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

Track Shorts

Mar 24th, 2009
2:40 pm PST

A very low key weekend with few sterling results. On the track, Texas A&M ran collegiate leaders in both the men’s and women’s relays with efforts of 39.32 and 43.67 respectively at the Trojan Invitational in Southern California. On the field, defending collegiate champion Rashaud Scott of Kentucky, became the =8th all time collegiate thrower in the discus with his 212′ 9″ (64.86) win at the Baldy Castillo meet in Arizona. We also got a quiet 20.77 opener from Jeremy Wariner in his 200 meter win at the Dr Pepper Classic in Waco Texas. I expect that we might see a few more 200’s from Wariner this year as he attempts to sharpen his race in his bid to unseat Lashawn Merritt from the position as the world’s #1 quartermiler!

Web site Gamesbids.com has performed a mathematical analysis that concludes that Chicago ranks last in its bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. Apparently the state of the US economy and the turmoil within the USOC are primary factors in this evaluation. While I would love to see us host another Olympics, I would really like to see us make some attempts to bid on the World Championships.

Since the inception of the World Championships in 1983, the US has yet to host one. As the world’s largest track and field power it’s unbelievable that a Worlds has not been held on US soil. It shows a lack of commitment to the sport, especially when one considers that most of the countries that have hosted the World Championships are much smaller in both size and economic stature.

Hosting a World Championships would be one way to bring attention to the sport in this country – in much the same way that hosting the Soccer World Cup did. It would ensure that American fans would get up close and personal viewing of athletes the caliber of Haile Gebrsellassie, Dayron Robles, Gerd Kantor, Yelena Soboleva, and Blanka Vlasic – athletes they would otherwise only read about in results sheets. Americans need to see the sport in its full glory. Not simply as a few “match races” here and there. And certainly not in the abbreviated meet format so common of today’s invitational meets. The sport needs to be showcased outside of the Olympic Games so that fans here learn to understand that track and field is NOT just an Olympic sport held every four years!

Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell is once again talking about his intentions to make the current year better than before. This has become a common mantra since Powell’s explosion onto the international scene during the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Though Powell has run 7 of the 12 fastest 100 meter times in history (4 of them WR’s at the time), his performances in major finals (World and Olympics) have been quite another story with a DQ in ’03, a 5th in ’04, injury in ’05, 3rd in ’07, and 5th in ’08.

Powell states that he is working on everything – weaknesses and non weaknesses. While his coach Stephen Francis states that, “I expect Asafa to be able to run well enough this year to break the world record”. Personally I would think that with 4 WRs in his past that both Powell and his coach would realize that running fast is not his problem – learning how to run when the heat is on is. Perhaps they might be better off working on learning how to win in traffic and let the times take care of themselves.

Athletes in many sports, including track and field, are upset with WADA’s new rule requiring athletes to provide schedules of their daily availability (hour and place) THREE MONTHS IN ADVANCE so drug testers know where they are if they want to drop in and test them! While I am a huge advocate of catching drug cheats, I think WADA might be better off 1.) implementing better testing procedures, and 2.) ensuring that Anti Doping Associations are up and running and performing regular out of competition testing – especially on top tier athletes.

Ensuring that athletes do not miss tests is only a critical issue because urinalysis is so ineffective against fast clearing drugs – and is useless against non detectables. In order for the battle to be won that is the area that needs to be addressed. And simply knowing where athletes are is not the answer to that question.

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