The oldest track & field blog on the internet

Monday, March 15, 2010

Why The Success?

As I mentioned yesterday, the USA's medal haul at the World Indoor Championships was unusually good. 17 medals is the fifth-best showing in the history of the championships, bettered only by Russia/USSR (three times) and the USA (once). More impressive is the fact that many of our best athletes either skipped the indoor season (Gay, Richards, Merritt, Phillips) or were competing at the NCAA (Eaton, McCorory).

This comes just a year and a half after an embarrassing showing at the Beijing Olympics. Why the difference? An offhand quote by Bernard Lagat sheds some light on the matter:
There was amazing organization from Albuquerque to Doha. This is the best team I have ever been in. Everybody is together. The sprinters, the jumpers, the pentathletes were all cheering for us.
Whether they called themselves the AAU, TAC, or USA Track & Field, its name and the phrase "effective management" have only been used in a sentence together in the manner of USA Track & Field is not an example of effective management. This has been true for at least eight decades.

But in the wake of the Beijing PR nightmare, USATF did some reorganization of national team coaching and managing duties. Maybe, just maybe, the effectiveness Lagat credits will not be a one-off accident, but rather is a new way of doing things. The reorganization gave national teams fewer "coaches" and more managers, seeing as how the former is largely a ceremonial title and the latter does real actual work. However, there are other explanations; it's also possible that wearing "USA" all over your body in an Islamic middle eastern country tends to make Americans a tighter group than they would be in other circumstances.

No comments: