LRC in Daegu: News and Notes From a Red, White and Blue Day 6
Jesse Williams, Lashinda Demus Take Different Paths to US Gold, The Daegu Daily Programme Cover Jinx** Lives On... and MORE !!!!
September 1, 2011
Daegu, South Korea
**an LRC exclusive undercover investigation
Day 6: Things Really Heat Up In Daegu (Seriously, It Was Hot)
We knew the night might include abundant and exceptional success when US head coach Vin Lananna made his first appearance in the mixed zone shortly after Ezekiel Kemboi outrageously demolished the field and celebrated another utterly dominant world steeple medal with an utterly genius celebration. Sure enough, within minutes the chips started falling pretty nicely for Lananna and the US squad. Here's a ground-breaking minute-by-minute report from your dedicated team on the ground in Daegu:
~8:45pm local time: Jesse Williams wraps up the US's first high jump gold in 20 years, beating 2nd-place Aleksey Dmitrik
8:59pm: Jenny Simpson wins 1500m gold - almost dies of shock
9:16pm: Lashinda Demus sets an American record and wins the 400m hurdles.
Quite a run for the red, white and blue (if we just skip over that last track event... more on that later).
Facts to consider after Day 6 from Daegu
If we were to tell you that the following things were going to happen on Day 6, how crazy would you say we were?
USA, get to know your champs: America's world high jump champion Jesse Williams.
- Matt Centrowitz wins his semi-final heat running away, closing in 52
- Jenny Simpson wins the 1500 with Morgan Uceny and Maryam Jamal coming across the line last
- 3 athletes of European descent sweep the women's 1500 medals
- Zero of the 6 Americans ranked in the top-10 in the world can medal or place within a second of the one of the slowest 400 hurdles champs in history
- American Jesse Williams jumps clean through 2.35m to win the high jump for the first American gold in 20 years
- Asbel Kiprop, tactically-speking, runs a perfect 1500m race
Shucks, that's quite an evenin'.
Breaking News - Shocking LetsRun.com Investigation
The Daily Programme Cover Jinx Update: Jinx 5, Athletes 0
Dear Vin Lananna, your most important job as head team USA coach, at this point, may be to make sure no Team USA members are on the Daegu Daily Programme Cover. As our undercover informant has informed us, as of Day 6, here are the cover images and their ensuing performances
Day 1 Cover: 2009 World Champ Steve Hooker - does not qualify for the pole vault final
Day 2 Cover: 2009 3x World Champ Usain Bolt - disqualified for false start in 100m final
Day 3 Cover: WR-Holder Dayron Robles - disqualified after contact with Liu Xiang in 110m hurdle final
Day 4 Cover: WR-Holder and Oly Champ Yelena Isinbayeva - finishes well out of the medals in pole vault final
Day 5 Cover: Race-Walk Day - Does not count
Day 6 Cover: 2009 World Champ Yargelis Savigne - jumps one triple jump, scratches due to injury during qualifying (see results here)
Clearly cover of the daily programme is jinxed. Though our informant has been terminated after an identity-sabotaging Wikileak, we are confident that our information is solid and should be taken with not even a single grain of salt.
Looking Ahead To Future Jinxes... Coaches and Managers Beware! Based on level of idolatry, these athletes or relays are likely to be jinxed... there still may be time to sway a corrupt official or print shop operator - don't say you weren't warned...
Day 7 Cover: Likely Allyson Felix, Vivian Cheruiyot or a long jumper, possibly Dwight Phillips or Mitchell Watt, or a male shot-putter. Perhaps jinxers will attempt to use Charles van Commenee in an attempt to destroy what remains of the UK athletics team.
Day 8: Andreas Thorkildsen or Asbel Kiprop, possible USA 4x4 relay. Thorkildsen already looked very average today, perhaps anticipating the jinx.
Day 9: Possible Bernard Lagat or Mo Farah, possible relay shot (Jamaican 4x100's? US fans, get the champagne ready, your team may just get the stick around the track! Go Jinx!)
Now back to this evening's action:
Demus Now a Part of Women's 400 Hurdle History, She and Mom (Her Coach) Credit Life Lessons From Video Games
Lashinda Demus won world gold and set an American record of 52.47 at 9:16pm local time on Thursday in Daegu, marking the 3rd US gold won in a span of about 30 frantic minutes. Her mark finally puts her atop the US All-Time list:
Women's 400 Hurdle Marks of Note:
52.61: Former American Record, Kim Batten, '95
52.47: Demus' 2011 gold medal-winning time and new American record (take that, Kim!)
52.42: Current World Championship Record, Melaine Walker (2nd place in '11)
52.34: Current World Record, Russia's Pechenkina, '03
Demus Training Secrets Revealed
As Demus worked her way through the mixed zone, she was clearly relieved to have won in an American record after coming up short of gold at major championships in the past. When asked what was different about this time, the mother of twins described on her own website as a "track superstar phenomenon" credited her hard work and her coach's video game-inspired philosophy. Demus is coached by her mother, Yolanda Demus, who eventually would introduce herself to the circle of journalists interviewing her daughter, and echoed the athlete's assertion that after experiencing the way skills are developed in video games, they began to treat 400m hurdle training "Like a video game. The more you do it, the better you get at it." Apparently feeling safe enough to let down the veil of secrecy to the outside world, Lashinda revealed that Yolanda's training games of choice include "Zelda, Angry Birds... you name it, she's like a Gameboy type person."
According to Mom, the Demus mother-daughter duo met every day to train from 9am to 1pm, with the twins' father and grandfather shouldering a lot of the time with the kids so Demus could train and race. On bouncing back, "I've never been known as a quitter," Demus said, "I came back from twins and I think that's the hardest thing I've ever had to do." For the Demus family, this win was the result of a long road, from Lashinda's 4x400 9-and-under team running a national record 4:18 to the present day near-world record-setting win. "My mom's the only coach I've ever had," the former South Carolina Gamecock athlete said, "and I trust every word out of my mom's mouth." According to Yolanda, "That's one good thing about [Lashinda] - she listens. But she only listens in track." If Lashinda keeps listening (at least on the track), and Yolanda continues to apply the lessons learned from Tetris, the sky's the limit for Demus and the USA heading towards London 2012.
Jesse Williams: World Champion and High Jump History Buff Credits Dwight Stones for Motivation
If you've never heard Williams say much before, we recommend watching his interview above. (In fact, even if you have, is your life really that important that you can't spare a few minutes for a world champion high jumper? Seriously, get over yourself.) When asked how were you able to do so well tonight? The 7'3" high school high jumper started off by ribbing affably critical NBC announcer Dwight Stones, saying "He always said I jumped really high early in the year, and could never get it done late in the year. So, Dwight, this one's for you (that's a friendly joke)." All friendly caustic jokes aside, Williams, who turned his back on every competitor's jump until he was down to his final foe (the USATF is considering releasing a presser proclaiming this behavior within the bounds of sportsmanship), was perfect through 2.35m before missing at 2.37m. In terms of other interests, Williams noted that he enjoys smiling and waving Korean people, as well as training with "the best elite club in the world... the Oregon Track Club." Williams even got a hug from OTC visionary phenomenon Lananna, who at one time was hesitant to accept a high jumper into the OTC before changing his mind about the persistent and talented Williams.
Americans Tire of Winning; Brit Dai Greene Walks With 400 Hurdles Gold
Dai Greene (for our less worldly readers, "Dai" is what Brits say instead of "David")
kicked some serious ass set himself and the hundreds of track fans in the UK up for total letdown in next year's Olympics, winning a world championship gold in one of the slowest gold medal performances on record. Within minutes of reaching the notoriously compassionate British press (and before Employee #1 could figure out how to get Greene's face to show amidst the challenging background lighting), the man who had risen from nothing to the top of the mountain was
permitted to celebrate glorious victory while being asked about dealing with the hype of the 2012 games in London by those who would be paid to mercilessly apply the crushing pressure. After some deft evasive verbal maneuvers, Greene eventually said that he thought he saw UK Athletics Boss Charles van Commenee give him a thumbs-up from the stands, or at least a neutral thumb position, but definitely not a thumbs down. Everyone got a good laugh and agreed that this was a good thing, and we think Dai Greene, with the world title and the prize purse, certainly got the last and the best laugh on the evening.
Angelo Taylor and Batman Bershawn Jackson were not in laughing moods after the race. The US entered the meet with 6 of the top-10 world performers in the event, and 3 of the top 4. The two American hurdle stalwarts who successfully advanced to the final were surprisingly flat in the evening's final competition, leaving track fans around the world literally scratching their heads in confusion (not itchy scalps). When asked if he ran out of gas, Taylor didn't miss a beat. "I didn't run out of gas. I had a LOT of gas!" Apparently referring to gas as in the type that fuels an engine (though we did not clarify this at the time), Taylor explained that at least part of his problem was coming from lots of 400 racing, which caused his speed and power to increase. "Them hurdles were comin' up so fast!" Taylor said. Although always optimistic and a great interview, the banged up Taylor left the track perplexed and disappointed. However, in digesting Taylor's take on the race, Americans can rest easy knowing this: even though we won't be toasting 400m hurdle medals across the land, it's not due to weakness in athletes, but to an overabundance of strength.
Sweet victory: World Champion Dai Green thinks he saw Charles van Commenee give him a thumbs up from the stands... but he's not sure.
01 September 2011 - 21:30
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