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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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.
For editorial use or print purchase, please get in touch.

 

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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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Somewhere Under a Double Rainbow

tom-walsh-under-a-zagreb-double-rainbow

Continuing from the previous post about yesterday’s shot put competition in Zagreb, I thought these two shots deserved their own. How many times, really, do you see Olympic medallists reaching for double rainbows?

Above is Tom Walsh of New Zealand, a recently-minted Olympic bronze medallist in the shot put. Below is Ryan Crouser, the Olympic gold medallist. I can’t image either has thrown in a similar setting too often.

More images from the competition are here; my report for the IAAF is here. Enjoy!

ryan-crouser-in-zagreb

 

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.
For editorial use or print purchase, please get in touch.

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2016 Zagreb World Challenge Shot Put – 11 Images

2016 Olympic champion Ryan Crouser

2016 Olympic champion Ryan Crouser

That’s Olympic champion Ryan Crouser of the US, who prevailed in a shot put-only competition in Zagreb last night, part of and prelude to the annual Hanzekovic Memorial IAAF World Challenge meet in the Croatian capital.

I’ve covered this meet most years since 2003 but this was my first time I made it for the shot put, which began as a separate competition in 2013. Despite the rain, it was a great event, festive, with the crowd very much involved. The throwers loved it to, and it showed.

Crouser threw 22.28m, beating Tom Walsh of New Zealand, who reached 22.21. For Crouser it was the second best throw of his career and for Walsh, his third continental record in nine days. It marked the first since 1988 that two men threw beyond 22.20m in the same competition.

The intro to my report for the IAAF, track and field’s international governing body:

Ryan Crouser prevailed in an eagerly anticipated reunion of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games medallists as the 66th edition of the Hanzekovic Memorial IAAF World Challenge meeting got underway with a festive shot put-only competition in the City Fountains Park in central Zagreb on Monday (5).

After a pair of narrow back-to-back defeats to New Zealand’s Tom Walsh over the past nine days, the newly-crowned Olympic champion turned the tables with a 22.28m victory in this attractive amphitheatre style setting, the second farthest throw of his career.

“Every time I throw against Tom and Joe (Kovacs) it’s a great competition, they’re awesome throwers, so I knew it would probably take 22 metres to win,” said Crouser, whose victory in the Croatian capital was the fourth 22-metre competition of his career.

The rest.

Ten more photos are below to help you put a face to a name. Beginning with Tomasz Majewski of Poland, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion, whose appearance in Zagreb was the last of his professional career.

What’s next for the gentle giant?

“I’m just going to enjoy my life for a while,” he said, smiling widely.

I wish him nothing but the best.

Tomasz Majewski in the last competition of his career

Tomasz Majewski in the last competition of his career

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