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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Day 3: What Happened

Results
IAAF recap

SI's David Epstein calls it a night to forget for US athletes. I think it's the day we realized this will be our worst Olympic track showing since Paris '24, or maybe ever. The USOC will keep up the reorganization pressure this fall and winter and it will succeed based only on this.

Women's Marathon: I still can't decide whether the field let Tomescu-Dita sucker them, or if she would have won even if challenged. The others sure looked like they'd had enough when they finished, but they closed in a huge way in the last mile. No matter; strategy is part of the sport.

Men's Hammer Throw: Primoz Kozmus was tremendously consistent and went one better than last year's Worlds silver. Canada now has the undeniable #1 hammer-thrower in North America, for what that's worth.

Women's 400 meters semis: Trimmed from the field were Mary Wineberg and Novlene Williams, two outside shots at medals. Sanya Richards looks unbeatable.

Women's Steeplechase: Heavy favorite Gulnara Galkina-Samitova won big in a new World Record, and only Kenyan Eunice Jepkorir broke up the Russian progression. The Barringer/Willard war went to the Buffalo, with a new American Record back in 9th place. (The usually-reliable CBC totally skipped this one, and NBC probably won't show it for what feels like weeks, so I'm going on press reports here.)

Women's Triple Jump: Cameroon's Fran├žoise Mbango Etone won in sort of an upset and sort of not one. She dominated the field, with the #2 mark of all time (and arguably the real World Record). She was the defending Olympic champ. But she had been just one of many top triple jumpers this year and not as consistent as Savigne nor as feared as Lebedeva. However, she took two years off of competing to have a baby and only started back up again at the African Championships in May, so in that light it's no upset at all.

Men's 1500 meters semis: I had high hopes for the US runners as a group, and they just flat-out sucked today. Lomong was dead last in semi #1, Manzano was dead last in semi #2, and Lagat failed to make the final. Semi winners Kiprop and Ramzi might be your best bets for gold. (Note: Some people I am very close to have had direct dealings with Mehdi Baala in the past, and I'll just say that there's no one in the field I suspect of EPO doping more than he. The gendarmes will no be kind if he is busted. And I wll be bitter if he wins a medal.)

Women's 100 meters semis and finals: Jamaica rules. Big surprise in who won, though; Shelly-Ann Fraser was no one's pick even to medal. No surprise, actually, if you watch the semis. The fastest semifinalist almost always wins the final.

Men's 10,000 meters: The race came down to three Ethiopians, three Kenyans, and an Eritrean, and Bekele and Sihine outkicked the rest. In other breaking news, the sun will come up tomorrow. Galen Rupp ran a nice race in 13th, but this stuff about "it will help him in four years" will be true only if he realizes he has no chance at a track medal, period, and moves up to the marathon. If you can't outkick Josh McDougal in a slow start/fast finish 10k, you haven't got a prayer against these kinds of runners.

In other event qualifying, the only surprises were in the men's high jump: Linus Thornblad won't be in the final, and neither will any Americans. Underscores the suckiness of the day, doesn't it?

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