Where Your Dreams Become Reality
The Week That Was August 17 - August 23, 2009
Last week was dominated by one thing - the 2009 IAAF world track and field championships in Berlin, Germany. The 2009 WChamps will undoubtedly be remembered for goliaths Usain Bolt and Kenenisa Bekele staking claim to the title of GOAT - greatest of all-time - for their respective areas of expertise, sprints and athletics. In terms of the popular press, the event is likely to be remembered for Bolt and Caster Semenya, the 18-year old winner of the women's 800 meters, whom we are hoping is entirely female.
Below we don't try to recap the entire world champs in case you missed them. We give you the links you need to relive them but comment on a few things. This week we get scared when we realize that Jamaica's success at worlds is the equivalent of the US winning 1,413 medals at worlds, we officially name Berlino as the greatest mascot in the world, give props to Jenny Meadows and Caster Semenya and wonder if Usain Bolt is the most dominant and charismatic athlete in the world.
Running Book Gets On Daily Show But Has No Mention In Single Us Running Magazine
Check out the video on the left. It speaks for itself. ChrisMcDougal's book, Born To Run, has been a best-seller for months now. Last week it was featured on The Daily Show. Amazingly, no US running publication has even mentioned the book? Why because McDougal says that running shoes are the cause of so many running
Usain Bolt: The Most Dominant & Charismatic Athlete In The World?
Tons of fawning pieces were written but we particularly pleased to see that Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post (and ESPN's PTI) wrote a great article about Bolt, his charisma and how questions about drugs always are in the back of your mind with a transcendant track and field athlete.
Wilbon talked about how excited he is to watch Bolt each time he runs:
It's one of the phenomena that sets sport apart from anything else in
the culture. Every time I watch Bolt, even though I've covered athletic
competition for nearly 30 years, I'm flush with excitement. And every
time that thrill is tempered with the thought that seems to accompany
almost every superhuman effort in recent years: Is he clean?
But we loved his final paragraph the most as called Bolt possibly the most dominant, imposing and charismatic athletes on the planet:
Bolt has come into our lives as no track and field athlete has since Lewis, really. He might very well be the most dominant athlete in the world, the most imposing and the most charismatic. The 200-meter final from Berlin could be must-see TV. I want to see Bolt, just once, bolt through the tape, full speed every step of the way. And I want to do it without having to worry about doping becoming part of the story . . . though each of those things might just be too much to ask.
Speaking of press coverage, prior to world's we praised USA Today for featuring Bolt Vs. Gay on the cover of their sports page. They normally do a great job of covering track thanks to long-time writer Dick Patrick but it should be pointed out they didn't send Patrick to worlds.
We want to give kudos to the Chicago Tribune (and LA Times?) for being one of the few US papers to send a correspondent to Berlin. Philip Hersh covered things for them (and the LA Times we guess as well as we only seem to find his articles in the LA Times). At USAs, we believe Hersh was the only out of state reporter in Eugene from a US daily newspaper. Unbelievable that more papers don't cover track andfield.
We'd encourage you to read his articles in the Tribune, but the Tribune's website is so bad you can't even search by the name Hersh. Oh well. Read them on the LA Times site above or here e is one article we found from him on Semenya.
Speaking of Bolt, it was great to see track and field getting big time sports coverage once again.
Wallace Spearmon's Idol
“When I go home this off-season, I’ve got to go home and work twice as hard, three times as hard and put a picture of Bolt above my bed.”
Bolt, sitting next to Spearmon, said, “I’ll be honored.”
A Few Comments Regarding Caster Semenya
We do think two people deserve special praise for dealing amazingly well with the whole controversy over her gender. One thumbs up goes to Brit Jenny Meadows who got the bronze in the 800 and then said the following to the Daily Telegraph when asked about her thoughts on Semenya competing with her,"I just feel sorry for Caster. It's the responsibility of South Africa and the IAAF and I think it is a situation that probably could have been avoided. At the ceremony, I was happy to congratulate her and give her a hug."
The other person deserving of a major thumbs up is Ms. Semenya herself. Remember, she is only 18 years old. Most high school seniors would have problems dealing with being on the world stage for the first time. Throw in the whole gender controversy and the fact that Semenya is from a rural village and we think she handled herself amazingly wellh as the following article from the Daily Telegraph illustrates: Caster Semenya's poise under spotlight earning respect
The Berlin world champs were outstanding in terms of performance. We'll let the track geeks debate where they rank in terms of the all-time best world champs, but in our minds they are a clear #1 for any sporting event maybe ever in terms of mascot. Without a doubt, LetsRun.com ranks Berlino as the greatest mascot ever.
In our mind, he should be the official mascot of the IAAF and all world champs. Like Usain Bolt, the loveabel bear simply has natural charisma. Amazing considering he or she is hidden in a bear suit (We're assuming Berlino is a he because the mascot is pretty strong but if the 2009 world champs have taught us anything, it's to not make assumptions about sex).
In addition to charisma, Berlino also has a great work ethic. Only a few media outlets have reported it, and as a result many may not realize that early in the world champs Berlino wasn't popular and was totally dissed by some of the Jamaican sprint stars (See the video on the right).
But Berlino put his head down and kept working, and by the end, Berlino was the star of the show and was partying it up with Usain Bolt and giving Melaine Walker a very famous piggy back ride (see video onleft). We encourage you to have some fun and watch the videos on the left and right - the one on the left is a must see.
Berlino was also quite a hit on the LetsRun.com message board as at least two threads were devoted just to him:
*The Bear Mascot Rules
Imagine if The US Won 1,413 Medal in Berlin
1-3 men's 100, 1-2 women's 100.
Looking at the 100, 200, 100 and 110 hurdles and 400 and 400 hurdles, 4 x 100s, and 4 x 400s, there are only 14 gold medals to win and a country of less than 3 million in population, won half (7) of them. And the little known fact that people seem to forget is that the US's Sanya Richards was born and raised in Jamaica, having spent the first half of her life there (12 years).
Now don't tell us about how many medals Kenya won - 11 medals (down from 14 in Beijing) - as they have an estimated population of 37 million so they are 12 times bigger than Kenya.
Per capita, Jamaica wins one medal for every 217,739 people living in the country. Kenya wins one medal for 3,450,349 people living in the country.The US (22 medals) wins one medal for 14, 629,619 people living in the country. If the US won the same amount of medals per person as Jamaica we would have brought home a staggering 1,413 medals in Berlin.
Another Revised World Championship Results That You May Have Missed
Ok, officially the results weren't changed but what w did was input the teams' in red times from the 2009 Outdoor NCAA Track & Field championships. It's scary to think how god the sprinting is in the NCAA isn't it.
Speaking of sprinters, for everyone who complains that college sprinters are overworked by the NCAA system. All we can say is Richard Thompson got a silver medal and a 9.89 last year while running for LSU. This year as a pro he was 5th in the final in 9.93. Walter Dix won two medals last year after competing for FSU but didn't make the US team in 2009.
We Were Going to Make Fun of Project 30 & Doug Logan But....
Change at the top is probably necessary every decade and we're happy enough to have Doug Logan in charge at USATF but we still think Project 30 was a joke. And the Berlin World champs prove it. Despite the fact that the US one less medal than we did in athletics in Beijing (22 to 23), no one is complaining in the media how the world champs were a total disaster. That fact right there proves our point that a feature on winning a certain amount of medals is pointless.
We wonder if USATF will somehow issue a report blaming the 4 x 100 failures on mismanagement. They both resulted from flukes - well one was a fluke and one was poor sportsmanship by the British.
The 2009 worlds were a great event for the US team despite us winning less medals. The US won more three golds than they did in Beijing ,10 to 7, so apparently everyone is happy. Yet we didn't win more golds because anything that USATF did.
But instead of harping how much we hate project 30, we'll be positive. The # of field event finalists was way up for the US - nearly 3 times as many as Beijing according to Dwight Stones and that's an area where USATF funding might help. But mainly, we don't see what being negative about Project 30 accomplishes. Project 30 doesn't really hurt the spot other than form a PR sport - it's just stupid.
So we'll be positive. We sure hope US fans enjoyed the worlds as success like that might not happen again soon. As Logan wrote in his blog, distance fans had a lot to enjoy, "We had our first women's 1,500m medal in 10 years, first men's 800-meter finalist since 1997, the fastest times ever by an American at Worlds in the men's and women's 10,000, and an American record in the women's steeplechase."
Veterans Come Through For US
We guess it shows you can only improve so much in a year and those that who are breaking through early in the year are likely to be out of steam come worlds time.
Odds & Ends About Men's 400 Meter Hurdles
The men's 400 meter hurdles at world's was a fascinating race to be sure. How often is it that a race features the last 4 world champions? How often is it that it features two athletes 20 years apart in age? Yes there was a 37 year old and a 17 year old.
37-year old Danny McFarlane who picked up hurdling in 2003 after a long 400 meter career was running. And how about 17-year old Jehue Gordon. Last year he ran a 51.39 as a 16-year old. This year, he had improved to 49.4 before the world champs but he ran 48.66 in the first round. Think nerve might get to him in the final? Nope. We geuss he's too young to get nervous as he ran a 48.26 and just missed out on the bronze medal by as Bershawn Jackson passed him at the line. What a talent. It's going to be fun watching him in the years to come.
Recommended Reads From Last Week
1. Message Boad Thread Of The Week: Props to message board poster "a badge of honor" who came up with a very short list - people who've beaten Bekele on the world stage.
Remembering The Last Week With The Quotes of the Day - Day By Day:
Monday: "I'm fourth. In my mind I got fourth. It keeps me hungry. I'm so mad I didn't quite get third but that's how it unfolds."
Saturday: "When people questioned if I was a women or a man, it was a tough time. I
didn't want to show my face in public for about 10 years. It took me that
long to understand the situation. I'd work from nine to five in a shop then
at five come home and slam the door on the world. So I have so much respect for this girl, to have run the race like this.
I couldn't have lived through a story so brutal. I would have retired."