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

Video Review – New Balance Boston Indoor

Feb 6th, 2012
4:13 pm PDT

It’s often interesting to review results online, then later have an opportunity to watch video of a race – or in this case two hours of a meet on television. While times and distances certainly have meaning, sometimes it’s how those results are derived that tell a completely different story. Such is the case with this weekend’s New Balance meet in Boston. Because after watching the meet on television yesterday, I have some observations regarding several individuals that I didn’t have after just reading the results and a few articles online.

It’s early in the year, but in an Olympic season everything ends up having meaning at the end of the day. That week or two of missed training early. Flaws in your race that don’t get sorted out. A niggle here or a lingering injury there. The Olympics puts you under the microscope from the time you first step on the track until the start of the Olympic final – and so do we fans. So whenever I get the chance to watch athletes compete – in person, on television, on the internet – I’ll be looking for clues to the season. Watching to see who’s ready, and who’s not; who has more work to do, and who’s on their way to the podium. And I will share those thoughts here. With that, here are a few observations from New Balance Boston.

Kirani James – On paper this looked like the new world leading mark. Watching the race however, this kid could easily have gone faster. Can someone tell me why you would let James lead from start to finish indoors, when you could challenge him early and make his run harder to beat you? He made this race, and sub 46, look relatively easy. Right now, I would rate him and Merritt as a class apart from the rest of the field. The field better get it together or this is going to be a two man run for gold.

Jenn Suhr – A great turnaround from the week before when she no heighted. Watching the attempts that they showed on television, she is back to where she was a couple of seasons ago – pre blond hair – which puts her on par with Isinbayeva. Her runway speed was on, her technique was solid, if she gets used to a bigger pole, and stays healthy, she’s going to jump higher this year than ever.

Lauren Williams – I’ve been a Williams fan for years, which is why this race was rather painful for me to watch. I know it’s early in the season, but Lauren didn’t look like the ’05 version at all. Her reaction to the gun was just not there, and neither was the early explosion or in race acceleration. There’s still time to get it together, but if you consider that barring injury Jeter is a lock for London, with Myers hot on her heals, the women could be running for one 100 meter spot in Eugene. Lauren is known for her big meet persona, I hope she gets her race cleaned up in time.

Alexandria Anderson – Anderson is another sprinter that I like, because I think she has crazy potential. But at the start of races she’s back there digging a hole to get out of. She’s got the kind of finish and power to end a race with Jeter or VCB – if she were in the same zip code at the 50! Someone tell her coach to teach her to start. Hire Jon Drummond. Hire me. Get someone to teach this woman how to run the first 50 – because she could be the next great American female sprinter with some work.

David Oliver – I guess this is my day to be critical of starts, because I’m also an Oliver fan, but his start has left a lot to be desired the past couple of weeks. He was barely visible in the first 20 meters in Boston, and while he pulled out the narrow victory, hurdlers like Liu Xiang, Jason Richardson and Dayron Robles are going to bury him outdoors if he’s still getting out like that. Indoors is for fixing flaws – David’s got to fix his start.

Morgan Uceny – She’s still the smartest runner on the track. Yes she lost at the end of the race, but it’s clear she’s been working on base and not speed work – her passing gear hasn’t been installed yet. Her tactics are the best out there, and the more she runs, the more I expect her to medal in London. She’s got time to put in the speed work for her kick, and when she does she’s sub 4. Right now she’s America’s best miler male or female.

Tirunesh Dibaba & Meseret Defar – For starters, Dibaba is looking healthy – and that’s bad news for the rest of the world. This pair is on track to do some special things this year IMHO. Clearly they take the threat from Vivian Cheruiyot seriously; I say that because watching them run something/someone other than the competition on the track in Boston was on their minds, because they ran as if to prove something. It’s early, but they are starting to look like the Dynamic Duo that was wreaking havoc on the world a few years back – good for us fans, bad for the competition.

Galen Rupp – I was actually pleased with Rupp’s race. He was in it, competitive, and set a new best. Not a bad days work in the mile for a guy that’s going to be competing over 10,000 meters. He looked fit and confident and after the race I actually felt like he could be competitive in London. Now that may change after he gets into a longer race and the pace goes out at breakneck speed. But judging from Boston, he has the speed to go with the pace, the question is: will he? I believe he can, I hope he believes he can too.

Shannon Rowbury and Jenny Simpson – Rowbury was American middle distance running a few scant years ago, and a couple of years ago Simpson was being touted as the one to replace her – and I was among those making that statement. Neither athlete looked ready for that mantle in Boston however, as both women looked remarkably “off”. Yes, it’s early, but studs still look like studs this time of year – just not as fast as we know they will be later. Rowbury & Simpson didn’t look ready for prime time – and I know they are both prime time athletes. I hope this was an anomaly and in a couple weeks they will “look like themselves”, but Saturday someone switched imposters out there, because I know both women are capable of racing much better.

Mo Farah – Every Olympics has a hometown hero that steps up and wins a big one for the host team. Britain has several athletes that are capable, but I believe Mo Farah will! Farah showed the stuff of a champion in Boston. I say that in part because he fell early and got up to finish. But he didn’t just get up and finish – he got up and competed. He is very fit, and very determined. In spite of the fall he set a new PR for the mile. Farah had that look that Michael Johnson and Cathy Freemen had when they competed at home – that look of destiny in their eyes. Farah has it, and it’s going to be fun watching his season unfold.

Then again, that’s part of the fun of the sport – watching the developments as athletes make their way towards championships, be they high school, collegiate, or in this case the Olympics. The nice thing, especially for the athletes, is that nothing is set in stone until the final race is run. The season is fluid and can change from week to week. Suhr no heighted one week, set an American Record the next. So I’ll keep watching to see how things progress. After all there will be another round of meets this coming weekend.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply