Rojo Blogs From The Couch About Daegu - Post #2

6 Quick Thoughts About The Men's 10,000, Men's 100m And Men's 800/Thoughts On Human Nature's Attempt To Explain Everything

By Robert Johnson
August 28, 2011

While a big part of LetsRun is actually in Korea enjoying the World Championships live, some of us aren't so lucky and are stuck back in the States trying to watch it on the Internet/television. I thought I'd try to get in on the action by blogging from the couch as I can probably relate to how the average LetsRun.com visitor is experiencing Worlds better than the rest of LetsRun team that is in Daegu.

My previous blog post appears here:
*Post #1: Rants About Poor TV/Internet Production, Praise For Ashton Eaton And Mohamed Aman

6 Quick Thoughts On The Men's 10,000m

Quick Thought #1 (QT #1) : Man that was so exciting, but ...

But I almost lost it as the international television feed was so, so bad (if you didn't read my first blog on Daegu, you must read it now, as I spent the whole time railing on the coverage on day 1 but this was way worse).

Despite all the crap I had to put up with and despite the fact that I missed most of the race as the television producer somehow thought that the third round of the discus or Brittney Reese's family members were more worthy of watching than the 10,000 final, I'm glad I got up at 6 am on a Sunday to watch it live. That being said, I can't believe how frustrating it was for me (and even the announcers) to have to be shown the most useless stuff. I almost broke my television as I thought throwing a shoe at it would somehow change the feed.

Hey, I know there are some people that want to watch the end of the long jump. That's somewhat acceptable. But the middle round of the discus final? Really, can't that be shown on tape? Think about it this way. How many people in the world run? Billions. How many people throw the discus. A few thousand. Which is more important?

I'm so irate, I promise I'm going to try to do something about. I'll have to think about it but I want to maybe start an official petition to the IAAF and world marathon majors to beg them to at the very least use split-screen technology. Iis anyone who is reading this a television producer? If so, can you email me to tell me if it's prohibitively expensive. I mean, it seems like it wouldn't cost a thing.

QT #2: I gotta admit that when Mo Farah went to the lead with 600 and head the least at 400, I was thinking to myself, "Man this is refreshing to see someone go early instead of waiting until the last possible moment." Then with about 150 to go, I started to think "Well that's why no one goes early. That Ethiopian has a target to run after."

Right after the race ended the Eurosport announcer said exactly what I was thinking when he said, "In the end you have to reflect, 'Did he go to soon?'"

I'll re-address this question at the end of this post, so read on as the second guessing of all the tactics to me was the theme of the night.

QT #3: The Eurosport announcer said after the race, "Kenenisa is gone. The king is dead. Long live the king." Well, I'm not 100% sure that's true. As a Christian, I'm hoping for a resurrection.

It's hard to not realize the parallels between Haile Gebreslassie's attempt for a 5th straight title in 2001 to Bekele's quest in 2011. Both men were in their late 20s and both men came up short in their first race of the year. And many are assuming that since Gebrselassie never won another 10,000 title after that (although he did get bronze that year and silver in 2003), that Bekele is finished as a top notch track runner.

My response is simple - we don't know that to be the case just quite yet. Just because the situations are very similar doesn't mean that the ultimate outcome will be the same. Yes, I know Bekele is actually older now than Geb was in 2001 (29 versus 28) but many think that Gebrselassie is actually way older than his listed age. But 30 years old is by no means too old to be a dominant figure on the track. Bernard Lagat won a world 5,000 title at age 32 in 2007 and he may win another this year at age 36.

Writing Bekele off immediately after this DNF is a classic case of humans prematurely jumping to conclusions and trying to explain everything immediately (again more on this theme later below).

The question as to whether or not Bekele will be a shadow of himself in London is certainly the question of the day, but that's what makes sport so interesting.

QT #4 : Ignoring my previous post, is it time to say that Matt Tegenkamp's best days are behind him?

I'm not willing to write off Bekele as he's arguably the greatest 10,000 guy to ever live. But Tegenkamp at age 29 seems to be in trouble. 4th at Worlds in 2007, 8th in 2009 and now a lap down in the 10,000. Bob Kennedy had a good six-year run where he was a sub-13:10 guy in the 5,000 that ended in 1999 when he ran 13:05 seven days before his 29th birthday. After that, Kennedy never ran faster than 13:17.51. This is Tegenkamp's 2nd straight sub-par year where he hasn't broken 13:10 after his 12:58.56 in 2009. He's not necessarily done, but it's not looking good.

QT #5: For a brief moment, I thought Galen Rupp was going to do the "unthinkable" and medal. Instead, the streak continues. 33 medals in a row in the men's 10,000 for people born in Africa.

I think I thought this right when the coverage came back on in the last mile and it looked like the Kenyans were falling off the back (actually I just rewatched it and it was at the 19-minute mark) and I was thinking it would be a 4 or 5 person kick for home between the Ethiopians and Rupp and Tadese. Since Rupp had already beaten Merga this year and Tadese isn't known for his kick, I thought the unthinkable might happen - a white guy was going to medal at 10,000 - as Rupp could kick from say 5th and snipe someone at the line for bronze. Obviously that didn't happen, but it was exciting to even contemplate.

Looking ahead to 2012, I think he's in trouble, as the Kenyan team couldn't have possibly been any weaker than it was this year.

QT#6: Jeilan's victory is a total credit to the Japanese system. Going to Japan worked for Jeilan just as it did for Douglas Wakiihuri, Eric Wainaina and Sammy Wanjiru.

There is no doubt that the 22-year-old Jeilan (like all world champions) is a talent. As a 17-year-old youth in 2006, he ran 13:09 and 27:02, with the 27:02 being a new youth world record. He also captured the world junior 10,000 crown that year and in 2008, he won the world junior cross-country title. It's hard to find someone with better young credentials than that.

That being said, he found life as a pro difficult. An American with those credentials would be looking at a life of luxury with a six-figure shoe deal. An Ethiopian with those times is hard-pressed to make a good living with those type of credentials, as the shoe deals often don't amount to much. In 2009, he largely lived on the US road circuit as he was 7th at Carlsbad, 3rd at Peachtree, 3rd at Beach to Beacon, 3rd at Boilermaker, and 10th at Falmouth. What else was he going to do, as he only ran 13:19 and 27:22 that year on the track?

The next year, he made the wise move to go to Japan, which gave him a good assured stable income so he could still focus on track running, and the rest is history.

(Editor's addition: The team on the ground in Daegu caught up with Jeilan who said that he went to Japan after he was upset that he wasn't named to the Ethiopian 2008 or 2009 teams. At one point, he said of the Japanese training, "The training in Japan is not good for me," but at another he said, "I prepare to go to Japan to prepare well there. I prepare well, I train well, so I qualify this year, I participate in this race and I become first." He apparently has recently been training in Ethiopia just prior to world's.

Regardless, Rojo still think Japan saved him. If Jeilan ultimately does complain about it, it reminds him of American David Morris who said he didn't like the Japanese stuff too much even though he ran way better over there (2:09) than he ever did under any other training.)

More: *2010 Week That Was Talking About Jeilan Going To Japan *World Junior XC Champion Headed To Japanese Corporate Team

6 Quick Thoughts On The Men's 100m

QT1 #1: I don't know why everyone is assuming Usain Bolt would have easily won had he raced.

Blake is very young (the youngest champ ever) and is very good and he won by a ton - .16. That is more than what Bolt won by in 2009 when he ran 9.58. Blake ran fast into the wind. It equates to a 9.83 without the wind, which is pretty good. Blake also was way faster than Bolt in the semis.

I want to see Bolt-Blake race for the first time this year and hope to see it soon in Europe. The interesting thing is the two apparently are training partners so they probably know who is the fastest.

QT #2: Bolt's loss just reminds me how quickly in sports one can go from being "the best ever" to "oh he's not even the best of his generation."

Think in men's tennis. Roger Federer was far superior to anyone in history, but wait he's not even as good as this guy Rafael Nadal, oh wait what about this guy Djokovic?

In my mind, the false start by Bolt will put a ton of pressure on him for London. I guess that doesn't really matter, as there is a ton of pressure in an Olympic 100 final no matter what the situation.

QT #3: Please stop the talk about changing the false start rule.

Yes, it sucks that we didn't get to see Bolt race, but allowing a false start for everyone in the field is way worse, maddening. In terms of the rule, I'd say at your average European race, "If Bolt false starts, let him run unofficially, as the meet promoters are paying him a ton, but he can't earn Diamond League points." But at Worlds, rules are rules.

I actually like the way it all played out. Bolt, unlike everyone else, just flat out admitted it and got out of there. Bolt is different - even when he false starts.

QT #4: Please stop the talk about Bolt needing to change his pre-race antics.

The men's 100 final hadn't even been run yet and already the commentators were saying Bolt needs to get more serious with his pre-race routine. This shows you how commentators often just make up arguments to explain things.

Give me a break. They want him to be more serious before the start so he's more likely to false start? In 2008 and 2009, everyone said his relaxed attitude was what let him rise to the occasion and I certainly think that's more the case than it being a detriment.

My advice to Bolt - get serious in training, stay relaxed in the race.

Oh yeah, the IAAF should be ashamed for being defensive about it's rule when it said, "In extraordinary cases, the IAAF Council has the right to make interim changes to Technical Rules, pending official approval by IAAF Congress."

QT #5: Maurice Greene looks like a genius as he said Blake would beat Bolt.

And to think I "mocked" him on the homepage when he said Blake would beat Bolt earlier this week: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/sports/Greene-backs-Blake-to-upset-Bolt_9538833

QT #6: It was great to see Kim Collins medal at age 35.

During the last few years, with all the guys like Gay and Bolt running so fast, I've always wondered, "How is it possible that guy like Collins could have won a world title with a PR of 9.98?" It seriously bothered me from a logical standpoint as it didn't seem to make a lot of sense, and if you are a drug skeptic, it made you wonder. But these championships and all of the injuries with Gay and Powell prove what has always been the case - it's just very hard for a human being to run under 10.00 - especially 9.90 - and even harder to do it consistently.

6 Quick Thoughts About The Men's 800

QT#1: Yesterday I told you to remember the name Mohamed Aman and I'm glad I did, as he looked great in defeating Kaki in the 800.

But his rise is going to make it doubly hard for American Nick Symmonds to have a shot at a medal in 2012.

QT# 2: Khadevis Robinson (Or Any Of The Athletes Who Didn't Make The 800 Final) Have Nothing To Be Ashamed Of.

KD made a big move on the backstretch to put himself in contention and ended up running a 1:45.27. When he did basically that exact same thing back in May in Rome (big move on the back stretch, time in the low 1:45s), he was a Golden League winner, beating the defending world champ, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, in the process. It took a very strong 1:44.82 to make the final and Robinson's heat was totally stacked (see below).

Brazil's Kleberson Davide actually ran 1:45.06 and didn't advance.

QT# 3: Watching the 800 semis, where Alfred Kirwa Yego and Abubaker Kaki barely made the final, makes me think the IAAF really should have 4 rounds of the 800.

The event is just such a crap shoot of an event to begin with that it's really almost unfair when you try to cut it down from 24 to 8 in a single round. If you go to four rounds, you could cut down from 32 to 16 and then to 8 over the final three rounds (which is what I've always said that USATF should do) and going from 16 to 8 is much fairer than 24 to 8. With three semis, you really put a few runners in trouble if there is an up-and-comer in their heat as was the case in heat 1 today, where Khadevis Robinson was basically screwed before it even started.

I mean look at Robinson's heat today - it was totally stacked. It included the 2nd best guy in the world in Kaki, a three-time global medallist outdoors in Kirwa Yego, the best young talent in the world in Aman, and the 2010 European champion in Marcin Lewandowski. They and Robinson all ran great and only four could possibly advance. The problem with adding a fourth round is then the first round would largely be a waste but it just makes much more sense to go from 32 to 1 to 8. One option would be to just limit Worlds to 32 guys.

QT# 4: Rudisha Is Definitely The Favorite, But I Still Don't Know Why Everyone Assumes The 800 Will Be A Cakewalk

Yes, Rudisha looked good in going wire to wire today. Yes he's the world record holder. But the 800 is a race where it's nearly impossible to run away from people.

In the final, Rudisha will likely be setting the pace for Kaki (and the others) and that makes him vulnerable in my mind. The scenario where Rudisha is most likely to lose is if the others don't give him the lead (which I think they'll do, as no one will want to sacrifice his own chances), and if that happens, then he might end up going out too hard like Kaki did today and struggling at the end (either that or if it was really windy in the stadium - one never hears about wind at World Championships, but it's a possibility, isn't it?).

The race is likely to have a tight finish. Check out Rudisha versus Kaki last year when Rudisha ran 1:42.04. Kaki pushed him all the way to the line.

I'll just say that I'll be way more stunned if the race is a blowout than if it's still somewhat in doubt with 50 meters to go. People who don't understand this don't really get the 800. It's almost always in doubt at the end.

QT#5: Nick Symmonds controlled his heat brilliantly from the front. If you are a coach and want to show a young athlete how to lead an 800, get a tape of that race.

Now that I got that out there. Imagine for a moment that Symmonds hadn't made the final. Everyone would have been saying, "What a moron. He normally runs from the back. Why did he change it up and run from the front?"

And yet these same people are the ones who go irate when runs from the back and comes up short. When that happens, people criticize that tactic. That leads me to my final point of the day.

QT# 6: Sunday showed this certainly is a day and age when it's easy to second guess the tactics of "failed" athletes (as was the case with Bolt in the 100 and Farah in the 10,000). But really it has nothing to do with it being the year 2011. It's really just human nature.

Humans want to have a reason for everything. In reality, in all of sports, there can only be one winner. In track and field this is particularly cruel, as lots of people are going to "lose." Why can't we just say, "Hey he or she was simply better than I was tonight."?

Actually, we can. I caught part of an interview with Brit Mo Farah on Eurosport where he said he was naturally disappointed he didn't win, but he had nothing to be upset about as he closed in 53 seconds. I think his quote was pretty close to, "I'm disappointed in the silver, but there is nothing I could have done," and then he talked about how he heard he closed in 53.

Mo - well done for understanding what sport is all about!!! Despite what your sponsor Nike said in the 1990s, you didn't lose gold, you won silver.


Editor's Note: Robert Johnson, a.k.a. "Rojo", is one of the co-founders of LetsRun.com.
Comments?
Send them to Robert at robertjohnson@letsrun.com or post them on our Message Board.

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