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2001 IAAF World Championships In Athletics
Mid-Meet Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down Awards

Well the first four days of competition are over at the 2001 World Championships of Track and Field in Edmonton, and thus it's time to hand out someThumbs Up/Thumbs Down awards. If you don't believe in sportsmanship, we suggest you skip the following piece to avoid having to torture yourself.

Thumbs Down:
1) Pathetic Excuses - Suzy Favor Hamilton and Sandra/Khalid Khannouchi
Suzy and Khalid, the two Americans, probably deserve a pair of thumbs down for their actual performances as they went to Edmonton as rare American medal favorites in distance events and left with a pair of DNFs. However, since lately we've been ripped into by so many viewers who for some reason can't stand us to see us criticize the actual running of any runner who is faster than us (as if this matters), we won't even go there.

Instead, we'll rip them to shreds for their outrageous post-race comments. We honestly thought we'd seen it all but they came up with two of the most outrageous post-competition quotes in the history of professional sports - let alone track and field.

Sandra Khannouchi on husband Khalid's DNF in the marathon: "He doesn't know how to run slow. When he runs slow, he gets tired."

Your problem is that a distance race's pace is too easy? Give us a break. The last time we checked no one was stopping Khalid from going faster. If it's so easy, just run away with it.

We should have tried that one in college. "Mr. Professor, I'm sorry I failed your class but the final was so easy that I couldn't perform."

Thank God, Khalid actually was a little more honest in his post-race comments and took some blame. He said, "To win races like that, you have to be a tough man, and I just didn't do it today." Of course, he also said, "My legs just got to heavy because of the slow pace. Because of that, I got blisters on my toes."

Originally, we thought Sandra's post-race comments were the most ludicrous we'd ever heard after a race, but they were made to appear almost quite sane the next day when Suzy Favor Hamilton commented on her second straight DNF on the world or Olympic stage.

Suzy on being bumped with more than a lap to go in her 1500 semifinal and her decision to step of the track at the bell: "Once you break your rhythm like I did, it's hard to get back. So with a lap to go, I thought, 'There's no way I'll catch them. I've lost too much distance.' So instead of wearing myself out on another lap, I decided that I shouldn't finish this one and save myself for Zurich."

Everyone done throwing up yet? We can't actually believe anyone would say something like this - let alone someone with a college degree. Guess that shows why everyone feels like they have to go to graduate school these days.

Give us a break!!! Again, give us a break.

Now, Suzy, listen up as we are going to list a ton of reasons why your comments make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

A) YOU DON'T SAVE YOURSELF FOR ZURICH. These are the world championships - the biggest event in track and field save the Olympics.

B) Even if you were going to save yourself for Zurich, you're a 1500 meter runner and it's not too hard to recover from a 1500. It's not a freaking marathon.

You only had 400 left. Don't you ever do 400s in practice? Hell, we guess you'll run away with the title in Zurich since everyone else in your race in Zurich will be running in the 1500 meter final in Edmonton and will thus be too tired to compete in Zurich. You will have run one whole race and one whole lap less than them.

C) Who cares if you lost a little ground? It's just the semifinals of the 1500 - you don't have to win the race - just finish in the top 4 (or 8 or whatever) - and you move on and advance.

D) Again, who cares if you lost a little ground
. As we said in c) it's a 1500. You have 400 meters left. Last time we checked that's more than 25% of the entire race. It's not like you're getting bumped on the final turn of an 800. Go ahead and wear yourself out at least trying to see if you can get up there.

Sorry to rant but these Suzy's comments just defy all logic. We know it's tough for her to admit that she panicked and choked again, but if she can't say that, then just don't say anything at all.

Hopefully, she gets a new sports psychologist.

Thumbs Up:
1) Gezahegne Abera
The marathon is a tough event. You can train your ass off, be in the best shape of your life and still not produce. To win both the Olympics and World Champs in back to back years is definitely a feat worthy of our praise.

2) Japanese Marathon Squad - Unlike others in the Edmonton, they didn't just come to show up and see if they could win before deciding if they'd drop out. All 5 of Japanese finished and they did quite well as usual coming in 5th, 8th, 9th, 12th and 26th. Their 12th place performer in national record holder Atsushi Fujita was said not to be in good shape coming in according to the IAAF preview. Maybe not good enough shape to go for the win but he still did pretty well and took honor in representing his country. Japanese simply don't drop out of the worlds.

They Ethiopians did pretty well as well with the #1, 4, 7 and 10 finishers in the marathon but they did have one guy drop out.

3) Maurice Greene - For His Huge 100 Meter Win and For His Post-Race Comments Which Restored Some Pride To The Competition After Mrs. Hamilton's Ridiculous Remarks

Maurice Greene won his 4th straight world or Olympic 100 meter title on Sunday and put in a strong claim on the title of "Greatest 100 Meter Runner In History" (Carl Lewis is the only one who could even think about claiming this title for himself).
More impressive than the win in the blazing fast time of 9.82 (#3 all-time) was the way Greene did it - overcoming visible pain in the final 20 meters. Good thing he didn't listen to Suzy Favor Hamilton and decide to save himself for Zurich.

Greene's post-race comments said it all: "No one is going to give you a gold medal. You have to come out and fight for it, and be actually willing to die for it.... I would have killed myself to finish that race."

Maybe that's why UCLA head track and field coach Art Venegas, who sees Maurice Greene working out daily with his assistant coach John Smith, once said, "Maurice Greene has more will to win than any athlete I have ever seen."


4) Ingo Schulz - 400 Meter Silver Medalist
Who? You ask. Don't feel bad, the gold medalist in the men's 400 Avar Moncur (who also deserves a thumbs up for keeping his 2001 unbeaten streak alive - he won NCAAs as well) had never heard of him either before Sunday.

The unheard of German is deserving of a huge thumbs up just simply because story is so strange it's almost too good to be true - perhaps we should say it's Forrest Gump-like since every jackass on the planet like to scream at us on our training runs, "Run Forrest , Run!". Schulz, who is currently working on his PHD in electrical engineering, only got into athletics because all officers in the German army must work out twice a week.

His first competition came in 1997 when her ran the marathon - yes the marathon in 3:37. He switched to the 400 meters in 1998 and the rest is history. A half-second p.r. and a silver medal. Quite a day. (Read more about his amazing progression in athletics here)

5) Marion Jones (The new role model for Sandra Khannouchi and Suzy Favor Hamilton)
Despite what a lot of fools on the message boards seem to think, winning isn't everything. Marion Jones, who hadn't lost a 100 meter race in nearly four years, lost two of them on Monday and ended up with a shocking Silver medal. However, she reacted like a true champion of the human spirit even if she wasn't a champion on the track. First, she graciously acknowledged the crowd.

Then, instead of making up pathetic excuses like Mrs. Hamilton and Mrs. Khannouchi, Marion didn't make any excuses. Her post-race comments were rather straightforward, "Of course, I'm a bit disappointed, but I'm not a sore loser. I give all the credit to Zhanna (the gold medalist). She was the better sprinter today."

Imagine that. A true champion. Someone who admits that sometimes in track and field, you just lose to someone having a better day. No shame in that.

6) Haile G - (Just for showing up)
Hey it's our site and thus we can give people a thumbs up for any reason we like. Considering Haile G has been our idol forever (hint - if you ever want to get our financial records try variations of his name for our passwords) we'll give him one just for showing up in Edmonton prior to his first race since last year's Olympics. We guess didn't get the message from Suzy Favor Hamilton that he should save himself for more lucrative meets later in the season like Brussels where there will be a super-fast 10k.

It's great to realize that's he's in Edmonton going for his 5th straight 10k title (if only he'd doubled in Atlanta and we'd both name our first born Haile). The only distance runner whose press conferences resemble a rock stars is evidently is supreme shape. His manager, Jos Hermans, is much more confident of victory in Edmonton for Haile than he was at the Olympics last year, "(Before the Olympics) he hadn't trained in spikes for three months, said Hermans. "He will be beaten here over his dead body."

Moreoever our secret Texas source (a friend of our coach who is good friends with Haile - how's that for a connection?) says the other Ethiopians can't touch Haile in practice.

Go Haile!

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