Time to finish up my thoughts on the individual performances from the World Championships. As this was not one of my favorite Worlds, for reasons already discussed, there were more performances that I was disappointed in than those I was ecstatic about. So many that as I started writing this I had to edit down to a reasonable number. After all the entire meet wasn’t quite a disappointment.
So, while I was disappointed in the time for the men’s 4×4 for example, it’s not listed. Nor are other events where I simply was down on the performances. I tried to keep my “disappointment” to the way the athletes performed.
I’ve already spent a lot of time on my thoughts about the meet itself, so let’s get straight to the performances. I’ll identify them as Athletes That Need More Competition; Best Performances; Most Surprising Performances; and Most Disappointing Performances.
There are a trio of athletes that just didn’t have any real competition. That’s separate from those that had competition that just didn’t get it done, or those that just dominated on that day in Moscow. These individuals showed up and could have had a less than great day and still won. They are Usain Bolt, Valerie Adams, and Robert Harting. Their exploits are well know at this point so I will not bother going into the gory details – gory if you happened to compete against and get murdered by this trio.
That said, there are only two men on the planet capable of Challenging Bolt – one was injured, the other facing suspension. That left Mr. Bolt with cake walks to gold. A sprinter isn’t supposed to show up KNOWING that all he has to do is finish and pick up his gold medal. Valerie Adams has NO competition – none. She hasn’t lost a competition in over 50 meets now. That’s ridiculous. Again, athletes aren’t supposed to show up and pick up pre engraved gold medals at a major. Finally, there are athletes with better marks than Robert Harting. Since a 4th in Beijing however, he loses once, twice in any given season, but when it comes to meets that matter he’s in a different zone. Put a gold medal on the podium and he tells them to get it ready, then steps in the ring, wins, and rips off his shirt!
Nothing against either of these athletes, but the sport needs the competition to step up! Track and field is at it’s best when it’s competitive. When it’s not the appearance is that only a few of our athletes are truly elite – especially to the uninformed. That’s not good when you’re trying to build a brand – and accept it or not we are trying to build a brand.
So after these athletes did their damage, how did the others compete? I put them into three categories. Most outstanding – one male, one female. Most surprising, again one of each. And most disappointing, which is not limited by number.
BEST PERFORMANCE MALE – TEDDY TAMGHO – TJ
Tamgho did it all in Moscow. Went toe to toe in the closest, most intense battle of the meet. He emerged victorious with not just the best mark of the meet, but one of the greatest ever. It doesn’t get much better than coming through when it matters and in the process becoming only the third man ever over 59 feet in the triple jump – that’s almost unknown territory.
BEST PERFORMANCE FEMALE - SHELLEY ANN FRASER PRYCE – 100
Fraser Pryce nailed the start, blew the field away finishing a zip code ahead of silver and equaled her PR of 10.70 and get place as #4 all time. In the 100 meters no less. As I said before, it’s just not supposed to be this easy in a major.
MOST SURPRISING PERFORMANCE MALE – VICTOR MENKOV – LJ
This was going to be one of the most anemic long jump competitions ever. A field of jumpers struggling to reach 27 feet. Not what we’ve come to expect from MAJOR championships. Then along came Menkov soaring out beyond 28 feet! I was hoping we might get lucky and see something close to 27’6" and make the gold respectable, but 28 feet puts it back out there with Lewis and company! No one was expecting that.
MOST SURPRISING PERFORMANCE FEMALE – SHELLY ANN FRASER PRYCE – 100
Several women entered this competition with a chance at gold. For Fraser Pryce to win was no surprise, for her to win by such a large margin was. You don’t just devastate a world class field that way in the biggest race of the season.
MOST DISAPPOINTING MEN – TREY HARDEE – DEC
Hardee has been one of the world’s best for several years now, including winning Worlds in ’09 and being #10 all time in the event. He’s had some injuries of late, but was still the only man really capable of pressuring Ashton Eaton in Moscow. A solid medalist going in, Hardee failed to clear a height in the high jump – not a single mark. Putting him out of contention.
MOST DISAPPOINTING MEN – GREG RUTHERFORD – LJ
I hesitated on putting him here because frankly his Olympic gold was always weak in my mind. Let’s face it, the long jump in a down period. But win gold he did, and went to Moscow as Olympic champion. Bad enough that he watched Menkov go 28 feet, but he wasn’t even in the hunt finishing only 14th in qualifying! Then again, he was only the15th best jumper on the season.
MOST DISAPPOINTING MEN – KIRANI JAMES – 400
This was doused to be the race of the meet. Turns out I had the right event, wrong gender. I won’t get into why I picked Merritt over James, but it wasn’t because I expected a blow out. Not winning gold turned out to be the least of his problems, because in a race with 8 finalists James came home 7th. I once watched Bert Cameron pull up 150 meters into a semi and still finish 4th. Had he been in this race, Cameron (45.05) would have given James’ 44.99 problems.
MOST DISAPPOINTING MEN – CHRISTIAN TAYLOR – TJ
Real smile, Taylor won in Daegu and London and was supposed to be the man here. He’s been close enough to 59 feet that he and Tamgho should have produced an epic battle settings, and possibly over the mark. In the end Taylor was 4th, off the podium, and below 57 feet. Given his overall season, I’m not sure Britain is agreeing with him.
MOST DISAPPOINTING MEN- MIKE RODGERS – 100
Rodgers is no rookie. He’s been here before. He’s run 9.85. He had podium written all over him in the semi. Sixth place! That’s where he finished in the final. No, I wasn’t expecting him to challenge Bolt, though his antics in the semi indicated he thought he could. Memo to sprinters across the globe, if you’re going to dress outrageously, talk smack, or clown in a semi, you better be podium bound and it better be a photo keeping you from the top!
MOST DISAPPOINTING MEN – US 4×1
Come on man! My high school boys frosh/soph squad passed better than that. And you didn’t look bad once, you looked bad twice. I’ve seen all comers meet pick up teams pass better.
MOST DISAPPOINTING WOMEN – US 4×1
Come on man! Not the women too! Yes we lost Carmelita & Allyson, but that’s no excuse for what I witnessed. Jamaica lost women (and men) too, and they got the stick around the track. 40.84 last year disaster this. Come on!
MOST DISAPPOINTING WOMEN – ALYSIA MONTANO – 800
I know running from the front is her thing – I get that. But how many times do you have to go out that hard, and find yourself being reeled in before you maybe tweak it a bit? Watching her die coming home was painful to watch. While Martinez and Wilson gave us something to cheer about with their brilliant runs, Montano left most wondering "what was she thinking?".
MOST DISAPPOINTING WOMEN - ANNA CHICHEROVA - HJ
This was supposed to be her her gold medal to lose. Well, she lost it. For her not t to clear two meters when it matters borders on criminal. Yet another Olympic champion having trouble getting back on the podium.
So those are my thoughts on the individual performances from the World Championships. The first half of the Diamond League finals were last week in Zurich with the second half tomorrow in Brussels. When all is done I will make my comments on the finals as well as the Diamond League in General, before turning my attention to several items that cropped up this season.