-on crash? No. At the last possible moment, the truck, in fact, slid over — just enough.

The driver of the van slowed and then pulled over by the side of the road to assess the damage. The driver’s side mirror — gone. Truck from the paint ran down the side of the van, heaviest just outside the third window, right where Gatlin had been.

Everyone was sick to their stomachs. Everyone called home. Everyone was alive.

No one was seriously hurt.

Two nights later, on July 6, Gatlin ran in one of the sport’s traditional summer highlights, a meet in Lausanne, Switzerland.

You want mentally tough?

Gatlin won, in 9.96. That was his final tune-up before London.

The cosmos whisper to us. The trick is to listen.

Gatlin, Mitchell and Pascal had of course known each other for years. Now, though — they had this. Pascal’s daughter had years before been in a serious car crash herself. On the side of the road, there was talk about her crash, and how she had survived: “I told this story to Justin,” Pascal recalled Sunday. “He was like — thank you. That helped him.”

“That incident,” Pascal said, “gave us a bond, a commonality, that we will always have.” Indeed, in the moments after Gatlin’s victory Saturday, Pascal managed to find Mitchell: “You could feel the weight come off him. You could literally feel that … someone like Dennis, who has been put through it — to feel it come off, it was really cool.”

Both Mitchell and Gatlin have had encounters with the doping authorities. Accounts in the press typically have done neither any favors, in Mitchell’s case tending to downplay his testimony for the government in the BALCO matter and in Gatlin’s this vital detail: he never intended to cheat:

Gatlin’s first positive test was for Adderall, which he assuredly was not hiding, in 2001. His second, in 2006, was for testosterone; how it got into his system remains entirely unclear, according to a voluminous record on file in federal court in Florida.

To call for lifetime bans for doping offenses, as some did here Sunday, ignores the World Anti-Doping Code rules that since 2015 include assessments of intent and proportionality. Ask Gil Roberts, who won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. 4×400 relay team last year in Rio; on July 10, an arbiter ruled he had ingested the masking agent probenecid unknowingly by “frequently and passionately” kissing his girlfriend just hours before a March 24 test; she had swallowed sinus medication powder; this was thus not a case of intentional doping.

In the doping arena, facts, rules and process matter.

During the four years he was ordered to take off, 2006 to 2010, one of the things Gatlin did was train 8-year-olds in Atlanta. It is a long way from training 8-year-olds to defeating Usain Bolt on the world stage.

“It takes a special person to endure all this,” Gatlin’s longtime agent, Renaldo Nehemiah, said Sunday.

Asked if during those long four years he ever envisioned a moment like Saturday night, Gatlin paused and said, “I would just say — no.”

At first, Nehemiah said, it was enough for Gatlin just to get back onto the track with an eye toward being competitive:

“He loves what he does. For him, it is not about money or fame. This is his safe haven — the track.”

After connecting with Mitchell, Gatlin worked his way back to bronze in the 100 here in 2012 in London, behind Bolt of course.

Then at the 2013 worlds, silver, again behind Bolt.

The 100 at the 2015 worlds in Beijing should have been Gatlin’s race.

He came in on a hot streak — including a 9.74 that May at a race in Doha, Qatar.

That Beijing 100, however, went Bolt’s way, by one-hundredth of a second, Bolt crossing in 9.79, Gatlin breaking form about five meters from the line and finishing in 9.8.

In Beijing, the good vs. evil theme got big play.

That race in Beijing, Gatlin reflected Sunday: “That was a hard loss.” Physically, he said, he was ready. But: “Emotionally, I wasn’t there. Mentally, I wasn’t there. That’s what stopped me from winning. Emotionally and mentally, I wasn’t connected.”

That is, he said, he was running perhaps too selfishly — he wasn’t feeling part of something bigger, at least enough to make a difference.

Last year, in Rio, Gatlin again took silver, behind Bolt.

Gatlin has said many times since that he was injured in 2016. Nehemiah said Sunday it was something even more.

About three weeks after the Games, Nehemiah said, he called Gatlin and said, what happened? You faded at 80 meters — that’s not like you.

Gatlin is not one to complain. Even with Nehemiah — with whom he has worked since 2003 — he is not an excuse-maker.

Food poisoning, Gatlin said. I was sick the entire time I was in Rio.

“The previous two lessons,” Nehemiah said softly Sunday, meaning 2015 and 2016, “were about realizing that he was the only thing that was in his way.”

This 2017 season did not start auspiciously. Gatlin, who turned 35 in February, battled a succession of injuries. On May 5 and May 21, Gatlin ran two races in the 10s. On May 27 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, which is a fast track, he ran a wind-aided 9.97, good only for fifth — with the U.S. nationals, and a spot on the line for the worlds, coming up just three weeks later.

After the first round of heats at the nationals in Sacramento, California, Gatlin texted Pascal.

The two had first started working together in 2003. This is the nature of Gatlin’s world — a close inner circle and longstanding relationships. With Pascal, the work has not been every year. But now Gatlin was again reaching out, asking if they could connect while simultaneously offering a heartfelt apology for wrongs he might have committed over the course of their years together.

“He deeply apologized,” Pascal said, “then he said he was hoping we could work together that day. I said, yes, of course.

“If you look at his form, to me, I’m biased, in his semifinal, he looked dramatically better and his final he won,” Gatlin going 9.95, NCAA champion Christian Coleman 9.98.

That had maybe taken care of Gatlin’s physical connection. Now — emotionally and mentally?

Before the race, Mitchell had turned to Gatlin. Understand that Mitchell is not the sort who demands of his athletes, I need x or y. This time, though, he said to Gatlin, I need 9 seconds.

“Something inside of me just rose up,” Gatlin said Sunday, adding a moment later, “When my coach said, ‘I want those 9 seconds, it turned something on in me I haven’t felt in a long time. I said, ‘OK, I am going to give it to you.’ “

Mitchell said Sunday, “A cup can only hold so much water. We had walked this walk together for so many years. He found comfort in sharing with someone.”

He also said of Gatlin, “Humility is about life and humility is what you make of it. He got to the point where he wanted to do something that was bigger than himself. You have to share it or lose it. At this point in his career, he was willing to humble himself enough to give some of it away to keep all of it.”

Mitchell added, “It’s a love story,” in part the love the two men had for each other after all they had been through and in part their shared passion for the sport.

No one in the Gatlin circle is uncomfortable speaking like this. They love track and field. They love competing.

“Gat gave me — his love for track and the person he is gave me back my love for track,” Pascal said.

“‘I love it,’” Gatlin would tell Nehemiah, meaning everything about track and field. “‘I missed it so much.’ And,” Nehemiah said, “the thought of losing it weighed on him tremendously …”

That near-death experience on the highway in Europe? Gratitude for being alive. Humility that everyone had been given more time. The sense that there had to be a reason. Right? Why else?

“Spiritually,” Nehemiah would say Sunday, “it wasn’t his time the last two seasons.

“This was his season.”

Bolt came into London ranked only seventh in the world. Coleman was the world No. 1, with a 9.82 in Eugene at the NCAAs.

Team Gatlin had something of a stealth plan through the rounds: just do enough to get to the finals. No need to run too fast.

Which is exactly what Gatlin did, a 10.05 in the heats, then a 10.09, second in his semifinal, enough to get through to the final, where he drew Lane 8 — way out on the outside.

Bolt drew Lane 4, Coleman 5.

“Me and Dennis got quiet,” Gatlin said, when the lane draw came out, and they were looking at 8. “I was like, it’s going to be a glorified time trials again — it can work in our favor … I can set my own pace and no one is going to see me coming.”

Which, of course, is exactly what happened.

When Gatlin lined up, the boos rained down. Each and every round.

“Normal people might have folded or used the booing as naysaying or why didn’t you win? Everyone was wanting Usain to win,” Gatlin said. “I just dialed it out.”

In the final, when the gun went off, Gatlin’s mind was calm. He was not running solely for himself. He was, he said, running for, in no particular order, Pascal; for the USA Track & Field medical staff; for Nehemiah; for Mitchell; for the crew he trained with day in and out in Clermont, Florida; for his U.S. teammates here and in years gone by; for fans here and at home; for his family; for anyone and everyone who had supported him on this journey.

He was feeling the love.

He ran free and easy. He surged over the last half of the race, the way he did in the 100 in Athens in 2004, 13 long years ago, when he won Olympic gold: “That’s what got me to the line. That’s what took away the pressure. That’s what got me to the line first.”

A moment later, he bowed to Bolt, out of — genuine — respect. They embraced, again out of — real — respect.

Then, while the crowd chanted Bolt’s name, Gatlin, wrapped in the American flag, went over to the side of the stadium, to find his parents, Willie and Jeanette.

“For years the agony,” his father said Sunday. Now: “Just total redemption.”


Bowie Was Rare In Thinking She Could Win

LONDON- Tori Bowie admitted she felt like she was in the minority. Other than her, not many people believed she would win the 100-meter final at the IAAF World Championships on Sunday.

“I’d bet I’m probably the only person in the world who thought I could come out and win the 100 meters,” Bowie told Excelle Sports. “Tonight, I learned a lot. Always follow your heart. Everyone in the world was telling me, ‘Oh my god, why are you choosing the 100 over the 200?’ I was like, ‘This is how I’m feeling, this is the event I want to be the world champion in,’ and it happened.”

The American sprinter, who turns 27 later in the month, can claim the moniker of “World’s Fastest Woman” after sharply leaning on her final stride to the finish line to edge Marie-Josée Ta Lou of Cote d’Ivoire by .01 seconds. London Olympic Stadium fell silent for a minute or two, as the athletes gasped for air on the track, waiting for the results of the photo finish. Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands won the bronze medal a tenth of a second behind Bowie and Ta Lou.

“The last 40 meters are the best part of my race,” said Bowie. “I am currently working on the others. It’s slowly getting better. I was happy with the finish because I thought I was the top three, but when I saw my name on the board, I couldn’t believe it.”

The result finally vaulted the former long jumper at the University of Southern Mississippi to the top of the podium at a major event. Bowie won the 100-meter bronze medal in the previous World Championships two years ago in Beijing, losing to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. At the Rio Olympics last summer, she placed silver in the 100 and bronze in the 200 before anchoring the 4-by-100 relay team to a gold medal. Elaine Thompson of Jamaica defeated her in both individual sprint events in Rio and was a disappointing fifth on Sunday, as she was the world leader again this season.

“They all deserved to be on that podium, they worked hard and deserved it,” Thompson told Excelle Sports. “Tonight didn’t go as planned. I’ll have to watch the video because I don’t know what went wrong. I didn’t execute my race, which is a shame.”

Heats for the 200 are on Tuesday night, with the semifinals and final on Thursday. Joining Bowie in the field are Americans Deajah Stevens and Kimberlyn Duncan, plus Schippers – the reigning champion. The Olympic champion Thompson is not running the 200 meters.

Bowie’s 100-meter victory also came one night after Justin Gatlin upset Usain Bolt in the men’s final of track’s marquee event. This means the U.S. now claims both world titles simultaneously for the first time since Gatlin and Lauryn Williams achieved the feat at Helsinki in 2005. Since then, Jamaica won 14 of the 16 World and Olympic 100-meter gold medals. With all of the hype over Bolt’s retirement and the end of an era in men’s track, perhaps there is a changing of the guard for the women, as well.


Thompson Shocker Adds To Bolt Heartbreak

LONDON, England:

For the first time since 2005, Jamaica has been kept off the top of the medal podium at a major championship in the 100m events.

There was no Jamaican winner in the men's 100m and, last night, with double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson finishing fifth in 10.98 seconds, no winner in the women's 100m.

For fans of the 'Sprint Capital' of the world, it is a bitter pill to swallow, a rude awakening of what might become in the continued absence of intervention.

Thompson did not make much of it, but a pre-race vomiting incident had her rivals worried about her, with silver medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast, who ran 10.86, noting, "I am sorry for her (Thompson). I think before the race, she was sick. I hope she gets better and I have respect for her. She is a big, big athlete!"

The Jamaican was still struggling to find the answers after what was her first non-top-three finish since June 2014.

Push Me Harder

"I don't know what happened. I have to go and watch the replay. I stumbled and tried to get it back. I wasn't getting the form I wanted to and I tried not to panic," said a smiling Thompson, who also alleviated fears she had suffered an injury mid-race. "I am healthy. I came out here brave, strong and ready to go, but that didn't happen. This defeat will push me harder and help me to work harder."

American Tori Bowie took gold in 10.85 seconds, with Ta Lou taking silver in 10.86. Dafne Schippers was third in 10.96 seconds.

This was Thompson's fourth loss in 35 races over 100m.

Yesterday's third day of competition inside the London Stadium actually started well enough for the Jamaicans, who will today have four athletes competing in finals.

Rich in quarter-mile history, Jamaica has had five different finalists in the men's 400m at these championships. The last one was Jermaine Gonzales, who finished fourth in 2011 in Daegu, South Korea.

The island, however, has never had two men qualifying for the final of the one-lap event at the same championship, an accomplishment achieved by the ever-improving pair of Nathon Allen and Demish Gaye.

Allen glided to a second-place finish behind Bahamian Steven Gardiner, 43.89, with a personal-best mark of 44.19 seconds in his semi-final, and Gaye matching that effort, finishing second to Botswana's Isaac Makwala, 44.30, also in personal-best fashion with a time of 44.55 seconds.

"It's a great feeling representing my country. To make the final is a great feeling and I am just focused on going out there and doing my best," Gaye told The Gleaner after his run. "It means a lot to me to see that I can go out there and represent my country well along with my teammate Nathon Allen. It's a great feeling.

Any Issues

Allen, for the second straight day, was taken straight to the medical area for a check-up, but was later cleared of any issues.

The final will take place tomorrow at 9:50 p.m. (3:50 p.m. Jamaica time), with Allen drawn to compete in Lane Six beside South African Wayde Van Niekerk, the world record holder, and Gaye lining up in Lane Eight.

There will also be two Jamaicans in the 110m hurdles final, with Olympic champion Omar McLeod and Beijing 2015 silver medal winner Hansle Parchment both securing lanes in the medal round.

"I remember in 2015, I had just turned pro. I was paying my dues. I got a sixth place and it was, honestly, like a gold medal for me, so this year is like a redemption. I just have to go out there and focus on me, have fun and execute," said McLeod after his all-qualifiers-leading 13.10 seconds win in last night's semi-final.

McLeod has won all but one of his 10 races this season and will enter the final as the strong favourite for a second straight gold medal at a major international championship.

Parchment has been less convincing this season, but has a history of showing up when it matters. He is looking for another big-race run in tonight's 9:30 p.m. (3:30 p.m.) final.

"When I come out, I tell myself that I am the best. I know I need to show that, so I keep motivating myself every time I step on the track because I know Jamaica is looking for me to give them good performances. I want to surprise myself with strong times as well," said Parchment.

All three Jamaicans are through to tonight's men's 400m hurdles semi-final at 8:20 p.m. (2:20 p.m.)

Jaheel Hyde, 49.72, was second in his heat, with Ricardo Cunningham, 49.91, and Kemar Mowatt, 50.00, both taking fourth spot in their respective heats.

Novlene Williams-Mills, 51.00, was the fastest Jamaican qualifier in women's 400m and the fourth fastest overall, with Chrisann Gordon, 51.14, Shericka Jackson, 51.26, and Stephenie-Ann McPherson, 51.27, all comfortably advancing as well.

Kimberly Williams and Shaneika Ricketts will compete in the women's triple jump final at 8:25 p.m. (2:25 p.m.), with Yohan Blake, Rasheed Dwyer and Warren Weir taking the track a bit earlier in the men's 200m heats at 6:30 p.m (12:30 p.m).


"BBC Happy To Ignore (British) Elephant In The Room"

Treatment of Gatlin in stark contrast to the refusal to ask questions about Mo Farah’s coach

here are cheerleaders in every sport but not all carry pompoms. It seems that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has decided to reserve all critical analysis in relation to any controversy, past or present, drugs or otherwise, for ‘Johnny Foreigner’ when it comes to the World Athletics Championships in London.

The victories of Somali-born, Brit superstar Mo Farah (men’s 10,000 metres), American Justin Gatlin (100 metres), and Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana (women’s 10,000 metres) invoked pride and prejudice but unlike the title character in Jane Austen’s novel, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, the BBC commentary and analysis principals haven’t come to realise the important difference between the superficial and the essential.

There is a latent jingoism that’s front and centre when it comes to dear old Auntie and its coverage of the world of athletics, so tut-tutting about impartiality or restraint when there’s a red, white and blue filter on every screen image is a little naïve. They’re entitled to be bullish.

Accepting the partisan nature and the cloying emotional sentiment invested in the glory of the land of hope is one thing but the BBC ought to have a professional journalistic responsibility not to run a mile from discussing uncomfortable issues pertaining to one of their own.

Farah’s coach Alberto Salazar is currently being investigated as there have been allegations leaked in a 329-page report by the US anti-doping agency (Usada) into Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project training group.

The report alleges Salazar abused prescription medicines and used prohibited infusions to boost testosterone levels of his athletes. It also claims UK Athletics ignored warnings from a doctor that Farah was receiving potentially harmful treatments from his coach on moving to the US to join Salazar’s training group (2010).

Usada’s investigation continues but Farah and Salazar have always vehemently denied any wrongdoing. No one expects this to be woven into the race commentary but it’s germane to any pre- or post-race discussion, especially as Farah declined to do any media interviews prior to the 10,000 metres final to address the accusations.

Instead the task of defence fell to Neil Black, the UK Athletics Performance Director, who claimed he had looked in the eyes of Farah and Salazar and asserted that they weren’t cheats. He may be employing the black arts, so to speak, but a more likely suspicion is that it’s another mumbo-jumbo assertion drawn from the lexicon of sporting bureaucrats.

Stunning triumph

The post-race discourse relating to Ayana’s stunning triumph in the women’s 10,000 metres was also oddly incongruous given the circumstances; her first 10,000m race of an injury-plagued season saw her decimate a field of the best athletes in the world by a margin of 46 seconds.

This comes a matter of days after the Guardian newspaper ran an article by Martha Kelner under the headline, ‘Inside the doping hotspot of Ethiopia: dodgy testing and EPO over the counter’.

The allegations made in the article are eye-opening but it should be stated that there is no correlation whatsoever between Ayana’s triumph and its contents other than that the issues raised would merit some reference in any middle distance running discussion. To pick at one strand might have unravelled others and the BBC weren’t willing to take that chance.

But the Beeb had no problem fixing Justin Gatlin in their crosshairs. A twice-banned drugs cheat ruins Usain Bolt’s swansong championship appearance by winning the 100-metres title. The crowd bayed at and booed the villain; the BBC verbally and pictorially ignored the winner to focus on Bolt, exuding a moral righteousness as if adopting a tone from those in the stadium.

The BBC didn’t contemplate for one instant that Gatlin might win and so Steve Cram and his buddies were at a loss for words; well, until he had a chance to arrange his thoughts and have them beamed into the Twittersphere by BBC5 live.

The gist of his contribution on Gatlin’s triumph was that the London crowd were perfectly entitled to boo the American, that the sprinter’s primary fame is for being a drugs cheat and that he must accept and understand it when people articulate their displeasure.

Cram concluded: “And that’s just people explaining and I don’t think there’s anything wrong in that, in explaining to athletes, explaining to the IAAF, explaining to journalists, explaining to us as broadcasters how they feel about this man [Gatlin].”
No critical analysis of either Farah or Ayana has turned the BBC coverage into a ‘fawnzine’.

So ethics are to be decided by a public vote, sport’s version of reality television, a popularity contest defined under narrow parameters, where nationality is key and as long as the elephant is prepared to sit quietly in the corner of the room, there is no need to reference its presence, or think about it. It’s the modern way, live in the moment.


Centrowitz The Best American Miler Ever?

He’s running for the American record and another world championship. But first, he needs to check his Twitter timeline.

For once, Matthew Centrowitz didn't know what to do when he crossed the finish line.

He had copied a LeBron James celebration after winning the U.S. title in the 1,500 meters in 2015 and dabbed like Cam Newton after winning an indoor mile in 3:54.02 last year in Charlotte. But after finishing first to become the first American to win Olympic gold in the 1,500 meters since 1908, a stunned Centrowitz could only extend his arms and hold his palms up to the sky as if to ask, “Did that just happen?”

Centrowitz won silver at the 2011 world championships and bronze in 2013, but a win in Rio seemed out of the question going up against Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop, one of the best metric milers of all time. Centrowitz controlled the race from the gun, however, and blitzed through a last lap of 50.6 seconds as his family and close friends celebrated by yelling and attempting to crowd surf in the stands.

One week after the race of his life, Centrowitz was still in disbelief. If he could break the American record in the 1,500 or the mile, he told me then, he would have claim to the title of greatest American miler of all time.

“There’s definitely been a lot of talk about me getting the American record in the 1,500 before my career is over,” Centrowitz says. “At least for my mindset, that would kind of put the nail in the coffin.”

One year later, his gold medal tour hasn’t been the record-breaking celebration he hoped it would be. Injuries and other setbacks have turned the year into a tour of so-so races. He nearly didn’t run the U.S. Championships because of injury. He did just enough to qualify for the world championships, where he’ll compete in London in the 1.500-meter event beginning on Aug. 10. There, he will have a chance to redeem what can be best described as a hangover of a season.

Centrowitz is on borrowed time if he is going to set records, inching over to the wrong side of his prime at 27. As the glow of his Olympic gold fades, his mission to become the greatest American miler is ongoing, but losing steam.

With less than three weeks until the 2017 U.S. Track and Field Championships, Centrowitz wasn’t supposed to be in Las Vegas. Like the rest of the top runners in the country, he should have been on the track. But a slight tear in his right adductor — one of his many setbacks in 2017 — left Centrowitz dejected.

Centrowitz dyed his hair blonde and bought a one-way ticket to Las Vegas. His season, he decided, was over.

The members of Centrowitz’s inner circle — his father, coaches, friends, and training partners — don’t stop him from reaching NBA levels of pettiness on social media, like when he calls out a Twitter troll for running a “pedestrian” 4:46 mile. They don’t mind his finish-line antics. They do, however, hold him accountable, and they weren’t going to let him wallow away in Vegas.

Centrowitz arrived in Vegas on a Saturday. His coach, agent, and some family members called him on Sunday to convince him he could still race at the national championships. He flew back to Portland on Monday and received a platelet-rich plasma injection to help his adductor that day.

Centrowitz is very close with his family. His dad, Matt Centrowitz, was a 1976 Olympian and made the Olympic team in 1980 when the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Games. His mother, Beverly Bannister-Centrowitz, is in the Hunter College Athletics Hall of Fame for track. His older sister, Lauren, was an All-American runner at Stanford.

“All my kids were great runners,” Matt says, “but Matthew took it much more seriously.”

Matt recalls how his son had a penchant for history at a young age. Matt ran with Steve Prefontaine at the University of Oregon and used to tell his son stories about the legendary runner. Centrowitz studied all of the sport’s greats.

Jim Ryun above all. Ryun was the first high school runner to break four minutes in the mile, an Olympic silver medalist, and a world record holder with a 3:51 mile. He was, and still is, Centrowitz’s favorite. “For him to run those times in the 1960s and ‘70s,” Centrowitz says, “it’s just incredible.” He pored over Ryun’s In Quest of Gold, his dad calling it his bible.

Centrowitz still geeks out when he talks about his heroes. “I think my favorite part of winning gold,” he says, “was just kind of seeing all the legends of the event, the mile—guys like Jim Ryun, Sebastian Coe, Hicham el Guerrouj — and seeing how excited they were for me. These are guys I’ve looked up to and still look up to, and for them to give me any kind of credit, is just humbling and honoring. It’s honestly surreal.”

Centrowitz started building his legacy as a 21-year-old at his dad’s alma mater, Oregon, winning a bronze medal in the 1,500 at the 2011 world championships. He turned pro the following year, joining the Nike Oregon Project under coach Alberto Salazar. He missed out on a medal at the 2012 London Olympics by 0.04 seconds. He made up for that heartbreak and then some in Rio, leading nearly wire to wire in a slowly paced race to win a shocking gold.

After that race, Coe, the British runner who won the 1,500 at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, presented Centrowitz with his gold medal. “Welcome to the club,” Coe said. Centrowitz’s father went even further. At some point in the weeks following his gold medal race, he told his son: “You’re the best American miler ever.”

Two weeks before the 2017 U.S. Championships in Sacramento, however, the gold medalist was struggling after his return from Vegas. “I couldn’t break 33 [seconds] for 200 meters,” Centrowitz says of his first workout after his injection. He kept at it, and ran a 1,000-meter time trial five days later. The result, a 2:21, wasn’t his best (Centrowitz has run 2:16.67), but it was progress.

Less than a week later, he hopped on a plane to Sacramento and ran a preliminary race that he says “shook off the rust.” Two days later, he finished second in the final to qualify for the world championships.

Did you see the Andy Bayer one?” Centrowitz asks me over the phone from St. Moritz, Switzerland, where he was training at altitude throughout July. In quick, excitable bursts, he’s talking about another Twitter beef.

He laughs them all off, like the 20-year-old college student who tweeted a month before the Olympics that he’d get a tattoo of Centrowitz’s face if he medaled in Rio. Centrowitz called him out on it. A tattoo of Centrowitz holding the American flag now covers the student’s left shoulder blade.

Centrowitz’s finish-line celebrations, which he likens to end-zone dances, are ripped from other sports. He’s partial to the LeBron celebration in which he mock-fired a pistol into the sky before reloading and holstering it. Centrowitz jokingly modeled it in front of training partners in the weight room while watching 2015 NBA Finals highlights before unleashing it on the track. Despite knowing the dab had already lived a life in full, Centrowitz honored Cam Newton at an indoor meet in Charlotte.

Like those NBA and NFL superstars, Centrowitz is a different athlete from his peers.

The best basketball and football athletes do things that mere mortals can't dream of, whereas almost everyone in the world can run. In track, fans want to know what elite athletes are doing so that they can apply it to their own training. Because of this, many runners, like 2016 Olympian Brenda Martinez, have staid public personas, tweeting out workouts and pictures of their runs. Others, like American 10k record holder Galen Rupp, are almost absent from social media, like NBA players who “go dark” in the playoffs.

The thought of Ryun imitating Joe Namath or talking trash in the 1960s seems absurd. Centrowitz, however, enjoys trolling.

Even Centrowitz’s gait has flash. It appears smooth, and powerful, and effortless even as he’s running a 3:50 mile pace. His stride eats up the track when he breaks into his finishing sprint, like James turning on the jets for a chase-down block.

“The moves he makes in races are almost violent,” Johnny Gregorek, Centrowitz’s teammate in the 1,500 in London, said after the Olympic Trials last year. “They are so sudden and decisive.”

Like James and Newton, Centrowitz isn’t for everyone, and he’s not immune from controversy. Training with the Nike Oregon Project comes with its own set of headaches. While it is considered one of the best training groups in the world, it is also dogged by drug allegations. A BBC and ProPublica report in 2013 alleged that Salazar was leading a win-at-all-costs training regimen that included the use of performance-enhancing drugs. The group is under USADA investigation, and the FBI is reportedly involved.

Salazar adamantly denied the accusations on multiple occasions. Centrowitz, too, has continually denied taking performance-enhancing drugs. Centrowitz was the most drug-tested U.S. track athlete in 2016, with 17 out-of-competition tests, and has never failed one.

Centrowitz doesn’t let drug tests or online haters faze him. He seems to thrive off doubt and loves talking back — especially when he can back it up.

“Same as Kevin Durant after the Warriors won the title,” Centrowitz says. “As long as you’re taking care of business then you can have some fun.”

Centrowitz tries to be humble about his legacy, but he agrees that he is close to being considered the American GOAT — he just can’t put himself above his idol Ryun just yet without a record.

When it comes to hardware, no one matches up with Centrowitz. Other than Mel Sheppard (1908) and James Lightbody (1904), he’s the only U.S. runner with Olympic gold in the 1,500. In fact, since 1952 only Ryun (1972) and Leonel Manzano (2012) have won medals.

His times, however, aren’t quite the stuff of legend. His 3:30.40 in the 1,500 makes him the third-fastest American of all time at the distance. In the mile, Centrowitz’s 3:50.53 makes him the ninth-best.

Faster runners include Alan Webb, the American record holder in the mile at 3:46.91, and Bernard Lagat, the Kenyan-born American who won the 1,500 and 5,000 at the 2007 world championships and has the American record in the 1,500 at 3:29.3. Steve Scott had the American record before Webb and ran a world record 136 sub-4:00 miles. Sydney Maree had the 1,500 record before Lagat.

Ryun, meanwhile, has a resume that’s hard to match: He held the world record in the mile for almost 10 years. Dr. Michael Joyner is an expert in human performance at the Mayo Clinic — back in 1991, he predicted that a human could run 1:57:58 in the marathon, long before Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge ran 2:00:25 in a controlled, Nike-sponsored race in May — thinks Ryun’s 3:51.3 world record in 1966 was one of the most impressive runs of all time.

At 27, Centrowitz is about to leave what many consider his prime. A 2011 French study concluded that athletes start to see physical declines at age 26. Centrowitz hasn’t set a personal best in the 1,500 since 2015, or the mile since 2014. The American mile record has been broken 16 times by seven different runners since 1955, and the average age of the runner on each record-breaking run was 23 years and 243 days. Only two of the seven — Jim Beatty and Jim Grelle — were 27 years or older when they set the record.

This isn’t to say Centrowitz is washed up. Thanks to better training, injury prevention, and earning opportunities (athletes were amateurs in the 1950s and ‘60s), more and more runners are extending their careers. Lagat, for example, won U.S. Olympic Trials at 5,000 meters last year as a 39-year-old and set the current 1,500 record in 2005 when he was 30.

But age isn’t the only factor. Racing for time is a different beast than racing for place. Tactical races like the Olympic finals are all about positioning and strategy.

Centrowitz’s gold medal time in Rio was more than 20 seconds off Lagat’s record, for example. He won in large part because he is a savvy racer. With about 450 meters to go, Ayanleh Souleiman briefly took the lead from Centrowitz, but only for an instant. Almost immediately, Centrowitz slithered by Souleiman on the inside, brushing him with his elbow. If Centrowitz hadn’t responded so quickly, he could have been swallowed up by the pack. Instead, he was clear of the field and had the inside track for the final 400 meters.

Most record-breaking races occur when the runners are in a single file, with pacemakers leading the way for the first half of the race or more. Instead of worrying about timing a finishing sprint or getting tripped up by an opponent, runners can focus on efficiency.

Comparing records to medals is a little like comparing rings to stats. If you’re an NBA fan, would you rather have Russell and his 11 rings or Wilt Chamberlain and his preposterous numbers? It’s a difficult question. Until Centrowitz has numbers on his side, his legacy will be the subject of similar debate.

The morning after the night in Rio that changed everything for Centrowitz — after NBC cameras caught his family’s bombastic celebration in the stands, after the blur of the victory lap and the medal ceremony, after decompressing with those closest to him at a small restaurant in the early hours of the next morning — he woke up early to his father asking if he was awake. They had to get to a morning show on NBC.

“Yeah, Dad,” he said. “What’s up?”

“My son, Olympic champion,” Matt said. “I still can’t believe this is real.”

“Me neither, Dad,” Matthew said with a grin as he pulled the gold medal out from under his pillow.

It was one of the few moments of calm for Centrowitz in the immediate aftermath of his gold medal run. He spent the next few weeks answering media requests and making appearances with his new piece of hardware. Almost one year later, he is still answering questions about the gold medal — the price of being an Olympic champion. His dad published a book called Like Father, Like Son, and Centrowitz has become a headliner at races where he used to be an also-ran.

Centrowitz believes he’s handling the extra pressure. His attitude hasn’t changed. The hardware hasn’t altered his off-track or post-race antics, even if the circumstances are different.

One thing remains the same 11 months after the Rio win: There is still a sense of disbelief. Centrowitz says he and his dad still talk about the race, citing that moment with about 450 meters to go as the turning point in a career-defining race.

They also talk about his legacy and what else he can do on the track and the American record. Not that they need to. Centrowitz is getting older, and breaking records is hard. By winning gold the way he did, Centrowitz did plenty to get the world talking.

“Is Michael Jordan better than LeBron?” Centrowitz says. “You’re gonna have that talk for the rest of our lives. I won’t be able to race Jim Ryun or Alan Webb — at everyone’s peak especially. I think it’s entertaining to talk about it.”

To be considered among the best ever isn’t easy. Centrowitz knows his history, and he knows he has a place in it. Staring down the American record, he is exactly where he wants to be.


Unrepentant Gatlin Rejects "Bad Boy" Label

Justin Gatlin insisted his pariah status was undeserved as the least popular world 100 metres champion in history still refused to see his triumph over Usain Bolt as a setback for the sport.

The two-time drug cheat's victory on Saturday night in 9.92 seconds was greeted by a cacophony of boos, as his every appearance at the London Stadium has been.

There is no hiding from the embarrassment that the unrepentant American's victory will cause to a sport still struggling to regain credibility in the wake of repeated doping scandals.

The retiring Bolt, cast as the 'saviour' of athletics in his battles with Gatlin, had his goodbye gatecrashed - and by the one man almost no one wanted to spoil the party.

Gatlin was effusive and gracious in his praise of bronze medallist Bolt after the race, bowing down to him on the track and lauding him in interviews, but for the 35-year-old sorry still seems to be the hardest word.

His first ban in 2001 he blamed on an amphetamine contained in attention deficit disorder medication. The second in 2006, which resulted in a four-year suspension, reduced from eight on appeal, he attributed to a testosterone massage cream applied to his body without his knowledge.

Remorse has not been forthcoming - and still, at least publicly, is not.

Asked if he could understand why his victory was seen as a disaster for the sport, he said: "I really don't need to understand.

"I can understand the rivalry that I have with Usain, but it's not a bitter rivalry. I respect the man and every time we come across the line I've shaken his hand, given him a hug and told him congratulations and that's all the really matters for me.

"I'm just a runner, I'm back in the sport, I've done my time.

"I've come back, did community service, I talked to kids and inspired kids about the right path. That's all I can do.

"Society does that for people who have made mistakes and I hope track and field can understand that to. That's why I'm back in the sport and that's why I'm still running."

Gatlin has Bolt's backing - "he deserves to be here, because he's done his time," said the Jamaican - and he is of course far from alone in having a doping past.

Plenty of athletes have returned from bans and won medals and received far warmer receptions.

Asked about his "bad boy" reputation, Gatlin said: "What do I do that makes me a bad boy?

"Do I talk bad about anybody? Do I give bad gestures? I don't. I shake every athlete's hand. I congratulate them, I tell them good luck. That doesn't sound like a bad boy to me.

"It seems like the media want to sensationalise it and make me a bad boy because Usain is the hero. That's fine, I know you've got to have a black hat and a white hat, but guys, come on.

"I keep it classy and I never talk bad. I try to inspire other athletes. I don't see where the bad boy comes from."

"I'm just a runner, I'm back in the sport, I've done my time."
The fact is, though, that the 100m is the blue riband event and has been particularly beset by drug problems.

Of the 30 best 100m times in history, 21 have been achieved by athletes who have served drug bans - with the other nine all coming from Bolt.

It is grovelling rather than winning that Gatlin has to focus on if he wants to silence the boos.

There will inevitably be more when he returns to the stadium on Sunday to take to the top of the podium, a ceremony that has been brought forward from 8.00pm to 6.50pm.

And, after landing the 100m crown 12 years after his last global title, Gatlin looks set to be around for some time yet.

While Bolt, at 30, has run his last individual race and will hang up his spikes after Saturday's 4x100m relay final, Gatlin has no retirement plans. Indeed, he indicated the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 could be a goal.

"One millisecond when I crossed the line, I was like, 'I'm retiring'," he said.

"My son wants (me) to go to Tokyo 2020, so I'm just going to take it year by year, race by race, and work hard."