The Week That Was In Running - July 26 - August 1, 2010: German Fernandez Versus Alan Webb, African And European Champs And More

August 3, 2010

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Before devoting most of our weekly recap to the 2010 European and African championships, we start things off by getting excited about the return of German Fernandez and compare him favorably to Alan Webb, Lukas Verzbicas and Leonel Manzano. Then we wonder if Anna Alminova is a choker, is David Rudisha unbeatable and is Ian Dobson's future in trail running?

German Fernandez - A True Child Prodigy (Leonel Manzano And Lukas Verzbicas - Not So Much)
Last week, the Modesto Bee ran a great profile on German Fernandez, saying that the teen phenom is healthy and ready to tear it up this fall for Oklahoma State. That is obviously great news for US distance fans. That profile got us to thinking about Fernandez and we've uncovered some cool info on the kid.

Did You Know?
On August 1, 2008, US distance prodigy German Fernandez had finished high school and was about to enter his first year of college. He was 17 years and 272 days old on that date.

His PRs at the time were 4:00.29 for 1,600 and 8:34.40 for 2 miles.

On August 1, 2010, US distance prodigy (although he may still be a Lithuanian citizen) Lukas Verzbicas has finished his sophomore year of high school and is about to enter his junior year of high school. He was 17 years and 207 days old on August 1st.

His current PRs are 4:04.38 for the mile (= 4:02.92 for 1,600) and 8:53.98 for 2 miles.

(Note: an earlier version of this story had an editing error and had Lukas Verzbicas' age wrong)

Jun 13, 2009; Fayetteville, AR; German
Fernandez of Oklahoma State crosses the finish line to win the 1,500m in 3:39.00 in the NCAA Track and Field Championships at John McDonnell Field. Photo via Newscom Comparing Fernandez To Webb & Manzano
We point this out not to say that Verbicas isn't a distance prodigy. He clearly is a big-time talent. However, while everyone knows he's old for his grade and should be entering his senior year, very few people seem to realize how young German Fernandez is for his grade. When Fernandez absolutely destroyed the field in the 1,500 to win NCAAs as a freshman last year, he was very young - just over 18 years and 7 months. That is very similar to the age Alan Webb was when he ran his 3:53 mile in HS. At that time, Webb was just over 18 years and 4 months.

Prior to German's win of the NCAA 1,500 meters as a freshman, much was made about Leonel Manzano's win as a freshman in 2001. When Manzano won as a "freshman," he (like Verzbicas will be) was a very old freshman. Manzano was 20 years and 9 months old.

What does it all mean? It means that we are big fans of Fernandez since the future is unbelievably bright for him, as the younger one is, the more likely it is they are to continue to improve in the years to come.

Did You Know #2?
If Fernandez wins NCAAs again in 2011 as a junior - he'll actually be younger than Leonel Manzano was when Manzano won as a freshman in 2005.

More: LRC Message Board Talk: German Fernandez ready to go!

2010 European And African Champs
Last week was obviously dominated by the action at the 2010 European Championships as well as 2010 African Championships. That being said, there were a lot of other championships held, as the Canadian Champs and CACs were also held. Additionally, the  US 15k Trail & US 50 Mile TrailUS 100 Mile Trail Championships were also held and it's worth noting that 13:15 5,000-meter man man Ian Dobson won the 15k trail championships.

Since we don't have time to recap every single race, we'll start things off by updating you on who the medallists were. Below we list all of the medallists for you in all in the mid-d and distance events at the African and European championships. Then we'll give you a few observations.

2010 European Championship Mid-D & Distance Medallists

 1. Marcin LEWANDOWSKI, POL          1:47.07  Gold
 2. Michael RIMMER, GBR              1:47.17  Silver
 3. Adam KSZCZOT, POL                1:47.22  Bronze

 1. Arturo CASADO, ESP             3:42.74 Gold
 2. Carsten SCHLANGEN, GER         3:43.52 Silver
 3. Manuel OLMEDO, ESP             3:43.54 Bronze

 1. M. MEKHISSI-BENABBAD, FRA 8:07.87 CR* Gold
 2. Bouabdellah TAHRI, FRA           8:09.28     Silver
 3. José Luis BLANCO, ESP            8:19.15 SB  Bronze

 1. Mo FARAH, GBR                 13:31.18  Gold
 2. Jesus ESPAÑA, ESP             13:33.12  Silver
 3. Hayle IBRAHIMOV, AZE          13:34.15  Bronze

 1. Mo FARAH, GBR                28:24.99   Gold
 2. Chris THOMPSON, GBR          28:27.33   Silver
 3. Daniele MEUCCI, ITA          28:27.33   Bronze

Women - 800
 1. Mariya SAVINOVA, RUS         1:58.22    Gold
 2. Yvonne HAK, NED              1:58.85 PR Silver
 3. Jenny MEADOWS, GBR           1:59.39    Bronze

 1. Nuria Fernandez, ESP 4:00.20 PB Gold
 2. Hind Dehiba, FRA 4:01.70
 3. Natalia Rodriguez, ESP 4:01.30 SB
World leader Anna Alminova was 6th in 4:02.24.

 1. Yuliya ZARUDNEVA, RUS        9:17.57 CR* Gold
 2. Marta DOMÍNGUEZ, ESP         9:17.74     Silver
 3. Lyubov KHARLAMOVA, RUS      9:29.82 SB Bronze

1. Alemitu BEKELE, TUR            14:52.20 CR*  Gold
 2. Elvan ABEYLEGESSE, TUR         14:54.44      Silver
 3. Sara MOREIRA, POR              14:54.71 PR   Bronze

 1. Elvan ABEYLEGESSE, TUR      31:10.23 EL Gold
 2. Inga ABITOVA, RUS           31:22.83    Silver
 3. Jessica AUGUSTO, POR        31:25.77    Bronze

2010 African Championship Mid-D & Distance Medallists
 1. David Rudisha, KEN            1:42.84     GOLD
 2. Alfred Kirwa Yego, KEN        1:44.85     SILVER
 3. Jackson Kivuna, KEN           1:45.47     BRONZE

 1. Asbel Kiprop, KEN             3:36.19     GOLD
 2. Amine Laalou, MAR             3:36.38     SILVER
 3. Gebremedhin Woldegirgis, ETH  3:36.65     BRONZE
World leader Silas Kiplagat was 4th in 3:36.74

 1. Richard Mateelong, KEN        8:23.54     GOLD
 2. Ezekiel Kemboi, KEN           8:26.13     SILVER
 3. Roba Gary Chubeta, ETH        8:27.15     BRONZE

 1. Edwin Soi, KEN               13:30.46     GOLD
 2. Vincent Yator, KEN           13:30.53     SILVER
 3. Mark Kiptoo, KEN             13:32.45 SB  BRONZE

 1. Wilson Kiprop, KEN           27:32.91     GOLD
 2. Moses Kipsiro, UGA           27:33.37 PB  SILVER
 3. Geoffrey Mutai, KEN          27:33.83     BRONZE

Women - 800
 1. Zahra Bouras, ALG             2:00.22     GOLD
 2. Janeth Jepkosgei, KEN         2:00.50     SILVER
 3. Malika Akkaoui, MAR           2:01.01     BRONZE

 1. Nancy Jebet Lagat, KEN        4:10.43     GOLD
 2. Gelete Burka, ETH             4:11.12     SILVER
 3. Btissam Lakhouad, MAR         4:11.81     BRONZE

 1. Milcah Chemos, KEN            9:32.18     GOLD
 2. Sofia Assefa, ETH             9:32.58     SILVER
 3. Lydia Rotich, KEN             9:37.32     BRONZE

1. Vivian Cheruiyot, KEN        16:18.72     GOLD
 2. Meseret Defar, ETH           16:20.54     SILVER
 3. Sentayehu Ejigu, ETH         16:22.32     BRONZE

 1. Tirunesh Dibaba, ETH         31:51.39 SB  GOLD
 2. Meselech Melkamu, ETH        31:55.50     SILVER
 3. Linet Masai, KEN             31:59.36 SB  BRONZE

  • World Leaders At 1,500 Fail To Medal
    BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 01: Anna Alminova of Russia
competes in the
Womens 1500m Final during day six of the 20th European Athletics Championships at the Olympic Stadium on August 1, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
    For the most part, the big stars of track and field came through at both the Europeans and the African Champs. However, there was one very surprising result.

    In the women's 1,500, 2010 world leader in Russia's Anna Alminova, who looked so amazing in Paris in her last race prior to Europeans that everyone was speculating she had to be doped, failed to medal as she was just 6th.

    We must admit that it's pretty hard to go from running 3:57.65 in Paris - a world leader by 1.63 seconds - to failing to medal at Europeans in the span of 14 days (Alminova was beaten by the winner by 2.04 seconds). That's quite an accomplishment. Let us therefore make a few observations.

    1) Don't forget Alminova did almost exactly the same thing last year - maybe she's just a choker. 
    Last year, in her last race prior to the World Championships, she ran a 3:58.28 to win the Russian champs but then failed to even make the final at Worlds some 23 days later. Maybe she's just a choker.

    If you haven't watched the race video,  we recommend that you do, as it's clear that poor tactics weren't an issue. She had the lead heading in the last 100 and just got smoked.

    2) Everyone who assumed that since she ran so well two weeks ago that she had to be on drugs, needs to pause and possibly apologize.
     Looks, it's very hard to explain her results over the span of two weeks with or without drugs. With or without drugs, it's very hard to lose fitness that fast, but it's not fair on the one hand to say that when someone is running well that they have on drugs but then ignore their awful performances a few weeks later. By that same logic, if they are running so poorly, we guess one could argue that there is no way they are on drugs.

    The #1 sign that someone is on drugs is that they rarely have awful races. The fact that Alminova had such an awful race should make people at least pause on the drug accusations.

    On the men's side, the world leader in Kenya's Silas Kiplagat also failed to medal as he was fourth. But in our minds, his fourth-place showing shouldn't raise any eyebrows at all. The guy is a neophyte on the elite scene and finished 4th in a tactical 1,500 that featured a blistering last lap. In the end, he finished just .55 off of the winner - the best miler in the world in Asbel Kiprop.

  • Dibaba Is Now 7 For 7 At 10,000
    Double Olympic champ Tirunesh Dibaba provided one of the few bright spots for Ethiopia as she remained undefeated for her life at 10,000 meters, as she moved her career record to 7 for 7 at that distance. We imagine that undefeated streak will move up in the years to come as Dibaba is still only 24. But she's got a ways to join her compatriot in Kenenisa Bekele, who is 12 for 12 at 10,000 in his life. And that's not even the best record in Ethiopian history, as Haile Gebrselassie was even more dominant at the distance. From 1992 to 2003, Haile G. never lost a 10,000, as he went 16 for 16.
  • Is Rudisha Now Officially Unbeatable?
    It wouldn't surprise us to see the world record at 800 meters go down later in the summer, as Kenya's David Rudisha is just at another level right now. People can talk all they want about how Rudisha and Abubaker Kaki are going to square of this week in Stockholm, but we don't think the result will be close. Yes, earlier in the year, when Kaki and Rudisha raced, things were close, as Rudisha ran 1:42.03 ato Kaki's 1:42.23. But since then, Rudisha has run 1:41.51 and then last week he won the African championships by more than 2 full seconds. Yes, he won the championships as expected, but we doubt anyone expected him to beat a former world champ by 2.01.
  • Kenya Does Well
    Kenya did indeed enjoy a very successful African champs on its home soil. There men did particularly well as they took home 11 of the 15 possible mid-d or distance medals, as Ethiopia just garned two. If you think Ethiopia did poorly, you are correct. Here's how the medals differed from two years ago when Ethiopia had the home-field advantage.
  • 2010 Africah Champ Mid-D & Distance Medals
    Kenyan Men - 11
    Kenyan Women - 6
    Total For Kenya - 17

    Ethiopian Men - 2
    Ethiopian Women - 5
    Total For Ethiopia - 7

    2008 African Championship Mid-d & Distance Medals
    Kenyan Men - 8
    Kenyan Women - 3
    Total For Kenya - 11

    Ethiopian Men - 5
    Ethiopian Women - 9
    Total For Ethiopia - 14

Dumbest Decision Of The Year
Last week, we realized that the European track and field championships will now be held every two years. In our minds, that is a laughable and utterly stupid decision (we aren't the only one that feels that way, as Britain's track coach Charles van Commenee ripped the decision). The plan is to have Europeans in 2012 - prior to the Olympics. How can bureaucrats be so stupid?

In a day and age when top stars are already skipping the non-marquee, non-paying events like the African champs, European champs, Commonwealth Games, Pan Am Games, etc, everything that possibly can be done to preserve these great events should be enacted. Holding the events more often is going to usher in the end of Europeans as we know it.

In 2012, top names will skip the event to get ready for the Olympics and then the significance of a European medal will be totally devalued. And since a European medal will no longer mean much, in 2014, even more stars will skip out on the event.

And one more thing about the scheduling of these events, someone on the message board asked last week, "Why don't we have a track event called the North American Games?" Our answer: We basically already have that. Not exactly that, but the Pan American Games are basically the North & South American championships, but for all sports, not just track and field.

One of the problem with these non-profit, non-paying events like Pan Ams, Commonwealths and Europeans is that there is nobody in charge of all of them. Every event acts in its own self interest. In our minds, these events should be held at the same time as much as possible. Have Commonwealths and Pan Ams at the same time. Or have Pan Ams and Europeans at the same time. Heck, it might have even made sense to have the USA meet last week when the European champs were going on. Instead of having our top stars take a 2-week break in the middle of the season, we could have had our US champs (although that would make it really hard for the college kids).

If the sport is going to grow, different entities need to work together, not against each other.

Video Of The Week
If you think events like Europeans and the African champs are worthless just because there is no money involved, we encourage you to watch the video below. Mo Farah completed the 10,000/5,000 meter double in style. He ran his final 1,200 in an impressive 2:55.77. The passion of the event clearly comes through on the video.


Stat Of The Week
Last week, we included a link that sort of made fun of the fact that tickets to the African track and field champs were selling for the equivalent of $3.69 each. If you are charging that little, wouldn't it make sense to just give the tickets away? Oh wait a minute, that's what the Kenyans did, as 28,000 of the 30,000 were given away for free and as a result, the Kenyans were thrilled with the capacity crowds, as normally the crowds are tiny at Kenyan meets (some LRC visitors may not realize that track and field isn't really that popular in Kenya - soccer rules the land over there just like it does in Europe).

But then we started thinking about it. The average per capita income in Kenya is $1,200 per person. In the US, it's more than $46,000, which is 38.333 times $1,200. Thus the 2,000 tickets that cost $3.69 are actually quite pricey.

Multiply $3.69 x 38.3333333 and the tickets in Kenya really cost roughly the equivalent of $141.45. Gets Sports Illustrated Mention Yet Again
We know a lot of our readers are younger people who don't get paying for magazines/newspapers and think all news should be free. We, on the other hand, have always loved magazines and our favorite has always been Sports Illustrated. So it was great to see gracing SI yet again last week.

In the August 2-9 issue of SI in the Scorecard section on page 13, Tim Layden writes about asterisks associated with various records in sports and writes:

"Just last week, message board commenters on the running website were debating whether Shannon Rowbury's time of 8:31.88 for 3,000m should be considered the "true" American record because current record holder Mary Slaney received a doping suspension more than a decade after setting her record."

Kudos to SI for sourcing A few years ago they did a full-length article on Jeremy Wariner with extensive quotes from the message board which they referred to as a running message board instead of

Recommended Reads
*Renato Canova Weighs In On 10,000m Prediction Thread Canova got the top 2 right but didn't predict the surprising bronze of his own Italian countryman Daniele Meucci.
*The Long Road To Success Tom Fordyce looks at the twists and turns Farah and Thompson have had to navigate to get their 1-2 finish at Europeans.
*Alan Webb's Primed To Start Comeback On August 14th After a brief racing stint in Europe, both he and Galen Rupp will be getting married.
*Andrew Wheating: "Oh Crap, I got fourth (in Monaco)."
*Molly Huddle Talks With Upstate NY Paper About Her Spike In Success In 2010 She ran her 14:51 PR on her dad's bday.
*Extensive Interview With Horace Ashenfelter, 1952 Olympic Steeple Champion And WR Holder In 8:45 Employee #1 was fascinated that he could have been a WR holder 60 years ago.
*Interview With Chris Solinsky Where He Talks About His Training

Quotes Of The Day From Last Week

Sunday/Monday: "I learned a lesson (from last year's World Championships). I ran too far behind (early) and lost everything."
- Asbel Kiprop talking to Dick Patrick after reaffirming his status as the world's best miler by winning the 2010 African champs from the front. Last year, Kiprop ran from the back at Worlds and the Olympic champ only finished fourth. The person finishing 4th on Sunday was world leader Silas Kiplagat.

Sunday: "A great comeback story is when something really debilitating has happened to someone. With Alan, he just had a couple of bad years of running, and then he had a simple surgery. When he runs well, it's not going to be a great comeback story or a coaching story. It will just be a guy doing what you would expect at this level. When he is this young, with no chronic injury, he is going to run as fast or faster than he has before."
- Alberto Salazar talking in a great Portland Tribune story about American mile record holder Alan Webb's comeback. Webb's comeback will begin on August 14th in London. The article also outlines Galen Rupp's racing schedule for the rest of the summer. It's also full of humor as Salazar jokes about Webb and Rupp starring in "Hangover II," as both are getting married this fall.

Saturday:  "A great comeback story is when something really debilitating has happened to someone. With Alan, he just had a couple of bad years of running, and then he had a simple surgery. When he runs well, it's not going to be a great comeback story or a coaching story. It will just be a guy doing what you would expect at this level. When he is this young, with no chronic injury, he is going to run as fast or faster than he has before."

- Alberto Salazar talking in a great Portland Tribune story about American mile record holder Alan Webb's comeback. Webb's comeback will begin on August 14th in London. The article also outlines Galen Rupp's racing schedule for the rest of the summer. It's also full of humor as Salazar jokes about Webb and Rupp starring in "Hangover II," as both are getting married this fall.

Friday: "I had the fastest time in the world in the 1,500 and the mile (in 2007). I think I can do that again. I know I can do it again."
- American mile record holder Alan Webb talking in a great Portland Tribune that details both Webb's and Galen Rupp's training with Alberto Salazar. The article is fantastic as states that Alan Webb's comeback will begin on August 14th in London and it also outlines Rupp's racing schedule for the rest of the summer. It's also full of humor as Salazar jokes about Webb and Rupp starring in "Hangover II" as both are getting married this fall.

Thursday: "This is the confirmation that the volume doesn't reduce any speed, if speed is in the normal training program."
- coach Renato Canova posting on on his athlete, marathoner Wilson Kiprop, who won the African champs 10,000m yesterday.

"That was the greatest half-an-hour of my life."
- Brit Chris Thompson talking after the 2010 European Championships were started off in ideal fashion for the UK, as Mo Farah and Thompson captured the gold and silver in the men's 10,000. Click on the link to read Tom Fordyce's great piece on Farah and Thompson, including tales of Farah jumping naked into the Thames River.

"Talking about white sprinters, I find this absurd. This story is too much, I don't like it. I had a good race, I broke the record, but there is not much more to say. I did what I had to do, that's it."
- Christophe Lemaitre, the first white 20-year-old French guy under 10.00 in the 100m.

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