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

World Championships Review, Events

Aug 21st, 2013
7:36 pm PDT

Brianna RollinsAs I said previously, this meet lacked the "Championship" feel for me. I think some of it had to do with the negativity leading up to the meet – the bans. But the competition/performances were lacking.

In retrospect it’s what I predicted early on – a transitional championship dominated primarily by youth. When your meet is dominated numbers wise with youth, you don’t get the "peaked" performances of veterans. So many events were/felt down compared to other major championships this time around.

We did however, get a lot of good competition lead by the veterans in most cases – age it seems does have its advantages! And with a championship meet without world records, or even serious moves up the all time list, the focus was truly on the competition – both a good and a bad thing. Good because it put the sport in the position of showcasing what track and field is about at it’s core. Bad because it showed just how ill prepared the sport is when it comes to focusing on competition.

The sport wasn’t ready for a "match ups" based competition. We started the year with the anticipation of  "Bolt v Gay" because that’s how the sport is marketed – the single star carrying the banner for the entire sport. When the match up of the star versus his worthy opponent disintegrated before everyone’s eyes, the IAAF was left with the equivalent of "I got nothin"! So we got a lot of "unsold" exciting events. My top 10 in no particular order:

 

  1. The photo finish 400 win of Christine Uhuruogu over Amantle Montsho in the women’s 400.
  2. The photo finish win of Jehue Gordon over Michael Tinsley in the men’s 400H.
  3. The final 200 of the men’s 800 with Solomon fading, Symmonds challenging for gold and Aman kicking to the win.
  4. The upper limits high jump competition between Bondarenko, Barshim, and Drouin.
  5. The .02m fight in the long jump between Reese and Okagbare.
  6. The long distance battle in the triple jump between Tamgho and Pichardo with both having identical marks for most of the competition and Tamgho and defending champion Taylor hitting some huge fouls.
  7. Brianna Rollins’ come from behind win over a resurging Sally Pearson.
  8. An outstanding men’s pole vault competition with five men within .07m fighting for medals.
  9. The battle for gold in the men’s javelin between Veseli and Pitkamaki.
  10. The gold medal battle in the women’s 4×4 between Russia and the United States.

These events epitomized what track and field is about, yet none had been "sold" to the public prior to the start of the meet – and most received zero or passing coverage on NBC! You can’t sell yourself to the general public by missing opportunities to put this type of competition in front of them. Another major faux paux, especially on the part of USATF and NBC who have limited opportunity to promote/present the sport here in the state then miss ideal opportunities when they’re presented.

Also take note that in a meet dominated by youth, it was the veterans who time and time again brought it to the "finish line" in the most exciting fashion! Again,missed opportunities on the sport to market their already known quantities.

While these were the most exciting events there were some other events that were exciting in their own way. Less about the excitement of close, stirring composition but more in terms of "shock". You’ll understand as you look at my list of five most shocking events. Again in no particular order:

 

  1. Men’s 400. Not as shocking that Merritt won, at least not to me, as by how James lost. I said multiple times that speed was the advantage in this race and James is more a Juantorena type than an MJ type. What was shocking was James getting completely taken out of his game and allowing Merritt to cruise to gold and others to get on the podium. Coming into Moscow this race required perfect execution. Merritt executed perfectly.
  2. Women’s 100. While I didn’t pick Fraser to win, winning was never out of the question in an event where a handful of women had shown the ability to get to the top of the podium. The shock was the margin of victory and how poorly the others competed against her. That’s not supposed to happen in a major. Yet once again the gun went off and the race was already over. Fraser was the only one ready for this race – again.
  3. Men’s Long Jump. This was always an event that could have been decided by playing RoShamBo. And with places 2 thru 6 being separated on average by .02m each the result could’ve been different on any given day. Then there was Victor Menkov who finally separated himself from the pack in this meet by going 8.56m/28′ 1" for both a shocking win and performance. This event has been looking for a leader. Menkov interviewed for the job in Moscow.
  4. Men’s 110H. Another event in search of an athlete to step forward and lay claim. That happened in a bizarre manner in the final as some of the event’s steadier performers hit hurdles, were off stride, and generally ran poorly in the most important race of the year. Getting out front early and dominating the final was David Oliver who finally hit his stride three seasons after his all conquering 2010 season.
  5. Men’s Pole Vault. This event made both my exciting and shocking lists. Shocking because all year the gold seemed destined for Renaud Lavillenie who ended up with silver. More shocking was the man who beat him as Raphael Holzdeppe’s teammate Bjorn Otto appeared to be Lavillenie’s primary competition. But as all of these events illustrate, when it comes to championships the ONLY thing that matters is who is most ready on the day.

Finally let me mention those events I found most disappointing. As with life itself, disappointing comes in different forms, so my reasons for disappointment with these events varies. Suffice it to say that you may not have found any or all of these "disappointing".

 

  1. Men and women’s 5k & 10k. I know that’s four events and not one, but my reasons for disappointment are identical. I’m used to championship distance races being "tactical" and therefore the times being "slow". It’s rare that we get treated to a race as awesome as Bekele (26:49.57) v Gebrselassie (26:50.77) in Paris in 2003! Times aside however, my disappointment in these races is that four groups of world class runners allowed the favorites to have their way and win with minimal effort. At least make them work for it and pretend to put up a challenge! Yet time after time pace favored the champions who ride relatively easily to wins. This is the world championships, it’s not supposed to be that easy.
  2. Women’s 200. Allyson Felix’ in race injury lefty us with a lingering "what if", and I hate lingering what ifs! History will show that Shelley Ann Fraser Pryce won the race and completed the double. But conversations will ensue for years to come over who would have won had Felix not gone down – and rightly so as this was an important race for both women and their legacies in the sport. A win for either has them listed among the greatest ever. A loss and that greatness is delayed. What we got was the track equivalent of kissing your sister – Felix doesn’t finish and Fraser Pryce doesn’t defeat her primary competition. So the debate begins – who would have won the full completed race?
  3. Men and women’s 4×1′s. The reason is obvious, both US teams had major blunders. Yes, I’m disappointed that the US teams lost, but beyond the losses they turned potentially great match up races into Keystone type comedies. That was embarrassing. I’m going to spend some time going into detail about the relays in another post, but this was no way to end the meet – with what could have been great meet closing races becoming amateurish displays. That is not the image this sport needs to have the general public remember in what may be their only view of the sport outside of the Olympics.

Speaking of meet ending events, Usain Bolt aside, why are we not ending the meet with the 4×4′s? I understand that the sport is sick on stupid in trying to promote a single individual, but even in this meet the 4x4s generated excitement -  they always do! I’m also curious why the short speed running the men’s and women’s events together -  i.e. women’s 100 followed by the men’s 100, women’s deuce followed by men’s deuce, etc. For my money it makes the meet much more exciting crowning Champions back to back. I’m  just curious.

That’s my general view on the events. Next I’m going to take a similar look at the individual performances before I get into some specific issues like relays etc.

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23 Responses to “World Championships Review, Events”

  1. JustSayin says:

    The most shocking thing is that you did not have Fraser-Pryce listed for even a minor medal in the 200M. That deserves a detailed analysis of its own.

    • CHill says:

      No “detail” required .. Felix was strong favorite and Ahoure and Okagbare had shown huge improvement in the event .. Only three get to the podium .. SAFP had only run twice during the summer and had not shown the ability to get far enough in front early … Against fast closers that wasn’t good enough .. To her credit she did what she needed to do – get out front early .. IF others had executed as they had previously she doesn’t get on the podium .. But as I’ve said about several events the only thing that matters is who shows up ready on THAT day ..

      • Anderson says:

        Not sure what season your talking about, but Felix was no where near the favorite. She did absolutely nothing this year to indicate she was going to do well in Moscow…yes after the semis she looked like she was ready to take gold, but before that? you can’t tell me she did anything this year to separate herself from the others.

        • CHill says:

          Felix rarely does anything in the early session to separate herself except on this rare occasions when she and VCB lock up early .. She did lose to Duncan at Nationals, but then Duncan was peaked and Felix wasn’t .. Felix did what she and Bobby do every summer before a major – go to work … So there was only one difference in Felix and it was the loss to Duncan .. That recipe had gotten her three gold at Worlds and one at Olympics, one World silver and two Olympic silver’s … Yes she was a favorite ..

          • Anderson says:

            Again, not sure what seasons your talking about, but she has always done much better leading into Championships. This year she even said it herself as proof that she was taking it slower…

            If you can, what seasons are you talking about that she did worse before championships?

            Also note that She was beat by not only Duncan, but also Ahoure. Ahoure also beat SAFP. Felix season best before Moscow was 22.36

            in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012 she had a SB faster than this year.

          • CHill says:

            I’m sorry, but this is not a test .. I stand by what I said .. And as you said her semi have every indication that such was the case – she was ready ..

            I write to give my opinions .. And you (not picking on you) and anyone else has the right to your own opinions and to disagree .. That said, I owe no one an explanation for anything I have to say ..

            I give explanations out of courtesy and love of the sport .. and I dint mind friendly debate and banter … However, there are those, primarily those within the Caribbean community that feel that disagreement with Caribbean opinion/athletes required both a justification to the questioner as well as a change of opinion on my part … And I dint have time for that … Nor is it required ..

            The time I’ve spent discussing SAFP could have been spent completing my next post … I’ve given my reasons for my opinion, if you disagree, you disagree .. My life is no worse, I hope yours isn’t either ..

  2. JustSayin says:

    She had the WL of 22.13s in the 200M, WL of 10.77 in the 100M and has never underperformed at a major championships. There is no logical reason I can think of why someone should believe that she was not going to medal in the 200M. Okagbare for the win in the 100M over the two time Olympic champion was also a bit of a stretch though I suppose one could make some sort of case for it.

    • CHill says:

      A) World leaders don’t always medal, and often that’s the case

      B) She’s never beaten Felix when it matters

      C) Ahoure had already beaten her at the distance

      D) Okgabare was peaking

      E) In the 100 Blessing was the closer of note and had taken SAFP to the line more than once

      You’re looking at SAFP and saying it was inevitable and that’s not the case .. As in any championship race someone had to do everything right and others have to do some things wrong .. That happened here but it wasn’t inevitable .. That’s the nature of sport and why they race ..

      Show me anyone that’s every called all events in a major correctly .. You can’t because of what I just said .. you look at folk going in and go with your gut ..

      Who would’ve said that Kirani wouldn’t win gold ?? Oh wait,I did … But who would’ve said he wouldn’t medal ?? But it happened .. why ?? Some people did everything right and he didn’t …

      So relax about SAFP .. I give her props because she came to play … But the fact that so many others DIDN’T also helped .. Just sayin ..

  3. Aurelio Feldman says:

    The thing about your point about Felix being the favorite for the 200 could have been made for SAFP in the 100.
    Yeah, SAFP lost a race in the 100, but she had a better season and times to be the favorite and she is a big meet performer as well as Felix.
    Changing the subject, for me the greatest race of the meet was the women´s 400, Ohuruogu is an olympic and world champion and a lot of times I think that she does not get the respect the she deserves. I hope that after that amazing race people change the perception about her.
    The race that let me down was the men´s 400, not because I am a fan of Kirani and wanted him to win it, but because the way he ran the race. He should race his own race and let Merritt go and try to catch him in the final 100 but I feel that he saw Merrit go fast from the start and try to follow him and fail. I case of bad tactits. If he ran his own race he could lose but the race would bem faster because he would take Merritt to the line and both of them would get faster times.

    • CHill says:

      No, there is a big difference between Felix and SAFP and its this, SAFP raced through the summer before Worlds and Okagbare kept talking her to the line .. Odds were that at some point SAFP’s luck was going to run out so to speak .. Unfortunately for me it was Okagbare that didn’t show for this race ..

      On Kirani, I agree he should have stuck to his script and run his race .. He’s not a speed quarter miler – I’d compared them to MY and Butch Reynolds .. But Merritt ran the perfect first 200 – fast enough to put pressure but not so fast he burned himself out ..

      Like I keep saying, championships are about the day .. Which is why the opportunity is there for major upsets regardless of consistency .. For example in that men’s 400H Tinsley confounded his consistency and did nothing wrong, Gordon just came through big time on the day ..

      The only “given’s” are those that leach sufficient competition and I’ll be talking about that I’m my next post on individuals ..

  4. Hopeton says:

    Just saying: is it possible that SAFP’s record of repeat 100m Olympic champion; repeat 100m world champion Not be a matter of ‘LUCK’?
    Could it not be hard work, talent, good coaching? Yes, just like how Bobby and Felix have their formula, is it not possible that Stephen Francis and Shelley have a formula too?
    In the 200m, her reputation as ‘simply a fast starter’ was not reflected in the race so could Stephen and Shelley have an effective plan like how Bobby and Felix has one?
    Just asking?
    SAFP is a great athlete whose success ought not to be explained by Luck and Others not performing on the day.
    My thoughts.

    • CHill says:

      Note that I didn’t say luck specifically, I said so to speak, in that others didn’t do what needed to be fine to beat her after they had shown the ability to do so .. I’ve said repeatedly that she’s the one who came to play… she earned her place on the podium, Felix injury notwithstanding ..

      My next post is on individuals .. it’s outlined but not finished writing .. I will say SAFP falls under the category, Gained New Respect For .. I’ll leave it at that until posted ..

      Just not sure why do many feel she needs defending,.. She does a good job on her own .. That said there are always multiple ways to look at things and people .. And you can say same the same thing without saying the same thing ..

  5. Aurelio Feldman says:

    In my opinion SAFP is building a great career and she will be 29 in Rio, she could be the first 3 time olympic champion in the 100m dash which would rank her number 1 sprinter of all-time in my list.
    And, even if she does not acomplishes that, she is a 2 time olympic and world champion, and running fast times in every single final she had won, she problably is more than lucky.

    • CHill says:

      I agree to a point .. I’ll probably start controversy but hard to knock Evelyn Ashford from #1 ask time sprinter slot for me, but SAFP is certainly top 10, perhaps top five – I really haven’t looked that closely yet .. Definitely to e give with respect to the 100 .. Something to look at after the session is done … and no I won’t have that debate until I can sit down and look at a few things

    • Trackster says:

      All SAFP needs is a bit more skin in the game (longevity) to seal the deal as the greatest female sprinter of all time. In terms of number and quality of medals across championships(Olympics and Worlds) she is at the top of the heap or close to the top. She has been showing steady improvement in the sprints – her 10.71 in Moscow with a bit of wind could easily have been low 10.6x. She is getting more comfortable and confident with the 200M. She is mastering her craft and is even racking up wins on the circuit. Bet against this woman and you do so at your own peril.

  6. Explain the the difference between Juatarneo type and Michael Johnson type runner.
    They both need to have speed endurance. And in order for someone to go under 44 they need speed right.
    http://phillyyardyvibes.com

    • CHill says:

      Not really enough space to go into detail here to give a full explanation .. But I’ll give a brief one ..

      Obviously both are fast and both have speed and speed endurance … No different than comparing “types” of athletes in any disciplines at this level .. What separates at this point are nuances ..

      In general, a quartermiler of any type can run within approximately 1 second of their 200 PR for the first half of the race and finish comfortably ..

      Quartemilers like MJ, Tommie Smith, Danny Everett, and Merritt (sub 20′ sprinters) were/are able to take the race out faster given they are fit enough to do so than their counter parts who must run more “balanced” races ..

      They have an inherent advantage in that they can get out Fring and put pressure on the others who “in general” are looking at 200 PRs in the 20.5 – 20.8 range ..

      Butch Reynolds (20.49 if memory serves) was never going to be able to run with MJ for the first half of the race .. He had to rely on his finish, which was awesome .. But as long as MJ had a sufficient finish the advantage was always his .. Ditto Merritt and James …

      In order to upset the balance James needs to improve his speed .. Watch Juantorena, Reynolds and James, long loping strides compared to the more rapid turnover of their counter parts MJ and Merritt ..

      More speed plus similar endurance equals victory .. Tho over come you have to either be MUCH stronger endurance wise or get faster .. This is a sprint ..

  7. Hopeton says:

    I look forward to your further posts with respects to women sprinting. You ask why does SAFP need defending. The answer is very simple. All, including you, seem to be able to be continually trying to find someone else to identify to dilute in some way SAFP’s performance. You now want to draw for Evelyn Ashford who was a great sprinter.
    All that is required is to highlight actual performance and let the chips fall! Do not include personal preferences; coaches, or your understanding of history. As we have done with Usain Bolt, let us do with SAFP.
    Let’s put them in context without regard to which country they may be from.

    • CHill says:

      I’m sorry, but I didn’t mention Ashford with the intent to dilute SAFP’s performance, not did I inject nationality into anything that off said on the matter … Ashford’s career stands on its own .. While SAFP had had a nice five year (Olympic cycle) run, Ashford was a factor from the mid 70′s to the early 90′s ..

      She made five Olympic teams .. During her most dominant period she twice broke the WR in the 100, taking the record into the 10.7s – thirty years ago !!! With a best of 10.76 … She’s still in the all time top Ten three decades later !! She ran sub 11 over thirty times when most women couldn’t breech the mark ..
      She ran sub 22 with a best of 21.83 , the #35 time ever the decades later .. She defeated the most doped up women in sports history taking down both Marlies Gohr in the 100 and Maria Koch in the 200 (Ms 21.71/47.60 herself) among others in the Eastern Bloc ….

      Boycott stopped her from winning in ’80 (ironically Moscow) .. She won in ’84, and only a highly suspicious FloJo resigned her to silver in ’88 … And she returned to lead of relay gold in ’92 .. Along the way she defeated Gohr, Koch, Dreschler, FloJo (who only had the one sterling season), Jackson, Torrence, Ottey, Miller, Cuthbert, Devers, among others … Injecting Ashford ‘s career had zero to do with nationality and everything to do with a) her greatness, and b) injecting some perspective .. Because sprinting didn’t start in 2008 ..

      If you just want to discuss Jamaican women, I’m not sure her career has eclipsed that of Marlene Ottey or VCB in overall brilliance .. And there’s something to be said for the careers of Grace Jackson, and Juliet Cuthbert .. Now nationality can’t have anything to do with that ..

      • Aurelio Feldman says:

        I understand your point about Ashford, her times and career speaks for it. In my opinion she is number one and a 2 time olympic 100m champion because I really don´t believe that FloJo was running clean, so in my mind she gets that gold.
        But, my point is there were only 4, Ashford included, 2 time 100 champion and I Believe that SAFP could bem the first to bem 3 time olympic champion and her acomplishments should put her in anybody´s top 5 list and if she gets the next olympics and world´s gold medals running as fast as she is running or even faster she could be number 1.

  8. Hopeton says:

    CHill, your blog is interesting and attractive to us true fans of the sport.
    So even if the expressions may appear contentious at times, I definitely look forward to them.
    Keep on keeping on.
    One love

    • CHill says:

      Oh, they are contentious at times, and I understand that .. True fans of the sport are very passionate .. Which is why I deal with the “discussions” .. For true fans it’s part of the sport .. As I said however, this is my blog and I will give my opinion .. and I allow readers theirs, and I allow debate on the two .. at the end of the day however, I hope we can agree to disagree and I will not be taken to task because I don’t agree with individuals – just as I don’t take you to task for disagreeing with me . I have no intention to stop posting .. I’ve been through two surgeries, a divorce, and starting a new company in the past twelve months and haven’t stopped yet .. debate isn’t going to stop me .. If anything having the bulk of these things behind me I should be back to posting at the rate I was around the Olympics – given topics warrant .. One Love

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