Where Your Dreams Become Reality
May 30, 2008
Thursday was media day at the Reebok Grand Prix and the attention rightfully was on the Tyson Gay-Usain Bolt showdown at 100m (and the Veronica Campbell-Brown, Lauryn Williams (1 and 2 at worlds last year) showdown in the 100m.
There is a lot of mainstream news coverage on the 100m showdowns so we won't overdo it here. The meet website has a nice little video player with highlights you can select of the press conference. We talk a little about the 100s and then give our distane previews.
Gay vs Bolt 100m
Usain Bolt really is unusual in how he started excelling at the 100 this year. His coach told him he had to run a second event and as he said, "I just don't want to do the 400m."
Bolt ran 10.02 last year but his transformation as a 100m runner has been amazing this year. He ran 9.76 earlier in the month and followed it up with a 9.92.
Gay, the double world champion, has been impressed by Bolt's running this year. Gay said, "The 9.76 was amaziing. He would have had the world record if Asafa hadn't broken it last year."
The 6'5" tall Bolt has been trying to work on his start with his lanky frame and it has paid off this year. Now what he needs to work on is his finish. He could have run even faster than 9.76 but some accused him of letting up before the finish. Bolt said he was not letting up, rather he was trying to see how fast he was running, and he pointed out that the clock is right at the finish so you have to look at it before you finish. It was quite comical to hear the second fastset guy ever in the world say, he had to look over and look at the clock before his finish. As he said, "after you've passed the line you've passed the clock (you can't see it)." (The people at The Grand Prix read this piece and have added the Bolt quote to their excellent video highlights. It's here "Easing up at the Finishline") Hopefully they'll put the clock on Saturday a few meters behind the finish in hopes of coaxing a world record out of Mr. Bolt.
While Bolt is the youngster, he has competed in the Olympics before while Gay has not. Tyson said he has been feeling a lot of pressure this year after last year's success. It's refreshing to hear a double World Champ admit to feeling pressure. (It's also refreshing to hear him talk about being in the USADA pilot program where athletes undergo baseline blood testing to prove they are clean).
Tyson Gay only ran 10.05 to win the 100m at the adidas meet (But he came back to scorch the field in the 200, running 20.08 into a big headwind) two weeks ago. However, he said that was mainly because he did not warm up too much before the 100. He said he only warmed up a little and was better prepared for the 200.
Both guys expect to run fast on Saturday and it should be a great, great matchup.
More on Gay and Bolt:
Lauryn Williams vs Veronica Campbell-Brown in Women's 100
They're racing again on Saturday and it probably will be very close again (Campbell-Brown beat Williams by 1/100th two weeks ago to win the 100 at the adidas meet).
For Williams, 2008 is already going much better than 2007 where she was a huge surprise at Worlds. She struggled all year with injuries and was only able to run Worlds because she was the defending World Champ and had a wild card into the meet(she said she thought of giving up her spot). She said, "Definitely things are a lot more on the sunnyside (this year). This is a year where it's do or die... You either pull what is ailing you down the track with you or you stay home.. You have to make a choice: are you going to make excuses or are you going to go to Beijing?"
Lauryn Williams is a great story teller and gets along well with Campbell-Brown. You have to watch her story ("Lauryn Williams Shares a story from last year's 100m final") of what happened prior to the 100m worlds final last year when a guy, right before the 100m final got lost in the stadium, and wondered into the athlete changing area. He kept pestering Williams and Campbell-Brown for directions since they spoke English and neither one wanted to talk to him as they were minutes away from their race. Both women laughed hilariously when recapping the story.
While friendly off the track, they'll be far from friendly on the track on Saturday. As Campbell-Brown said once you enter the arena, "(Even) If youre twin sister is in the race your aim is to beat her."
That's a really good list of names but the one entrant who deserves the most hype is Canada's Gary Reed, the 2007 world outdoor championship runner-up, who is focused on winning gold in Beijing. If you didn't read the great profile of Reed earlier this year, please read it now. Reed, "I don't drink, I don't party, I go to bed, I eat right. I do all these things for a reason.. This is the shot, this summer, the Olympic Games. This is the best chance I will have in my life. And there's no amount of money, whatever, I just wasn't interested. If I'm not interested, I'm not interested."
The race is a bit hard to predict as it's the first big effort by Robinson and it's Reed's outdoor opener. A lot of other guys have been struggling. If you are a fan of Krummenacker, we suggest you get your butts in the stands as sadly it appears like his days as an elite runner are numbered as he's been struggling mightily. Kamel comes here after getting 6th in Hengelo and Johnson comes here after running 1:46 twice in Brazil. It will be interesting to see Willis in a top notch 800 as we think he can do some damage.
LRC Predictions: 1) Reed 2) Robinson 3) Robinson 4) Willis
This race features 6 of the LetsRun.com US Women's top 10, but it is Maryam Jamal's to lose.
Jamal the World Champ at 1500 last year, got left in Pamela Jelimo's 1:55.76 wake last weekend in Hengelo, but she still ran a 1:58.66 pr to finish 2nd.
Hazel Clark leads the US challengers to Jamal. Hazel is undefeated in 2008 in the 800 outdoors and ran 1:59.82 a couple of weeks ago in Puerto Rico for the win. She'll face a much stiffer test here in Jamal, but should challenge upfront.
There is a gap between Clark and the rest of the field, but no doubt the rest of the field will have their eyes set on the 2:00:00, Olympic "A" standard. American Erin Donohue (2:02.04) got the win at the adidas Track Classic and gives the 800 another go here. In addition to her win, her confidence is boosted by her training partners, Shannon Rowbury and Shalane Flanagan, the two US distance standouts in 2008 so far.
Neisha Bernard-Thomas was second behind Donohue at adidas and Morgan Uceny ran 2:02.17 a couple of weeks ago as well.
Everyone else in the field has a question mark or two. The big names are Diane Cummins, Treniere Clement and Nicole Teter. Cummins has been a steady performer on the world scene (5th at Worlds in 2001, Pan Am Games champ last year), but this is her first 800 of the year (she opened in 2:01 last year).
The bigger question marks surround the Americans Teter and Clement. Clement has dominated the US 1500m ranks this year, but has only run 2:05 so far this year, and 4:22. Is something wrong or has she been delaying the start of her competitive season? We'll find out for sure on Saturday.
Teter burst onto the world scene in 2002 with an American record indoors, a 1:57.97 outdoors, and a Golden League 1500m win. She has been plagued by injuries off and on since but dipped under 2:00 last year and ran well this indoor season.
Predictions: 1) Jamal 2) Clark 3) Cummins 4) Uceny
At the adidas meet, here is who was 3rd-7th: 3rd Kevin Sullivan
3:35.78, 4th Lopez Lomong 3:36.36, 5th Jon Rankin 3:36.61, 6th Nate
Brannen 3:37.69, and 7th Boaz Cheboiywo 3:37.98. Expect those guys to
battle it out for the win. The only addition that is could conceivably
be in the mix is American Chris Lukezic, who is looking to make amends
for a disappointing 2007 when his seasonal best was 3:36.95 after
running 3:33.28 the year before. This is Lukezic's first big-time 1500
of the year so it will be interesting to see how he does. Lukezic's
training partner Kevin Sullivan has been running great so that should
give him some confidence.
Saturday's race is the outdoor opener for Koech who had a great indoor
campaign, highlighted by a world indoor silver in the 3k and a Kenyan
national record of 8:06.48 in the 2 mile, in a race where he put a scare
in the great Kenenisa Bekele.
Kenyan Shadrack Kosgei who ran 13:01 in 2005 is in the race but
he's been running a lot on the roads this spring and not dominating
there so don't expect him to contend here. The only one really likely
to challenge Abdosh is former Arkansas star Alistair Cragg. Cragg ran a
13:07.10 pb last year and 13:08.97 in this meet two years ago. He seems
to be in good shape this year so he'll be in the mix.
The women's 1,500 is a tough one to predict as there isn't a real dominant stud who should run away with it. It's likely to be a very competitive race that likely will be set up to give a ton of runners in the field who need the Olympic A qualifying standard (4:07.00, if you haven't run that time, you're not going to the Olympics if you're in the US) including Amy Mortimer, who just missed it last week, plus Lindsey Gallo, Sara Hall, and Jenelle Deatherage. Based on results this year, Australia's Sarah Jamieson is probably the favorite as she ran 4:06 last week in Boston. Canadian Olympians Melindi Elmore and Carmen Douma-Hussar both have the A standard but haven't run great so far this year. Elmore has run 4:02 before and 4:05 last year but only ran 4:13 in her opener at the Adidas meet two weeks ago where Douma Hussar was 6th in 4:09.74 in her outdoor opener. If Douma Hussar improves, she might be one to watch. Ethiopian Mestawat Tadese was 2nd last year but hasn't finished higher than 8th in any of her races this year. Jamaican Korine Hinds who has been doing well in the steeple (9:28.86 pb) and set an 800 PR already this year (2:03.52) will run a rare 1,500 where her PB is only 4:17.00.
Predictions: We have no idea. Too hard to predict honestly. Let's hope the ladies that need the A standard get it.
Our prediction for this race is easy.
New Zealand's Kim Smith, who ran a sensational 30:35.54 10k in her last race at Stanford, will win on Saturday unless 22-year old Ethiopian Sentayehu Ejigu, who ran 14:35 in 2005 (but only 15:27 in 2007) and is making her 2007 debut, returns to her old form. We're assuming since she came over from Ethiopia that she must be in decent shape.
After those two, the race features a lot of people who might make the US Olympic team, led by Lauren Fleshman.
Most of the rest of the Americans in the field will be looking for the
Olympic A standard of 15:12.00. Luckily for them, the predicted high
for New York on Saturday is only 76 degrees.
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