The Weeks That Were In Running - July 11 - 24, 2011

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By LetsRun.com
July 26, 2011

Over the last two weeks, there have been two big stories in the track world. One, the 2011 Kenyan Track and Field Championships/Daegu Trials were held. Two, the 2011 Monaco Diamond League meet was held.

All summer long, we've been trying to offer a lot of our insight into the action the day it takes place in our Diamond League recaps, so if you were on vacation and missed it, you can relive the action via the following links:

LRC Fight In Men's 1,500, Chaos In Men's 5,000 As Farah Outkicks Lagat, Lagat Gets AR, Rupp And Solinsky Both DNF, Uceny Gets Beaten, So Does Felix, And Bolt Struggles
LRC Brimin Kipruto Misses Steeplechase World Record By .01!!!
LRC Monaco Preview: A LRC Track Fan's Dream Meet
Kenyan Trials Coverage - Homepage Day After Trials Ended

Below in our recap of the last two weeks of action, we give you words of wisdom from Alberto Salazar, the Florida football coach (Will Muschamp), and Charles van Commenee, plus lots of free coaching advice. Plus we try not to overlook Shalane Flanagan, our beloved "Menjo," who won gold last week, or Zersenay Tadese, who put up a performance that is full of bad news for Galen Rupp fans. But mainly we try to combine the two big happenings of the last two weeks - the Kenyan Trials and Monaco Diamond League - into one and analyze now after the Kenyan Trials what the US men's chances are of medalling in a mid-d or distance event at the 2011 World Championships, which happen in less than a month. Next week, we'll take a look at the US women's chances.

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Can A US Man Possibly Medal In Daegu?

Below we break down the US men's chances of medalling at the 2011 World Track and Field Championships in Daegu, South Korea. We list the events in order of most likely for a US man to medal in to least likely. Please note that medals are extremely hard to come by. A US-born man hasn't medalled in the 800 or a longer event at Worlds since 1997, when Rich Kenah got the bronze in the 800 meters.

2011 World Leaders
1 12:53.11 NR Mo Farah GBR
2 12:53.60 AR Bernard Lagat USA
3 12:54.18 Isiah Koech KEN
4 12:54.21 Imane Merga ETH
5 12:55.29 Vincent Chepkok KEN
6 12:55.89 Dejene Gebremeskel ETH
7 12:56.08 Thomas Longosiwa KEN
8 12:57.86 Sileshi Sihine ETH
9 12:59.01 Eliud Kipchoge KEN
10 12:59.15 Edwin Soi KEN
11 12:59.25 Tariku Bekele ETH
12 12:59.32 Zersenay Tadese ERI
13 12:59.91 Mark Kiptoo KEN
14 13:00.02 Lucas Rotich KEN

15 13:00.15 Abera Kuma ETH
16 13:00.46 Yenew Alamirew ETH
21 13:06.86 Galen Rupp USA
27 13:10.22 Chris Solinsky USA

2009 World Championship Results

1 Kenenisa Bekele ETH 13.6.82 13:17.09  
2 Bernard Lagat USA 12.12.74 13:17.33  
3 James Kwalia QAT 12.6.84 13:17.78  
4 Moses Kipsiro UGA 2.9.86 13:18.11  
5 Eliud Kipchoge KEN 5.11.84 13:18.95  
6 Ali Abdosh ETH 28.8.87 13:19.11  
7 Mo Farah GBR 23.3.83 13:19.69  
8 Matt Tegenkamp USA 19.1.82 13:20.23  
9 Vincent Chepkok KEN 5.7.88 13:21.31  
10 Jesús Espańa ESP 21.8.78 13:22.07  
11 Chakir Boujattaoui MAR 16.1.83 13:23.05  
12 Chris Solinsky USA 5.12.84 13:25.87  
13 Joseph Ebuya KEN 20.6.87 13:39.59  
14 Anas Selmouni MAR 15.3.79 13:44.59  
15 Teklemariam Medhin Weldeslasie ERI 24.6.89 13:44.65  
16 Collis Birmingham AUS 27.12.84 13:55.58  

Men's 5,000: Very, Very Good
Bernard Lagat
was the silver medallist in 2009. He's #2 in the world for 2011. He's got a great kick as a former 1,500 star. Therefore, there is a significantly greater than 50% chance he medals in 2011.

Thus the question becomes can an American-born athlete somehow get the 3rd medal, as it seems unlikely that Galen Rupp or Chris Solinsky would beat Lagat or Mo Farah.

The answer is probably not.

Yes, we know Matt Tegenkamp was 4th in 2007 and Solinsky at his best is certainly better than Tegenkamp at his best. So it's certainly not impossible.

Additionally, the Kenyans and Ethiopians aren't tearing it up at a level way better than what Rupp and particularly Solinsky are capable of running. As for Solinsky, he finished .59 behind Lagat at USAs and in Monaco, the Kenyan champ Isiah Koech was .58 behind Lagat in what would be the bronze medal position. So that gives us hope. However, as magical as 2010 was for Solinsky, 2011 seems to just be a little bit of the reverse. Everything fell his way last year, nothing is falling his way this year. A side stitch while serving as the rabbit at Stanford, a DNF in the Pre 10,000 with hamstring tightness, and a DNF out of frustration in Monaco.

Rupp's having a great year but his best bet by far is in the 10,000. It's hard to see him medalling twice.

Bottom Line: It seems as if no one really wants to get the bronze medal this year. Based on 2011 results so far, it's there for the taking. If Solinsky does do it, then all of the frustrations of 2011 are instantly forgotten.

Men's 800: Pretty Good, But Less Than 50%

2011 World Leaders
1 1:42.61 David Rudisha Monaco 22 Jul
2 1:43.15 Asbel Kiprop Monaco 22 Jul
3 1:43.68 Abubaker Kaki Eugene OR 4 Jun
4 1:43.83 Nick Symmonds Monaco 22 Jul
5 1:43.99 Yuriy Borzakovskiy Zhukovskiy 3 Jul
6 1:43.99 David Mutua Monaco 22 Jul
7 1:44.03 Khadevis Robinson Monaco 22 Jul
8 1:44.08 WYR Leonard Kosencha Villeneuved'Ascq 9 Jul
9 1:44.20 Boaz Lalang Zhukovskiy 3 Jul

10 1:44.28 Kléberson Davide Belém 15 May
18 1:44.67 Charles Jock

2009 World Championship Results

1 Mbulaeni Mulaudzi RSA 8.9.80 1:45.29
2 Alfred Kirwa Yego KEN 28.11.86 1:45.35
3 Youssef Saad Kamel BRN 29.3.81 1:45.35
4 Yuriy Borzakovskiy RUS 12.4.81 1:45.57
5 Amine Laâlou MAR 13.5.82 1:45.66
6 Nick Symmonds USA 30.12.83 1:45.71
7 Bram Som NED 20.2.80 1:45.86
8 Marcin Lewandowski POL 13.6.87 1:46.17
9 Jackson Kivuna KEN 11.8.88 1:46.39
10 Yeimer López CUB 20.8.82 1:47.80

With two Americans in the top 10 on the yearly list and a third at #18, the US men's chances at 800 aren't too bad, as the 800 is always a bit of a crap shoot. It would be hard to see anyone beating David Rudisha or Abubaker Kaki, but that being said, neither man has even made a global championship final before, so you never know until they prove they can do it without a rabbit. If two medals are up for grabs, then it's much easier for the US guys, so one can always hope for a shocker. If only one medal is up for grabs, the good news is no one has been consistently running any better than Nick Symmonds or Khadevis Robinson besides Kaki and Rudisha. In Monaco last week, Symmonds and Robinson both beat the runner-up in the Kenyan Trials in Alfred Kirwa Yego, who has medalled at each of the last three global championships.

But Kirwa Yego knows how to run well at the global championships. It's a totally different ballgame and he knows it. We loved his quote he gave the Daily Nation after the Kenyan Trials.

"At the World Championships, it is more about controlling the pace and not running fast. That is the secret. Now that I'm in the team, it is important to focus on the championships. I'm in good shape to win gold. I have unfinished business at the World Championships. I must get back my medal and this is the year."

He's certainly not viewing anyone as automatically golden.

The good news for American fans is two of the three medallists from 2009 aren't looking very good. We're not sure what has been going on with defending 2009 world champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi of South Africa, but he's certainly not striking fear in the eyes of the Americans. He's gotten slower in each of his last four races. He opened up with a credible 1:45.50 runner-up in Rome on May 26th before getting 5th in Poland on June 3rd in 1:46.59 before running 1:46.68 in New York (admittedly in awful conditions) before running 1:48.84 for 8th in Lausanne on June 30th. Keleberson Davide Belem's 1:44.28 was a total outlier (the entire field set pbs or sbs so we honestly think something very well could have been off with the timing) and he won't medal at world's - if he does we'll pay someone $500.

2009 world 1,500 champion and 800 bronze medallist Youssef Saad Kamel only ran 1:46.86 last year and last week he opened up his 2011 campaign at the World military champs and only ran 1:46.89 for 5th.

One guy not in the top 10 who has been running well is 2010 European champion Marcin Lewandowski of Poland.

Bottom Line: Symmonds and KD both have legitimate shots at medalling. But they've got to make the final first. We'd put it at a combined less than 50%. One thing to note, we think Symmonds' come-from-behind strategy works best in rabbitted races. We think Kaki and Rudisha will want to get out fast, as that's what they always do, but that's not the same thing as a rabbitted race.

Men's 10,000: Rupp Could Do Something We Thought We Might Not Happen In The Next 50 Years

2011 World Leaders
1 26:46.57 AR Mo Farah GBR
2 26:48.35 Imane Merga ETH
3 26:48.99 Josphat Bett KEN
4 26:50.63 Paul Tanui KEN

5 26:51.09 Zersenay Tadese ERI
6 26:52.84 Sileshi Sihine ETH
7 26:54.25 Mathew Kisorio KEN
8 26:54.64 Mark Kiptoo KEN
9 26:55.29 Leonard Patrick Komon KEN
10. 27:06.35 Geoffrey Kipsang KEN
11 27:09.02 Ibrahim Jeylan ETH
12 27:10.05 Moses Masai KEN
13 27:12.24 Lucas Rotich KEN
14 27:13.67 Bidan Karoki KEN
15 27:22.09 John Cheruiyot KEN

16 27:22.54 Abera Kuma ETH
17 27:23.85 Martin Mathathi KEN
18 27:23.99 John Thuo KEN
19 27:24.67 Bobby Curtis USA
20 27:24.95 AR Ben St. Lawrence AUS
21 27:27.36 Chris Thompson GBR 1
22 27:28.19 Tim Nelson USA
23 27:28.22 Matt Tegenkamp USA
27:28.64 Stephen Sambu KEN
51 27:51.78 Scott Bauhs
152 28:38.17 Galen Rupp

2009 World Championship Results

1 402 Kenenisa Bekele 26:46.31 (CR)
2 347 Zersenay Tadese 26:50.12 (SB)
3 735 Moses Ndiema Masai 26:57.39 (SB)
4 415 Imane Merga 27:15.94 (PB)
5 730 Bernard Kiprop Kipyego 27:18.47 (SB)
6 1221 Dathan Ritzenhein 27:22.28 (PB)
7 734 Micah Kipkemboi Kogo 27:26.33 (SB)
8 1227 Galen Rupp 27:37.99 (SB)
9 346 Kidane Tadasse 27:41.50 (SB)
10 407 Gebre-egziabher Gebremariam 27:44.04 (SB)
11 950 Ahmad Hassan Abdullah 27:45.03 (SB)
12 344 Teklemariam Medhin 27:58.89 (SB)
13 1092 Fabiano Joseph Naasi 28:04.32 (SB)
14 825 Juan Carlos Romero 28:09.78 (SB)
15 358 Carles Castillejo 28:09.89
16 1091 Dickson Marwa Mkami 28:18.00 (SB)
17 1211 Tim Nelson 28:18.04
18 820 Juan Luis Barrios 28:31.40
19 611 Surendra Kumar Singh 28:35.51 (SB)
20 1013 Anatoliy Rybakov 28:42.28
21 1093 Ezekiel Jafari 28:45.34
22 1137 Martin Toroitich 28:49.49 (SB)
23 941 Rui Pedro Silva 28:51.40
24 143 David McNeill 29:18.59 (SB)
25 690 Yuki Iwai 29:24.12
132 Collis Birmingham DNF
368 Ayad Lamdassem DNF
380 Manuel Ángel Penas DNF
404 Abebe Dinkesa DNF
956 Nicholas Kemboi DNF
618 Martin Fagan DNS

The fact that we are even considering Galen Rupp for a medal is very significant, as we here at LetsRun.com a few years ago were thinking of writing a politically incorrect article stating, "A white guy will not win a 10,000 World Championships medal in the next fifty years." We thought that because in a day and age where the world record is 26:17 and people can run marathons in 2:03, being in 27:20 shape never was going to cut it.

So Rupp and the top Americans have come a long way and deserve a ton of credit. That being said, medal chances have gotten easier in recent years as more guys are abandoning the event for the much more lucrative marathon (and half marathon) circuit.

It used to be that guys ran track forever and then reluctantly ran the marathon. Now runners, particularly the ones from Africa, are going straight to the half marathon and marathon, as that's where the money is. Unless you're one of the top 5 guys in the world at 10,000, the mindset appears to be "why bother?" And we somewhat understand it. Take last year, for example. There were zero major European 10,000s to run. If your specialty is long distance and you want to make money, you'd have better been a Westerner or running the roads.

This certainly was the story that came out of the 10,000 meters at the Kenyan Champs held two weeks ago.

Take a look at 10,000 meter runner-up Wilson Kiprop and how his career path has gone. His track experience is limited, as shown by his 13:30.13/27:26 PRs. Last year, he debuted in the marathon at 2:09:09 for 5th in Prague before coming back to the track, where he won the Kenyan Trials and African Champs at 10,000 before running 59:39 for the half marathon and winning the World Half title.

Clearly, this guy is a legit talent. The good news for track fans is that he is coming to back to the track in a global championship year. It's great to see that some of the real studs are still showing up at the track, as we were honestly wondering if the 10,000 might ultimately be so watered down in five or so years that a medal wasn't as significant as it should be.

The career path of the winner of the Kenyan Trials, 23-year-old Peter Kirui, is similar. Last year, he ran 13 races and only two of them were track races (both at altitude in Kenya) according to tilastopaja.org. US fans may recognize the name, as many of those races were in the US and he was very busy on the US road circuit. Last year, he was 2nd at Peachtree, Boilermaker and Bay To Breakers, first at Lilac Bloomsday and 7th at Falmouth.

This year, he he's run no US races and done three half marathons in Europe and has lowered his PR to 59:40. But other than winning the Kenyan Trials, he has no track record of being able to prove when it matters most, so his winning the Kenyan Trials should make Rupp fans happy.

The third member of the Kenyan team is Martin Mathathi. He actually is a track-based runner, but that's only because he can afford to be - being a member of a Japanese corporate team. While his PR is slower than that of the American record (26:59.88 is his best), he did earn bronze in 2007 at Worlds in the 10,000.

But if you are a Rupp fan, none of those guys make you quake, as they aren't 100% proven as unbeatable track 10,000 men. The even better news is we have no idea what's up with the top Ethiopians.

2011 World XC champ Imane Merga has looked beatable on the European circuit this summer. 5-Time Olympic or World Championships track medallist Sileshi Sihine hasn't been seen from since finishing a disappointing sixth at the Pre Classic 10,000.

So with the Kenyans and Ethiopians with a number of question marks, why won't Rupp medal, you ask? Well, for starters he has never beaten his training partner Mo Farah at any distance in his life. So that's one medal gone (unless you are a conspiracy theorist and think Farah will only run the 10,000 since he and Rupp are both coached by Alberto Salazar). Then there was a development that happened last week which probably few noticed. Eritrea's Zersenay Tadese showed up for the first time since finishing 5th in the Pre 10,000 and won the 5,000 in dominant fashion in Barcelona in 12:59.32. Second place was way back in 13:04.65.

Tadese is a 5-time world champion off the track (4 times at 20k/half marathon, once in XC) and was the 2009 10,000m silver medallist on the track behind the seemingly unbeatable Kenenisa Bekele. That 12:59.32 is basically his PR (it's actually 12:59.27), so that means he's in good form and he vaults to being the favorite in our minds. That's two guys it would be hard to see Rupp beating.

If Kenenisa Bekele does run as he says he is, we can't imagine him not medalling. Yes, we know he basically hasn't raced in two years, but why would he run unless he felt he was in good form? The guy has never lost a track 10,000 in his life, so why would we expect him not to at the very least medal?

But if Bekele's not there, then Rupp could medal if he somehow beats all three Kenyans (assuming Farah and Tadese beat him). But the nice thing about the 10,000 is it's not very deep at the top level. Look at the results from two years ago. Dathan Ritzenhein ended up 25 seconds away from medalling but only 3 places. One or two major injuries or blowups and suddenly your odds of medalling are way better. If Farah, Tadese or a Kenyan or Ethiopian isn't going to medal, then an American is kind of going to half to - either that or maybe a former Kenyan or Ethiopian running for Bahrain, like the Asian champ and Asian runner-up in Hasan Mahboob Ali and Bilisuma Shume. But their PRs are over 27:20, so they really shouldn't be viewed as big-tine medal threats.

Bottom line: Rupp only needs a tiny bit of help to have a real shot at medalling. Look at the 2009 results and imagine that Bekele didn't run. Under the scenario then, Ritz would only have been 6.34 seconds away from medalling. We believe that Rupp in 2011 is better than Ritz was in 2009 at 10,000 so it's certainly doable, particularly if he's smart and runs for third and snipes a guy that is dying after going for the win.

Rupp picked off Merga in the 5,000 Birmingham? Can he pick off a bronze somehow like Flanagan did in 2008 in the women's 10,000?

Men's 1,500: Not Good But Not Totally Inconceivable (But It Would Be A Big Surprise)
If Willis were an American, we'd like our chances more.

2011 World Leaders
1 3:30.47 Silas Kiplagat KEN
2 3:31.42 Nixon Chepseba KEN
3 3:31.76 Asbel Kiprop KEN
4 3:31.76 NR Abubaker Kaki SUD
5 3:31.79 NR Nick Willis NZL
6 3:31.82 NR Mohamed Othman Shahween
7 3:31.86 Haron Keitany KEN
8 3:31.90 Mekonnen Gebremedhin ETH
9 3:31.92 Amine Laâlou MAR
10 Jun 10 3:32.02 Caleb Ndiku KEN
11 3:32.45 Collins Cheboi KEN
12 3:32.47A Daniel Kipchirchir Komen KEN
13 3:32.90 Deresse Mekonnen ETH
24 3:33.66 Leonel Manzano USA
30 3:34.39 Andrew Wheating USA
32 3:34.46 Matthew Centrowitz USA

2009 World Championship Results

1 Youssef Saad Kamel BRN 29.3.81 3:35.93
2 Deresse Mekonnen ETH 20.10.87 3:36.01
3 Bernard Lagat USA 12.12.74 3:36.20
4 Asbel Kiprop KEN 30.6.89 3:36.47
5 Augustine Choge KEN 21.1.87 3:36.53
6 Mohamed Moustaoui MAR 2.4.85 3:36.57
7 Mehdi Baala FRA 17.8.78 3:36.99
8 Lopez Lomong USA 1.1.85 3:37.62
9 Bilal Mansour Ali BRN 17.10.83 3:37.72
10 Amine Laâlou MAR 13.5.82 3:37.83
11 Abdelaati Iguider MAR 25.3.87 3:38.35
12 Leonel Manzano USA 12.9.84 3:40.05

If Wheating was in the form he was in last year, we'd be somewhat excited about the US chances. As it stands now, the US guys face an uphill battle. Why? Well, check out our stat of the week.

Stat Of The Week:
Did you know that the top two Americans on the US list for 2011 aren't running the World Championships? Most people know that Bernard Lagat (3:33:11) is just running the 5,000, but most people probably don't realize that Lopez Lomong ran 3:33.59 last week to get 4th in Barcelona.

If they show up and run like they are capable, no one is likely to beat Silas Kiplagat or Asbel Kiprop. But Kiprop has been a bit all over the map this year and has been known to run tactially awful races - like he did in the 2009 final - as well as give up a bit when he's beaten. If Kenya goes with its pledge to go with the third placer at the Kenyan Trials in Daniel Kipchirir Komen instead of Nixon Chepseba, whom they initially said was on the team but then said last week isn't running, then US fans should be happy. Komen has a long history of doing nothing at outdoor Worlds, as he failed to even make the final in 2005 and 2007. Meanwhile, the 20-year-old Chepseba has been having a fantastic 2011, as he won in Shanghai and Doha and was 2nd in Monaco last week. His only sub-par outings were a 6th in the Dream Mile in and a 5th at the Kenyan Trials.

If Chepseba was on the team, the Kenyans could possibly sweep the medals.

Of course, 2009 World Championships silver medallist Deresse Mekonnen can't be discounted. The results show he was just 6th in Monaco last week, but those results are misleading for two reasons.

1) He was the only one that tried to go with Kiplagat when he threw down with 300 remaining.

2) It was just his 2nd outdoor race of 2011 and he still ran 3:32.90. The guy has won two world indoor titles (2008 and 2010) and was the silver medallist at the last outdoor championship. History says expect him on the podium in Daegu.

On paper, the Americans' chances aren't real good for a medal. If we expand our coverage and look at Americna based athletes, we loved the way American-based Nick Willis looked in Rome. The Olympic silver medallist was mowing everyone down in the last 150 and ran a PR of 3:31.79. At Worlds, he very well could run down anyone that has dreams of gold and nip them for say a bronze at the tape.

While Willis' seasonal best is better than Americans any observer of Championship racing knows that medals aren't decided by prs. Leo Manzano was fabulous in 2010, nearly beating Kiprop twice, and is coming into form at the right time in 2011. He ran a huge season's best 3:33.66 for 6th in Paris and was less than half a second behind Willis. He could easily be a factor by Daegu. Wheating does have a faster pr and better 800m speed than both Willis and Manzano, but does not appear to be in 2010 form (he pulled out of Monaco as a precautionary measure).

Bottom Line: No one should be able to beat the two Kenyans (or all three if the third is Chepseba) and Mekonnen, but we can't wait to watch Willis and the three Americans try to do it. As for Kenya's third spot, they really should make Chepseba and Komen have a race-off in Europe.

More: Athletics Kenya Reverses Course And Drops Nixon Chepseba From Worlds Team In Favor Of Dan Komen AK wants you to believe Chepseba's original inclusion was because of a "typing error."

Men's Steeple: Zero Chance
The steeple isn't a tactical race where crazy things normally happen. Even if one of the Americans was in AR shape of 8:08.82 (and they aren't way off that record - maybe it could fall), they still aren't going to medal. Making the US effort all the harder is the fact that Kenya, with the defending champion in Kemboi, gets 4 entrants in this event. If Kenya got 4 in all events, it would be way harder for Americans to medal. As it stands, they get four in their best event.

Bottom Line: Half the final would need to wipe out for the US guys to medal.

2011 World Leaders
1 7:53.64 AR Brimin Kipruto KEN
2 7:55.76 Ezekiel Kemboi KEN
3 7:57.32 Paul Kipsiele Koech KEN
4 8:02.09 Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad FRA
5 8:05.72 Bouabdellah Tahri FRA
6 8:07.41 Richard Matelong KEN
7 8:07.71 Hillary Yego KEN
8 8:07.75 Jonathan Ndiku KEN
9 8:08.43 Benjamin Kiplagat UGA
10 8:08.59 Patrick Langat KEN
11 8:10.03 Roba Gari ETH
12 8:11.31 Jairus Kipchoge KEN
13 8:12.17 Silas Kitum KEN
21 8:17.27 Bill Nelson USA
27 8:19.10 Ben Bruce USA
50 8:25.95 Dan Huling USA

2009 World Championship Results

1 724 Ezekiel Kemboi 8:00.43 (CR)
2 736 Richard Kipkemboi Mateelong 8:00.89 (PB)
3 479 Bouabdellah Tahri 8:01.18 (AR)
4 733 Paul Kipsiele Koech 8:01.26 (SB)
5 409 Yacob Jarso 8:12.13 (PB)
6 406 Roba Gary 8:12.40
7 728 Brimin Kiprop Kipruto 8:12.61
8 425 Jukka Keskisalo 8:14.47
9 370 Eliseo Martín 8:16.51 (SB)
10 236 Tareq Mubarak Taher 8:17.08
11 1131 Benjamin Kiplagat 8:17.82
12 955 Abubaker Ali Kamal 8:19.72
13 973 Ruben Ramolefi 8:32.54
14 1081 Mustafa Mohamed 8:35.77
803 Jamel Chatbi DQ

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4 Quotes Of The Week That Weren't Quote Of The Day

#1 Alberto Salazar Talking About How Technology Comes On Top Of Old-School Training

"It's like in war. The soldier has to learn how to fight and do everything - be physically fit, be a one-man army. But then you try and equip him with every bit of top science - everything you can - to keep him alive. That's what we do. We use science, every bit that we can, on top of old-school training. We are going to train as hard as anybody else, and then we're going to train more by adding things that don't get us injured. And we're going to train smarter than anybody else."

- Alberto Salazar talking to The Independent about technology has helped Mo Farah the best distance runner on the planet. A lot of the critics of Salazar's technology fetish don't seem to get that it doesn't come in place of old-school training. Salazar wants people to realize it's not technology or old-school training but rather technology on top of old-school training that makes athletes their best.More: UK Independent Takes A Look At Alberto Salazar And Mo Farah

#2 A "British" Athlete Praising The 4th Of July And Becoming The Perfect Example As To Why Athletes Shouldn't So Easily Be Allowed To Change Their Allegiance

"It's the 4th of July!!!!!! Wishing I was in the States to celebrate this special day! I'm definitely there in spirit though."

- British 100m hurdles record holder Tiffany Ofili-Porter, who was born and raised in Michigan but switched her Olympic allegiance to Britain, tweeting on July 4, 2011. The tweet created some outrage in Britain, as the former British hurdle record holder Angie Thorp, who lost her 15-year-old record to Ofili-Porter earlier this year, responded disdainfully to The Telegraph as follows:

"Growing up, my dream was to run for Great Britain, Ofili-Porter's dream would have been to run for America. But she wasn't quite good enough, so she came over here and took somebody's place instead. And it upsets me, because we encouraged her."

We've got to admit that we agree with Thorp on this one. Last week, Ofili-Porter lowered her own British record from 12.77 to 12.60 in Monaco (Thorp's record was 12.80). Somewhat ironically, she beat America's 2nd and third place finishers from 2011 USAs.

#3 Florida Football Coach Will Muschamp On Message Board Rumors That Sprinter Jeff Demps Will Go Pro In Track And Not Play Football This Year

"I don't deal in rumors and I don't deal in message boards, I don't know any good coach who does. I deal with people eyeball to eyeball, and I ain't ever been to Italy."

Quote comes from fl.milesplit.com article.

#4 Matt Fitzgerald Wondering If Haile G. Ran 2:03:59 At Age 40-Plus

History's first sub-2:04 marathon (by Haile Gebrselassie) is a great accomplishment in itself. But if it was truly run by a Masters athlete, when the recognized Masters world record is 2:08:46, then Gebrselassie's performance undoubtedly stands as the single greatest running feat of all time - a performance that destroys our existing beliefs about the effects of age on running capacity. And Haile deserves credit for that. Ironically, however, he doesn't want it."

- Excerpt from Fitzgerald's piece speculating Haile G may be well over 40.

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Weekly Free Coaching Advice

This week, we go the UK to get three pieces of free coaching advice.

1) If You Are A Parent, Consider Backing Way, Way Off From Pushing Your Child Into Running

"Eilish ran 2:12 for 800 metres when she was 12. Any other coach would have thought: 'let's push her.' You'd send her off to the AAAs. I made a conscious decision that, no matter how she did at the age groups, if she's not still running when she's 20, it's not worth my time. So I actually backed off."

-1991 world 10,000 champioin Liz McColgan talking about her daughter Eilish, who after some time away from running has run 4:14 this year for 1,500 at age 20 - all under the guidance of mom. More: *Interview: Liz McColgan, athletics coach and former athlete

2) Think Twice Before Becoming Buddy-Buddy With Your Athletes

"I don't have a buddy-buddy relationship with athletes. With almost all athletes and staff members I have a businesslike relationship.

It is not a friendship or anything. As a young coach I used to make that mistake. I was quite close to a couple of athletes

* and it was not as effective as I was at a later age.

You are not objective any more and you find it incredibly difficult to make changes. If you keep a distance you probably see things clearer. Call it clinical, that is a good word. I have a clinical relationship with the people I work with and a warmer relationship with my friends."

- UK coach Charles van Commenee warned coaches in a Daily Mail article (which is no longer available online) about getting too close to their athletes. Van Commenee's advice is probably right on the money, but it certainly takes the fun out of coaching.

3) Remember Athletes Are Like Cats - They Tend To Land With Feet Beneath Them No Matter What's Going On Around Them

"Elite athletes have the ability to focus on their own business no matter what noise or people are around and also what relationship they have with their fiancee, their parents or their head coach. They are focused on jumping far and the rest is not relevant."

- UK coach Chalres van Commenee talking in the same Daily Mail article (which is no longer available online) about how he wasn't worried that his much publicized spat with triple jumper Phillips Idowu will hurt Idowu's performance.

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Overlooked Performance(s) Of The Week - Menjo Wins Gold

Above, we already mentioned some performances by Lopez Lomong and Zerseney Tadese that few seemed to notice. Another showing worth mentioning was the fact that 2008 Olympic 10,000 and 2011 World Cross-Country bronze medallist Shalane Flanagan came pretty close to her best at 1,500. She ran 4:06.63 in Monaco when her PR is 4:05.86.

But the most overlooked performance was one we ourselves totally missed. Our beloved hero from 2010, Josphat Menjo, the guy who solo'd 12:55, 3:53 and 26:56 in the span of 11 days last summer, won gold in the 10,000 at the World Military Games. More: *World Military Games Recap

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Looking Ahead (Time To Start Getting Excited For ...)

July 29: Stockholm Diamond League
July 29-31: UK Trials
August 5-6: London Diamond League
August 27- September 4:
2011 World Championships

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Recommended Reads

*LRC LRC Goes To Kenya - Post #4: A Thurday Fartlek Run
*LRC LRC Goes To Kenya - Post #3: A Workout With World Championships Silver Medallist Sylvia Kibet
*LRC LRC Goes To Kenya - Post #2: Tuesday Track Workout In Iten + Sally Kipyego And Jake Robertson Unplugged
*LRC Post #1: Sammy Wanjiru Was Not Murdered
*LRC Fartlek Photos + Photos Of Lornah's Training Camp *LRC Sylvia Kibet Photos

*Ross Tucker - Our Friend From The Science Of Sport Blog - Summarizes The Belief That Oscar P Has Huge Advantages

*WSJ: Former Marathon WR Holder And 4-Time Chicago Winner Khalid Khannouchi Trying To Make One More Comeback To Competitive Running

*Top 10 Olympic Disasters Read about the guy that won the Olympic marathon title after riding in a car for 11 miles or the woman who was discovered to be inter-sexed when she was shot on the street 20 years later.

*Taskmaster Charles Van Commenee Says It's Not His Job To Be Friends With Top British AthletesWay too many coaches are buddy buddy with their athletes.

****
Quotes Of The Day From The Last Two Weeks

Monday: "(Oscar Pistorious is) inspirational and he should get enormous credit for that.

- Ross Tucker, one of The Science of Sport blog's founders, talking in a South African Press Association article where he summarizes how it's basically universally accepted in the scientific community that Oscar P gets a huge advantage from his artificial legs.


Sunday: "I still have that mentality, that discipline. The people around me still see that hunger in me."

- Moroccan-born US runner and former marathon WR holder, Khalid Khannouchi, talking about how after numerous injuries and surgeries, at 40 years old he is trying to make one last comeback to competitive running. He has fought tooth and nail to get healthy because he truly loves running and says he is depressed without it. He is going about his training cautiously though as he says, "I won't jeopardize anything. I won't do anything that will stop me from running forever. I won't take that risk."


Saturday: "I wanted to give him a friendly pat on the head but he took it badly."
and
"I'm going to break you in two."

- French 1,500m runner Mehdi Baala talking about the fisticuffs that broke out between him and Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad after the men's 1,500m in Monaco. LetsRun.com recap of all the incredible Monaco action with video of the brawl here.


Friday: "I'm a long way off 9.58 sec."
"I could get to 9.6 or 9.7, I'm working on it. I'm taking my time and every day it's coming together better. But 9.58 is not a joke. I'm not going to lie to myself and say that I'll get there. It's not going to happen this season. I didn't have enough time to get back in shape."

- Usain Bolt talking at the pre-Monaco Diamond League press conference about his goals for the rest of the season. He says he's focused on winning, not time. Friday's meet is going to be simply sensational. Read more about it in our Monaco Diamond League preview.


Thursday: "The future of fan-athlete interactions in a wired world - or one possible version of it - is being beta-tested in the simmering cauldron of a track and field discussion site called LetsRun.com, where, a few years ago, the legendary Kenyan distance runner Henry Rono started posting messages ...."

- Alex Hutchinson in a fabulous magazine piece "The Crowd Goes Wild" that was nominated for a National Magazine Award in Canada. The article analyzes athlete-fan interactions in the online world and in essence discusses all things LetsRun.com, including the nature of message boards, fandom, anonymity, civility, the pointlessness of athlete interviews, Craig Mottram's infamous interview, track fans with cameras and much, much more, including Alan Webb: "Propecia or Rogaine?" Hutchinson, a former Canadian national team member, clearly gets LetsRun.com and how the internet has changed the nature of hero worship. He also has a sweatscience blog which recently discussed whether it's smart to lead a 1,500m championship race early on. He has a new book out which has a lot on what scientists know about training in general and includes a lot on running.


Wednesday: "But with no evidence that softer surfaces prevent injuries, there is no reason to run on softer ground unless you like to, Dr. Warden and other experts said."

- Excerpt of a NY Times piece by Gina Kolata entitled "For Runners, Soft Ground Can Be Hard on the Body." The article is poorly-titled, as its main point is that there are no studies proving that soft surfaces reduce injuries. Well, there certainly are no studies showing it increases injuries as the title implies. Plus, we rely on something called COMMON SENSE. Yes, ankle sprains may go up on soft surfaces, so low mileage people probably should just run on roads, as they are unlikely to get stress fractures. But trust us, for high mileage runners, it's way, way easier to do it on soft surfaces. More: MB: For Runners, Soft Ground Can Be Hard on the Body (Gina Kolata in the Times)


Tuesday: "Even sprinters don't understand what they do (or how they do it). In an era in which science is able to explain and predict almost everything, it's amazing how little we know about the potential of rudimentary movement. Sprinting has represented half of the "fight or flight" instinct for the totality of human existence, yet we still have no idea of our true limitations … which explains why track and field will always matter, even if no one in America seems to care."

- Ato Boldon in an article examining sprinter mentality and what's the absolute fastest a human could possibly ever run for the 100m (even accounting for doping). They ask the question have we already hit that potential with Usain Bolt, and if not are we very, very close?


Monday: "Many aspire to wear the national jersey, but just a few get to live that dream. Therefore, those picked for either the World Championship or the All Africa Games must view the their selection as a chance to conquer the rest of the world."

"Athletics Kenya must also put into place everything required so that the selected athletes do not take their focus off training to chase personal interests."

"... For those who didn't make the team, this is a reminder that their level of competence was below par, and they must immerse themselves in training and do enough to silence their critics."

- Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation's advice/instructions to those athletes who competed in this weekend's Kenyan Trials: "If you qualified for the World Championships, great, but you're going there to win medals for Kenya, so don't celebrate yet and miss training for 'personal interests.' For those who didn't make the team full of the best distance runners in the world, you're terrible, go train more." And people ask why Kenya has the best distance runners in the world.


Sunday: "At the bell, I told myself, I'm not missing this team, I'm going to run so hard even if it means taking me to hospital after ..."

- OTC's Sally Kipyego, who finished 2nd in the 10k at the Kenya Trials to qualify for the World Championships. She ran 31:57.8, finishing just behind 5k World champ Vivian Cheruiyot (31:55.8). Making a Kenyan national team has been a long-term process for her as she "missed selection to the Beijing Olympics, Berlin Worlds and last year's Africa Championships and Commonwealth Games." See a post-race interview with her here and our pre-race interview here. *MB: Sally Kipyego makes Kenyan team


Saturday: "You don't need to be around high achievers for very long to realise that it isn't talent alone which separates them from the rest of us; it is mostly obsession. They are obsessives. If it hadn't been running or jumping or throwing, it would have been something else - stamp collecting, train-spotting, serial-killing, et al."

"John Tarrant was an obsessive about running; an obsessive to the point of exclusion, of family, friends, colleagues; and the sort of mutual interaction that you and I might enjoy - a visit to the pub, a restaurant, the theatre, cinema, television, a concert, the ballet; whatever makes life more enjoyable, even more comprehensible."

- Pat Butcher in his blog talking about the "Ghost Runner," a book about a UK man, John Tarrant, who was denied his Olympic dream because he accepted Ł17 in prize money for boxing when he was younger. He still loved to run, so he ended up dominating races as a bandit. Read more about him on our past homepage here and a Recommended Read about him here.


Friday: "It's good to be back (in Kenya). It's exciting. I mean look at all these runners - it's crazy. I've never trained in Iten before."

"When I got here, I went for a run at 10 o'clock and I think there were more than a thousand runners on the road. It just blew my mind. It's exciting (and it's) an eye opener - even for me being a Kenyan. I looked at the street and said, 'Look at these people.'"

- The Oregon Track Club's Sally Kipyego talking to LetsRun from the dirt track at 8,000+ feet in Iten, Kenya, where she's gone for 4 weeks to hopefully acclimatize herself to running at altitude in hopes of making the 2011 Kenyan World Championships team this weekend at 10,000. The running scene in Iten is truly remarkable, as Kenyans from all over the country are training there - often in used shoes - with a dream of making it big. We try to give you a feel for what it's like at the standard Tuesday Track workout. In addition to Kipyego, we also caught up with Kiwi Jake Robertson in Iten.


Thursday: "As adults, most of us don't win or lose in our normal waking hours ...

We are all judged, but generally it is a matter of opinion rather than an incontrovertible truth. We forget the frustration of physically failing, of the unforgiving tick of the clock, and discovering that your rival is stronger, faster, fitter, better.

But this is what athletes do all the time. No one always wins ... Even Roger Federer loses at Wimbledon, one day Usain Bolt won't win the Olympic 100 metres."

- Excerpt from a great article by Tanya Aldred of The Telegraph on what it's like to be an athlete. The article focuses on British 1:46 athlete Gareth Warburton, whom Aldred says epitomises the never-say-die spirit of all athletes.


Wednesday: "I think the same happens with whites in swimming. Black people don't try because they think they can't be as good. It's the same with the white sprinters, they don't try because they feel intimidated. Lemaitre is very brave."

- Justin Gatlin talking about TGWH Christophe Lemaitre.


Tuesday: "American Morgan Uceny is currently the best women's 1,500-meter runner on the planet. Let us repeat that again: American Morgan Uceny is currently the best women's 1,500-meter runner on the planet."

- From our Birmingham recap, talking about Morgan Uceny's 2nd straight Diamond League 1,500m victory in 4:05.64. It's been a long, long time since that could be said about an American.

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Last Week's Homepages

*Mon (July 11) *Sun (July 10) *Sat (July 9) *Fri (July 8) *Thu (July 7) *Wed (July 6) *Tue (July 5)

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