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

Upsets in Rome While Collegians Sizzle

Jun 6th, 2013
11:08 pm PDT

Justin GatlinIf you’re a true fan of the sport then you are in Heaven like me, because we have wall to wall track and field –highlighted by the NCAA Division I Championships and today’s Golden Gala in Rome. So far both have been full of surprises, for different reasons.

I’ll start with Rome, the fourth entry in the Diamond League. The Diamond League is supposed to be the "Circuit" where the elite meet to complete (if you use that tag line I want my royalties) and today we got to see Usain Bolt line up against Justin Gatlin – a match up of the last three Olympic Champions!

The result was a stirring competition, if not the result many expected as Gatlin "upset" Bolt – 9.94 to 9.95. Bolt got the better start, Gatlin the better acceleration, and we saw once again the key to beating Bolt – mid race pressure and relentless finish! Don’t get me wrong everyone can’t do it because it’s only been done by men that have run under 9.80 – Gatlin, Gay, Blake and Powell – and only once each. But he is human, and frankly races are so much more fun to watch when there is an air of uncertainty – at least for me.

Which takes me to the women’s 200 in Rome, because another "sure thing" was upset when Muriel Ahoure defeated Allyson Felix in stunning fashion. Again the "pattern" for defeat was replicated – with Felix you have to best her big off the bend and pray she doesn’t reel you in. Ahoure did this to perfection as she blazed the turn a la VCB and ran solidly down the stretch to a NR 22.36. Meanwhile Felix almost appeared disinterested on the turn, then lacked turnover down the stretch as she finished in a slow for her 22.63. Clearly the quarter is just not compatible with her deuce – and my guess is we see her back in the hundred real soon.

Not all favorites lost mind you. LaShawn Merritt, Renaud Lavillenie, Amantle Montsho, and Abebe Aregawi are just a few of the "favorites" that continued their winning ways. The two ladies in particular beginning to look like they’re ready to take control of their events. With Aregawi showing she can run fast and win AND win in a tactical race! And we got a taste of what Moscow might be like with Blanka Vlasic clearing a SB 1.95m/6’4.75" before succumbing to Anna Chicherova’s 1.98m/6’6". This will be one of Moscow’s most electric battles – I’m calling it now.

I’m also calling two HOT days of track and field in Oregon because the NCAA semis have been blazing! Granted we’ve seen lots of "windy" marks, but these kids have putting down some serious times. Consider that it took 10.08 to make the men’s 100 final and four relay squads ran under 39.00. How about Freeman (10.99), Scott (11.00), Gardener (11.00), and Duncan 11.02 heading into that women’s sprint final?

But that’s just the beginning. Windy or not Bryshon Nellum screamed 19.99 – and Anaso Jobodwana (20.02), Ameer Webb (20.05), & Isaiah Young (20.12) are close enough to keep him from winning! On the other hand, Kimberlyn Duncan (22.15w) and Brianna Rollins (12.47) set themselves well ahead of the field. By the way, Rollins mark is a collegiate record and she’s still got the final to make it better. And while we’re talking about hurdlers, can you imagine a collegiate final starting with Spencer Adams (13.24w), Wayne Davis (13.25w), and Eddie Lovett (13.29w)? They could have filled lanes in any Olympic final.

Then after all is said and done, Texas A&M 3:02.38 & Florida 3:02.64 will square off in the closing 4×4 with teams faster than the majority of national teams that will toe the line in Moscow! Bottom line is that this could be one of the most blazing NCAA Championships ever. So fire up the grill, get your popcorn and pour your favorite drink, because this is about to get fun!

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16 Responses to “Upsets in Rome While Collegians Sizzle”

  1. Malik JA says:

    May this be the 1st of many major 100m Men match-ups. Am I the only one who noticed this was the 1st Diamon League meet with a heavy-weight match up since 2010 Bolt vs. Gay (Stockholm)? Also, an interesting an not so interesting meet on Saturday, JAAA All comers meet in Kingston, will have Melanie Walkers debut in the 100m hurldes since switching camps & events.

    P.S.: Any live stream link I can watch NCAA finals on?

    • CHill says:

      No, I noticed too .. Too few and far between .. Yet it was just what the sport needs .. ESPN3 I’d streaming the meet .. And man it was hot .. Saturday should be something else !!

    • Anderson says:

      Maybe your definition of Heavyweight is different, but I think you missed a lot of meets over the years…

      Blake and Gay: London, Brussels

      Bolt and Powell: Rome
      Blake, Powell, Dix: Zurich

      Gatlin and Powell: Doha
      Bolt and Powell: Rome
      Gatlin and Gay: Paris
      Gay Blake: Lausanne

      Yea its not every meeting, but that’s a stretch to say this is the first match up since 2010…

      • CHill says:

        For me most of those had sub par individuals … Peels not been a threat since Berlin … Did really isn’t a 100 stud – 200 different story .. Many of those Gay was off … And Gatlin was working his way back to form …

        Some will argue that Bolt wasn’t Bolt this week ….

        • Anderson says:

          Gay being off, Gatlin working his way back etc is kind of irrelevant. The Diamond League doesn’t control the health of the athletes. They brought them to the race for us to see. If the athletes are off, you can’t blame the meet.

          • CHill says:

            Not blaming the meets at all .. I’m just saying that due to circumstances we didn’t get the “clash of the titans” and haven’t for many years ..

            We would have been more likely to have true clashes if there were more scheduled head to heads …

            If I’m telling the truth, the truth is that for several years now we typically don’t see the top sprinters regularly UNLESS they have those kinds of circumstances and they’re looking to check things out, trying to make a name like Blake was, or in Gatlin’s case was taking what he could get …

            So not blaming the meets at all … But the days where Mo, Ato, Frankie, Tim, Bruny, et al would complete healthy regularly against each other are gone .. At least for now … And the real culprit is money ..

  2. Aurelio Feldman says:

    I have a feeling that we may never see Bolt as a regular force during the season. In his lattest interviews he is always talking about WC and Olympics, I think that because of his other commitments his preparations will be make foccusing only in the big events of the year. So in the early part of the season we will see more loses than before.

    • CHill says:

      I wouldn’t argue that .. Frankly I would look at anything other than a championship meet as preparation … The idea that you have to win everything is a bit ridiculous .. Granted, how you’re paid has to do with how you are ranked … But huge wins in majors are generally “weighted” against minor losses when it comes to rankings – or at least should be ..

  3. Malik JA says:

    True but at the end of the day these meets whether Diamond League or Area meets are for want of a better term, “Development meets” towards the Championships. At the end of the day fans remember championships as students remember final exams, not pop quizzes.

    • CHill says:

      I agree … Only track nerds remember who won at certain meets during the year … But everyone knows who won the Olympics or Worlds … Which is why I wish the best would simply race each other … Opportunity to “test” things before the Games … I remember Mo Greene in ’04 on the Circuit trying to get it right, then nailing it in Athens – just barely missing out on gold …

      • Aurelio Feldman says:

        Mo was a true competitor, he raced against Ato Boldon and Tim Montgmery a lot is his day.
        The men´s 100 is a great event nowadays because of the atlhetes, the fastest of all times, Bolt, Blake, Gay, Gatlin, but that fact that we only see them racing each at the major event of the year is bad for the sport.
        Today I rather watch the women´s 100 and the men´s 400.

        • CHill says:

          I disagree that the 100 is a great event today .. It was great during the Jim Hines, Charlie Greene, John Carlos era .. It was a great event during the Steve Williams, Don Quarrie, Valerie Borzov, Houston McTear era .. James Sanford, Silvio Leonard, Stanley Floyd … Carl Lewis, Calvin Smith, Ben Johnson, Linford Christie .. I’ve been through the Mo era .. All these eras the athletes raced .. Those eras the 100 was great !!

          What we have now is an era with the greatest athletes ever … But the event is not great .. Because as you said we get ONE big race a year .. And every four years we don’t get that – the off year .. We wish for great races all the time .. We rarely get them ..

          • Aurelio Feldman says:

            What I meant that we have the 5 fastest guys in history running around nowadays and the event has te potencial to be the hottest ticket but their policy of avoiding each other is taking our interest of the event.

          • CHill says:

            I totally agree …

  4. Anderson says:

    I think the key to beating Bolt has always been the start.
    Powell in 08, Gay in 10, Blake in 2012. They all got either an amazing start over Bolt, or a step over him at the start and held him off. You can see here that Bolt got the start of his life, probably the best since his Berlin start. But this was a major exception since Gatlin was able to run him down.

    But to me, this doesn’t seem as much of a shock as Blake on 12 or Gay in 10. considering all the questions surrounding Bolts health so far and how consistent Gatlin has been for the past year or so, it seemed expected. But I think Bolt is just put on to high of a pedestal (rightfully so) that most will be surprised to see him lose.

    • CHill says:

      Not a shock given how both looked prior to coming into the race .. You HAVE to get ahead of Bolt before mid race .. If not it’s over. .. You have to negate his stride before he gets into it ..

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