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.

More.

 

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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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.

Continue reading…

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

 

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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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100m Hurdles World Record Holder Kendra Harrison: ‘I’m in the shape of my life’

Kendra Harrison before her race in Lausanne 2016

Kendra Harrison before her race in Lausanne 2016

From my feature on recently-minted world record holder in the 100m hurdles, Kendra Harrison, for the IAAF. I spoke with her before and after her race in Lausanne’s yesterday.

Kendra Harrison is in demand.

That’s rare for an athlete in an Olympic year who didn’t compete at the Olympic Games. But the 23-year-old hurdler isn’t a typical athlete. She is one who broke a world record which had stood for 28 years just two weeks after she failed to qualify for the US Olympic squad in the 100m hurdles. That story and the athlete behind it demands attention, and Harrison is relishing it.

“I love it,” Harrison said of the attention she’s attracting, as a line of journalists patiently wait to speak with her after her 12.42 victory in the Lausanne leg of the IAAF Diamond League on Thursday evening, her first outing since her sensational 12.20 world record in London.

“After I broke the American record, that’s when I started getting a lot more press. The pressure’s going to keep getting easier for me to handle. So I’m going to keep getting better and better at that.”

That 12.24 performance at the Eugene leg of the IAAF Diamond League brought more attention Harrison’s way, but it also upped the pressure building on her petite shoulders as the national selection meeting approached. That ultimately led to her one bad day this season and a sixth-place finish at the US trials on that same Eugene track.

The storyline is now clear to athletics fans. Instead of calling it a season, Harrison, the fastest hurdler in the world, decided to forge on and make the most of it, which brought her to London and the world record to her. That, however, didn’t make watching the Olympics from her couch any easier.

“It was tough,” Harrison said. “It was tough watching it but that was something that I needed to do and something that I wanted to do. I wanted to still cheer my teammates on.”

Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin swept the medals in Rio, seemingly vindicating the notoriously difficult US selection process. No one was more pleased than Harrison.

The rest is here.