All Eyes on Dibaba as World Indoor Tour Resumes in Torun

All Eyes on Dibaba as World Indoor Tour Resumes in Torun

I’m in Torun, Poland, to cover Friday’s evening’s Copernicus Cup IAAF World Indoor Tour track meet for the IAAF, the sport’s international governing body. Here’s my general preview which focuses on the appearance of Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba who broke the world record over 2000m last night in Sabadell, Spain.

Arriving on the heels of the world 2000m record she set on Tuesday, Genzebe Dibaba will command the spotlight when the IAAF World Indoor Tour resumes with the Copernicus Cup meeting in the northern Polish city of Torun on Friday (10).

This city of 200,000 is best known as the birthplace of astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, whose model of the universe revolutionized the way we look at the stars by placing the sun at its center.

This Friday the city’s centre of attention – and that of the athletics world – will fall on the Torun Arena for the third edition of the meeting honoring its famed Renaissance mathematician where Dibaba will make her second of three scheduled appearances this winter.

On Tuesday night, the world 1500m champion clocked 5:23.75 over 2000m in Sabadell, Spain, the fastest time ever run over the distance, indoors or out. Her performance eclipsed both Gabriella Szabo’s 5:30.53 indoor best set in 1998 and Sonia O’Sullivan’s outdoor world record of 5:26.88 set in 1994, giving Dibaba an early present on the eve of her 26th birthday. It also illustrated that the Ethiopian is clearly in strong form leading up to her only indoor 1500m appearance of the indoor season.

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Wayde van Niekerk – Four Questions and Seven Shots From the IAAF World Athletics Awards Weekend

Wayde van Niekerk meeting with the press in Monaco, December 2016

Wayde van Niekerk meeting with the press in Monaco, December 2016

Wayde van Niekerk, the Olympic 400m champion and world record holder, was one of 16 athletes who met with the press in the lead-in to last Friday’s IAAF World Athletics Awards 2016. Seven images snapped during the semi-formal get-togethers that took place at the Fairmont Hotel in Monaco follow below.

The 24-year-old South African followed up on his solid 2015 season in which he won the world title with a campaign that saw him unbeaten in 11 finals over three events, capped by his 43.03 world record in the Rio final which took down the record Michael Johnson held for 17 years.

Four Q’s and Four A’s

What was his key highlight from the 2016 season?

Wayde van Niekerk: There was no one highlight – everything about this season and Rio has been a blessing. It’s given me so much motivation and confidence to go out and try to achieve more.

Does he still hate the 400m?

Yeah, with everything. (Laughs). I am really not a fan of the 400 meters. But it brought me to where I am so I can’t complain.

After his success with the 400, will he continue with the shorter sprints?

Yeah for sure. I’m really looking forward to working on my 100m and 200 meters. I always say that my first love in the sport was the short sprints. That’s why I do track and field. The 400 meters has brought me this far, so I don’s see a reason to go out there and neglect it. I feel that I should still put in a lot of effort in the 400 but at the same time I’ve got such a massive hunger inside me to improve my 100 and 200 as well.

After running 9.98, 19.94 and 43.03 in 2016, can he consider himself the best all around sprinter ever?

I wouldn’t say, ‘No, thank you.’ (Laughs). But at the same time it’s opened up a door of confidence in myself mentally to want to go out there and improve in each and every one of them. I’m definitely working quite hard towards that. And I’m feeling quite confident.

Five Snaps (and a Bonus!)

 

Wayde van Niekerk in Monaco, December 2016

Wayde van Niekerk in Monaco, December 2016

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Bolt and Ayana: Familiar Faces, Phenomenal Deeds – 2016 World Athletes of the Year

Bolt and Ayana: Familiar Faces, Phenomenal Deeds – 2016 World Athletes of the Year

Olympic champions Usain Bolt and Almaz Ayana were named the IAAF World Athletes of the Year at the IAAF Athletics Awards 2016 at a ceremony in Monaco last night. Here’s my summary of their 2016 seasons for the IAAF.

While their names have long been familiar to athletics fans, the roads that Usain Bolt and Almaz Ayana paved and travelled on the way to their 2016 World Athlete of the Year awards provided yet another inspiring example on how to reach the pinnacle of the sport, adding even more superlatives to their already extraordinary athletic resumes.

Bolt, for nearly a decade one of the sporting world’s most recognizable stars, received the award for a record sixth time after overcoming a mid-season injury scare to win a third successive Olympic triple, while Ayana, who redefined the limits of endurance when taking the Olympic 10,000m title, won her first.

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David Rudisha – Portraits from the IAAF Awards Weekend 2016

David Rudisha Monaco 1 Dec 2016

I’m in Monaco this weekend to cover the IAAF World Athletics Awards 2016, the season-capping event organized by track and field’s international governing body to recognize the past year’s best athletes and their achievements.

Two-time Olympic 800m champion and world record holder David Rudisha is one of 16 athletes who has or will meet with the press in the lead-in to Friday’s ceremony. Seven images snapped during the semi-formal get-togethers that took place at the Fairmont Hotel in Monaco follow below.

Also below are a few outtakes from his Q&A session today and a handful of images snapped during his meet and greet at the Fairmont.

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On whether any doubts lingered in his mind about successfully defending his Olympic title after suffering two stinging early season defeats:

David Rudisha: It’s always tough when you get beaten. Although those races – the IAAF World Challenge, the Diamond League – they’re different than championship races and championships running. Championships create a lot of pressure. It’s very hectic. You need a lot of mental strength. That’s I think a reason why some of the very good athletes don’t get through to a final.

So since I’m strong and experienced, and I know how to handle the pressure, the rounds, the heats, just running in control to secure a place in the final.

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Looking Back: Images From the 2012 World Half Marathon Championships – Men’s Race

 

Zersenay Tadese - 2012 World Half Marathon Championships - Kavarna

Zersenay Tadese – 2012 World Half Marathon Championships – Kavarna

Four years ago today I covered the 2012 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in the Black Sea coastal town of Kavarna, Bulgaria. Zersenay Tadese, above, won the title for the fifth time, living up to his monikor of ‘Mr. Half Marathon’.

I recall three things about Kavarna, a town of about 15,000: its use of heavy metal murals as urban beautification project, that it is home to the world’s only memorial to heavy metal rocker Ronnie James Dio, and the stifling early October conditions the runners had to face. That morning the temperatures hovered near 30 C (86 F) under the burning sun that hovered over the largely exposed course; that, coupled with the 85 percent humidity made for difficult racing.

Tadese seemed unfazed, or at least, the least fazed, winning by a whopping 32 seconds in 1:00:19. That came on top of travel difficulties that forced him to spend the night at a terminal in Vienna Airport before arriving in Kavarna the afternoon before the race.

A few more images of some of the key athletes are below. The complete men’s results are here. and my preview and report for the IAAF is here and here, respectively.

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Happy Birthday Kevin Young

Kevin Young in Barcelona, 2012

Kevin Young in Barcelona, 2012

Happy 50th birthday today to Kevin Young, the 1992 Olympic champion in the 400m hurdles. Young clocked an astounding 46.78 in Barcelona to capture the Olympic title that year, a world record that has yet to be seriously challenged. How phenomenal was his achievement in Barcelona’s Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys? That performance remains the only time anyone has run under 47 seconds in the event.

This image was taken in Barcelona, but two decades later, in November 2012 when Young attended the Centenary celebrations of the IAAF, track & field’s international governing body. Yup, still exhibiting excellent form.

 

All images © Bob Ramsak 2016. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use in any form is strictly prohibited. Sharing via social media –Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest– is welcome and encouraged but must be accompanied with credit and copyright notice. High resolution images available.
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Looking Back: Five Shots of Aries Merritt One Hour After His World Record

Aries Merritt after his 110m hurdles world record in Brussels, September 2012

Aries Merritt after his 110m hurdles world record in Brussels, September 2012

Three day ago marked the fourth anniversary of Aries Merritt’s sensational 12.80 world record in the 110m hurdles which he set at the 2012 edition of the Memorial Van Damme in Brussels. It was the last world record that I’ve personally witnessed, and it remains firmly etched in my mind: his blazing start, his acceleration over the first three hurdles, the massive lead he built by hurdle five. And the smile that wouldn’t quit about an hour after his race.

Here are five snaps I recently unearthed taken during his post-race press conference. For a quick look back, highlights from that press conference are here.

Aries Merritt after his 110m hurdles world record in Brussels, September 2012

Aries Merritt after his 110m hurdles world record in Brussels, September 2012

 

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25 Photos from the 2016 Hanzekovic Memorial – Zagreb

 

Courtney Okolo winning the Zagreb 400m ahead of Natasha Hastings

Courtney Okolo winning the Zagreb 400m ahead of Natasha Hastings

 

For the ongoing help-put-a-face-to-a-name file, here are 25 images from yesterday’s Hanzekovic Memorial IAAF World Challenge meet in Zagreb. Above is from the waning stages of the women’s 400m, won by Courtney Okolo of the US over compatriot Natasha Hastings.

Most of the images here are from the women’s 3000m won by Kenyan Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi in 8:45.69. In a quality race, eight of the 11 finishers clocked career or seasonal bests. There are also a few from the men’s 200m, won by Canada’s Aaron Brown and the women’s 400m hurdles, won by Czech Zuzana Hejnova.

If you missed it, my report for the IAAF of the meet’s main program is here, of the men’s shot put competition here, and image galleries from the shot put here and here. And the start lists and results here; if those disappear next year, they’ll definitely be on the IAAF website here.

First, a couple snaps of Croatia’s Sara Kolak, the recently-minted Olympic champion in the javelin throw. She’s still shocked by her victory.

Olympic javelin throw champion Sara Kolak in Zagreb

Olympic javelin throw champion Sara Kolak in Zagreb

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