Saturday, 26 August 2017 16:19

Trail work in Rim Country

A trail is a complicated thing.

It doesn’t always take the easiest route and sometimes isn’t clear, dwindling into a wash and then sneaking out to the lowlands and zigzagging erratically up a steep slope.

For trail builders, forging a path with flow is everything. The way a trail bobs and weaves around trees and rocks should be effortless. It should curve to hide what is coming, making the hiker want to turn one more corner to see what is next. And it should shed water off its banks, not hold it in, so it stays smooth, not rutted and washed away.

A good path, trail builders say, should go unnoticed.

At the end of the journey, the hiker/biker should be smiling and ready to do it all over again.

Rim Country trail builders know if they develop trails to which people want to return, they can help revitalize an economy so dependent on recreation users.

Nowhere are more trails being built than in Pine-Strawberry.

The Pine-Strawberry Fuel Reduction Inc. group has been hard at work since before 2011 building new trails around the wooden hamlet and maintaining older paths that have not seen a pickax in decades.

New trails include the Bearfoot, Pine Trailhead loop, rebuilding the Pine View Trail and re-routing Trail 15. The group also plans to build a Firewise garden, showcasing what plants live best in communities at risk for a wildfire at the Pine Trailhead with a grant from the Arizona State Parks.

Just off the Pine Trailhead, the Arizona and Highline trails intersect. The Arizona Trail travels north up the Mogollon Rim, following the Highline Trail for 18 miles before it heads north up to Flagstaff. On this west end of the Highline, the Arizona Trails association and PSFR have put in work on the Highline/Arizona Trail.

Volunteers for Outdoor Arizona (VOAz) have done work on the eastern flank of the Highline, a trail originally built by settlers to connect ranches. The Highline travels east some 50 miles to the 260 Trailhead, clinging to the base of the Rim.

Today, it acts as a main fuel break.

During the Highline Fire of 2017, wildland firefighters relied heavily on the trail to stop the flames from spreading south to the community of Bonita Creek.

Work by VOAz continues to improve more of the Highline. Already, they have put in 2,700 volunteer hours taking a route that was beyond the capacity of the average hikers and downright hostile to mountain bikers and horses over much of its length with steep pitches that would send any biker backwards down the trail.

While it remains an under-utilized economic asset, VOAz hopes the Highline Restoration Project will rectify this deficiency, according to its website.

Since the Highline was originally built for transportation and not recreation, it has not been hiker-friendly. VOAz re-routes are building in more flow. One of the best examples of this is from the 260 Trailhead to See Canyon. Read more about that mountain bike ride in the Featured Ride.

In Pine-Strawberry, volunteers are keenly aware of the economic impact mountain biking can have on the small community.

Since 2011, they hosted the Fire on the Rim mountain bike race in September.

The 15-mile course begins and ends near the intersection of Bradshaw Drive and Old County Road in Pine, traveling northwest on Hardscrabble Road, looping along private lands near Randall Road, on to Ralls Drive near Strawberry and descending back into Pine on a trail running somewhat parallel to SR 87.

The race attracts some 300 riders who spend money on entry fees, food and lodging. Money raised through the race helps the fuel reduction group build more trails and educate the public about cleaning up their properties to meet Firewise standards.

Recent group work includes re-working both ends of Trail No. 26 (Pine Canyon Trail), but the middle section needs repairs. An Idaho contracting firm will undertake the project using funds from the Fire on the Rim bike race.

A grant will also help fund a re-route of Trail No. 28, said Janet Brandt, with PSFR, who is responsible for securing most of the group’s grants.

The group has also been working on a trail off the Mohawk Trail, connecting with the Pine-Strawberry Trail and the Pine Creek Canyon Trail, which runs west of the Pine Trailhead.

Today, it is now possible to ride the Bearfoot Trail to the creek behind Camp Lomia, across a bridge that PSFR built, to the Pine Canyon Trail, which ends at the Pine trailhead – roughly a 10-mile epic ride.

“With each year, the Pine-Strawberry Trail is rapidly expanding into a network of scenic trails for hiking and biking, much of it made possible by the support of the Fire on the Rim event,” the group says.

In Payson, the Rim Country Mountain Bike Group is spearheading the first legal new trail within town limits in years.


Located in Rumsey Park, the trail is still in its infancy stage, with about a quarter mile of trail sketched out. The goal is to build a trail around the water tower hill that connects with a pump track.

While the trail up the hill will be for moderate to experienced riders, the trails along the lower section of the park will be open to all levels once they are built.

The biggest thing hampering trail work is a lack of volunteers. No trail experience is necessary as the group leaders have taken trail courses and can provide a few quick tips to help build the trails. The group meets regularly during the cooler months. Get more information on their Facebook page, Rim Country Mountain Bike Group.

Ultra-Runners From All 50 States, 35 Countries, Take On Leadville 100

LEADVILLE, Colo. (CBS4) – More than 600 runners started the 35th annual Leadville Trail 100 Friday.

The first finisher broke the tape more than 17.5 hours later.

Ian Sharman, a British citizen from Bend, Oregon, won for the fourth time in 17:34:51. It was his third straight victory in the iconic “Race Across the Sky.”

Two Denver men, David Tierney (18:32:34) and Michael Hewitt (18:59:45), came in second and third.

“Of all the times I raced Leadville,” Sharman said, “this race was definitely the hardest for me and winning this year means more to me than my other wins because I had to overcome more. Leadville is a classic race and it’s great racing here. I’ll definitely be back at some point to go for five wins.”

In the women’s race, Devon Yanko of San Anselmo, California, too the top honor, finishing in 20:46:29. Simona Morbelli (21:16:22) of Climax, Colorado, and Christy Burns (21:43:15) of Evergreen, Colorado, followed her across the finish line.

“Racing Leadville has been on my bucket list for a long time,” Yanko said. “I had such a great support group. This was the first time my husband paced me and towards the end of the race, he reminded me that one of my best skills is finishing strong so I was really excited to finish as strong as I did.”

The Blueprint for Athletes Leadville Trail 100, presented by New Balance, is 100 miles in length and sends racers through challenging trail terrain with a total elevation climb of 14,000 feet.

Forty-five runners started the first race in 1983.

This year, 287 runners finished the race out of 601 who started.

YMCA hikers wipe out camp distance record on Appalachian Trail Challenge

STILLWATER -- When eight hikers from Fairview Lake YMCA began the second leg of their Appalachian Trail Challenge trip early this month, they had planned to hike roughly 50 miles, in addition to the 18 they had already completed, to break the camp distance record set in 2007 by about 10 miles.

But trip leader Ana Tobio, 21, had been looking into alternate routes that would take the group even farther. When she asked the campers during the trip whether they wanted to stick to the original plan or hike more, they answered firmly.

"We want to destroy the record," Tobio remembers the group saying.

Instead of ending their hike in Wawayanda State Park on Aug. 10, Tobio, fellow trip leader Ian Quin and the other six teenage campers were picked up a day later by bus on the edge of Harriman State Park in New York.

The group hiked 82 miles during the second leg for a total of 100 combined miles in the two trips.

"We had lots of blisters," Tobio said of the far more grueling second week of hiking. "Lots of kids were tired and (saying), 'This is hard,' but they pushed through."

Tobio and Quin contacted Colin Campbell, director of Environmental Trips for Challenge at Fairview Lake, each night to let him know the group's progress, so he knew that the additional distance was a possibility.

Campbell encouraged the leaders to wait until the trip was underway before asking the campers what they preferred, and once he learned they wanted to extend the hike, he arranged for a bus to meet the group in New York and return them to camp.

Tobio said the crew tried to travel about the same distance daily on the second leg; the most they hiked in a day was 18 miles, while they only had to travel 10 miles, their lowest of the second part of the trip, on the final day.

The hikers had been forced to condense the first leg of their journey due to heavy rain, but Tobio said the bad weather held off in their second trip aside from one day of light rain. In fact, because much of the trail led the group along ridges with little to no shade, she said, "It was actually almost painfully sunny."

Although they were tired and sore from so much hiking, Tobio praised the hikers' overall attitude, which remained high for the duration of the trip.

"We had a lot of inside jokes that I think the kids will remember for a while," she said.

Quin returned home after the AT Challenge, while Tobio remained at Fairview Lake for the camp's final week before it closed for the summer on Saturday.

She believes the trip will be offered in future years if campers are determined enough, but she is confident her group's new record will stand for a long time.

"We hope so," she said. "We tried hard to beat it, and we hope it sticks."

Ian Sharman wins Leadville 100 trail run for fourth time

Sharman of Bend, Ore., called the win the hardest of his four, but doesn’t plan to return for next year’s event

LEADVILLE — Throwing up during the middle of a 100-mile race is, as you might imagine, not entirely uncommon.

But for 36-year-old Ian Sharman of Bend, Ore., it had happened only one other time in a running career that has lasted more than a decade and included dozens of ultramarathons. On Saturday during the 35th Leadville 100 trail run, with about 20 miles to go in the race (and aided by a can of ginger ale) it happened again.

But by then, at mile 80 during the climb up the Powerline portion of the course, Sharman was so far ahead of second place that throwing up wasn’t going to stop him. In fact, he felt better afterward.

“I knew I had a big lead by then, because my pacer was checking on his phone — every time he got reception, he could check to see where people were. So it’s kind of useful,” Sharman said. “But you never know if they miss someone, so I had to assume the worst: That someone was right behind me.”

Sharman won his fourth — and third straight — Leadville 100 in 17 hours, 34 minutes, 51 seconds with a relentless focus on hitting consistent splits. He called this the hardest of his four victories.

“I was a little tired from the rest of the season,” said Sharman, who finished seventh in the Western States 100 two months ago in California and completed a downhill run that dropped 5,000 feet — the kind of effort that typically trashes an athlete’s legs.

Sharman has been a mainstay at this event for five years. To date, his only loss has come to Rob Krar in 2014, when he finished third.

“I kept telling myself when I was struggling today — and I had so many more low points than normal — that if I don’t start thinking better, I’m going to just walk it in for the next 10 hours. Overcoming those at the time isn’t as fulfilling, but you have to tell yourself the next day, the next month and the next year it’s going to mean a lot.

“This is going to mean more than the other ones because I had to overcome more.”

While many athletes have blazed ahead of Sharman in years past during the early parts of the event, he never seems to show any worry when he’s behind, sticking with a metronome-like pace that has proved effective. It may not be flashy, but it’s consistent — and it’s earned him four wins.

Saturday was no different. At the Twin Lakes aid station at mile 39.5, Sharman was about five minutes behind then-leader Anthony Kunkel. Last year, Max King tore through 80 miles near course-record pace before falling apart. Sharman — who won his first title in 2013 — passed him and won. In 2015, it was competitor Mike Aish who started too hot and eventually folded.

“The whole point over 100 miles is how you can avoid slowing down,” Sharman said. “It doesn’t matter what your top speed is. It doesn’t matter what you do in the first half. I just try to get into a good pace and not be too tired at halfway.”

Sharman’s vomitting episode was one of his many low moments during the the 100.4-mile race — which was longer this year by roughly 2 miles after some trail changes near the turnaround point in Winfield. After the turnaround on the out-and-back course, Sharman — then in second place — got lost and added about 0.8 miles more. In total, he ran just over 101 miles.

“Even though I don’t live at high altitude, I find I do well with it,” Sharman said. “And when you win a race, it’s nice to come back.”

American Devon Yanko of San Anselmo, Calif., running her first Leadville, won on the women’s side, finishing in 20:46:29.

“I’ve been running ultras for 11 years, and it’s basically been on my bucket list for a very long time,” said Yanko, who owns a bakery and first attempted to do the Silver Rush 50 in Leadville a few weeks ago, but had to drop out because of a sprained ankle she suffered a few days before the event.

Sharman, for his part, said he would not be returning next year, hoping instead to run the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc ultramarathon in the Alps to gain a qualifier for the Hardrock 100, the brutal 100-mile run that takes place annually in the San Juan Mountains (Leadville is not a qualifier for Hardrock). But Sharman said he absolutely planned to return to Leadville to go for a fifth title.

“It’s a big ticket race,” Sharman said of the Leadville 100, “and this year we didn’t have quite the depth of competition we’ve had in some years, but there’s no easy 100-milers. This totally proved it to me.”

Gearing up for Fall Sports Seasons

(StatePoint) Whatever your outdoor athletic passions are, the fall season is an ideal time of year to get out and enjoy them. However, the pleasant weather and fresh air may have you pushing new boundaries and venturing farther than ever. Whether you are hiking a trail or training for a fall marathon, this great gear can help you before, during and after your next big activity.

Before You Go

You are likely well-versed in the need for sunscreen and bug spray to prevent burns and itch. But there is one more essential skin care item that all endurance athletes should have and apply before their next long run or hike: chafing and blister prevention products. While there are many name brand glides and gels on the market, a thin layer of petroleum jelly applied to areas prone to this irritation often works just as well.

While You’re There

Just because you’re off the beaten path doesn’t mean you want to be off the grid. Stay connected wherever your journey takes you. A timepiece is often the best choice for active outdoor adventures, since it keeps one’s hands free. Consider the WSD-F20 Protek smart outdoor watch from Casio, which features low power consumption GPS and location memory that can help you map your course and stay on track even when you’re offline. Its rugged build and water resistance makes it a good choice for the outdoors, while its functions like altimeter, barometer, thermometer and compass can help keep you informed.

When You Get Home

The benefits of a foam roller are numerous, and no fall athlete should be without this simple tool. After a long workout, hike or training session, use a foam roller to help reduce muscle tightness and recover faster, so you can get back to your favorite activities sooner. While there are a range of varieties available in sporting goods stores, most foam rollers are affordable and durable, making them a great investment for athletes of all levels.

This fall, get geared up properly to make the most of all your athletic endeavors.

That Moment When... Hayes First Raced Felix

Quanera Hayes blitzed to a PB of 49.72 when winning the US 400m title in Sacramento earlier this year. Here the world 4x400m champion talks about the thrill she received first racing her idol Allyson Felix, the six-time Olympic gold medallist.

“I’ve looked up to Allyson throughout my college career, so to be given the chance to run against her first in the semifinals at the 2015 US National Championships in Eugene was amazing. I was so nervous to be running alongside one of the greatest female athletes ever. Yet that race gave me the belief that one day I can maybe be like her. I had never really dreamed that it would ever happen.

“I always loved the way she looked so poised and the way she carried herself during interviews. I always enjoyed watching her run and her many successes

“I recall hearing interviews with Allyson when she said people used to call her ‘chicken legs’ because her legs were so long and skinny. My legs too were long and people called me ‘daddy longlegs’. But I thought, ‘well, if Allyson is okay with her nickname then I am too’.

“In 2015 I started to put the hard work in training and I started to believe in myself. I guess it was a case of now or never. Then in the semifinals at the US Championships I finally got to race her. Allyson actually edged me out in the race (Felix ran 50.62 to win and Hayes placed third in a PB of 50.84, one place behind Phyllis Francis) but I made it through to the final.

“That race my dad took a picture from the internet of Allyson and me running down the home straight which we later had blown up in size. That picture is now at my grandparents’ house in my home town of Dillon, South Carolina and it has pride of place on the back of my grandad’s reclining chair.

“Looking back, it was just amazing to run against Allyson and to be in the mix with her (Hayes went on to defeat Felix in the first-round heat at the 2016 US Championships). It was awesome.

“That moment meant a lot to me because up until that point I had flown under the radar while a college student. But now I was running with the best. It gave me the belief that I could really perform to a high level and it gave the confidence to go for it.”

Steve Landells for the IAAF

Gatlin Dismisses Lewis's Claim About Bolt

ZURICH, Switzerland:

World 100 metres champion Justin Gatlin is in disagreement with compatriot Carl Lewis' statement that athletics' growth was hampered by the pro-Usain Bolt focus over the past eight years.

Lewis, a nine-time Olympic champion, argued that Brand Bolt overshadowed the sport itself and suggested that track and field will be better off without the iconic Jamaican sprinter, who retired after the World Championships in London a couple of weeks ago.

"We need to do more to build on the sport. We don't need to follow that trend that we have been in the last eight years, which was just about following one person (Bolt)," Lewis said recently.

However, Gatlin, who ended his season at the Weltklasse Zurich Diamond League meet on Thursday night after his fourth-place 10.04-second finish in the 100m final inside the Letzigrund Stadium, believes Lewis' assessment of Bolt's impact on the sport is out of sync with reality.


"When you are a pillar and a figurehead within the track and field community and you helped to change the game like that, you are going to command that respect and command that attention, and I have to disagree with those (Lewis') comments," Gatlin told The Gleaner.

"He (Bolt) has put together a great career, and he was always going to have to stop at one point in time, and there's no better place to stop than on top, and that's just who he is. He's a legend, and so I have to disagree (with Lewis)," added Gatlin.

The sprinter, who actually relegated Bolt to third place in that Word Championships 100m final, went on to describe 2017 as his best year in the sport from a psychological perspective.

"This year has not really been a physical highlight of my career, if anything, I would say it was more of a mental highlight. I had to deal with injuries, I took a lot of losses at the beginning of the year, and usually, I am pretty undefeated except when it comes to Usain, but at the end of the day, I dug deep," said Gatlin.


"I had about three weeks to get ready for World Championships and I ran my heart out and silenced all the doubters and naysayers, and I was able to get through it, so mentally it was a great year."

The 35-year-old added that he has started to consider his retirement and noted that he will be doing a lot more charity work in the coming years, starting with the establishment of his foundation next month in New York.

"I have started thinking about it (retirement). The funny thing is I would like to get into commentating when I am done. I would also like to be able to get involved into an agency of some sort, but right now, I am working on a foundation to give back to kids, to help kids to be mentally and physically strong," Gatlin shared.

"My foundation will start within a month in Manhattan, and it's going to be called the Justin Gatlin Foundation, where we will be teaching kids to be leaders within their community and help drive that through track and field."

Catching Up With Cal Redshirt Frosh Stephanie Jenks

During her prep career at Linn-Mar High School, Stephanie Jenks, was about as close to unbeatable as an athlete could get.  Injuries were minor, if any, as she excelled on the track, on the cross-country course, in the pool and as a triathlete.

She finished her four years there as an 11-time state champion in track and field, a 9-time gold medalist at the Drake Relays in addition to one state cross country title.

Jenks had scholarship offers from all the top programs in the country before deciding to attend Cal-Berkeley and run for fellow Iowan and Bears cross country coach, Shayla Houlihan.

Jenks was looked upon as a freshman who would join the cross-country team in the fall of 2016 and be an immediate contributor, after all she was a Footlocker All American and had competed in triathlons at the World Junior Championship level.

But an immediate contribution from Iowa’s All Time record holder in both the 3,000 and 1500 wasn’t meant to be.

Jenks suffered multiple stress fractures including stress fractures of her navicular bone and third metatarsal on her left foot.  There was no original to plan for redshirting a single season, let alone her entire freshman year, but fortunately or unfortunately things did not work out that way.

“My injuries have not in any way deterred my passion for running or my choice of colleges,” Jenks said.

If anything it has my strengthened my relationship with my coaches and I am so grateful to have their support.”

“Experiencing what I have a t Cal my freshman year has only solidified that Cal is the place I want to be, Stephanie added.”

Jenks has nothing but high praise for Houilhan, a Sioux City native and former UNI and Utah standout.

Houlihan finished her own running career in 2012 and was ranked as the #7 steeplechaser in America in 2010.   The steeplechase is an event that Jenks sees herself competing in, sooner than later.

“That’s the goal.  The few times I tried it, I absolutely loved it!  It makes running longer distances more enjoyable and gives you something to focus on besides how many laps are remaining,” Jenks said.

Houlihan believes that Jenks has a very strong upside and will be a key factor in the Bears’ future success.

“She’s done a nice job this last year to become a stronger, better athlete despite the injuries that have plagued her. We’ve basically had a little team surrounding her and supporting her between medical staff, strength coach and myself (and the other coaches),” Houlihan said.

“She’s remained positive and focused through it all. I believe she could be a contributor in cross country by the end of t

he season.   I will continue to bring her along at the rate her body allows. Her wellbeing is always my primary focus!   With that being said, I do believe she isn’t far away, which is very exciting! She is a very focused, inspirational and dedicated athlete.   I appreciate her willingness to keep bettering herself mentally and physically. This sport is hard and sometimes these things happen but she’s trusted in the process and I know will be a better athlete in the long run because of it,”  Houlihan added.

2017 Cal Cross Country schedule, click here!

Iowa track and field athlete Heaven Chandler set out to prove her mettle post injury

Heaven Chandler was ready to enter her senior year of high school as one of the top all-around high school athletes in Iowa. A severe knee injury that would end the career for many athletes proved to be just a detour on Chandler’s road to success.

By the end of her junior year in high school, Columbus Community High School’s Chandler had qualified to the Drake Relays nine times, placing fourth in the long jump in 2011. She made the trip to Drake’s Blue Oval 12 times for the state track meet, bringing home eight medals, two of them gold.

This five-foot-nothing bundle of energy was one of the best all-around athletes to ever wear Columbus’ blue and white. It was common knowledge that track and field was her bread and butter — her ticket to competing at the next level. But in an effort to become a better basketball player, Chandler attended a basketball camp at Iowa State University in early June 2013.

When she came home from Ames, her dreams were shattered. She had torn her ACL, a knee injury that required major surgery, is career ending for many and requires up to 12 months of rehab for most.

Chandler did not fall into either category.

“When I found out the severity of the injury, I was more down than I could recall ever being in my athletic career,” Chandler said.

With rehab seven days per week, Chandler attacked this opponent, and began to wonder if there was a chance she could compete in her final track season as a Wildcat. She believed she could. Track coaches Jeff Gilmore and Deb Carlson were hoping she could, but also knew that competing again, at Columbus, was a real reach for the co-valedictorian of the class of 2013.

It was a slow meticulous process, but make it back she did. She wasn’t able to qualify to the Drake Relays for the first time in four years, but she did advance to the state track meet for the 13th time, qualifying in her specialty, the long jump. She medaled for the third time in her career by placing eighth (she placed first in 2010 and 2012).

Although she made it to the state meet one final time, Chandler was far from where she thought she might be at this point in her career. The knee needed much more rehabilitation if she was ever to get back to where she once was.

She enrolled at the University of Iowa, attended classes and worked out on her own, doing everything she could to make her injured knee stronger. After sitting out of athletics for a full year, something she had never done before, she couldn’t take it anymore. She lined up a meeting with University of Iowa Associate Head Coach Clive Roberts and convinced him to give her a chance. He didn’t promise her anything but an opportunity. That is all she wanted.

Chandler began working out with the team at the start of the 2014-15 season. She was behind in conditioning, she had difficulty getting her steps right in the long jump and her trail leg in the hurdles needed immediate attention if she was ever going to make it at this level.

“When the surgeon told me that I may never run at a high level again, I was more mad that he thought he could tell me that,” said Chandler. “He said the mental aspect may be harder than the physical therapy. It became my mission to prove I was not your average person and would overcome this setback and do what I wanted.”

Chandler was not able to contribute a lot on the track her first two seasons with the Hawkeyes, but was a big contributor this past season, as a junior, to a Division I program that is on the rise.

As she began her junior season her hard work and dedication continued to pay off and she was rewarded by the Iowa coaching staff by being put on scholarship. At the recently held UI track and field and cross country banquet, Chandler reaped a number of awards.

She was a track and field letter winner, an Academic All Big 10 selection, a Big 10 Distinguished Scholar and the female Keatinge/Cretzmeyer Award winner as the top walk on. She finished 2017 on Iowa’s All Time lists in the 100 hurdles (#9), 60 hurdles (#5) and the Pentathlon (#10).

Chandler has a tough decision to make going into the 2017-18 school year. She has been accepted into the University of Iowa Law School, and will receive a full scholarship, which means finding time to compete in a Division I sport may be hard to come by.

Chandler, one of seven children, has had to overcome a rather large obstacle to get where she is today and there doesn’t appear to be anything out there that is big enough to make her turn back now.

Baylor Promotes 2 To Associate Head Coach

WACO, Texas -- Baylor track & field head coach Todd Harbour announced Friday that assistants Michael Ford and Stacey Smith have been promoted to associate head coaches. Ford is entering his 18th season while Smith is beginning her 16th season with the Bears.
"Mike and Stacey have been such an integral part of our staff here for almost 20 years," Harbour said. "This is a well-deserved promotion for both as they continue to be a blessing to our student athletes."

Alongside Harbour, Ford and Smith have help guide the women's track & field program to seven top-20 finishes at nationals, while the men have been top-20 12 times.

Both coaches were also integral in the program's first Big 12 women's track & field indoor title while also coaching student-athletes to a combined 29 all-conference accolades last season.

Ford has mentored multiple All-Americans in over a decade coaching at his alma mater, most recently two-time NCAA champion Trayvon Bromell and five-time All-American hurdler Tiffani McReynolds.

Prior to his latest pupils, Ford guided Tiffany Townsend to the most All-America honors in program history. During her career, Townsend racked up a BU record 17 All-America honors.

Ford has also been named the Midwest Region Assistant Coach of the Year on two occasions (2005, '06) as well as the South Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year twice (2009, '14) by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

In 15 seasons of coaching at her alma mater, Smith has been able to translate her personal collegiate success into success for the student-athletes she has mentored. She has coached 16 All-Americans during her time, including 12 on the women's side and four on the men's, along with nine Big 12 champions.

One of the highlights of Smith's coaching career came in 2014 as she guided sophomore Felix Obi to the NCAA Indoor triple jump title. Just two weeks earlier, Smith aided Obi in becoming just the fourth Baylor male athlete to win a Big 12 indoor title in back-to-back seasons as he repeated as triple jump conference champion.

At 36, Špotáková Eyes Next Olympics

The fresh world javelin champion Barbora Špotáková says the next Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 are a major motivation for her to continue her career at the age of 36. The Czech athlete, who triumphed at the Beijing and London Olympics, said on Friday that she was also looking forward to the Continental Cup in Ostrava next year.

At an end-of-season meeting with journalists on Friday Špotáková said she had planned to bring all 10 or her major international trophies but had lost the key to the cabinet in which they were stored.

Ujah Won Zürich 100 By Making "Least Mistakes"

Chijindu Ujah, by Stuart Weir

CJ was the surprise winner of the Diamond League 100 meters, beating Ben Youssef Meite by one thousands of a second in 9.97. CJ described it as "I redeemed myself" in what had been an "amazing season".

I feel well qualified to write about CJ, having seen him run in the World relays in Bahamas, Rome DL (winner), Oslo DL (second), European Team Championships in France, London DL (winner), Monaco DL (fourth) and Birmingham DL (winner) as well as the World Champs, UK Champs etc this year.

For someone who had won four Diamond League 100s (five including Zὕrich), plus, a gold medal in the 4 by 100 relay at the 2017 World Championships, to feel the need to redeem himself says a lot about the man. He is referring to the fact that in London 2017 - as he had done in Rio 2016 - he was the fastest man not to make the 100m final. His celebrations in Zὕrich were tinged with disappointment as his first comment afterwards was, "It is a shame I did not get it done at World Champs".

Still only 23, he comes across as confident but not arrogant, making comments like: "I knew what I was capable of" and "all season that I have been in good shape and I proved myself today" and "I knew I could win tonight". At the same time he realistically admitted that: "Any one of the seven guys could have won it".

Some athletes make it all sound very complex. With CJ it is all about simplicity: "My coach said of tonight 'The person who makes the least mistakes wins the race' and I did that". His race plan for the Diamond League final was "Keep in smooth, keep it simple".

His attitude to beating the USA and winning relay gold was typically feet on the ground, don't get carried away: "Winning the relay at London 2017 was nice but I needed to make sure the next few races were good".

He was also very aware of who he was running against in Justin Gatlin and Asafa Powell: "I watched some of these guys in the Golden League and Diamond League and now it is amazing to run against them and rub shoulders with them and now to get the victory shows where I am heading in the next couple of years".

That was his last race of the season. Time to rest and then prepare for 2018 where he will target the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham in March, the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April and the European Championships in Berlin in August. Winning all three might be a tall order so the down to earth Ujah says "I want to win at least two of the three". And who would bet against it.

Greats of the sport including Allan Wells and Eilidh Doyle have graced past landmark Scottish Athletics Championships

The 125th staging of the Scottish Athletics Championships provides an opportunity to reflect on the fine history of what many regarded as sporting competition of the purest type.

The placement of athleticism at the centre of sporting endeavour is affirmed in the way the championships came about, effectively evolving from the games staged by football clubs including Rangers and Queen’s Park, while Scotland’s rugby clubs were prominent among the founding organisations behind the institution of the first Scottish Amateur Athletics Association, which put on the first national championships in 1883.

In the intervening years countless greats of sport and all walks of life have participated and, with grateful thanks to the marvellous sporting archivist and former top class middle distance runner Hugh Barrow, as well as The Herald’s former athletics correspondent Doug Gillon, a glance through some of those who took part in previous landmark stagings of the championship, offers a flavour of that:

1908 – The silver anniversary featured victories in the 200 and 440 yards by Wyndham Halswelle in the year in which he found himself at the centre of one of the earliest Olympic controversies which resulted in him becoming both the first Scot to win an Olympic title and the winner of the only ‘walkover’ to an Olympic gold medal, the result of a dispute over rules introduced to prevent the rough house tactics applied in his previous meetings with American rivals who, in turn, objected to being forced to run the 400 metres in lanes, the first time that had ever been insisted upon. Halswelle died aged just 32, both a sporting and war hero, decorated in the Boer War ahead of that Olympic triumph and killed seven years later during The Great War.

1933 – The winner of the mile in the golden anniversary gathering was Shettleston Harrier Tom Riddell, the dominant middle distance runner of the era, who had won the first of six successive titles in 1930. He twice set Scottish records for the mile and set others at 1000 yards, three-quarter mile and one and a half miles. A road engineer he was selected for the 1930 Empire Games and 1932 Olympics, but turned both down due to work commitments, speaking to the very different priorities of the era.

1958 - The winner of the three mile race at the 75th anniversary championships – the first of his four successes in six years - was another who famously turned down an opportunity to run for Britain. It had been reported in 1953 that after Britain had lost a six mile match against Germany, Norris McWhirter, who along with twin brother Ross was the driving force behind the popularisation of The Guinness Book of Records, told the London crowd that two British records, the Empire record, the UK all-comers record and six Scottish records had all been broken in the same race that afternoon by a man “...running, if you please, at some place called Cowal.” Ian Binnie was to break 21 Scottish records during his career and held the course record in virtually every Scottish road race.

1983 – The centenary championships appropriately marked by a return to form of the greatest Scottish track star of the era when Allan Wells claimed the 100 metres titles. He had not featured in that event in the previous two years and had picked up a silver in the 200 metres, behind Cameron Sharp – father of Lynsey – in the 200 metres the previous year, but having won it in four successive seasons from 1977-80, the last of those the year in which he claimed his Olympic title it was a fifth and final success.

2008 – It is remarkable that Eilidh Doyle’s victory at the 125th anniversary Scottish Athletics Championships was her most recent in her specialist discipline, as she completed her hat-trick of Scottish 400 metres hurdles titles. albeit she did return in 2011 to take the 400 metres title. Her status on the global stage was meanwhile confirmed when she was elected by team-mates to be GB captain at the recent World Championships where her relay silver medal took her past Yvonne Murray as Scotland’s most decorated major championship athlete.

Jake Wightman Aims To Close Gap On Africans

Jake Wightman today claimed the door is open to break open Africa’s middle distance monopoly after coming a respectable seventh in Diamond League’s 1500 metres final in Zurich.

The Capital prospect, 23, took a number of A-List scalps to become the first non-Kenyan finisher as world championship silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot took victory in 3:33.93. But Wightman, who’ll complete his campaign at next month’s Fifth Avenue Mile in New York, reckons his win at the Bislett Games in Oslo and performances elsewhere show it’s possible for the likes of himself and fellow Edinburgh ace Chris O’Hare to make an impact.

“I feel like we are closing the gap,” he said. “Filip Ingebrigtsen showed it at the worlds by getting bronze. But they are so strong. There are always more coming through than you expect, especially in a final like this. But it feels like this season, it’s become more of a level playing field and I think that will continue to even itself out.”

Elsewhere, Eilidh Doyle came fifth in the 400m hurdles in 55.09 secs.

AIU to investigate adverse testing results during World Championships

(Reuters) - The independent organisation that looks after anti-doping in athletics will investigate three adverse testing results out of thousands conducted during the 2017 World Championships held in London earlier this month, however none of the anomalies belonged to medal winners.

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) came into operation in April and handles aspects related to misconduct within the sport, replacing the governing body's (IAAF) former anti-doping department.

Part of the AIU's remit is to restore trust in athletics following, predominantly, the revelations from an independent report in 2015 about state-sponsored doping in Russia, which has left the country still banned from the sport.

A number of medals were awarded in London to competitors who had been upgraded from previous results, due to the retesting of samples and subsequent discovery of doping violations in athletes from Russia and other nations.

However, the AIU said that none of the adverse results from the London testing programme belonged to athletes that won medals at the event.

"The analyses resulted in three adverse analytical findings which are now being investigated. None of the adverse findings relate to medallists at the championships," the organisation said in a statement.

"The AIU will not make any further comment at this stage, but in all cases will publicly disclose appropriate details at relevant points of the disciplinary process, in accordance with the IAAF Anti-Doping Rules and AIU policy."

The AIU conducted over 2,000 blood tests and 3,000 urine tests during a 10-month period prior to the championships and a further 596 urine and 917 blood samples were collected in the days leading up to and during the event.

The anti-doping programme was one part of an extensive three-part plan that included betting monitoring and education outreach for athletes and support personnel.

"Throughout the championships, it was evident that there was a strong, positive reaction from athletes and their support teams to the work of the AIU," the organisation's operational head Ed Clothier said.

"It was hugely satisfying to see that athletes have a real thirst to gain knowledge of integrity-related issues and to learn how they can better help uphold the right values of the sport. The AIU will build on this."

Documentary Gives Insight Into Gabe Grunewald's Life

Documentary by Brooks Running follows Gabe Grunewald’s journey as a professional athlete running through cancer and chemo

Gabe Grunewald has already inspired many with her story. Now, her sponsor Brooks Running has shared the latest part in a powerful short film documenting Grunewald’s journey towards qualifying for the US Championships while looking for the best course of treatment to combat her rare form of cancer.

“As nervous as I still get about racing, running has been my medicine and toeing the starting line is something I’ll never get tired of…”

Grunewald’s strength on and off the track is captured in this 25-minute documentary, which you can watch in full below.

Pearson caps stellar month with Diamond League title

Recently crowned two-time world champion hurdler Sally Pearson races to Diamond League gold in Zurich …

Australian Sally Pearson is on fire. The 30-year-old 2012 Olympic gold medallist has returned to form in a fury over the past month with a Diamond League championship in Zurich on Friday after clinching her second career world title earlier this month — three if counting her indoor championship from 2012.

The Gold Coast native won the women’s 100-metre hurdles in a photo finish over American Sharika Nelvis with a time of 12.55 (w: -0.3), which was just 0.08 seconds off her season best.

Australian Sally Pearson is on fire. The 30-year-old 2012 Olympic gold medallist has returned to form in a fury over the past month with a Diamond League championship in Zurich on Friday after clinching her second career world title earlier this month — three if counting her indoor championship from 2012.

The Gold Coast native won the women’s 100-metre hurdles in a photo finish over American Sharika Nelvis with a time of 12.55 (w: -0.3), which was just 0.08 seconds off her season best.

“This is my first time as Diamond League champion,” said Pearson. “I am really excited. It was tough, this race was competitive and fast. I almost fell over I wanted it so badly. I had to work really hard for it.”

Pearson’s recent success comes on the heels of what could have been a career-ending hamstring injury last year. It is a return to form that has not gone unnoticed.

“I am so proud of what I achieved this year, coming back and what not. It has been an amazing year,” said Pearson, who now turns her attention toward the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast. “As long as I believe in what I can do, everything is OK. The others do not know who Sally Pearson is. Tonight, I am world champion and Diamond League champion.”

Other notable Australian results include Kelsey-Lee Roberts (ACT), who threw 64.53m to finish second behind women’s javelin behind world champion Barbora Spotáková (CZE, 65.54m).

Like Roberts, men’s pole vaulter Kurtis Marschall (SA) also showed stellar form by tying his personal best leap of 5.73m.

Last year’s Diamond League champion Fabrice Lapierre (NSW) rounded out the Aussies in action, jumping 7.94m to place fifth in the men’s long jump.

A Search For Answers After A Runner's Suicide

THE WAY DAVE FLYNN remembers, it’s an early morning, May 2016, and he’s on a street in Mammoth Lakes, California, a small mountain town at 7,800 feet of elevation. He’s waiting for a 7 a.m. bus to take him on the four-hour ride to the airport in Reno, Nevada. From there, he’ll catch a flight for several months at his home in Ireland.

He’s gotten out of bed early and moved quietly, so as not to wake the other athletes he shares a condo with in Mammoth—especially not his friend Gabe Proctor, who had done a hard workout the day before. Flynn’s part of a training group coached by Andrew Kastor, husband of Deena Kastor, the American record holder in the marathon.

As Flynn waits at the bus stop, Deena happens along with her dog, Zita. They stop to wait with him.

Then off in the distance he hears someone calling his name: “Flynn!”

He looks around and sees Gabe Proctor pedaling toward him on an old bike he has grabbed from the athletes’ condo. He arrives, panting, and demands, “Why didn’t you wake me up? I wanted to say goodbye!”

The three of them sit at the bus stop laughing and talking until the bus, running late, arrives. They hug before Flynn gets on.

“Thinking back,” he said, “I wish that bus never came.”

IT WAS THE LAST time Flynn would see Proctor alive. Proctor died a year later, in May 2017, at his parents’ home in Lyndonville, Vermont. The cause was suicide. He was 27.

With his death, his family and friends are grappling with the enormous void left by an elite American distance runner they describe as funny, generous, and kind to everyone, from teammates to prom dates. During his best year in 2014, he had the fifth-fastest half marathon time in the U.S., but his heart is what people remember. Proctor especially looked out for those who had trouble fitting in or seemed burdened in other ways.

“Gabe was adamant about this,” his younger brother, Samuel, said. “Always treat people the absolute best you can, because you don’t know what they’re dealing with.”

Proctor was carrying a heavy burden himself, which ultimately overwhelmed the strong ties he had with his family, friends, and the running community. Few people—perhaps only his immediate family—had the full picture.

“We don’t want anyone to experience what I’m experiencing—losing whoever their Gabe is.”


Those who knew him best detailed the complexity of his background: the trauma of his childhood in Ethiopia, his strong desire to help support his relatives there, and what they termed depression, even though, to their knowledge, he didn’t have a clinical diagnosis and had only had a few sessions of counseling years earlier.

By telling his story, his parents, Jim and Caryl Proctor, and his siblings, two biological and two adoptive, shed light on a subject they first raised with the stark obituary they released a few days after his death through his agent, Merhawi Keflezighi. It begins:

Gabriel Proctor, beloved son and brother, died on Saturday, May 20, 2017, at his parents’ home in Lyndonville, Vermont. Gabe had a desperate illness from which he could find no escape—severe depression. As a result, he took his own life.

In numerous conversations with Runner’s World, Proctor’s loved ones urged family and friends of people who are struggling with depression to confront it head on. Jim Proctor, Gabe’s father, implores parents to pay attention: “Accept that the warning signs are warning signs,” he said. “If you’re driving your car down the road, and you hear a noise under the hood that’s unusual, it probably means there’s something going on. Don’t ignore it.”

Said Samuel: “We don’t want anyone to experience what I’m experiencing—losing whoever their Gabe is.”

PROCTOR WAS BORN in Mekele, a town of more than 200,000 people in northern Ethiopia. On the outskirts, where he lived, the town ends abruptly, replaced by a landscape of dry, brown, mountainous terrain. He spent his early years there with his younger sister, Joanna, and Samuel, before their mother died suddenly when Gabe was 8 or 9. His family is not certain of the exact date of her death.

It was an impoverished upbringing—the father was a stone mason, their mother a homemaker—and soon after their mother’s death, with remaining family members unable to care for the children, they were adopted by the Proctors, who lived then in South Royalton, Vermont.

Jim Proctor, an ordained United Methodist minister, says it was the hand of God that brought the family together. He and his wife were empty nesters and feeling like they should fill the nest back up again when they read in the local newspaper about a Vermont woman who was starting an adoption project in Ethiopia. In 2000, they spent several weeks in Ethiopia before returning to Vermont with Gabe, then 10, Joanna, 8, and Samuel, 5. The Proctors were part of a group of 10 American adults coming back to the United States with 19 children between them.

“He was not accepting us in a parental role in his life. Who can blame the kid? Who are we? We’re strangers.”


Jim and Caryl choose to keep private some of the most painful details surrounding their kids’ childhood in Ethiopia. And for many years, they had only the most basic background information on the children. It was later, when Gabe, Joanna, and Samuel learned English, that they could tell their parents more. The Proctors knew at first only that the kids were coping with a radical transition to a new culture, a new language, and new food.

It was easier for Joanna and Samuel. Gabe resisted, refusing to recognize his adoptive parents’ authority.

Jim and Caryl remember the conflict of those early days. They would communicate with Gabe in whatever means they could. When they told him to go to bed or any time he did not do what he was asked, he would respond with a single, defiant word in Tigrinya, his native language. Jim pronounces the word as “mm-bee.”

Months later, they asked a local woman who spoke the language what that word meant that Gabe said all the time. She told them it meant, roughly, “Hell, no!”

It took about two years before Gabe began to soften his stance toward his parents. “He was not accepting us in a parental role in his life,” Jim said. “Who can blame the kid? Who are we? We’re strangers. With all that he’d been through, it took a long time to gain his trust and took a couple of years before he realized we weren’t going anywhere; we loved him.”

After they turned the corner, it was easier for a time. The 2,500 residents of South Royalton welcomed the Proctor children everywhere—at the deli, the church, the library. The parents read constantly to the kids, helping them with the language. The Little House series. The Chronicles of Narnia. Caryl helped Gabe with English and social studies; Jim relearned algebra. Gabe goaded Samuel into quizzing him before tests over and over on their 30-minute commute to school.

And Gabe and Samuel found they were good at sports: basketball, but especially soccer. Jim remembers watching one astonishing assist Gabe made. Overwhelmed with pride, he stood up and spontaneously shouted from the bleachers, “You’re going to Friendly’s!” while the other parents cracked up around him.

His senior year of high school, Gabe found running. After soccer ended in the fall, he stopped playing basketball and became an indoor track team of one representing the Mid Vermont Christian School. He took to distances right away, finishing second in the state in the two mile that season.

Jim had to drive his son, alone in his Mid Vermont Christian uniform, to all the meets, but the running community welcomed Gabe. A coach from a neighboring school told him to sit with his team between events so he wouldn’t be alone. Jeff Johnson, one of Nike’s founding employees and a volunteer assistant coach in nearby Hanover, New Hampshire, kept an eye on Gabe’s training. On one drive to a competition, Jim asked Gabe if he was having fun. “Yeah, I’m having a great time,” he replied. “Those are really nice people.”

After the indoor state meet, the Proctors got a call from the coach at Garden City Community College, in Garden City, Kansas, asking if Gabe would consider running for the team. At first, Jim, unfamiliar with the running world, thought it was a prank. When they realized it wasn’t, they left the decision to Gabe, who decided he wanted to pursue it. That summer, they packed him up and drove him to Kansas.

ACCORDING TO JIM and Caryl, Gabe was painfully homesick from his first moments on campus, spending an hour every night on Skype with his family in Vermont. “It was the kind of thing where probably up until [his death] I would have said the hardest moment of my life was leaving him in Kansas and driving away,” Jim said.

Until then, it was difficult for the Proctors to know he had depression. Where does the trauma of his childhood—crushing poverty, the sudden loss of his mother, the quick transport to a different culture—end and ongoing depression begin? Can the two even be separated?

To outsiders, adoption often seems like a happy ending. A family gets the child or children they’ve so eagerly awaited. A child is moved to a more stable home environment. It’s a win-win.

The reality can be much more complex. According to a 2013 article in the journal Pediatrics, adopted offspring are four times more likely to attempt suicide than non-adopted offspring. Maureen McCauley Evans is a Seattle writer and mother of four adopted children who are now adults. She worked in leadership positions for years in the international adoption field—she was the executive director of the Minnesota Children’s Home Society and Family Services office in Maryland—and points out how there is loss behind every transition.

“Children typically become available for international adoption because of neglect, abuse, poverty, social stigma, abandonment, or medical conditions untreatable in their county,” she wrote in an email. “Most internationally adopted children are not orphans. If they are older when they arrive in the U.S., they may well have experienced traumatic events before their arrival.”

She goes on to say that many adoptees experience a sense of grief around not knowing who they are, even while loving their adoptive parents. Some feel a survivors’ guilt for having opportunities in the United States while biological parents or siblings remain in poverty. Some struggle with complex feelings of gratitude for having been adopted, mixed with wishing they hadn’t needed to be adopted.

In understanding mental health and adoption, researchers now think about a combination of risk factors, said Maria Kroupina, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. Adoption itself is one risk factor. Others include prenatal stress to the child’s mother. Genetics, or family history of mental illness. Stress in early childhood, from scarcity of resources or abuse or neglect. The loss of a parent.

It’s a process for adopted children and the adults in their lives to navigate these issues from the past. “Children and young adults need ongoing help,” she said. “No health care providers would put a child with asthma or a heart condition in a family and say, ‘Please figure it out.’”

IN 2006, AT AGE 16, Proctor made his first trip back to Ethiopia with his dad. In 2007, Gabe, his parents, and his siblings returned, and the Ethiopian relatives embraced the Proctors in a celebration of family. “It was like Thanksgiving and Fourth of July and every holiday all wrapped up into one,” Jim said.

Gabe made four trips to Ethiopia over the years, and as his running career progressed, he realized his talent could help his relatives in Ethiopia. As a professional, his singular goal was to use his running to support his family. Gabe had a shoe deal from Asics, and he lived simply, never owning a car, for example. Samuel says before Gabe’s death, his brother had built houses that his Ethiopian family could use for rental income.

Gabe ran well at Garden City Community College. But his running really took off after Jennifer Michel recruited him to Western State Colorado University, a Division II powerhouse, from GCCC. She remembers watching him compete for the community college at a meet in Boulder, where he ran aggressively and went out fast—too fast for his fitness. She appreciated his willingness to stick his nose in the race. Later, her team was traveling to a meet 12 hours away in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and they stopped in Kansas at GCCC, where the coach showed them a road to run on with Gabe and his team. They liked him instantly.

He came to Gunnison the fall of 2010, as a junior, and he struggled at first to adapt to the 7,700 feet of elevation, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to run with the front of the pack right away. “He had some stubbornness, which is what made him great,” Michel said. “He wanted to hammer every day.” The coaching staff had to retrain him to take the easy days easier, and give himself time to adapt to altitude.

It didn’t take long: In his first season at Western, he was 10th in the nation in Division II in cross country. The following year, with Proctor, Ryan Haebe, and Tyler Pennel, the Western team won the national title.

Michel remembers a goofball—“hilarious,” she said—who tested her at times. She refers to it as “poking,” checking the limits to make sure the coaches and the team would stand behind him.

One spring break he had it in his mind that he was going to buy a mountain bike in Montrose, a town 65 miles from Gunnison—and several thousand feet lower. How he got himself to Montrose might be lost to history. But Michel knows how he got home.

Michel and her husband, with their baby daughter in the back of the car, were on the highway back to Gunnison after a family trip, climbing over a mountain pass, as a cold rain was turning to snow. They spotted a cyclist off in the distance. He wasn’t wearing cycling gear, though. He was in Western track sweatpants. As the car drew closer, she could tell: It was Proctor. He cut quite a figure, an Ethiopian-born young man, dressed like a runner, on a mountain bike in the peaks of Colorado, shivering in the precipitation.

She pulled over and offered a ride, and he climbed in the back next to the baby in her car seat. As Michel blasted the heat, he realized how lucky he was she happened by. “Hey, Coach,” he told her. “Thanks for picking me up.”

By the time he was a fifth-year senior, Proctor had put his trust completely in Michel. “Whatever you want me to do, Coach,” was his constant refrain. He didn’t lose through his outdoor season, which ended when he won Division II NCAA titles in track at 5,000 and 10,000 meters.

Changing The Narrative Around Women's Sports

Sally Bergesen, founder of Oiselle and a running activist, asks why don't we have established women's equivalents of the four-minute mile or the two-hour marathon

What’s the equivalent of the four-minute mile for women?” The question was casually thrown out in a group of about ten sports-minded women, a mix of athletes and business leaders. We were all gathered around a big open table inside Oiselle headquarters in Seattle. There was no immediate answer, and the question lingered awkwardly in the air.

“4:40?” Someone said. “4:40 or 4:30?”

Another long pause. “4:30, definitely 4:30.”

There were a few nods, but the long pause and the unfamiliarity with this number, 4:30, tinged the air with sadness. Here we were, a group of avid runners, some with athletic careers spanning more than two decades, including a Division 1 runner and several post-collegiate athletes, and yet the question and the answer felt foreign. How are our own benchmarks so unfamiliar?

On the men’s side, the milestones are easy to call up, featuring names you’ve heard hundreds of times: Roger Bannister, the four-minute mile; the life and death of Steve Prefontaine; the “World’s Fastest Man” and its parade of kings—Lewis, Johnson, Bolt.

It’s not that the women’s side of the sport hasn’t had fearless protagonists and watershed moments. There’s Wilma Rudolph, the iconic sprinter of the 1950s and ’60s who became the first American woman to win three Olympic golds in track and field. There’s Joan Benoit-Samuelson, the first ever women’s Olympic marathon champion. And many more. But their stories are less well-known outside the insular running world. And when you look closer at the dominant narratives for female athletes, it becomes clear that many are not focused on a woman’s heroic talent or strength but center more around the simple concept of inclusion.

In 1967, Kathrine Switzer became the first registered woman to run the Boston Marathon. Her finish time (4 hours and 20 minutes) is infrequently cited; it’s not considered the point. Few people realize that Switzer went on to run 2:51 at the New York City Marathon in 1975, making her the third-fastest American woman marathoner at the time. Instead, the picture of the race director attempting to physically remove her from the course is one of the most iconic images of a female athlete.

In 1972, the passage of Title IX made it illegal to discriminate against female participation in sports at federally funded schools. And it’s often Title IX—rather an individual or her athletic achievements—that’s cited to celebrate progress for women in sports. Title IX was pivotal, but isn’t it reasonable to ask for more? Haven’t we earned the right to have athletic traditions and narratives that go beyond simply being allowed to participate?

The predictable counterpoint to all of this is that the dearth of women’s milestones and tradition is a result of our relatively recent entry into competitive sports—we’ve been sending large numbers of women through the college sports system only for about 45 years. But unfortunately, the tradition of nontradition marches on.

This spring, Nike made its attempt to break the two-hour barrier in the marathon, Breaking2, with no female equivalent in sight. The men’s goal is not to be discounted. It’s so ambitious that Nike built a special shoe, recruited world-class pacers, and guided the lead athlete, Eliud Kipchoge, with a laser pointer through every step. The company then poured millions of dollars into the creation of a moment—and an incredible moment it was. People from all over the world watched the live broadcast and followed it on social media.

But where is the women’s Breaking2? Was it never even considered because, like the four-minute mile, we lack a goal with numeric roundness? Or was it because the company—and the industry itself—lacks the necessary interest and creativity to define what the equivalent mark would be for women? (The world record progression suggests that a sub-2:12 women’s marathon, three minutes faster than Paula Radcliffe’s world record of 2:15, is the number to chase. Though others have argued that Radcliffe’s time may be even closer to the women’s equivalent of a sub-two-hour performance.)

Round numbers are nice, but women’s participation in sports is about more than that. Tradition is a result of both cultural reverence and the way we tell stories about female athletes. This means sharing those moments with a broader audience so we understand the significance of the feat. For example, Emma Coburn’s recent gold medal at the IAAF World Championships was one of the most iconic, exciting races in recent running history, for men or women. Don’t take my word for it. Watch it.

Regardless of the sport, milestones and lore give sports fans and participants something to look toward, celebrate, talk about, and even shoot for.

But traditions are also an investment that must compound over time. After all, it’s easy to celebrate a single moment—like Joan Benoit’s winning of the Olympic marathon. But we must continue to cherish its value, emphasize the tradition it started, and at the same time be on the lookout for what’s next.

So, as our team pondered the women’s equivalent for the four-minute mile, we concluded with a directive: We would put a stake in the ground for the women’s mile. We would add our voices to a nascent group that was already talking about sub-4:30. (Bring Back the Mile, a website and community that aims to reestablish the mile as a preeminent distance in the United States, has done an excellent job of tracking the American women who have broken 4:30.) The sub-4:30 club is a rarefied group—even more so than the sub-four-minute milers, a mark that almost 500 American men have achieved. Only 71 American women have broken 4:30 (including former Oiselle athletes Kate Grace, Lauren Penney, and Amanda Winslow).

The 4:30 mile. We will shout it from the rooftops, drop it into casual conversations, and speak of the women who break it with reverence. Because as it turns out, if we want someone to be a household name, we might have to build the houses.
Sally Bergesen (@oiselle_sally) is the founder and CEO of Oiselle, a Seattle-based athletic apparel company and athlete sponsor by and for women.

History Says Bolt's Heir Will Show Up Soon Enough

THE retirement of Usain Bolt prompted the BBC to ask this week how the sport could replace "the flag-bearer who for years has almost single-handedly carried athletics".

The unspoken implication seemed to be that the Jamaican is irreplaceable. Bolt is simply the latest charismatic icon whose departure has been lamented, yet recurrent change is the nature of all sport; indeed, of all human endeavour. Future generations inevitably surpass their forebears.

Bolt is deservedly revered, though still short of Muhammad Ali whose last fight was in 1981. When Ali died 35 years later, he attracted an unmatched outpouring of affection and reverence. He received numerous "Sportsman of the Century" accolades. In the BBC version, he received more votes than contenders who included Pele, Jesse Owens, and Jack Nicklaus.

However, comparison of boxers down the years – especially across weight divisions – is a misconstruction. It relies on subjective assessment. It's no easier comparing footballers, cricketers, or golfers of different eras. Track and field is different. The stopwatch and tape measure are immutably objective – far less forgiving or fallible than human memory. So Bolt will survive as peerless and incomparable for just as long as his records remain intact. And then he will be another chapter in history alongside Owens and Carl Lewis.

Sport, globally and nationally, struggles to replace icons. The span between swimmer Mark Spitz in 1972 and Michael Phelps surpassing his Olympic gold-medal haul in Beijing was 36 years. Andy Murray only recently relieved British tennis of the 77-year burden of Fred Perry.

Athletics has repeatedly bred replacement heroes and heroines whose seemingly impregnable records are often surprisingly quickly surpassed.

The sub four-minute mile was within grasp for almost two decades until Roger Bannister broke it. Then it lasted 46 days, and soon four-minute milers were a dime a dozen. More than 1300 runners have now broken it, according to the National Union of Track Statisticians. And that excludes thousands who have run as fast in the more frequently-contested metric equivalent.

Bob Beamon's long jump at the Mexico Olympics was hailed as the single greatest athletics feat ever. Lynn Davies, the defending long jump champion, told Beamon he had "destroyed the event". It was suggested that Beamon's mark might last 100 years, yet it was surpassed within 23 years by Mike Powell.

It's worth noting that Jesse Owens' 1935 world long jump record (8.13 metres) lasted more than 25 years and would have won every Olympic gold until Beamon in 1968, and would still have taken bronze behind Greg Rutherford in London 2012.

The Flying Finn, Paavo Nurmi, was the first truly iconic athletics Olympian. He set 29 world records from 1500 metres to 20 kilometres, and won nine gold and three silver medals in three Olympics. He was favourite for the 10,000m and marathon at a fourth: Los Angeles 1932, when he was banned for professionalism.

Within three years, Nurmi's star was eclipsed. Owens set his six world records in 45 minutes – the long jump in his only attempt. In an era of increasing specialisation, his six-record feat is unlikely ever to be matched.

Zatopek was the next global athletics icon, with his 18 world records and a still-unmatched Olympic treble in 1952 (5k 10k and marathon).

The Czech has his challengers in the endurance pantheon: Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebrselassie. The former won 19 World, Olympic, and World cross-country titles and set six world records. Gebrselassie won 12 global titles and set 27 world records, from 2000m to the marathon - most prodigious range ever.

Ron Clark set a stack of records but won no major title; Mo Farah won a stack of titles but has no world record.

There was hurdler Ed Moses with four world records and 122 races undefeated over a decade, and Sergey Bubka, with his 35 world pole vault records. Both were lauded and lionised, but their records are now history. So are those of Lewis who in 1984 matched Owen's four golds from 1936. With his star waning, the sport was bereft, worrying about the impact on corporate support and TV rights fees. Enter Michael Johnson with his eccentric style and unique 200/400 Olympic double.

None of them proved irreplaceable.

But back to Bolt. He well merits the full lexicon of superlatives. However, he does not have the most sub 10-second 100 metres times, nor the most 100m records, nor has he lowered the record by the biggest margin.

Asafa Powell wins on the first two counts and Bob Hayes on the third.

Of the 125 people to have run sub-10.00, Bolt has 50 clockings to Powell's 97. Bolt has three world records, Powell has broken or equalled it four times.

The world 100m best fell in successive Olympic finals, from 10.25 by Armin Hary in 1960, to 10.06 by Bob Hayes in '64. Bolt has now held the world best for nine years, lowering it by 0.16sec. In the nine years from Hary's 10.25, the world 100m record fell by 0.30. By that rate of progress, the world best should now be considerably lower than Bolt's mark.

Yes, Bolt's departure heralds a new order, but it is also an opportunity. "When will we see their likes again?" is the mantra of a media obsessed by heroes.

New ones will assuredly arise. Perhaps sooner than we think.

8 World Champions Top The Bill In Berlin

Eight recently crowned world champions along with the cream of Germany's track and field stars will highlight the 76th edition of Berlin’s ISTAF, an IAAF World Challenge meeting, on Sunday (27).

The meeting, which has deep historical roots in the German capital, will also serve as a dress rehearsal for next year's European Championships which will also be staged at Berlin's Olympic Stadium, host to the 2009 IAAF World Championships.

Two weeks after the IAAF World Championships London 2017, eight gold medallists will be in action: 200m winner Ramil Guliyev of Turkey in the 100m, where he's taking on Adam Gemili, a member of Great Britain's victorious 4x100m relay squad; Sam Kendricks of the USA in the pole vault; Lithuania's Andrius Gudzius in the discus; 800m champion Caster Semenya of South Africa who'll contest the rarely-run 600m; 200m winner Dafne Schippers who'll compete in the 4x100m; 400m champion Phyllis Francis of the USA who'll compete in the 200m; and javelin champion Johannes Vetter of Germany who'll compete in his specialty.

German fans have a wide range of treats in store including their Olympic champions Thomas Röhler in the javelin as well as the Harting brothers, Robert and Christoph, who will be headlining the discus. Rising 1500m star Konstanze Klosterhalfen will also compete, along with steeplechaser Gesa Krause, two-time world shot put champion David Storl and the German sprint relay squad which features Gina Lückenkemper and Lisa Mayer

“In sporting terms this is the best line-up we’ve had for a long time," said Meeting Director Martin Seeber. "The spectators will see countless medallists in action and thrilling competitions in 15 events. Apart from the top international stars I’m especially pleased about the “German New Wave” – young athletes whose great performances and relaxed approach really strike a chord. Personalities who also give our sport profile away from the stadium and bring a breath of fresh air."


The field events could well be where the men's headline performances will be produced. The pole vault includes a rematch between London winner Sam Kendricks, Pole Piotr Lisek and Renaud Lavillenie of France, the silver and bronze medallist behind him. A thrilling World Championship final ended in victory for Kendricks, this year's world leader at 6.00m, who cleared 5.95m, while Lisek and Lavillenie, the world record holder, topped out at 5.89m.

Berlin will also host the best male javelin throwers in the world. In addition to Vetter and Röhler, who finished fourth in London, the competition includes the World Championship silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch and bronze medallist Petr Frydrych, both from Czech Republic. Valejch lifted the IAAF Diamond League's Diamond Trophy in the event for the second straight year with his victory in Zurich on Thursday.

The discus includes the Harting brothers, Berlin’s Olympic champions, plus Gudzius, the man who sprang a big surprise at the World Championships to win the gold. Mason Finley of the USA, Martin Wierig of Germany, last year’s ISTAF winner Lukas Weißhaidinger of Austria and Piotr Malachowski of Poland are also in the field.


Meanwhile, the middle and long distance races should provide the highlights on the women’s side of the programme. At Semenya's request, organisers have included a 600m race on the programme. The world and Olympic 800m champion's target could be the rarely-run event's world best of 1:22.63 which was set by Cuban Anna Fidelia Quirot 20 years ago.

“Berlin is my city – and I want to end my season there with a super-fast time,” said the 26-year-old. But Semenya, whose best 600m time is 1:25.56, will have to contend with top class competition. Among the South African’s rivals will be Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi, who won silver medals in both London and Rio.

Krause will surely have the spectators behind her as she tries to bounce back from her disappointment at the World Championships. After being tripped in the final and tumbling to the track, she was left well back in the field but eventually clawed her way back to finish ninth.

“That’s sport for you, falling down is part and parcel of it,” she said. The German record holder with 9:15.70 will face London silver medallist Courtney Frerichs of USA, who clocked 9:03.77 in the London final.

ISTAF will also witness the introduction of a 250 square metre fan tribune, which will act as a tunnel for the athletes. The aim of the tribune, which measure ten metres wide, 25 metres long and four metres high, according to organisers, is to bring athletes and fans closer together.

“We want stars and role models that are accessible in track and field," Seeber said. "We want to create a place right in the stadium where fans big and small can meet their idols, collect autographs and have selfies taken."

Organisers for the IAAF

Oregon's Raevyn Rogers Turns Pro

By Doug Binder, DyeStat Editor

A little more than two months ago, Raevyn Rogers carried Oregon to the NCAA women's track and field team title with an heroic anchor leg on a record-setting 4x400 relay.

Rogers announced on Friday via Twitter that she will forgo her senior year with the Ducks. She has turned professional and will run for Nike.

Rogers will go down as perhaps the greatest female track athlete in University of Oregon history after winning five NCAA championships, indoors and outdoors, in the 800 meters.

Rogers finished fourth at the USATF Outdoor Championships, missing a chance to run for the U.S. in London by one spot.

AAU track and field: Fischer wins Gold at Junior Olympics

DETRIOT, MICH. — Sometimes, you never know what you can do until you try.

Anamosa’s Maddie Fischer had never thrown the discus, or even thought about it until her mom Jennifer signed her up for the Little Raider track and field meet a couple of years ago.

Now, the fifth grader is a National Champion.

Fischer won the AAU Junior Olympic Gold medal in the discus Monday, July 31, at the competition held in Detroit, Michigan.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Fischer, who becomes the first Anamosa girl ever to win a Junior Olympic National Championship.

“I didn’t expect I’d come into a meet as big as this one and be the winner. It was shocking. The girls I was going against were throwing way father than I ever had. I was scared I was going to embarrass myself.”

Not only did Fischer not embarrass herself, but she made her family and community extremely proud.

“It was very emotional for me watching her throw,” said Jennifer Fischer.

“She was behind going into her fifth and final throw, so we knew she needed something special for her to be able to win. She gave us that. To see her standing there with that Gold medal around her neck was an incredible moment.”

Fischer topped a talented field of 47 throwers to win the AAU Junior Olympic Gold medal and National Championship coming through with a clutch 81-foot toss.

Fischer actually dominated the event, topping runner-up Savannah Hameed, of Twinsburg, Ohio, by an impressive eight feet.

“Now that I know I can do it, I want to get back here and win another National Championship again next year,” Maddie said. “I know that I’ll have to continue to work the way I already have been, and probably even harder if I want to accomplish my goals.”

Maddie’s hopes someday to earn a berth to the Drake Relays and break the Anamosa High School records in the discus and shot put events.

Fischer’s work ethic already has her poised to someday accomplish those lofty goals.

Not only does she work out regularly all summer long with Anamosa High School throwers coach Joe Beadle, but the 11-year-old is a two-year member of the Iowa Speed Youth Track and Field Club with Coaches Heather and Joey Woody.

Fischer travels to the University of Iowa indoor track and field facility three times a week from Feb.-Aug. to work with her Team Speed coaches and teammates.

Fischer just started working with Beadle this summer.

“I’ve learned a lot from Coach Beadle and my track club coaches about the right way to throw the shot put and discus,” Fischer said. “I do some javelin throwing, too, I’ve got a lot more to learn if I want to continue to get better.”

Fischer also competed in the AAU Junior Olympic shot put event as well, and placed sixth in the 62-thrower competition after a 28-foot, 1.5-inch effort.

Fischer earned her berth to the Junior Olympics after advancing through the district and regional rounds in early July.

At regionals, Fischer set meet records in both the shot out and discus.

“Maddie is going to break every record in the book before she’s all said and done at Anamosa,” Beadle said. “She’s an amazing talent who has the willingness to work and get better. That’s what it takes to succeed. Putting the time in at practice, and Maddie has shown a great work ethic. I think she truly enjoys what she does.

“It sure doesn’t hurt having some success, too.”

Fischer is using that success as fuel to work that much harder.

“It’s been fun,” she said. “Hopefully, this is just the beginning.”

Track and field legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s focus remains on giving back

Philanthropy and community service were always top priorities during Joyner-Kersee’s career, but now she’s all i

Jackie Joyner-Kersee dominated track and field. She’s widely known for her stellar track and field career that produced six Olympic medals, four World Outdoor Championships gold medals and earned her a spot in the National Track & Field Hall of Fame, but giving back to communities across the country is where her true passion lies.

In her most recent charitable venture, Joyner-Kersee, 55, has teamed up with Comcast for the second consecutive year to be a spokeswoman for the company’s Internet Essentials program, a comprehensive, high-speed internet adoption program that has served more than 4 million low-income Americans since its launch six years ago.

“[Comcast] sought me out, and a lot of it probably had to do with me already doing work in the community,” Joyner-Kersee said. “This fit right in my wheelhouse, and I was very honored to be asked to be the spokesperson. When you talk about Internet Essentials and bridging that digital divide, it’s just really a great program for low-income households and a comprehensive, high-speed internet adoption program.

“Access is everything. We know how important that is, and it’s required for you to do homework, or parents want to research jobs. It’s a valuable tool to have.”

The program, which is entering its fourth round in six years, will allow customers 40 hours of free out-of-home Wi-Fi access per month through Xfinity Wi-Fi hot spots. As of this year, the program will increase internet service speeds from 10/1 megabits per second (Mbps) to 15/2 Mbps and also expand the program to include low-income senior citizens from five cities and metropolitan areas to 12, according to the press release.

Joyner-Kersee believes some of the most rewarding moments she’s experienced while working with the program are the reactions from eligible families, which range anywhere from shock to tears.

“They say how elated and how grateful they are because it gives them a better quality of life, knowing that they have access to allow them to do their term papers or homework,” Joyner-Kersee said. “And then, when you’re working with seniors, some seniors are reluctant to trust anything, let alone the internet. But when they can communicate with their loved ones across the country and around the world, it opens them up.”

Donating time for a greater cause isn’t a new concept for Joyner-Kersee, who made it a point to invest in her community long before she became a track star. As a young girl, Joyner-Kersee said, programs she took part in stressed the importance of giving back, whether it be time or money.

“I got involved with my community work in the early 1980s, when it wasn’t really popular,” Joyner-Kersee said. “I wasn’t doing it because it was popular, though. I was doing it because I came up through programs where people taught you about volunteering, taught you about giving back. Giving back at that time, even when I was in school, meant coming back and sharing your knowledge. Give your time. Work on taking someone under your wing. While I was competing, I knew this was something I always wanted to always be involved in. That’s why I built my community center, and I’m back in the community trying to really share what I know.”

Community service and Joyner-Kersee’s track and field career were both top priorities that demanded long hours and solid commitment, yet Joyner-Kersee balanced the two seamlessly.

After graduating from high school, Joyner-Kersee attended UCLA on a full basketball scholarship after turning down a track scholarship from the school. Although Joyner-Kersee earned All-America honors as a basketball player, she began training for the heptathlon in hopes of making it to the Olympics.

During track and field events, Joyner-Kersee’s work ethic and athletic ability spoke for her. At the 1984 Olympic Games, Joyner-Kersee was a silver medalist in the heptathlon, and she returned in 1988 to earn gold medals in the heptathlon and long jump, setting a world heptathlon record of 7,291 points that still stands today. That same year, Joyner-Kersee founded the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation in an effort to provide those in need with resources to better their situations. The foundation would also cater to residents of East St. Louis, Illinois, Joyner-Kersee’s hometown.

In 1992, Joyner-Kersee earned another gold medal in the heptathlon, and bronze in the long jump. In 1996, in what would be Joyner-Kersee’s fourth and final Olympics, a hamstring injury forced her to withdraw from the heptathlon, but she still managed to earn a bronze medal in the long jump.

In 2000, the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center was built in East St. Louis after the foundation raised $12 million for the 41,000-square-foot facility. The center would be used as a premier venue for youth recreation and sports. Joyner-Kersee officially retired a year later at age 38.

“It’s always tough to leave something you love doing, but the reality of it is, is that I know my body couldn’t take anymore,” Joyner-Kersee said. “So physically, you probably want to do it a little longer, but mentally, it takes a combination of both. You can have all the physical ability in the world, but mentally, if you are emotionally drained and you can’t focus, it would show in your performance. I knew I was doing a lot of community work and speaking at different events. Even though that was good, it was taking away from my training.”

Now, Joyner-Kersee is all in. Outside of her work with the Internet Essentials program, Joyner-Kersee is still hosting events through her foundation. She is now gearing up for the foundation’s largest event, the fifth annual Sequins, Suits & Sneakers Gala, which will take place in St. Louis on Oct. 26.

Although Joyner-Kersee enjoys being considered one of the greatest female athletes of all time in her sport, it feels even better to be known for her work in the community.

“It makes me feel really good because you can do something for a long time, and you do it and love it, but then you realize the relevance of it when you’re away from the sport,” she said. “And when I’m walking the streets and people just come up to me and say how much they appreciate not only what I’ve done on the field but also what I do in the community, that makes me feel real good because there’s a connection there that I didn’t even know about. It’s great when someone comes and says good things when they don’t know me. They just know my name and what I’ve done, and somehow I’ve made an impression on them.”

Gemili Eyes More Medals After London Success

World champion sprinter Adam Gemili wants more medal success at the Commonwealth Games and the European Championships in 2018 after his golden summer in London.

The 23-year-old sprinter roared to gold at the London Olympic Stadium earlier this month as part of the British 4x100m squad at the World Championships.

It was Gemili's third senior career relay medal after European Championship success in Zurich 2014, where he also won the 200m gold, and Amsterdam 2016.

Berlin will host the championships in August next year, four months after the Gold Coast welcomes the Commonwealth Games to Australia in another busy year for athletics.

But Gemili is far from concerned about peaking for two major championships next summer and is confident he can add to his growing medal tally in 2018.

"It would mean an awful lot to go out and build on this success, I would love to go and achieve more and become hopefully one of the best sprinters in the world," he said.

"I want to do both (Commonwealths and Europeans), and I'm going to do my best to get to both championships and get myself in good shape.

"There's a good gap between them which is good for me, you'll probably be able to have a little rest after the Commonwealths, if I make that, and then push onto Europeans and try and go for medals.

"That's what I'm in the sport for, I want to win and be the best and I'll do my best to try and achieve that."

This summer's athletics season is effectively over after the Diamond League final in Zurich this week with many of the world's top talent now switching to their winter programmes.

And Gemili says he will enter his winter training programme with renewed vigour having picked up gold alongside CJ Ujah, Danny Talbot and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake.

"It's a great little motivation for the winter months having achieved that (gold) and working to achieve that again and have that same feeling," he added.

"It's going to really spur me on to get through the hard winter cold sessions. It's still a bit surreal and I'm still coming back down to Earth how crazy it was that we won it and became world champions.

"It's a bit nuts but it was a fantastic day and a weird few days to take it in and realise it did happen but I wouldn't change it for the world it's been amazing."

Sportsbeat 2017

Missouri Building Distance Program

When Stephen Smith competed in home meets for Richmond High School, running served as his break.

He would run the meet, run in the meet then run the meet again.

His day began with marking the course and prepping scoring. He would pause these duties to race. When he finished running, Smith went back to the scoring room to help tally scores and do whatever else needed to be done for the meet to run efficiently in Richmond, a town of about 5,500 people.

“It was something I just enjoyed doing,” he said.

Little did he know, what began as something he did for fun would become his profession. As a freshman at Missouri, Smith began volunteering around the track and field and cross country offices. Smith, who completed his undergraduate studies in 2015, soon added manager, director of operations and recruiting coordinator to his résumé.

And in early August, Smith, 24, was promoted to assistant coach, focusing on mid-distance and distance running. Smith becomes the fifth Missouri coach designated as a distance coach, the most of any school in the Southeastern Conference.

That’s not by mistake. In the past few years under coach Brett Halter, the Tigers have made a concentrated effort to augment the distance portion of the team. Missouri sees this as an opportunity to gain a leg up in the ultracompetitive SEC, which has often made distance running a lower priority.

“When you look at the SEC, you see a lot of sprint-, jump- and throw-dominated teams, especially down south,” cross country coach Marc Burns said. “They don’t necessarily make a huge investment distance-wise into their program.”

That’s where Halter, who oversees track and field and cross country, saw an opportunity to be the SEC team that takes a different path. It has been Burns’ mission since he was hired in 2014. Halter mentioned his vision for distance when he interviewed Burns for the job.

Three years later, Halter’s vision is becoming a reality. See Karissa Schweizer, who won NCAA championships in cross country, the indoor 5,000 meters and the outdoors 5,000 meters this past school year.

The Missouri women’s cross country team also won the NCAA Midwest Regional Championship in November, its first regional championship in 12 years.

It’s not some great scientific discovery to see distance as a way to gain an edge. But other than Mississippi and Arkansas, Burns said, most programs have not prioritized it.

Both coaching philosophy and climate, Burns said, contribute to this.

“It would be very, very difficult for us to be as deep and as high level in the same event areas as Texas A&M, LSU, Florida when sprinters love to go in warm-weather climates,” Burns said.

But Missouri has a unique advantage. It is the northern-most school, providing an environment slightly better for running long distances.

Missouri runners also have many miles of soft-surface paths to train on, including the MKT Nature and Fitness Trail.

“That’s like a dream come true for any distance-oriented person,” Smith said.

It makes for a solid sales pitch for Smith, who serves as recruiting coordinator.

Though they are focusing on Halter’s long-term goal of building the distance program, the Tigers are not neglecting other events. It’s just a matter of being strategic.

“As a head coach, you have to decide where you can best help your program win championships,” Burns said. “Two areas for big depth for us are distances and throws. And we are going for really high quality in the event areas and hopefully build out depth over time.”

A unique strategy is vital in a conference filled with national track and field powerhouses. Two years ago, the Missouri men’s team came into the SEC Championships ranked No. 9 in the country. It finished eighth in the SEC Championships.

So, it’s no surprise Missouri looked into expanding its distance-running efforts, looking to add depth, which it has. But with 29 women and 20 men on the cross country roster, they needed more coaches.

Enter Smith.

Other than his high school days of running cross country, he does not have collegiate experience. He has a business background, so the science of running is not something he is an expert in, either.

Instead, he provides value in his ability to think ahead, his attention to detail and his people skills. Smith overcomes any lack of cross country knowledge with an ability to connect with people, Burns said.

“There is nothing scientific about that,” Burns said.

It’s quite different from his days running cross country meets in Richmond, but Smith looks forward to using his people skills and exposure to cross country to help further Halter’s vision for distance running at Missouri.

“I think we are closer than ever,” Smith said. “Closer than we have ever been. The entire program knows that.”

Poland's Pawel Fajdek won the hammer throw gold for a 4th Universiade in a row at Taipei 2017

In the field Poland's Pawel Fajdek, the three-time world champion in the hammer throw, won his fourth consecutive Universiade gold.

Following victories in Shenzhen 2011, Kazan 2013 and Gwangju 2015, the Pole showed his superior quality to win with a best attempt of 79.16m.

Pavel Bareisha of Belarus finished with silver on 77.98m while Serghei Marghiev of Moldova rounded out the podium on 74.98m.

Germany's Kristin Pudenz prevailed in the women's discus final to take gold with a best throw of 59.09m.

Valarie Allman of the United States was not too far behind in second place on 58.36m.

Australia's Taryn Gollshewsky rounded out the medal positions by taking bronze with 58.11m.

Romania's Alina Rotaru then claimed the women's long jump gold medal to bring action to a close.

A penultimate jump of 6.65m lifted her above Cyprus' Nektaria Panayi and into gold medal position.

Panayi, who led for most of the final, was forced to settle for silver on her best attempt of 6.42m.

Bronze went to Germany's Anna Buehler after she could only manage a best attempt of 6.38m.

Bolt's Name Bears The Weight Of Disappointment

WHAT a difference life can be, eeh? Who would ever believe that what started out as an opportunity for one of the world's finest champions in the athletics arena would find him laid low, deprived of his health and his skills. Usain Bolt's name has borne the weight of disappointment in recent events which occurred at the World Championships in London.

His homeland, Jamaica, had to come to grips with changed circumstances. It was difficult for his fans to have seen him writhing in agony, his body failing him as he tried to bring home the gold. A friend of mine with English roots, spoke of the feedback he received. He was amazed at how many supporters continued to show respect for the man who, in their opinion, was “a Sprint Legend”.

On the cold England ground, Bolt fell and rose again, in the spirit of faith, teaching a lesson on survival. His colleagues rushed to his side and remained alongside him, giving him support as he rose to stand on his own two feet. The Jamaican spirit of kindness kept vigil.

Unfortunately, thereafter not every member of the home tribe has been supportive. The “bad-mouthers” were quick to take to the road, retailing all kinds of ugliness. In better times, some of the very ones chatting might have wrestled others to the ground should anyone dare to question the ability of our hero. To quiet the naysayers, Bolt's camp released his medical report to authenticate the injury he had suffered.

Our hero has new challenges to face, new roads to travel, new decisions to make. According to folklore, our national symbol the “Doctor Bud is a cunny bud”. We are advised, “Pick him up, fling him down… hard bud fi dead.” The Doctor Bird, flying over our land, reminds Bolt and us that we must continue to be people of courage.

Usain Bolt has been especially fortunate for the upbringing and training received from parents who raised him in a quiet area of rural Jamaica in the parish of Trelawny. It is this upbringing which has made him such a pride to home and nation.

To see him responding to his parents, his mother particularly, it is evident that he is sensitive to the teaching of family life. He may have faltered at times, but it is clear he continues to remain committed to a spirit of decency no matter how hard the road may be. There's a new generation ahead who, it is evident, will learn from this lesson.

It has been almost two weeks since Bolt's official retirement from track and field and, while he seeks treatment for the injury, many wonder how soon he will come home. Much hasn't been heard, much from officialdom, as to how we will salute him when he arrives. Will more people show respect when he does? And what about sponsors at home and especially abroad? Will there be continued connections still?

Unfortunately, there will be those who will not hesitate to be unkind. They will rejoice in misfortune, but they will never drown out the memories of the thousands and tens of thousands all around the world who chanted “Usain Bolt, Usain Bolt!” The “Ballad of Usain” will still be heard. Come home if you want to, Brother. Come home. Is your country; nobody should be able to keep you away.

Safeguarding our story

When, oh, when will the long-held idea of creating a sports hall of fame become reality? The public has been waiting for so long. The stories of our journey need to be heard — from Arthur Wint, the trailblazer, to the new stars of today. Much history has been written and we must highlight their contribution over the years, not just in track and field, but the other areas of sport where we have excelled.

Sponsors have become an important factor in helping to bring change to the landscape of Jamaica. A lot of development ideas are turning up every day. What is delaying the sports museum? Let's get to it. A new generation stands ready to become a new part of our history. The Usain story will have its place as history continues to be written.

London Was Really Cold

If you still don't understand why Jamaica won only four medals at the recent World Championships, one look back at the men's 400 metres hurdles will solve the mystery. Review that event and everything will be clear to you. Be warned, though. A chilly wind may accompany the realisation.

The 400m hurdles produced a stunning upset, exciting racing and the slowest winning time in World Championships history at 48.35 seconds. A year earlier, with some of the same athletes chasing gold, silver and bronze at the 2016 Olympics, that time wouldn't have got within touching distance of a medal. The big difference was the weather.

The Olympics were conducted under glorious Brazilian sunshine in Rio de Janeiro. The World Championships replaced that with a gloomy London chill measured sometimes at 13 degrees Celsius. It's no wonder our home-based sprint crew couldn't get going.

In that icebox, the incomparable Usain Bolt and the erstwhile Anniesha McLaughlin-Whilby pulled while speeding on medal bound relays, Yohan Blake cited a 'pulsing' hamstring. For all we know, the chill contributed to the troubles experienced by hurdler Ronald Levy, who injured himself as he warmed for the 110-metre hurdles heats, and Elaine Thompson, whose dicey Achilles tendon enforced her absence from the sprint relay. Nine will get you 10 that they would have fared better in warmer climes.

The weather was much better when Jamaica's track and field heroes won 12 medals, including four gold, in London at the 2012 Olympics. There was scarcely a drop of rain and the temperatures stayed in the mid-20s. From August 4-13, the rain made frequent visits and temperatures were often 10 degrees lower.


From here onward, preparation for big meets will have to include research on the worst weather for the time of year in the cities hosting the World Championships and the Olympics. If cold weather is on the menu, perhaps athletes should then choose meets that simulate the conditions they will face on the days that count the most. It would be the smart thing to do.

One wise head helped to distil two other antifreeze ideas. One was to have the athletes drink hot beverages to warm them from the inside. The other is the establishment of a training facility in the Blue Mountains, at Newcastle or in the Cockpit Country, where the elevation makes temperature bitingly low. Sport science would have to advise on the first idea, and for the other one to take shape, money would have to talk.

The World Championships 400m hurdles men's final has one more indicator of how cold it was in London. The winner was the athlete most at home in the sub-sprinter weather. While others shivered in their spikes, the gold medal went to Karsten Warholm of Norway. Brrr!

- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.

No Smooches please, and wake up ASA

Old Smooches struck again! It was inevitable that London would be the location for his dastardly act.

The victims were all primed for the taking as they headed into the British capital hopeful of returning with treasures.

The moustached fiend’s modus operandi is to go to major events as a humble servant of track and field before pouncing on his helpless victims.

Smooches is a man for the big moment, will take credit when it is not due and is always ready for a selfie with an out-of-breath athlete shortly after they have crossed the line.

Planting big, fat kisses on athletes’ cheeks is what earned Smooches his name. It happened at the 2016 African Games in Durban, the Rio Olympics and again at the IAAF World Championships in London.

“I don’t even allow my girlfriend to kiss me that way,” said one of Smooches’ favourite victims.

In Rio, Smooches proudly posted an image of him planting the disgusting kiss of blech on one of South Africa’s greatest athletes.

Smooches and his pals will no doubt claim responsibility for South Africa’s record medal haul in London.

South Africa returned finishing third on the overall log thanks to their three gold, silver, and two bronze medals.

The current crop of athletes’ rise on the global stage has nothing to do with administrators and more to do with raw talent coupled by good coaching and a supportive university high-performance system.

While athletes have in the past been silent over the lack of support received from the governing body in the country, defending voices are growing. The fear of victimisation is a real one, with certain people at Athletics SA (ASA) using bullying tactics to silence athletes.

What some athletes have come to realise is that ASA cannot take anything away from them as the federation has nothing to hold for ransom.

World long-jump bronze medallist Ruswahl Samaai has emerged as one of the strongest voices to speak out against the lack of support athletes receive from the mother body.

When the international media asked Samaai about ASA’s role in South Africa’s current athletic boom, he answered honestly that their influence has been minimal.

“Personally I don’t think they are doing a lot, I really hope and pray that these guys (youth athletes) can get the support,” Samaai said.

“I sincerely hope they will get the necessary support to become some of the best athletes in the world.

“My biggest fear for the youth is that they are not getting the support, as we are struggling.”

One can only hope that administrators sitting at ASA’s Houghton offices will interpret Samaai’s words for what it is – a cry for help for struggling athletes.

In all likelihood, Samaai’s agent will receive an email from an irate ASA employee complaining about the athlete’s audacity to say it as it is.

We need a federation that is willing to listen instead of one that has people like Smooches taking selfies when they should be looking at ways to get money back into the sport.

Who knows, if Smooches and the rest of the board take an athletes-first approach, we may in future move up to second place and even first on the medals table.

Powell Implores Young Sprinters To Stay Hungry

ZURICH, Switzerland:

Veteran Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell said he felt embarrassed by Jamaica's insipid performance at the recent World Championships in London, particularly in the sprints, and is imploring the island's upcoming talent to remain focused and hungry for success.

For the first time since 2005, Jamaica was kept off the top of the podium in all sprint events, with Usain Bolt's 100m bronze being the only sprint medal won at the championship by a Jamaican.

To add insult to injury, no Jamaican qualified for the women's or men's 200m final and there was also no podium-topping finish in either sprint relay events.

Powell, who missed out on competing at the championship because of injury, returned to the track for the first time since his semi-final run at the National Championships in June, finishing seventh in the men's 100m IAAF Diamond League final at the Zurich Diamond League meet last night in 10.11.

The event was won by Chijindu Ujah in 9.97, with Ben Youssef Meite, also 9.97, taking second, and Ronnie Baker, 10.01 finishing third.

"I got a great start, got out the blocks really well, but when I got to halfway, I just didn't have any legs. I couldn't get my legs going. I have not competed for three months, so I was rusty, very rusty," Powell said after his run. "I didn't get over the Achilles problem until, like, two weeks before the World Champion-ships. I was hoping I could even go and run the relay, but I am in good shape now, and being out for three months and coming back and doing what I did here, I am feeling really good."

Powell, who was at the forefront of Jamaica's golden era of sprinting, will turn his attention to competitions in Zagreb and Reiti in the coming days.


He admitted that it was difficult for him to watch the miserable Jamaican performances in London, and believes it will require greater application from younger sprinters if the island is to remain at the top of sprints.

"To be honest, I felt a bit embarrassed because this was the worst World Champs for us in years, and it was an easy Word Champs, so I was a bit disappointed. I expected a lot more, mainly from the younger athletes," Powell told The Gleaner.

"The new athletes just have to stay hungry. We, senior athletes, are at the top, and we are still hungry for it, so the younger athletes should be hungry. I think they got spoiled because they kept seeing us on the podium, seeing us at these Diamond League meets and Olympic finals and got a bit spoiled and, perhaps, think they don't have to work as hard for it, but you have to keep working hard and not allow money or anything to get to your head and just stay focused and humble," Powell preached.

Powell is a former world record holder in the 100m and has won two individual bronze medals in the 100m at the World Championships. He has also helped Jamaica to 4x100m gold medals at the Olympic Games and World Championships.

Barshim Ready To Help African High Jumpers

All is not lost for African high jumpers who are struggling to reach their full potential due to lack of facilities and technical support.

The 2017 World Championships high jump gold medallist Mutaz Essa Barshim from Qatar has said plans are at an advanced stage to establish Youth Training Camps in Africa to tap and nurture talent.

Speaking during a press conference ahead of the Zurich Diamond League on Thursday, the Qatari said he wants to work closely with local athletics associations to establish centres in a number of countries across the continent.

“I am working on a project to come down in Africa and give help to different talents. I am looking at technical support, facilities and general mentor-ship that will be of great benefit in future.

“I don’t know if it will happen this year or beginning of next year but I assure you it will happen before the2019 Worlds. We are already halfway,” said Barshim.

The move is set to be of great benefit to local talent especially Mathew Sawe, who became the first Kenyan to win gold (2.21m) in high jump during the 2016 Africa Championships in Durban, South Africa.

During that event, Sawe disappointed the home crowd by outclassing homeboy and favourite Fourie Keagan, who took silver in 2.18m.

Despite an impressive performance, the athlete has been struggling to improve on his personal best majorly due to lack of facilities and technical support in the country.

Barshim struggled in the rain to improve on his season best of 2.40m set in Birmingham last week in Zurich but still won with a clearance of 2.36m on his third attempt, some distance back from Javier Sotomayor's world record of 2.45m set in 1993.

Anthony Tyler ends career as All-American

2013 Forest Lake graduate Anthony Tyler finished off a stellar collegiate track career by earning a place on the Division III All-American team.

Tyler, a recent graduate of Hamline University, earned the honor by placing fifth in the discus throw at the NCAA Championships in Geneva, Ohio in May. His place-winning throw sailed 159 feet, 9.75 inches.

“All my hard work paid off; I was able to showcase it when it really mattered,” Tyler said.

The All-America medal is only the most prestigious of many titles and honors Tyler won during his collegiate throwing career. As a freshman, he was already one of the top throwers in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, placing second at the conference championship meet. He won the MIAC title as a sophomore before picking up silver medals again as a junior and senior. His resume includes eight individual wins along with 20 additional top-five finishes. In addition to his All-American turn this spring, he also qualified to the national meet in 2015 (16th, 152-5) and 2016 (17th, 149-2). His career-best throw, achieved at the Augustana Twilight Qualifier on May 18, covered 175 feet, 8 inches.

As a senior, Tyler also set career-best marks in his other events, the hammer throw (150 feet, 5 inches) and the weight throw (49 feet, 8.25 inches).
Tyler was recruited onto the Hamline squad after a fine career at Forest Lake, which culminated in a state championship in the discus in 2013. Trailing two opponents going into the last round, Tyler took the gold medal by launching his final throw out to 160 feet, 3 inches. That result also contributed 12 points toward the Rangers’ 59.5-point total, which earned them the state runner-up trophy.

“The Forest Lake track team is lucky to have a great coach, Paul Kendrick, and a lot of other great coaches for each individual event,” Tyler said. “I had great coaches who taught me technique – I wasn’t always the biggest guy in the competition, but I still managed to come out on top at the end.”

Tyler also played varsity basketball for the Rangers.

After graduating from Hamline, Tyler joined GT Planet as a software engineering intern. He plans to make that his full-time profession, either at GT Planet or elsewhere.

“I want to thank all my coaches, my parents and all the people who supported me during my athletic and academic career,” Tyler said.

LetsRun Q&A With Steeple Star Emma Coburn

By Jonathan Gault
August 24, 2017

ZURICH — I’ve interviewed Emma Coburn a lot over the past year, whether it was to discuss her coaching switch from Mark Wetmore and Heather Burroughs to Joe Bosshard, the importance of hurdle form in the steeplechase or her shocking world title in London. I had the chance for another one-on-one with the U.S.’s greatest ever female steepler one day before the Diamond League final in Zurich, so rather than rehash her gold-medal run at Worlds or her thoughts on the 9:00 barrier, I decided to switch up the format a bit. For this interview, I asked Coburn to run through the “greatests” of her career — greatest race, greatest place to run, etc. — before finishing up with her thoughts on former training partner (and former American record holder) Jenny Simpson‘s steeple potential.

JG: Maybe an easy one, but greatest race you’ve ever run?

EC: I don’t know if it’s an easy one. To me, it’s really tied between World Championships and the Olympics. The Olympics last year, I had ran a lot of it solo and it was 95 degrees on the track and it took a lot of mental toughness those middle laps to not get discouraged and to still be in contention for third. And then London, on paper, might be a better race because it was faster and I came away with the gold, but it came easier to me and it felt easier than Rio felt. So I think I have to say both are my greatest ever.

Yeah, that’s fine, that’s a good answer. What about your favorite race? I mean, is there a difference between that and greatest? Which one would you say is your favorite from your career?

I think London is my favorite race. I think how exciting the finish was and how fast Courtney [Frerichs] and I ran en route to the medals, I think that’s my favorite race. And sometimes I’ve gone back and watched Rio and I still like, hate, that last 150 because I didn’t pull out the silver. And this race, the last 150 is super fun to watch. So yeah, I think London’s my favorite.

Your greatest rival?

That’s a really good question. As cliché as it sounds, maybe myself. Just because your body can betray you and injuries happen and doubt creeps into your mind. And so on the international stage, the people at the top have changed every year in the women’s steeplechase. There hasn’t been a consistent rival. And then in the U.S., kind of same thing. The faces have changed. And Courtney and Colleen [Quigley] have been consistently on the team the last two years. But I think as silly as it sounds, probably myself just because pushing through injury and every day kind of pushing through the hard moments that every athlete has to go through. I think if you can get rid of all those injuries and the doubt and the uncertainty of things, then you’re ready to roll.

Well would you say that part of that is just the fact that you’ve sort of been a cut above most of the Americans? I guess until London. Courtney was pretty close to you. But most of the time, you’re not really challenged in domestic races.

Just because, on paper, I’ve been ahead of the rest of the women in the U.S. in the steeplechase doesn’t mean I’m not challenged by them. The races have been within a few seconds the last couple years and U.S. championships are really difficult and really challenging for me to win. So I get along really well with Courtney and Colleen and Stephanie [Garcia] and Leah [O’Connor] and the descending order list of the women’s steeplechase, we all get along well. So the word “rival” is kind of, I feel like, someone you should hate and not get along with at all. So I’m definitely challenged by the women in the U.S. and just because I’ve been ahead doesn’t mean that I don’t have to work hard for it.

The greatest training partner you’ve ever had?

I think I’ll say [current training partner] Aisha [Praught Leer]. It’s been really fun having her. When I trained with Mark and Heather, I had Jenny and Kara Goucher and Shalaya Kipp and Sara Sutherland and Jessica Tebo. And so I had this big group of really great women but Aisha kind of, in training, fills the role that a lot of them filled. In long runs, Shalaya and I were shoulder-to-shoulder. Or Sara, Jessica and I were shoulder-to-shoulder. Or Kara. In steeple stuff, I had Shalaya pushing me. In 1500 workouts, I had Jenny ahead of me, me pulling off behind her. And Aisha kind of fills in all those spots just as one person. So we physically match up really well in training. And then she’s just a wonderful person.

Greatest place to race?

London. London’s really great. I think internationally, London is my favorite. Probably my perception of it is a little skewed now. But the stands were totally full, so loud. I like the weather there for racing. But in the U.S., I do really like racing at Hayward. Really energetic crowds, great weather again, usually, and just kind of memories of good fast times there.

Greatest workout you’ve ever run?

There’s not one that sticks out in my head as like, the best ever. There were a few hard miles at the end of workouts or at the beginning of workouts when we were up in Crested Butte (Coburn’s hometown in Colorado) that when they were over, I was like, Okay, I can get close to 9:00. 

That was this winter?

In May. So one of them, at the start, I can’t remember if it was at the start or the beginning, but we had a ladder. And one of the miles was, up at 7,700 feet, 4:42, as just part of a workout. I had help with a pacemaker, but that was good motivation to just feel confident and feel like steeple pace would feel comfortable after that.

Greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Joe always says, “It’s just running, baby.” And he just says it to me as a reminder that it is just running and it’s not complicated and you just have to go out and go as hard as you can and give it your all. And he says that it’s all worth it, the hurt is all worth it. And so remembering that it’s just running, I don’t have to overthink it, I don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. I just have to put one foot in front of the other and jump over things. And if I can do that to the extent that I know how to, then I should be okay.

Greatest trail or place to run?

That’s an easy one. My favorite run is in Crested Butte, Colorado. It’s the Lower Loop and it’s a single-track but not technical, very runnable. And it’s just incredibly beautiful and gorgeous scenery, beautiful flowers, beautiful aspen trees. Yeah, hands-down my favorite.

Greatest scalp — greatest person you’ve ever beaten?

Oh gosh. I mean probably in London, beating [Beatrice] Chepkoech and [Ruth] Jebet. I mean Jebet’s the world record holder and Chepkoech is the world leader (Editor’s note: Chepkoech is actually #3 on the 2017 world list) and she’s run sub-8:30 in the flat 3k and I think she placed pretty high at World Cross too this year, Chepkoech did (Editor’s note: That was actually her Kenyan teammate Hyvin Kiyeng, who was 4th at World XC). So she’s a really good runner outside of the steeplechase. But yeah, probably Chepkoech and Jebet.

Greatest place you’ve traveled?

My favorite place outside of Crested Butte is Kauai. I love Hanalei on Kauai and that’s actually where we’re getting married in October so that’s kind of my favorite spot outside of Colorado.

Well if you’re going to Hawaii for the wedding, where are you going for the honeymoon?

Just a different spot in Hawaii.

Greatest mistake you’ve made?

I’ve raced a few times when I was sick or hurt and that’s probably a mistake. I’ve had times that I had too much pride. I was sick in Monaco 2015 and my coaches were like, You’re sick, do you feel like you’re able to race? If you’re not well, you shouldn’t race. And I just totally, not lied, but I just tried to convince myself that I was healthier than I was and I raced and I think it probably set me back and potentially affected the World Champs that year. So yeah, racing that when I was sick — and I actually raced Zurich in 2014 when I was sick — and both those races were pretty crummy.

Greatest race you’ve watched that you weren’t personally involved in?

That’s a good one. Wow. I felt like so many races in London were incredible. Watching Jenny in the women’s 1500 and watching Amy [Cragg] in the mile. Sorry, marathon. Twenty-six of those miles. Sorry. Watching those two races really, really inspired me and motivated me. Seeing friends and peers gut it out against the odds. Amy wasn’t expected to medal, Jenny came into the meet not ranked near the medals, and they both gutted it out. And watching their races, I cried after both and was so fired up and motivated. So those two races were, in my recent memory, the greatest.

Greatest fan encounter?

You mean of me being a fan of someone?

No, meeting a fan.

I was going to say, if I’m a fan, I met Al Michaels last year and freaked out. I’m really a big fan of his. My favorite fan encounters are just when kids come up or girls come up and say that I motivated them or inspired them and that’s coming from kids, it feels like it means a lot.

All right, one last question. Jenny Simpson: what could she run in a steeplechase if she trained for it in the offseason, and would you want to race her next year in a steeple?

You know, Jenny has four medals in the 1500 so I feel like she’s in the right event.

Oh, I agree with that. But LetsRun wants to see this.

I’m sure Jenny could run close to 9:00 and if not break it. And I think it would be a really fun race. I mean she has a much better flat 3k PR than me, granted I never really run flat events. But she’s obviously one of the best American distance runners of all time and I think she’d do well in it. But I think we’re both happy to have our own respective events.


You can watch the full interview below:

Justin Gatlin: Not Quite The "Bad Boy"

In a wide-ranging interview before his final race of the season tonight, the new 100m world champion spoke to Steve Scott about being the 'villain', how he’s worked hard to right past wrongs - and life on the track without Usain Bolt.

"Sorry guys, do you mind moving to the side slightly please? I’m going to be running down the lane you’re standing in."

Justin Gatlin was politeness itself as he asked ITV News’ cameraman to give him some space as he practised launching himself out of the blocks.

Alone on the track in Zurich, the current world champion was essentially fitting his training session around us. Whatever the reason, I can’t imagine any other newly-crowned winner in such a high-profile sport doing the same for someone he’d never met before.

He had no entourage with him – it was just Gatlin, us and his trainer Dennis.

And all this after the almighty kicking he was given in the media around the World Championships.

Gatlin looks much younger in the flesh; his appearance much softer when he’s not wearing his race face.

We’d arranged to film him in the stadium before moving on to his hotel a few hours later to sit down and chat about his past bans, his rivalry with Bolt, his status as a villain and specifically his recent experience in London, when the crowd booed his every move.

Given our time constraints, I asked whether we could change plans at the last minute, and do the interview directly after his work-out at the stadium rather than go back to the hotel.

"Sure, not a problem - just give me a shout when you’re ready and I’ll come over."

There was no agent or minder, no one to warn us off any specific line of questioning – it was just him and me. It sounds like that’s how it should be, but believe you me, when it comes to elite sport it is almost never, ever this way.

Of course I am well aware that after his London mauling, there could be a motive behind agreeing to talk to me - but then he could have done the same with someone he knew, who would guarantee him positive coverage.

He actually admitted during our conversation that when he does interviews these days he never reads them or watches them back.

Every time he used to, he just got down about how he was portrayed - always in a negative light.

He is softly spoken and surprisingly eloquent. (I say surprisingly as proof that I, too, took some prejudices along with me before meeting him).

We talked extensively about his reception at London – he tried to block it out at the time, use it as motivation but admitted when the boos rang out as he climbed the podium, it did hurt.

It also hurt his mum and dad who were sitting in the crowd.

That affected him the most, although he reflected that his mother warned him at the time of his second ban, 11 years ago, the stigma would follow him like a cloud for the rest of his career.

Prescient, Mrs Gatlin.

I did tell him that the next day his father had come to the defence of his son and criticised all those who protested that night.

"Did he?!" Gatlin broke into the widest of smiles; he really had no idea, but the thought of his dad standing up for him made him proud.

He accepts that because of his four-year ban for doping (an offence he still puts down to sabotage by a disaffected member of his team), not everyone will welcome him competing.

But, he asks, when there were so many other athletes in London who had also served the same length ban, why he is singled out?

Because he’s a winner? Because he beat Bolt?

He also highlights the fact that he is working within the rules. Not his rules, the sport’s rules. Essentially, he’s done his time and is free to race again - and has been for some time.

And that is the point. I have no idea whether he knowingly allowed cream containing testosterone to be massaged into his back or not. In fact, there are probably only two people who know for sure.

In reality, it doesn’t matter - Gatlin alone is responsible for what enters his body and if it’s illegal, however it got there, he has to carry the can.

But to vilify him for the rest of his days, not give him a second chance? Is that the world in which we want to live? And regardless, if the sport welcomes him back then surely the boo boys should be directing their anger at it, the IAAF, WADA, whoever - but not Gatlin.

On his status as a “villain”, he admitted that he wished it wasn’t so.

I point out that it's because he’s never said sorry or shown any remorse.

He says that isn’t strictly true; that he wrote a letter to the IAAF and apologised but claims it was subsequently buried and only made public many years later.

Of course, he wasn’t apologising for cheating per se, because he says he didn’t knowingly take anything - he was apologising for the “black eyes” he brought to the sport as a result of his positive test.

But to me, on camera, he was happy to apologise one more time: "If people want an official apology, I’ll give it. I’m sorry, I’m sorry."

I think he realised while his message had filtered through in many places around the world, it certainly hadn’t made it across the pond to the UK.

The British media hasn’t helped him. We love a good versus bad story. It’s simple to tell, simple to understand and it sells - the only problem is, it’s not always the truth.

The number of people I have had to correct when they tell me: "Yeah, but he’s been done for steroids twice."

Partly, that’s a lack of inquisitiveness for detail and partly it’s because the lazier journalists love the convenient moniker "two-time drugs cheat" without ever giving it any context.

His first ban was overturned as quickly as it was enforced. He had tested positive for a drug he’d been prescribed since he was a youngster for ADHD, and what’s more, the sport knew it.

The authorities at the time even stated publicly that they did not believe Justin Gatlin was a cheat.

When I asked Gatlin if he had a message for those who gave him such a vitriolic reception, his answer was thoughtful.

Be a real fan, he said – get to know an athlete’s full story before you decide you’re going to boo him. Know who you’re booing, don’t just react to simple, often misleading headlines.

Then, if you’ve done your research and you don’t like what you see, perhaps stay silent rather than join the braying.

Did he feel guilty for beating Bolt in his last race? Of course he didn’t; what world class athlete would? As he told me, when the two of them are on the track, "it’s war".

Was he concerned now their rivalry is over, that the event he excels at would be diminished? No, he didn’t think so.

He predicts an exciting new chapter - he hasn’t a clue who is going to be chasing him down but he’s looking forward to the challenge from a whole host of young sprinters.

Finally, I asked him whether it was more important for him now to win titles, or be loved by athletics fans.

He paused. "It’s a good question," he said, pausing again.

"A bit of both, I guess."

On reflection that is probably the answer that tells you more about Justin Gatlin now, than any other.

So when you next see him race, if you feel you the urge to shout, then go ahead - you’re entitled to.

But try to do some research first and read Gatlin’s actual back story, not just the pantomime version you’ll find cut and pasted ad nauseum in a kangaroo court online.

Last updated Thu 24 Aug 2017

Assessing Women's Milestones

There is an interesting article in Outside Magazine online penned by Sally Bergesen, founder of Oiselle, the Seattle-based women’s athletic apparel company, asking where are the female equivalents of the sub-four minute mile or the sub-two hour marathon? (Article)

“How are our own benchmarks so unfamiliar?” she asks rhetorically.

Her conclusion, in part, is that “the dearth of women’s milestones and tradition is a result of our relatively recent entry into competitive sports.”

I wouldn’t disagree with that assessment, but perhaps in that understanding there is another way to look at the underlying question.

What if there have already been such women barrier breakers, but since women’s athletics have only in recent times come into the spotlight, we missed them in their own day?

On May 29, 1954 England’s Diane Leather ran the first sub-5 women’s mile in Birmingham, England (4:59.6), just 23 days after Roger Bannister achieved history’s first sub-4 men’s mile in Oxford (3:59.4). And Ms. Leather’s sub-5 came just three days after another of her attempts fell just short at 5:00.2 on the same Birmingham track. Why wasn’t that milestone celebrated like Bannister’s?

Was it because one minute per lap over four laps of a 400 yard track equating to a sub-4 mile had a more  aesthetically pleasing symmetry than four laps at 1:15 per lap equating to sub-5?  Or was it that women’s athletics hadn’t yet reached into the public consciousness?

What if women’s sports had always been the centerpiece of cultural athletic attention rather than men’s?  What if women had engineered running tracks rather than men? Would those tracks have been laid at 400 meters?

As for the marathon, what if the messenger sent to Athens from Marathon in 492 B.C. to tell of the Greek victory over the invading Persian force had been a woman and not Pheidippides? What if a sub-3 hour marathon had been the big Kahuna milestone?

Beth Bonner of the U.S. ran 2:55:22 at the 1971 New York City Marathon to become the first woman under 3:00. But women’s running wasn’t accorded an equal position with race organizers at the time, nor in the mind’s of the general public, or the sporting press.  So it wasn’t publicized as groundbreaking despite the fact that it was.

It wasn’t till Norway’s Grete Waitz entered the scene in 1978 running 2:32:30 in her debut in NYC that women’s marathoning was begun to be taken seriously from an athletic achievement standpoint.  Fairly quickly following came the first Women’s Olympic Marathon in Los Angeles in 1984. And attention to women’s running has been on par with men’s pretty much ever since.

Men created the rules, regulations, and distances of both ancient and modern sports based on men being the primary competitors. Why do you think a basketball hoop is 10 feet off the ground? Because it’s based on the stature of male athletes, not female athletes. And yet women play basketball with a hoop 10 feet off the ground.

Like so much else in life, we see how it has always been a man’s world, and women have been made to fit within its man-defined parameters. That is primarily a cultural holdover from our might-makes-right pre-agricultural evolutionary past.

The fight for women’s equality along many societal metrics is an on-going effort that has seen peaks and valleys like any other long journey.  In 1972, the passage of Title IX  legislation in the U.S. made it illegal to discriminate against female participation in sports at federally funded schools. That was a peak.

But in seeking new vistas ahead, let’s not overlook the road already travelled, and the mountains already climbed.


Miller-Uibo shocks Schippers and Thompson in 200m

Zurich (AFP) - Bahamas' Shaunae Miller-Uibo stunned world champion Dafne Schippers and Olympic gold medallist Elaine Thompson to win the women's 200m at the Diamond League final on Thursday.

Miller-Uibo, who was only third in the event at the recent world championships in London, won in a time of 21.88sec ahead of Thompson (22.00) and Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast (22.09), the silver medallist in London.

Schippers struggled home in fourth place (22.36).

It was the second shock failure of the season for Thompson, the Jamaican sprinter who captured Olympic gold in the 100m and 200m in Rio in 2016.

In the 100m at the world championships, she finished in a lowly fifth place.

However, she will get a last chance to redeem herself at the concluding Diamond League meet of the season in Brussels on September 1 when she runs in the 100m.

Bahrain's Ruth Jebet ran the second fastest women's 3,000m steeplechase winning in 8min 55.29sec.

The Kenyan-born Olympic champion, 20, was two and a half seconds off her own world record of 8:52.78 set in Paris in August last year.

Jebet had a disappointing world championships where she finished fifth but she bounced back on Thursday beating Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech (8:59.84), the runner who famously missed the water jump barrier in London and had to retrace her steps.

World champion Emma Coburn of the United States was fourth in 9min 14.81sec.

Three positive doping tests being investigated from track worlds

MONACO -- Three positive doping tests involving athletes not yet identified are being investigated in samples taken from the track and field world championships held in London this month.

"None of the adverse findings relate to medalists," the IAAF's independent integrity unit said.

The unit said details of the cases will be revealed "at relevant points of the disciplinary process."

The three cases emerged from 1,513 blood and urine samples collected and analyzed during the competition period. It means less than 0.2 percent of doping control samples were positive.

The IAAF's anti-doping unit said samples will be stored for 10 years to be re-analyzed when new testing methods are developed.

The integrity unit also said no suspect betting activity was detected during the 10-day championships.

Italy's Rieti Meet Canceled Again

he high-profile Italian track and field meet in Rieti, scheduled for September 3, was on Thursday cancelled for the second year running.
The meet, part of the IAAF World Challenge series, was called off last season in the wake of the deadly earthquake that hit central Italy where Rieti is located.

Organisers said that this year the question was more of a financial one, explaining that they had "great difficulties in finding the means necessary to ensure the survival of one of the most prestigious and historic meets in Italian sport".

According to various Italian media, the cancellation was down to a number of sponsors pulling out.

Rieti has made its name on the global circuit thanks to its fast track and was a popular end-of-season venue for many athletes.

Kenyan David Rudisha set a then-world record of 1min 41.01sec in the 800 metres in 2010, while Jamaica's Asafa Powell timed 9.74sec in the 100m in 2007, a mark that remained in place until beaten by compatriot Usain Bolt at the Berlin world championships two years later.

The Stats Behind Mo Farah's Golden Career

It has been a familiar sight. The best of the rest stressing, straining and stretching in his wake, but ultimately unable to reel in Mo Farah.

It played out again in Zurich on Thursday night as Farah took revenge on Muktar Edris - who inflicted a rare defeat in the World Championship 5,000m final earlier this month - to take the Diamond League title and $50,000 (£39,000) in prize money.

But we won't see it again, at least on the track.

Farah's victory in Switzerland marked his final race before the 34-year-old turns his attention to the road and the differing challenges of the marathon.

As he heads for the tarmac, BBC Sport takes a look back at the Briton's glittering journey and the secrets behind his track success.

How far?

A long way. However you cut it.

Since the start of 2006 - his breakthrough season - Farah has run 693,864m on the track.

That equates to just over 430 miles, further than the distance separating Plymouth and Newcastle.

Or 1,734 laps of the track.

Or maybe, when you have racked up the training mileage Farah has in his career it seems like small fry.

A Runner's World article in 2014 - admittedly the year that Farah concentrated on marathon - detailed a typical training week for Farah.

It clocked in at 126-135 miles a week, meaning the distance covered in his 11 years on the track would be outstripped by a single month's work behind the scenes.

What has he collected along the way?

Like the opposition on the track, Farah has long since left his domestic rivals behind in the record books.

He has 10 world and Olympic gold medals.

By that measure, no-one else comes close.

Linford Christie has two, as does Dame Kelly Holmes and Sally Gunnell.

Jonathan Edwards has three, as does Daley Thompson.

Instead you have to look to global greats to put Farah's medal haul in the shade.

Usain Bolt, Allyson Felix and Carl Lewis have all benefited from relay medals that were never on offer to Farah.

On the other hand, some of history's greats did not have the chance to win world medals at all, with the championships having only been founded in 1983.

In terms of time, Farah is only the 16th fastest man of all time over 10,000m and the 31st fastest man of all time over 5000m.

But when it mattered in major finals, he delivered.

How did he do it?

Farah's modus operandi has been always clear - hit the bell in contention and then prove stronger and faster over the final 400m than anyone else.

What has been extraordinary is Farah's ability to maintain that devastating last-lap speed over so many years.

Across his 12 global finals - including his silver medals in the world 10,000m in 2011 and world 5,000m in 2017 - Farah's last laps have consistently been lightning quick.

"Farah's last four 100m sections in the Rio 5,000m final were 13.6, 13.0, 13.3 and 12.8 seconds for a total of 52.7," says BBC Athletics statistician Mark Butler.

"Not bad for someone who could only clock 12.98 seconds from blocks behind Anthony Joshua and Robbie Grabarz in the 100m race at the 2012 edition of 'Superstars'.

"It's worth noting that he was able to produce that sort of speed way before he joined up with Alberto Salazar.

"At the 2006 European Cup in Malaga, Farah completed the last lap of the 3,000m in 52.21.

"In Zurich on Thursday night, 11 years on and over the longer distance, he produced a 52.61 final lap.

"Along with Farah's tactical acumen, no-one else can generate that sort of speed when global golds are at stake."

World champion Justin Gatlin beaten in Diamond League final


100m world champion Justin Gatlin failed to earn a spot on the podium at the Diamond League final on Thursday in Zurich.

Great Britain’s Chijindu Ujah won the 100m title in 9.97 seconds, edging Ben Youssef Meite of Cote d’Ivoire and American Ronnie Baker. Ujah collected the Diamond Trophy as well as a $50,000 winner’s check.

Gatlin finished fourth, clocking 10.04 seconds, which was .12 seconds slower than his winning time at worlds in London on Aug. 5.

It was Gatlin’s first individual race since worlds, when he caught countryman Christian Coleman and held off Usain Bolt to win 100m title (VIDEO). But neither competed in the Diamond League final, since the NCAA champion Coleman did not earn enough Diamond League points to qualify, while Bolt tore his hamstring running the anchor on the 4x100m relay at worlds.

At 35, Gatlin was attempting to become the oldest 100m champion in the eight-year history of the Diamond League. He won the 100m title in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

South Africa’s Akani Simbine, the only other London finalist to race in the Diamond League final, finished sixth.

Full Zurich results are here.

Also on Thursday, Mo Farah won his final race on the track, avenging his loss to Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris in the 5000m at worlds.

Farah, a four-time Olympic champion who is moving to road racing and marathons after this season, finished .04 seconds ahead of Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo of the United States and Edris, who both dived across the line.

Farah celebrated by dropping to kiss the track alongside Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim, who won his third Diamond League high jump title and joked about wanting to open a museum with all of his trophies. Farah then flashed his signature “Mobot” pose.

South Africa’s Caster Semenya completed her second consecutive undefeated season in the 800m, less than two weeks after using her trademark finishing kick to win the 800m title at worlds.

The second of two Diamond League final meets will take place on Sept. 1 at 2:00 p.m. ET on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and NBC Sports Gold.

"Seb Coe Is Right To Run With New Ideas"

Say what you like about Seb Coe, but the man tasked with safeguarding athletics’ future has not tried to shy away from the scale of the task – even if the traditionalists may not want to hear it.

Asked whether athletics could ever be among the top three or four sports in Britain, he gave a brutally frank answer: “If I’m being honest maybe not.”

If acceptance is the first step to change then Coe is on the right path. For all the political bombast that regularly comes out of the mouth of the president of International Association of Athletics Federations, he is determined to leave the sport in a better place than he found it.

For a man who is so technologically allergic that he barely uses a mobile phone or computer, Coe is admirably resolute in his desire to haul athletics into the modern era. The trouble is, how? The emergence of an increasingly fast-paced, bite-sized age has altered the global face of sport forever. Slow, meandering days are no longer viable and in their place is a sporting world in which only the biggest names and most spectacular events survive. How else did we end up with an egotistical retired boxer stepping into a Las Vegas ring with a loudmouth novice for £500 million?

Athletics must attempt to compete with this just when it has lost its most marketable commodity. Usain Bolt’s retirement will leave a hole within athletics, but it is outside the sport that his absence is even more significant – a world in which he, and he alone, could pierce the public conscious. Only Mo Farah came close and he has also left the track. No matter how much the sport attempts to push the likes of Wayde van Niekerk, David Rudisha or Nafi Thiam, none will even vaguely fill that void in this Snapchat era.

Instead, Coe has sought solace in the words “innovative”, “braver” and “more creative”.

Many baulked at Athletics Australia’s novel Nitro Athletics event in Melbourne earlier this year with its three-minute mixed distance challenge, elimination mile and target javelin throw. Some of those ideas were as ludicrous as they sound and will doubtless correctly be consigned to history. But the organisers should be praised for attempting to alter the status quo.

It is for this reason that the creation of The Meet, which sees Britain take on the USA in a head-to-head competition at the London Stadium next summer, is a great idea. In the absence of Bolt and Farah, athletics must do all it can to create rivalries. At two hours, The Meet is short enough to appeal to younger audiences, with enough action to keep spectators enthralled.

Despite attempts to alter the Diamond League scoring system this season, the difficulty of creating cohesion to such a geographically and temporally diverse competition remains. Is there worth in reducing the number of Diamond League meets in a bid to boost the quality and importance of the few that endure?

How can street events that have successfully moved athletics into central urban settings be expanded to take them beyond a fun sideshow? All questions to consider.

Give things a go. Never criticise change. Try – and potentially fail.

Because make no mistake, surviving in this whizz-bang celebrity era without Bolt and Farah is going to be incredibly difficult. Athletics must be prepared to gamble.

10 Of The Best: Mo Farah's Memorable Moments

Mo Farah will retire from the track after tonight's Zurich Diamond League where he will aim to bow out with a farewell victory over 5000m. While Farah seldom chased fast times, he will move to the roads with an unparalleled record in major championships, including four Olympic titles, five European titles and six world titles. 

We have gone back more than a decade to pick out ten of his most memorable races on the track.

2006 European Championships, Gothenburg

Having recently improved his 5000m PB from 13:30.53 down to 13:09.40, Farah was tipped to claim his first senior track title in Gothenburg but the Brit was pipped to the post by Spain’s Jesus Espana. They both covered the last four laps in under four minutes.


2009 Glasgow International Match

Farah suffered the ignominy of exiting in the 5000m heats at the Beijing Olympics but he opened his 2009 account by claiming his first British track record over 3000m, stopping the clock at 7:40.99. He improved to 7:34.47 in Birmingham the following month, a further precursor to his first senior track title at the European Indoor Championships in Turin.


2010 European Championships, Barcelona

Farah just missed out on claiming the 5000m title four years earlier but Farah comprehensively defeated Espana on home soil in Barcelona to become the first athlete since Salvatore Antibo in 1990 to claim a long distance double at the European Championships.


2010 Zurich Weltklasse

He had the beating of the best of the continent at the European Championships and Farah was beginning to make an impact globally. Two weeks after claiming two gold medals in Barcelona, Farah was fifth in the Zurich Diamond League in 12:57.94, breaking David Moorcroft’s long-standing British 5000m record of 13:00.41.


2011 World Championships, Daegu

Farah just missed out on the 10,000m title on the first day of the championships but employing what soon became his trademark tactics, Farah held the inside line at the bell and fended off a field packed with fast finishers to claim his first of five successive global 5000m titles.  


2012 Olympic Games, London

The noise inside the Olympic Stadium for the closing stages of the 5000m final was such that it caused the photo finish camera adjacent to the finish-line to shake, distorting the official photo-finish image. Farah outsprinted Ethiopia's Dejen Gebremeskel to become the seventh athlete to achieve the 5000/10,000m double.


2013 European Team Championships, London

The outcome was very much expected but Farah nonetheless dazzled the crowds with a last lap of 50.89 off a slow pace in the 5000m.


2013 Monaco Herculis

But what was not expected was that Farah - who ran the first half of the London Marathon in April as a precursor to his full debut the following spring - would run a European 1500m record of 3:28.81 in the Monaco Diamond League just a month later, a time which puts him tenth on the world all-time lists.


2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro

Farah’s title defence in the 10,000m came under some jeopardy when he was tripped and fell to the track but he patiently worked his way back into contention before overwhelming his rivals once again on the last lap. He also defended his 5000m title, becoming just the second athlete after Lasse Viren to claim the Olympic long distance double twice.  


2017 World Championships, London

Farah hasn’t lost a race over 10,000m since 2011 but seldom has he been tested quite as much as he was in his farewell race at the distance. The Kenyan trio put in a series of hard surges to break Farah but the reigning two-time champion still came out on top once more with another imperious last lap sprint. His winning time of 26:49.51 was his fastest in a major championships. 


Complete Zürich Diamond League Results

(iaaf results service)

Weltklasse Zürich                                               
Zürich (Letzigrund), 24/08/2017                                                                             
Men's results                                                   
100 Metres - Men                                   Wind: 0.0 m/s
    1 Ujah , Chijindu                  GBR       9.97           
    2 Meité , Ben Youssef              CIV       9.97           
    3 Baker , Ronnie                   USA      10.01           
    4 Gatlin , Justin                  USA      10.04           
    5 Young , Isiah                    USA      10.10           
    6 Simbine , Akani                  RSA      10.10           
    7 Powell , Asafa                   JAM      10.11           
    8 Gemili , Adam                    GBR      10.13           
    9 Wilson , Alex                    SUI      20.80           
400 Metres - Men 
    1 Makwala , Isaac                  BOT      43.95           
    2 Roberts , Gil                    USA      44.54           
    3 Norwood , Vernon                 USA      45.01           
    4 Maslák , Pavel                   CZE      45.67           
    5 Borlée , Kévin                   BEL      45.77           
    6 Bonevacia , Liemarvin            NED      46.31           
    7 Conradie , Pieter                RSA      46.45           
      Gardiner , Steven                BAH        DNF           

1500 Metres - Men 
    1 Cheruiyot , Timothy              KEN    3:33.93           
    2 Kiplagat , Silas                 KEN    3:34.26           
    3 Manangoi , Elijah Motonei        KEN    3:34.65           
    4 Kiprop , Asbel                   KEN    3:34.77           
    5 Simotwo , Charles Cheboi         KEN    3:34.93           
    6 Kibet , Vincent                  KEN    3:34.96           
    7 Wightman , Jake                  GBR    3:35.25           
    8 Holuša , Jakub                   CZE    3:35.81           
    9 Lewandowski , Marcin             POL    3:36.02           
   10 Mikhou , Sadik                   BRN    3:36.04           
   11 Birgen , Bethwell Kiprotich      KEN    3:38.87           
   12 Ingebrigtsen , Filip             NOR    3:41.36           
      Kivuva , Jackson Mumbwa          KEN        DNF           
      Rotich , Andrew Kiptoo           KEN        DNF           
5000 Metres - Men 
    1 Farah , Mohamed                  GBR   13:06.05           
    2 Chelimo , Paul Kipkemoi          USA   13:06.09           
    3 Edris , Muktar                   ETH   13:06.09           
    4 Kejelcha , Yomif                 ETH   13:06.18           
    5 Barega , Selemon                 ETH   13:07.35           
    6 Ahmed , Mohammed                 CAN   13:10.26           
    7 Alamirew , Yenew                 ETH   13:13.08           
    8 Rop , Albert Kibichii            BRN   13:14.31           
    9 True , Ben                       USA   13:17.62           
   10 Legese , Birhanu                 ETH   13:24.89           
   11 Kwemoi , Ronald                  KEN   13:55.56           
      Cheboi , Collins                 KEN        DNF           
      Kangogo , Cornelius Kipruto      KEN        DNF           
      Mechaal , Adel                   ESP        DNF           

400 Metres Hurdles - Men 
    1 McMaster , Kyron                 IVB      48.07           
    2 Warholm , Karsten                NOR      48.22           
    3 Hussein , Kariem                 SUI      48.45           
    4 Clement , Kerron                 USA      49.20           
    5 Copello , Yasmani                TUR      49.23           
    6 Green , Jack                     GBR      49.41           
    7 van Zyl , L.J.                   RSA      49.92           
    8 Jackson , Bershawn               USA      50.02           
High Jump - Men 
    1 Barshim , Mutaz Essa             QAT       2.36           
    2 Ghazal , Majd Eddin              SYR       2.31           
    3 Bondarenko , Bohdan              UKR       2.31           
    4 Grabarz , Robert                 GBR       2.24           
    5 Mason , Michael                  CAN       2.24           
    6 Protsenko , Andriy               UKR       2.24           
    7 Bednarek , Sylwester             POL       2.20           
    8 Gale , Tom                       GBR       2.20           
    9 Przybylko , Mateusz              GER       2.20           
    9 Thomas , Donald                  BAH       2.20           
   11 Castro , Luis Joel               PUR       2.20           
   12 Tamberi , Gianmarco              ITA       2.16           

Pole Vault - Men 
    1 Kendricks , Sam                  USA       5.87           
    2 Lisek , Piotr                    POL       5.80           
    2 Wojciechowski , Pawel            POL       5.80           
    4 Marschall , Kurtis               AUS       5.73           
    5 Barber , Shawnacy                CAN       5.63           
    6 Ménaldo , Kévin                  FRA       5.63           
    7 Filippídis , Konstadínos         GRE       5.48           
    8 Alberto , Dominik                SUI       5.48           
    9 Chiaraviglio , Germán            ARG       5.48           
   10 Joseph , Stanley                 FRA       5.33           
   11 Kudlicka , Jan                   CZE       5.33           
      Lavillenie , Renaud              FRA         NM           
Long Jump - Men 
    1 Manyonga , Luvo                  RSA       8.49               -0.7
    2 Samaai , Ruswahl                 RSA       8.31                0.0
    3 Lawson , Jarrion                 USA       8.12               -0.7
    4 Tornéus , Michel                 SWE       8.09               -0.3
    5 Lapierre , Fabrice               AUS       7.94               -0.3
    6 Lasa , Emiliano                  URU       7.79               -1.1
    7 Hartfield , Mike                 USA       7.67               -0.9
    8 Gföhler , Benjamin               SUI       7.49               +0.2
    9 Mokoena , Godfrey Khotso         RSA       7.13               -0.1

Javelin Throw - Men 
    1 Vadlejch , Jakub                 CZE      88.50           
    2 Röhler , Thomas                  GER      86.59           
    3 Pitkämäki , Tero                 FIN      86.57           
    4 Vetter , Johannes                GER      86.15           
    5 Walcott , Keshorn                TTO      85.11           
    6 Kirt , Magnus                    EST      84.73           
    7 Chopra , Neeraj                  IND      83.80           
    8 Magour , Ahmed Bader             QAT      83.73           
Women's results                                                 
100 Metres - Women Race Race 1                   Wind: +1.0 m/s
    1 Williams , Bianca                GBR      11.30           
    2 Ghafoor , Madiea                 NED      11.57           
    3 Matheis , Lara                   GER      11.63           
    4 Dagry , Samantha                 SUI      11.64           
    5 Hooper , Gloria                  ITA      11.65           
    6 Whitney , Kaylin                 USA      11.68           
    7 Humair , Fanette                 SUI      12.05           
    8 De Andreis , Elisabetta          ITA      12.07           
    9 Egger , Marine                   SUI      12.33           

100 Metres - Women Race Race 2                   Wind: -0.7 m/s
    1 Williams , Christania            JAM      11.07           
    2 Levy , Jura                      JAM      11.18           
    3 Pierre , Barbara                 USA      11.29           
    4 Lückenkemper , Gina              GER      11.32           
    5 Philip , Asha                    GBR      11.37           
    6 Samuel , Jamile                  NED      11.53           
    7 Calvert , Schillonie             JAM      11.57           
    8 Sedney , Naomi                   NED      11.65           
    9 Carter , Destiny                 USA      11.87           
200 Metres - Women                                Wind: +0.1 m/s
    1 Miller-Uibo , Shaunae            BAH      21.88           
    2 Thompson , Elaine                JAM      22.00           
    3 Ta Lou , Marie-Josée             CIV      22.09           
    4 Schippers , Dafne                NED      22.36           
    5 Jefferson , Kyra                 USA      22.61           
    6 Kambundji , Mujinga              SUI      22.71           
    7 Facey , Simone                   JAM      22.80           
    8 Emmanuel , Crystal               CAN      23.94           

800 Metres - Women 
    1 Semenya , Caster                 RSA    1:55.84           
    2 Niyonsaba , Francine             BDI    1:56.71           
    3 Wambui , Margaret Nyairera       KEN    1:56.87           
    4 Alemu , Habitam                  ETH    1:57.05           
    5 Hassan , Sifan                   NED    1:57.12           
    6 Lipsey , Charlene                USA    1:57.99           
    7 Bishop , Melissa                 CAN    1:58.30           
    8 Büchel , Selina                  SUI    1:59.83           
    9 Sum , Eunice Jepkoech            KEN    2:04.31           
      Verstegen , Sanne                NED        DNF           
3000 Metres Steeplechase - Women 
    1 Jebet , Ruth                     BRN    8:55.29           
    2 Chepkoech , Beatrice             KEN    8:59.84           
    3 Tanui , Norah Jeruto             KEN    9:05.31           
    4 Coburn , Emma                    USA    9:14.81           
    5 Jepkemoi , Hyvin Kiyeng          KEN    9:14.93           
    6 Krause , Gesa Felicitas          GER    9:15.85           
    7 Assefa , Sofia                   ETH    9:16.45           
    8 Chespol , Celliphine Chepteek    KEN    9:17.56           
    9 Diro , Etenesh                   ETH    9:20.94           
   10 Schlumpf , Fabienne              SUI    9:28.80           
   11 Kirui , Purity Cherotich         KEN    9:40.89           
      Gathoni , Ann                    KEN        DNF           
      Sidi Madane , Fadwa              MAR        DNF           
      Tuigong , Caroline Chepkurui     KEN        DNF           

100 Metres Hurdles - Women                        Wind: -0.3 m/s
    1 Pearson , Sally                  AUS      12.55           
    2 Nelvis , Sharika                 USA      12.55           
    3 Manning , Christina              USA      12.67           
    4 Williams , Danielle              JAM      12.73           
    5 Talay , Alina                    BLR      12.80           
    6 Harper Nelson , Dawn             USA      12.93           
    7 Stowers , Jasmin                 USA      12.95           
    8 Castlin , Kristi                 USA      13.03           
400 Metres Hurdles - Women 
    1 Hejnová , Zuzana                 CZE      54.13           
    2 Petersen , Sara Slott            DEN      54.35           
    3 Sprunger , Léa                   SUI      54.66           
    4 Fontanive , Petra                SUI      54.66           
    5 Doyle , Eilidh                   GBR      55.09           
    6 Nel , Wenda                      RSA      55.86           
    7 Pedroso , Yadisleidis            ITA      56.15           
    8 Baumann , Jackie                 GER      58.55           

Pole Vault - Women 
    1 Stefanídi , Ekateríni            GRE       4.87           
    2 Morris , Sandi                   USA       4.87           
    3 Nageotte , Katie                 USA       4.72           
    4 Bradshaw , Holly                 GBR       4.62           
    4 Büchler , Nicole                 SUI       4.62           
    4 Ryzih , Lisa                     GER       4.62           
    4 Silva , Yarisley                 CUB       4.62           
    8 Newman , Alysha                  CAN       4.62           
    9 Moser , Angelica                 SUI       4.37           
    9 Peinado , Robeilys               VEN       4.37           
Triple Jump - Women 
    1 Rypakova , Olga                  KAZ      14.55               -0.2
    2 Rojas , Yulimar                  VEN      14.52               +0.8
    3 Ibargüen , Caterine              COL      14.48               -0.2
    4 Williams , Kimberly              JAM      14.41               -0.9
    5 Knyazyeva-Minenko , Hanna        ISR      13.99               -0.1
    6 Mamona , Patrícia                POR      13.85               +1.0
    7 Jagaciak , Anna                  POL      13.79               +0.3
    8 Panturoiu , Elena                ROU      13.35               +1.0

Shot Put - Women 
    1 Gong , Lijiao                    CHN      19.60           
    2 Márton , Anita                   HUN      18.54           
    3 Leantsiuk , Yuliya               BLR      18.47           
    4 Carter , Michelle                USA      18.27           
    5 Bunch , Daniella                 USA      18.20           
    6 Dubitskaya , Aliona              BLR      18.02           
    7 Borel , Cleopatra                TTO      17.85           
    8 Smith , Brittany                 USA      16.13           
Javelin Throw - Women 
    1 Špotáková , Barbora              CZE      65.54           
    2 Roberts , Kelsey-Lee             AUS      64.53           
    3 Kolak , Sara                     CRO      64.47           
    4 Khaladovich , Tatsiana           BLR      62.89           
    5 Ratej , Martina                  SLO      62.77           
    6 Palameika , Madara               LAT      62.60           
    7 Winger , Kara                    USA      62.01           
    8 Gleadle , Elizabeth              CAN      59.06           
    9 Ruckstuhl , Géraldine            SUI      52.08           

4x100 Metres Relay - Women 
    1 Jamaica                          JAM      41.85           
    2 Great Britain & N.I.             GBR      41.86           
    3 Germany                          GER      42.32           
    4 Switzerland                      SUI      42.93           
    5 United States                    USA      43.68           
    6 Italy                            ITA      44.61           
    7 Switzerland U20                  SUI      46.31           
      Netherlands                      NED        DNF           

Jebet Scares Steeple WR In Zürich

Ruth Jebet threatened her own world record in the 3000m steeplechase at the Weltklasse Zurich on Thursday (24), the first of two 2017 IAAF Diamond League finals.

Jebet, who shattered the world record last year with an 8:52.78 run just 12 days after winning the Olympic title by some 40 metres, has had an off season by comparison this year, and came to Zurich with a point to prove after a disappointing fifth place finish at the World Championships in London 13 days ago.

In London she faded from first to fifth over the final lap but here, energised by another capacity crowd at Letzigrund Stadium, she looked the polar opposite.

From the midway point onward she was at or near the front, trading places with Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech. With the clock reading 7:46, Jebet broke away for good at the bell, on a desperate chase of her standard set in the French capital last year. It appeared to be in reach as she approached the final straight but fell out of reach as she slowed to a sluggish stutter as she approached the final barrier. She nonetheless crossed the line in 8:55.29, the second fastest performance in history.

“It was a great race,” Jebet said. “I wanted to run this time in London but I wasn’t feeling good. It was three seconds from my personal best but the record is mine. Next year there is a new chance.”

Chepkoech, who was fourth at the World Championships despite a race of mishaps, was second in 8:59.84 to become the fourth woman to dip under nine minutes.

Her compatriot Norah Jeruto knocked more than 10 seconds from her previous best to finish third in 9:05.31. In another race, this one for fourth, world champion Emma Coburn of the US closed well to prevail in 9:14.81, just ahead of Kenyan Hyvin Kiyeng who clocked 9:14.93.

The first IAAF Diamond League final under this year’s new championship-style format featured several high profile head-to-heads which pitted freshly-minted world champions against Olympic gold medallists, battling for a part of the US$ 1.6 million prize purse, with $50,000 going to each winner, along with the Diamond Trophy.

Shaunae Miller-Uibo powered to a 21.88 200m victory in one of the most anticipated face-offs of the evening to claim the first Diamond Trophy of her young career in what is, for now anyway, her second event.

Running in lane seven, the towering Bahamian powered off the turn to finish unchallenged en route to the second fastest performance of the year.

Elaine Thompson and Dafne Schippers, the former the Olympic champion over the distance and the latter the two-time world champion, were no match for Miller-Uibo, whose performances chipped 0.03 from the national record she set in Eugene in May, the last time the three squared off over the half lap.

“I tried really hard and went for a fast race,” said Miller-Uibo, whose late race loss of concentration cost her a medal in the 400m at the World Championships earlier this month. “There was definitely some energy left in my legs.”

Thompson was second in 22.00 with Marie Josee Ta Lou third in 22.09. Never quite in the hunt, Schippers was a distant fourth in 22.36.

Things went according to plan in the high jump with Mutaz Essa Barshim winning for the ninth time this year in as many competitions. Early evening conditions --unseasonably cool temperatures and a wet surface-- didn't bode well for the jumpers but as the night progressed the sun reappeared to salvage, at least in part, the competition.

The Qatari was perfect through 2.31m when he effectively won the competition, needed a second try before topping 2.33m and a third before clearing 2.36m en route to collecting a third Diamond Trophy.

Majd Eddin Ghazal of Syria was second at 2.31m, beating Bohdan Bondarenko of Ukraine on countback. No other jumpers went higher than 2.24m.

Like Barshim, Sam Kendricks also extended his 2017 unbeaten streak, in his case to to 11 after his victory at 5.87m to claim his first Diamond Trophy. There were nervous moments midway through the competition for the 24-year-old US jumper, who needed a third try before topping 5.80m. That gave Poles Piotr Lisek and Pawel Wojciechowski, who each topped 5.80m on their second attempts, the lead. But Kendricks topped 5.87m on his first attempt while Lisek and Wojciechowski could go no higher.

The story early on however was the unceremonious ending to Renaud Lavillenie's Diamond League reign. The Frenchman's quest for an eighth Diamond Trophy ended with three misses at his opening height of 5.63m.

In the women's javelin, things were going Sara Kolak's way until the final round, one which the Olympic champion began as the leader but would end no better than third.

The Croat controlled the competition from her third round 64.24m throw, only to be surpassed by both Australian Kelsey-Lee Roberts who threw a lifetime best of 64.53m, and two-time world champion Barbora Spotakova who stole the victory with her final round 65.54m effort and with it her Diamond Trophy after wins in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2015.

As expected, Gong Lijiao dominated the women's shot put, winning by more than a metre with a fifth round 19.60m effort. Each of her six throws, even her opening 18.81m toss, would have sufficed for the victory, her tenth in as many starts this season.

Hungary's Anita Marton was second at 18.54m and Yuliya Leantsiuk of Belarus third at 18.47m.

Timothy Cheruiyot led a top-six finish for Kenya in the 1500m, holding off Silas Kiplagat and world champion Elijah Motonei Mangangoi down the homestretch to win in 3:33.93.

Kiplagat clocked 3:34.26 and Manangoi 3:34.65. Asbel Kiprop, a three-time Diamond Trophy winner, was fourth clocking 3:34.77.

The first Diamond Trophy of the night was claimed by Olga Rypakova who notched a minor upset in the triple jump. The 2012 Olympic champion, who was third in London earlier this month, arrived in Zurich without an international victory to her name in 2017, but that meant little in the series’ new set-up. Competing on the stadium’s chilly and damp back straight, the Kazakh took immediate control with her 14.48m opening round leap. She improved to 14.55m in round four, enough padding it turned out, to nab her second series trophy.

“I did not expect to win against Rojas and Ibarguen today,” said Rypakova, who was the series winner in 2012. “Today I felt good despite the rain.”

World champion Yulimar Rojas was second with a 14.52 leap in round five, with Caterine Ibarguen, who took home the event’s last four Diamond Trophies, third with 14.48m. The last time Ibarguen finished lower than second was on 31 May 2012.

The pre-programme includes a pair of strong women’s races that weren’t part of the Diamond Trophy hunt. Christania Williams produced a convincing 11.07 win in the 100m, a solid run given the early evening conditions. Jura Levy was a distant second in 11.18.

Czech Zuzana Hejnova ran down Sara Slott Petersen over the final barrier to take the 400m hurdles in 54.13, a season’s best. The Dane clocked 54.35, equaling her 2017 best.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF

Farah wins final track race after rival trio collide

By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - Mo Farah won the final track race of his career by the skin of his teeth on Thursday, clinching a dramatic 5,000 meters win after three chasing rivals collided with each other in the last couple of meters.

World champion Muktar Edris, who beat Farah at the World Championships in London two weeks ago, was among the trio left sprawled on the track in the Briton's wake as Farah dived over the line.

With quadruple Olympic and six-time world champion Farah leading going into the final straight, Ethiopian Edris came powering through and appeared set to snatch victory on the line.

But Edris tripped after being clipped on the shoulder by Paul Chelimo as the American tried to force his way through a gap and he in turn bowled over Yomif Kejelcha, another Ethiopian, on the outside.

Chelimo stumbled over the line in second and Edris's momentum took him over in third.

Britain's greatest racer -- and perhaps the best the world has seen too after 10 global title wins -- will take to the roads next season to run marathons.

Farah stayed on Edris's shoulder for almost the whole race as they gradually moved up to the field, determined not to be outsmarted by his rivals.

"It's amazing to come away with a win today," Farah told reporters.

"I've been resting up and watching Edris, what tactics he normally uses, studying, working out and tonight the game plan was to sit on him and make him do a lot of the work," he added.

"Going into the last lap, the plan was not to give anyone an inch, and that's what I did."

"I will really miss it but everything must come to an end sometime."

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Clare Fallon)

Does The IOC Really Distribute 90% Of Revenues?

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) likes to say that it redistributes 90 per cent of its revenues.

This is Thomas Bach, IOC President, on page five of the body's recently-published 2016 accounts: "Within these pages you can see that we are distributing 90 per cent of all our revenues to the world of sport, athletes, the 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs), the Organising Committees and the International Federations (IFs)."

The figure crops up again on page 24. And page 102. And, oh look, page 104.

I have often wondered about this magic number: for one thing it seems to me that IOC central costs have been rising in recent times, and are set to climb further; for another, the claim seems open to interpretation. Redistributed to whom? IOC adjuncts like Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) or the Olympic Channel; or needy athletes from Venezuela to Vanuatu?

So I thought it would be interesting to try to work out just where the IOC did spend its money over the 2013-2016 quadrennium.

To accomplish this, I have referred solely to the relevant IOC accounts, and particularly the Combined Statement of Activities and associated Notes.

As has been widely reported, the IOC generated a bit less than $5.7 billion (£4.4 billion/€4.9 billion) over its last completed quadrennium. Actually, after taking into account financial and associates' losses, we are left with just over $5.6 billion (£4.4 billion/€4.8 billion).

Expenditure detailed in the statements of activities for the period comes to rather less than $5.4 billion (£4.2 billion/€4.6 billion). But the cash flow statement reveals $225 million (£175 million/€191 million) of net cash generated in 2016, so the income and spending sides of the ledger appear approximately to tally.

The chief difficulty in working out how the income was actually used is that the categories in the statements of activities are rather vague: much the biggest item, for example, is "revenue distribution", which could mean anything; similarly, "TOP Programme marketing" tells you where the money came from, but not where it is being spent.

So I have drilled down into the Notes to try and come up with an expenditure itemisation that makes sense in terms of what the money was used for, rather than whence it was derived.

To a certified Olympic anorak such as myself, and presumably a number of you, I think the results are quite fascinating.

For example, given that the sum of four years of IOC operating expenditure/central operating and administrative costs, as originally presented, comes to more than $670 million (£522 million/€570 million), how, I wondered, could the IOC possibly claim to have redistributed 90 per cent of its revenues, except by including its own staff?

Unless I am much mistaken, 10 per cent of $5.6 billion (£4.4 billion/€4.8 billion) is $560 million (£440 million/€480 million).

No-one disputes that the IOC pumps oodles of cash into sports, some of which would not survive in their present form without it, but why overstate the case?

And then I noticed something.

In 2015, a new line item, "Promotion of the Olympic Movement", was introduced. This consists of two cost-centres: The Olympic Channel and "culture and heritage".

Culture and heritage costs have been running at around $40 million (£31.2 million/€33.8 million) a year, much of which I think would previously have been included under central operating and administrative costs.

And indeed, in the 2015 accounts, the $190.1 million (£148.1 million/€161.6 million) in 2014 "central operating and administrative costs" has been restated as $140.7 million (£109.6 million/€119.6 million) of "operating expenditures".

A sum of $46.3 million (£36.1 million/€39.4 million) is now allotted to "Promotion of the Olympic Movement".

A note under the heading "change in presentation" states: "In order to give a more meaningful and fairer presentation of the Group's engagement in the Olympic Movement promotion, the Group reviewed the presentation of its Operating expenses within the combined statement of activities. As a result of this review, the Culture and Heritage expenses, amounting to $41.873 million (2014: $46.330 million) are now presented as part of the Promotion of the Olympic Movement…as opposed to their previous classification within Operating expenditures."

I am not sure the revised breakdown for 2013 has been disclosed.

However, if you dock $80-90 million from the original $670 million figure, operating expenditure over the quadrennium can justifiably be put at 10 per cent of overall revenues, if you round down to the nearest percentage point.

I have to say this reclassification does seem remarkably convenient and I would like to see more detail on what that "culture and heritage" line consists of so I can make my own judgement on whether or not it should be included in the IOC's redistribution figure.

I have some more questions.

Of $789.5 million (£615 million/€671 million) of Olympic Games-related expenditure, $54.5 million (£42.5 million/€46.3 million) is allocated to "IOC operations". Is that redistribution?

And what about the $21.5 million (£16.7million/€18.3 million) cost of various bid- and host-city-related IOC Commissions?

Also, while things like cancellation insurance and marketing costs might be unavoidable, is it fair to regard them as redistribution?

There are also $46 million (£36 million/€39 million) of "special projects" and $24.5 million (£19 million/€20.7 million) of "grants and contributions" which, as far as I can see, are not further explained.

Granted, between them they amount to only just over one per cent of quadrennial revenues, and the spending was doubtless worthwhile, but where did the money go? Some of it to finance the Rio 2016 refugee team, possibly?

Totting it all up, and acknowledging that it is in some instances a matter of interpretation, I reckon that a hard-hearted analyst would struggle to justify that 90 per cent redistribution figure – even if he were prepared to include costs linked to OBS, the Olympic Channel and "Culture and Heritage".

To summarise, having studied the annual reports, this is how I think the $5.6 billion of 2013-2016 revenue was used, in percentage terms, and in descending order:

30.7 per cent – Olympic and Youth Olympic Games Organising Committees, so mainly to Russia and Brazil.

13.8 per cent – IFs.

11.1 per cent – IOC central/operating costs (including culture and heritage in 2013).

10.9 per cent – NOCs, including via Olympic Solidarity

10.6 per cent – broadcasting costs.

7.2 per cent – the United States Olympic Committee, so a fair chunk of the funds redistributed – more than $400 million (£312 million/€340 million) – appears to have gone to the NOC of the world’s only superpower.

4 per cent – the 2016 net cash, which may by now have been redistributed.

11.7 per cent – everything else, including 2.3 per cent culture and heritage in 2014-2016, 1.3 per cent Olympic Channel, 0.4 per cent cancellation insurance and 2.5 per cent earmarked funds, which support the World Anti-Doping Agency, the International Council of Arbitration of Sports and other bodies.

It would be a good example of transparency - wouldn’t it? - if the IOC were to provide this sort of breakdown so that someone like me does not have to try and piece it all together.

Gearing up for Fall Sports Seasons

(StatePoint) Whatever your outdoor athletic passions are, the fall season is an ideal time of year to get out and enjoy them. However, the pleasant weather and fresh air may have you pushing new boundaries and venturing farther than ever. Whether you are hiking a trail or training for a fall marathon, this great gear can help you before, during and after your next big activity.

Before You Go

You are likely well-versed in the need for sunscreen and bug spray to prevent burns and itch. But there is one more essential skin care item that all endurance athletes should have and apply before their next long run or hike: chafing and blister prevention products. While there are many name brand glides and gels on the market, a thin layer of petroleum jelly applied to areas prone to this irritation often works just as well.

While You’re There

Just because you’re off the beaten path doesn’t mean you want to be off the grid. Stay connected wherever your journey takes you. A timepiece is often the best choice for active outdoor adventures, since it keeps one’s hands free. Consider the WSD-F20 Protek smart outdoor watch from Casio, which features low power consumption GPS and location memory that can help you map your course and stay on track even when you’re offline. Its rugged build and water resistance makes it a good choice for the outdoors, while its functions like altimeter, barometer, thermometer and compass can help keep you informed.

When You Get Home

The benefits of a foam roller are numerous, and no fall athlete should be without this simple tool. After a long workout, hike or training session, use a foam roller to help reduce muscle tightness and recover faster, so you can get back to your favorite activities sooner. While there are a range of varieties available in sporting goods stores, most foam rollers are affordable and durable, making them a great investment for athletes of all levels.

This fall, get geared up properly to make the most of all your athletic endeavors.

A Hero's Once & Future Story

It’s late August. NFL pre-season is underway. Major League Baseball is in full swing. Yet the No. 1 topic across American sports talk radio, just as it has been seemingly all summer, is the NBA, now whether the Lakers and Magic Johnson have nefariously been up to no-good in flirting with Paul George.

The NBA — and by extension, basketball, which is huge internationally — is doing a lot of things right. It has stars. It has personalities. A game is an experience. You go expecting buzz. There's music, lights, cheerleaders (Lawrence Tanter, Showtime, “Laker Girls …”), a kiss-cam and, if a team gets it right like the Chicago Bulls did, a super-cool mascot.

This brings us to track and field, the just-concluded IAAF world championships in London and Hero the Hedgehog.

Those championships were, by virtually every measure, the best-ever: ticket sales, thrilling performance, fan engagement. Hero played a key role in London 2017’s success.

Sometimes something is so obvious it just needs to be put out there: Hero should be the IAAF’s — no, more broadly, track and field’s — brand ambassador.

Instead of creating a new mascot each and at every major IAAF championships, Hero affords the IAAF and the sport a huge — indeed, unprecedented — upside.

In considering how Hero came to be and why Hero proved so successful at those championships is to understand why London 2017 marked merely the tip of the possibilities in event presentation, marketing, branding, entertainment and social media.

Don’t laugh at any of this.

Mascots are big stuff.

The Tokyo Summer Games, for instance, just drew 2,042 entries for the mascot design for the 2020 Olympics: 1,174 individual applications and 268 group entries.

Connecting with young people is vital. In particular, this is what track and field is so keen to find a way to do.

And this is what Hero did — does — so well.

Hero’s story begins with another mascot contest.

The summer of 2017 saw both the IAAF competition at Olympic Stadium and, before that, the World ParaAthletics Championships run by the International Paralympic Committee. Those two organizers, in concert with a BBC children’s program, Blue Peter, ran a contest for mascots for both events. It drew 4,000 entries.

The winner: a 9-year-old girl from Britain’s West Midlands region who designed ‘Whizbee the Bee’ (who had a prosthetic leg) and ‘Hero the Hedgehog,’ telling the BBC, “Bees are really important because they make the world go around and hedgehogs are determined and brave.”

For Maria Ramos, London 2017’s head of brands, the question on the table was elemental: “How do we shake things up and present athletics in a different way?”

At the 2009 championships in Berlin, a mascot had been more than just smile-and-wave. Berlino the Bear had memorably hammed it up with Usain Bolt.

“Berlino was great,” Ramos said, adding, “We did have it in the back of our minds: ‘Berlino was the best mascot. Let’s see if we can beat Berlino. It’s just a London thing.’ “

It was also a recognition of where the sport is, and where it could go — in particular under the direction of new IAAF leadership, a president, Seb Coe, and chief executive officer, Olivier Gers, who encouraged precisely this sort of initiative.

How to bring “determined” and “brave” to life?

Ramos brought on board Ian Mollard, director of a company called Curiosity 360 Productions, who has been in sports marketing for more than 25 years, a veteran of the past two Summer Games as well as of the Invictus Games in Florida, an international Paralympic-style multi-sport event created by Prince Harry.

In Britain, and especially in comparison to American counterparts, mascots had tended to be on the boring side. As Mollard put it with a laugh, “They’re all fat, they’ve got giant shoes, they’re being led around by the hand and they wave at people.”

Compare that to an NBA mascot, say, doing a backflip off a ladder. Or a dunk off a trampoline.

Or, perhaps best, Chicago’s Benny the Bull. Who can forget Benny on The Jerry Springer Show? Do not snicker at Jerry Springer as so much American trailer-park trash, London and overseas friends. We refer you to “Jerry Springer: The Opera,” which played at, among other venues in London, the National Theater.

Moving along:

Mollard convinced the London 2017 folks of the notion of a dynamic NBA-style mascot. Along with “determined” and “brave,” Hero also had — as a Twitter post would later relate — “agility, strength, passion and fur of steel!” (Over the course of the championships, it should be noted, Hero racked up more than 4,700 Twitter followers.)

The time frame proved tight. Turnaround from contract agreement to finish, Mollard said, was June 1 to July 26. Another company in the UK had already made Hero into a physical presence — the challenge was to take that existing character and give it a dynamic personality and, moreover, in a stadium, obviously a far-different stage than a basketball arena.

“The sport had to be protected,” Ramos said, meaning (again, obviously) the competitions themselves couldn’t be disturbed.

“But other than that," she said, "they had free run to do great skits.”

In bringing such skits to life, Mollard reached out to some American contacts with experience in exactly this sort of thing.

Show business demands that some mysteries remain just that, eternally behind the curtains, especially when it comes to mascots. Let’s just say that it’s something of an open secret in certain circles who is who and what what when it comes to Hero -- but why ruin anything for 9-year-olds or, for that matter, anyone and everyone who, in person or online, saw Hero do his thing during the 2017 IAAF championships?

As Ramos said, “There’s no curtain inside the costume. It’s just Hero.”

Which Hero skit was the best?

Come on. Who's better, Kobe or MJ? Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell? Which dunk is better -- Darryl Dawkins' Chocolate Thunder old-school blackboard-breaker or Blake Griffin's over-the-Kia Optima?

Who's the best 007? Sean Connery? Roger Moore? Daniel Craig?

With Hero, was it the slip ’n slide run on a pink-and-yellow plastic inner tube in the rain? Hero's many encounters with Bolt? The droll signs, among them: “You are beating the person behind you!!!” The offer of free doughnuts to the sprinters on their way to the track? The zip-line into the stadium? The somersault into the picture with the winning British 4x1 relay team? A cannonball into the steeplechase water hazard?

Given the tight time frame with which everyone had to work, London 2017 has to be just the beginning.

Now that everyone better understands how to work NBA-style in a stadium instead of an arena — how to connect costume, field of play, jumbotron and more — Hero's impact could be all that much more: skits, ad-libs, interaction with athletes.

Like basketball, track and field needs to be more of a show.

Traditionalists may cringe but this is the case: the past several decades have proven, unequivocally, that just running, jumping and throwing is not enough to get butts in seats, keep them there and, most important, get them back again.

Especially the backsides of younger people for whom Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson are figures from a time when teenagers did not have cell phones.

Already, as Mollard said, Hero has “turned upside down” the potential for merchandising, deeper brand development, social media engagement and more.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, on Twitter: “… best mascot ever!”

BBC: “Hero the Hedgehog, you’re a hero!”

CBS Sports: “… he has been an absolute show-stealer”

Runner’s World: “No athlete from any nation put forth a performance quite like Hero the Hedgehog. It took me a few days to realize that Hero had a name and wasn’t an armadillo, but no matter — that was one entertaining mascot. Hero needs to become a regular at every track meet.”


More Runner’s World: “Let’s face it: Hero added some character and levity to a sport that desperately needs a good laugh.:


“As it pertains directly to track and field,” Mollard said, “there is always a link between a host city and a federation, and the hope is that Hero will help close that gap — a city such as London with its history of innovation on the world stage wanted to make a mark ith the introduction of a dynamic and creative Hero within the stadium and although perhaps only dancing around the edges of what could be achievable, the impact was huge on an audience largely new to this kind of mascot.”

Bolt Speaks About His Career & Retirement Plans

Usain Bolt was a winner of 19 global championships gold medals during a glorious track career. He anchored Jamaica to victory in each of the previous six global championships 4x100m finals, stretching back to the 2009 World Championships – with an average winning margin of 0.49.

Bolt has bagged an enviable collection of gold medals: three each at 100m at Olympic Games and IAAF World Championships; three at 200m at Olympics and four at IAAF World Championships; plus two 4x100m gold medals at the Olympics and four at the IAAF World Championships.

The world records he set on the bright blue track of the Olympiastadion in Berlin at the 2009 IAAF World Championships: 9.58 for 100m and 19.19 for 200m still stand.

The Jamaican recently discussed his career and began by talking about the lap of honour he was given at the recent IAAF World Athletics Championships in London:

“For me, it was brilliant. The support hasn’t changed. It is sad that I have to walk away now. The energy of crowd was great. I feel so at home and welcome here. I was saying goodbye to fans and saying goodbye to my events also, I’ve dominated them for years. They have been everything to me. I almost cried, but it didn’t come.”

On his injury during his final World Championships race, the Men’s 4x100m Relay Final, Bolt said:

“After the injury, I pretty much tried to get home quickly to treat it. I stayed up for a while texting people who were concerned what was going on. I woke up and was getting treatment this morning. I will see what it is tomorrow to see if it is worse than I think it is. It was unusual. I knew I had to stay warm. We got into second call room to stride out which was fine. But we were taken to the area behind the boarding to be ready to run, but we waited there for 10-15 minutes. Why bring us out if we are going to stand there? They decided to do medal ceremony. What am I going to do? We are athletes who are going to follow the rules.”

Asked if he now regretted continuing running in 2017, the multiple times World Champion stated:

“No, I’m fine. 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, ‘Muhamnmed 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 added:

“I’ve proven that by working hard, anything is possible. For me, I was sitting down today and doing an interview. My motto is anything is possible. It shows that everyone should continue trying. I personally feel this is a good message to send to youngsters to push on. If I can leave that to the younger generation, then that’s a good legacy to leave.”

When asked to comment on the number of surprise results at London 2017, the 200m World Record holder said:

“I think the whole champs has seen bad luck for certain athletes. It has been a surprising Championships with lots of shocks. It is just the championships, not to do with me personally. I am always going to leave everything on the track. Everything happens for a reason; I don’t know why it happened but it has.”

It has been suggested in certain quarters that Bolt would return to the track as he would miss the sport so much, but the former 100m World Champion stated:

“No, I’ve seen too many people return and come back to sport and shame themselves. I won’t be one of those people.”

Regarding the disappointing performance of the Jamaican team at the 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships, the three-time Olympic 100m Gold medallist offered:
“It has been a rough champs for a lot of people. Few people would have predicted many of the wins, half who were supposed to win didn’t. It has been up and down. Someone tried to blame me because I started it. Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way. Hopefully, young Jamaicans see what is going on and fix things to get better.

“There is lots of talent in Jamaica, lots of youngsters. Always pick youngsters to come up and do great things. Not everyone is like me – do they want it and do they want to be the greatest? If they work hard and put the effort in, Jamaica will be safe.”

Bolt then discussed the ever-controversial topic of doping in athletics, reiterating the stand he has always taken on the issue:

“I have always been strong on doping. I’ve said it: athletes should get life bans if you go out of your way to cheat an athlete. The sport is now on the way back up and we have to do everything to keep it in a good light. I’ve shown that you can do it without doping so that’s what I hope the young athletes will take from it.”

There has been much speculation in the media lately that Usain Bolt may play professional soccer or cricket following his retirement from the track. On his most immediate future plans however the 6’5” Jamaican said:

“I am looking forward to being free. My whole life has been track and field since I was 10. All I know is track. I need fun and to relax a little bit.”

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

ZURICH, Switzerland:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Jamaica Schedule

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

Kimberly Williams

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

Jura Levy

Schillonie Calvert-Powell

Christania Williams

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

Elaine Thompson

Simone Facey

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

Asafa Powell

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

Danielle Williams

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


Clayton Murphy Joins Nike Oregon Project

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

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

Asafa Powell Is Back, Aiming For DL 100 Win

Races Gatlin in 100m at Zurich Diamond League today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relaxed Simbine Could Surprise Gatlin In Zürich

“Go out and just have fun.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Röhler & Vetter To Renew Jav Rivalry In Zürich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sooners Announce 2018 Schedule

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Africa To Bid For '25 World Championships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barshim's Only Target Is The World Record

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Farah Ready For Final 5000 Farewell In Zürich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jamaica Lags In The Business Aspects Of Sports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anthonique Strachan Hopes To Return To Prominence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanya Richards-Ross Introduces Her Baby Son

Aaron Jermaine II has made his on-camera debut!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Usain Bolt's Final Act Of Greatness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bolt might as well have won the race.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andre De Grasse Vows To Bounce Back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abilene Christian Now A Div. I School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simpson & Martinez Highlight 5th Avenue Mile Field

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

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

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

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

Christian Coleman Returns To College Life (video)


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

Big difference.

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

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

He didn’t wilt.

Undefeated against Bolt

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

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

Now that’s commanding the stage.

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

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

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

His goals have been enhanced exponentially.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 'it' factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Joanne Hastings |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There should be a clearer set protocol for deciding teams.

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

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

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

5 Big Head-To-Heads At Zürich DL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Christie Chen, CNA staff reporter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carl Lewis On Usain Bolt: "Nobody Is Irreplaceable"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USA Team stocked with Cougars for Taipei contest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Validation of success

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

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

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

Glory as a team

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

There is no qualifying tournament.

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

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

A Veteran Unit

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

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

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

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

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

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

The History Of Cross Country Brought To Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Farah says goodbye

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are five events to watch:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SA duo headline star-studded Diamond League

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

The final events at Weltklasse Zürich 2017 will be:

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

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

Flanagan Satisfied With Home Delivery Of '08 Silver

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

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

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

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

"Because I had my moment in Beijing.

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

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

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

"I got to stand on a podium."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It’s really hard," she said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brianne Theisen-Eaton: Marathoner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New UCLA Assistant: Jennifer DeRego

DeRego brings 14 years of coaching experience to UCLA.

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

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

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

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

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

Kimberley Williams: Everything Happens For A Reason

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kara Winger Analyzes The Night King's Technique

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

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

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

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

So you’ve reviewed the tape?

I did, yes.

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

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

And that’s good?

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

How heavy are the javelins that you throw?

The men’s javelin is about two pounds.

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

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

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

Well, in terms of the outcome.

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

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

Why’s that? Pick the Night King apart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did anything else stand out to you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah! Drug test him!

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.

Indoor Track Returning To Georgia In A Big Way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mason Finley, Bronze Medal, Men's Discus

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

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

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

Amy Cragg, Bronze Medal, Women's Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

Sam Kendricks, Gold Medal, Men's Pole Vault

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team USA Minnesota Adds 3 To Training Group

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Team USA Minnesota

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

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

You can learn a lot from studying abroad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All-Time Diamond League Winners

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

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

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

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

Every event has had at least 1 multiple winner.

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



Some Big Names Missing From The DL Finals

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

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

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

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

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

Anybody Capable Of Being The Next IOC President?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am reluctant to discount him completely, however.

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

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

Who else?

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

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

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

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

Could a Samaranch era mark II be a possibility? Juan Antonio junior has appeared the most capable of the four IOC vice-presidents or, indeed, any Executive Board member in recent months and could consider an attempt at the same time as a Spanish Olympic bidding tilt. He is young enough, at 57, and sufficiently savvy to have regained favour despite backing Carrion in the 2013 contest.

International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe will inevitably also be mooted as a possibility.

He certainly has more political ability than some of the above names but probably fails to meet all three criteria. He would celebrate his 69th birthday in September 2025, so is almost certainly too old. He is currently lacking experience within the specific IOC constituency and, because of his IAAF commitments, unlikely to gain much over the next few years.

Should the next generation also be considered? Conventional wisdom suggests that somebody with a serious ambition of becoming the next IOC President should already be on the Executive Board by this stage. In the age of Donald Trump and jointly awarded Olympics, however, political conventional wisdom has gone out of the window.

One name mentioned already is Tony Estanguet, the suave Frenchman who is the chief-in-waiting of both Paris 2024 and the IOC Athletes’ Commission? The former three-time Olympic slalom canoeing champion would have plenty of rapids to paddle past first. First of all, he would need to be elected as a full IOC member when his athletes term ends in 2020.

This is certainly not guaranteed. Germany’s Claudia Bokel did not get this luxury when her term ended last year and there appears little sign that American Angela Ruggiero will either next year. It will certainly not be lost on Bach that the last person to receive this treatment was Namibia’s Frankie Fredericks, who is now “temporarily self-suspended” as he attempts to deny corruption allegations surrounding Rio de Janeiro’s successful bid in 2009.

Estanguet would therefore have to convince the German that he is someone worth investing in. Regardless of this, he would probably be too busy with his Paris 2024 commitments to have time or motivation to campaign. His objectives, if he has them, are probably even longer term.

There are other young athlete turned administrators such as France’s World Rowing boss Jean-Christophe Rolland and Denmark’s Badminton World Federation head Poul-Erik Høyer who cannot be written off. Chile’s new Pan American Sports Organization head Neven Ilic is somebody else to keep an eye on while other people have mentioned a third Frenchman in the ambitious International Cycling Union Presidential contender David Lappartient.

Somebody who merits more serious consideration, though, is Switzerland’s Patrick Baumann. The International Basketball Federation secretary general is also head of the Global Association of International Sports Federations - formerly SportAccord - as well as the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympics, SportAccord Convention and the IOC Evaluation Commission for the 2024 and 2028 bid races.

As William Shakespeare wrote, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them". Baumann is somebody who is easily underestimated and, while still seen by some as an administrator more than politician, is already one of the safest pairs of hands in sport.

If asked, he would certainly claim he has no interest, but, as ever with these people, it is hard to tell. One point raised to me today is that the job of IOC President has changed under Bach to becoming a more overtly political role. It is now as much about hobnobbing with political leaders and sending out statements condemning terrorist attacks than organising the administration of sport. Could this put some people off and encourage a different clientele?

Another option if no viable contender emerges, of course, is that Bach could stay on for another term after 2025.

This would be against the rules but, as we have seen this year, the German is not immune to liberal adaptations of the Olympic Charter if it suits him. Or could he even change the structure somehow and shift power from the President to a permanent chief executive type figure of his choosing? This latter point is very unlikely given the overtly Presidential structure of almost all sporting bodies but would be an interesting idea.

On the other hand, the goalposts could change completely and some yet-to-be-seen factor could force Bach out of office far earlier. The German does seems to have re-cemented his grip on IOC power following the joint awarding success, but the horizon is still far from a clean one.

This will certainly be an interesting, if non-urgent, topic to observe in Lima and beyond.

Track Needs Fresh, Post-Bolt Strategy

The IAAF World Athletics Championships in London saw two legends exit the track.

Multiple world and Olympic medallists, Usain Bolt of Jamaica and Great Britain’s Mo Farah, both called time on their stellar track careers, with Farah taking up road running, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on his mind.

There is no doubt the two have been globally accepted superstars, and have increased interest in track and field over the last 10 years of their peak performance.

Full stadium sessions at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London whenever “Mo” was in action electrified the London championships, as did the equally vibrant crowd whenever Bolt was on the starting blocks.

In fact, on the final Saturday of action, tickets for both the morning and evening sessions at the 55,000-seater stadium sold out well in advance as Bolt’s name featured on Jamaica’s ill-fated 4x100 metres relay team line-up for the semis and final that day, while “Mo” was on the start-list for the 5,000m.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) along with the Diamond League and other meet directors will now have to dig deep to maintain interest in the sport, with innovation a sure way forward.

Athletes’ representative Jos Hermens, the veteran founder of Netherlands-based Global Sports Communications (GSC), has been spending hours with stablemate Valentijn Trouw and their team in Nijmegen burning the midnight oil, seeking solutions to the dilemma staring at the sport.

“I’m not so much worried about the future of athletics due to the departure of Bolt and Farah, because more stars will develop and come through,” he told me, reassuringly, in a post-championship interview.


“Usain attracted a lot of interest because he is a showman and people loved that. However, we need to think about how to innovate to keep the sport alive, because innovation is good for the sport and the only way forward,” he was quick to add.

One of the ideas on his mind is how to brand the athletes’ running kit differently, probably by introducing vest numbers — as is the case in basketball, volleyball, or even football — or sponsor logos on the apparel.

Already, GSC’s marathon wing has signed up a partnership with insurance and investment management company NN Group and launched the first professional running team with the aim of “bringing a new dimension to running.”

Among the about 60 members of the NN Running Team that has signed up to compete in 150 global competitions is Kenya’s Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, world marathon champion Geoffrey Kirui, Chicago Marathon winner Florence Kiplagat, Dutchman Abdi Nageeye, Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele and world half marathon and cross country champion Geoffrey Kamworor.

Hermens, a former three-time Dutch 5,000 metres champion, is looking to replicate the NN Running Team model in track and field where GSC manages a good number of global stars.

He has taken back control of the famous Hengelo track and field meet in the Netherlands, famously known as the FBK Games, that was briefly organised by former Belgian distance running star Bob Verbeeck of Golazo Sport, hoping to use the meet to try out fresh ideas.

“We can no longer only depend on shoe sponsors. The concept of a running team will offer possibilities for paid-up branding on the vests and shorts of the athletes,” he explains.

“It is no longer enough to only brand the running bibs and we need to do a lot more to attract extra revenues because the athletes too need to make a living out of track and field.”

Despite managing quite a number of top marathon runners, like Kipchoge and Bekele, Hermens is very much attached to track and field where his star athletes include Colombia’s Olympic triple jump champion Caterine Ibarguen who won bronze in London two weeks ago.

Hermens is worried by the number of young athletes quitting track for the marathons and other road races.

“The problem is there is too much money in road running and athletes are quick to shift from the track to the road, and rightfully so because there are just two or three 5,000m and 10,000m in the Diamond League all season which is not enough, as the athletes need to make a living. Previously, there were seven or eight races and the championships."


At the London World Championships, GSC athletes panned a total of 15 medals — five gold, six silver and four bronze — their gold medallists including Kenya’s Faith Chepng’etich (1,500m) and Geoffrey Kirui (marathon).

The group’s Kenyan athletes are moulded locally by former Olympic steeplechase champion Patrick Sang who has emerged as one of Kenya’s most successful coaches.

From Hermens’ observation, a lot needs to be done for track and field to remain relevant, and Kenyan managers of the sport must take up the cue and rethink the way the sport is managed here.

Organising weekend meetings in the same fashion as they were run a decade ago is surely sounding the death knell for athletics development in Kenya.

Spotáková Still Going Strong At 36

It is nine years next month since that Saturday afternoon in Stuttgart where Barbora Spotakova smashed the javelin world record. And now, when 13 September comes around again, she will mark the anniversary as still being the best there is.

As she said: “I cannot imagine my life without athletics.”

Now 36, age seems to be an irrelevance; Spotakova is world champion once more, an amazing 10 years on from first winning the title for the first time in Osaka. A decade ago, she triumphed with what was a Czech record of 67.07m, now it was gold with 66.76m after her superb performance in London just over a week.

Spotakova could be on the path to another gold medal in Berlin next summer when the European Athletics Championships take place as part of the first multi-sport European Championships in conjunction with the Scottish city of Glasgow.

Spotakova now has five major titles to her name, with her two Olympics triumphs in 2008 and 2012, world championships gold medals in 2007 and 2017 and her European title from Zurich in 2014, when tears flowed as she cuddled her son Janek in her first major competition since he was born.

And it is to the Letzigrund Stadium she will head on Thursday again, looking for more glory at the IAAF Diamond League, as the event leader in the javelin’s Diamond Race.

Since winning at the Universiade in Izmir, in 2005, Spotakova has shown not much does go wrong when it comes to the heat of the big final.

In London, she regained the world title with victory from the second round and with it came such an outpouring of feeling, a real insight to what makes Spotakova tick. “The possibility of competing at this stadium once more motivated me to continue my career after the Rio Olympics. Winning this, I got the best feeling in my life.

“I thought I will never have stronger emotions than I did in Beijing, but they definitely were much stronger. The strongest emotions ever, even though my career is very long and very successful.”

She also revealed how she still gets through the process of performing at the very highest level. Talking of being “in this form at this age”, Spotakova told a Czech newspaper: “I really felt quite broken after qualifying. It is more and more difficult to recover from the competition. There are 300 things to do. You have to be cool. Of course, you also do not underestimate anything or anyone .”

But she sensed it could be her time again, having celebrated such glory at the Olympics in London in 2012.

She revealed her feelings on the day of the final and said: “From the moment I got to the stadium, it was so strangely calm that everything would go well that would be good. It was just a very strange feeling.

“I had this feeling in the past only in two stadiums – in Stuttgart, where I have always succeeded, and then in London. Such a special inner peace. I do not know why. It turned out that it was a good choice to stay in athletics even after Rio. It was worth it.”

Bolt Enjoying Retirement Party On Mykonos (w/ vid)

After marking his recent retirement with a number of consecutive nights out in London, Usain Bolt took the party to the stunning cosmopolitan island of Mykonos, Greece this week.

The Jamaican sprinter, 30, was flanked by a bevy of beauties, as he headed out for another evening on the tiles with friends. Usain Bolt partied as he hit up Mykonos Scorpios seaside bar with friends in the early hours of Sunday evening.

His sun-soaked break comes just a short while after Bolt partied up a storm in the UK, enjoying champagne-fuelled bashes at some of London’s biggest nightclubs, most recently DSTRKT.

The Jamaican sprint legend also shared a photo of himself posing with his companion on the beautiful Greek island.

Christian Coleman Returns Home To Georgia

A 2014 yearbook from Our Lady of Mercy knew then what the rest of the world knows now: Christian Coleman is a bona fide star.

Voted most likely to get a Nike endorsement in high school because of his talent on the track, it's no surprise to many around the Fayetteville Catholic school that he's lived up to his senior superlative.

"It's inspiring to me," Coleman said in an interview with 11Alive. "It's motivation, and it helps me to stay focused and stay on track knowing that I have people watching me."

A humble attitude considering how tough the track and field world can be. There's the best, like eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, and then there's the rest.

After competing in his first Olympics in Rio de Janeiro last year, Coleman set NCAA records at the University of Tennessee in the 100 and 200 meters this spring. He turned pro, and he shifted into a second gear that would allow him to beat the world's fastest man not once, but twice.

"We crossed the line, and I wanted to win. I wasn't sure who won or not and then I looked over and lost to my teammate," Coleman said. "Couldn't have asked for a better outcome."

Coleman won the silver medal at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London earlier this month, his first global medal. That teammate he referred to was Justin Gatlin, who won gold. Gatlin is a five-time Olympic medalist. Coleman took home a boost of confidence.

Bolt took the bronze in the 100 meters, and then Coleman and Gatlin beat Bolt and Jamaica again in the 4x100 meter relay by winning the silver. Bolt couldn't finish his final race, falling to the ground with a hamstring injury.

"Now I'm focusing on this next season and progressing. It's my rookie professional season making sure I come out and live up to my name."

Now, he's one of the elite. It's a small club, which is why during this break between running and the start of classes for his senior year at Tennessee he fully intends to finish his degree. But he managed to squeeze in some time to share his experience in the place where it all began.

"Seeing me compete at this next level knowing I came from the same places, ate at the same table, they realize they can accomplish come of the same things," Coleman said as the kids of Our Lady of Mercy school visited with him and took pictures with the Olympian.

"He's been to the Olympics," student Isiah Fernandez said. "He beat Usain Bolt. It's all these different things he keeps doing that are amazing coming from our school. That's like our idol. Our top dog."

A bona fide title Coleman now carries beyond the walls of his alma mater.

Rift In Jamaica Over Role Of Personal Coaches

Two of Jamaica's most respected voices in track and field believe that the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) must do more to manage the conduct of coaches and athletes on national duty overseas.

Since the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, which ended on August 13, there have been calls for coaches who are associated with athletes at international competitions to not be part of the senior coaching staff as conflicts of interest may arise.

Head coach Maurice Wilson, who was also coach of nine athletes on the national team in London, was singled out.

Other members of the coaching staff in London also had athletes on the team. David Riley coaches long jumper Ramone Bailey, while Paul Francis, who is head coach at the University of Technology and also affiliated with the MVP Track Club, had responsibility for athletes Stephenie-Ann McPherson and Shericka Jackson, among others.

A bust-up between McPherson and Jackson was made public by technical leader Donald Quarrie, who also questioned the decision of Francis to pull McPherson from the women's 4x400m relay.


Track analyst Laurie Foster says that the pool of respected coaches is so small that the mandate must come from the JAAA to manage the issues that may arise.

"Private coaches also happen to be the most senior of our coaches and the most knowledgeable. So although, in principle, I accept the view that coaches with athletes must not be part of the pool, where are you going to find the coaches to do that? They just don't exist," he told The Gleaner.

Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, who represented Jamaica at the Olympic Games from 1984 to 1992, agreed that the options are few, and, therefore, it is incumbent on the JAAA to resolve the issues.

"We have a small pool of good coaches who have a reputation, so it's going to be a little bit difficult to say the top coaches in Jamaica cannot be a part of the coaching teams going away. It's best if we have such a small pool (of coaches). We have to iron this out for the good of Jamaica. We can't go on the world stage again and let people hear of a 'cass-cass'," she said.


She added: "My suggestion is to fix whatever the problem that the JAAA may be having now with coaches interfering when you send a team away. Coaches must understand that [they are] also a member of the team," she said.

Meanwhile, JAAA President Dr Warren Blake dismissed the idea of excluding private coaches from national teams as "ridiculous".

"If we were to exclude these coaches, we wouldn't have anybody to take. We have usually chosen coaches for teams based on their success to getting athletes there. That is one of the criteria that we use. So if we were to suddenly exclude these coaches, we wouldn't have anybody to take because the senior coaches are the ones who happen to have athletes on the team," he said.

Farah Faces Edris Again in Zurich, Manangoi Lines Up

Thursday's Zurich Diamond League meeting will have as many as 17 world champions in action as this year's track and field season approaches its end, with world champion Mukhtar Edris of Ethiopia up against Great Britain's Olympic champion Mo Farah, again.

Edris dethroned Farah as world champion in the 5,000m at the recent World Championships in London and the Briton will be out to exact revenge in the final track race of his career.

The "Weltklasse Zurich" meeting will see eight duels between reigning Olympic champions and newly crowned world champions, organisers said on Monday as athletes changed location after last Sunday's Birmingham Diamond League meeting here.

Kenya's 1,500m world champion Elijah Manangoi will also be in action in his speciality.

"The men's 5,000m race is a particularly star-studded event: In his final track race, six-time Olympic champion Mo Farah (Great Britain) plans to set the record straight after his London defeat against world champion Muktar Edris (Ethiopia)," organisers confirmed in a statement on Monday.

"The race will be one of eight duels between new world and Olympic champions of Rio." The Zurich meeting is one of two finals in this year's series and the winners of 16 final events will be awarded one of the coveted Diamond Trophies and $50,000 (Sh5 million) in prize money. Thursday's Letzigrund Stadium meeting's entry lists "also include 14 reigning Olympic champions - an all-star cast that promises an unforgettable night of athletics on championship level at the sold-out arena and a setting that speaks for the new IAAF Diamond League format," the organisers added.

The final events in Zurich and Brussels (September 1) will now determine the champions of the global series. Zurich hosts the penultimate leg just four days after last Sunday's leg in Birmingham where Kenya's new 5,000m world champion Hellen Obiri struggled to fourth position in the 3,000m race.

The pre-race favourite was in the cockpit of the event where she was alternating with her compatriots, 2015 African Games 5,000m champion Margaret Chelimo and World Junior Championships silver medallist Lillian Kasait Rengeruk.

With temperatures at 18 degrees centigrade and thunderous cheers from the British fans, the Kenyan stars seemed composed in the first three laps.

But Obiri, who has already qualified for the Diamond League final, fell off to the fourth position clocking 8:30.21 while Chelimo came in third in 8:30.11 in the race won by Dutch woman Sifan Hassan (8:28.90) with Germany's Konstanze Klosterhalfen second in 8:29.89. It was easy to note fatigue on Obiri's posture since she was breathless and unable to stand after the race.

As a matter of fact, it was USA's Shannon Rowbury who gave her a helping hand to stand up.

Years in the making

Shalane Flanagan received an Olympic silver medal on Monday — nine years overdue. She does not want a makeup medal ceremony.

The U.S. runner was upgraded from bronze to silver from the Beijing 2008 10,000m, the delivery to her Oregon home coming Monday.

That happened five months after it was announced that the original silver medalist — Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegesse — tested positive for a banned steroid in a retest of a 2007 doping sample.

“Receiving my proper medal and having the record books changed is a dream come true,” Flanagan said in a USA Track and Field press release. “I greatly appreciate the USOC’s efforts to host a more formal medal ceremony in my honor, but with my coach and my family, I have decided to forego that option and instead celebrate in private. This news, and receiving my medal, are all that I need to feel incredibly fulfilled and happy.”

USATF added that Flanagan’s bronze medal was already returned to the International Olympic Committee. Kenyan Linet Masai, the original fourth-place finisher, figures to receive it.

Abeylegesse is one of a number of track and field athletes who received retroactive bans and were stripped of medals in recent retests of doping samples from five to 10 years ago.

But not all of the stripped medals have been reallocated. Many world championships medals were re-presented in ceremonies at the recently completed track worlds in London, but zero Olympic medal reallocations were made.

Scrapping World Records: "A Bad Good Idea"

By Pierre-Jean Vazel

World Record scrapping: one of the solutions being mooted is to cancel world records before out-of-competition began. It says 1991 but it was added to IAAF rules in 1989 and the program was launched at the Antidoping Comission in London on 6-7 January 1990. So I'm curious to know exactly when did OOC testing were effective. Depending on the date it would save the shot put WR by Randy Barnes set on 20 May 1990. According to newspapers, Barnes was tested at least 3 times in competition in 1990, 2 negative and 1 (controversial?) positive…/track-and-field-a-strong-man-with-… but there's no mention of any OOC test.

EDIT: 80 out of competition tests were done in 1990, NONE in 1991 (should IAAF erase Mike Powell's 8.95 long jump in Tokyo?), 208 in 1992. Source The IAAF and its fight against doping in athletics, NSA 14:2, 1999. (See table)

Strip Barnes and Kevin Toth will become WR holder with 22.67 in 2003, a year before having tested positive for THG...

If Lisovskaya's shot put is discarded, the 61th best perf ever would become a WR, 21.69 by Viktoriya Pavlysh in Aug 1998. The problem is she tested positive 7 months later... Men's hammer throw (84.90 by Vadim Devyatovskiy in 2005) or women's discus throw (71.68 by Xiao Yanling in 1992) would also award a WR to athletes who were tested positive. If the intent is to restaure trust and credibility, not sure how well it will be received by the public...

Another point of interest is that this year a runner had never been tested of her life before she broke world records in road races... How does it fit with the rationale of being tested out of competition? What do we know about other post 1991 world record setters?

Ironically, JJK would lose the heptathlon WR (1988) but would gain long jump WR as she jumped 7.49 twice in 1994, the second best mark ever behind Chystiakova's 7.52 set in 1988.

It is worth mentioning that 2 world record holders (Florence Griffith-Joyner, 100m and 200m in 1988 and Nadezhda Olizarenko, 4x800m in 1984) have died and won't be able to defend themselves and challenge any decision...
For all these reason I'm not sure if these propositions can be implemented...

Antidoping controls are mandatory in the world record ratification process since the IAAF Council in Manilla on 16-18 dec 1983. The women's 800m WR was Kratochvilova was set on 26 July 1983... I don't know if a test was still done in Munich... If any, this WR seems to be the best candidate to be erased by IAAF...

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Remember When A Segway Took On Bolt?

It's legendary athlete Usain Bolt's birthday today; so we thought it would be a good idea to sprint back into the archives to unearth this gem of a sporting win from 2015... and a rather unfortunate battle with a cameraman's segway.

Usain Bolt proved once again that he is the finest sprinter in the world on Thursday by clinching the gold medal in the 200m final of the World Championships in Beijing.

The Jamaican was able to cruise across the line after easily out-pacing the rest of the field around the bend, including American rival Justin Gatlin who finished second.

Bolt's victory comes four days after he won the 100m final, again beating Gatlin, which many saw as a victory for athletics.

The sport's integrity has been called into serious question in recent months, with 28 athletes being suspended by the IAAF at the beginning of August for historical doping while two more athletes were suspended at the games this week.

Gatlin has returned to the top of the sport after serving a four-year ban after testing positive for a banned substance in 2006 just five years after serving a similar ban.

And Bolt? In his 2013 biography, the Jamaican revealed that he put away 100 Chicken McNuggets a day as his fuel for victory in the Beijing Olympics.

Life bans upheld for 3 officials in doping, bribery case

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Life bans for the son of former IAAF President Lamine Diack and Russia’s former top athletics official have been upheld in a doping and bribery case.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said on Monday its judging panel dismissed appeals by Papa Massata Diack and former IAAF treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev against bans by the governing body.

A coach, Alexei Melnikov, who led Russia’s long-distance running program, also had his life ban confirmed.

“The panel concluded that on the evidence adduced, the charges against Balakhnichev, Melnikov and Diack were established beyond reasonable doubt,” the court said in a statement. The full reasoned verdict is expected to be published at a later date.

Papa Massata Diack, then an IAAF marketing consultant, is subject to an international arrest warrant and believed to be in his native Senegal. He is wanted for questioning by France authorities in a corruption case linked to Russian doping and blackmail that also implicates his father.

An IAAF ethics committee imposed life bans in January 2016 for an alleged conspiracy to extort money from Russian runner Liliya Shobukhova, a former winner of the Boston, Chicago and London Marathons who later turned whistleblower.

The IAAF’s case followed a report by German broadcaster ARD in December 2014 alleging that Shobukhova paid 450,000 euros ($530,000) to Russian officials who threatened her with a ban for doping before the 2012 London Olympics. She competed at the Olympics, though did not finish the race.

When Shobukhova was eventually banned for two years in 2014, her husband reportedly received a 300,000 euro ($355,000) refund payment from an account in Singapore linked to Papa Massata Diack, the IAAF investigation found.

Banning the three men last year, the IAAF said they “acted dishonestly and corruptly and did unprecedented damage to the sport of track and field which, by their actions, they have brought into serious disrepute.”

Lamine Diack, a long-time International Olympic Committee member who left sport in 2015, is suspected by French authorities of taking more than 1 million euros ($1.18 million) to blackmail athletes and cover up positive tests.

Can Qatar host the World Championship?

London will be remembered for the departure of athletics’ biggest star- Usain Bolt.

The focus shifted to the 2019 Qatar World Athletics Championships after the curtains descended on the London edition of the biennial event.

London will be remembered for the departure of athletics’ biggest star- Usain Bolt. Mohammed Farah was yet another superstar that called it quits.

As we now turn to 2019, serious concerns come into play. The big question is whether Qatar has what it takes to successfully organize the event.

The tiny, wealthy Persian Gulf nation of Qatar was in the spotlight immediately it won the rights to host the 2019 athletics meet.

Qatar, with a population of 2.2m, had earlier also been selected as the site for the site for the 2022 Football World Cup.

Qatar’s choice as world cup venue generated widespread debate because of allegations of corruption in the bidding process and concerns about human rights issues related to foreigners’ working on construction projects.

The choice of Doha as venue for the next world athletics meet equally raised serious concerns. The biggest amongst these was the scorching temperatures.

Temperatures between 28 September and 6 October, when the event will take place, are likely to top 37C, which will be dangerous for middle- and long-distance runners.

You’ve certainly not forgotten what happened to Cheptegei at the World Cross Country in Kololo.

High afternoon temperatures had him burning out thereby missing out on possible gold before settling for a distant 30th position.

“It is not going to be easy. But we shall have to adjust,” says Cheptegei, who after Farah’s departure from rack, is seen as the next king of long distance running.

It is for similar reasons that an adjustment has been made in the marathon.

Both the men and women’s marathon will for the first time be run at night. This will be on a lighted course.

It will be interesting to see how Uganda adjusts to this innovation. If running on our streets during the day is dangerous what about at night?

The bulk of our streets are not lit. Then there is the scramble for space with cars and boda bodas. You then also have open man holes and sewers to maneuver!

And not only athletes are bound to be affected by the extreme temperatures. There is likelihood of half empty stands as spectators keep away from the intense heat.

Organisers are however putting up a spirited fight in their quest to assure the public that all will be well.

They made it clear in their presentation to IAAF that they were prepared to use cooling technology in the outdoor stadium if the world athletics body deems it necessary.

Qatar can paint the event as a paradise. The facts on the ground could however be a completely different issue.

So the sooner we started preparing for our sojourn in the desert the better.

Flanagan Receives Her Upgraded '08 Silver Medal

Shalane Flanagan already had her moment. Now she has her medal.

Without ceremony or fanfare, Flanagan got her silver medal for the 10,000 meters in Beijing on Monday, with a U.S. Olympic Committee representative delivering it to her home in Oregon.

That her acceptance of the medal, which was upgraded from bronze after Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegesse failed a doping test, came in low-key fashion was Flanagan’s choice.

The USOC offered to hold a ceremony for her, Flanagan said, but she didn’t feel like she needed one.

“To be honest, I talked to my family and my coach and I said, ‘Well, what’s important to you guys?” she said last week. “Because I had my moment in Beijing. And the thing is, it was a wonderful moment. I have no regrets about it. I have the fondest memories of that experience of being in that stadium. I actually don’t feel the need to change it, that experience. I got to stand on a podium.”

As retesting of samples has rewritten athletics history books, reallocation of medals has often come without the recognition athletes would have received during the Olympics. Perhaps most famously, American shot putter Adam Nelson received his gold medal from the 2004 Olympics in Athens, which was awarded after Ukrainian Yuriy Bilonog’s urine sample was positive in retesting, at the Atlanta airport in 2013.

Flanagan got her medal two years after she learned a retest of Abeylegesse’s sample from the 2007 world championships tested positive for steroids. The Turkish runner claimed silver in the Beijing race with Flanagan taking bronze.

Following the retest, the International Association of Athletics Federations in March gave Abeylegesse a two-year suspension and stripped her results from August 2007 to 2009.

Flanagan, 36, has been a vocal athlete against doping as her sport has been mired in doping scandals. Most notably, two investigations commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency in the past two years found widespread and state-sponsored doping in Russia.

The IAAF has yet to lift its ban of the country’s athletics association, one which dates back to November 2015. And the International Olympic Committee continues its inquiries into individual and systemic doping cases that were detailed in a December report from Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren.

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

“It’s really hard. I feel like I’ve worked really diligently over the last seven years trying to prove myself as a marathoner to the world, and to myself,” she said. “I can honestly say, I don’t feel like I’ve had a fair shot.”

The four-time Olympian pointed to the London Olympics, from which nearly 20 Russian and Eastern European track and field athletes have been sanctioned following positive retests.

The documentary Icarus details Grigory Rodchenkov’s turn from former director of the Moscow lab and orchestrator of the Russian doping scheme to a whistleblower. In that and the McLaren report, Flanagan sees more reason for doubt.

“I can constantly look at races I’ve competed in and just go back, well, geez,” she said. “I definitely have had some really low moments and just like, why do I keep doing this? But I keep on thinking if I persevere long enough, my time will come.”

On Monday, that time came in a small way. Flanagan said she recently returned her bronze, and a USOC spokesman said she received a replacement silver medal.

The IOC did not respond to USA TODAY Sports’ email inquiring as to whether Abeylegesse returned her silver medal from the race.

Earlier this month, the IAAF reallocated the medals from the 2007 world championships, where Abeylegesse’s silver in the 10,000 meters was disqualified. American Kara Goucher and Brit Jo Pavey received their silver and bronze medals, respectively, at the world championships in London.

Flanagan was glad to see that for her sport. She just chose a different way for herself.

“I don’t want people to think I’m disrespectful or just not appreciative,” she said. “I’m extremely appreciative. I just, I have that memory and I actually don’t want to change it.”

Greg Rutherford sets his sights on 2018 return

After being forced to sit out the chance to defend his world long jump title, London 2012 gold medallist Greg Rutherford has a newfound focus for his 2018 season.

An ankle ligament injury and hernia of the groin left Rutherford devastated at having to miss another chance to compete in the London Stadium – the scene of his famous Olympic triumph. Instead he watched on from the mixed zone as a summariser and interviewer for Eurosport, working with fellow former Olympic champion Jonathan Edwards. Now though, back at home and with his mind turning to 2018, a new challenge has appeared. “It was frustrating probably for the first two days, once the long jump was over though I completely fell into this whole role of talking about the sport and trying to give some form of opinion that was useful,” he said of his new role in front of the camera. “But obviously I would have given anything to have been in that long jump competition because it was a great competition and one I think I would have absolutely thrived off.

“Fortunately I still managed to be involved and had the level of understanding of the event that I wouldn’t have had if I was just at home. “I’m now focussed on getting fit and healthy again and having a very good year next year, and seeing what the future holds.

“I’ve got surgery in about two weeks’ time, that will hopefully repair the hole in my groin – which is the hernia I’ve got. “From there I start the rehab process again, and the aim is to be ready for the indoor season next year.” Already a gold medallist at all the major outdoor events in which he can compete, Rutherford is targeting a triple in 2018 – of more than one variety. With the World Indoor Championships being held in Birmingham in March, and the Commonwealth Games following a month after before the European Championships in the summer, Rutherford has three significant targets in the next 12 months.

“I’m hoping that I’ll be fit and healthy and have a really good run at the three majors that there are next year,” added the 30-year-old, who took on the role of tail walker for last Saturday’s parkrun event in Milton Keynes as part of UK Sport’s #teamparkrun initiative to allow elite athletes to say thank you to the public for their support. “If I end up winning the Europeans again I think I’ll set a record of three on the trot, which a long jumper hasn’t done before. “So I’m excited by the prospect of next year and really focussed on that going well.”

WC Throws Rankings: Bow Down To Poland

The best throwers in the world faced off at the World Championships this month for a chance at individual glory. At the same time, London also gave countries a chance to prove they were the best. Achieving the top team ranking is about more than producing one champion; it can only be achieved by having depth across multiple throwing events. As we have for the past two years, we ranked the top throwing countries by giving the top eight finishers in each event 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 points respectively. The results this year were a bit surprising and showed a changing of the guard.

What was the best throwing country in 2017?
Since starting our rankings two years ago, Germany has maintained a strong lead. They won by 19 points in 2015 and 9 points in 2016. Taking the pole position this year, however, was Poland. Their team was led by a strong effort in the hammer throw and multiple top eight finishers in four of the eight throwing events.

Poland actually only scored one more point than they did at the last championship. Therefore you could say that Germany lost the title just as much as Poland won it. At the last World Championships Germany scored 64 points. This year just 24. As a result they fell from first to fifth rank overall. America, ranked second in Rio, also slipped down to fourth position.

China was close behind in second position this year and was the only country to score points in every throwing event. What is even more interesting is that all of their points came from the women’s side. That’s an impressive feat, but history also has taught us many lessons about teams that have disproportionate women’s results. Led by strong javelin results, the Czech Republic also moved from 10th to 3rd place. America took third place, with nearly all points coming from the shot put. Germany made up for a a weaker discus with strong javelin results.

Overall 25 countries scored points in 2017, down from 30 at the Olympics last year.

Shot Put
America retained its title as the top shot putting country with a silver medal in the men’s shot put and bronze in the women’s shot put. In total they scored 19 points, down from the 32 points and two gold medals they won in Rio, but still very strong as they had five finalists in the shot put. China sent three women to the shot put final to score 14 points for second place.

Without Germany’s normal dominance, the discus throw showed the most parity of the throwing events. Nothing demonstrated this better than the podium where the men’s title was captured by a mere two centimeters and the women’s final also featured a close competition. Croatia and Lithuania scored the most points, but both had just one athlete leading their team. In terms of number of finalists, both Germany and China led the way with three finalists each. Also of note is that Jamaica had two individuals score points in the men’s discus, a rarity for the sprinting powerhouse.

No country dominated one event like Poland dominated the hammer throw. They walked away from the meet with four medals: two gold and two bronze. They sent five hammer throwers to London and the worst one placed sixth. In the end they had nearly triple the number of points as the next best country, China. Russia, competing as Authorized Neutral Athletes, also picked up substantial points with two men in the hammer final.

Germany had hoped to dominate the javelin and potentially sweep the medals in the men’s competition. But despite scoring more overall points than last year, they did not retain the title as best javelin country. The Czech Republic picked up gold in the women’s competition, and silver and bronze in the men’s competition to rank first overall.

Throws points rankings at the 2017 World Championships
You can sort the following table by event, gender, or total points.

Voisin’s golden touch

At the end of every major international event it’s the successful athletes who get all the praise while the coaches and team managers are seldom mentioned, applauded or even recognised.

Team managers are the first to rise on mornings to make sure everything is in place for the athletes and are the last to rest their heads after all those under their charge have checked in and are well tucked in too.

Ask why is it that team managers are so overlooked and arguably under appreciated by many and why they are seen as just pencil pushers?

In an interview, Dexter Voisin, manager of the T&T team that brought international joy after securing two medals (a gold and bronze) at the recent 16th IAAF World Championships in London, England, pointed out that a team manger’s job was in the background.

He lamented: “All supporters and fans see is the finished product, which is the athletes, but there are different aspects of creating and putting that product together and getting ready for display appears to be the least of John Public’s concern, but that’s okay. I’m sure that every team manager wants to see our athletes succeed.”

Voisin, one of several grandsons of T&T’s late queen of parang Daisy Voisin and the fourth of six siblings to parents Cecily and Anthony, said at the end of the day the manager’s job is to make sure the performance of the athlete is challenge free before every event.

The manager’s role is to ensure that the athlete is given all the necessary support to perform at his/her ultimate best when the competition bell rings, no excuses and failures must be aimed or directed at the manager, none. The Manager’s responsibilities and planning starts long before the team is even selected. ”

A native of the Siparia, which is dubbed the “The Sand City,” Voisin chose distance running over all other sports during his teenage years growing up on Coora Road.

He said: “During my teenage years, Siparia was a very rich sporting village with football, cricket, cycling, basketball and netball for the girls of course, but I decided that athletics and in particular distance running would be my thing.”

He recalled, “In 1981 I joined Mendez Athletic Club with the likes of Moses Ranghel, the 1983 T&T Marathon champion, Ben Basanta, my brother Paul, the 1990 T&T marathon winner, Randolph Henry and Kenrick Brown, and we competed in races all over Trinidad. Every weekend we were running, sometimes we would compete in back-to-back races on Saturday and Sunday.”

Voisin, a graduate of the Fyzabad Anglican Secondary School (1981-86) and San Fernando Technical Institute (1986-88), represented T&T at the 1987 and ‘88 Carifta Games in the 5000 metres event, winning the bronze in ‘88, pointed out that London 2017 was unique.

He said: “Once again the team achieved its best results at any World Championships in terms of finalists and medals. The feeling was different, it was the most amount of T&T flags displayed at the medal ceremony. Our Caribbean colleagues stayed back in the stands and sang our national anthem together with us displaying the red, white and black to the world like if it was theirs. What a feeling that was. I felt overjoyed and very proud.”

Voisin’s talent as an athlete earned him an athletic scholarship to the United States, but he decided against it and instead enlisted in the T&T Regiment in 1989, alongside his brother Paul.

At present, he holds the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1, Regimental Sargeant Major to the Defence Force headquarters.

He recalled: “My first tour of duty as a team manager was in 2005, where I was selected to manage the CAC Championship team in Bahamas and later that year the World Championships team in Helsinki, Finland, a selection which was not intentional by the then leadership (former Defence Force Sgt Major Kenneth Doldrun was NAAA president) at the time due to internal politics.

“There I was a young inexperienced administrator with just one year on the executive with a task to manage our senior athletes on the world stage,” he pointed out.

“I remember getting 100 per cent support from Hasely Crawford and other members of the executive. At that championships our men’s 4x 100 metres relay team of the very talented Darrel Brown, Jacey Harper, Kevon Pierre and Marc Burns won a silver medal and I was walking with my chest out and my head held as high as I could stretch my neck,” he laughed.

The seven-time World Championship team manager, the longest reign by an one individual in the NAAA’s history, said he had no regrets when he decided to choose the Defence Force over taking up a scholarship.

“The Defence Force presented me with opportunities to represent and serve my country and there’s no price tag on that. Only so many of us as nationals get such exclusive opportunities. Sports has developed me socially to become the person I am today in every aspect that I can think about.”

After deciding to hang up his road running shoes and track spikes in 1997, he became the head coach of the T&TDF athletic team in subsequent years and was appointed assistant secretary on the the NAAA executive in 2004, a post he held up until 2016, then elected unopposed as general secretary in November 2016.

Looking back and reflecting, he said Helsinki was his initiation to team management and this helped him gain the respect and confidence of other NAAA members to the point where in 2006 he was appointed to manage senior national teams at regional and international meets.

Managerial Assignments to date

• World Championships- 2017, 2015, 2013, 2011, 2009, 2007, 2005

• Brazil Rio Olympic Games - 2012

• CAC Championships - 2005

• CAC Games - 2006

• World Juniors - 2008, 2010

• Carifta Games- 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011

There’s no doubt as to why Voison holds his single Olympic Games managerial stint as his proudest assignment.

“My most memorable assignment is the Rio Olympics 2012, where we recorded our best results in the country’s Olympic history. We won our second Olympic Gold medal in 36 years and in an event (Javelin with Kershorn Walcott) that shocked the world and will remain in the history books for all different reasons. We achieved the most medals in any single Olympic Games.”

For the first time he revealed: “The night before the javelin finals, a decision had to be made by the team doctor and team management about whether to withdraw Keshorn from the event due to a back strain which occurred during the World Junior Championships the week before. The discussions surrounded the view of preserving a 19-year-old field athlete and thrower from T&T with the potential of a great future, of challenging the best in the world. In the end a decision was made by all parties which I participated in and it should be recorded as the decision which changed our Olympic history and ignited and united a country.”

He said the the memory of the team’s return to Piarco International Airport from the event still stands out.

“As we stepped off the plane the newly-crowned Olympic champion, his coach and his manager were hurriedly escorted into a private room while the rest of us were left to mingle with the general public and force our way out of Piarco. We were stuck in traffic for hours. The team doctor an I stood on the pavement joking about what just took place while we awaited our transport to arrive,” he said.

A proud father and husband, Voisin hailed his family (wife Joanne and children Jeneal and Tyrell) as his immediate support team.

Looking back, he said: “The institutional knowledge and experience that I have gained from my 27 years in the Defence Force are the ingredients that I’ve applied to my sporting experience. They have certainly helped me in my planning and execution as a team leader throughout the years.”

He ended: “Let me express congratulations again to those four young men, T&T’s gold medal winning team of Jarrin Solomon, Jereem Richards, Machel Cedenio and Lalonde Gordon for the great job they have done. They have made their country proud...Well done guys.”

Assistant Sports Editor

Tom Walsh proves mettle to go back-to-back over American rival Ryan Crouser

Tom Walsh takes the responsibility of being a world champion seriously.

So much so that when the big Kiwi went out and competed for the first time as official shot put champion of the world, in the Birmingham Diamond League early Monday (NZT), he felt a large weight on his shoulders.

But neither that, nor the groin injury he is shaking off to finish his northern hemisphere season, could stop him winning his first Diamond League competition of the year, and making it two in a row over his arch-rival, Olympic champion and best thrower in the world, Ryan Crouser.

Walsh came right when it mattered in Birmingham to haul in Crouser's first-round throw of 21.55 metres with his penultimate toss (21.75m) and then, as he did at the world champs in London, he put the icing on the cake with a competition-best 21.83m in the final round. He collected US$10,000 (nearly NZ$14,000) for the victory.

Crouser, who has failed to fire in the UK after a storming season hitherto, finished second with that first-up effort that he matched in the fourth round. Czech Tomas Stanek was third with 21.16m.

Walsh's series was: 20.75m, 21.29m, a no-throw, 20.92m, 21.75m and 21.83m. Crouser, who has a season's best of 22.65m, went: 21.55m, two straight fouls, 21.55m again, 21.53m and finished on a no-throw.

"That's what I wanted – to compete well and to compete like a world champion," Walsh told from Birmingham. "I wanted to prove I deserved to be world champion and I'm pleased that I did that. The first four throws weren't that good, but the last two were a lot better and to back up that world title and compete well is a big thing for me.

"I'm a competitive guy, and every time I go out I really want to win and to throw far, so just to do that again I'm really happy."

Walsh figured his winning throw of 21.83m was pretty close to a 22m effort, all things considered.

"It's probably 20 or 30cm uphill to the landing area [in Birmingham], so that definitely takes something off the throw for sure, and it was a little chilly which doesn't help things," he added.

"It's tricky because you've got some guys who have done what they wanted to at the world champs and you've got others who are trying to prove a point. Sometimes the guys who have done well find it hard to get themselves up and the other guys are trying too hard. That's why today's comp was a little bit up and down.

"But you never take winning for granted. At the moment men's shot put is crazy deep, and whenever I can win it's a good day."

There were no complaints this time either from Crouser, and Walsh confirmed some bridges had been rebuilt following the world champs controversy when the giant American's dual protests had carried over to just before the medal ceremony the night after the event.

In fact he went as far as to suggest their rivalry might even have gone to a new level with back-to-back wins now for the 25-year-old Kiwi.

"We're fine. We've had a few dinners together and been to a few other things, so we're all good," said Walsh. "He's still disappointed in himself in terms of the way he competed, and rightfully so.

"He's definitely got something to prove over these next few comps, so I'll have to watch my back because he'll be back in really good nick."

Walsh has two meets to conclude his season before he returns to Christchurch to hammer some nails in the new home he is building in Prestons Park with sponsor Mike Greer Homes. He will line up in Zagreb on August 28 (Euro time) and rounds things off with a shot at the US$50,000 (NZ$68,300) up for grabs at the Diamond League finale in Brussels on September 1.

"There is definitely a bit of a carrot there," added Walsh with a chuckle. "The Diamond League, behind the world champs, is what you want to win. It would be great if I could defend my title and come home with the cash as well."

The pride of Timaru has already banked close to $115,000 in prize-money this campaign, but it goes without saying the champ is hungry for more.

Mirror Sport: World 100m champion Justin Gatlin offers 'official apology' to athletics fans and admits London boos 'hurt'

Justin Gatlin has offered his first public apology to athletics fans for cheating and admitted the pain of being being booed after winning the World Championships 100m.

The American shocked Usain Bolt to win the blue riband event at London 2017 but didn't get the response he would have liked.

He was booed when he took the podium the following night to be presented his gold medal by Lord Sebastian Coe.

Speaking to ITV News, Gatlin was asked if his lack of public remorse for the drugs offence which saw him banned for eight years - reduced to four years on appeal - had been the source of the crowd's treatment of him.

"Yeah I can’t understand that," he said.

"If they want an official apology, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I apologise for any wrongdoings I’ve brought onto the sport.

"I love the sport. That’s why I’ve come back and run to the best of my abilities. I have worked hard to right my wrongs."

Gatlin has often pointed out the community work he's carried out in a bid to be a revered figure in the sport again, along with a letter of apology to the IAAF that never got the public airing he would have hoped.

His supporters point out that his first offence in 2001 was deemed by the Panel of the American ­Arbitration Association to be “at most, a ­technical or a paperwork ­violation”. He was given a two-year ban, cut to one year on appeal.

But the second, in 2006, has been harder to shake - he tested positive for testosterone.

He is still battling to be a hero on the track but says he's representing his country and loved ones on the track.

"I wanted people to respect me, to love me, to know I’m hard working like anyone else," he said.

"I felt it fell on deaf ears. It took away my focus on being a runner. I was so consumed by what people were thinking about me and judging me.

"I really had to dial in and focus on being a runner and my natural talent through all the talking."

Gatlin adds that those who booed him in London would do well to educate themselves about who they are chastising from the stands.

His message to them? "Go further than being a fan. Get to know an athlete… They all have stories, backgrounds, take the time to read the fine details rather than the headlines. Become a fan of the sport. Know who you’re rooting for and know who you're booing."

"I looked in the crowd who were barely half my age and definitely weren’t around in 2006, 2004 when everything happened to me. They couldn’t understand what I went through."

Farah Passes His Shirt & Torch To Andrew Butchart

Sir Mo Farah admitted he may not compete for Great Britain again after winning his final track race in Britain.

The four-time Olympic champion took victory in the 3000 metres at the Diamond League in Birmingham in seven minutes 38.64 seconds on Sunday.

He will retire from the track at the Diamond League final in Zurich on Thursday to focus on marathon racing.

Farah handed his vest to Scotland's Andrew Butchart at the end of the race and conceded it will take him two years to get to grips with the marathon so there are no guarantees he will return for GB.

The 34-year-old said: "To be honest, to have achieved what I have achieved has been incredible. If I come out of the marathon and I'm the best at the marathon, I might compete, it depends.

"But as an athlete, the next couple of years, it's going to take me at least two or three marathons to get it right, to learn from it, it's not easy. It could be my last time.

"This is it for me, that was my message for Andy - 'this is me done, take over from me and just inspire them, see what hard work is about and what it takes to be a champion'.

"He has got a great attitude and we need to inspire the next generation. I gave it to him because he's a great athlete, he gives 110 per cent and is learning over the years. He's a good guy."

Farah took the lead with just over a lap left and beat Spain's Adel Mechaal with Davis Kiplangat third and Butchart finishing fourth.

He will race in the Diamond League in Zurich on Thursday and intends to appear at the Great North Run in September but does not yet know when his first marathon will be.

Farah said: "All I ever wanted to do as an athlete is run for Great Britain. I remember when I did the mini marathon as a kid, I got interviewed and asked what I wanted to do, I said I want to run for Great Britain.

"Now it's finally done, I won't be competing for Great Britain, in terms of major championships, I won't be taking part. It feels a bit sad.

"It has been an amazing week – I've managed to have a bit of downtime with the family and relax but emotions have been high coming into this event; not as much as London [for the World Championships] but it is my last time at home and I really enjoyed it.

"I was just thinking about the race and who was there. I had to technically get it right.

"I never dreamed that I would become a four-time Olympic champion and multiple world champion. I now have to see what I will do on the road. I don't think I'll have the same pressure so I'll go and enjoy it.

"Running was a hobby when I was younger but it has become a job and I love it. It can be hard when you get the pressure but the roads will be something completely different."

Butchart, 25, finished sixth in the 5,000m Olympic final last year - which Farah won - and came eighth in the final at the World Championships earlier this month.

He said: "He [Farah] just said 'It's up to you now, do your best, it's your time to shine.'

"I don't know [what he'll do with the vest] but it is such a great gesture for him to give it to me. I'll definitely look after it and cherish it.

"It's going to be hard to follow him. We'll do our best, we always do, but I'm going to miss him massively. He's a massive inspiration.

"Every year he comes out on top. Every year he is finishing high up in the major championships."

Bittersweet Day For Jamaicans In Birmingham


IT WAS a day of mixed fortunes for the Jamaican athletes at the Birmingham leg of the IAAF Diamond League as some of them tried to make up ground for a poor showing, by their standards, at the recently concluded IAAF World Championships in London.

In the 100m, double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson won in 10.93 seconds, which went some way to making up for her setback in London, where she fell ill. Jura Levy, who was part of the quartet that won a bronze medal in the 4x100m in London, was third in 11.08 seconds. Christania Williams, Natasha Morrison and Schillonie Calvert-Powell all failed to make the final.

Thompson is six points ahead of Ivorian Marie-JosÈe Ta Lou (who came second here) in the overall Diamond League standings for this event.

In a very tough 400m, which involved all the medallists from London 2017, the Jamaicans found the race a bit too difficult as Novlene Williams-Mills, Shericka Jackson and Chrisann Gordon finished in fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively. Williams-Mills clocked 51.62 seconds while both Jackson and Gordon were given the same time of 52.08 seconds.

Former World Junior champion Janieve Russell, who did not qualify for the World Championships, finished third in the 400m hurdles in 54.67 seconds.

Kimberley Williams pulled out a big jump in the triple jump event (14.44m) and finished in second place behind the World Champion Caterine Ibarguen. Her compatriot, Shanieka Ricketts, finished in sixth place with a distance of 14.00m.

In the overall standings for this event, Williams is now on 24 points, seven behind Ibarguen.

Preview Of A Look At Matthew Centrowitz

Article Preview

Chris Kwiatkowski is the co-author of Matt Centrowitz’s self-published memoir “Like Father, Like Son – My Story on Running, Coaching and Parenting”. A 2012 graduate from the University of Oregon where he competed for the Duck’s on the national stage, Chris holds PBs of 13:51 5000m, 28:56 10,000m, 48:17 10miles and 64:10 half-marathon. Currently, Chris lives and works in Washington, DC as an assistant track coach at American University and a free-lance writer. 

Chris and Matt’s son, 2016 Olympic Champion Matthew Centrowitz, are best friends and former college roommates. This piece is in commemoration of Matthew’s 2016 Olympic gold medal run in Rio.

There are semi-packed bags scattered across the floor with various articles of clothing strewn about. You wouldn’t know if he was planning to leave or had just gotten back from a trip; as if to say his body stays here, but his mind is elsewhere. The walls are curiously bare, very uncharacteristic of an athlete with so many awards and allocates to his name – Matthew Centrowitz – the name strikes fear into the hearts of competitors around the world. The dimly lit desk in the corner of the room is adorned with open logbooks of training from the present and the past. This is his library, his place of study. His notes on the day’s efforts are highlighted and reviewed with previous efforts, strategies and cautious reminders. Only one picture decorates the blank walls above the desk. A quick glance at the very apparent dismay of it raises a puzzling question. Why would his only picture be of a crushing loss? “I don’t need any help remembering the races that I win”, he speaks softly with his hawk-like eyes focused on the picture. His thought is obvious; the images of this painful defeat replaying like a nightmare.

He has not always been in the spotlight and atop the podium. Like many of us, he has taken his turn at the hellish merry-go-round of injuries. Bad workouts, bad races, failure – time and time again. What sets him apart is not some genetic gift. It is not some lucky streak. For Matthew, track is all he ever thinks about.

His place is not unwelcoming, but it is by no means homey. When you step inside, the feeling is chilling. You are overcome with his sickness for success. The contagious thought process festers in your brain. The infectious drive sears your heart and burns your throat should you attempt to get rid of it. For a fleeting moment you understand how he feels every day, what it is that sets him apart. And you are forced to ask yourself – if you had the opportunity, in all of its glory and agony, would you really want it?

He sat right across the table from me slouched in comfort, collecting his thoughts with a presence of mind few are able to do. As we sat, drinking in his apartment, he revealed his secret to me, which little did I know would take him to the top of the world in the months that followed. His poise turned to passion as he spoke, “People don’t understand – ‘How are you so good’ they ask me, ‘You’re always screwing around, how do you get so lucky’ they say… I never stop thinking about the top, never!” he said, a fire brewing in his eyes. “I work harder than any mother fucker because this is all I got, I’m not going to make it anywhere else in life”, he barked. “I need to win, I have to be the best, I’m going to get to the top and believe me when I tell you … I’m going to stay there!” his fist slamming the table to accent each part of his statement. Chills ran down my spine. Nobody was going to beat him, and he knew it. Beware, the Track Man commeth.

End of preview

"My Greatest Challenge" With Tyree Washington

Tyree Washington won the world indoor and outdoor titles over 400m in 2003. Here the US sprinter talks about the difficulties he has endured throughout his life battling asthma.

“Many people don’t know that I have suffered from asthma for my whole life. I almost died from it on numerous occasions. As a baby the doctors told my grandmother, who raised me, I had 72 hours to live. My family was very spiritual and I made it through.

“When I was aged 14 or 15, I suffered smog inhalation in my home city of Riverside, California. My mother rushed me to hospital and I was taken to ER. My lungs were literally collapsing and everything was shutting down on me. For a while, I didn’t know if I was going to make it. Thankfully, I improved, but I remember when I left the hospital bed for a couple of weeks I couldn’t walk. It was very humbling.

“My asthma has been a constant battle through the years because my breathing capacity is at only 75 per cent. My doctor helped me maintain my asthma and I am just grateful I made it and excelled on the track. My doctors always joked and said they couldn’t understand how I had such bad asthma and yet I could run one of the hardest events on the planet. Both scientifically and medically they couldn’t explain it. I wasn’t supposed to win World Championships and become the fastest man in the world during my time in the 400m.

“My asthma made every year of my career very unpredictable. I often had to change my routines because the stresses of being involved in a high intensity sport like track and field would causes my asthma to flare up. I remember racing in Osaka in 1998 and enduring an asthma attack during the race. I wanted to stop at 200m and was telling myself to stop after the next 50 metres. Then I got to 300m and thought, ‘screw it, I’m going to finish the full race’. That race I ran 45.14 for third and I collapsed after the race. I was very stubborn. I wouldn’t go and see a doctor. I just wanted to race.

“Another time I couldn’t find one of my inhalers at home. I was on my hands and knees trying to find one, there was nobody home and I didn’t have my cell phone with me. Thankfully, I found an inhaler at the back of the cupboard. If I hadn’t, it would have been lights out for me.

“My career was always a constant battle. I guess pollen is my enemy – like kryptonite.

“For a long time when I looked back on my career, I felt really hurt I never made an Olympic team because of injury and illness. But over time, I realised that by winning the world indoor and outdoor titles in 2003 I had beaten all the best athletes in the world that year. Once I started to accept this, I could look back and think that despite my illnesses, I had a glorious and blessed career. I am part of a select group of athletes that have won world titles; my talent for track was a gift from God.”

Steve Landells for the IAAF

ASA ‘ran a good race’

Athletics SA (ASA) president Aleck Skhosana remains unapologetic for his organisation’s stringent selection criteria for the IAAF World Championships, despite heavy criticism.

Skhosana and company feel vindicated now that the country is celebrating its most successful achievement yet at the event.

In fact, a swashbuckling Skhosana says people must expect even tougher qualifying criteria for the next IAAF World Championships to be held in Doha, Qatar, in 2019.

He insists he has no time for critics and feels vindicated by the team’s haul of six medals – three gold, one silver and two bronze medals.

A small team of 27 athletes managed the record haul by South Africa, who only garnered three medals in Beijing in 2015.

However, as celebrations continue, there are a number of things that need to be addressed urgently, such as:

. The country needs sound representation in the men’s 800m;

. A woman javelin thrower;

. A 400m hurdles man;

. A discus thrower; and

. Both women and men high jumpers.

These should be cause for concern if SA are to maintain their performance at the next championships, in case a big name like Caster Semenya or Wayde van Niekerk sustains an injury as happened with javelin queen Sunette Viljoen, who was a guaranteed medal contender in London.

SA’s six medals also came from four athletes from a team of 27 and that is something that ASA has to work on as they cannot continue to rely on poster boy Van Niekerk and golden girl Semenya.

“We have set a benchmark and this is the time to celebrate,” said Skhosana.

“This is not a time to apologise. I’m not apologetic. For as long as I’m still the head of ASA. I’m not going to allow the team to decline in the world championships. We need to increase our medal tally.

“And the message is loud and clear: We will not lower the qualifying standards.”

He added: “The qualifying saga is now water under the bridge. We are not going to apologise to anyone and we are not going to feel sorry for anyone.”

The president said the ASA board was scheduled to hold a meeting to discuss the team’s performance at the world champs.

“We have not yet set the objective for 2019, but we sure want to better the standard.

Mo Farah refuses to let British summertime weather rain on his final parade in front of home crowd

Mo Farah’s farewell was as fitting as possible: a victory, a Mobot, a thousand selfies and, to cap it all, driving rain unleashed from a viciously dark Birmingham sky.

There were 19 world champions at the Birmingham Diamond League, but almost all the spectators inside the Alexander Stadium on Sunday were there for one man.

A man who, despite the continuing rumours, is Britain’s greatest and most loved athlete. Four Olympic and six world titles ensured that and, wearing the ‘Thank You Mo’ bibs that were handed out around the stadium, the Birmingham faithful were here to say goodbye.

Never again will their hero grace a British athletics track and, he revealed afterwards, never again will he represent his country, not even in his next guise as a marathon runner. “All I ever wanted to do as an athlete is run for Great Britain,” he said. “It’s been amazing. It’s been incredible. Now it’s finally done.

“I won’t be competing for Great Britain in terms of major championships. I won’t be taking part.

“It feels a bit sad. Obviously I think I will feel it more when I watch it on TV and see the guys, athletes I train with and people I have been in the circle with. I think it might detach me a little bit.

“But at the same time it has been an honour, I wouldn’t change any part of my career, what I’ve done.”

Introduced to the crowd from an open-top Bentley driven round the track before the action began, it was wholly understandable that the day had something of a testimonial feel about it.

Not one of his 13 rivals had inflicted a defeat on Farah during his track career and the chances of them doing so over 3,000m on Sunday were close to nil.

With two of the three Kenyans present employed to serve as pacemakers, Farah was content to keep himself far from trouble in the opening stages, bathing in the cheers that followed him round the track from his position at the back of the pack.

Only nearing the halfway stage did he decide to take closer order. Slowly he moved up – fifth became fourth, became third, became second until, entering the last couple of laps, he decided to take the lead.

From that moment onwards there was no passing him. With little need for a signature sprint finish in the closing stages, a simple steady acceleration was enough.

Clear by the time he entered the final straight, he raised his hands in a triumphant Mobot celebration as he crossed the finish line in seven minutes 38.64 seconds and sunk to his knees to kiss the ground. The 59th and final British track victory of his long and illustrious senior career.
Heralding the end of an era, he then took his shirt off and handed it to British team-mate Andy Butchart who finished fourth.

“This is it for me,” said Farah. “That was my message for Andy – ‘This is me done, take over from me and inspire, see what hard work is about and what it takes to be a champion.’ I gave it to him because he’s a great athlete, he gives 110 per cent and is learning over the years. He’s a good guy.”

One final track appearance remains in Zurich on Thursday, after which Farah will turn his attention to the road. The end of one chapter and the start of another.

The difficult questions will remain, no matter how strongly he argues against them – his protestations have become increasingly vehement in recent times.

As ever he was asked about his public mission to seemingly distance himself from his coach Alberto Salazar, who remains under investigation by the United Stated Anti-Doping Agency. Farah has recently insisted “for the last three or four years I’ve been pretty much by myself”.

That claim was scrutinised on Sunday morning when it emerged that photographs posted on social media appeared to place Farah alongside team-mates from Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project for 10 of the past 12 months, but he rebuffed queries while insisting that the day was about “enjoying myself”.

There are doubts and there are many who cannot believe. But those inside the Alexander Stadium were not among them.

They were there to say thank you – to witness their country’s greatest on a British track for one final time.

2018 World Indoor Champs Tickets Go On Sale

Tickets for the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018 will go on sale on Monday (21), with thousands expected to be snapped up in the next few days, following a superb summer of athletics.

Nearly 8000 tickets for the championships were bought on the first day of the pre-sale period at the end of May and organisers of the event, which will be held at Arena Birmingham from 1-4 March, have seen a huge increase in interest following the IAAF World Championships London 2017, so demand is expected to be high for general sale too.

“The IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018 will be one of the biggest sporting events of the year and is not to be missed,” said British Athletics Chief Executive Niels de Vos. “After the amazing success of the IAAF World Championships in London this month, we are already looking forward to welcoming the world’s best athletes to Birmingham for what will be a fantastic global event.

“Indoor athletics is all about excitement and drama and the state-of-the-art Arena Birmingham is the perfect venue, allowing spectators to get close to the action and offering the perfect view from any seat.”

Tickets prices have been set with families in mind. “We wanted to ensure that this event would be fantastic value for families in Birmingham and beyond,” said Councillor Ian Ward, Deputy Leader for Birmingham City Council, who are jointly organising the championships. “With all children’s tickets costing £5 and prices starting at £20 for adults, a family of four can come to some sessions of the championships for just £50.

“Staging this event in Birmingham, so soon after London’s hugely successful World Para Athletics Championships and IAAF World Championships, means that those people who missed out on tickets this summer now have another chance to experience the excitement of live athletics and to come and watch the world’s best athletes at a major championships and this time they’ll be competing in one of Birmingham’s world-class sporting venues.”

There are six different sessions for the championships, one on Thursday 1 March, two on Friday 2 March, two on Saturday 3 March and one final session on Sunday 4 March. The price of tickets varies across these sessions, with three categories of ticket (pink, green and blue) offering great choice as well as great value. Every single session has concession tickets available. The £5 tickets are available for children aged 2 to 16, students and people over 65 and no fees are charged on these tickets.

Those people who have signed up at to receive updates about the championships will be given an hour’s head start on buying tickets at 9am tomorrow and general sale will then begin at 10am.

Alozie Says London '17 Pressure Sucked Amusan In

Former 100m hurdler, Glory Alozie has said up and coming Tobi Amusan failed to rise to expectations, as the youngster bowed to the pressure of competition at the IAAF World Championships in London, which ended last Sunday with Nigeria missing on the medals table.


Amusan, based in the USA was rated as one of the favourites to reach the podium having ran a season’s and personal best of 12.57 seconds prior to the championships, in which she was making her debut. During the heats she produced 12.97 seconds, but in the semi-final she did 13.04 and crashed out of the final race won by Australian Sally Pearson with 12.59 seconds, Dawn Harper Nelson was second with 12.63 while German Pamela Dutkiewicz placed third with 12.72seconds.

“I wasn’t surprised our girl Tobi failed to make the final. I had a similar experience at the 2004 Olympics in Athens; my 12.62 couldn’t get me into the finals neither!

“Having run so fast before the championship put so much pressure on her, and there was a high expectation from every angle including her rivals. She is just a young athlete who may not know how to handle things.

“But I’m sure that she must have learnt a lot from this championships. I bet if the race is to be run again, she’ll do better than her performance now. In 1997 I couldn’t make the team to Athens 1997 Worlds, so that made me to go home and work harder and I was able to run the fastest time in the world in 1998.

“Let’s give Tobi a little time and everybody will see the good stuff she is made of. Running 12.57sec is not a child’s play over the hurdles. Only a very good and talented athlete can run that fast,” said Alozie who still holds the Africa record with 12.44 seconds achieved in the World Championships 1999 Seville, Spain.

Jessica Ennis-Hill: My favourite Sheffield hangout – and my least favourite airline

How often do you travel?

I travelled all the time, all over the world when I was competing. But since I retired from athletics, these days I’m mostly travelling for holidays. Recently, my family and I went to Portugal. We stayed at a villa just outside Albufeira and it felt so peaceful there.

What do you need for a perfect holiday?

To be able to relax, switch off and enjoy good food and nice wine. I’m happy to do nothing, relax around a pool and not worry about having to exercise as much as I did when I was competing.

Are you an adventurous traveller?

Ironically, I’m a “low-risk” traveller, despite all the daring things I’ve done in my life as a professional athlete. So you wouldn’t find me bungee jumping off a cliff or anything like that.

Most remote place you’ve been?

The Maldives. We were on one of the tiniest islands which you could walk around in five minutes.

Favourite place you’ve competed?

Osaka in Japan. It was so different from anywhere I’d been. When I had time off between competitions, I got to explore other parts of Japan, such as Kyoto, where I loved visiting the temples.

Favourite place for running?

The Peak District, quite close to where I live. It has the most beautiful scenery, with lots of lovely hills. Lake Garda is also a really scenic place for running.

Favourite holiday destination?

I like to try different places, but one of my favourites is Italy, where the people are nice, the food and wine are amazing – it’s a beautiful country. I’ve enjoyed breaks in Rome, and I’ve competed around the Lake Garda area, which is so beautiful.

Favourite hotel?

This incredible hotel, Qualia Resort, on Hamilton Island in Australia, where I had my honeymoon. It has a cool, contemporary design and we stayed in an amazing suite with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out to sea.

What’s one thing a first-time visitor to Sheffield must do?

Visit Made by Jonty, this lovely little café that’s great for brunch.

Favourite city?

New York. I’ve competed there a few times and had my hen-do there too. There are familiar bits everywhere, and you see an iconic building at every corner.

Favourite restaurant?

One of my favourites has been the Quay Restaurant in Sydney, which offers incredible views overlooking the harbour and the bridge.

Favourite bar?

I really enjoyed Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood in London recently, which has such a nice cosy feel to it. I also love SushiSamba, which has amazing views.

Favourite city for nightlife?

New York, especially the Meatpacking District. We went to the 40/40 Club near there, owned by Jay-Z, which was really good fun. The man himself [was] unfortunately not there.

Favourite airline?

Emirates. It offers such a luxurious feel. I didn’t enjoy flying with Delta Air Lines. It was one of those airlines that made you feel like passengers are an inconvenience. So you wouldn’t dare ask the cabin crew for anything for fear of being shouted at.

The most underwhelming place you’ve been?

I enjoyed most places I’ve been to, but I was anxious the first time I went to Rio de Janeiro. This was before the Olympics. I was there to attend a sports event and I was told not to wear jewellery, to avoid the beach and to stay on a certain side of the road, among other safety precautions. Even though I enjoyed Rio, it did make me feel a bit on edge.

Best health tips for travelling?

Keep hydrated, drink a lot of water, have electrolytes and wear compression gear, which helps limit swelling on your legs. Especially for long-haul flights, I always bring a good lip balm and moisturiser, such as Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream. An eyeliner is also essential for me.

Where next?

I’d love to see Sardinia. It looks stunning and I’ve wanted to visit for ages.

Evie’s Magic Bracelet: The Sprites’ Den (Hodder Children’s Books, £5.99) by Jessica Ennis-Hill is out now.

Interview by Soo Kim

Ahmed shows off range, runs 3:56 for the mile

The Canadian record holder over 5,000m and 10,000m hangs with some of the best middle-distance runners in the world and breaks four minutes in the mile

The Canadian 5,000m and 10,000m record holder is now a sub-four-minute miler.

Racing at the Birmingham Diamond League in England one week after the conclusion of the IAAF World Championships, Mohammed Ahmed ran 3:56.60 for the mile. He’s run 13:01.74 for 5,000m and 27:02.35 for 10,000m, both marks the fastest in Canadian history.

Ahmed beat several big names in the Emsley Carr Mile including Olympic silver medallist Evan Jager and 3:34.78 1,500m runner Robby Andrews. The St. Catharines, Ont. native finished fifth overall in the race, less than two seconds back of Jake Wightman’s winning mark of 3:54.92.

According to MileSplit’s conversion calculator, Ahmed’s mile (1,609m) time converts to a 3:39.14 for 1,500m, the more common of the two distances. Ahmed’s 1,500m lifetime best is 3:40.18, according to his All Athletics profile. The Birmingham mile is believed to be his mile debut.

The Canadian record in the men’s mile is 3:50.26.

According to Ahmed’s agent Dan Lilot, the 26-year-old will be running the 5,000m at the Zurich Diamond League on Aug. 24.

At the 2017 IAAF World Championships, Ahmed finished sixth in the men’s 5,000m and eighth in the men’s 10,000m.

Elaine Thompson returns to winning ways at Birmingham Diamond League

Reigning double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson returned to winning ways on Sunday to beat Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast in the women's 100 metres at the 12th meeting of the 2017 IAAF Diamond League in Birmingham, London.

The victory came 14 days after the 25-year-old Jamaican disappointed at the distance at the IAAF World Championships in London.

Thompson was expected dominate at the World Championships but finished a mere fifth in 10.98 behind gold medal winner Tori Bowie (10.85) of the USA, Ta Lou (PB 10.86), who claimed silver, and Dutch athlete Dafne Schippers (10.96), who won the bronze.

On Sunday, Thompson turned the tables of Ta Lou and Schippers by securing victory in 10.93 seconds. Ta Lou clocked 10.97 for second place. Thompson and Ta Lou were well clear of Jamaican Jura Levy, who finished third in 11.08. Schippers finished sixth in 11.22.

The other Jamaican sprinters Christania Williams, Natasha Morrison and Schillonie Calvert-Powell failed to qualify for the final

Williams (11.23) and Morrison (11.24) finished fourth and fifth respectively in Heat 1 won by Thompson in 10.97 seconds; while Calvert-Powell (11.23) was seventh in Heat 2 won by Ta Lou in 10.94).

Thompson's victory was the only Jamaican success in Birmingham, but Kimberly Williams was denied victory in the women's triple jump in one of the closest contests of the day.

The 2012 Olympic champion Olga Rypakova was the early leader before Williams took the lead with 14.44m in round two, matching it in round four.

Two-time world champion Caterine Ibarguen then produced the third 14.44m leap of the day but was second on countback to Williams. The Colombian saved her best for the final round, though, leaping 14.51m to take a late victory over Williams.

Shanieka Ricketts, the second Jamaican in the field, could only manage sixth place with an effort of 14.00m.

In the women's 400m hurdles, Jamaican Janieve Russell clocked 54.67 seconds for third place behind Czech athlete Zuzana Hejnova (54.18, a season best) and 2017 London World Championships silver medallist American Dalilah Muhammad (54.20).

Jamaican hurdler Ristananna Tracey, who won the bronze medal at the 2017 London World Championships, was listed on the provisional entry lists, but did not compete.

In the women's 400 metres, Novlene Williams-Mills (51.62 seconds) was the best placed Jamaican with a fifth place finish. Shericka Jackson (52.08) and Chrisann Gordon (also with 52.08) finished sixth and seventh respectively.

American Allyson Felix was beaten by 19-year-old Salwa Eid Naser.

The Bahrain athlete won in 50.59, with Felix clocking 50.63.

Jamaican Kemoy Campbell (8:07.26) finished ninth in the men's 3000m.

The race was won by Mo Farah, who delighted the home crowd in his final track race in the United Kingdom.

The 34-year-old, who became just the second man to complete the long-distance double-double at Rio 2016, will switch his attention to the roads after next week's meet in Zurich and signed off in his last race on home soil by winning in seven minutes and 38.64 seconds.

Farah, who won 10,000m gold and 5000m silver at the IAAF World Championships in London this month, sat in the middle of the field before making his trademark push with 600m remaining, taking the lead for his own on the final lap.

He paid tribute to the fans in Birmingham and expressed his excitement about moving on to the next stage of his career.

"Emotions were high, not as high as London, but it was the last time at home and I really enjoyed it," Farah told BBC Sport. "This is what it's all about.

"All I dreamed of as a youngster was racing for Great Britain. I want to continue to see what I can do on the road without having a target on your back and the pressure.

"It can get a little hard when you have some pressure. Going to the road it's going to be a new game and I'm excited."

HuffPost - "Let's Not Forget Justin Gatlin Is Human"

Harbir Singh - HuffPost

Justin Gatlin was booed at the Athletics World Championships, in London last week. He received his gold medal for his 100m victory, among a stadium full of boos and comments from the UK head of athletics: “dopers should be given lifetime bans and shouldn’t be allowed compete”.

The following few days were full of news stories about “the two times drug cheat” who beat Usain Bolt, in Bolt’s final race. This was not the end of the story that everyone wanted, but there are two sides to every story.

On the other side of the story, is a man who was banned in 2001 for taking a medication, which was a treatment for ADD (attention deficit disorder), which he has had since he was 14-years-old.

The United States Anti Doping Agency released a statement following the positive drug test stating, “Justin Gatlin had no intention to cheat, and did NOT cheat”. Nonetheless, the International Association for Athletics Federation rules dictate that if you test positive, you have to be banned, regardless of the circumstance, and so he was, and his reputation was permanently tarnished.

Next, he fought through the shame, loss of income, served his time and made an incredible comeback; winning the gold medal in the 100m finals at the 2004 Olympic Games. The past was behind him, and he silenced his doubters. He was cheered for when he received his gold medal. Wrong had been put right.

Until, 2006, another positive test, this time for testosterone, a drug which is hard to justify. Gatlin was tested 34 times before and after that event, and the other tests were negative, Gatlin pointed to sabotage by a disgruntled massage therapist in his team. It didn’t matter, the positive test resulted in an eight-year ban, effectively a lifetime ban, and the label of a two-time drug cheat.

Knocked down a second time, he could have retired a multiple World and Olympic Champion; an accomplishment most athletes would be proud of, but he did not. He wanted to clear his name, prove he had achieved it drug-free and so over the next four years, he visited schools to talk to youngsters, about drugs, he cooperated with anti-doping agencies and worked as an undercover agent for them, and did whatever else was needed to get his ban reduced.

Four years later, he was allowed to compete again, still a substantial amount of time when you consider the peak performance age for a 100m sprinter is 25-years-old. In a sport like sprinting four years can be a lifetime.

Fast forward to 2017, Gatlin he had served his time, and wanted to prove himself against one of greatest sprinters of all time, someone whom he had lost to in the past: Usain Bolt.

The rest of the story is well known; he beat Bolt and received criticism from attendees, the media, and high profile athletes.

Gatlin story could have been one of coming back against all the odds and beating the favorite, at 35-years-old, unheard of in that event.

His moment on the podium could have been the moment which made all of the challenges worthwhile. Instead, he will be remembered by most, as the two-time drug cheat, who beat Bolt and was booed.

Let’s not forget, he’s human like the rest of us, there are two sides to every story and we’ve moved on from being spectators at gladiator games in ancient Rome.

Bolt To Open Chain Of Fast Food Restaurants

The sprint legend is opening 15 Tracks & Records shops in Britain

Olympic Champion Usain Bolt might have had a disappointing end to his athletics career earlier this month, but now it seems that the Jamaican star has set his sights on a new career - in the fast food industry.

The sprint legend is preparing to open 14 Tracks & Records shops over the next five years.

The fast-food chain that serves jerk pork and burgers was launched in Kingston, Jamaica in 2011.

The restaurants will offer traditional Jamaican dishes when they open in the UK such as jerk pork, janga soup and pan chicken as well as the athlete’s own creation - burgers a la Usain - according to Caterer magazine.

Bolt said: "London has always been a special place for me [and this] is giving us the opportunity to share our vision and our culture with you all."

Earlier this month, we reported that Bolt blew £7,030 on booze in one night as he celebrated his retirement.

Along with pals, Bolt drank five bottles of Dom Pérignon Champagne – two of them £940 magnums.

He also ordered a bottle of vodka at £570, three bottles of £500 cognac, 23 Red Bulls costing £5.50 each and 18 cans of coke at £2.50 a pop.

Bolt – who pulled up with cramp in his farewell race two days earlier – also tipped £500 cash on top of a 15 per cent service charge added to the £6,530.23 bill.

One partygoer said: “He was buying everyone drinks. It descended into a crazy party.”

Bolt, 30, was with partner Kasi Bennett and Love Island stars at London’s DSTRKT nightclub during a three-day bender.

He posted a Snapchat video at 5am a day earlier pouring champagne in his ear and saying: “Don’t judge me. This is what I do. I don’t give a s***.”

Bolt – who has eight Olympic Gold medals – retired after the World Athletics Championships in London earlier this month.

He pulled up in the 4x100m relay.

The lifelong Red Devils fans was hoping he would be able to recover from his hamstring injury in time to be able to take part n Manchester United's legends match against Barcelona next month.

But then he revealed he faces three months of rehabilitation to fix a hamstring tear.

Bolt shared a scan of his world record-holding leg showing the tear.

"Sadly I have tear of the proximal myotendinous junction of biceps femoris in my left hamstring with partial retraction. 3 months rehab," he posted on Twitter, before deleting the post.

Bolt continued, refuting any suggestion he had not truly been injured at the World Championships.

He added: "I don't usually release my medical report to the public but sadly I have sat and listened to people questioning if I was really injured.

"I have never been one to cheat my fans in anyway & my entire desire at the championship was run one last time for my fans.

"Thanks for the continued support my fans and I rest, heal and move onto the next chapter of my life #Love&LoveAlone."

Barshim sets season’s best high jump record in Birmingham

Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim, who astonished the track and field world with his non-traditional hurdling technique on his way to becoming the reigning world champion in high jump this August, one-upped himself in Birmingham when he soared over the bar set to 2.40 meters. That’s just a smidge over 7 feet, 10 inches!

The men’s outdoor high jump world record is currently 2.45m, set by Cuba’s Javier Sotomayor in 1993.

At the 2017 Worlds, the 6-foot-2 Barshim cleared the bar at about 6 feet, 4 inches with his now famous feet-first maneuver.

At Birmingham’s Diamond League event his technique may have been conventional, but his final leap was no less breathtaking.

After trading jumps with Syria’s Majed Aldin Ghazal up to 2.35m, Ghazal decided to bow out, but the Qatari continued on. With the meet already won, Barshim raised the bar to 2.40m.

“I knew I had that jump in me but I needed that pressure on my shoulders,” Barshim said. “I love it here. I had the [meet] record here from 2014 and I also won in Birmingham last year so it is a lucky place for me.”

The 2.40m final jump for Barshim registered as a meet and season record. After climbing down off the landing pad, Barshim’s fellow jumping competitors mobbed him in celebration.

"No Need To Rush Talented Teenaged Athletes"

Tony Sharpe - Sports News Durham Region

A few weeks ago, I came across an article about the peak age of performance for athletes.

Based on the findings of a study done in France a few years ago, the average age was 26.1 years for peak performance. In the 100-metre sprint for example, the peak age for performance for males was 25.4 years and 26.1 years for female sprinters.

This led me to question some of the aggressive training methods being deployed by the coaches of high school athletes. Five or six days-per-week training programs are quickly becoming the norm for many.

Quite often, they are experimenting in the weight room with untrained instructors, which can lead to serious injury.

Even more disturbing is the high rate of injury among the more naturally talented athletes. These are the kids that showed significant potential before any formal coaching.

Then in comes that coach wanting to make a name for himself by aiming to put them on the Olympic podium before they graduate from high school. Or, perhaps, these excited coaches really do not know any better.

Overzealous parents are also to be blamed. They are sometimes guilty of getting caught up in the hype and losing perspective of just how long it takes for an athlete to reach full potential.

The millennial athlete is also a part of the problem. This is a generation where instant gratification is expected. I often hear very talented athletes talk about quitting because they are not running fast enough.

In part, this behaviour is being driven by some of the sensational high school performances we read about or stories of high school athletes representing their country at major international events. But we need to remember, those are the anomalies, not the norm.

In recent years, the term Long-Term Athlete Development has become a marketing line for many sports organizations, with many having no long-term development program in place.

As mentioned in the study, the average age at which an athlete reaches his peak performance is 26.1 years old, so why the rush?

As a sprint coach, I hate to say this, but let's slow it down.

Adam Gemili disqualified as Britain’s top sprinters are brought back to reality

• Gemili false starts in the 100m at the Birmingham grand prix 
• Mitchell-Blake and Talbot struggle in 200m, Asher-Smith fifth in 100m

A week after soaring to scarcely imagined heights at the world championships many of Britain’s top sprinters came tumbling back down to reality at the Birmingham grand prix on Sunday.

Poor Adam Gemili, who ran a storming second leg as Britain’s 4x100m men’s relay team took gold, felt it hardest as he was controversially false started in the 100m. Meanwhile his relay team‑mates Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Danny Talbot faded to finish fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 200m. With Dina Asher-Smith, who inspired the women’s 4x100m team to silver, also coming fifth in a high-quality women’s 100m final, it was left to CJ Ujah to fly the flag highest for British sprinting by winning the men’s 100m in 10.08sec.

Inevitably, however, the eyes were drawn to Gemili’s pained expression as he was disqualified from what he intended to be his redemption race after an injury-hit season. “Honestly I didn’t feel like I false started,” he said afterwards. “It’s the first time in my career that’s ever happened to me. I just feel like I’ve let so many people down. It’s just absolutely gutting.

“I know I’m in great shape but I haven’t had an individual race since the world championships to prove it. I know it’s only the grand prix – it’s not the world champs – but it feels the same for me. This was my redemption race to show everyone that I am in good shape and back running fast. I just want to say sorry.”

Gemili does not have the best of luck here – two years ago he was taken off the track on a stretcher after ripping his hamstring while blasting under 10 seconds for the 100m for the first time, while he hobbled along the home straight during the UK trials in July and ended up missing out on the individual 100m and 200m at the world championships due to the hamstring injury that had blighted much of his season.

Ujah, however, was in much more optimistic mood after beating James Dasaolu by 0.03, with Zharnel Hughes third a further 0.02 back. “I was optimistic coming into this race and you can see my current mind-set in my result,” he said. “I am very confident at the moment.”

Mitchell-Blake, meanwhile, admitted he had to learn the lessons from his disappointing fifth in the 200m in a modest 20.46sec, behind the world champion Ramil Guliyev, who ran 20.17. “That was a brutal race,” Mitchell-Blake said. “Obviously the time wasn’t that pleasing but I just have to learn from it going forward. It has been a lot physically but a lot emotionally too to recover from the world championships.”

In the women’s 100m Elaine Thompson looked back to her best after a strangely subdued performance at the world championships as she won in 10.93sec. Marie-Josée Ta Lou was second in 10.97 with Asher-Smith fifth in 11.21. “I had to bounce back first time after a disappointing world championships but the time is nothing to get excited about,” Thompson said. There was better news for British athletes in the men’s 400m as Dwayne Cowan won a weak race in a personal best of 45.39sec. “I’m pleased to set a PB but maybe I could have run 44 something,” he said.

Meeting Birmingham men/women results

Aug 20 (Gracenote) - Results from the Meeting Birmingham Men/Women on Sunday

Men's 100m

1. Chijindu Ujah (Britain) 10.08

2. James Dasaolu (Britain) 10.11

3. Zharnel Hughes (Britain) 10.13

4. Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (Britain) 10.19

5. Ojie Edoburun (Britain) 10.25

6. Andy Robertson (Britain) 10.46

7. Kyle de Escofet (Britain) 10.78

. Adam Gemili (Britain) DSQ

Men's 200m

1. Ramil Guliyev (Turkey) 20.17

2. Ameer Webb (U.S.) 20.26

3. Aaron Brown (Canada) 20.30

4. Isaac Makwala (Botswana) 20.41

5. Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Britain) 20.46

6. Daniel Talbot (Britain) 20.47

7. Christophe Lemaitre (France) 20.53

8. Isiah Young (U.S.) 20.55

Men's 400m

1. Dwayne Cowan (Britain) 45.34

2. Vernon Norwood (U.S.) 45.52

3. Rabah Yousif (Britain) 45.58

4. Teddy Atine-Venel (France) 45.70

5. Brian Gregan (Ireland) 45.93

6. Kevin Borlee (Belgium) 46.23

7. Martyn Rooney (Britain) 46.28

8. Josephus Lyles (U.S.) 46.75

Men's 800m

1. Nijel Amos (Botswana) 1:44.50

2. Adam Kszczot (Poland) 1:45.28

3. Marcin Lewandowski (Poland) 1:45.33

4. Brandon McBride (Canada) 1:45.39

5. Elliot Giles (Britain) 1:45.44

6. Kyle Langford (Britain) 1:45.69

7. Asbel Kiprop (Kenya) 1:46.05

8. Guy Learmonth (Britain) 1:46.28

Men's Mile

1. Jake Wightman (Britain) 3:54.92

2. Chris O'Hare (Britain) 3:55.01

3. Benjamin Blankenship (U.S.) 3:55.89

4. David Torrence (Peru) 3:56.10

5. Mohammed Ahmed (Canada) 3:56.60

6. Jordan Williamsz (Australia) 3:56.89

7. Evan Jager (U.S.) 3:57.39

8. Thiago Andre (Brazil) 3:57.91

Men's 3000m

1. Mo Farah (Britain) 7:38.64

2. Adel Mechaal (Spain) 7:40.34

3. Davis Kiplangat (Kenya) 7:40.63

4. Andrew Butchart (Britain) 7:44.10

5. Patrick Tiernan (Australia) 7:46.99

6. Richard Ringer (Germany) 7:49.92

7. Hassan Mead (U.S.) 7:51.09

8. Soufiane Bouchikhi (Belgium) 7:55.55

Men's 110m Hurdles

1. Aries Merritt (U.S.) 13.29

2. Sergey Shubenkov (Russia) 13.31

3. Devon Allen (U.S.) 13.40

4. Balazs Baji (Hungary) 13.47

5. Orlando Ortega (Spain) 13.48

6. Andrew Pozzi (Britain) 13.53

7. David King (Britain) 13.65

. Garfield Darien (France) DSQ

Men's High Jump

1. Mutaz Essa Barshim (Qatar) 2.40

2. Majed Aldin Ghazal (Syria) 2.31

3. Tom Gale (Britain) 2.24

4. Luis Joel Castro (Puerto Rico) 2.24

5. Mateusz Przybylko (Germany) 2.24

6. Sylwester Bednarek (Poland) 2.20

7. Robert Grabarz (Britain) 2.20

7=. Michael Mason (Canada) 2.20

7=. Gianmarco Tamberi (Italy) 2.20

7=. Donald Thomas (Bahamas) 2.20

Men's Long Jump

1. Jarrion Lawson (U.S.) 8.19

2. Ruswahl Samaai (South Africa) 8.03

3. Mike Hartfield (U.S.) 8.02

Farah motors home in victorious adieu to home crowd

British athletics legend Mo Farah began the day taking a lap of honour in an open top Bentley and ended it by giving the crowd what they wanted in his final race on home turf -- a victory. The 34-year-old, who had agonisingly fallen just short of a third successive distance world double in London last Saturday taking silver in the 5,000 metres, cruised home in the 3,000m at the Birmingham Diamond League meeting. "It's been an amazing week," said Farah. "I have been tired but had a little downtime with family. Emotion was high, not as high as London but it was the last time at home."

Farah Bids To Give British Fans Emotional Farewell

LONDON: British athletics great Mo Farah will hope his final track race on home turf on Sunday will have a happier ending than last Saturday’s world 5,000 metres final.

The 34-year-old, who will compete in the 3,000 metres at the Diamond League meeting in Birmingham, produced a courageous performance just falling short of overhauling Ethiopian Muktar Edris.

That defeat, his first since the 10,000m in the 2011 world championships, ended a remarkable run of global titles in which he upset the Kenyan/Ethiopian hegemony in distance races and included achieving the 5,000/10,000 double in successive Olympics.

Farah, who came to England aged eight with his mother and two of his brothers after a long trek from war-torn Somalia, is assured of a warm reception from the spectators if not from the press at whom he fired a blast after his 5,000m defeat.

His relations with large parts of the British media have deteriorated over the years because of his association with controversial coach Alberto Salazar.

The spectators, though, have largely given him the benefit of the doubt and Farah admits Sunday’s race will have his emotions in turmoil.

“It’s definitely going to be emotional,” said Farah, who will make his final track appearance in the Zurich Diamond League meet next week.

“I’ve had a long career and to come here year after year, it’s been something special.

“But, at some point, anything we do in life must come to an end and this is it. I just have to take care of the race and respect my opposition. I have a job to do Sunday and to do well.”

Farah is intent on not letting the occasion get to him and believes he is still in fine fettle despite his exertions in London at the world championships.

“It’s important for me to go out with a win,” he said.

“I think people realise that it’s not as easy as me just turning up, you’ve got to be in the best shape. I’m in great shape and if I could come away with a win that would be great.”

Farah can also perhaps expect a surprise from UK Athletics after he has crossed the line judging from what their chief executive Niels de Vos said.

“Mo Farah is thought by many commentators to be the greatest distance athlete of all time,” said de Vos.

“I could not agree more. We are planning to commemorate his final track race in the UK in style on Sunday in what will be one of the highlights of the summer.”

In truth the field lining up against Farah should not present any problems but other events on the card have a far more competitive edge.

None more so than the women’s 100 metres which sees Olympic champion Elaine Thompson try and restore some of her lustre after flopping in the world final.

However, bitter rival Dafne Schippers, who finished in front of her in the 100m as she took bronze and boosted by retaining her 200m crown, will be intent on denting the Jamaican’s morale further.

Dual sprint world silver medalist Marie-Josee Ta Lou also lines up as does Australian great Sally Pearson, fresh from her remarkable comeback to regain the 100m hurdles world crown. --AFP

Without 2 Stars, Track Show Will Roll Gloriously On

The IAAF World Championships in London were a curious lot. The times were down, the drama was up and, while the world fawned over a pair of golden spikes running for the last time, a hedgehog stole the show.

Little went according to the script we had envisaged for London, and that may be no bad thing. We were left heartened, rather than with a heightened sense of expectation of the phenomenal parade of athletes on the international circuit.

At the end of a golden road for some of the brightest lights the sport has ever seen, the world of track and field chose to remind us that those stars, as untouchable as they seemed for periods of perfection, remain as mortal as the rest of the field.

The likes of Usain Bolt and Mo Farah have made it seem almost too easy, routine and obligatory, even, for them to mark these august occasions with a record or a dominant performance. Both left their ultimate stage looking distinctly human; Farah in tears, and Bolt brandishing an X-ray as proof that his last dash was snapped by the elements. Maybe they should have resisted temptation, and walked away in Rio gold. Leave them wanting more, and all that

Wayde van Niekerk, the heir apparent for the track and field crown, concealed a temperamental back for much of the 2017 season, but it didn’t stop him defending his one-lap title. It did, however, emphasise how difficult it will be to carry the torch of inspiration on his own.

The golden spikes of Bolt will not be easily filled by just one athlete. How could they be? He was a freak of nature, whose thumping chest entrance could only be matched for drama by his completely unexpected exit; forlorn on the track, watching the next generation streak away.

Of course, it is not how we will remember him, or Farah. They have inspired for a decade, and they leave the sport on a fascinating plateau. Maybe, just maybe, the next few years will not have a standout superstar in the Bolt mould; not one outrageous talent who rises above the rest.

Despite that reality, there is much to look forward to over the next few years. For one thing, these Championships reminded us that, in sport, nothing lasts forever. The Jamaican sprint dominance looks to be in its autumn, just as America rises once more.

Maybe, we will see the star dust sprinkled liberally around the sport, not just the track. Van Niekerk, in full cry, is destined to make more headlines, as he is yet to reach is peak. What a thought.

Caster Semenya, who medalled in the 1500m for ‘fun’, will continue to let her feet answer the mud-slinging that follows every title she adds to her collection. Akani Simbine has been in so many high-profile finals that a medal surely beckons one of these days.

Luvo Manyonga speaks of records, and such is the arc that he is currently on, only a fool would bet against him one day touching the stars that he seems to leap for at every major meeting he's in.

The optimism goes beyond the rainbow nation, of course. From the long-jump pit, to the high-jump bar, where you will find the freak that is Mutaz Essa Barshim, a man who can casually scissor jump well over 2m for kicks. The German rivalry in the men’s javelin, the US shot-put tussle

The compelling narratives are there, waiting to unravel themselves in due course.

Roll on Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games next year.

Roll on Doha, for the World Championships in 2019. Roll on Tokyo 2020, when all those narratives will reach their thrilling climax. The world may have lost Farah and its lightning Bolt, but their exit leaves the stage open for so many fresh faces of inspiration. The show will roll gloriously on. It always does.

Jamaica Urged To Use More Science & Technology

After a symposium with Japan and UK athletics deputy coach, London Queen Elizabeth Stadium away from the Jamaican crowd watching the World Championships wondering what we have gotten right as a nation and where we have gone wrong with Brand Jamaica athletics.

Japan, Bahrain and Botswana seemed to be emerging as formidable competitors in athletics. During the semi-finals, Isaac Makwala from Botswana seemed to be a serious challenger for the 400m title. I was a little sad that Makwala was denied entry into the stadium to compete against the defending champion, South African Wayde Van Niekerk.

I was, however, buoyed by the tremendous amount of goodwill the crowd had for Usain Bolt, who had failed to live up to the expectations of retiring as the 100m world champion. Bolt has transcended race, class and country to be no longer Jamaican but 'To the World'.

From earlier in the day during a coffee meeting at the University of East London (UEL) Docklands campus I had started to ponder what could be salvaged from Usain's goodwill. The UEL's lounge overlooking the river had served as a vibrant discussion area where Usain's importance to athletics and Jamaica as the athletic stimuli which forced Africa and the Caribbean to higher athletic achievement were discussed.

I was repeatedly asked about the science behind the athletic aura of Jamaicans. When I had left the meeting for the London Stadium I felt a deep, bone-tired sadness. Everyone wanted to study the Jamaican athletes. I had done minuscule scientific work with Maurice Wilson at Sprintec, which seemed to have paid off with 10 members making the team to World Championships 2017. However, no systematic research has been used in the athletic trajectory of Jamaica.

Is this why the cracks are now showing? Our foods are being marketed as sports food in the UK, yet GraceKennedy and others are lost in the global battle of the emerging sports food industry.

Days before, at a symposium on another campus, they had fed me saltfish, seasoned patties, hard-dough corn bread and baked banana chips as one of their signature dishes. They insisted that's what the Jamaican athletes ate. The dish is very popular with student athletes in the UK.

Usain gave Jamaica visibility, but there is a dark side to Jamaica that refuses to incorporate scientific ideas and technological strategies from those who they deem are not part of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) or Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) entourage. If these ideas are not coming from certain quarters, they are often stolen or go dead.

Professor Helen Asemota, a naturalised Jamaican and former consultant to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, was in London too. She and Professor Taku Wakahara from Japan enjoyed some of the salt fish patties. As Jamaican academics we were up in London in the euphoria of Bolt's departure, trying to market to a small group yam cookies and yam nutrient smoothies as bio-sports foods.

I tried to mileage the Jamaican sprinters to the Japanese as archetypes of runners who should be studied and honed with technique to produce who the sprinters of the future should look like. Tokyo mantra for 2020 “Is Winning Medals Using Science”. That is legal science.

The Jamaican high commissioner to the UK listened to our proposal of using science and technology to improve performance. He marvelled that such ideas were coming out of Jamaica. He was so stunned and literally blindsided, yet the Japanese investigators had noticed the work being done by us Jamaicans long ago and had flown in from Japan to meet us at a conference in London, which should directly start a collaboration that will help their athletes and make them a force to reckon with for Tokyo 2020.

Jamaica cannot, in this era, survive on just natural ability, as nature can be cloned and technique honed to produce better sprinters. We have an immeasurable reservoir of emerging talent in Demish Gaye, Yanique Thompson, Fredric Dacres, Rochelle Burton, Dejour Russell and others. How Jamaica harnesses this talent will determine if Jamaica remains dominant in athletics.

It cannot be done without science and technology. We are moving past the era that allowed Jamaicans to excel by natural ability and grit. We love our athletes and administrators but the time has come where a deeper analysis of what we need to retain Jamaica's dominance is necessary. We should not be having so many incidences of injuries in the cold as seen in World Championships 2017.

We should have kept records of how our most elite athletes adapt to certain environments based on notations of how they reacted before. I have seen Christopher Taylor and Jason Livermore not perform at their best because it was cold at the Penn Relays. One of my collaborators who has a MSc in Physical Therapy and who went with the youth team to Nairobi indicated that many did not perform as should because Kenya was colder than Jamaica was at the time of the youth championships.

If we have the data we are able to plan and have contingencies in place. Usain has done too much for the IAAF for our sport administrators to not have collectively lobbied federations from the tropics to make the IAAF provide leg warmers in the waiting areas for those athletes from the tropics who are not used to prolonged cold conditions. This would have minimised muscle cramping and muscle tears in London.

We should have been the first one marketing a sport dish around Bolt, yam, Trelawny and the Cockpit Country. GraceKennedy, Sport Development Foundation, JAAA — we need your support but believe me you also very much need new ideas; you cannot just sponsor those in your network.

The Government must not just entertain those who they are comfortable with. Too many useless people sit on sports boards and in administrations, and their worthless ideas get recycled ad nauseam. Some of us are not in the network of who is who in Jamaica, but we have done some detailed analyses of what can be done to improve sport performance. We have the scientific data from the brilliant exploit of the quadruplet of 1952 who set our first relay world record in the 4x 400m.

We know that someone like Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, because of her fantastic stride frequency, is prone to toe injuries, so we can use this data to work on the deficiencies in athletes like Jura levy and Sasha-Lee Forbes who are immensely talented but small in stature like Shelly-Ann with the same step turnover.

We have observed that Rusheen McDonald, who was on the last leg of the 4x 400m World Championships 2017 team which did not qualify for the final, needs psychological/psychiatric help to start believing in himself again. He is our national record holder; we must get him back to where he was pre-World Championships 2015, where he was ridiculed for setting a national record in his heat and exhausting himself so he could not qualify for the final.

The benefits of yam and ginger are documented inside and outside of Jamaica. They are using cinnamon and ginger and coconut water as alternate substitutes to Gatorade and Powerade in the rehydration and reduction of muscle inflammation in athletes. Ginger is legal by World Anti-Doping Agency and must be in our repository of anti-inflammatories for cold and immune recovery.

Yes, we have our orthopaedic surgeons and medical practitioners readily available, however we must put scientific policies in place that are technologically driven to ensure the best outcome for our athletes. As we plot Jamaica's athletic future post-Usain Bolt, let us use more science and technology to maintain our position in athletics.

Please provide access for some of us to help Brand Jamaica. Whilst we might not have social access in Jamaica, the world has become a global village and is willing to pay premium prize for our scientific work. We can become global merchants, however we would prefer to be patriotic.

Are Kenyans Losing Battle In Long Distance Running?

Former athletes and coaches say more needs to be done if Kenya are to remain dominant in most races once again.

Kenyan men surrendered three titles while women could not retain two crowns at the just concluded IAAF World Athletics Championships in London.

Questions still linger on whether Kenya can reclaim the 5,000m and 10,000m after a relatively poor show over the distances in London.

The performance in London were at par to the 2013 Moscow worlds. Kenyans are known to perform well in Asia than in Europe or America.

In 1988, the country posted a good show at the Seoul Olympic Games with John Ngugi winning gold in 5,000m. The Beijing Olympics (2008), Beijing worlds (2015) and Rio Olympics saw Kenya give an impressive show over the various events.

But Moses Tanui, the 1991 world 10,000m champion, differs with the trend.

ALSO READ: Kenya to bid for 2023 world championships
“There is nothing like good results in Asia. The results in 5,000m and 10,000m men in London were disastrous. The problem lies with the coaches.

“There was need for proper preparations, selections and a smart winning strategy. We just allow our athletes to do pace setting. Look at how Paul Chelimo (USA) and Joshua Cheptegei (Uganda) made brilliant moves in 5,000m and 10,000m and made away with medals. We need to review our coaching skills,” said Tanui.

Athletes prefer road races

However, disaster has been lurking in men’s 5,000m and 10,000m races for long and track coaches are now scratching their heads.

Bernard Ouma, the middle distance coach, said: “Running requires periodic long-term planning and a perfect programme tailored to boost endurance. This includes a balancing act between transitions and competition timing. For instance, if an athlete starts his preparation late, it’s mostly likely that his form will pick up late and he will hit top form after the competition,” he said.

“The best 5,000m runners are those who transited from 1,500m event. Asbel Kiprop and Timothy Cheruiyot can emerge as the best 5,000m runners for Kenya, watch out. Asbel just needs to start Commonwealth preparation early and I can assure he will be the man to beat in Gold Coast, Australia, next April,” Ouma said.

Douglas Wakiihuri, the first Kenyan to win London Marathon in 1987, said athletes in 5,000m and 10,000m opt to line up for road races, which pays handsomely.

“The emergence of many road races and lack of competition in 10,000m has made Kenyans to prefer road races to the track. There is the element of huge money in road races in big city races.

“There is need for Kenyans to graduate from track at the right age. You get athletes aged 22 competing in road races abroad. So, there is need for steady transition,” he said.

Hellen Obiri became the second Kenyan woman to win gold in 5,000m after Vivian Cheruiyot’s exploits in Berlin (2009) and Daegu (2011).

It remains a riddle as to when men will reclaim the 10,000m title that Charles Kimathi won in Edmonton, Canada, in 2001.

Kenya has three gold medals in Paul Kipkoech (1987), Moses Tanui (1991) and Charles Kamathi (2001) while Ethiopia lead with nine medals from Haile Gebreselassie (1993, 1995, 1997 and 1999), Kenenisa Bekele (2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009) and Ibrahim Jeilan in 2011. Britain boasts three titles from Mo Farah’s wins in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

However the bad show by the men in track distance running did not water down Kenya’s superlative show as women ventured into virgin grounds in 1,500m – winning first gold medal since IAAF introduced the race in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1995.

But London also witnessed Kenyans failing to retain the titles that they won in Beijing in 2015.

The men’s squad lost the 800m (David Rudisha), javelin (Julius Yego) and 400m hurdles (Nicholas Bett) titles even as Geoffrey Kirui reclaimed the marathon title last won by Abel Kirui in 2011 in Daegu. Elijah Manangoi retained the 1,500m title won by Asbel Kiprop in 2015 and Conseslus Kipruto changed the pecking order in 3,000m steeplechase, chalking up victory as Ezekiel Kemboi had won in 2015.

It was a tall order for Haron Koech, who had trained his sights on retaining his younger brother’s, Nicholas Bett’s, 400m hurdles crown. He bowed out in the semi-finals.

Bett, Olympic 400m silver medalist Boniface Mucheru and Eric Keter, who finished seventh in the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo to set the then national record of 48.70 seconds, stand out among Kenya’s high achieving hurdlers.

Keter also finished fifth at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany to slap a new national mark of 48.28 seconds and won the 1991 All Africa Games title.

Kipyegon Bett, who has 1:43.76 best personal in the two-lap race, could not retain David Rudisha’s title and settled for bronze. Emmanuel Korir, who has a world leading time of 1:43.10 set in Monaco Diamond League, carried the nations’ hopes after winning at the national trials and, more importantly, had not lost any race up to the semi-final in London.

He reportedly picked up a hip injury while in London.

Michael Saruni, who boasts 1:44.61 in the two-lap race but was dropped from London squad on questionable grounds to accommodate Rudisha and Ferguson Rotich despite finishing third in trials, stands as another prodigy to succeed Rudisha.

The women’s 800m title has remained a pipe dream for Kenyans since the entry of South Africa’s Caster Semenya on the global scene in 2009, where she overshadowed 2008 Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo and 2007 world champion Janeth Jepkosgei.

The entry of Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba into the battle has also complicated Kenya’s quest to reclaim lost grip.

Interestingly, some well-built and muscular women seem to have been dominant in 800m in the global scene since 1983 when Jarmila Kratochvilova of Czech Republic set the current world record of 1:53.28.

Margaret Nyairera, Kenya’s sole hope in London, finished fourth behind Semenya, Niyonsaba and America’s Ajee Wilson.

Manangoi became the second Kenyan to win 1,500m crown after Asbel Kiprop’s three wins in Daegu, Moscow and Beijing.

If their performances in the Diamond League meetings where Manangoi, Timothy Cheruiyot and Ronald Kwemoi top world rankings are anything to by, then Kenya would still continue to hold a firm grip on the race.

But Faith Chepng’etich, the Olympic champion, warmed fans’ hearts as she became the first Kenyan to win 1,500m crown in the IAAF World Athletics Championships history.

Winny Chebet, who has six silver medals in 800m before graduating to 1,500m this season, would emerge as Chepng’etich’s rightful team mate.

There is, however, a steady invasion into Kenya’s track speciality, the men’s 3,000m steeplechase.

Kenya has recorded three podium sweeps – 1997, 2007 and 2015 – as well as striking the 11th gold medal in the history of the World Athletics Championships.

London provided a perfect indicator that Kenya’s performance in the race is waning.

Frenchman Mahiedine Mekhisi-Benabbad and America’s Evan Jager have always spoiled the Kenyan party.

Still joy for Adelle

TEAM GB star and former Camelsdale Primary School pupil Adelle Tracey achieved two personal bests competing in both the heats and semi-finals World Athletics Championships 800 metres race.

But her 2:00.26 time in last Friday’s semi-finals was still not fast enough to take her through to Sunday’s final.

Adelle is now focusing on improving her running before next year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia and the European Championships in Berlin.

Frustrated to have missed out in London but delighted to have improved her times, she said: “Two personal bests in two days and an unforgettable experience at my first outdoor major championships in front of a home crowd! I’ve loved every second.”

Sprinter Mitchell-Blake Eyes More Invididual Success

The world 200m fourth-placer is keen to maintain momentum after his recent performances in London

For Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, any world gold medal-winning celebrations will have to wait a few more weeks as he looks to push on from forming part of GB’s victorious 4x100m relay team and achieve further individual success this summer.

The 23-year-old anchored the quartet – also including CJ Ujah, Adam Gemili and Danny Talbot – to European record-breaking success in London and now, a week later, they are all preparing to get back on the track at the Müller Grand Prix Birmingham.

Mitchell-Blake will contest the 200m – the event in which he also secured a fourth-place finish at the IAAF World Championships in London – along with Talbot, while Ujah and Gemili will line up in the all-Brit non-Diamond League 100m at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium on Sunday.

Given that they are now world champions, will their rivals – including Turkey’s world champion Ramil Guliyev and Botswana’s Isaac Makwala in the 200m – be considering them as ones to watch?

“I don’t believe there’s a target on us,” Mitchell-Blake says. “It’s a new race, a new atmosphere. It’s a week later, a lot can happen.

“We’re world champions, but that’s in the relay,” he adds. “Now it’s our time to perform as individuals.”

That mentality applies when it comes to future major championships, too.

“None of us are here just to make the championships or to get knocked out in the heats,” says the US-based sprinter, who was born in Newham and raised in Jamaica. “All of us have big ambitions.

“Track and field is a very competitive sport but we definitely expect ourselves not just to make semi-finals but to make finals and then push on for medals.

“We’ve always had the aspiration of getting medals, it’s not just now,” he adds. “I feel it’s only a matter of time, sooner rather than later, that you’ll see us reaping the rewards.”

Among those in London to witness GB’s golden relay success was the nation’s 2004 Olympic 4x100m title-winning quartet of Jason Gardener, Darren Campbell, Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis. Four days later, the Athens champions were back in action themselves, running as part of a golden relay event at the Manchester International.

Having the 2004 quartet in the London Stadium watching them was “pretty cool”, Mitchell-Blake says, adding: “They paid their respects to us. It was a pretty special moment to know that the guys that we look up to are now saluting us. It was like coming full circle.”

Exclusive interview: How gorgeous Faith Kipyegon downed Semenya and Dibaba in style

  • Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon won the 800m race beating world-renowned athletes
  • Her father was a runner in the 800m and 1,500m categories

It was billed as the penultimate race of the 2017 London World Championships, with a start list brimming with menace, speed, endurance and athletic power.

Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya of South Africa, US champion and Olympic bronze medallist Jenny Simpson, Great Britain’s Laura Muir, Netherlands’ world indoor champion, Sifan Hassa, defending champion and world record-holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia – all with below four-minute times in the 1500m women’s race.

And in that mix of gunpowder stood a coy, tiny gazelle from Ndabibit village in Kuresoi, Nakuru. That girl is Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon.

She didn’t disappoint. Cruising down the stretch, her legs cutting through the air with the rhythmic power of a well-oiled engine, Faith struck Kenyan women’s first gold medal in 1,500m in the IAAF World Athletics Championships history, leaving the sporting world dazed.

The 22-year-old Kenyan track queen is drop-dead gorgeous, an eye candy who stopped male athletes on their tracks at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. Her beauty and style side-lined the ‘yellow-yellow’ Ethiopian track superstars that Kenyan men drool over.

The lithe girl from far-flung Ndabibit village, who caught the world’s attention, running barefoot to finish fourth at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in 2010 is now a track assassin. Gorgeous in running kit and absolutely stunning in an evening gown, she is the perfect poster that would leave any pin-up model gasping in envy.

This beauty would no doubt cause a traffic jam on Moi Avenue if she crossed that road on a Sunday morning! Then meet her in her room at Keringet Athletics Camp in Nakuru County listening to a mix of Tanzania music super star, Diamond Platnumz – and you will confirm her unbridled love for Bongo Flava.

Her full lips sit pretty on her lovely, bright face, emphasising a beauty that the manicured nails and blow-dried soft hair crown with such great flair. Faith has come so far since her maiden trip abroad on July 4, 2011 for the IAAF World Youth Championships in Lille, France.

She has come a long way from the clean-shaven Winners Girls High School student who, as a junior, raced her peers to the ground.

When she threw down the gauntlet to race down her opponents, it was evident she has come of age. “I won the Olympics last year but the victory at the World Championships is sweeter because I fought the hardest,” says the 22-year old, who lined up for what was termed as the most unpredictable race of the championships.

“In Rio, I was only wary of Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia because I had a fantastic season. In London, Caster Semenya, Dibaba, Sifan Hassan, Laura Muir and Jenifer Simpson were all gold medal prospects,” she said.

The senior world championships gold was the only major medal lacking in her collection. She has achieved what most of her peers just dream of. Sample her calling card; World Youth (Under 18), World Junior (Under 20), World Cross, Commonwealth Games, World Relays and Olympic titles.

“I couldn’t sleep the moment we landed in London. I did not even feel hungry. It was an extremely difficult time waiting for the competition. The only good thing is that the pressure was not only on me but also on the rest of the field.

“It was well distributed among us, especially after I lost to Sifan at the Monaco Diamond League before coming into the championships,” said Faith, before making history as the first Kenyan female world champion in 1,500m since the race was introduced in Gothenburg Sweden in 1995.

“I knew it would be a tough race and everyone was going for gold. I knew nobody would go to the front in the first two laps and they would go faster in the last lap. So I trained for it,” she said.

She is managed by Dutchman Jos Hermens of Global Sports Communications, whose stable collected five gold, six silver and four bronze medals in London.

At times, Faith trains in Dutch’s oldest city of Nijmegen, where their management has a camp.

As a Form Two Student at Winner’s Girls High School in Keringet, Faith was among young athletes feted at the centenary celebrations of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in Barcelona, Spain, in 2012.

All along Faith had wanted to improve on her father Samuel Koech’s exploits in athletics.

“My father was a good 800m and 1,500m runner but unfortunately, he never boarded a plane. He would only win his races up to nationals and go back home as there were no big competitions like we have these days,” Faith said.

In 2014 during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, Faith, then a Form Three Student, exhibited exceptional courage to snatch the Commonwealth Games 1500m gold medal at Hampden Park Stadium.

She beat a classy field that included track star Hellen Obiri and a strong Australian and Canadian challenge to win her maiden track championship race since graduating to seniors, having won the Africa cross country championships in Kampala, Uganda, in March that year.

At only 22, she has a long career ahead, and no doubt, her charming smile will light up the finish line again and again, her athletic, beautiful frame draped in the national flag.

“You know, it’s really hard to say I’m the best or that I will the best ever. I prefer to make short-term plans to avoid putting too much pressure on myself. So far, I’m happy with my achievements,” she said.

Emmanuel Korir Goes Pro, Signs With Nike

According to UTEP Athletics, freshman sensation Emmanuel Korir has signed with Nike and will forgo the rest of his NCAA eligibility to run professionally. He will continue to train under UTEP associate head coach Paul Ereng in El Paso, Texas, while pursuing his education.

"Emmanuel started running well at the start of the indoor season, that's when the idea of turning pro came up", Ereng said in a UTEP Athletics press release. "He's ranked number one in the world in the 800m and top 10 in the 400m so he has the tools to become another household name for Kenya."

The 22-year-old Korir put the world on notice in his NCAA debut this year after moving to the United States from Kenya to train with Ereng.

2017 Highlights:
- He won the NCAA indoor 800m title after being out with an injury for three weeks leading up to the race.
- He ran a sub-45 second open 400m twice becoming the youngest to join the sub-1:47/45.0 club.

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}- He ran the No. 2 all-time NCAA 800m in 1:43.73 via a negative-split 52.48/51.25, becoming the third man to join the sub-1:44/45.0 club.
- He ran a 43.34 4x400m relay split.
- He won the NCAA outdoor 800m title.
- He won the Athletics Kenyan Trials 800m title in 1:43.86.
- He ran a 1:43.10 800m in Monaco.

As the 800m world leader heading into London two weeks ago, Korir didn't live up to his billing as he failed to advance to his first global championship final, but he did have to endure a much longer season than many of his competitors. Keep an eye on him as he begins to train solely for the professional circuit.

How Sally Pearson coached herself to be the one of the best athletes in the world

WHEN Sally Pearson walked off the medal dais after singing the national anthem inside the London Olympic Stadium for the second time in her career, an official was waiting for her with a package.

Inside was her athletes’ pass, information from the world championships final which she’d won an hour earlier, a box to put her gold medal in and then at the bottom there was another box.

“What’s this?” Pearson asked.

“That’s a medal for your coach,” the official said.

The Australian hurdles champion started laughing.

For the first time in the championships history the coaches of medal-winning athletes were also getting medals.

It was funny because Pearson would be giving the medal to herself.

Twelve months earlier the 2012 Olympic 100m hurdles champion had made a brave decision to coach herself, a move that raised eyebrows around the Australian track and field scene.

History wasn’t kind to self-coached athletes and the odds were certainly stacked against Pearson.

She’d missed the previous two years because of injury, was turning 30 and had from 2013 to 2015 gone through three coaches.

But this wasn’t just about coaching, this was about saving a career and Pearson had decided the only person who was capable of doing that was herself.

She’d had an epiphany on a plane from Sydney back home to the Gold Coast when she watched aerial skier’s Lydia Lassila acclaimed documentary ‘The Will to Fly’.

It charted Lassila’s rise to Olympic gold and then her return after motherhood.

Pearson had been dealing with her own demons after breaking her wrist in 2015 and then being forced to pull out of the Rio Olympics because of achilles and hamstring issues.

She was hating life but became inspired by how Lassila had fought back from so many setbacks that by the time she had left Gold Coast airport the comeback and coaching decision had been made.

On the first day of the athletics in Rio, Pearson and her husband, Kieran, sat down at their kitchen table and started mapping out a plan that ultimately would lead to one of the greatest comebacks in Australian sporting history.

“It took me hours and hours and hours on the first day to write a program out and decide what was best for me and what I could and couldn’t do, being an older athlete and having these injury troubles,” Pearson said.

She put together a small group that would be called ‘Team Pearson’.

It included a couple of close friends, her mum Anne, two training partners, a biomechanist, physiotherapist, manager Robert Joske, long-time race agent Maurie Plant and, of course, Kieran.

They all knew her well enough to know that once she set her mind on something, there was never going to be any deviation and they’d all better strap in for the ride.

“I never doubted it, she knows her body,” Kieran said about his wife’s coaching venture.

“She has been doing it more than long enough. She has got the determination that whatever she sets her mind to she is going to do it and she is going to do it properly so there were never any doubts about her achieving her dreams.”

Pearson had been with her first coach, Sharon Hannan, for 14 years before splitting after the world championships in 2013.

She then had brief tenures with former training partner Antony Drinkwater-Newman and then podiatrist and coach Ashley Mahoney.

Australian head coach Craig Hilliard was on board with the self-coaching from the start.

“She’s been a long time with Sharon her former coach who took her to a gold medal,” Hilliard said.

“You learn a lot through that. As a coach, you get to a point where if you can’t as a coach instil all those beliefs and how to program after a ten-year period, I would say as a coach I hadn’t done my job properly.

“She knows what’s right and wrong, she’s pulled in the people she wanted technically and to bounce ideas off. She’s got a biomechanist, she’s got the right team around her and she was comfortable.”

The one thing Pearson knew how to do was get fit. For the first few months of the comeback she quietly went about getting her battered body back in shape.

Hours were spent in the pool and gym, getting her legs back and bulletproof again.

At the start of February while the focus in Australia was on the new Nitro series with Usain Bolt the star, Australia’s biggest star quietly went to Europe for a series of indoor meets.

The trip was a costly exercise financially given she’d had her funding downgraded by Athletics Australia after two years out of the sport but it was seen as critical to get her back into international competition.

Pearson made the podium in every race and given she knew she was only three-quarters along in her training with virtually no speed work or specific hurdling, it was a timely confidence boost.

From there it became about positive reinforcement at each step along the way.

Next was the national championships where she ran the world championships qualifying time in the heat and then produced a wind-assisted 12.53 sec in the final which reduced her to tears afterwards.

They were tears of joy because for the first time she realised her legs could still move fast enough.

Another trip overseas was next to Boston, Manchester and then to Jamaica where she took part in Bolt’s final meeting at his home in Kingston.

She was beaten by reigning world champion Danielle Williams but not by much which added another tick to the confidence box.

Progress was being made and then just before she left Australia for the final time in July Pearson did a 100m flat race and clocked 11.25 sec. It was the quickest she’d run in years and the penny dropped ... her speed was back.

The key moment in the lead-up to the world championships came in the London Olympic Stadium, the scene of her greatest triumph five years earlier and the venue for the following month’s world championships.

American Kendra Harrison was the world record-holder, she’d broken it by clocking 12.20 sec in London the previous year just before the Rio Olympics.

Like Pearson she hadn’t actually competed in Rio but it wasn’t because of injury, she’d choked in the US trials and had missed a spot in the team.

In this Diamond League meet, Harrison won but it wasn’t by much. Pearson had pushed her all the way and ran 12.48 sec, her fastest time for five years.

Suddenly everyone was talking about the old champ and importantly Harrison was starting to think about the Australian.

At the Australian team camp in Tonbridge, Pearson made the important decision to take off her coaches’ hat and pass the responsibility to Hilliard and team hurdles coach Matt Beckenham.

She needed to just be an athlete for two weeks, they were given a program to follow but it was important she had a new sets of eyes on her training.

A couple of minor technical flaws were worked on in the camp and by the time of the world championships the steely resolve and inner belief that had been her strength when she was Olympic and world champion was back.

She found her heat run disappointing but returned to the stadium eight hours later in the semi-final and delivered a statement, clocking 12.53 sec to be the fastest qualifier into the final.

Harrison had made a meal of her semi-final, almost crashing at the first hurdle and then only just qualifying for the final by .01 sec.

The lane draw for the final played into the hands of Pearson as she was in three with Harrison on her inside in two.

Dealing with much-hyped Americans in major finals had been a constant throughout the Australian’s career.

Lolo Jones had been the hot favourite at the Beijing Olympics but clipped a hurdle in the final and faltered, allowing Pearson to grab a surprise silver medal.

She knew Harrison was mentally fragile and it was something the Australian prayed on given her biggest asset was strength of mind and determination in the biggest moments.

After two hurdles in the final they were together, by the third Pearson was in front and by the fourth it was over. Harrison was hitting hurdles, she was choking.

Pearson had no hesitation afterwards declaring her second world title her greatest victory given the circumstances.

It had been a masterclass in motivation, focus and discipline and some pretty damn good coaching.

“Every single emotion that you can hold in your body just came out when I crossed that finish line,” she said.

“It wasn’t surprise, it wasn’t shock, I was just proud, so proud of what I had done to get here.”

SWANNY’S WORLD OF SPORT: Dreary and undignified athletes, a muscle-bound slogger, biting the hands that feeds, an heroic referee

Thank goodness that’s over.

Hour-by-hour coverage of boring racing punctuated by hopeless analysis with the honourable exception of the great Michael Johnson.

I was going to make Mo Farah my hero of the week (he is at least very watchable), but then he launched a ridiculous tirade at the press. Still I suppose it deflected attention away his final-race flop. Then I was going to award the ultimate PT honour to Usain Bolt, but he held a press conference alongside the disgraced Justin Gatlin and attacked one journalist for daring to mention drugs. The biggest stars in athletics are in denial, flawed or both. As are those who run the sport and those who commentate on it. Athletics is a dreary, undignified mess. I won’t miss it.


The Daily Mail, as well as other national newspapers I’m sure, need to realise there are many better, and indeed more relevant, golfers in the world than Rory McIlroy.

The blanket coverage of McIlroy is extremely irritating. He’s a muscle-bound slogger of a golf ball with no short game and a terrible putting stroke. His cockiness is out of all proportion to his current record. Give those column inches to those who actually challenge for the biggest events.


Predictably, and irritatingly, first-class counties, who rely on ECB funding to survive, are racing to snap up Indian stars ahead of a Test series between England and India next summer.


It’s time to forgive Craig Pawson for awarding the dodgy free kick which relegated Posh in 2011.

Especially if he carries on making the big calls in the Premier League without fear or favour towards the big clubs. His dismissals of Chelsea cloggers Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas last weekend were highlights of the opening day.

Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake says athletics will never fill void left by Usain Bolt

Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake tasted glory in Usain Bolt's final race and is longing for more.

While the 23-year-old Londoner reckons it is impossible for track and field to fill the void of the newly-retired Jamaican, he hopes Great Britain's sprinters can build on their 4x100metres relay success at the London 2017 World Championships.

"Usain Bolt left a void but it's one that can never be filled," Mitchell-Blake said.

"What he's achieved in the sport is truly remarkable. Anyone can go on and achieve great things in the future but what he's done in the sport as an individual, I honestly believe no-one will be able to match that – not just on the track but off the track as well.

"He's a universal icon. He's more recognised than any other athlete in the world."

Bolt quit in agony at London 2017 after suffering a hamstring injury while he tried to take Jamaica's relay team on to the podium. Mitchell-Blake, meanwhile, anchored Britain to gold.

The juxtaposition of Mitchell-Blake's ecstasy and Bolt's agony was clear as the eight-time Olympic champion limped away from his final race.

"It's still so surreal," added Mitchell-Blake, who placed fourth in the individual 200m that Bolt opted not to run.

"Every time I see the celebration I relive it pretty vividly.

"I wasn't aware we'd won until the official time came on the scoreboard.

"I've watched the race a couple of times with family, with friends and by myself. It's a proud moment of mine."

What Bolt's departure does is create an opportunity, not least for Mitchell-Blake in the 200m, once Bolt's signature event.

The Londoner, who is based at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, United States, runs in the 200m at the Muller Grand Prix Birmingham on Sunday.

There he will compete against world champion Ramil Guliyev, the Turkey athlete who beat pre-race favourite Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa to gold in London.

British relay team-mate Danny Talbot will be running in a rival lane in an event full of pedigree and left "wide open" without Bolt.

"It probably brings back more of the competitive spirit, just because of the nature of the crazy times he was running," Mitchell-Blake added.

"The sport might take a step back in time. But everybody now feels it's more wide open and we are vying for gold."

Mitchell-Blake says Britain's sprint group can fulfil a potential demonstrated by the relay success, his own 200m performance and Reece Prescod's seventh place in the 100m final.

"We were all gutted not to get medals when we failed as individuals," Mitchell-Blake added.

"But I feel like it was fitting we got the relay gold at home. It just goes to show we're on the cusp of doing something special.

"It's now our time to build our own legacy and get our places in history.

"I believe it's only a matter of time, sooner rather than later, you'll see us reaping the rewards."

That Moment When… Krause Won Steeple Bronze

German steeplechaser Gesa Felicitas Krause earned the bronze medal at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015. Here the 25-year-old talks about the significance of that achievement.

“I have always been a girl who has dreamed big. I competed at my first Olympic Games as a 20-year-old in London, where I placed seventh in the final but I realised from that moment I wanted more and I had lots of scope to improve.

“My training in the winter of 2014-15 went well. For the first time, I had an altitude training camp in the autumn and we had four training camps in the countdown to the 2015 World Championships in Beijing where we increased the range of training. I remember I was away from home in Frankfurt for long periods of time and that was tough.

“I felt in good shape and I set my first PB in three years in Monaco (9:20.15) in the countdown to the World Championships. During my final pre-Beijing training camp in Davos, Switzerland, I created a mental picture of what I wanted to achieve and I felt well prepared. I was sure I was in great shape and I wanted to achieve a PB at the major championships. That was the only thing I could influence.

“In my heat, I finished second behind Olympic champion Habiba Ghribi and it was pleasing to comfortably qualify. In the final, my coach Wolfgang Heinig told me to be aware and awake, but to not stress.

“In the final Lalita Babar of India ran away from the field, but unusually nobody followed her. My focus was to stay with the world-leading girls that year in the chasing group. When the pace suddenly accelerated, it felt comfortable, and going into the final lap I told myself to be patient as I could finish anywhere from sixth to first.

“I remember leading going into the final 100 metres and I pushed as hard as I could. I didn’t quite have the speed to hold off Hyvin Kiyeng or Ghribi, but to get bronze (and set a PB of 9:19.25) was a huge achievement for me.

“It was a huge breakthrough moment and a beautiful and inspiring moment too. Winning the bronze medal made me believe that anything in sport can happen and even if I am not in shape to run nine minutes flat for the steeplechase, if you work hard enough on the day than the rewards can follow.

“Without doubt, winning bronze changed the way I was perceived in the public, but it also changed my belief and made me think it was possible to beat the African athletes. In this sport anything can happen.”

Steve Landells for the IAAF

Athletes set for World Champs rematches in Birmingham

World gold medallists Mutaz Essa Barshim, Tom Walsh, Katerina Stefanidi and Dafne Schippers look ahead to the Müller Grand Prix Birmingham

Many recently-crowned world champions will be among those returning to action on Sunday (August 20) as IAAF Diamond League series action continues at the Müller Grand Prix Birmingham.

Fresh from their gold medal-winning performances in London, high jump champion Mutaz Essa Barshim, shot put star Tom Walsh, pole vault winner Katerina Stefanidi and 200m champion Dafne Schippers reflected on their performances in the UK capital and voiced their hopes for further success in Birmingham.

“First of all I want to enjoy tomorrow,” said Barshim, who added the world title to his high jump bronze claimed in London five years before. “My target for this season was to win gold in London; it’s done out of the way so I want to go out there, enjoy and of course I want to jump good.

“I know I’m in good shape but I always want some pushing, some pressure to jump high,” added the 26-year-old, who set the joint meeting record of 2.38m with Bohdan Bondarenko in 2014. “I really would love to take a new meeting record. Of course that depends how I feel tomorrow, but I know I am in good shape. I’m just looking forward to going out there and jumping as high as possible.”

All of the London world medallists in the men’s shot put and women’s pole vault will be competing, while the women’s 200m medallists form part of a stacked 100m line-up.

“I think I’m in good shape,” said Schippers, who will race against 200m silver medallist Marie-Josée Ta Lou and bronze medallist Shaunae Miller-Uibo as well as Britain’s Asha Philip, Desiree Henry and Dina Asher-Smith. “I have had a good week with a lot of rest. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Stefanidi was a class apart in London but she said: “Pole vault is very open right now. I’ve had an undefeated season outdoors so it would be cool to keep that going. I think there’s many girls who can come out and jump high.”

Walsh added: “I pride myself on competing, and competing well, and the goal for me is competing like a world champion over the next comps I have. Not just turning up for the show, turning up and being right there.”

SA trio gear up for Diamond League

Three South African athletes will compete at the 12th of 14 legs in the IAAF Diamond League series in Birmingham, England on Sunday.

Ruswahl Samaai, who secured the bronze medal in the Long Jump at the recent IAAF World Championships in London and fellow long jumper Khotso Mokoena, are in the start lists for their specialist discipline.

While world champion Luvo Manyonga will not take part, they will face a formidable challenge, with all nine men in the field having leaped beyond eight metres this season.

On the track, amputee sprinter Ntando Mahlangu will turn out in the T42 200m men sprint, as the teenage prodigy aims to upset his senior opponents in the half-lap dash.

Mo Farah ready to bring curtain down on his track career as baton is passed to Britain's young guns

It was supposed to be a triumphant announcement, but social media rarely allows such things.

One response to news that Britain will take on the United States in a new head-to-head athletics competition next summer was particularly laced with sarcasm. “Less chance of finishing fourth I suppose,” said the Twitter wag.

They had a point – no country experienced more fourth-place finishes at the London World Championships than the hosts, while only the US produced more finalists missing out on the podium.

The natural question is: was this a case of missed opportunities or a springboard for the future? After all, Britain has never managed so many top-eight athletes in the history of the World Championships.

“I know everybody wants medals, but there are so many people that have never finished a competition as highly as they have done – and they are 20 or 21,” said Dina Asher-Smith, fourth in the 200m. “That bodes well, especially when those ahead of them are more experienced or reigning world or Olympic champions.”

The statistics support her case. None of the British athletes who finished fourth were over 25 and just three of the other dozen who made finals without winning a medal were over 26. If near-misses can provide the experience necessary to reach greater heights, there should be a glut of medal candidates at future global events. Which is handy because Britain certainly needs it. Following Jessica Ennis-Hill’s retirement, Sunday marks an historic moment for Mo Farah, who will imminently bring the curtain down on his track career. Sunday sees his last British appearance at the Birmingham Diamond League, before next week’s final track run-out in Zurich.

The duo have won nine of Britain’s 15 world titles over the past decade and – considering there was not a single other British individual medallist at London 2017 – a changing of the guard is vital to safeguarding the future of the sport in Britain.

Asher-Smith and Langford will hope to offer a glimpse into that future on Sunday, with Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake completing the trio of World Championship fourth-placers.

The London-born, Jamaican-raised, American-based sprinter not only finished fourth over 200m, but also anchored a British 4x100m team with an average age of 23.75 to gold. He maintains that experience can stand the current crop in good stead.

“There were some greats in that race – Yohan Blake, Justin Gatlin, Bolt, Coleman. The relay gold shows we’re on the cusp of something special, ‘‘ he said. “What Jess and Mo did is what they did. It’s now our time to build our legacy and get our places in history.”

By 5pm, Farah will have graced a British track for the final time. He will perform his Mobot, take off his spikes and turn to the next generation. Let’s see who will step up.

Tianna Bartoletta's Blog: "Clipped Wings"

I am.

If this were Jeopardy and "I am." was the answer given then the question would be this: “Who is Team USA’s best leadoff leg in recent history?”

Answer: I am.

I’m not trying to be cocky or arrogant it’s not actually my style. But like Liam Neeson a la “Taken” I do possess a particular set of skills…

Those skills include my ability to use geometry, physics, adrenaline, and pure savagery to destroy the stagger within 50 meters, sometimes sooner.

I know the second leg like the back of my hand. I know which foot she steps with first, and that that causes a slight delay in her acceleration even though her body is moving, I know the second step momentarily tightens the space I have between her and the inside lane. I know that I will run her down and that she will hit the turbo because I am screaming “go” at the top of my lungs in full speed into her left ear.

I probably yell “stick” but it’s unnecessary, it’s unnecessary because we can feel when the exchange needs to take place. That moment is akin to the split second before a whistling tea-kettle pierces the silence with its scream to announce boiling water.

When the gun goes off I’m at a gentle boil, when I catch the first runner I’m at a rolling boil, when I’m in the exchange zone I’m screaming that it's time.

And it is.

And we pass the baton.

And because I know she’ll take it from there I turn around and begin the trek back to the starting line to meet my team at the finish.

Yes, I often referred to the 4x100 meter relay team as my team.


Because I have been through a lot of horrible things in my life…and I’m somehow still standing, still managing to smile. So I am often uniquely qualified to explain to my team that we have everything under control.

In 2012, it was talking to a nervous Jenebah Tarmoh before the first round and making her laugh during the long walk from the call room to the track. It was adjusting her headband on her face and telling her I would do the hard part, that I would get her the baton and she could just run, and that after the race we’d talk about where we wanted to go on vacation. Before the final it was keeping the conversation light and fun as Bianca, Carmelita, Allyson, and I chose to talk about the epidemic of bad weaves present in the call room, where we stood on cruises, and Red Vines versus Twizzlers.

I kept them laughing.

2016 required a different kind of leadership. I was exhausted, the long jump final was the night before, I didn’t get in until after midnight and had to be back at the track at 7am. I sprain my ankle at takeoff in every championship final I’ve been in and that morning my ankle was not even weight bearing. I had them tape it for stability and I took some ibuprofen, and I asked my ankle (I know it seems weird) to just allow me to punish it on the turn for one more race and I’d get treatment.

Everything was going well…and then I saw the baton fly through the air.

I walked back to the start, and watched Morolake bring it in. The first and only question I asked of Allyson and English were if they were ok and if there were any injuries we needed to tend to.

The mixed zone was hard, I didn’t know what happened- I couldn’t see from my vantage point. But I saw the replay with Lewis Johnson of NBC along with the team. Allyson mentioned we would protest so we rushed through the rest of the media mixed zone and got back to the warm up area.

Once there, Allyson walked behind the tent and I followed her. I told her that I wasn’t there to talk to her, that I was just there to be with her. I told her she could cry and I wouldn't say anything or try to comfort her but that I would stand there with her.

She cried.

And I stood by her.

Later we found out we were running again by ourselves, a still controversial decision that fans of other countries continue to call me a cheater for. Our team was gathered and the solo time trial was explained to us.

I said to them, “okay, we can do this. But I need to go to sleep. I’ll be back. Eat and rest ladies. This is going to be fun”

I went back to my condo and fell asleep.

In the call room, when it was just us, I asked the ladies for their attention. I told them to be prepared to be booed. After all, we were in Brazil and we got them disqualified. I said to them that if that happens to just use it as fuel to go even harder. That it’s really hard to judge it you're running fast when you’re running alone so to just run with everything you had. I assured them that I’d set the tone.

I walked out to my blocks and stood there alone, looking at the outside lanes, stripped of the visuals that typically help me run devastating leadoffs.

I looked at my shadow…

Smirked a bit…

And thought, guess I’m racing you then.

By the time we got to the final, anxiety had reached a fever pitch, the feeling in the call room was as electrifying as it had ever been.

But we had lane one.

The reason Team USA didn’t pose when they announced us was my fault.

I assured my team that I would take it upon myself to make sure that our lane wouldn’t matter by the first handoff, I told them that I would catch two for them. I told them that we could be anywhere, run anywhere, and that we could get this done. That this was nothing, we were the best, the defending champs, the world record holders, that we were going to put on a clinic, that we were going to quiet all doubt about whether we belonged.

I pulled Allyson aside and said to her, "this gets done in two and we will watch English and Tori bring it home. But we get this done in two". Allyson gave me that intense stare she's known for before races. She nodded her head up and down repeatedly, her jaw muscles flexing and I knew she heard me, I knew she would deliver.

And then I told them all…"I can’t smile and pose guys, I’m sorry. I have to go to a different place to run this leg I promised you…

This isn’t cute…

This isn’t pretty…

This is war…

And I’ve never seen a soldier pose before battle."

They agreed.

They believed.

And you know what happened next.

41.01 from lane one.

I had no way of knowing that that would probably be the last time I represented Team USA at a global championship.

I had no way of knowing that those accomplishments would mean nothing to the new relay coach.

No way to foresee that Richburg would tell me on the phone the night before my flight to not even show up to Birmingham relay camp— essentially robbing me of a chance to even race off for the position.

No way to know after missing a week of long jump training to go to relay camp in Monaco that that would mean absolutely nothing in the big picture.

No way to know that Richburg would tell me in the lobby once we arrived in London that I still may run.

And they had no way to know that given everything that I was going through in my personal life that the last thing I needed was to be jerked around by older men making me feel disposable, and worthless, or that my previous accomplishments, and successful execution in that role didn't matter in the slightest.

Honestly, I tried to insulate myself from the drama that these relay selection processes seem to incubate in after Monaco when I recognized that this environment, this ambiguity, and this chaos was something that I probably couldn’t handle emotionally.

I asked my coach to help me, he stepped in made some calls because he knows me and he knows that I’m at my best when I have specific guidelines, rules, protocol. With that information, I can make the best decision.

The problem was that there were no guidelines, no rules, no protocols.

The whole process was breaking me down.

I wanted to run.

I wanted to fly.

I was available.

This hurt.

But my wings were clipped.

Congratulations to my Team USA ladies who brought home the gold medal anyway.

Blogger’s Note: I wrote this blog because I’ve remained mostly silent on why I did not run the first leg of the relay. Not wanting to distract from the team, I kept my mouth shut all while hearing rumbles that I was being a diva, or was making demands, none of this was true. I confronted Orin Richburg early during the champs and said to him, “It’s one thing to have been shut out of running this relay, it’s another to hear false reports of my character in the process.” He assured me it wasn’t coming from him, I made it clear I would set the record straight if it continued. So here we are. I’m setting the record straight.

Tianna Bartoletta

Track and Field's Hall of Shame

Every sport has moments it would rather forget

The 2017 IAAF World Championships came to a close on Sunday in London. As with the 2012 Olympics, which also took place in the English capital, the latest installment of the biennial event appears to have been a success. In terms of ticket sales, it was the most well-attended track and field world championships in history: 900,000 spectators turned out in droves to witness the grand finale of the Usain Bolt/Mo Farah era. With Eugene, Oregon, slated to host in 2021, TrackTown USA can only hope to inspire similar levels of enthusiasm four years from now.

Not that the IAAF wasn’t dealt a few wild cards last week. Some were minor, like the streaker who warmed up the track for the finalists in the men’s 100 meters on the eve of the first full day. In the subsequent race, alleged former doper Justin Gatlin won the 100-meter final, causing London Stadium to erupt in boos and IAAF president Seb Coe to admit that a Gatlin victory was hardly “the perfect script.” A few days later, gold medal contender Isaac Makwala was involuntarily barred from the men’s 400-meter final on the grounds that he had contracted a contagious virus—a decision that BBC commentator Michael Johnson suggested was “horribly wrong.” In the men’s 4x100 meters, Usain Bolt’s illustrious career came to a disappointing end as the sprinter suffered a cramp in his hamstring and crashed to the track in agony. His team blamed event organizers for allowing too much time to pass between warmup and the start of the race.

Embarrassing as these moments were, the sport of track and field has seen much worse. Here are some historical highlights.

Down Goes Decker

To a veteran athletics enthusiast, the boos that rained down on Justin Gatlin after the men’s 100-meter final might have brought back memories of another incident when the crowd was less than charitable to an athlete on the track. In the women’s 3,000 meters at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Mary Decker was the clear favorite—both to win the race and in the hearts of those in the stands. After all, Decker was the local girl, having grown up within 50 miles of the Los Angeles Coliseum. South African Zola Budd, meanwhile, had grown up on the other end of the world.

Competing for Great Britain (South Africa was barred from the Olympics because of its apartheid regime), Budd ran barefoot and hung at Decker’s side for the first half of the race. With just over three laps to go, Budd cut in front of Decker, who, moments later, would clip the South African’s heel, trip, and tumble off the track, injuring herself in the process. The degree of Budd’s culpability for taking out the hometown favorite remains debatable (watch the race below), but to the thousands who were present that day, Budd was the villain. Such was the intensity of the audience’s booing that it may have affected her race; she faded badly on the last lap and finished in seventh place. “The main concern was if I win a medal,” Budd said in a 2009 Runner’s World article, “I’d have to stand on the winner’s podium, and I didn’t want to do that.”

Marathonus Interruptus

The marathon-themed nightmare isn’t uncommon among dedicated runners, but most are spared the experience in waking life. Vanderlei de Lima wasn’t so lucky. With less than five miles to go in the men’s marathon at the 2004 Olympics, the Brazilian was having the race of his life. On the streets of Athens, de Lima was leading by half a minute when he was accosted by eschatologist wacko Neil Horan—the Irish “priest” whose other contributions to the world of sport include running onto a Formula One track toward oncoming traffic. A fan was able to help free de Lima from his kilted tormentor, but the attack cost the Brazilian a good portion of his lead, and he was noticeably shaken up afterward. De Lima ended up finishing third and was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal for sportsmanship in addition to the bronze. At the time of the attack, an Australian TV commentator spoke for most: “That is just the worst thing I have ever seen at the Olympic Games.”

The Steeplechaser You Love to Hate

One of the unexpected highlights of the just-concluded world championships was Hero the Hedgehog, perhaps the most versatile mascot in history. Fortunately, Hero never entered the crosshairs of steeplechaser and self-styled enfant terrible Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad. Following his win at the 2010 European Athletics Championships, the Frenchman made the mascot kneel in front of him, and then promptly pushed him to the ground. At the European Championships two years later, Mekhissi-Benabbad did it again, this time violently shoving what turned out to be a 14-year-old girl. Lest anyone should think Mekhissi-Benabbad’s résumé is limited to roughing up costumed cheerleaders, he is also known for engaging in post-race fisticuffs with fellow athletes, as well as premature shirtless celebrating. After a fourth-place finish last summer in Rio, Mekhissi-Benabbad helped get bronze medalist Ezekiel Kemboi disqualified for (literally) one misstep during the steeplechase.

A Violation of Privacy

The next development in the controversy surrounding Caster Semenya—the allegedly hyperandrogenic South African 800-meter runner who won the gold medal in London on Sunday—is expected to come sometime in September or October. At that time, the IAAF will once again attempt to convince the Court of Arbitration for Sport that athletes like Semenya must artificially reduce their atypically high testosterone levels in the name of a “level playing field.” “This is an incredibly sensitive subject,” IAAF President Seb Coe told the Guardian last week. Unfortunately the IAAF didn’t do enough to treat it as such when, during the 2009 World Championships, the organization revealed that Semenya had been asked to undergo a gender verification test, leading to a media frenzy. The disclosure was widely condemned as a careless violation of an 18-year-old’s privacy (sports scientist Ross Tucker recently referred to Semenya’s “outing” as a set of “almighty screwups”), the fallout from which the IAAF is still dealing with today.

Tainted Golds

All doping scandals hurt professional athletics, but when an Olympic gold medalist is involved, the pain is most acute. Nothing is more delegitimizing for a sport than when the athlete standing on the top of the podium in the premier competition turns out to be a fraud. Unfortunately, this regrettable circumstance has only become more common in track and field. The first high-profile case came at the 1988 Games in Seoul, when Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson was disqualified for steroid use a few days after winning the 100 meters and setting the world record. More recently, U.S. sprinter Marion Jones had her remarkable five-medal (three gold) performance at the Sydney Games stricken from the record after she confessed to steroid use in 2007; her abrupt retirement from track and field at the time was followed by a six-month jail sentence. No fewer than six track and field athletes from the 2012 London Olympics have since been stripped of their gold medals. Last April, Jemima Sumgong, winner of the women’s marathon in Rio, tested positive for EPO—prompting co-founder Robert Johnson to ask, “What’s the point of being a fan anymore?”

Bolt A Beacon Of Light In Darkest Days

The word 'legend' is thrown about all too often these days, but in some cases no superlative is enough.

But, for the best part of a decade, one man has stood out above the rest.

He has been the brightest beacon of light in athletics' darkest days, a beacon that dimmed with one final determined flicker here in London.

On Sunday, Usain Bolt bade farewell to the sport whose weight he has held on his shoulders as it battled against the greatest of struggles.

His success on the track of the Olympic Stadium will forever define London 2012. But this is a sport in crisis.

One in seven of all finalists that summer have been caught doping before or since, more than a third of finalists are connected to doping and while Russia are the worst offenders, Bolt's own Jamaican team doesn't escape censure.

But - for one night only - perhaps we could allow ourselves to just glory in the moment, as Bolt took in one final lap of honour in the place in which he solidified his status as the greatest of all time.

Granted, his final World Championships didn't exactly go as the script had entailed - missing out on the 100m title to Justin Gatlin and pulling up injured in the relay.

But, as more than 55,000 people took to their feet to salute the hero of a generation, it was apparent his legacy is far more than just his feats on the track; he is a king of the people.

"For me, the lap was brilliant. The support hasn't changed," said Bolt, struggling to keep his emotions in check as he waved goodbye.

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

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

"One championship doesn't change what I've done. I have shown my credentials throughout my career so losing my last race isn't going to change what I've done in my sport.

"I've proven that by working hard, anything is possible. I personally feel this is a good message to send to youngsters to push on.

"If I can leave that to the younger generation, then that's a good legacy to leave."

It has been an era of the sport that, for many years to come, will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Bolt himself has been a victim of it - his relay gold medal from Beijing 2008 stripped away when Jamaican team-mate Nesta Carter tested positive in China.

Many saw Bolt as the only one who could save the sport, but yet even he fears for its future, warning athletics will 'die' if dopers continue to destroy its reputation.

So as the curtain falls on its hero's time on the track, where does world athletics go from here?

"I have always been strong on doping," he said.

"I've said it, athletes should get life bans if you go out of your way to cheat an athlete. The sport is now on the way back up and we have to do everything to keep it in a good light.

"I've shown that you can do it without doping so that's what I hope the young athletes will take from it."

Beijing was his birth, London his coming of age and Rio his swan song, yet while Bolt's feats on the track could never be described as anything less than remarkable, it's his personality off it that has catapulted him into a different stratosphere.

Try as you might, it's impossible not to like the man - his persona one that is so desperately craved by other sports the world round.

His very presence raises a wry smile, the not knowing of what is about to come next.

The talk this week has been about who will fill his size 13 spikes. But away from the stadiums, the arenas, and the training tracks, it could take some time.

Bolt exits the stage, his successor unknown, much like the future of his sport. Lightning doesn't strike twice.

Sportsbeat 2017

Sun Devils Reflect On World Champs Experience

Seven Sun Devil student-athletes -- past and present -- competed at the IAAF World Championships for track and field in London from Aug. 4-13.

Former NCAA champion Amy Cragg earned the bronze medal in the marathon, snapping a 34-year medal drought for American women with a time of 2 hours, 27 minutes and 18 seconds, just seven seconds off the gold-medal time and less than a second from the silver medal.
Bryan McBride advanced to the high jump final with a near personal-best leap of 2.29 meters and took eighth overall. Ryan Whiting advanced to the shot put final and finished seventh in his third outdoor World Championships since 2011. Chris Benard took sixth place in the triple jump with a mark of 17.16 meters. Shelby Houlihan (13th overall) qualified for the 5,000-meter final with a personal best 15:00.37.

NCAA hammer throw champion Maggie Ewen and long jumper Christabel Nettey also competed. caught up with four of those athletes for some quick thoughts on their experience. Here are their responses.
How did you feel about your performance?
Ewen: "I feel like my performance did not accurately represent where I was in my training. They were not the distances I would have liked to see."
McBride: "I felt bittersweet about my performance. I executed everything the way I wanted to in the prelims, which set me up to be in the finals. And during the finals, that execution wasn't there and being my first World Championships, I think competing back to back from prelim to final is something I'm not used to yet. But, overall, I am very happy with it! I ended eighth in the World at my first major championship and that is something I can be proud of!"

Houlihan: "Very disappointed in my performance. I didn't feel that the result reflected what I was fully capable of."
Whiting: "I felt like I could have performed better. Unless you have the gold in hand, that is kind of always the case. All things considered, it was a step in the right direction, making the finals and finishing seventh at the World Championships after not qualifying for the meet the last two years definitely feels good."
What was the most memorable part of the competition for you?
Ewen: "The most memorable part of the competition for me was watching the final of women's hammer. Watching such talented women in person and knowing that, someday, I could be down there competing alongside them, was really motivating."
McBride: "The most memorable moment would be when I looked at the screen and knew I made it to the finals! The finals is always the goal before the goal and coming off of a disappointing 2016 season not making a team, to be out there in front of 60,000 people and making the World Championship final is a feeling I will always remember!"

Houlihan: "Watching my teammates win medals. It was so amazing to watch and inspires me to want to be on that podium."
Whiting: "For me, the most memorable part of my competition was seeing the Kiwi, Tom Walsh, win the shot put competition. Tom is a good friend of mine and it couldn't have happened to a better guy."

What would you say you gained from the experience?
Ewen: "I obviously gained a lot of experience from this competition. I have never been to a meet like this so I did a lot of learning. Another thing I gained was a new appreciation for how hard I need to work. Competing on the national stage is tough but the world stage is a completely different animal."
McBride: "I would say that this experience gave me just that, experience. I can leave London now knowing how these major championships work and what to expect when you go through the warm-up area and the call room. I now know how it feels to have that many people watching you and some more efficient ways of handling that kind of excitement. I now know how it feels to go from prelims to a final and the amount of toll the body takes from that and I can do a better job of training my body for that in the future. I can now say I have experience under my belt when it comes to these meets and that is the most important thing I could have taken away from this."

Houlihan: "I gained experience in racing a 5k at the highest level. I'm still learning the event so that can be frustrating at times, especially this time, and gaining that experience in the event will only help me in the future."
Whiting: "I feel like I gained another notch in my belt, experience wise. This was my seventh national team and as I get older I feel like I can really appreciate what it takes to perform at the highest level year after year."
What was your favorite London moment, not associated with your competition?
Ewen: "I don't really have a favorite London moment, but I am very happy that I was able to experience such a beautiful and historic place with my family."  
McBride: "The best London moment would be when I bit into my very first Nando's chicken! This food chain in London had some of the best tasting chicken I have ever had in my life! And I've had a lot of chicken. My chicken standards have risen to a higher level."

Houlihan: "Going to Platform 9¾ in King's Cross Station the day after my race! I'm a huge Harry Potter fan and I couldn't stop smiling because I was so excited."
Whiting: "Overall, the highlight of the meet for just about everyone has to be the fact that this was Usain Bolt's last major championships. Every time I have met and interacted with him he is gracious and a real asset to the sport."
With the World Championships over, what are your immediate plans?
Ewen: "My immediate plans are to rest, but knowing me it won't be long until I am back at the track. Also, school starts this week so my schedule's about to get really busy." 
McBride: "I am currently heading back home to San Diego with plans to chalk up this 2017 as successful and over. It is definitely to rest, relax and enjoy my summer for a few months before I get back to the grind for the 2018 season."

Houlihan: "I'll be racing a 1,500 in Birmingham next!"
Whiting: "With World Championships over, I came home on Aug. 8 to be with my family (wife Ashley, formerly Evans, an ASU swim alum, my son 4 and my daughter 1.5). I have two more meets planned for the end of the season. I leave on the 17th for Birmingham, UK and then come back for my younger brother's wedding and return to Brussels for my last meet of the year on the 31st of August."

NCAA Champ Jefferson Started Out As A Swimmer

As a young girl growing up in the Boston Edison Historic District on Detroit’s west side, Kyra Jefferson loved playing and running around with her cousins. She had no idea that hanging out with them would turn into a long, successful career, and a national championship.

Now, not only is she a University of Florida graduate, but on June 10th, Jefferson became the 200-meter Women's NCAA Track Champion with a collegiate-record time of 22.02 seconds.

Now Jefferson is approaching the next stage of her life, while never forgetting those moments where it all began.

“A lot of my cousins ran track for Think Detroit Pal, so I decided to run track too,’’ Jefferson recalled. “I started when I was around 6 or 7 years old. I wasn’t that good, but I wanted to hang out with my cousins and friends in the summertime.’’

A diamond in the rough

Jefferson wasn’t the best track athlete because this was a new sport for her, according to her mother.

“Kyra didn't start out as a track athlete, she started as a competitive swimmer,” said Michelle Watkins, Jefferson’s mother.

Although Jefferson’s cousins helped her find a new interest in track, she still swam for most of her high school years. The motivation came from her mother to pursue both sports.

“Kyra and I actually had an agreement,’’ said Watkins. “She was in the eighth grade and said to me, ‘mom, I think I could get better if I just focus on track a little more,’ so in the ninth grade we allowed her to do both track and swimming.”

Jefferson swam for Cass Technical High School until her junior year and ran track at the school all four years.

Track practice was routine for Jefferson.

She would practice for a couple hours at Cass Tech after school, then again with her mother, who was the track coach for both Northwestern High School and New Breed Track Club. Just like Jefferson, this was new for her mother. Watkins didn't start coaching until her daughter started running track, although she ran track when she was younger.

“I saw a need for kids who weren't being taken serious because they weren't the superstar of the team, and my kid was one of those who wasn’t a superstar,’’ said Watkins. “She was kinda always being overlooked. I said, we are going to miss a diamond in the rough because she isn't the best right now.’’

An eye toward college

As Jefferson approached the end of her junior year she was faced with many decisions regarding college. She narrowed her choices from 10 schools to five, realizing she could only go on five official visits due to NCAA rules.

“I had offers from other schools, but I went on official visits to The University of Florida, Louisiana State University, University of Tennessee, Florida State University, and Texas A&M University,” said Jefferson in a recent phone interview with the Free Press.

And she went on her official visits alone. Her mother described this decision as a way of “pushing the baby bird out of the nest.’’

“We (Watkins and her husband) did all the research from an academic point because the key thing was that she was going to be a student athlete, student first then an athlete,’’ said Watkins. “But, she's going to be there by herself for four years so it had to be her decision” as to where to go.

Watkins wanted Jefferson to make a decision by Dec. 1, of 2011. This way she could enjoy the end of her senior year of high school, with no stress and pressure from college coaches.

“I choose the University of Florida because I liked the campus, I liked how the team seemed like a family, and I like how the coach (Mike Holloway) helped his girls,’’ Jefferson said.

“Some girls came in running 24 (seconds) and left running 23 (seconds), as compared to other schools where the girls come out only running a little bit better. I liked how the coach was coaching me to be better, not just to win championships.’’

Kyra accomplished both.

The big race

The NCAA 200-meter final in Eugene, Ore., was the last collegiate race of Jefferson's career at Florida.

“Going into that race I didn't know what to expect. I knew that the girl I ran against, (Oregon’s) Deajah Stevens, was going to be a really good competitor because she was the top person in the NCAA at the time,’’ said Jefferson. “I was nervous because I hadn't ran some of those fast times she was running, and I actually didn't know what to expect.

"My coach kinda just told me to just trust that I belong there, to believe that I belonged in the race and that I was just as good and better than anybody else.”

Right before the race Jefferson gave herself some last-minute encouragement.

“I literally remember what I was saying to myself a couple seconds before,’’ she said. “I just kept saying faith and focus, faith and focus and just tried to make sure that I stayed as relaxed as possible.’’

When the race concluded cheers erupted from the Hayward Field stands, which included some of her Gator teammates and parents. But one cheer stood out -- her mother’s.

“If you go back and play the big race, if you hear someone screaming in the background, that’s me,’’ said Watkins. “I didn't realize she broke a record at first, I was excited for the fact that she won her favorite race, her final track meet of her collegiate career.”

Jefferson’s time broke a collegiate record which had stood for 28 years. Dawn Sowell of LSU ran 22.04 in 1989. Jefferson ran 22.02.

“I turned around and screamed because I didn't even know that was the collegiate record at first. I just knew that I had PR’D (personal record), which I haven’t done in two years, so I was literally crying,” said Jefferson.

“I used to have this fear, I was scared to be great. I was scared that if I ran my hardest it would be too good to be true. My whole mantra this whole year is to always believe something good was going to happen, so during this race I knew that if I won or Deajah won I was going to run my hardest.”

Even though her collegiate track days were coming to an end, Jefferson's professional track life is just beginning.

Jefferson graduated from Florida in April with a bachelor’s degree in event management and a minor in mass communications. She finished with more than 15 track honors.

Jefferson, who still lives in Gainesville, Fla., just recently signed professionally with Nike. She is running with the team overseas as part of the Diamond League, a league for independent runners from across the world.

Jefferson might now be thousands of miles away from her family, but their support follows her wherever she goes.

“Her dad and I support her in everything that she does, I'll never stop doing what I’ve always done, which is attend the meets that I can,’’ said Watkins. “So every race that she runs in the U.S., I'll be there. My plan is to go to her professional race in Zurich in August which is the Diamond League Championship.”

Jefferson aspires to go to the Olympics as a competitor and leave a champion.

Outside of track, she has had a long obsession with HGTV. She is in the process of obtaining a real estate license so that she can also sell “million dollar homes.’’

From Detroit to Gainesville, now all over the world with Nike, Jefferson has had a long and adventurous "run." She may now be a professional striving toward Olympic dreams --- with a side of real estate --- but she will always be the young girl who just wanted to hang out with her cousins. The swimmer turned track star from the west side's Boston-Edison.

Driven Caster Semenya has ‘no time for nonsense’

She says her focus now is to study, graduate and create opportunities for athletes in Limpopo.

Caster Semenya eyes the reporter across the room, her relaxed demeanour and hearty chuckle replaced by a firm expression as she shifts forward in her chair.

She has again been asked about an invasive public probe into her gender, as she has on many occasions since she won the world title in Berlin at the age of 19.

Back then she was thrown to the wolves by administrators and politicians, who ignored a teenager’s vulnerability in order to flaunt a gold medal, and the subsequent global reaction ultimately locked a shy young girl deep within her shell.

She switched off, avoided most interview requests and closed herself down to the prying eyes of the outside world.

Semenya has never specifically avoided the question about her gender, but while at a younger age she was far more conservative in her response, she has finally emerged from her cocoon, and she now puts her foot down if she feels she’s being pushed.

“I have no time for nonsense,” she says after being asked about her condition and an impending decision on the matter during the World Championships in London.

She simply doesn’t want to discuss it any more, and one can hardly blame her as any decisions regarding the rules on hyperandrogenism are completely out of her control.

What she can control is her performances on the track, and elevated natural testosterone or not, she has proved her immense ability, both when it was believed her hormones were being suppressed by medication, and now that we know they are not.

Her inconsistent performances since 2009, while compounded by injuries, disruptive training and a wobbly switch between coaches, have been largely accredited to the belief that her condition gives her an advantage over her competitors.

However, whether that advantage is either real or fair remains under debate. Last year the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) suspended the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rule which forced athletes with hyperandrogenism to suppress their natural testosterone levels, supposedly through medication.

Running injury-free in a new environment, Semenya subsequently burst back to her best when she broke her seven-year-old national record to win the Olympic title in Rio last year in 1min 55.28sec.

Last week she charged across the line in 1:55.16 to win the world title in London and climbed to eighth position in the all-time women’s 800m world rankings.

Though she has had her ups and downs over the years, Semenya was one of the best middle-distance runners in the world even when she was believed to be taking medication which slowed her down.

She now holds the 24 fastest times on the SA women’s all-time 800m performance lists, and when Russian doper Mariya Savinova’s case is finalised, her silver medals at the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympic Games should be elevated to gold, making her South Africa’s most accomplished track and field athlete.

Away from the track, Semenya has a lot on her plate, and training and competition offer only one aspect of a well-rounded life. Recently married to former elite distance runner Violet Raseboya, she has settled well into adult life.

In her final year as a sports science student at North-West University, Semenya has already ventured into both business and philanthropy by investing in the Princess D menstrual cup which aims to provide sanitary options to teenage girls in rural and disadvantaged areas.

She also speaks fondly of the foundation she wants to start back home in Limpopo, and in other areas, to give talented athletes opportunities and direction.

“I still want to break world records but there are a lot of things on my mind,” she says, looking ahead to her future as an athlete, an entrepreneur and a spouse.

Her soft, bubbly expression evaporates once more as she draws herself away from her comfort zone on the track.

It’s time to be serious, and when Semenya sets herself a goal, it’s best not to stand in her way.

“Right now I have to go back to school and study. I still have to graduate, and that must come first.”

And as much as the debate on the CAS decision may still be raging in the background, Semenya has made it clear she will not lose sleep over it.

Regardless of the impending result, she has already moved on, and she is happy enough with herself that she doesn’t need approval. Nothing will sway her attention now.

“Like I’ve said before, my focus is more on getting healthy and competing,” she says.

British great bids to give fans memorable farewell

British athletics great Mo Farah will hope his final track race on home turf on Sunday will have a happier ending than last Saturday's world 5,000 metres final.

The 34-year-old, who will compete in the 3,000 metres at the Diamond League meeting in Birmingham, produced a courageous performance just falling short of overhauling Ethiopian Muktar Edris.

That defeat, his first since the 10,000m in the 2011 world championships, ended a remarkable run of global titles in which he upset the Kenyan/Ethiopian hegemony in distance races and included achieving the 5,000/10,000 double in successive Olympics.

Farah, who came to England aged eight with his mother and two of his brothers after a long trek from war-torn Somalia, is assured of a warm reception from the spectators if not from the press at whom he fired a blast after his 5,000m defeat.

His relations with large parts of the British media have deteriorated over the years because of his association with controversial coach Alberto Salazar.

The spectators, though, have largely given him the benefit of the doubt and Farah admits Sunday's race will have his emotions in turmoil.

"It's definitely going to be emotional," said Farah, who will make his final track appearance in the Zurich Diamond League meet next week.

"I've had a long career and to come here year after year, it's been something special.

"But, at some point, anything we do in life must come to an end and this is it. I just have to take care of the race and respect my opposition. I have a job to do Sunday and to do well."

Farah is intent on not letting the occasion get to him and believes he is still in fine fettle despite his exertions in London at the world championships.

"It's important for me to go out with a win," he said.

"I think people realise that it's not as easy as me just turning up, you've got to be in the best shape. I'm in great shape and if I could come away with a win that would be great."

'Greatest distance athlete of all time'

Farah can also perhaps expect a surprise from UK Athletics after he has crossed the line judging from what their chief executive Niels de Vos said.

"Mo Farah is thought by many commentators to be the greatest distance athlete of all time," said de Vos.

"I could not agree more. We are planning to commemorate his final track race in the UK in style on Sunday in what will be one of the highlights of the summer."

In truth the field lining up against Farah should not present any problems but other events on the card have a far more competitive edge.

None more so than the women's 100 metres which sees Olympic champion Elaine Thompson try and restore some of her lustre after flopping in the world final.

However, bitter rival Dafne Schippers, who finished in front of her in the 100m as she took bronze and boosted by retaining her 200m crown, will be intent on denting the Jamaican's morale further.

Dual sprint world silver medalist Marie-Josee Ta Lou also lines up as does Australian great Sally Pearson, fresh from her remarkable comeback to regain the 100m hurdles world crown.

Asha Philip backs new generation of British athletics stars to emerge

Medals last for ever but euphoria, Asha Philip admits, is temporary.

Six days after a superb Saturday when the sprinter revelled in the joy of a World Championships silver in the 4x100metres relay at the London Stadium, the circuit moves on and the 26-year-old has another target to shoot for.

Next stop, Birmingham, for Sunday’s Muller Grand Prix, with many of those who shone in the capital last week convinced to stay on for the Diamond League meeting as the athletics season nears its end.

The Alexander Stadium will bring Mo Farah’s last track appearance on British soil. Although there were inevitable declarations from UK Athletics that meeting their World Championships medal target of six was a sign of strength, the four-time Olympic champion was the lone individual gold medallist in London.

As yet, no candidate to succeed him in the lead role has emerged. Watch this space, though, argues Philip, who believes the scent of renewal is in the air, enriched by hopefuls like Callum Hawkins in the marathon, Kyle Langford in the 800m and her relay team-mate Dina Asher-Smith in the 200m, all close to a podium in London.

“Sport has that,” says Philip. “It goes in waves. I think we’ve shown with the number of fourth places that they’re almost there.

“But the next couple of years, you’ll see that new wave of names. It’s sad that legends are leaving but they can’t do it forever.”

The wheel must keep turning, she acknowledges. A world youth champion in 2007 before a knee injury curtailed her ascent, Philip has gone from prospect to veteran during a period that has seen Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford elevate themselves to Olympic glory and leave Generation Next keen to follow. “I hope kids have watched what we’ve done and believe in themselves,” Philip added.

But now it is back to competition. Next year, the Commonwealth Games and European Championships take place. Beyond that, another World Championships and an Olympics in Tokyo.

In Birmingham, the scrap for domestic supremacy will be renewed. But the bonds between the quickest women here are far from temporary. “As much as we like competing against each other, we still want each other to do well,” said Philip.

Usain Bolt reacts to cheating allegations at 2017 World Athletics Championships

'I don't usually release my medical report to the public but sadly I have sat and listened to people questioning if I was really injured,' says the sprint king.

Usain Bolt delivered a rebuke to those who questioned whether he really suffered an injury in his farewell race at the World Athletics Championships by revealing details of his hamstring tear on Thursday.

The Jamaican, stung by speculation that he had pulled up in the anchor leg of the 4x100 metres relay final in London on Saturday because he was too far behind to win the race, said the injury would need three months of rehabilitation.

Accompanied by an x-ray of the injury to his left hamstring, the eight-times Olympics gold medallist was also adamant in social media posts that he never cheated his fans.

The 30-year-old explained on Twitter: "Sadly I have tear of the proximal myotendineous junction of biceps femoris in my left hamstring with partial retraction. 3 months rehab. I don't usually release my medical report to the public but sadly I have sat and listened to people questioning if I was really injured.

"I have never been one to cheat my fans in any way & my entire desire at the championship was run one last time for my fans. Thanks for the continued support my fans and I rest, heal and move onto the next chapter of my life #Love&LoveAlone."

The posts on Twitter were removed shortly after they had been posted. Bolt had been three metres down on the two leaders as he took on the last leg of the relay, which was won by Britain, only to pull up sharply and fall to the ground, coming to a halt after a forward roll on the track.

He speculated on Sunday that the injury, which ended a wretched final championships for him after he only managed to win bronze in the individual 100 metres the previous weekend, might have been caused by having a long wait before the race.

Bolt, who won 19 global championship golds, is widely considered the finest sprinter in athletics annals.

Michael Johnson interview: ‘It’s time to simplify athletics – get rid of events that people don’t watch’

Michael Johnson enjoyed the World Championships more than most but tells Matt Dickinson that athletics is at risk of becoming peripheral

If a pundit’s job is not only to entertain and enlighten but to challenge, Michael Johnson can count himself among the best in his field. At the World Athletics Championships in London, the running great took on Steve Cram over the “demonisation” of Justin Gatlin live on prime-time BBC in what was a vital debate about how sport deals with cheats.

And as that instantly recognisable bass voice comes down a telephone line from the United States, reflecting on what those ten days in London told us about the state of track and field, Johnson does not shy away from difficult arguments. Indeed, he positively demands that his sport confront them.

Lincoln-Way East graduate leads U.S. relay team to gold

Usain Bolt, Mo Farah and Allyson Felix.

These are some of the big-name track stars who Lincoln-Way East high school graduate Aaliyah Brown said inspires her. Earlier this month, Brown was on the same world stage with the former Olympians at the recent IAAF World Championships in London as part of the winning women's 4x100-meter relay, which included Felix.

Brown was the rookie on the relay in this year's biggest international track meet. Like Felix, the other members of that team — Tori Bowie, and Waubonsie Valley high school alum Morolake Akinosun — are former Olympians.

The victory Aug. 12 in the women's relay was a first for Team USA since 2011. That same day, Brown's heroes fell short. Bolt, of Jamaica, pulled up with a leg injury in what would be his last career race in the men's 4x100 relay, and Britian's Farah finished second in the 5,000-meter run.

"I'm still in awe," Brown said in telephone interview with the Daily Southtown. "To go out for the first time and come out with gold has boosted my confidence as I continue to run."

The 22-year-old former Southland resident said the experience was a dream come true.

Since she was age 6, Brown ran track on various teams. She competed with AAU track clubs and Lincoln-Way East before joining Texas A&M University. She won multiple high school state medals and collegiate all-American honors. Brown, who recently completed college, now lives in suburban Atlanta.

Lincoln-Way East Athletic Director Mark Vander Kooi said it was clear that Brown's track skills were "special" the first time he saw her compete.

He said Brown led the the team to a state title.

"She was really spectacular," Vander Kooi said. "It didn't matter where we were at in the race, once she got that baton we were winning."

Brown said competing in high school played a role in her athletic development, recalling that the program taught her "how to be a great teammate."

Brown said she set her sights on running at the professional and international level at age 10. Brown said she made a vow last summer to be selected for this year's team in London.

"I always wanted to compete professionally and I always wanted to win gold," Brown said.

After securing the spot, Brown said she felt like she belonged on the big stage. Brown was the first leg of the winning quartet, handing the baton to Felix.

"It wasn't strange being there," Brown said. "I want to be like them, so I felt like I was in place."

Now that she has added Team USA to her athletic resume, Brown said she plans to continue progressing on the track. While she plans to compete at next year's indoor IAAF World Championships, Brown is training to win a spot in the 2020 Olympics.

"This will definitely motivate me to keep striving for greatness and keep the gold in America," Brown said. "I've always had my eyes on the bigger picture."

Ten memorable races from world track and field championships (video)

Ten memorable races from the world track and field championships, including Usain Bolt‘s last events before retirement …

Usain Bolt upset by Justin Gatlin in 100m finale (Day 2)

For the first 95 meters, eyes were glued on Bolt trying to catch young American Christian Coleman. But it would be Justin Gatlin, out in lane 8, who shocked everyone with an incredible late surge to win his first global title in 12 years.

Women’s marathon ends in close sprint, U.S. medal (Day 3)

The top four finishers were separated by 10 seconds. The silver and bronze medalists finished in the same time after 26.2 miles on the roads of London, ending on Tower Bridge. Amy Cragg snagged third with her final kick, the first U.S. marathon medal at worlds since 1993.

Tori Bowie’s perfect lean steals 100m (Day 3)

In three years, Tori Bowie went from last place in the world indoor championships long jump to fastest woman in the world. The soft-spoken Mississippi native used a textbook lean — showing poise of a sprinter with two or three times her experience — to beat Ivorian Marie-Josée Ta Lou by .01.

A 1500m sprint for the ages (Day 4)

The women’s 1500m was billed as perhaps the most competitive final of the meet. It delivered. The last 100 meters were chaotic to say the least. Kenyan Faith Kipyegon won, but American Jenny Simpson again proved her racing acumen, moving up on the rail for silver in a race that also included Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya (bronze) and world-record holder Genzebe Dibaba (12th).

Duck splashes in women’s 400m (Day 6)

The rematch between Allyson Felix and Shaunae Miller-Uibo provided another incredible finish. However, neither the defending world champion nor the reigning Olympic champion took gold in the London rain. Miller-Uibo came off the final turn in the lead, with Felix the primary chaser. But the Bahamian tripped after looking at the scoreboard. Felix didn’t have that extra gear. Instead, Phyllis Francis surged past both of them for her first individual global medal, a gold. Francis, a former University of Oregon standout, attributed her experience in Eugene for preparing her to race in wet, chilly conditions.

Wayde van Niekerk misses double on Turkey Day (Day 7)

Wayde van Niekerk’s admirable attempt to match Michael Johnson‘s 400m-200m double from the 1995 World Championships and 1996 Olympics came up two hundredths of a second short to an unknown.

Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev (born in Azerbaijan) stunned the Olympic Stadium by holding off Van Niekerk in the last strides of the 200m final. Guliyev came off the turn with a step on favorites Van Niekerk and Isaac Makwala — but the two Africans ran out of gas. Van Niekerk, tired from racing six times in six days, tightened up before his lean. Makwala, tired from his medical controversy and having raced a pair of 200m the night before, faded earlier in the stretch.

Shocking one-two in women’s steeplechase (Day 8)

In a meet full of upsets, you can make a strong argument this one-two was the most unforeseen. Americans Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs topped the strongest women’s 3000m steeplechase field of all time. Four years ago, the U.S. put no women in the world steeplechase final. Three years ago, Coburn was such an afterthought that East Africans thought she was a pacer in a Diamond League race. But in London, the Olympic bronze medalist Coburn lowered her American record and Frerichs set a personal best by 15 seconds. The next four finishers, all Kenyan-born, were four of the five fastest women of all time in the event.

Mo Farah beaten in last championship track race (Day 9)

For Mo Farah, it ended in tears. In his last global championship track race, the Brit lost at an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2011. He had won the previous 10 straight Olympic and world championships 5000m and 10,000m. But Ethiopian Muktar Edris relegated Farah to silver in the 5000m and celebrated with his own version of Farah’s famous “Mobot.” Farah, 34, intends to move to road running and the marathon after this season.

Usain Bolt tumbles in last career race (Day 9)

It was not a fairytale ending to Usain Bolt’s career. It was a disastrous one. Bolt pulled up with a hamstring injury and tumbled to the track while anchoring Jamaica’s 4x100m relay. He lay face down, his hands covering his eyes in pain. Bolt later got up and was helped across the finish line by his teammates.

One last surprise in 4x400m (Day 10)

Fittingly, worlds ended with a first-time champion upsetting a global power. Trinidad and Tobago, a twin-island nation of some 1.5 million people, won the 4x400m with an anchor-leg surge past the U.S., population 320 million.

Courtney Frerichs Still In Shock Over London Steeple (Video)

Nixa native Courtney Frerichs has watched the tape, so she has proof that it actually happened.

Frerichs and fellow American Emma Coburn shocked the international running community with their one-two finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Aug. 11 at the IAAF World Championships in London.

"Sometimes I still find myself wondering if it actually happened," Frerichs told the News-Leader this week in a phone interview from London.

Frerichs shattered her personal best by finishing the race in 9 minutes and 3 seconds. Coburn, meanwhile, set an American record with her time of 9:02.58. The women became the first Americans to finish first and second in the steeplechase at the Worlds or Olympics.

Kenyans have traditionally dominated the steeplechase, and Frerichs said she kept expecting one of her Kenyan competitors to pass her down the stretch.

"When I looked up at the scoreboard right there at the end, I was just in complete shock," Frerichs said. "It seems too good to be true. It was just an absolutely amazing feeling."

The race featured one of the favorites backtracking after completely missing a water jump and later falling down during another jump. writer Jesse Washington called it "one of the best races in running history."

"I feel very honored that people think that," Frerichs said. "I am really proud of how far we have come."

So how did Frerichs do it?

Frerichs said her training went to another level over the last six weeks and she felt strong throughout the race.

"In that last lap, at that point I knew I was in fifth and my mentality totally switched," Frerichs said. "I didn’t come here for fourth or fifth, I’m going to do everything I can to get a medal."

The other key, Frerichs said, was trying to stick close to Coburn from the start.

"She’s obviously been very dominant in the U.S. over the last few years, and recently established herself on the international stage," Frerichs said. "So I was really nervous about that but knew that it was a good time to put myself out there."

Americans collected several other distance running medals at the world championships, and Frerichs said she hopes the Americans can build off of last week's performances.

Frerichs said the best thing about her strong performance last week was having Coburn by her side.

"It’s a scary thought to take on a group of really talented women by yourself," Frerichs said. "But when you have someone that you trust and you look up to that you’re doing it with, you suddenly feel like you are a greater power out there."

Frerichs said she will be back in the Springfield area in September and she plans on holding a track and field event for kids either then or closer to Thanksgiving.

And she'll have her silver medal with her.

"I will bring it with me when I come home so that my friends can see it," Frerichs said. "It’s definitely going to be one of my most prized possessions."

Russian triple-jumper Pyatykh gets four-year ban: CAS

ZURICH (Reuters) - The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has imposed a four-year ban on Russian triple-jumper Anna Pyatykh for violating rules on prohibited substances, the tribunal said on Friday.

The ban takes effect from Dec. 15, 2016, the date her provisional suspension began, it said in a statement.

"The CAS acted as first instance decision-making authority for this matter, substituting for the Russian Athletics Federation, currently suspended by the IAAF," it added.

Reporting by Michael Shields

Miller-Uibo "Still Young & Have A Lot More Years"

IT was a unique love affair all around in London, England, for Shaunae Miller-Uibo at the 16th International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) World Championships.

Still in the honeymoon phase of her February 4 marriage to her college sweetheart Maicel Uibo - a decathlete from Estonia - in the Crown Ballroom at Atlantis, Paradise Island, Miller-Uibo found herself chasing a feat in the women’s 200/400 metre double that has never been accomplished.

Since she was denied the opportunity to attempt the feat last year when she clinched the Olympic Games’ gold medal in the 400m in a dive across the finish line ahead of her American rival, Allyson Felix, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Miller-Uibo had petitioned the IAAF for a change in the schedule to go after the feat in London.

With her goals set to perfection as she was completing the perfect race in the 400m final, her legs just gave away as she relinquished almost a 10-20m lead in the last 50m and ended up in fourth place.

With no spot on the podium to receive another global medal, Miller-Uibo had to go back to her first love of the sport, the 200m, where she eventually rebounded from the crashing defeat in the one-lap race to snatch the bronze in the half-lap race.

In falling short of her goals, Miller-Uibo said she has to look at it as a learning process that will only make her stronger as she continues that quest for global supremacy in the years to come.

“I think it’s been a great experience for me. I’m still young and I still have a lot more years in me, so I’m just taking it one step at a time,” she said. “Obviously, the championships didn’t go as planned, but I don’t let things get me down.

“It only encourages me to go even better the next time so for right now, I’m happy with my performance. I think I came back pretty strong and I’m just looking forward to moving on from here.”

This weekend, Miller-Uibo is expected to be back in action in England at the Grand Prix Birmingham where she will get a chance for redemption against the World Championships’ three medallists, American champion Phyllis Francis, Bahrain’s silver medallist Salwa Eid and, of course, Felix, the bronze medallist.

She admits that because of her love for the event, the 200m will be more memorable for her than the disappointment that took place in the 400m that put a damper on the celebrations intended with her husband, family members and friends in London.

“Coming from the disappointment of the 400m, I was able to shake it off and come back and still be able to get a medal,” she pointed out. “I thank God for taking me through every step of the way.”

Despite not attaining her lofty goals this year, Miller-Uibo said it’s still on her ‘to do list” so she’s going to look at what the future holds as she prepares to come back and try it again in the 17th edition of the championships in Doha, Qatar, September 28 to October 6, 2019.

“The good thing I got from it is that it can be done,” Miller-Uibo reflected. “It was just so unfortunate what happened in the 400. I felt I had the race in control. Then in the 200, I went out there and I tried my best.

“We worked hard this season. I know in two year’s time, I will be more than prepared. I just hope the world is ready to see what we can bring in 2019. We’re definitely going back at the double and see how things work out. So I’m looking forward to it.”

Her husband, Maicel, who had double duties competing in the decathlon, was right by the side of his wife, cheering and supporting her every step of the way.

“It was particularly exciting. In the multiple events, we do it a little different from those in the individual event, but it was interesting to see how they go through the rounds,” he said. “It’s more of a guessing game to see how everybody will place in the final.”

Looking at the attempt by his wife for the rare double, he said he felt she gave it her best shot. “The trip in the 400m was unfortunate, but overall I think she did very well,” he said.

When they are both done, Uibo said he’s working harder because right now he wants to be able to match his performance with that of his wife when they have their conversation around the dinner table.

Coming from Estonia, a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe to the sunny isles of the Bahamas just off the coast of Florida, Uibo said he’s been warmly received into the Miller family and welcomed in the track fraternity.

“I like it. I feel like I’m in a good place,” said Uibo, who does most of his training in the Bahamas while Miller-Uibo is in Florida.

Miller-Uibo’s father, Shawn Miller, who had the pleasure of giving his daughter away twice – the first in a coaching change with George Cleare and the second in her hand in marriage to Uibo – said he’s proud of her achievements.

“I was very impressed with her performance. I have to mention the team around her. She had a new coach, Lance Brauman, who did an excellent job getting her prepared to go for the double,” he said.

“It was a little unfortunate what took place, but this is track and field. I guess it was God’s way of saying not now, or to test her faith. It was there. She was ready for it.

“I think Brauman did a great job in getting her ready. Her medical team also kept her fit for the whole year and her manager and agents did a good job in placing her in the right meets at the right time of the year.”

Despite not attaining the double, Miller said the good thing is that the world saw that she has the ability to do it. After the disappointment of the 400m, he said she was able to bounce back for the 200m and held on for the bronze.

“That was a bronze against the best in the world,” Miller said.

With the Commonwealth Games on the horizon for next year, the Miller-Uibo camp is looking forward to making a splash on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, April 4-15.

Before that, she’s also looking at participating in the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, United Kingdom, March 2-4.

#In the meantime, Miller-Uibo said she will try to squeeze in as much time as she can with her husband as they get ready to enjoy their honeymoon, which was delayed because of the vigorous training routine that they both had to endure after the wedding.

2024 Olympics Could Include Video Gaming

As athletes leap, lift and dive at the 2024 Paris Summer Games, will video game players also be competing for gold medals? Adding “eSports” to the roster could be the International Olympic Committee’s next attempt to attract younger viewers.

Tony Estanguet, co-president of the Paris Olympic bid committee, confirmed to the Associated Press that he will speak with the IOC and eSports representatives to assess the possibility of including eSports in the official Olympic program.

Anticipating pushback from critics who argue eSports would ruin the Olympic Games, Estanguet urged people to keep an open mind.

“We can’t say, ‘It’s not us. It’s not about Olympics,’” Estanguet told the Associated Press. “The youth, they are interested in eSport and this kind of thing. Let’s look at it. Let’s meet them. Let’s try if we can find some bridges.”

The move to consider gaming comes amid falling ratings for the Olympics, particularly among younger viewers.

The Rio Games in 2016 saw a 30-percent drop among television viewers between ages 18 to 34. To combat the decline, the IOC added 3-on-3 basketball and BMX to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

This fall in viewership has a lot to do with the sheer volume of entertainment competing for viewers’ attention, according to BTIG media analyst Brandon Ross.

“If you go back to even before cable in the 1970s when the Olympics were on or any show, there was very little to watch in terms of video on television,” Ross said. “So each piece of content got very, very high ratings. That’s just not the world we live in anymore.”

ESports has grown in popularity over the last few years. The world championship finals for “League of Legends,” a multiplayer online battle area, or MOBA game, pulled in 43 million viewers worldwide last year.

“Eighty-one percent of our fans are [between] 18 and 34,” said Craig Levine, CEO of ESL, the world’s largest eSports company. “Our fanbase is a digital-first audience. That’s where eSports and gaming have grown out of. Popular platforms like Twitch and YouTube and Facebook and Twitter — it becomes a home for this generation to consume media and to interact.”

However, in an interview with Inside The Games, IOC president Thomas Bach sounded skeptical.

“We are not yet 100 percent clear whether eSports is really sport, with regard to physical activity and what it needs to be considered sport,” Bach said.

The debate over eSports has been going on for years. In 2014, ESPN’s president said eSports were not a sport at all. Two years later, the company launched a dedicated platform to cover eSports.

Ken Hershman, CEO of the World eSports Association, is optimistic the Olympics will undergo a similar evolution.

“As people are educated around what these athletes do, people will see it for what it is and be very comfortable that this is a legitimate sport to add,” Hershman said. “It’s not kids sitting in their basements drinking Red Bulls playing around on a computer.”

The Olympic program will begin to take shape in 2019 with a final decision to be made after the 2020 Tokyo Games.

He Deserves A Spot On Any Greatest-Athlete List

ESPN loves lists, loves to rank plays, teams, high school kids, quarterbacks, slam-dunkers, exit-velocities, touchdown dances and superstars. That these lists and rankings so often are bereft of context and relevance is irrelevant.

In its eagerness to be socially inclusive, ESPN recently released the results of what it portrayed as an extensive survey of exclusion, one entirely based on race.

Respondents were asked to name the top 50 Greatest Black Athletes. The results are in. One through five are Michael Jordan, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Willie Mays and Jesse Owens.

It’s interesting that three (Jordan, Ali and Owens) were Olympians, because perhaps the most extraordinary black American Olympic athlete of all time didn’t even make the list, likely because few respondents ever heard of him.

That also was reflected in a 2000 survey in which ESPN personnel ranked the Top 100 athletes of the 20th Century. He didn’t make that list, either.

Milt Campbell, who in 2012 died at 78 to small notice outside of his hometown of Plainfield, N.J., was, by international definition, the greatest American athlete of any hue.

At Plainfield High School, he starred at everything he attempted: running back, bowling, track, swimming.

Also while in high school, he finished second to the legendary decathlete Bob Mathias in the United States trials — in Campbell’s first-ever participation in a decathlon. He was just a kid, who weeks earlier learned that such a 10-skill track-and-field event existed and thus decided he would give it a try.

Having made the 1952 Olympic team, he won the silver medal, finishing behind Mathias. At 18, Campbell arguably, but more likely indisputably, was the world’s second-greatest athlete.

Four years later, the Olympic decathlon was billed as an epic struggle between American Rafer Johnson and the Soviet Union’s Vasily Kuznetsov. Campbell beat both, winning gold and bettering Mathias’ Olympic record by 50 points.

Decathletes Mathias, Johnson and Bruce Jenner are known to most, if not all, as American champions with sustaining fame. Campbell? Sorry, wrong number.

At the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Campbell’s achievement was diminished by fate, as a series of rights disputes mostly prevented what was supposed to be televised in the U.S. Those Games showed up in movie houses as part of newsreels. And the Cold War “Blood In The Water” water polo match won by Hungary over the USSR in the midst of the anti-Soviet “Hungarian Revolution,” made the most news.

In 1957, Campbell was drafted by the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. In 1958 he was cut. Why?

The team’s coach and co-founder, Paul Brown, Campbell said, told him he was unhappy Campbell had just married a white woman. Campbell next played in the Canadian Football League through 1964.

Still, he wasn’t done. In 1972, at 40, he nearly qualified for the U.S. Olympic judo team.

I came to know Milt Campbell through his love of bowling and mutual friends, PBA Hall of Famer Johnny Petraglia and Lee Livingston, then owner of the massive Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick, N.J. I wanted — needed — to get to know Campbell. And I made sure to do so.

He was wonderful: engaging, candid, funny, opinionated, but open-minded. He seemed pleased by my questions and attention. We remained in touch.

When asked if he was bitter his Olympic achievements provided him only brief, long-forgotten fame and denied him the residual business opportunities enjoyed by Mathias, Johnson and Jenner — all three landed movie contracts — he answered: “I’m only human. How can I not be?”

And so there’s reason, beyond a lack of knowledge and research, as to why 48 years after he won silver in the Olympic decathlon while in high school, and 44 years after he won the gold, that Milt Campbell didn’t even make ESPN’s Top 100 of the 20th Century and its Top 50 Black Athletes survey.

And when I told friends — solid sports fans — that I had met and even dined with Milt Campbell, few had ever heard of him.

Dina Asher-Smith only sees silver lining after World Championships

Dina Asher-Smith is not the kind of person who does glass half-full or glass half-empty conundrums. To her it is a case of just how full that glass is – because it is never, ever empty.

Having earned the title of fastest British sprinter of all time before she had even left her teenage years, Asher-Smith is one of life’s big optimists.

So instead of dwelling on what might have been at the London World Championships last week, Asher-Smith, 21, takes positives from the fact that she was even able to run, let alone post a season’s best time.

Instead of ruing missing out on a 200m bronze medal by just 0.07sec, she gleans strength from taking a quantum leap in such a short period of time since breaking her foot in February.

It is a hugely admirable trait and one that leaves you wondering how on earth she manages it.

“Simply, because I’m young,” she says, laughing as ever. “If I was 28 and this had happened and I did that [finished fourth at a World Championships] then I’d be a bit more angry.

“But I’ve probably got another two or three Olympics in me. This is only my second World Championships as an individual and I finished fourth. Especially with the year I’ve had, I’m really happy.

“This has arguably done more for me in the long term mentally than an easy season and getting a medal would have.

“That sounds entirely crazy as a medal would have been fantastic – I’d have loved that. But when you are young you have to go through trials and tribulations to make you realise what real problems are.

“If I can have three months out and then run 22.22sec and still come fourth, it does fill you with confidence for the future.

“Sometimes things don’t pan out the way you’d want them to. I’d love to have had an injury free run to a home World Championships – that’s the way you’d want to do it.

“You do not want to break your foot a couple of months before arguably the biggest athletics event you are ever going to participate in – well possibly apart from Rio – but at the same time I’d rather get all my learning experiences and my mental tests in when I am younger.

“So when I am older I kind of have that mental prep to go out there and do the business when I am physically at my peak.”

It is an astonishingly mature answer for someone so young. Because there is little point denying it – had Asher-Smith not fractured the navicular bone in her foot during a freak accident in training, not had an operation to insert a metal screw, not had six weeks on crutches and not only been able to put her running spikes back on in the middle of June, she would have been challenging for gold in London.

Fortunately for Asher-Smith, she had a second bite at the cherry in the 4x100m relay, where she was part of the team that won silver behind the United States.

“With the relay girls it was slightly different because we’re already Olympic bronze medallists,” she says. “Did I think we’d come away with the silver medal? No. But you never know with a relay.

“You have to just see how it goes. But I’m so happy to have upgraded the bronze to silver.”

Unlike many of her British team-mates who ensured they peaked for the World Championships, Asher-Smith was only able to compete six times prior to lining up in London and is far from finished with the season.

Her next assignment sees her take on many of the world’s best over 100m at Sunday’s Birmingham Grand Prix, including double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson and Dafne Schippers, who won the world 200m title last week.

Sprint Battles | 100m contests in Birmingham

1.51pm - women’s T37/38 100m final

Two British world champions go head-to-head as T37 gold medalist Georgie Hermitage lines up alongside Sophie Hahn, who won the T38 title. World T38 silver medallist Kadeena Cox also competes, as does Olivia Breen, who finished fourth in London.

2.50pm - men’s T43/44 100m final

Jonnie Peacock intends to take a year off in 2018 after winning his second world title in London. He will expect to triumph here, where he resumes his rivalry with American Richard Browne, who was absent from the World Championships with injury.

3.23pm - men’s 100m final

A fascinating all-British affair sees the cream of the country’s crop take each other on. Chijindu Ujah and Adam Gemili head the pack after winning world gold in the 4x100m. Zharnel Hughes also makes a rare appearance over the short sprint.

4.08pm - women’s 100m final

The only event with heats and a final sees three of Britain's 4x100m quartet competing a week after they won silver at London 2017. They face a formidable field that includes Elaine Thompson, Dafne Schippers and Marie-Josee Ta Lou.

Having improved with every 200m run in recent weeks, Asher-Smith looks certain to surpass her modest 100m season’s best of 11.41sec set in her season opener at the start of July.

“I’m really excited because I’m going to go in there and see what I can run,” she says.