Where Your Dreams Become Reality

Main Front Page

What's Let's Run.com?


Training Advice

World Famous:
Message Board

Turn Back The Clock!
Today's Top Runners Talk About Their High School Careers

Miler Scott Anderson's Journal

Wejo Speaks

Rojo Speaks

JK Speaks

LetsRun.com Privacy Policy

Contact Us

Advertise on LetsRun.com 
Click Here for More Info


LRC: More Olympic Track & Field on Tap - Previews of Women's Marathon, Men's 400m Hurdles and Women's Pole Vault
by John Kellogg
August 14, 2008

Welcome to the second installment in our series of Olympic Track & Field previews. In these previews, we give you extensive overviews of upcoming distance events, followed by brief looks at other events of interest. Following each event preview is a descending order list of the principal contenders and the American entrants, their best marks and their results in individual events in Olympic Games and World Championships. More installments will follow as start lists are determined.

To see our first installment, which previews the women's 10,000m, men's 1,500m, women's 800m, men's and women's steeples and men's 100m, click here.

Women's Marathon: 
Can Paula Fit the Final Piece to the Puzzle?
Saturday, August 16, 7:30 PM (East Coast Time)


With a large field of athletes, most of whom race the distance sparingly, predicting who is on form and who might surprise is always difficult in the marathon.

Two of the three medal winners from Athens are slated to start, with 2004 Olympic Champion Mizuki Noguchi withdrawing only five days prior to the race, citing strained thigh and groin muscles. Germany's Irina Mikitenko, this year's Flora London Marathon winner (with 5th-place and 7th-place finishes in the last two Olympics also to her credit), will also be absent from the starting line, a casualty of a foot injury brought on by recurring structural problems. Athens silver and bronze winners Catherine Ndereba and Deena Kastor, however, seem to be in good health and, though neither have run in a fast race (no sub-2:29s) since 2006, their accomplishments are duly impressive and both are threats for a top-three finish in any race they contest. Ndereba's championship marathon résumé outshines all others - three Worlds and one Olympic Games contested, two golds and two silvers won. Kastor likewise backed up her stunning bronze in Athens with 2:21:25 and 2:19:36 efforts in Chicago and London, the latter vaulting her to #4 performer on the all-time world list.

Much of the drama in this race, however, surrounds world record holder and overwhelming pre-Athens favorite Paula Radcliffe, who seeks redemption after abandoning the 2004 Olympic contest with circa 4 miles remaining. She rebounded from that disappointment to win major races in New York and London and took the gold at the 2005 Worlds in Helsinki, but has dealt with a stress fracture and other misfortunes in recent months. The assiduous British icon lords over the all-time marathon list with the top three performances and the #5 time among her exploits. But despite her multitudinous accolades, which include the 2005 marathon title, three World Half crowns and two World Cross-Country wins, critics point to the Athens DNF as a career-defining failure, and the British fans and Radcliffe herself feel a gnawing emptiness for lack of the Olympic gold medal. Will recent physical difficulties thwart Radcliffe at a second straight Games or will the resolute world record holder find a way to exorcize the demons of Athens and claim her long-awaited Olympic prize?

The marathon is a fickle event, which makes upsets and blowups almost routine, but if consistency is taken into consideration, attention must turn to the Chinese and Japanese contingents.

China's marathoning has become strong enough that 2008 list leader and world junior record holder Zhang Yingying (2:22:38) was selected for the 5,000m and 10,000m events and will be left off the marathon team. Zhou Chunxiu leads the Chinese attack, boasting outstanding credentials of a 2:19:51 PR, a victory in a balmy 2007 London Marathon and a silver medal behind Ndereba in the subsequent Worlds, and is regarded in China as one of only a handful of legitimate gold medal prospects the host nation has in track and field. Zhu Xiaolin was the 4th-place finisher at Worlds last year in the Osaka heat and looms large as a medal threat. Zhou and Zhu ran the Beijing marathon in 2:37:49 as a training run this year as part of their buildup to the Games. That race was won by Chen Rong, who was offered a spot on the Olympic team by virtue of the victory. Alternate Zhang Shujing has likewise been consistently solid in global competitions, finishing 12th, 12th and 11th  in the 2003 Worlds, 2004 Olympics and 2007 Worlds.

With the pullout of Noguchi, the ranks of the normally clutch Japanese marathoning squad have been thinned to two competitors, as alternate Tomo Morimoto, a 2:24:33 runner, is injured as well. The Japanese hopes now rest mainly on Reiko Tosa, the bronze medallist from Osaka, who also owns a silver medal from the 2001 Worlds in Edmonton and finished 5th in the Athens Olympics. Yurika Nakamura, the other Japanese entrant, won her debut marathon in Nagoya this year but has limited experience in global championships. The Japanese women are normally rock-solid performers in World Championships or Olympic Games regardless of experience, so look for a well-executed and competitive effort from both Tosa and Nakamura.

A number of other runners are either firmly entrenched in the elite marathoning scene or are burgeoning marathoners with past track or cross-country accomplishments at the global level. Ethiopia brings three such runners in Berhane Adere, a highly-decorated track specialist who also has a World Half title and a 2:20:42 marathon PR, Gete Wami (3rd in London this year), another former track and cross-country gold medallist, and Dire Tune, who met with disappointing marathon results in the last two Worlds but was this year's Boston winner.

Not to be overlooked are Russians Svetlana Zakharova, bronze medallist from the 2001 Worlds and 2nd in London this year, and Galina Bogomolova, a former long track specialist who has moved up to the marathon to the tune of a 2:20:47 career best. Kenyans Salina Kosgei (4th in London this year) and Rose Cheruiyot, two more former track elites, have also made successful moves to the marathon and must be considered, as should Mara Yamauchi (the "other" British threat), who has had very respectable finishes in the last two Worlds. Romanian Constantina Tomescu has been at or the near the top of the road racing scene for several years and was 8th in London this year, so she could find herself on the podium with a career performance.


1.) Ndereba  2.) Zhou  3.) Tosa

Major Contenders

Berhane Adere (Ethiopia)  2008 Best: 2:22:42  Lifetime Best: 2:20:42 (#9 all-time) (2006)  Global Championship Highlights: No prior global appearances in marathon, 2002 World Half Marathon Champion, silver medal in 2003 World Half Marathon Championships, bronze medal in 2001 World Half Marathon Championships, 2003 World Champion in 10,000m, 2003 World Indoor Champion in 3,000m, silver medals in 10,000m in 2001 and 2005 World Championships, silver medal in 3,000m in 2004 World Indoors, numerous other appearances in global track championships, including 1996 and 2000 Olympics

Galina Bogomolova (Russia)  2008 Best: 2:22:53  Lifetime Best: 2:20:47 (2006)  Global Championship Highlights: DNF in 2007 World Championships Marathon, 4th in 2005 World Half Marathon Championships, 6th in 10,000m in 2003 World Championships, 8th in 10,000m in 2005 World Championships

Svetlana Zakharova (Russia)  2008 Best: 2:24:39  Lifetime Best: 2:21:31 (2002)  Global Championship Highlights: Bronze medal in 2001 World Championships, 9th in 2003 World Championships and 2004 Olympics

Dire Tune (Ethiopia)  2008 Best: 2:24:40  Global Championship Highlights: 37th in 2005 World Championships, DNF in 2007 World Championships

Mara Yamauchi (Great Britain)  2008 Best: 2:25:10  Global Championship Highlights: 9th in 2007 World Championships, 18th in 2005 World Championships

Gete Wami (Ethiopia)  2008 Best: 2:25:37  Lifetime Best: 2:21:34 (2006)  Global Championship Highlights: No prior global appearances in marathon, 1999 10,000m World Champion, silver medal in 10,000m in 2000 Olympics, bronze medal in 10,000m in 2001 World Championships, 3-time World Cross-Country Champion, two silver medals and two bronze medals in World Cross-Country

Rose Cheruiyot (Kenya)  2008 Best: 2:25:48  Global Championship Highlights: 24th in 2007 World Championships Marathon, 7th in 5,000m in 1995 World Championships, 9th in 5,000m in 2001 World Championships, 11th in 5,000m in 2000 Olympics 8th in 2001 World Cross-Country short course, 8th in 2002 World Cross-Country long course, 12th in 2001 World Cross-Country short course

Yurika Nakamura (Japan)  2008 Best: 2:25:51  Global Championship Highlights: No prior global appearances in marathon, 7th in 2006 World Road 20k Championships

Salina Kosgei (Kenya)  2008 Best: 2:26:30  Lifetime Best: 2:23:22 (2006)  Global Championship Highlights: No prior global appearances in marathon, made Kenyan teams for 2003 World Championships in 10,000m and 2003 World Half Marathon Championships

Chen Rong (China)  2008 Best: 2:27:09  Lifetime Best: 2:27:05 (2007)  Global Championship Highlights: No prior appearances

Constantina Tomescu (Romania)  2008 Best: 2:27:45  Lifetime Best: 2:21:30 (2005)  Global Championship Highlights: Bronze medal in 2005 World Championships Marathon, 20th in 2004 Olympic Marathon, 2005 World Half Marathon Champion, silver medal in 2006 World Road 20k Championships, bronze medal in 2004 World Half Marathon Championships

Deena Kastor (USA)  2008 Best: 2:29:35  Lifetime Best: 2:19:36 (#4 all-time, American record) (2006)  Global Championship Highlights: Bronze medal in 2004 Olympic Marathon, 6th in 10,000m in 2007 World Championships, silver medals in 2002 and 2003 World Cross-Country, made US teams for 1999, 2001, 2003 World Championships and 2000 Olympics and World Cross-Country from 1998 to 2003

Magdalena Lewy-Boulet (USA)  2008 Best: 2:30:19  Global Championship Highlights: No prior global appearances in marathon, made US team for 2003 World Championships Half Marathon

Blake Russell (USA)  2008 Best: 2:32:40  Lifetime Best: 2:29:10 (2005)  Global Championship Highlights: No prior global appearances in marathon, made US team for 2005 World Championships in 10,000m, 11th in 2006 World Cross-Country long race, 15th in World Cross-Country short course in 2005, 18th in 2006 World Cross-Country short course

Zhou Chunxiu (China)  2008 Best: 2:37:49  Lifetime Best: 2:19:51 (#8 all-time) (2006)  Global Championship Highlights: Silver medal in 2007 World Championships, 5th in 2005 World Championships, 33rd in 2004 Olympics

Zhu Xiaolin (China)  2008 Best: 2:37:49  Lifetime Best: 2:23:57 (2002)  Global Championship Highlights: 4th in 2007 World Championships

Reiko Tosa (Japan)  2008 Best: 2:46:26  Lifetime Best: 2:22:46 (2002)  Global Championship Highlights: Silver medal in 2001 World Championships, bronze medal in 2007 World Championships, 5th in 2004 Olympics

Paula Radcliffe (Great Britain)  2008 Best: No mark  Lifetime Best: 2:15:25 (world record) (2003)  Global Championship Highlights: 2005 World Marathon Champion, DNF in 2004 Olympic Marathon, 2000, 2001, 2003 World Half Marathon Champion, 2001 and 2002 World Cross-Country long race Champion, silver medal in 10,000m in 1999 World Championships, 4th in 10,000m in 2000 Olympics and 2001 World Championsips, 5th in 5,000m in 1995 World Championships and 1996 Olympics

Catherine Ndereba (Kenya)  2008 Best: No mark  Lifetime Best: 2:18:47 (#2 all-time) (2001)  Global Championship Highlights: 2003 and 2007 World Champion, silver medal in 2004 Olympics, silver medal in 2005 World Championships, numerous wins and high finishes in global championships of other distances and elite road races worldwide.

Men's 400m Hurdles: USA Stands to Reclaim Gold
Friday, August 15, 9:55 AM (East Coast Time)


From 1976 through 2000, the lone Olympic competition at which the United States had not appropriated the 400m hurdles gold medal was in 1980, when the Americans boycotted the Moscow Games. That streak ended in crushing fashion in 2004, when the USA contingent was shut out of the medals. This year, American hurdlers comfortably occupy the top two spots on the world list and the prospects look excellent for a USA gold and conceivable for a USA sweep.

Leading the world with the only sub-48 mark is 2007 World Champion Kerron Clement, who was beaten in the US Olympic Trials by Bershawn Jackson, but came on strong in Europe to defeat Jackson in Rome and Paris Golden League meetings. Jackson, though slipping back to 4th in Paris, sits in second on the world list and is still a solid challenger for at least the silver medal. Clement has had trouble with stuttering at the final hurdle on many occasions, but has also displayed such powerful acceleration in the final run-in that he may be able to make a minor mistake and still recover. Fellow American Angelo Taylor, who will be remembered for winning the 2000 Olympic gold medal with a world-leading time of 47.50 out of lane one, is always an exciting presence. Though not in sub-48 form so far in 2008, his performances still put him in serious medal contention. Defeating Clement and Jackson would be a tall order, but Taylor recently lost a gold medal via the drug disqualification of his Sydney 4 x 400m relay teammates, so a second individual gold would be sweet compensation.

If there is a serious challenge to the Americans, it may come from Jamaican Danny McFarlane, the silver medallist four years ago. McFarlane decided to retire following a 5th-place showing at Worlds last year but his retirement proved to be a 4-month hiatus, and he is back in form with a victory in Monaco, clocking 48.39 to rank 4th among the Olympic contenders.

Ahead of McFarlane in Osaka a year ago was Marek Plawgo, who nabbed the bronze medal with a Polish record of 48.12. Also an Olympic finalist, a bronze medallist on the 4 x 400m in Osaka and a former European Indoor Champion in the flat 400m, Plawgo is at his best in major championships and should put himself in the medal hunt.

South Africans L. J. van Zyl and Pieter de Villiers were semifinalists in the Osaka Worlds, with van Zyl winning the Commonwealth Games title in 2006; both stand to make the final and contend for at least a minor medal. Japan's Dai Tamesue won the bronze in driving rain at the 2005 Worlds with a spectacular dive across the line to steal the medal from Clement, who made the beginner's mistake of easing up in the final strides. Tamesue, also a bronze winner in the 2001 Worlds, has not shown the form needed to medal this year, as he is over a second off his lifetime best, but could be a darkhorse. Still a question mark is Athens victor Félix Sánchez, who broke the American monopoly on Olympic gold medals in the event. Sánchez, who holds down the #7 spot on the all-time list with 47.25, was in form as recently as last year, when he came through for the silver medal at Worlds, but has battled injuries this year.


1.) Clement  2.) Jackson  3.) McFarlane

Major Contenders

Kerron Clement (USA)  2008 Best: 47.79  Lifetime Best: 47.24 (#6 all-time) (2005)  Global Championship Highlights: 2007 World Champion, 4th in 2005 World Championships

Bershawn Jackson (USA)  2008 Best: 48.15  Lifetime Best: 47.30 (#8 all-time) (2005)  Global Championship Highlights: 2005 World Champion, semifinalist in 2007 World Championships

L.J. van Zyl (South Africa)  2008 Best: 48.22  Lifetime Best: 48.05 (2006)  Global Championship Highlights: Semifinalist in 2007 World Championships

Danny McFarlane (Jamaica)  2008 Best: 48.39  Lifetime Best: 48.00 (2004)  Global Championship Highlights: Silver medal in 2004 Olympics, 4th in 2003 World Championships, 5th in 2007 World Championships, semifinalist in 2005 World Championships

Angelo Taylor (USA)  2008 Best: 48.42  Lifetime Best: 47.50 (2000)  Global Championship Highlights: 2000 Olympic Champion, semifinalist in 2001 World Championships and 2004 Olympics. bronze medal in 400m in 2007 World Championships

Marek Plawgo (Poland)  2008 Best: 48.69  Lifetime Best: 48.12 (2007)  Global Championship Highlights: Bronze medal in 2007 World Championships, 6th in 2004 Olympics, semifinalist in 2001 World Championships

Pieter de Villiers (South Africa)  2008 Best: 48.71  Lifetime Best: 48.68 (2005)  Global Championship Highlights: Semifinalist in 2007 World Championships

Dai Tamesue (Japan)  2008 Best: 49.17  Lifetime Best: 47.89 (2001)  Global Championship Highlights: Bronze medals in 2001 and 2005 World Championships, semifinalist in 2003 World Championships and 2004 Olympics, eliminated in first round of 2007 World Championships

Félix Sánchez (Dominican Republic)  2008 Best: No mark  Lifetime Best: 47.25 (#7 all-time) (2003)  Global Championship Highlights: 2001 and 2003 World Champion, 2004 Olympic Champion, silver medal in 2007 World Championships

Women's Pole Vault: Preeminence Personified
Friday, August 15, 10:10 PM (East Coast Time)


Since defeating pre-Athens favorite and bitter rival Svetlana Feofanova for the Olympic crown four years ago, Yelena Isinbayeva has not lost in a championship and is perhaps the most overwhelming favorite in track and field to strike gold in Beijing. In addition to winning every major title in sight, the peerless Russian has set 23 world records (combined indoors and outdoors), the latest pair coming on July 11th (a 5.03m clearance) and July 29th (5.04m). Isinbayeva is responsible for 19 of the top 20 performances in history, with 13 of those marks surpassing the #2 performer of all time, American Jenn Stuczynski. Isinbayeva's consistency in such a technical event is phenomenal, and she shows no vulnerability leading into the Beijing Games.

Stuczynski certainly figures to be second in the pecking order, having jumped an American record 4.92m at the US Trials; however, she narrowly avoided a no-height at the Trials before going on to set the record, underscoring the often unpredictable nature of the event. The American lost to Isinbayeva on the countback at the World Indoors in March and, though pulling out of a planned showdown in Stockholm with back trouble, will presumably be ready to take a shot at dethroning the queen.

Feofanova was the WR holder heading into the Athens Olympics, becoming the first woman to clear 16 feet (4.88m) and, with a bronze from last year's Worlds and a 2008 best of 4.75m, is also waiting in the wings for a miscue from Isinbayeva. Other challenges may come from two high-flying Pole vaulters, Anna Rogowska, who ranks #4 all-time at 4.83m, and Monika Pyrek, who tied for bronze at World Indoors this March. Brazil's Fabiana Murer shared the World Indoors bronze with Pyrek and holds the area record of 4.80m. The other entrants at 4.70m or better this year are Russian Yuliya Golubchikova, 6th at Worlds last year, and German Silke Spiegelburg.


1.) Isinbayeva  2.) Stuczynski  3.) Pyrek

Major Contenders

Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia)  2008 Best: 5.04m (world record)  Global Championship Highlights: 2004 Olympic Champion, 2005 and 2007 World Champion, 2006 and 2008 World Indoor Champion

Jenn Stuczynski (USA)  2008 Best: 4.92m (#2 all-time, American record)  Global Championship Highlights: Silver medal in 2008 World Indoors, 10th in 2007 World Championships

Fabiana Murer (Brazil)  2008 Best: 4.80m (#7 all-time)  Global Championship Highlights: Bronze medal in 2008 World Indoors, 6th in 2007 World Championships

Svetlana Feofanova (Russia)  2008 Best: 4.75m  Lifetime Best: 4.88m (#3 all-time) (2004)  Global Championship Highlights: 2003 World Champion, 2003 World Indoor Champion, silver medal in 2004 Olympics, silver medal in 2001 World Championships, silver medal in 2001 World Indoors, bronze medal in 2007 World Championships, bronze medals in 2004 and 2006 World Indoors

Yuliya Golubchikova (Russia)  2008 Best: 4.75m(i) (= #10 all-time)  Global Championship Highlights: 6th in 2007 World Championships

Monika Pyrek (Poland)  2008 Best: 4.75m  Lifetime Best: 4.82m (#6 all-time) (2007)  Global Championship Highlights: Silver medal in 2005 World Championships, bronze medal in 2001 World Championships, bronze medal in 2008 World Indoors, 4th in 2004 Olympics

Silke Spiegelburg (Germany)  2008 Best: 4.70m  Global Championship Highlights: 8th in 2006 World Indoors, 13th in 2004 Olympics, eliminated in qualifying round of 2007 World Championships

Anna Rogowska (Poland)  2008 Best: 4.66m  Lifetime Best: 4.83m (= #4 all-time) (2005)  Global Championship Highlights: Silver medal in 2006 World Indoors, bronze medal in 2004 Olympics, 6th in 2005 World Championships, 6th in 2008 World Indoors

Katerina Badurová (Czech Republic)  2008 Best: 4.35m  Lifetime Best: 4.75m (= #10 all-time) (2007)  Global Championship Highlights: Silver medal in 2007 World Championships

Tell a friend about this article
(Dont worry we won't email your friend(s) again. We send them a 1 time email)
Enter their email address(es), separated by a comma.
Enter your name:

Don't Worry: We
Back to Main Front Page
Questions, comments or suggestions?Please email the LetsRun.com staff at [email protected]

Runner's World &
Running Times

Combined Only $22

a Year
Save $87

Running & Track and Field Posters

Search the Web
or LetsRun.com



Buy the Nike Lunar+ Glide Today at a Great Price

Advertise on LetsRun.com

Contact Us

Privacy Policy