The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

Back to Code for Some After Ostrava

May 25th, 2012
3:38 pm PST

Wallace SpearmonWell, that wasn’t quite what I expected! Let’s start with the obvious, Usain Bolt (JAM) 10.04 – the slowest 100 meter final of Bolt’s professional career! That’s what I said. He ran 10.03 (0.7) in Rethymno in  his pro debut at the distance in 2007. Then opened up in Spanish Town in Mar ‘08 at 10.03 (1.8), before blowing out a 9.76 (1.8) in Kingston – and the rest you already know. His only other final that hasn’t been sub10 was a 10.00 (-0.9) in Toronto, June ‘09. His only other non sub10’s have been in qualifying rounds. Even last year when the world was bemoaning his races he was running 9.91 back to back!

And while I’m certainly not ready to write his obit, this race was not pretty. His start was slow; drive phase wasn’t there; no pop in his acceleration; and he looked to be working harder than he wanted. If I’m comparing this race to the near perfect “video game” like race he laid down in Berlin I would have to say after this one that he and his coach need to go back to code! This one was stealable if there had been one or two major players in the race. But dare I say, that another repeat of this and Bolt may have difficulty getting out of Trials in this event. Of course, the odds are greater that we see another 9.8x in his next performance – but with only 9 weeks til the Games themselves, 4 to Trials, time is running short.

Another who needs to go back to code is Caster Semenya, (RSA) who was no match at all for the resurgent Pamela Jelimo (KEN). Jelimo looked like David Rudisha as she easily dismantled this field in 1:58.46 without ever leaving 3rd gear. She followed the rabbit through the first lap then cruised away from the field almost as if she were waiting for a challenge. There was none as Semanya was well back only finishing second in 2:00.80 after mustering a strong kick over the final 200 to overtake Fantu Magiso (ETH) who was 2nd to Jelimo in Doha. Semenya has looked nothing like the athlete that won gold in ‘09, while Jellimo looks every bit like the defending Olympic champion – and the door behind her looks to be wide open.

Another who won, but left me with a question mark was Sanya Richards Ross (US). She won the quarter in 50.65 ahead of defending champion Christine Ohuruogu (GBR, 51.19) but like Bolt didn’t show her best race in doing so. Richards Ross looked to be doing her thing in the backstretch, as once again she set sail, but after a lackluster turn she found herself in a struggle with Ohuruogu. After a bit of a tussle in the stretch she finally pulled away, but one isn’t supposed to be tussling with Ohuruogu at the stage of the season – and should have been much closer to 50.00. I understand there was something in the air in Ostrava, because the normally blistering track just wasn’t giving up sterling times today, but Sanya is “supposed” to be going sub50 at will right now – just as Bolt should be near 9.90 on a bad day. She too may have to go back to code.

The athletes that looked sharp were the 200 meter sprinters and the hurdlers! Veronica Campbell Brown used another blistering turn to separate herself from the field before exiting the turn. No Felix, no Jeter, and so no worries as she just ran solidly down the straight to finish in a SB 22.38 (-0.3) well up on Bianca Knight (US, 22.85) – and moving to #3 on the yearly list. Similar story foro Wallace Spearmon (US) who was supposed to face Walter Dix (US) who was a no show. Without Walter in the race Spearmon had an easy romp to a 20.14 (-0.3) with Marvin Anderson (JAM, 20.41) just another spectator. VCB and Spearmon are both looking very sharp, in spite of today’s times. Wallace was a bit of a question mark for me following the race, since he’s run much faster this year, but he put my worries to rest with an anchor leg on an “all star” squad as he put the field away easily in the stretch. He and VCB are easily medalist material at this point of the season.

The hurdlers also looked good. While everyone else seemed to be having difficulty coming up with “good” times, Dexter Faulk (US) equaled his PR in the hurdles as he scored a solid looking 13.13 (1.4) win. After looking like the Flash indoors coming out of the blocks, Faulk was only average here, but solid hurdling throughout saw him gradually separate from the others – moving to =3rd on the season with David Oliver (US).

On the other hand, Tiffany Porter (GBR) blazed from the field at the gun as she ran away with a 12.65 win – easily ahead of Priscilla Lopes Schiep’s (CAN) 12.80 as she continues her comeback from maternity. Never in the race was Lolo Jones (US) who just hasn’t been the same since her stumble in Beijing.

I want to review some video of other events, before I comment. So will wait until later when they are uploaded to the web. Plus I can to go out and watch the local high school kids as they have their state qualifier this afternoon/evening. But Ostrava certainly left me with more questions than answers. I guess now it’s on to Rome!

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