Monthly Archives: January 2013

Trost clears 2.00m in Trinec

It’s taken a while for Alessia Trost to build on the promise she first showed when winning the world youth title in 2009 but the Italian now starts as a firm medal contender at the European Indoor Championships in March.

Trost only improved her PB by three centimetres in the three seasons after triumphing on home-soil in Bressanone but a 2.00m world-lead clearance in Trinec marks a massive eight centimetre improvement on her pre-2013 PB and a world age-19 best.

She also became the third Italian to break this benchmark height after former Olympic champion Sara Simeoni and Antonietta Di Martino who won the last edition of the European Indoor Championships in 2011.

Trost, whose pre-jump routine shares many similarities to Di Martino’s, is unbeaten indoors in 2013 and with Blanka Vlasic delaying her return until the summer, Anna Chicherova unlikely to compete indoors and Di Martino injured, the European Indoor Championships looks the platform for Trost to claim her first medal in the senior ranks. 

 

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Sailer 7.16 in Glasgow

Verena Sailer shocked Carmelita Jeter over 60m in the Glasgow International at the Emirates Arena today. The German, admittedly more race sharp than Jeter, enjoyed a blistering start and the world 100m champion could not close the gap.

In the men’s 60m, Dwain Chambers won in 6.58. His time was identical to his 2010 opener when he went on to win the world indoor title in Doha.

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An armchair fan’s guide to the indoor season

The indoor season won’t match the fever-pitch excitement of the Olympic Games but there’s more than enough intrigue to banish away any last remnants of the Olympic-induced blues. Here are five reasons why it’s worth following the indoor season.

Sprint clash set for Glasgow?

It hasn’t been officially confirmed but it seems two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will go head-to-head with world 100m champion Carmelita Jeter in a high-powered 60m clash. Jeter has confirmed her berth on the US team for the five-way international and while Fraser-Pryce hasn’t done so yet, she has told the press she is going to contest her first ever indoor season. Glasgow isn’t the fastest track on the circuit but a time close to seven-seconds might still be on the cards.

Top-class high jumping

Olympic bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz has committed himself to the British indoor events while the Moravia Tour has signed up world champion Jesse Williams and Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov for Hustopece (Jan 26) and Trinec (Jan 29). Global medallists Chaunte Lowe and Brigetta Barrett will also go head-to-head at the Millrose Games in New York on Feb 16.

Farah’s indoor appearance

The European Indoor Championships don’t feature in Mo Farah’s plans but the double Olympic champion will still have a run-out over 3000m at the British Athletics Grand Prix in Birmingham. Let’s hope the organisers – like last year’s two-miles race when Farah was beaten, albeit in a very fast time – will invite some other top-class athletes to really test his mettle.

Scandinavian showdown

The European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, promises to be an appetising hors d’oeuvres for the outdoor season with many top names expressing their intentions to compete. Britain finished fourth on the medal table in 2011 with eight medals and while this time next month will give us a better indicator to what we can expect from the British team, Holly Bleasdale, Shara Proctor, Yamile Aldama and Robbie Grabarz should all arrive in Gothenburg as bona fide medal contenders.

The hosts aren’t the force they were in the mid-2000s when the likes of Stefan Holm and Carolina Kluft headed their team but recent transferee Abeba Aregawi will come to the 1500m with real aspirations of marking her switch from Ethiopia with a gold medal for her adopted nation.

Top marks for NCAA students

The NCAA Indoor Championships might not grab the headlines in the UK but keep your eyes peeled for some eye-catching performances. When the world’s press was focused on the World Indoor Championships in 2010, Ashton Eaton set a world heptathlon record of 6499 and already this season, good marks have been set on the collegiate circuit. Brianna Rollins’ 7.78 60m hurdles – for example – probably won’t be matched on the European circuit this winter.

Key dates

Jan 26 – Glasgow

Confirmed athletes – Carmelita Jeter, Bernard Lagat, KCim Collins, Holly Bleasdale, Robbie Grabarz

Feb 2 – Karlsruhe

Confirmed athletes – Bernard Lagat, Yenew Alamirew, Renaud Lavillenie, Christian Reif, Ivet Lalova

Feb 2 – Boston

Confirmed athletes – Tirunesh Dibaba, Aries Merritt, Jenn Suhr, Galen Rupp, Dejen Gebremeskel

Feb 3 – Moscow

Confirmed athletes – Dwain Chambers, Yuriy Borzakovskiy, Holly Bleasdale, Anna Rogowska, Fabiana Murer

Feb 8 – Düsseldorf

Confirmed athletes – Christophe Lemaitre, Nevin Yanit, Ivet Lalova, Bjorn Otto, Timothy Kitum

Feb 9-10 – UK Indoor Championships

Feb 10 – Gent

Confirmed athletes – Tia Hellebaut, Kevin Borlee, Jonathan Borlee, Eline Berings, Svetlana Bolshakova

Feb 16 – Birmingham

Confirmed athletes – Mo Farah, Robbie Grabarz, Holly Bleasdale, Fabiana Murer, Fionnuala Britton

Feb 16 – New York

Confirmed athletes – Jason Richardson, Brittney Reese, Jenn Suhr, Bernard Lagat, Duane Solomon

Feb 21 – Stockholm

Confirmed athletes – Abeba Aregawi, Fabiana Murer

March 1-3 – European Indoor Championships

March 1-3 – US Indoor Championships

Stats and facts

Men’s world indoor records and all-time lists

Women’s world indoor records and all-time lists

European indoor records and all-time lists

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13 hot prospects for 2013 (part 2/2)

Fantu Magiso

Ethiopia’s first world-class female half-miler looked on track for medals at the Olympic Games after defeating a stellar field containing Mariya Savinova, Pamela Jelimo, Janeth Jepkosgei and Caster Semenya in the Rome Diamond League in May. She then improved her national record to 1:57.48 in New York on her 20th birthday but a leg injury abruptly ruled her out for the rest of the year.

At 20, Magiso isn’t the finished article yet. Her pacing can be erratic and her form isn’t textbook but she’s very strong and possesses enviable 400m pace. With a bit of refinement, she’s considered by many a contender for future global titles.

Francine Niyonsaba

Savinova holds a dominant grip on major 800m titles for the time being but future global finals could pit Magiso against this teenager from Burundi who first came to attention at the African Championships. She won the title in just her third sanctioned race at the distance in 1:59.11, a day after running the entirety of her semi-final from lane two!

Niyonsaba displayed outrageous inexperience on her first venture in Diamond League competition in Monaco but she was still rewarded with a runner-up finish in 1:58.68. She continued to improve substantially by finishing seventh in the Olympic final before settling into life on the European circuit with back-to-back victories over Savinova in Brussels and Rieti.

Conseslus Kipruto

The likes of Ezekiel Kemboi, Paul Kipsiele Koech and Brimin Kipruto have been mainstays at the highest echelons of steeplechasing over the past decade but the future looks in safe hands as they reach the latter stages of their careers. The new batch of world-class Kenyans is led by world junior champion Conseslus Kipruto (or Conselus, depending on which source you use) who is faster as a junior than the aforementioned triumvirate with 8:03.49 from the Monaco Diamond League.

Kipruto, who turned 18 last month, has another summer left in the junior ranks to challenge Saif Saaeed Shaheen’s world junior record of 7:58.86 and without the distraction of an age-group championships to think about, he will also have his sights set on his first senior appearance at the World Championships in Moscow.

Kimberlyn Duncan

The multiple NCAA champion opted to stay in the collegiate ranks after missing out on the team at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene and such are the strains of the collegiate season, we might have to wait until 2014 to see the Louisiana State student in peak form in major international competitions. Not yet a household name, Duncan has still finished the last two years ranked inside the world’s top-five on times for 200m so the 21-year-old is capable of making an impression at the World Championships assuming there’s something still in the tank after the exhaustion-inducing double-burden of the NCAA Championships and US Trials commitments.

Yordan L. O’Farrill

Even before pulling up injured in the Olympics, Dayron Robles admitted he’s been considering retirement which means Cuba’s hopes in the build-up to 2016 and beyond might rest with his training partner who won the world junior 110m hurdles title in the third fastest time ever of 13.18.

While Robles’ future on the track remains an uncertainty – and even more so after a recent dispute with his federation, O’Farrill cuts a strikingly similar figure to the former world record-holder. This year will be his first as a full-time senior athlete and it will indicate whether he can also match Robles’ on-track exploits.

Anna Rüh

The German set distances last year seldom achieved by junior athletes since the drug-fuelled era of Eastern Bloc dominance and her 63.38m discus PB was the longest throw by an under-20 athlete this millennium. Her transition into the senior ranks shouldn’t be too problematic either, as her world junior title was sandwiched between finals appearances in the European Championships and Olympic Games. Rather like her compatriot David Storl in the shot put, Rüh seems on a fast track to senior honours despite competing in a discipline with a bias towards older competitors.

Luguelin Santos

A bit of an obvious choice but the Olympic silver medallist, who admittedly was hoping to be the first, could become the second non-American to break the 44-second barrier once he gains a bit more strength, which will come as he gets older. Remember, Santos only turned 19 last November. 

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13 hot prospects for 2013 (part 1/2)

Katarina Johnson-Thompson

It might take a few years before the Liverpool Harrier can think about challenging Jessica Ennis but the Olympic heptathlon champion went on record to say Johnson-Thompson can one day surpass her exploits after she set a UK junior record of 6248. She then improved that mark to 6267 at the Olympics, setting four PBs en route to a fifteenth-place finish. As seems to be the recurring theme with British multi-eventers, Johnson-Thompson’s throws are still a work in progress but her jumps are already close to world-class standard.

Jacko Gill

The year hasn’t started auspiciously for the 18-year-old New Zealander. He sprained his foot in a competition last month before being hospitalised with facial injuries after a freak accident. Let’s hope they won’t set him back too much as he aims for his first senior championships in Moscow. Medals aren’t a reasonable aspiration for now but his PB and world youth record of 20.38m with the senior implement should suffice for a berth in the final. This would be a stellar achievement for the teenager who doesn’t turn 20 until after the 2014 Commonwealth Games which is another event on his agenda.

Sergey Morgunov

The Russian smashed the 40-year-old world junior record last summer with 8.35m which surprisingly remained the joint world-leading distance alongside Olympic champion Greg Rutherford’s early-season mark. Even Rutherford has admitted the global standards of men’s long jumping aren’t laudable so look for Morgunov to mount an assault on major honours in Moscow if he reproduces his 8.30m-plus form.

Kevin Mayer

Since winning the world youth multi-events title in 2009, the Frenchman has continued to go from strength to strength. He followed this up with the world junior title in 2010 and the European junior title in 2011 by almost 300-points. While Mayer didn’t display his best form in the major events this year, he still finished ranked inside the world’s top-10 at the age of 20 with 8447. Progression doesn’t always follow a linear pattern but a bronze medal in Moscow behind Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee is a realistic projection.

Adam Gemili

The career trajectory of Mark-Lewis Francis serves as a cautionary tale to those hanging global medals around his neck but the world junior 100m champion is still a very exciting prospect. The 19-year-old displayed the maturity of a seasoned veteran on his Olympic debut by producing his second fastest ever time of 10.06 in the semi-finals and unlike some of his injury-ridden contemporaries, Gemili has the physical attributes of a world-class sprinter. Having previously divided his energies between athletics and football, what can he achieve in 2013 with a fully-focused approach to the sport?

Thiago Da Silva

The Brazilian’s victory in a pulsating climax at the World Junior Championships will have elevated his profile in his homeland and the youngster couldn’t be in better hands as he prepares for the awesome baptism of his first Olympics on home-soil in 2016. This is because the 19-year-old is advised by the venerable Vitaliy Petrov, who masterminded the illustrious careers of Sergey Bubka and Yelena Isinbayeva as well as guiding compatriot Fabiana Murer to the world title in Daegu in 2011.

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Lavillenie clears 5.83m

An early-season world-leading clearance by the Olympic pole-vault champion.

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How long will Radcliffe’s record stand?

April 13 will mark a decade since Paula Radcliffe set the still-standing world marathon record. After a succession of near misses on the track where Radcliffe lacked the raw sprinting speed to stay in contention on the last lap burn-up, her victories at the World Cross Country Championships and World Half Marathon Championships demonstrated her vast potential for the 26.2-miles.

Radcliffe immediately found her niche at the 2002 London Marathon where she ran the second fastest time ever of 2:18:56, closing with 67:52 for the second half. After winning gold medals on the track at the Commonwealth Games and European Championships, Radcliffe turned her attention back to the roads for the Chicago Marathon and despite the hindrance of a strong headwind in the closing stages, Radcliffe still improved Catherine Ndereba’s record from 2:18:47 to 2:17:18. This was faster than when Jim Peters broke the men’s record less than half a century earlier in 1954 when women didn’t even run 800m at the Olympics.

This record only stood for a matter of months as Radcliffe decimated her own mark at the 2003 London Marathon. The Bedford & County athlete crossed the line in 2:15:25 and the magnitude of the performance was such that no British man ran faster than Radcliffe that year! This record was recently brought under scrutiny as the IAAF retroactively demoted it to a world-best as it was judged Radcliffe received unfair assistance as her time was achieved with the aid of male pacemakers, even though they weren’t implemented at her request.

Common sense prevailed and Radcliffe’s mark was rightfully restored but a new ruling introduced by the governing body suggests an assault on the world marathon record could prove an even tougher assignment for future aspirants. What constitutes unfair assistance still remains a grey area but it appears mixed races can no longer count for record purposes and world records can only be set exclusively in women’s only races.

Not wanting to detract from the record but Radcliffe must have benefited in some capacity from having the pacemakers alongside her for most, if not at all times in Chicago and London. This is not to say the assistance should be viewed as pushing the boundaries to gain an unfair advantage as they didn’t act in the normal manner of a pacemaker in big-city marathons. They didn’t assist her at the drink stations, which can sometimes disrupt the racer’s rhythm, and they ran to the side of Radcliffe, offering very little in the way of wind-resistance which, ironically, was lavishly provided by a phalanx of pacemakers for Geoffrey Mutai’s world record attempt in Berlin last year, yet deemed perfectly legal. However, the point is the competitive element was intact from gun to tape and this can no longer be fostered under the new rules. 

Radcliffe is by no means the only female marathoner to post her best times in this sort of racing environment though, and she is still head and shoulders ahead of her contemporaries. The sub-2:20 barrier, almost a mile slower than Radcliffe’s world record, is still viewed as the landmark time in women’s marathon-running and only fourteen athletes have achieved this since Radcliffe’s first sub-2:20 clocking a decade ago. Only three of them have gone sub 2:19 too.

The most relevant aspect to draw from this statistic though is half of these times, as well as the three sub-2:19 performances, have all been achieved within the last eighteen months. This is a telling indication the depth at the highest level is beginning to improve, particularly as the Kenyan and Ethiopian women are getting to grips with the marathon en masse. Mirroring the recent trends of men’s marathon-running, the women are further revising conventional running wisdom by shunning the track and specialising at the marathon at an earlier age – no doubt inspired by the greater cash incentives on offer – and clearly with great effect too if the improvements in depth are used as a gauge.

One athlete who looks set to join this clique is two-time Olympic 10,000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba, who is due to make her marathon debut at some point this year. Her track credentials are superior to Radcliffe’s and her world 15km record, as well as her debut victory at the Great North Run over world and Olympic marathon champions Edna Kiplagat and Tiki Gelana augurs well as she transitions towards the marathon. In theory, Dibaba – more so than her contemporaries – has the ammunition to get down towards Radcliffe’s mark but even if she makes a good transition which some track runners don’t, will she share Radcliffe’s obsessive urge to chase fast times? While Radcliffe’s forte is her front-running, Dibaba’s sprinting speed is such she’s often content to settle for the win with the clock being immaterial.

Radcliffe is rapidly approaching Ingrid Kristiansen’s record for longest spell as world marathon record-holder as the Norwegian’s 2:21:06 record from 1985 lasted for thirteen years and while the depth gradually improves in the 2:18-2:19 range, these times are still about half-a-mile slower than 2:15. Similarly, Radcliffe’s world 10km and half-marathon records have gone largely unscathed which is further testament to the potential future longevity of her record. There’s no doubt the Kenyans and Ethiopians are tightening their stranglehold on the marathon but despite the greater prevalence of sub-2:20 clockings, 2:15:25 still remains a flicker on the horizon. The brilliance of Radcliffe’s record means this same question could be reignited in another decade for now.

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