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

Drizzle Fizzle and Sizzle in Zurich

Aug 30th, 2012
9:21 pm PST

Usain BoltZurich has traditionally been one of my favorite meets over the years. Mostly because, even before there was a Diamond League (or Golden League) Zurich has always attracted the world’s top sprinters – and this year was no exception. Don’t get me wrong, Zurich is annually one of the world’s best meets overall with high level fields in all of their events, but the sprints have always been special in Zurich.

Today however, after watching this meet I’m left with a bag of mixed feelings labeled drizzle, fizzle and sizzle. The drizzle is from the rain that feel during the meet. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a year whet do many big meets have been affected by rain. The NCAA Championships, Olympic Trials, several DL meets culminating with today’s competition. I got up this morning, checked the forecast for Zurich and felt like singing "rain rain go away", because the rain always slows things down – especially the speed events and jumps. So I was a bit gloomy before the meet began.

Then we got the fizzle. First in the women’s 100 where Kelly Ann Baptiste got tossed to a false start. Then the men’s 100 where Tyson Hay was tossed to a false start! The ever quiet and humble Tyson actually pressing his case due to the fact he was having trouble hearing – a plea that ironically fell on deaf ears! I honestly don’t understand why the sport can’t see the fallacy of this rule. One because the underlying reason – to speed up meets – has become a joke, because the resultant protests that always follow ADD additional time to every single meet!More importantly however, the rule takes AWAY from the competition and adds absolutely NOTHING!

If the goal of having a false start rule is to ensure "fairness" to the start of the race – and it should be – then stopping the race because someone started too quickly ACCOMPLISHES that goal. You stop the race, and let everyone reset, so that EVERYONE starts evenly. Except this sport punishes you for being the one to cause the reset (if you’re a sprinter or hurdler) and won’t let you run at all! Fairness? Not at all. If a distance race goes off poorly and needs to be reset, everyone gets a second chance. Blow a long jump,a discus throw or a shot out and you still have 5 more. Fail a high jump and they put the bar back and you get another try. If you’re a sprinter or hurdler DO NOT FLINCH because if you do you’ll be watching from the bleachers. Bolt at World’s; Aries Merritt at Lausanne; Baptiste & Gay today in Zurich. And the biggest losers are the fans. We missed the first real head to head between Bolt and Blake in Daegu. We missed perhaps another sub 13 effort from Merritt in Lausanne. And of course Gay would have been most certainly the best competition for Blake.

Yohan BlakeThe purpose of having these meets is to see the athletes COMPETE! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, track and field is the only sport in the world with a rule designed to eliminate competitors and lessen the competition! There was nothing wrong with the "original" false start rule – each person got a warning for a false start and if you got another you were tossed. Now that’s fair. Then we went to a hybrid, one to the field, then another you’re done – only fair tithe person that caused the one to the field. And now we have this abomination – horrific. The IAAF needs to have an emergency Rules Committee meeting and FIX THIS, because it is broken!

That aside, there was still sizzle in the sprints. The women’s 100 lost Kelly Ann Baptiste, but it still had the duo of Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce and Carmelita Jeter. In recent weeks SAFP took London with Jeter coming back to win in Lausanne and Birmingham. Today was a replay of London as SAFP nailed the start and Jeter was unable to recover as SAFP won with daylight 10.83 to 10.97. This has become the female version of Steve Williams v Don Quarrie 1970’s rivalry – and it’s fun to watch.

On the men’s side, the good old false start rule took out Tyson Gay, leaving Yohan Blake with an unfettered run to the tape. Once again Blake started well – though not as explosively as in Lausanne and blew the remaining field away with a 9.76 run. The mark was a meet record in spite of the damp, chilly conditions and marked his 4th legal sub 9.8 of the season – 3rd in a row. That equals the 4 sub 9.8s produced by Usain Bolt in ’08 – and is one more than the 3 produced by Tyson Gay in ’09 and Bolt this year.

Speaking of Bolt, he was in attendance running the 200 instead of the 100 – to be fair the deuce was a Diamond League event and the 100 was not. Seems that lately that’s how it is – one in one sprint the other in the opposite with each trying to out perform the other. Personally I’d rather have them trying to out run each other. Still following Blake’s 100 Bolt turned in a nice 19.66 200 that took down Wallace Spearmon’s MR 19.79. Spearmon was 5th here as Jamaicans went 1 thru 4 with Nickel Ashmeade (PB 19.85), Jason Young, and Warren Weir in tow. All I can say is I’m looking forward to a healthy Walter Dix and a full season from Tyson Gay next year, because the US can do better.

Someone I tonight would do better today was David Rudisha. Rudisha ran a mortal (for him) 1:42.81, unfortunately young Mohammed Aman saw that as an opportunity, defeating The Man in the stretch with a PB 1:42.53. Aman applied pressure throughout as they were well behind the rabbit (49.6) at the bell. Rudisha never looked like his dominant self, but appeared to have enough to hold off the field. All but Aman who stayed on him around the track then attacked in the stretch, going by in the last 50 meters. Watching Rudisha it’s clear that running sub 1:41 took a lot out of him. That and frankly I think he’s better WITHOUT a rabbit!

Of course athletes do get tired this time of year; there was the drizzle; and late season upsets are not out of the norm. Another occurred today when Olympic champion Christian Taylor was upset on the last jump off the triple jump by Donato Fabrizio! And we had another exciton high jump competition with Ivan Uhkov getting the win today in a modest 2.31m/7′ 7" over the 2.28m/7′ 5.75" for Robbie Grabarz. Such was the story for most of the meet, strong competition, but the athletes clearly at the end of the season and tiring a bit – and most marks suffering. We will see what the second half of the Diamond League "final" brings in Brussels next week. The full results from Zurich can be found here. Time to talk about a few other subjects.

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