The Week That Was – The Worlds That Were
March 12, 2014
Well we’ve made it back from a fantastic IAAF 2014 World Indoors.
Sopot, Poland was a wonderful host, beautiful city, beaches, vibrant night life, incredible food, wonderful arena and sold out enthusiastic crowds. We’ve got eight thoughts about the action in Sopot.
1) Chanelle Price Is A World Champion
Here’s a stat for you:
Price is the FIRST EVER women’s American non-drug cheat World Champ in a mid-d or distance event in the in the history of the 16 World Indoor Championships that have taken place since 1983. Even counting outdoors, she’s only the second US women’s champ (discounting women later convicted of doping).
Coming into 2014 Worlds, US women, who didn’t ultimately use drugs during their careers, had won 1 gold of the 120 that had been given out in a mid-d or distance event. Price’s win is incredibly rare.
US World Champions In Mid-D/Distance Events Indoors And Outdoors
1983 – Mary Decker* – 1,500 and 3,000 (outdoors)
1993 – Mark Plaatjes# – marathon (outdoors)
1995 – Regina Jacobs* – 1,5oo (indoors)
2003 – Regina Jacobs* – 1,500 (indoors)
2003 – David Krummenacker – 800 (indoors)
2007/101/12 Bernard Lagat# – 1,500 and 5,000 (indoors) in 07, 3000 (indoors) in 10/12
2011 – Jenny Simpson 1,500 (outdoors)
2014 – Chanelle Price -800 (indoors)
*= drug cheat
# = born in another country
Even if we look at the Olympics’ modern era, there hasn’t been a US gold medalist in a mid-d event in 30 years.
List of US Gold Medalists In Mid-D/Distance Events in Olympics’ Modern Era
1964 – Bob Schul – 5,000
1964 – Billy Mills – 10,000
1968 – Madeline Manning – 800
1972 – Dave Wottle – 800
1984 – Joan Benoit – marathon
In running, a lot of the fun associated with the sport is thinking about the future and wondering/dreaming how good someone can be. Sometimes, people forget to actually appreciate the present. History shows that Price did something over the weekend that most likely no other current American star – whether it’s Mary Cain, Ajee’ Wilson, Galen Rupp, Ryan Hill, Chris Derrick, etc. – will ever do – win a global title.
Let’s savor the moment and really appreciate it.
More: LRC Complete Coverage of Women’s 800 at 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships Won by Chanelle Price
*MB: CHANELLE MFin PRICE!!!
*List Of American Medalists At IAAF World Indoor Championships – Mid And Distance Events
2) Youth Is Served/Potential Is Fulfilled/Age 26 Is Old in Running
In terms of the the mid/distance events at 2014 Sopot, a big overriding theme was supreme talent coming to fruition on the World Stage.
On the men’s side, Kenya’s Caleb Ndiku had displayed great prowess as a youngster winning world junior XC and 1,500 titles and now has arrived as a senior star. Ayanleh Souleiman ran 3:30 for 1,500 in the mile at 19. Both now are global champions.
Speaking of Ndiku, please read this message board gem. Ndiku’s coach Renato Canova gives you great details about his training leading up to Sopot here:
Renato Canova – can you please tell us more about Caleb Ndiku. The internet is a wonderful thing.
On the women’s side, Price also was much hyped as a prep but had done little at the senior ranks. 7th at USAs as a high school junior in 2007, a 2:01.61 performer in 2008 (#2 all time on the US HS list at the time), Price went off to Tennessee with great hopes but never won an NCAA individual title (she was third in 2011 and 2012). She could have easily walked away from the sport.
Instead, she stuck with it. Now she’s a world champion. Here’s a stat for you. Price is a world champion despite never being a US champion – she’s actually never made the US final outdoors, except for 2007 when she was a junior in high school. If anyone had reason to quit, it would have been her.
Genzebe Dibaba had won a world junior title at age 19 in 2010. While she had previously won a world indoor title (2012 1,500), she had recently been coming up short at Worlds – not medaling despite running 3:57 in 2012 and 2013.
The results in Sopot reminded us that running is very much a young person’s game. Many people look at Americans getting out of college and think, “Imagine how much better they are going to be in 5-8 years.”
Perhaps, not much better. Here are the ages of the gold medalists in Poland:
Age Of Gold Medalists At 2014 IAAF World Indoors
800: Chanelle Price – 23
1,500: Abebe Aregawi – 23
3,000: Genzebe Dibaba – 23
800: Mohammed Aman – 20
1,500: Ayanleh Souleiman – 21
3,000: Caleb Ndiku – 21
That got us to take a look at the ages of the athletes when the American and World records were set on the men’s side (we’re ignoring the women due to the many likely drug enhanced records)
Age Of Athletes When They Set Men’s World Records
800: David Rudisha – 23
1,500: El Guerrouj – 23
5k/10k: Kenenisa Bekele – 23 for 10,000. 21 (2 weeks before 22) for 5,000.
Age During PRs Of Fastest American-Born Runners In History
800: Johnny Gray – 25
Mile: Alan Webb – 24
5,000: Chris Solinsky – 25
10,000: Galen Rupp – 25
Marathon: Ryan Hall – 25 (ignoring wind-aided Boston).
The sport looks to be made for those 25 and under. A little surprising, isn’t it?
That being said, thanks to prize money and better medicine, people are having longer and longer careers. Bernard Lagat in 2012 at age 37 set the record for oldest gold medalist at World Indoors. This year at 39, he set the record for oldest men’s medalist.
Lagat’s still got some work to do though if he’s going to be the oldest gold medalist of either gender. In 1997, Russia’s Yekaterina Podkopayeva won gold in the 1,500 at age 44 and 271 days.
3) Front-running Is Rewarded
The gold in Sopot was delivered quite often to runners pushing the pace from the front. The only come from behind victory where the lead changed in the last 400 took place in the men’s 800.
Chanelle Price and Ayanleh Souleiman went wire-to-wire and were rewarded with gold.
Recently, Mo Farah has shown the world how to control the race late from the front. One of the things we most love about indoor track is it’s ideally suited for front running for two reasons:
i) there is no wind
ii) there is a turn every 50 meters so someone trying to come from behind has to run way wide from 100 to 50 meters out, not just 200 to 100 meters out like in outdoor track.
Price put on a clinic in the women’s 800 as did Souleiman in how to control things from the front. Price put her body squarely in the middle of lane one making anyone who wanted to try to come around her run way wide.
4) DQ City (But Not For Contact)
Given the Alberto Salazar DQ controversy involving Gabriele Grunewald and Andrew Bumbalough at USAs, we were keenly observing the DQ situation in Sopot. DQs were being handed out left and right. But not for anything close to what got Bumbalough or Grunewald. At Worlds, if you stepped over the rail or made a lane violation on the opening turn of the 800, you were immediately DQd – end of story.
In terms of contact, they were willing to let it go. There were 7 DQs in the mid-d/distance events at Worlds – 6 of them were for lane/curb violations (2 lane, 4 curb) and one was for pushing.
There were plenty of instances where tons of contact but never a DQ including the end of the women’s 800 where the Ukraine’s Nataliaa Lupu was clearly on her way to a medal in the finishing stretch until she locked arms with Marina Arzamsova (Video here, article with explanation here)
5) Worlds Certainly Didn’t Help The Drug Innuendo Surrounding Genze Bulut
One thing we forgot to mention in our women’s 1,500 heats recap. 2012 Olympic 1,500 silver medalist Genze Bulut was dead last in her heat in 4:24.52. We said going into Worlds we’d have a close eye on her, given her sudden improvement in 2012, her lack of results in 2013 and the doping allegations against her compatriot Aslı Çakır Alptekin, but totally forgot to pay attention to Bulut in the third heat. The 21-year-old Bulut needs to have a successful career going forward for people not to suspect her 1,500 medal was chemically enhanced.
Speaking of 1500 developments that had the press corps murmuring, the 2014 world indoor leader Mohamed Moustaoui of Morocco was a no-show at Worlds. We asked the IAAF about it and they wrote: “He was on the Entry Lists, but never made it to Sopot. Moroccan officials had no explanation other than that they were expecting him but he did not turn up.”
6) A Disappointing Meet For Ajee’ Wilson And Treniere Moser
With two medals in the mid-d and distance events, the US did pretty well by historical standards. The US had been averaging 1.33 distance medals (some of them drug induced – 20 medals in 15 championships) per championship.
Both Ajee’ Wilson and Treniere Moser did not have good world championships. Wilson came in with the #1 time in the world (2:00.47) and didn’t make the final. In indoor 800s, anything can happen but what was truly surprising was how she was a total non-factor (only fourth in her heat in 2:02.90). Meanwhile, Moser looked fantastic in the heats but didn’t have it over the final 200 in the final.
Moser has a 4:02 1,500 PR from from last summer. The bronze and silver medals went to two women with PRs of 4:05 and 4:04 – including one from Nicole Sifuentes, whom Moser beat at Millrose this winter.
7) How Is Ashton Eaton Not A Mainstream Star In The US?
We have no idea how Eaton doesn’t have a bunch of mainstream endorsements in the US. Watching this guy in the mixed zone was an honor. He talked to everyone, even talked to us about distance running (if you missed our article on how Eaton trains for the distance events click here) and then did a Polish interview where he threw in Polish phrases he’d picked up in Sopot. A total stud athlete, clean-cut, well-spoken, married to a stud – shouldn’t that result in crossover appeal? (Editor’s note: The editor of this piece just turned to his wife and said, “Have you ever heard of Ashton Eaton?” She said “No.”)
8) Two Amazing Message Board Threads:
We fully understand our running message board isn’t for everyone but there were two absolute gems on there last week. We now understand the pole vault much better than before thanks to this: MB: Pole Vault Help- Why Did Jenn Suhr Pass 4.70?
As mentioned in #2 above, we also know the detailed preparations Caleb Ndiku had before winning gold in Sopot thanks to this: MB: Renato Canova – can you please tell us more about Caleb Ndiku
That Ndiku thread also explains fully to us why Silas Kiplagat is a shadow of his former self. It even talks about Alan Webb. Canova thinks Webb’s 1:43 800 helped doom him to 1,500 failure at Worlds.
Canova wrote: “For athletes aerobically very strong, to look at the improvement of speed as main goal is, in my opinion, a methodological mistake.
For example, I think this was the limit of Alan Webb, and the fact he was not able to win a medal in 2007 in WCh is due to his 1’43″7 in 800m, which put in his mind the idea to be “fast.” Never Webb won a race with the final sprint, instead he could win using a progression in the last 2 laps, not having the ability to change speed quickly in a tactical race.”
Quotes Of The Day & Last Week’s Homepages:
Note: To see a particular day’s homepage, click on the hyperlink of the date. The hyperlink below the date on the quotes will take you to that particular article – not that day’s homepage.
“In college, track wasn’t really fun anymore. Honestly I put a lot of pressure on myself, I was always tense. It just wasn’t fun and I worried about those expectations from what I did in high school too much. I just didn’t go into the races with a clear mind or any confidence. Now I honestly just run for God and don’t really care about what people say. I use the track as my sanctuary and the race as my praise. … that’s how I keep myself sane.”
– Chanelle Price, 800m WORLD CHAMPION.
“Those guys just had more balls than me today – to go after it. The (top two) were obviously the better runners but (comparing) the guy that finished third and me and the guy that finished fifth, the only difference was they went at it and I didn’t.”
– Nick Willis explaining why he initially finished just outside the medal positions in an agonizing 4th (he later was DQed for stepping inside).
“After Solinsky’s win (over Rupp in the 10k), relations between the coaches were so tense that Nike gave Schumacher his own budget, and his group split off from the Oregon Project. In a September 2011 email by Salazar to two of his runners, Salazar described Schumacher and his assistant as ‘our mortal enemies.’”
– Excerpt from WSJ article on the Alberto Salazar – Jerry Schumacher rivalry. *MB: WSJ- Salazar says Schumacher is “mortal enemy.”
“I’m not looking for world records here – I’m here just to win. It would be very tough to break the world record. … I’m not disappointed (that I beat the old record by so much and won’t be able to get the $50,000 here) because what I really wanted to know was how fast I could go and I saw what my limit was.”
– Genzebe Dibaba speaking at the pre-meet press conference at the World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland after we asked her if she wished she hadn’t broken the 3,000 WR by 7 seconds so she could more easily break it here and win the $50,000 bonus.
“She wanted to share the gold but I refused. I wanted to fight for it and beat her. That’s the fire in me. … I’d rather have got silver than shared gold. I’m such a fighter and competitor that I don’t want to share gold with someone. I want to fight for the gold for my own and I was ready to risk losing that. I knew that she was done and tired, psychologically a bit weak. It paid off. … It sounds really harsh when I say it but that’s what athletics is. I think she was a little bit upset. She was here to defend her title and had the opportunity to do that. I could tell she wasn’t happy. But I wanted to win gold for GB and not win it joint with Poland.”
– UK pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale talking about how she chose to have a jump-off rather than tie for gold with Poland’s Anna Rogowska at the 2013 European Indoor Championships. Bleasdale ended up winning and will again face Rogowska (the current world leader) in front of her home crowd at this weekend’s World Indoor Champs.
– Excerpt from the AP recap of day 2 of the Oscar P trial where Burger said she heard horrific screams from Oscar P’s girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, before she was killed – not what the defense team wanted to hear. Burger also said she heard Oscar screaming before the shooting as well, perhaps mocking the victim, “Was it a mockery? I don’t know. I’m not Mr. Pistorius.”
”If as a nation we gauge our performance by where we rank on the medal tally, and we opt out of the tough events because we can get more medals in the soft events, that to me is not what excellence is about.
– Excerpt from a Canberra Times article where former marathon great (1983 W champ) Rob de Castella slams Australia for shifting all of its funding to Olympic medal contenders, leaving a potential Olympic 100m finalist like Melissa Breen out in the cold.