Sometimes we spend so much time wishing that the Bolt’s, Gays, and Bekele’s of the sport were competing, that we forget just how much talent there is in this sport! That was evidenced this weekend, because as early as it is in the season, there is still plenty to talk about while many stars have yet to take to the track.
Case in point is the 21.87m (71’ 9”) heave by Reese Hoffa in Chemnitz, Germany. It was the best throw in the world so far this year, and Hoffa’s best indoors since ‘06 when Hoffa tossed the shot 22.11m (72’ 6.5”). That’s a good sign for Hoffa, since he won the World Indoor title in ‘06 and followed up with the World outdoor title in ‘07! So for Reese it could be a portent of things to come.
Another athlete performing exceeding well early was Canada’s Brianne Theisen who set a Canadian and NCAA record of 4555 pts in the pentathlon.Considering that she broke two records with the performance I would say it’s a very good beginning. When you take into account that it was her first competition in 10 months, I would say it’s pretty amazing. This Oregon Duck will certainly help lead her team in the battle for NCAA titles indoors and out, and could well be in the mix in the Heptathlon in London.
The same can be said for Belarus high jumper Aleksey Dmitrik who cleared a world leading 2.35m (7’ 8.5”) in Hustopece, Czech Republic. Only four men cleared higher in all of 2011, with Jesse Williams’ world leader only .02m better! Dmitrik took shots at 2.41m (7’ 10.75”) signaling that we could see a return to some serious attempts in the stratosphere this year. I will also note that 2nd place in the women’s competition was Chaunte Howard (USA) in 1.93m (6’ 4”) a nice return for her after a year off for maternity.
All the top performances weren’t relegated to the field events however, and there were two pretty good meets being held in the U.S. this past weekend. One of which was the Texas A&M Challenge in College Station Texas. As a matter of fact that’s where Theisen set her records in the pentathlon. Also performing quite well in the multis was Grey Horn (FL) who scored 5971 in the men’s Heptathlon – making him the #6 collegian indoors all time. There was also a nice long jump competition with Decathlete Ashton Eaton’s 8.04m (26’ 4.5”) taking the measure of Will Claye’s 7.96m (26’ 1.5”) as they moved to #’s 2 & 5 on the season.
There were also some outstanding marks around the Texas oval as Joey Roberts (Tx A&M) 1:47.14 and Sam Obinwa (FL) 1:47.22 covered 800 meters in the the #1 & #3 times of the year globally. Demetrius Pinder, running in the Olympic Development section, also ran a world leader covering 200 meters in 20.58. And Oregon’s Michael Berry proved that he is indeed a quartermiler that everyone needs to watch as he ran a sizzling 45.38 anchor in the 4×4 to bring Oregon from way back for the win. Something tells me this kid is just getting started.
Of course the other meet of note in the U.S. was the U.S.Open in Madison Square Garden – and it was the track that dominated in New York. Chief among the competitions were the hurdle races where two athletes with injury plagued 2011 seasons got back on track. In the men’s race it was Terrence Trammell winning over David Oliver 6.45 to 6.50 in the 50 meter hurdles. For the women it was Lolo Jones running clear of the field in 6.78. Great news for both athletes as each has the potential to contend for spots to London, and if this weekend is any indication they will be in the mix.
The 50 meters without hurdles were also hot. Asafa Powell (JAM, 5.64) winning a tight one over Nesta Carter (JAM, 5.67) and Trell Kimmons (USA, 5.68). In the women’s version Veronica Campbell Brown (JAM) ran clear of the field with a sizzling 6.08 win – making her =#8 all time performer.
The men’s mile was also competitive, if not as fast as hoped for, as Silas Kiplagat (KEN) outran Bernard Lagat (USA) to the tape 4:00.65 to 4:00:92. And speaking of the mile, I must mention that Mo Farah (GBR) stepped down to the metric mile in Glasgow and defeated Augustine Choge (KEN) with a nice 3:39.03 – a nice turn of speed for the 5000/10000 star.
So another nice early season weekend in the books. And from the looks of things 2012 is going to be one hot, competitive season.