WTW: DJ Principe Almost Breaks 4:00, Matthew Centrowitz Gets Disrespected, And A Statistical Reason As To Why Men’s Track Is More Popular Than Women’s

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The Week That Was In Running – January 16 – 22, 2017

by LetsRun.com
January 24, 2017

After a one-month holiday / paternity leave (6 weeks paid) caused hiatus, the Week that Was is back! Since our last editionLeonard Korir has developed into a winning machine, Kenenisa Bekele did not break the world record at the Dubai Marathon and a high schooler ran a 4:00 mile. If you missed any of our coverage of the Great Edinburgh XCountry, Houston Half Marathon or the Dubai Marathon, check it out at the links below. We catch you up on everything else below.

LRC 2017 Great Edinburgh XC Recap: Leonard Korir Outkicks Callum Hawkins in Thrilling Duel as Mo Farah Finishes 46 Seconds Back in 7th Place * LRC 2017 Houston Half Marathon: Leonard Korir (61:14) Outkicks Feyisa Lilesa For the Win; Veronicah Nyaruai Wanjiru (67:58) Wins Women’s Race As Jordan Hasay Runs 68:40 in Debut * LRC All 2017 Houston Half/Full Marathon coverage * LRC Olympic 10K Bronze Medalist Tamirat Tola Runs 2:04:11 CR (#9 All-Time) As Kenenisa Bekele Drops Out And Everyone Else Blows Up * LRC All 2017 Dubai Marathon coverage

Past editions of the Week That Was can be found here. Questions or comments? Please email us or post them on our fan forum.

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Can DJ Principe Push the High School Sub-4:00 Mile Club to Double Digits?

At Saturday’s New Balance Games at the Armory, Rhode Island high schooler DJ Principe came extremely close to becoming the 10th high schooler to break 4:00 in the mile, running 4:00.97 to finish third in a race won by 19-year-old pro Drew Hunter in 3:58.92. Two years ago, Principe’s run would have been massive news; at that time, only Alan Webb had ever run faster than 4:02 indoors and only five high schoolers had ever broken 4:00 period. But over the past two years, a total of four high schoolers have broken 4:00, including Hunter last year, who smashed Alan Webb‘s U.S. HS indoor record by running 3:58.25 and later 3:57.81. Here’s the entire HS sub-4:00 list, in order of their HS pb:

1. Alan Webb 3:53.43, 2001
2. Jim Ryun 3:55.3, 1965
3. Drew Hunter 3:57.81i, 2016
4. Matthew Maton* 3:59.38, 2015
4. Grant Fisher 3:59.38, 2015
6. Tim Danielson 3:59.4, 1966
7. Michael Slagowski 3:59.53, 2016
8. Lukas Verzbicas** 3:59.71, 2011
9. Marty Liquori 3:59.8, 1967

*19-yrs-old. **non-US citizen.

With the sub-4:00 club now nearly in double digits, it reminds us of what Webb told us last year when we asked him whether the sub-4:00 mile has lost some of its prestige for high schoolers.

Maybe a little bit, but that’s not a bad thing. I think it’s a good thing. In fact, I think that that can be Drew [Hunter]’s legacy, breaking that mold. To finally, with authority, say that, “Hey this is a thing that’s gonna happen and it’s gonna be part of track and field.” Part of American track and field is to have our younger generation take responsibility and say “Hey, we’re going to compete, we can compete internationally.” And Drew’s already at that level. Because it should be that way, we should have kids breaking 4:00. With Matt [Maton] and Grant [Fisher] last year and now finally Drew this year really putting a mark on the ways things should be done, we should have guys coming through the ranks and being able to perform and Drew is proving that. And I think it will finally put it in people’s minds. Every high school kid will finally see that this is possible and Drew’s showing us that.

Webb’s logic makes sense. Look at the the list above again. Ryun broke 4:00 for the first time in 1964 and saw two more guys do it in the next three years before a 34-year drought to Webb. Then Verzbicas ran 3:59 in 2011 before Maton’s 3:59 in 2015 kicked off four sub-4:00s in 12 months. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that there were a flurry of sub-4:00s in the mid-1960s and another flurry now. But we bet once Principe saw a bunch of guys in the years above him breaking 4:00 that it became a realistic goal of his own, one that he’s close to achieving. Also worth noting: Texas’s Reed Brown, who won Foot Lockers with an epic kick last month, already has two sub-4:00 attempts lined up in 2017.

Principe (right) at the Dartmouth Relays with another fast kid: Aidan Cox,

Principe at the Dartmouth Relays with another fast kid: Aidan Cox, who last year ran a 17:24 5K on the roads to set the age-10 world record (courtesy DJ Principe)

So who is DJ Principe? Well, David “DJ” Principe, Jr. (pronounced prin-CIP-ee), who will attend Stanford in the fall, has been very good for quite a while. Inspired by his father, David Sr., a high school runner who took up the sport again in 2000 and ran a 2:42 marathon at age 45, DJ began excelling at running at an early age. As an eighth-grader, he was fourth at the USATF National Junior Olympic XC Champs and as a ninth-grader at La Salle Academy, he ran 9:15 for 3200 meters. DJ continued to improve, clocking PRs of 4:07 (mile) and 8:51 (3200) last year as a junior, but really took off this past fall with some stellar cross country performances. In 2016, he lowered the course record at Bowdoin Park, which hosts the NXN NY and Northeast regionals every year, from 15:27 to 15:23 in September and broke it again in November, running 15:18 at NXN NE. According to Bill Meylan of Tully Runners, who uses speed ratings to compare HS XC performances across the country, that 15:18 — in a race that Principe won by 33 seconds — was worth a 202.00 speed rating. Only one runner had a better speed rating in all of 2016: Brown, who posted a 202.40 to win Foot Lockers. Based on that, Principe was expected to contend for the NXN title but Principe was sick at NXN and only finished 21st. Now that he’s healthy again, he’s showing what he can do.

Principe’s next race will come in Boston on Saturday, where he will headline the junior mile at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix.

In other high school news, two-time NXN champ Casey Clinger (4:05 mile) of Utah snubbed Oregon to sign with his home-state squad of BYU. Oregon is obviously the bigger name, but we should point out that BYU beat Oregon at NCAA XC last year (the Cougars were seventh, the Ducks ninth).

RRW: Ajee Wilson Runs 1:25.23 for 600 (#2 All-Time US) As Drew Hunter Wins Mile and HSer D.J. Principe Almost Breaks 4:00 at 2017 New Balance Games
DJ Principe Leads Junior Mile Field At NBIGP
MB: High Schooler DJ Principe Runs 4:00.97
MB: Clinger chooses BYU

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Olympic Gold Medal ≠ World #1 

Last month, we published our annual world rankings for mid-distance/distance events. One of our most controversial selections was our choice of Matthew Centrowitz as World #1 in the men’s 1500/mile. Our logic was that Centrowitz, by winning the two biggest races of the year (World Indoors and the Olympics), breaking the USATF meet record (3:34.09) and running the fastest mile in the world in 2016 (3:50.63) deserved the #1 ranking despite failing to run a single Diamond League 1500/mile. Our critics pointed out that even though Asbel Kiprop was only sixth at the Olympics, he was largely dominant on the Diamond League circuit, with four victories, including the fastest 1500 of 2016 by over a second (3:29.33) and the two fastest miles outdoors.

We understand that reasoning but think it’s wrong as we’d like to point out that he lost the two biggest DL races of the season (Monaco when he blew up after going for a super fast time and the DL finale in Brussels). What we cannot understand is why Track & Field News, which has been putting out world rankings since 1947, had Centrowitz at #5. That’s the same spot Track & Field News ranked him in 2012, and Centrowitz had a WAY better season in 2016.

2012 Centrowitz2016 Centrowitz
Olympic finish4th1st
World Indoor finish7th1st
Olympic Trials finish2nd1st (meet record)
USA Indoor finish2nd1st
1500 sb3:31.963:34.09
Mile sb3:53.923:50.63 (world #1)
DL 1500/miles3* (3rd, 8th, 4th)0

*Centrowitz also ran the B mile at the Pre Classic, where he finished 8th

So Track & Field News is trying to argue that a year in which Centrowitz won ZERO national titles, let alone a global medal, is equal to a year in which he won everything in sight. That’s insane. Perhaps Track & Field News could make the argument that the level of global competition was higher in 2016 (thus making Centro’s #5 ranking in 2016 worth more), but the numbers suggest that’s not the case. While the top guys may have been more consistent this year, more guys broke 3:30 (3 vs. 1), 3:31 (6 vs. 2) and 3:32 (10 vs. 8) in 2012 compared to 2016.

The good news for Centro? He’s in good company, for 2016 marked the ninth time in the past 10 Olympic years (and fifth in a row) in which Track & Field News did not rank the Olympic champion as World #1. The fact that the favorite doesn’t always win is one of the reasons why the 1500 is one of the fans’ favorite events in track and field. Tactics play an important role in championship 1500 races and thus the races don’t always go according to form and sports fans like randomness in their results. We’ve always claimed one of the reasons why track struggles for popularity is there isn’t a lot of randomness in track – there are no interceptions, fumbles, fluke catches, fluke goals or bloop doubles down the line like there are in other sports. But there appears to be more randomness in the 1500 than most track events.

That got us to thinking: how often does the Olympic champ not finish as World #1 in other events? Below, we’ve listed the last five Olympic champs in every event from 800 through 5,000 meters along with the Track & Field News World #1’s for those years. Also keep in mind Track & Field News‘ criteria:

The whole purpose of our World Rankings is to establish relative merit for the single season in question. They are not reflective of how the compilers felt athletes would have finished in any kind of idealized competition. Ergo, the “best” athlete in any given year isn’t always No. 1. It should be noted that the importance of a meet is relative to who competes in it, not how much stock an athlete or their fans might place in it. As important as major meets are, we should also note that no competition, not even the Olympic Games or World Championships, is the be-all, end-all. We’re looking for people who maintain high standards over a whole year. The Rankings are based on these 3 criteria, in descending order of importance: 1. Honors Won; 2. Head-To-Head records with other athletes; 3. Sequence Of Marks.

Olympic Men’s 800 champs
2016: David Rudisha, Kenya (World #1)
2012: David Rudisha, Kenya (World #1)
2008: Wilfred Bungei, Kenya (World #2) – The World #1 was Alfred Kirwa Yego, Kenya (3rd at Olympics)
2004: Yuriy Borzakovskiy, Russia (World #1)
2000: Nils Schumann, Germany (World #3) – The World #1 was Djabir Said-Guerni, Algeria (3rd at Olympics)

Olympic Men’s 1500 champs
2016: Matthew Centrowitz, USA (World #5) – The World #1 was Asbel Kiprop, Kenya (6th at Olympics)
2012: Taoufik Makhloufi, Algeria (World #4) – The World #1 was Silas Kiplagat, Kenya (7th at Olympics)
2008: Asbel Kiprop, Kenya (World #2) – The World #1 was Haron Keitany, Kenya (4th at Kenyan Olympic Trials, did not compete at Olympics)
2004: Hicham El Guerrouj, Morocco (World #2) – The World #1 was Bernard Lagat, Kenya (2nd at Olympics)
2000: Noah Ngeny, Kenya (World #2) – The  World #1 was Hicham El Guerrouj, Morocco (2nd at Olympics)

Men’s 3000 steeplechase
2016: Conseslus Kipruto, Kenya (World #1)
2012: Ezekiel Kemboi, Kenya (World #3) – The World #1 was Paul Koech, Kenya (7th at Kenyan Olympic Trials, did not compete at Olympics)
2008: Brimin Kipruto, Kenya (World #2) – The World #1 was Paul Koech, Kenya (4th at Kenyan Olympic Trials, did not compete at Olympics)
2004: Ezekiel Kemboi, Kenya (World #2) – The World #1 was Saif Saaeed Shaheen, Qatar (ineligible to compete at Olympics after changing nationalities from Kenya)
2000: Reuben Kosgei, Kenya (World #1)

Men’s 5000
2016: Mo Farah, Great Britain (World #1)
2012: Mo Farah, Great Britain (World #1)
2008: Kenenisa Bekele, Ethiopia (World #1)
2004: Hicham El Guerrouj, Morocco (World #2) -The World #1 was Kenenisa Bekele, Ethiopia (2nd at Olympics)
2000: Million Wolde, Ethiopia (World #7) -The World #1 was Haile Gebrselassie, Ethiopia (only ran 10k at Olympics)

Women’s 800
2016: Caster Semenya, South Africa (World #1)
2012: Mariya Savinova, Russia (World #1)
2008: Pamela Jelimo, Kenya (World #1)
2004: Kelly Holmes, Great Britain (World #1)
2000: Maria Mutola, Mozambique (World #1)

Women’s 1500
2016: Faith Kipyegon, Kenya (World #1)
2012: N/A (Olympic champ Aslı Çakır Alptekin of Turkey was World #1 but she’s been stripped of gold and it has not been reassigned)
2008: Nancy Langat, Kenya (World #3) – The World #1 was Maryam Yusuf Jamal, Bahrain (5th at Olympics)
2004: Kelly Holmes, Great Britain (World #1)
2000: Nouria Mérah-Benida, Algeria (World #3) – The World #1 was Violeta Szekely, Romania (2nd at Olympics)

Women’s 3000 steeplechase
2016: Ruth Jebet, Bahrain (World #1)
2012: Habiba Ghribi, Tunisia (World #1)*
2008: Gulnara Galkina, Russia (World #1)

*Russia’s Yuliya Zaripova was World #1 but she has since been stripped of her Olympic gold for doping and Track & Field News says it plans to update its rankings to reflect that

Women’s 5000
2016: Vivian Cheruiyot, Kenya (World #2) – The World #1 was Almaz Ayana, Ethiopia (3rd at Olympics)
2012: Meseret Defar, Ethiopia (World #1)
2008: Tirunesh Dibaba, Ethiopia (World #1)
2004: Meseret Defar, Ethiopia (World #1)
2000: Gabriele Szabo, Romania (World #1)

In all, out of the 36 eligible years listed above (ignoring 2012 women’s 1500 and 2004 men’s steeple), the World #1 was also the Olympic champ 61.1% of the time (22/36). The men’s 1500 is easily the biggest outlier, as no other event has more than three years in which the Olympic champ and World #1 differed. That’s totally opposite from the women’s 800, where the Olympic champ and World #1 have matched up in each of the past five Olympics (that may change if/when doper Mariya Savinova is stripped of her 2012 gold, as silver medallist Caster Semenya was only World #5 that year).

One reason why women’s track and field may not be as popular as men’s is the fact that women’s track is more predictable as there is less depth. In the women’s events (ignoring the 2012 women’s 1500), the world #1 was Olympic champ 82.4% of the time (14/17 times) whereas in the men’s events (ignoring 2004 men’s steeple) it happened just 42.1% (8/19) of the time.

Ironically, it’s the man who displaced Centrowitz as World #1 last year who may have the best case to have been screwed over of anyone on the list above. In 2008, when Kiprop won his Olympic title, Track & Field News somehow ranked Haron Keitany World #1 despite the fact that Keitany was neither the world leader at 1500 (eighth at 3:32.06) nor the mile (second at 3:49.70) and didn’t even make the Kenyan Olympic team. Keitany did collect wins at the African Championships, Zurich and the World Athletics Final in Stuggart, but Kiprop ran faster (3:31.64, #3 in the world), beat him in the most important meet (Kenyan Olympic Trials) and won in Rome and in Beijing at the Olympics. He was 1-3 against Keitany on the year, but he lost to Keitany by .02 in Brussels and .01 in Stuggart. Please don’t tell us that winning by a combined .03 in a couple of European races is worth more than an Olympic gold medal.

LRC 2016 World and U.S. Rankings
LRC Olympic Champion Matthew Centrowitz Is Our World #1
Track & Field News World Rankings
MB: ‘Year-End Rankings’ Correction – Kiprop #1, Centro #2**
MB: T&F News 1500/mile rankings.????

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Tweet of The Week 

American 400 runner David Verburg, who won gold medals as part of the U.S.’s 4×400 relay teams at the 2016 Olympics and 2013 and 2015 Worlds, summed up the pain most athletes feel in a 400 (or 800).

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The Spring Marathon Majors Are Set

The Tokyo Marathon, to be held on February 26, announced its 2017 elite fields last week, which means that the lineups for this spring’s Abbott World Marathon Majors — Tokyo, Boston and London — are now set. Among the interesting names announced for Tokyo on the men’s side were the fourth-fastest man in history, Wilson Kipsang (looking to add a Tokyo victory to wins in London, Berlin and New York), course record holder Dickson Chumba (2:04:32 pb) and American debutant Andrew Bumbalough. On the women’s side, 2016 runner-up Amane Gobena is back, where she’ll face 2:19 marathoner Lucy Kabuu, American Sara Hall and Bumbalough’s Bowerman Track Club teammate Betsy Saina (14:39/30:07/67:22), who will also be making her debut. Here’s our updated chart of where our top 10 ranked marathoners from 2016 will be racing this spring (if you want to see a chart of where the top 10 fastest runners of 2016 are racing, we’ve compiled that here):

Top 10 Rankings

Name  Country  2016 SB  2017 marathon
Eliud KipchogeKenya2:03:05Nike exhibition
Kenenisa BekeleEthiopia2:03:03London
Feyisa LilesaEthiopia2:06:56London
Galen RuppUSA2:10:05Boston
Ghirmay GhebreslassieEritrea2:07:46London
Wilson KipsangKenya2:03:13Tokyo
Tesfaye AberaEthiopia2:04:24London
Lemi BerhanuEthiopia2:04:33Boston
Evans ChebetKenya2:05:31Tokyo
Stanley BiwottKenya2:03:51London

Women

Name  Country  2016 SB  2017 marathon
Jemima SumgongKenya2:22:58London
Tirfi TsegayeEthiopia2:19:41???
Florence KiplagatKenya2:21:32London
Eunice KirwaBahrain2:22:40???
Mary KeitanyKenya2:24:26London
Meselech MelkamuEthiopia2:21:54???*
Aberu KebedeEthiopia2:20:54London
Mare DibabaJapan2:24:09London
Atsede BaysaEthiopia2:28:53Boston
Edna KiplagatKenya2:22:36Boston

*Melkamu was on the start list in Dubai but we believe she did not start

And here’s how the 2017 majors stack up against each other:

Men

# Top 10Sub-2:04Sub-2:05Sub-2:07Sub-2:10
Tokyo2151018
Boston2371115
London524816

Women

# Top 10Sub-2:20Sub-2:21Sub-2:24Sub-2:30
Tokyo51246
Boston233918
London047919

With 5 of our top 10 ranked marathoners in the world from last year in both of its men’s and women’s fields, London is certainly the toughest race to win. If you look solely at PRs, then the Boston men’s field looks great, but as we explained previously, in Boston, the guys with the flashy PRs (Dennis KimettoEmmanuel Mutai) haven’t run close to their best for years, while in London, the top entrants (Kenenisa Bekele, Stanley BiwottFeyisa LilesaGhirmay Ghebreslassie) all ran at least one excellent marathon in 2016.

MB: 2017 Tokyo Elite Fields Released – Wilson Kipsang Headlines Men’s Field – Betsy Saina And Sara Hall In Women’s Field

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Stat of The Week 

number of men since 1999 who have long jumped farther than 8.05 meters (26’5″) indoors and broken 7.75 in the 60-meter hurdles. Ashton Eaton is one. The other? The University of Florida’s freshman sensation Grant Holloway, who leaped 8.05 at the Hokie Invitational last weekend and ran 7.63 in the 60 hurdles at Clemson on January 7. Holloway, who also high jumped 6’10” in high school, leads the NCAA in both the long jump and the hurdles.

MB: Florida’s super recruit Grant Holloway crushes it in his first collegiate meet

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Quotes of the Week (that weren’t quote of the day)

#1 Ryan Hall’s Strengths Have Changed

“I don’t expect to run a step with Mike, but I will be excited to see how he does. If I finish within an hour of him in each marathon, I’d be surprised. However, I guarantee I can bench more than him.”

— Ryan Hall to the Washington Post‘s Kelyn Soong explaining how he doesn’t expect to keep up with ultrarunner extraordinaire Mike Wardiaas the two try to run seven marathons in seven continents in seven days. On Monday, Hall, now a prolific weightlifter, ran 3:26:31 in marathon #1 in Antarctica, just over 31 minutes behind Wardian, who ran 2:54:54. Hall cut that deficit to under 21 minutes in Chile on Tuesday (3:06:33 to Wardian’s 2:45:42). The rest of the schedule: Miami on Wednesday, Madrid on Thursday, Marrakesh, Morocco, on Friday, Dubai on Saturday and Sydney on Sunday. You can follow updates on the World Marathon Challenge’s Facebook page.

MB: How much does it cost to fly the World Marathon Challenge charter jet around the world?

#2 We Wish Them All the Best in Their Recoveries

“I do not know how me or my training partner Nigel are still alive.”

— British Olympic sprinter James Ellington after he and fellow British Olympian Nigel Levine suffered potentially career-ending injuries after being involved in a head-on collision on the Spanish island of Tenerife last week. Levine was driving a motorcyle with Ellington as a passenger when a car, allegedly driven by a tourist on the wrong side of the road, crashed into them. Ellington suffered a broken tibia and fibula as well two fractures in his eye socket and a broken pelvis. According to the Guardian, Levine’s injuries were also serious not as extensive.

#3 Abbey D Is On the Mend

“She’s told me ‘I’m not going to be known as the person that fell down. I’m going to be known as a good runner too.’ She’s got that fight and killer instinct.”

— Coach Mark Coogan talking about Abbey D’Agostino in Chris Lotsbom profile. Lotsbom caught up with D’Agostino and Coogan five months after D’Agostino tore her ACL and meniscus and strained her MCL in her famous fall in Rio last summer. She’s running on solid ground again but has no plans to race again anytime soon.

#4 Mo Farah Is Coming Home — Eventually

“I dream of making Britain my home again – but only after I’ve had one last shot at the marathon.”

— Mo Farah last week to the Radio Times. Farah confirmed that 2017 will be his final year on the track before moving up to the roads and giving the marathon another try. Farah said that with his children in school and access to Nike’s world-class training facilities, he doesn’t want to shift his home base from Portland right now. Farah was born in Somalia, grew up in England and now spends time training all over the world while his family lives in Portland but said that he considers England “home home.”

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Recommended Reads

LRC The Winners, Losers and Most Confused from the Houston Marathon: Leonard Korir, Jordan Hasay, Kiya Dandena, Becky Wade, & the US Cross Country Team

LRC The Rise of Scott Fauble Fauble went from overlooked collegian at the University of Portland to 4th at the Olympic Trials last year.

LRC 3 Thoughts On The 2017 Boston Marathon Field – Galen Rupp Has His Work Cut Out For Him, London vs. Boston and Is Galen Rupp The Favorite?

LRC 4 Thoughts on the 2017 London Marathon Men’s Field: London’s STACKED Once Again, Who’s Left To Face Galen Rupp Boston, Bedan Karoki’s Debut, and Can Kenenisa Bekele’s Body Hold Up?

New Russian Whistleblower Provides Footage Of Banned Coaches Still Working With Athletes And Says “No Changes Really Took Place” (includes video and article) Russian 1500 runner Andrey Dmitriev thinks 70-80% of Russian athletes are doping. *Discuss

Pat Butcher Talks to Kenenisa Bekele About His Fall and DNF in Dubai

“D’Agostino Returns To Running With Fresh Outlook” Abbey D’Agostino has recovered well from her post-Olympic surgery, is back to running on solid ground and hopes to be ready to race again by USA Champs this summer.

Faith Kipyegon’s Coach Says She Could Do The 1,500/5,000 Double In 2020 And Thinks Her Talent Could Extend All The Way To The Marathon The Olympic 1500 champ is a believer in the benefit of running cross-country and will try to make the Kenyan squad for World XC.

“Can Nike’s Two-Hour Marathon Quest Learn From Roger Bannister?” Michael Crawley explains how Bannister’s sub-4 actually has a lot in common with Nike’s sub-2 hour marathon project. Even if low-tech by today’s standards, at the time there were actually concerns about the legitimacy of Bannister’s approach.

InsideTheGames: The Olympic Rings And The Oval Office: From Teddy To Donald And interesting history lesson on US presidents and the Olympics. The author points out for Donald Trump to open the 2024 Games, two more elections would need to go his way.

The World’s Best Exchange Rate SPIKES explains how Japan was able to earn Olympic silver in the men’s 4×100 relay despite having no sub-10 men.

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Quotes Of The Day And Last Week’s Home Pages

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Past editions of The Week That Was can be found here. Questions or comments? Please email us or post them in our running fan forum.