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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Berlin Marathon

I woke up in the middle of the night with an upset stomach--I think I got dehydrated at the cross-country meet yesterday. Anyway, I looked over at the clock and saw that it was around 3:30 AM, and thought, "If I got online, I could see the end of the Berlin Marathon. Nah, what's the chance anything interesting is going to happen?"

Well, as it turns out, the pre-race hype was actually right (that never happens!) and Haile Gebrselassie set his umpteenth world record, 2:04:26. (T&FN discussion - Let's Run discussion - WCSN video)
Gete Wami won the women's race and plans to turn around and race again New York in just five weeks, in an attempt to keep Jelena Prokupcuka from catching her in the World Marathon Majors standings.
New World Marathon Majors standings

In other news:
*Paula Radcliffe made her return to racing at the Great North Run half-marathon only to lose to Kara Goucher's American Record / world leader 66:57

*the (finally!) season-ending Yokohama Super Meet was pretty good but the headlines were all about a hamstring injury to Asafa Powell in the 200. Also, not a single pole vaulter made a height!

*yesterday a World Record was set in the 20 km road walk at the final of the IAAF Race Walking Challenge.

and finally,
*Alan Webb and Carmen Douma-Hassar beat fields that were basically exclusively North American (and therefore fairly weak) at the Fifth Avenue Mile.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Andy Norman Story

Being both American and just slightly too young, when I saw that former British athletics promoter Andy Norman had died, I hadn't the foggiest idea who he was. Apparently, there may not have been a more important trackman in the English-speaking world over quite an extended period of time.

The most honest and straightforward obit comes to us from The Guardian.
[Norman] ushered athletics through the age of "shamateurism" to its present professional state. Across three decades from the 1970s to the 1990s, he influenced, manipulated and dictated events on the track in Britain before being sacked in 1994 from the post of promotions director of the the British Athletics Federation. This followed the inquest on the athletics journalist Cliff Temple, whose suicide was, according to the coroner, partly due to Norman's intimidation.
His contribution to sport in Britain at a time of immense change was considerable, but he needed to be controlled, and for this omission British athletics officialdom remains guilty.
The T&F message boards have been quite active about this man, some opinions so strong that posts have been deleted and banning has been suggested (over there, what qualifies as "too strong" is sometimes merely being in direct conflict with head honcho Garry Hill). Let's Run is also discussing the issue.

There's no need for me to re-tell Norman's story; the above obit does a far better job than I ever could. Despite the fact that he was a bully, the athletes tended to like him, as he mostly took care of them and treated them well. But if bullies were incapable of being nice and gracious, the press would have been just as tough on GW Bush as they were on Gore, and the 21st century so far would have been radically different.

He bullied athletes who didn't do exactly as he said. He bullied other meet promoters into taking British athletes that didn't always deserve entry. He bullied administrators, including the national minister of sport. He bullied the anti-doping system, allowing athletes to avoid detection and reportedly squelching positive tests. He bullied sportswriters who dared to question anything he did, and that was his most egregious transgression.

In 1993, Sunday Times sportswriter Cliff Temple began to dig into so conflicts of interest in the business affairs of onetime jav record holder Fatima Whitbread. Whitbread just happened to be the woman Norman left his wife for (although based on her ridiculous physique, five o'clock shadow and obvious long-term steroid use, maybe "woman" isn't the right word to use). Norman threatened to drag Temple's name through the mud by spreading false rumors about abusing young girls if Temple kept it up. Being a real newspaperman (not like what we have here in the States), Temple went ahead anyway even though he knew he was crossing a powerful and vindictive man. Norman ruined his life and was publicly blamed as a factor in Temple's suicide. The book Running Scared details the whole thing.

Many who commented on his passing mentioned that there was plenty of good to go with the bad. Maybe it's because of my station in life as a rather ordinary man who's never been in a position that needed great power, but I simply cannot accept this kind of attitude. It's the same kind of thinking that leads to J. Edgar Hoover's more notorious actions; the FBI director did do a lot of good for the country but also subverted the rule of law and the Constitution.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Anti-Doping News

You've no doubt already heard the news. From Tuesday's New York Times:
Federal authorities said yesterday that they had exposed a sprawling underground distribution network for steroids, human growth hormone and other illicit bodybuilding drugs supplied by 37 companies in China.

The operation revealed a much wider, more diffuse commerce in performance-enhancing drugs than previously known, with a latticework of bathroom and basement manufacturers and distributors. That contrasted with the more centralized drug network from past years that tapped into established pharmaceutical pipelines.

A network of Internet-based chemical wholesalers, anonymous e-mail services and password-protected chat rooms fueled the trade, federal and state officials said.
The D.E.A. estimates that 99 percent of the illegal steroids originate with chemicals from China.
Two years ago the DEA pulled off the previously biggest-ever performance-enhancing drug bust, called Operation Gear Grinder, which was aimed mostly at destroying the flow of steroids into the USA from Mexico. This new bust, dubbed Operation Raw Deal, is obviously centered on the trade with China. The major difference is how the drugs came to the USA; from Mexico they were basically ready-to-use, but this new pipeline was mainly raw supplies which were then manufactured into drugs here in the states.

In the USA alone, the bust netted 124 arrests and the shutdown of 56 labs, including a massive Long Island operation. Feds say they have thousands of names which they have not as of yet disclosed but they say they will be working with WADA and USADA as well as MLB and the NFL. Big names could be implicated, but I personally doubt we'll get a bunch in track & field.
The dealers engaged in illegally manufacturing and selling anabolic steroids over the Internet, the authorities said, and tried to avoid detection through anonymous e-mail services and password-protected chat rooms.

Customers contacted encrypted e-mail addresses and often sent cash to post office boxes.

“There was a definite local customer base on Long Island. However, the clientele was also outside this jurisdiction — they didn’t just cater to Long Island,” said Teri Corrigan, chief of the street narcotics and gang bureau for the Nassau County district attorney’s office, which worked with federal agents on the investigation.

She said that many sellers advertised on bodybuilding chat rooms and online bulletin boards, and that investigators placed Internet orders for steroids and observed sellers mailing packages. Web site operators are suspected of using savvy techniques to screen customers by checking their e-mail addresses to see if they had a history of visiting bodybuilding Web sites.
Top track athletes know everyone is looking over their shoulders, and in the wake of the BALCO affair the smart ones will never handle deals themselves or write anything down anywhere. Other athletes such as baseball players, however, are likely to have assumed the Internet is totally anonymous (it's not, folks) and they'll be the ones getting hit.

Others with actual real knowledge agree:

U.S. Olympic athletes could emerge unscathed from the scandal, according to Travis Tygart, who oversees the drug-testing program for the Olympic team. Tygart, CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and an adviser during the 20-month international investigation that culminated in four days of raids last week, said the evidence he has seen suggests the list does not include athletes expected to represent the U.S. at the 2008 Games in Beijing.
Tygart apparently is the lone sports official privy to contents of the list – a database of the names of people who received steroids, HGH and other performance-enhancing drugs during the investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration...

It's been estimated that this police action destroyed 90% of the the USA's HGH supply. That can't be bad; at the very least, it will drive up the cost for the high-end users.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: drug testing is no longer the strongest weapon in the anti-doping effort. Law enforcement has taken over.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

From "In The Bleachers"

World Final Day Two recap

IAAF recap
AP wirestory
Athletics Weekly report


Mens' 200: Jaysuma Saidy Ndure gained some notoriety late this season by running second or third in several Golden League 100m races, with decent but not-stunning times. The more observant fan might have known he's a better 200m runner. Today he stomped Wallace Spearmon by 0.29 seconds with 19.89. Definitely the find of this meet!
T&FN discussion - video

Men's 1500: Daniel Kipchirchir Komen was supposed to be one of the dominant milers this year, but it didn't really come out that way until after the World Championships. Today he outkicked a field that included Baala, Webb, Sullivan, Ali and Baddeley.
T&FN discussion - video

Men's Steeple: Paul Koech won almost every race he was in this year, save the all-important Kenyan Trials where he finished fourth and was not selected for the World Championships. He easily won again today, running 8:00.67 to runner-up Mateelong's 8:07.66 (and this without a pacemaker). Statistically, Koech is now probably the second- or third-best steepler of all time.
T&FN discussion - video

Men's 5000: Two days, two wins for Edwin Cheruyiot Soi. His kick was described as one of the best ever. Sihine was way back in sixth; there may have been some Kenyan team tactics going on there.
T&FN discussion - video

Mens' 110H: All of the world's best hurdlers save WR holder/world champ Liu Xiang were in the race. Dayron Robles, who was a bit of a disappointment in the early and middle parts of the season (no medal in Osaka) has been running very well in the last few weeks. Today he took it up another level; he ran 12.92 (wind 0.0), equal to the 4th-fastest athlete of all time. David Payne ran another great race (13.08) for second, with Trammell third. Robles' mark is definitely the performance of the day.
T&FN discussion

Men's High Jump: World Champ Donald Thomas added the World Final title to his short but rapidly-growing list of accomplishments. Remember, just two years ago he'd never tried the event and was still playing basketball for Auburn. Stefan Holm gained some measure of redemption for his Osaka failure by taking the runner-up spot.
T&FN discussion

Men's Pole Vault: Brad Walker cemented his position as the year's top vaulter with a 5.91 victory, beating back crowd-supported Germans Otto (2nd, 5.86) and Ecker (4th, 5.81) and Aussie Hooker (3rd, 5.81) in the process. He then actually had the audacity to attempt a WR 6.16 meters. Do I even have to mention that he didn't make it?
T&FN discussion

Men's Long Jump: These days, discussion of the event virtually begins and ends with Irving Saladino. He suffered and injury in Rieti and ended his season right there, so he was a no-show today. The man who came the closest to beating Saladino, Andrew Howe, won by a fairly wide margin with 8.35.
T&FN discussion

Men's Hammer: In the marquee running events many top stars skipped this meet. This was not the case in events which get lesser coverage such as the long throws; all the best hammer guys were here today. The title went to World champ Ivan Tsikhan.
T&FN discussion

Men's Javelin: Yet another Pitkämäki win (although to be fair, runner-up Thorkildsen is still recovering from injury). Every one of the top six was from a nation bordering the Baltic Sea.
T&FN discussion

Women's 100: All-around sprint star Allyson Felix chose the 100 for her first (only?) post-Osaka race and came up 0.05 short on a late-race surge. Emerging talent Carmelita Jeter won in 11.10 (wind -0.6) while a resurgent Christine Arron was third.
T&FN discussion - video

Women's 400: All the top 400 runners save Felix were in the race, and all got their butts kicked by Sanya Richards (49.27, equal to her own world leader).
T&FN discussion - video

Women's 800: Janeth Jepkosgei. Get to know this name--it sure looks like she's going to dominate the event for years to come.
T&FN discussion

Women's 3000: A Defar-Jamal matchup did not materialize. Defar won in 8:27.24 to 5k champ Cheruyiot's 8:28.66, but it actually was not as close as that appears. A dominant win for an athlete with a reasonable case for Athlete of the Year.
T&FN discussion

Women's 400H: This race was almost a microcosm of the season in this event. World Champ Jana Rawlinson dominated for 300+ meters, then folded in the straight and got nipped at the line by a surging Anna Jesien. Natasha Danvers-Smith's apparrel made a bit of a stir.
T&FN discussion - video

Women's Triple Jump: Tatyana Lebedeva continues to do the opposite of what we expect: win the long jump and get beaten in the triple. Surprise World champ Yergelis Sevigne won again today (14.78), with Devetzi second (14.75) and Lebedeva third (14.72).
T&FN discussion

Women's Shot: Nadzeya Ostapchuk evened the major-meet score with World champ Valerie Vili, 20.45 to 20.40.
T&FN discussion

Women's Discus: It actually took Franka Dietzsch two throws to put this one away. Runner-up Vera Pospíšilová-Cechlová was a bomb in Osaka, not qualifying to the final.
T&FN discussion

Saturday, September 22, 2007

World Final Day One recap

IAAF recap
Raf Casert's AP story


Men's 100: The AP headline reads "Asafa Powell wins 100 meters at World Athletics Final, but misses world record". The IAAF story leads with "Asafa Powell has developed a knack for making even some of the most sensational performances in history seem almost routine." He won by 0.23 seconds over Jasuma Saidy Ndure, who himself set a new national record. Considering the headwind (0.3 m/s), it was about the second-best mark of Powell's career.
T&FN discussion - video

Men's 400: In the absence of Jeremy Wariner, the event was won by Osaka runner-up LaShawn Merritt in 44.58, with Christopher Tyler second (44.87) and Angelo Taylor third (44.92). No one else beat 45 seconds.
T&FN discussion - video

Men's 800: Not one of the medalists at the World Championships were in attendance. Yusuf Saad Kamel just nipped Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, 1:45.61 to 1:45.67.
T&FN discussion

Men's 3000: Kenenisa Bekele was supposed to be in the race but pulled out. It was a relatively easy win for Edwin Cheruiyot Soi; Worlds medalist Eliud Kipchog had a bad day and finished sixth.
T&FN discussion - video

Men's 400H: This was the race of the night. All the best hurdlers were in the race. Marek Plawgo, Kerron Clement and James Carter all came to the line together; the Pole outleaned the others, fell and was ill. He's had a wonderful finish to his season.
T&FN discussion - video

Men's Triple Jump: Walter Davis took his third post-Osaka win in four tries with a seasonal best mark. The top three (Davis, Wilson and Evora) all made their best marks in their final attempts.
T&FN discussion

Men's Shot Put: Reese Hoffa is doubtless the year's top putter and he beat a stacked field here. Once again, he was behind until his final throw when he unleashed a big one.
T&FN discussion

Men's Discus Throw: Alekna must still be suffering from the injury that held him back in Osaka; he now has a two-meet losing streak. He held on to second, to World champ Gerd Kanter who solidified his claim to a world #1 ranking.
T&FN discussion

Women's 200: Uhh, yeah. Just one Osaka 200m finalist (Akron's LaShantea Moore) was in attendance. Muriel Hurtis just beat out Debbie Ferguson, 22.73-22.74. There were strange issues with the starter; Kim Gevaert was DQ'd for a false start, sat out another false start, and then reinstated.
T&FN discussion - video

Women's 1500: Maryam Yusuf Jamal whupped the year's #2, Yelena Soboleva, by more than four seconds. There are rumours that she will enter the 3000.
T&FN discussion - video

Women's Steeple: Most of the top players were here. World Champ Volkova did not run as well in this race, finishing fourth; the winner was Osaka bronze-medalist Eunice Jepkorir, in a relatively slow 9:35.03.
T&FN discussion - video

Women's 5000: Only six runners! Meseret Defar was on the start list initially but will run the 3000 instead. The athletes who took places 2-3-4 at the World Championships 5k were in the race, however. Cheruyiot first (14:56.94), Kibet second (14:57.37 PR), Cherono third (14:58.97).
T&FN discussion

Women's 100H: This was ridiculous. Susanna Kallur, Lolo Jones and Sally McLellan all got DQ'd on false starts. And there was reportedly some bad blood between Perdita Felicien and "victor" Michelle Perry. A most disappointing and disgraceful end to the season for an event which has been pretty interesting this year.
T&FN discussion - video

Women's High Jump: Vlasic, again.
T&FN discussion

Women's Pole Vault: Isinbayeva, again, but not comfortably. Pyrek set a PR and forced a jump-off. This was the first competition with three athletes over 4.80.
T&FN discussion

Women's Long Jump: Lebedeva beat a field that wasn't all that great in terms of depth.
T&FN discussion

Women's Hammer: Yipsi Moreno had two measured throws, both of which were good enough to win.
T&FN discussion

Women's Javelin: Early-season hero Obergföll was only third, while late-season hero Špotáková won with a new national record (67.12). It's always better to be the second of those than the first.
T&FN discussion

IAAF preview of the second day

Thursday, September 20, 2007

World Athletics Final preview

Meet website
Entry Lists (provisional) - discuss
World Athletics Tour standings
IAAF previews:
Sprints - Distance - Hurdles - Jumps - Throws
Day One
USATF promo

Net coverage:
WCSN, beginning at noon Saturday and Sunday

TV coverage:
no English-language North American coverage, so far as I know
(Due to Canada's hosting of the U-20 World Cup, CBC has contractual obligations with FIFA for the current Women's World Cup, and Hockey Night in Canada will begin next weekend)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Anti-Doping News

Quite a few headlines recently. In reverse order, from boring to interesting:

The IAAF announces eight bans, none of them involving a name I recognize.

The Toronto Sun reports on Dick Pound's retirement from head of WADA.

The New York Times gives us an update on the search for an HGH test, which would be the next leap forward in drug testing (it's known as the drug of choice for sprinters). Also: the MLBPA's fight against the test and a column about it.

Yahoo! Xtra reports on the initial clearing of Giuseppe Gibilisco of a non-analytical positive. The article makes much of his claim to never fail a drug test, but it rings as hollow as a gangster who says he's been indicted but never convicted. The real key in this story is whether or not law enforcement has sufficient evidence to prove he recieved doping materials.

I saved the most interesting for last: Ex-Track Stars Could Testify For Government in Balco Trial
Five-time Olympic medal winner Marion Jones, former 100-meter world record holder Tim Montgomery and several other well-known track and field athletes might testify at the trial of track coach Trevor Graham in November, federal prosecutors in San Francisco said in a recent court filing.

Besides Jones and Montgomery, the government attorneys named four other athletes -- sprinter Michelle Collins, brothers Alvin and Calvin Harrison and sprinter Ramon Clay, along with coach Tom Craig -- as possible witnesses in what is projected to be an eight-day trial beginning Nov. 26.

C.J. Hunter, Jones's ex-husband and a former world champion shot putter, and coach John Burks, a former assistant to Graham, are also expected to testify, Graham's attorney Gail Shifman said in a recent interview.
We've gotten the truth out of all these athletes save one: Marion Jones. People have been convicted of murder with less compelling evidence than we have against her; maybe we'll finally get to the bottom of it all.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Berlin Golden League Review

IAAF Review
AP wirestory

Richards and Isinbayeva hold on for the $1 million jackpot.


Men's 100: None of the top athletes ran; Ndure just nipped Devonish in 10.14 (-0.5 wind). Video

Men's 200: The only big names here were Americans Spearmon and Martin, who went 1-2 in 20.22 and 20.54 (-0.8 wind).

Men's 400: Even Jeremy Wariner is beginning to feel the effects of a very long season...but not as much as everyone else. He ran 44.05, while second place (Christopher Tyler) ran 45.10; US champ Angelo Taylor was third. Video

Men's 1500: If memory serves me, this was Lagat's first loss since July. He was passed by Daniel Kipchirchir Komen on the final turn but held off everyone else.

Men's 110H: Allen Johnson started his season very late and wasn't in form to make the Worlds team, but has been very good over the last week or so of the season. The three big stars (Liu, Trammell, Robles) were absent but most of the rest were here; Johnson topped them all in 13.33 (-0.5 wind) for his first win of the year. Video

Men's 400H: Marek Plawgo continued his late-season heroics, winning (49.01) by a scant 0.01 over James Carter, with Felix Sanchez a well-beaten fourth.

Men's Pole Vault: Germans Danny Ecker and Bjorn Otto went 1-2 with Brad Walker third (a countbakc loss to Otto).

Men's Triple Jump: Probably the event of the day. All the top jumpers were in attendance and it was a close one. Aarik Wilson and World champ Nelson Evora tied with 17.07, and their second-best jumps were also tied (17.02). They had to go back to the third-best mark to get a winner, which was Wilson. Gregorio, Davis, Sands and Lewis rounded out the top half-dozen.

Men's Javelin: Dueling northerners Pitkämäki and Thorkildsen each only took two throws. The Finn's mark of 88.58 held up (no one else in the field save Thorkildsen has beaten that this year). The Norwegian's 80.71 wasn't remotely close to good enough to hold second; Magnus Arviddson and Teemu Wirkkala both topped it, giving Thorkildsen his worst result on the 2007 World Tour.

Women's 100: Carmelita Jeter (11.15, -0.3 wind) ran well clear of Lauren Williams and Christine Arron (both 11.24). It was Williams' second race of the day (see below).

Women's 200: Williams led into the straight and held it through to the finish (22.95, +1.2 wind). Notables in the race included Debbie Ferguson (2nd, 23.07), LaShauntea Moore (4th, 23.10), Cydonie Mothersill (5th, also 23.10), and Muriel Hurtis (6th, 23.13). Video

Women's 400: Earlier this week it was reported that World champ Christine Ohuruogu was calling it quits for the season, but she was here in the race along with compatriate silver-medalist Sanders, Amy Mbacke Thiam, Novlene Williams, and hurdle champ Jana Rawlinson. Sanya Richards disposed of them all in world-leading time (49.27) to claim half a million dollars. Video

Women's 800: Another late-season meet, another good field decisively beaten by Janeth Jepkosgei.

Women's 5k: The only Osaka distance medalists entered were Vivian Cheruiyot and Kara Goucher. The former won fairly clearly (14:50.78) while the latter, back in third, broke her PR by 13 seconds (14:55.02)and moved to #4 on the US list behind Shalane Flanagan, Deena Kastor and (cue Darth Vader musical sting) Regina Jacobs.

Women's 100H: Susanna Kallur led from the gun for her third straight post-Osaka victory and a new PR (12.49). Michelle Perry was second, just ahead of Delloreen Ennis-Perry. Video

Women's High Jump: Blanca Vlašic again, but not as dominating. She only jumped 2.00 and needed three attempts to get it. Video

Women's Pole Vault: Isinbayeva was quite dominating here. She went 4.82, while the season's next-best vaulters (Pyrek and Feofanova) were second and third with 10 cm less.

Women's Javelin: German hero Christina Obergföll avenged her Osaka loss to Barbara Špotáková, 64.58 to 64.51.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Berlin Golden League Preview

Meet website
Start lists
IAAF preview

Net coverage: beginning around 8 AM

TV coverage:
CBC, 4:00-5:00 PM
Versus, 4:00-5:00 PM Monday

Friday, September 14, 2007

Brussels Golden League Review

IAAF recap
AP wirestory

A WR by Defar, while Richards and Isinbayeva stay alive in the jackpot race.


Men's 100: In the absence of any other big stars, Powell won convincingly: 9.84 into a 0.3 m/s headwind. This is probably the second-best race he's ever run.

Men's 200: Spearmon took it to Carter and Bolt on the turn and was never challenged, winning by a wide margin in 19.88.

Men's 800: Kenyan David Lekuta Rudisha, called the "dark horse" of the race by the meet director, took almost a full second off his PR for a clear win over tour leaders Mulaudzi, Kamel and Ali. Borzakovskiy ran like crap back in sixth.

Men's 1500: Daniel Kipchirchir Komen swept past a failing Rashid Ramzi in the last lap. Other than these two, no big names were entered save Asbel Kiprop, who finished third from last.

Men's Steeple: Paul Kipsiele Koech has won pretty much everything this year except the Kenyan Trials, which then kept him out of the World Championships. In what was described as a solo run, he took the yearly lead down to 7:58.80 to defeat World champ Kipruto, who himself ran a PR (8:02.89).

Men's 5000: This might be the race of the night. The unknown star, Seleshi Sihine, outsprinted Eliud Kipchoge to win by a mere 0.22 seconds (12:50.16); Osaka bronze-medalist Moses Kipsiro set a national record in third. The top seven were all under 13 minutes, but Tegenkamp looks like he might be past his peak as he "only" registered 13:07.41 way back in 11th.

Men's 10,000: It was supposed to be a record attempt, but it didn't take all that long for Bekele to figure out it wasn't happening. Then relative unknown Moses Masai started gaining on him and with two laps to go Bekele led by only 10 meters. Of course, Bekele pulled away for the win--he hasn't been beaten in the 10k in over 4 years--but it was an actual race. The first four all broke 27 minutes. Video

Men's 110H: Dayron Robles, 13.21, over most of the top Americans (except Trammell). In third, Allen Johnson continues to amaze; remember, he was Olympic Champ when Bob Dole was running for president!

Men's Triple Jump: Walter Davis continued his post-Osaka success, beating back a field that included all the top jumpers (Evora, Gregorio, Wilson).

Men's Javelin: Pitkämäki won on his final throw, Thorkildsen again in second. Those two have been first and second in every Golden League meet this summer.

Women's 100: Like in Osaka, Campbell came out the winner. Unlike Osaka, even Mr. Magoo could have picked the winner--0.11 seconds back were Arron and Edwards.

Women's 200: National hero Kim Gevaert's victory resulted in a "cacophony of noise". Second was Edwards, doubling back from the 100.

Women's 400: The field was fairly deep, including most of the Osaka stars save Ohuruogu. Sanya Richards left them all more than a second in arrears for a new seasonal best of 49.29. Video

Women's Mile: This was supposed to be a clash between Osaka gold- and silver-medalists. They did take places one and two, but it wasn't even remotely close; Jamal put four seconds on Soboleva in the final lap for a new Asian record (4:17.75), albeit for a rarely-run distance.

Women's 2 mile: Meseret Defar's world record 8:58.58 made her the hero of the night. How does this mark stack up? It's worth roughly 8:18.7, which would be the best mark ever made outside of the suspicious 1993 Chinese National Games. In other words, it deserves much more attention than it likely will get.

Women's 100H: Susanna Kallur stretched her Golden League win streak to two, the same length as Michelle Perry's third-place streak. Ennis-London just nipped the American for second. Video

Women's High Jump: Vlasic appears unbeatable this year. Her card was clean through the winning height of 2.03 and then she took three more shots at a WR height of 2.10.

Women's Pole Vault: The results make it look closer than it was; both Isinbayeva and Feofanova cleared 4.80 but the former did it on her first attempt versus the latter doing it on her third. Still, the jackpot was very much in jeopardy.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Brussels Golden League Preview

Meet Website
IAAF preview - Veronica Campbell - Kenenisa Bekele - Asafa Powell

Net coverage: beginning around 1:30 PM eastern time

TV coverage:
CBC, 2:30-3:30 PM Saturday
Versus, 3:00-4:00 PM Sunday

The meet is sold out, no doubt in part because fans will get free beer if a world record is broken.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Happy Ethiopian New Millenium

Your likely response would abbreviate to "WTF?" Not only because you wonder how in the hell their third millennia begins tommorrow, but why it has a damn thing to do with track & field.

If you're curious about the details, Wikipedia has the rundown. Ethiopia's new year begins on September 11 because they still use the Gregorian calendar, and using ancient Egyptian reckoning rather than the more common European method their year count is off by eight (or ours is, depending on how you look at it).

Now, how is this important here? Be patient. If you don't know anything about Ethiopia aside from the fact that they produce great distance runners, you'll learn something today.

Ethiopia is a Christian nation, and the only sub-Saharan African nation to be so before colonial times. Their particular denomination is very old and has some fairly interesting variations; my knowledge is cursory and comes mostly from a bizarre and interesting book, The Sign and the Seal.

If you liked Raiders of the Lost Ark and The DaVinci Code, you'll eat up The Sign and the Seal. Unlike the other two, it purports to be factual and traces the history and movement of the Ark of the Covenant to its current holding place--in Axum, the ancient capital of Ethiopia. Much of the book is controversial and speculative, but one thing it conveys without doubt is the attitude of Ethiopians. Every religious Ethiopian takes it as an article of faith that the Ark is held at the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Axum. Nearly all Ethiopians, religious or not, also take tremendous pride in the fact that theirs is the only African nation that was never colonized.

Axum is an interesting site; in addition to the church, there are a number of 1700-year-old large stone stelae that seem difficult if not impossible to erect without modern heavy equipment. Locals merely say they were raised by angels. During the Italian occupation of World War II, one was looted and taken to Rome. Part of the Italian's agreement at the end of the war was to return it to Ethiopia, but it stood in Rome for another 56 years, as if to thumb the Italians' nose at the Ethiopians.

The 1960 Olympics were held in Rome and the marathon course went by this obelisk. As you may know, the first-ever African Olympic champion, Ethiopian footsoldier Abebe Bikila, was crowned in this race. The headlines were cute; many referenced the fact that it took an entire Italian army to defeat Ethiopia but one single Ethiopian soldier to defeat Rome. The IOC had no problem with people making this statement since it didn't stir up much in the way of politics; Bud Greenspan's Olympic films use the story.

The race, however, was not so nice. Greenspan's films left out a hugely important feature, one the IOC wouldn't have liked to be sent around the world. Where did Bikila take the lead in the race? Precisely at the obelisk itself, a patently political and religious action understood by the thousands of Ethiopians who listened to the race on the radio or who read about it in the news. Bikila became such a popular figure that Emperor Haile Selassie was reportedly in fear of him, and when Bikila suffered his catastrophic car crash a (false) rumor circulated that the Emperor arranged to have him done in.

Now you know why an Ethiopian religious holiday deserves mention on a track & field blog.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Road Running News

This morning's Rotterdam Half-Marathon produced four sub-60 clockings in the men's race, led by Kenyan Evans Kiprop Cheruiyot in 59:12. The women's race had somewhat less depth; Berhane Adere had planned a record attempt but decided against it a race time and simply ran for the win, which she got in 1:11:11.

An idea that had been floated a while back was adding some shorter road races to the World Marathon Majors series and scoring them at a lower level (say 5-3-2-1). I'd suggest the IAAF World Road Running Championships, along with the Great North, New York, Rotterdam, Sapporo and Lisbon half-marathons, and the World's Best, New York Mini, Great Manchester and Peachtree 10ks.

Powell's Record

Powell seems to own the all-time world list. He's now got five of the six fastest times, and it will change to five of five once Gatlin's mark officially gets the boot.

Yet he's obviously not the world's best 100-meter man. He was well beaten in Osaka. How is this possible?

Simple. He has all the official fastest marks, but in reality he does not dominate. Wind speed and altitude play an unappreciated role in sprint times. Just yesterday, T&FN released their all-time wind/altitude adjusted lists. Take a look; Tyson Gay and Maurice Greene split the top five marks.

There's a decent amount of research being done on the effect of wind and altitude. T&FN's adjustments are based on older work by J. Dapena and M. Feltner; I like Jonas Murieka's research not just because it's newer but because it's easy to apply with his online calculator. Both methods show Powell's recent record to be equal to 9.83 in still air at sea level.

I have a Google spreadsheet for Murieka's all-time adjusted list through last year, and another one for this year's marks. Take a careful look at the top of the 2007 list, and compare it to the all-time one.

Asafa Powell did set a record today. His 9.78 in the final adjusts to 9.79, the fastest ever. So there.

Rieti GP Recap

Meet website
IAAF recap
AP wirestory

The big news:

Asafa Powell ran 9.74 for a new 100m World the heats. More on that in another post yet to come. The rap on Powell recently is he can produce fast times but is a horrible underachiever in championships, and running a WR in qualifying does nothing to change that impression.

Men's 100: In the final, Powell ran 9.78 to leave Michael Frater a full 1/4 second behind.

Men's 400: Tyler Christopher beat a mostly B-group in 44.94.

Men's 800: A pretty deep field, including Yego and Borza, was beaten by Belel Mansoor Ali (1:44.02).

Men's 1500: Like the 400, a B-group was beaten by the only Osaka finalist entered. Here it was Juan Carlos Higuero in 3:34.78.

Men's 3000m: Seven Kenyans, two Spaniards, two Americans, and a Japanese. The Kenyans took spots 1-7 (Thomas Pkemei Longosiwa won in 7:32.79) while the two Americans bombed.

Men's 400H: Marek Plawgo proved his Osaka bronze was no fluke. He defeated silver medalist Sánchez, 49.07-49.12.

Men' Pole Vault: A grand total of five entries. Osaka last-placer Denys Yurchenko gained some measure of redemption with a clear win over Averbukh.

Men's Long Jump: The pre-meet headlines were mostly centered around the absence of Italian worlds hero Andrew Howe. Irving Saladino continued his winning streak, defeating the field by over a foot.

Men's Hammer: This was probably the deepest event on today's program; half of the Osaka finalists inlcuding the gold and bronze medalists were present. Koji Murofushi took the lead by a single centimeter on his final throw and it held up for the win. Video

Women's 100: Worlds semi-finalist Sally McLellan beat a few decent sprinters, such as Stephanie Durst, Debbie Ferguson and Sherone Simpson.

Women's 200: Lauryn Williams beat a halfway-decent field (Durst, Mothersill, Ferguson, Hurtis) in 22.76.

Women's 400: A mostly Jamaica vs Russia race was won by Shericka Williams (over Osaka finalist Antyukh) in 51.01.

Women's 800: Jepkosgei continued her late-season dominance. She ran 1:56.29 to leave second place (Svetlana Usovich) over two seconds behind.

Women's 1500: Olga Yegerova (remember her?) ran 4:03.27 to beat Osaka finalists Viola Kibiwott and Yuliya Fomenko. American Fleshman ran a PR (4:05.62) back in fifth.

Women's 3k: Winner Vivian Cheruyiot ran the world's second-best time (8:30.25). In third and fourth, Kara Goucher and Kim Smith dueled again just like in Osaka; Goucher came out ahead with a new PR (8:34.99). It's an outdoor AR of sorts (the only two who ran faster had their careers end with doping suspensions).

Women's Steeple: Osaka champ Yekaterina Volkova beat a decent field in a relatively easy 9:26.80.

Women's 400H: Anna Jesien (Worlds bronze) won in 54.78. Danvers-Smith, last place in Osaka, pushed Worlds silver-medalist Pechonkina back into third.

Women's Triple Jump: Another deep field event; Worlds finalists present were Yargelis Savigne (gold), Tatyana Lebedeva (silver), Anna Pyatykh (fourth), Magdelin Martínez (sixth), Olha Saladuha (seventh), and Keila Costa (ninth). They finished in that exact same order--what are the odds?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Weltklasse Review

If you don't want to know the results so you can watch it tomorrow, why are you online?

TV coverage:
CBC, Saturday, 2:00-3:00 PM
Versus, Saturday, 4:00-5:00 PM

Meet website
IAAF results
IAAF recap
Athletics Weekly recap
AP wirestories: #1 -- #2

In general, the stars of last week "looked tired and jet lagged". The meet must have been a bit of a downer. Unless, of course, you read the Voice of America.

Men's 100: Powell's asking price was too high, an exhausted Gay withdrew from the race, and Atkins dropped out with a cold. So we were left with decidedly second-tier sprinters remaining; Obikwelu over Saidy Njure in a pedestrian 10.17. Video

Men's 200: Carter came in more rested than Bolt and Spearmon withdrew. Result: a meet record 19.92 for the X-Man. Video

Men's 1500: The big news here? No rabbits. Webb faded down the stretch once again, finishing only 1.3 seconds out of first but a well-beaten seventh. Baala found redemption for his Osaka semi DQ by outsprinting the field for the win.

Men's 3000: No rabbits, Lagat wins on a convincing finish. You expected something different?

Men's 110H: Robles, the fourth man in Osaka, won by a decent margin over Trammell and Johnson.

Men's 4x100: The USA ran their same foursome as in Osaka, and Jamaica was missing Powell and Nesta Carter. Result: USA by a wide margin.

Men's pole vault: Anothe Osaka champ goes down. Igor Pavlov won on fewer misses over Otto and Lukianenko; world champ Walker only made one height.

Men's triple jump: Walter Davis beat Osaka champ Nelson Evora by a scant 2 cm, with Aarik Wilson third and everyone else well back.

Men's Jav: Pitkämäki lost for only the second time all year; as before, it was to Thorkildsen. The Norwegian put up a season's best in the third round and promptly quit throwing.

Women's 100: In the absence of Veronica Campbell, Christine Arron handily defeated Torri Edwards.

Women's 400: Most of the Osaka finalists lined up against Sanya Richards, who stomped them by a second and a half. Still alive in the jackpot hunt. Video

Women's 800: More domination by Jepkosgei.

Women's 1500: Miryam Jamal cemented her position as the undisputed #1 in this event.

Women's 100H: Just as in the men's hurdles race, 4th place in Osaka (Susanna Kallur) came back to win here. Michelle Perry suffered only her second loss of the season, but this time it cost her big money--she's out of the jackpot race.

Women's high jump: Vlasic continues to dominate this event. She again took legitimate shots at the world record. Video

Women's pole vault: Speaking of domination, we come to Isinbayeva. She may not actually be unbeatable but it sure seems that way. Also still alive in the jackpot hunt.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Weltklasse Preview

The "Olympics in one night" will be held in Zurich's new Letzigrund stadium on Friday at 8 PM their time, 2 PM Eastern time.

IAAF preview
Meet website
Start lists (discuss)

TV coverage:
CBC, Saturday, 2:00-3:00 PM
Versus, Saturday, 4:00-5:00 PM

Net coverage:
none that I know of, but might have it

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Anti-Doping News

The always-excellent Tim Layden yesterday wrote of the Worlds: "The good news: No major positive drug tests. The bad news: No major positive drug tests. If you know what I mean."

Not so fast. The AP reports Athens bronze-medal winner Naman Keita (400H, France) had "abnormal" results in a doping test during the Worlds.
"We are not at the point of a positive result," an official from the anti-doping department of the sport's world governing body told The Associated Press. That person requested anonymity, because an investigation into the matter is ongoing. "There is an abnormal result."
UK Times Online reports the abnormality as "positive for testosterone" (probably either elevated T/E ratio or exogeneous testosterone); Keita is doing the old "blame the supplement" trick. Or telling the truth. Either way, WADA doesn't care.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Worlds Summary

SI's Tim Layden has a nice look back at the eight days of the meet--it's a definite must-read. The man just gets it like no other mainstream US sportswriter.

Dick Patrick at USA Today has a summary but it’s more of a Beijing preview.

EDIT: The New York Times has its own "Best & Worst" selections.

My own look back...

Athlete of the meet, men: Tyson Gay. Dominated the 200 and kicked the world-record holder's ass in the 100 while (supposedly) going into the meet with a tricky knee. Bernard Lagat earned honorable mention.

Athlete of the meet, women: Allyson Felix. An eye-popping 200 meter win, a good leg in the 4x100, and then 48.0 in the 4x400.

Performance of the meet, men: Jeremy Wariner's 43.45. He's gettin' closer...

Performance of the meet, women: The above-mentioned relay split for Felix. That's half a second faster than anyone has run since Ben Johnson got busted. It could now be argued that her best event is the longer one, and if Sanya Richards can get healthy we might be looking at the sport's greatest rivalry since Ovett-Coe--but they'll actually race each other!

Competition of the meet, men: With four rounds to build tension, and the outcome in doubt for at least 80 meters of the final, the 100 is my pick. Honorable mention: long jump.

Competition of the meet, women: Shot put. Nadyesa Ostapchuk barely scarped into the final, then took the lead on her first throw. Valerie Vili fought to hold silver through the first five rounds and then took the gold on her final attempt.

Oh-so-close, men: Gary Reed darn near pulled off a shocker of a win in the 800. It would have been Canada's first-ever in this event at a Worlds or Olympics; it's their first silver since Alex Wilson in 1932.

Oh-so-close, women: 100. This is why they invented the automtic timer.

Stunner, men: Virjilius Alekna threw like crap. He hasn't finished fourth in years. Of course, no one knew he was hurt (calf) before the competition began. Honorable mention: Felix Sanchez.

Stunner, women: Janeth Jepkosgei went from a 1:59.14 best this summer to 1:58.95 in the heats, 1:56.17 in the semis and 1:56.04 in the final. The former World Junior champ was second at both the World Cup and World Final last year and put up a 1:57, so she didn't come out of nowhere. But she hadn't won a single race on the GP circuit and didn't look like a champ until she got to Japan.

Media: SI's Tim Layden had nearly daily insight that was first-class. WCSN had huge amounts of coverage, and the IAAF website was easily navigable and chock full of great stuff. But the tops was Versus' coverage. I had only minor complaints; if you had told me a year ago we'd get two hours of prime-time US coverage every day, available in hi-def, with no up-close-&-personal crap and a minimum of Carol Lewis, I'd say you should switch to the kind of cigarettes that have filters. But that's exactly what we got. It was so good it made my father-in-law into a track fan (yesterday he told another in-law "you should watch it, it's just like NASCAR but with people").

Fun & Games: The IAAF's fantasy league was a brilliant idea, and we should plead for them to continue this in the future.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Fantasy League lessons learned

In the IAAF fantasy league, I had about as much fun as I can have while getting my ass kicked. There were somewhere around 6600 teams in the league and I finished 2209th.

The point of any fantasy league is to increase your interest in competition that might otherwise be rather meaningless. Whether Irving Saladino or Anderw Howe won the long jump wouldn't have made a tremendous amount of difference to me, except that I had Saladino on my squad. So when he went over the leader line on the last jump of the competition I jumped out of my chair and yelled in celebration--something I haven't done for a long jump competition since 1991.

I am not particularly good at making predictions and my premeet medal picks prove that. I am fairly good at analyzing what has happened in the past, and I noticed two trends that would greatly help in future fantasy leagues.

1) Don't think you're smarter than the guys at Track & Field News. Their favorites to win virtually always won a medal of some sort. When they've run their prediction contests, the winners always do better than the T&FN gang. But there's always an element of luck involved; if you average results over several years, I bet no one does better than the Mountain View boys. So use their gold-medal picks as an initial worksheet.

2) Semifinals tell you a lot about what will happen in the final. Check these out.

Men's 100: semi winners went 1-2 (bronze was 2nd in semi)
Men's 200: semi winners went 1-2 (bronze was 2nd in semi)
Men's 400: semi winners went 1-2-3
Men's 800: semi winners went 1-2-3
Men's 1500: semi winners went 1-2 (bronze was 7th in semi)
Men's Steeple: semi winners went 1-3-8 (silver was 3rd in semi)
Men's 5k: semi winners went 2-5 (gold & bronze were 3rd & 5th in semi)
Mens' 110H: semi winners went 2-3-4 (gold was 2nd in semi)
Men's 400H: semi winners went 1-2-3

Women's 100: semi winners went 1-4 (silver & bronze were 2nd & 4th in semis)
Women's 200: semi winners went 1-5 (silver & bronze were 2nd & 3rd in semis)
Women's 400: semi winners went 1-2-3
Women's 800: semi winners went 1-6-7 (silver & bronze were 2nd & 3rd in semis)
Women's 1500: semi winners went 1-3 (silver was 2nd in semi)
Women's steeple: semi winners went 2-3-6 (gold was 2nd in semi)
Women's 5k: semi winners went 1-5 (silver & bronze were 2nd & 3rd in semis)
Women's 100H: semi winners went 1-4 (silver & bronze were 2nd & 3rd in semis)
Women's 400H: semi winners went 1-2-3

The correlation is better for the shorter races than the longer ones, but it's still rather stunning. Only two who qualified on time won a medal, and with one exception (Carmelita Jeter) no one who got the last qualifying spot won a medal. In 15 of the 18 running events, the gold medal winner won his/her semi--and in the other three, they were second.

Day 9 Summary

IAAF review
USATF recap
USA Today notebook

Once again I'm watching live on WCSN. First up is the women's high jump which should take a while. Dave Johnson is keeping the chart for us at the T&FN message board.
UPDATE: Vlasic wins as expected, but silver (DiMartino) and bronze (Chicherova) were big surprises.
UPDATE 2: Vlasic attempting a WR. If she makes it, I get an additional 100 points in the fantasy league.
UPDATE 3: Nope. Didn't really expect it, but I was hoping.
Results - report - discuss

The only event last night (this morning over there) was the women's marathon.
(results - report - story - Let's Run thread - T&FN discussion)
Catherine Ndereba won her umpteenth major race; the experts hadn't figured her as a major threat. It was quite close at the end. Japan's Reiko Tosa moved into the bronze position late in the race to earn the home team's first (and likely only) medal of the championships. She was closing on in on second or event first but came up short.

The men's javelin is about to start. DJ is again keeping the stats for us. The heavy favorites are Tero Pitkämäki and Andreas Thorkildsen. The former is the pre-meet favorite and has lost only once all year, but barely scraped into the final. Qualifying rounds almost always reveal much about what will happen in the final, so last night I dropped Pitkämäki off my fantasy league team in favor of Thorkildsen. But the Norwegian has had some injury problems too, so I could be in a heap of trouble either way.
UPDATE: Shit. I shouldn't have made the trade. Pitkämäki took the lead with a big 89.15 throw. UPDATE 2: Maybe I'm OK. Thorkildsen now in second and not by much.
UPDATE 3: These throws stood up; Breaux Greer took bronze.
Results - report - discuss

Now the men's 5000 is up.
Let's Run thread
A very slow first ten laps, then a furious run to the finish. Lagat wins the double, Tegenkamp outsprinted several runners and missed bronze by maybe an inch. My pre-race favorite, Eliud Kipchoge, took silver; Ugandan Moses Ndiema Kipsiro took bronze.
Results - report - discuss

Next up, men's 800 meters. Always a thriller. If I were allowed to make two changes last night, I would have put Gary Reed on my fantasy roster.
UPDATE: And I was right. Reed within hundredths of the win! Kenyan Yego wins gold, Borzakovskiy got caught up in traffic (as I predicted weeks ago) and got bronze.
Results - report - discuss

Now the women's 1500 meters. Prohibitive favorite: Miriam Jamal.
UPDATE: Jamal does indeed win in her best time of the year, holding off Soboleva. Lyschynska gets bronze. I got the trifecta on this one.
Results - report - discuss

The penultimate event: the women's 4x400. Since I could only take the USA in one relay and I used it on the men's 4x400, I picked Russia for this one.
UPDATE: Shit. Russians fourth. USA wins, Jamaica second, Brits third. It appears that the USA will win all four relay golds and Jamaica will win all four silvers.
Results - report - discuss

And now the last event of the whole thing, the men's 4x400. The only real question here is whether or not the USA will set a record of some sort.
UPDATE: USA domination but no record. Jamaica didn't get any medal at all; the Bahamians took silver (they had a great meet!) and Poland took bronze.
Results - report - discuss

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Day 9 Preview

Schedule/Start lists
IAAF Preview

Net Coverage:
WCSN, 6:00 PM and 5:30 PM

TV Coverage:
NBC, 1:00 PM (may be pre-empted by Jerry Lewis Telethon; check local listings)
Versus, 6:00 PM
CBC, 12:30-2:30 AM (early Monday)

Final events:
6:00 PM, Women's Marathon (IAAF preview, T&FN discussion)
5:30 AM, Women's High Jump (IAAF preview, my picks, T&FN discussion)
6:15 AM, Men's Javelin Throw (IAAF preview, my picks, T&FN discussion)
6:30 AM, Men's 5000 meters (IAAF preview, Let's Run preview, my picks, T&FN discussion)
6:55 AM, Men's 800 meters (IAAF preview, Let's Run preview, my picks, T&FN discussion)
7:10 AM, Women's 1500 meters (IAAF preview, my picks, T&FN discussion)
7:30 AM, Women's 4x400 Relay (IAAF preview, T&FN discussion)
7:50 AM, Men's 4x400 Relay (IAAF preview, T&FN discussion)

Day 8 Summary

IAAF live blog
IAAF Review
USA Today notebook

My cross-country team's meet today is a local one and in the afternoon, so when I woke up early I decided to actually use the WCSN account I've already paid for.

The only morning-session events were the 50k walk, semis of the women's 4x100, and the decathlon.

In the first event (results - report - story - discuss), favorite Denis Nizhegorodov and WR holder Nathan Deakes were co-leaders at halfway. Deakes pulled away over the second half for a convincing win while Nizhegorodov faded to fourth.

In the women's relay (results - report - discuss), your three fastest qualifiers were the USA, Jamaica and the UK. My fantasy league pick, France, didn't make it to the final. Rats!

In the decathlon (results - discuss) Jamaica's Maurice Smith led after the first day over Dmitri Karpov. T&FN's premeet formchart had him for seventh, so even though two top athletes have dropped out injured it's still a bit of an unexpected development. Smith won both the hurdles and the discus to extend his lead. Karpov set a PR in the pole vault and regained 61 points on Smith but the Jamaican still leads by 121.

Now I'm watching the live feed, which is a bit more like actually being in the stadium. That means there are dead spots but you still have to take the effort to pay attention, and there are a whole lot of medals ceremonies. Speaking of which, is it weird that that I stopped, listened, and had a great feeling of pride welling up in me when I heard the national anthem...of Canada? I'm not Canadian, I'm an American. I've always lived close to the border and watched/listened to Canadian TV/radio. If I had to describe my heritage, I'd have to call myself "Canadian-American" although it's many generations back. Why do I take pride in a nation with which I have little real connection? It's just one of those strange things, I guess.

During any pole vault or high jump competition, it's hard for me to see the importance of any individual attempt unless I keep the chart. When I went to Edmonton's Worlds, I took a notebook to the stadium specifically to do just that, and everyone in the stands around me wanted to see it when the competitions approached their climaxes. I'm keeping the chart for the men's pole vault right now. The IAAF's screen graphics only give us each individual athlete's progression, but never puts several of them together. This is a simple graphic that could make viewing the event so much more meaningful. Why don't we ever get it?

The first group of the decathlon javelin is now done. This is not a strong event for Karpov, and his first two throws really stunk. On his third attempt he got out a good (for him) throw, just half a meter off his career best. Smith is a wildly inconsistent javelin thrower while Sebrle is quite good. Karpov is likely to fall back to third after this event is over; the gold will almost certainly be decided here.
UPDATE: Sebrle just threw a new personal record in the jav and took the overall lead.
UPDATE 2: Smith cannot catch Sebrle in the 1500m. It's over. Believe it or not, this will be super-vet Sebrle's first world championship.

Women's 5k (results - report - discuss) just completed. Prohibitive favorite Meseret Defar won as expected, with three Kenyans in her wake. Shalane Flanagan was seventh for most of the last lap, then Rhines just nipped her at the finish. Most observers would say Flanagan just doesn't have the wheels to stay with the Ethiopians/Kenyans when the real kick comes, and that's probably true. I saw another problem, though. A few years back someone did a detailed computer video analysis of Olympic distance races and found that the winners were almost always the athletes who ran the shortest distance--in other words, the ones who stayed on the rail as much as possible. Defar spent most of the race today in second place, right on the rail. Now, that's easier said than done; if you're just struggling to keep up you can't always choose where you go. Flanagan, who had no trouble keeping up, spent the first eight laps in the outside of lane 1 and sometimes in lane 2. This doesn't sound like much extra running, but take a one-turn stagger, multiply it by eight, and that's how much further she ran than Rhines did. No wonder Flanagan couldn't hold her off.

Men's pole vault (results - discuss) went to favorite Brad Walker. I thought he'd been a bit inconsistent, but if he was on he couldn't be beat. Well he was on today.

All the sprints so far have been USA vs Jamaica. The sprint relays were the same again, with USA first and Jamaica second in both.
Men's results - report - discussion
Women's results - report - discussion