Friday, June 5, 2020

Echoes of Silence

In honor of the 76th and 75th birthdays of Tommie Smith and John Carlos. 2014 dedication of the 1968 high altitude training camp and Olympic Trials site at Echo Summit, CA, as a California Historical Landmark - a story of that day, and of their times. Addendum reflects recent scholarship on the ‘third man on the podium,’ Australia’s fast-closing silver medalist, Peter Norman.
photo credit: www.usatoday.community
Peter Norman (silver), Tommie Smith (gold, world record), John Carlos (bronze)
Men’s 200m victory ceremony, 1968 Olympics, Mexico City

Echoes of Silence

by Mark Cullen

June 27, 2014

The 1968 US Men’s Olympic track and field team, arguably the greatest ever assembled, was honored today with the recognition of the Echo Summit, CA, US Men’s Track and Field Olympic Trials and high-altitude training site as a California Historical Landmark.

A crowd of several hundred gathered to celebrate the track and field legends who put their stamp on US social, cultural, and athletic history.

Members of the ’68 team in attendance were Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Ed Caruthers, Norm Tate, Reynaldo Brown, Larry Young, Tracy Smith, Mel Pender, Ed Burke, Geoff Vanderstock, and Bill Toomey. Smith and Carlos were the featured speakers.

Four world records were set during the Olympic Trials at the 7382’/2250m elevation of the Echo Summit site, chosen for its nearly identical elevation to that of Olympic host Mexico City.

The ceremony was at the same time touching and moving, high-spirited and celebratory. It had the look and feel of a family reunion. The eloquent remarks of the speakers were greeted with repeated and sustained standing ovations by the knowledgeable and enthusiastic crowd.

Bob Burns, former Sacramento Bee reporter and the force behind the recognition of Echo Summit, said, “Few teams mirrored the social climate of their times as much as the ’68 Olympic track team did the 1960s.”

Jill Geer, USATF Chief Public Affairs Officer, cited “the importance of these people not only to sport but to society.” Geer pointed out that while the team is rightly noted for its 12 Olympic gold medalists, 20 of its team members have been inducted into the USATF Hall of Fame. “This team was so good that you didn’t have to win a gold medal to make it to the Hall of Fame.”

California state historian William Burg said that of over 1,000 California historic sites, Echo Summit is “the only one associated with both sports and civil rights history.”

South Lake Tahoe Mayor Pro-Tem Brooke Laine paid tribute to Walt Little, South Lake Tahoe’s Recreation Director in the 1950s and ‘60s, who was instrumental in convincing Bill Bowerman, Director of the US Olympic High Altitude Training Program, to accept the Echo Summit bid.

Little’s sons, Walt Jr. and Bill, in a stirring memorial, revealed that their family had lost their house as their father had used mortgage funds to help pay for athletes’ food.

Walt Little, Jr., said that their father was motivated “because of the Olympians and what they stood for. Dad carved his dream of a track and field arena out of the ice, the snow, and the trees. Echo Summit became the most beautiful track and field arena the world has ever seen.”

John Carlos lauded Little as “an icon in the world of athletics.”

“We are proud to have been a small part of your success,” Little, Jr., said to the assembled athletes. “Welcome home.”

My youth was marked by political violence: the assassination of the President when I was 11 and of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy when I was 16. Shortly before the 1968 Olympic Trials began, there were riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Upon the opening of the Olympics in Mexico City, protests there were brutally suppressed. The 1963 March on Washington was peaceful, but by 1968 there was a growing divide in both the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements over what kinds of action to take.

That discussion was reflected in the choices made by athletes at Echo Summit. To boycott the Olympics or not? African-American athletes were under heavy pressure to do so. But all made the same choice: to represent their country in Mexico City.

When Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gold and bronze medal winners in the Mexico City 200m, took the victory stand and raised their glove-covered fists in silent protest, I was awestruck at the peaceful eloquence of their statement.

They spoke to the whole world without uttering a single word.

The next day, the US Olympic Committee, under threat by the IOC of having the entire US team disqualified from the Olympics, dismissed Smith and Carlos from the team and they were forced to leave Mexico City immediately.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos have been united for life by their singular act as young men. They have traversed the territory from outcasts to heroes. Their “protest on the victory stand in Mexico City is one of the iconic images of the 1960s and the civil rights movement,” said Burns.

After their peaceful protest, Smith and Carlos paid a heavy personal price, and it was common to find them denounced in the US media for what were characterized as unpatriotic acts.

“Mr. Smith and I, in particular,” said Carlos, “we were vilified.”

Carlos noted the irony of the fact that he and Smith are now regarded as patriots and said, “All the individuals on this team are patriots… In many ways they tried to divide our team: these guys are civil rights activists, these guys are athletes. These guys are for a boycott, these guys are not for a boycott.”

“I’m just here to let you know now that we are one. We have been one all along.”

Smith and Carlos reflected on their days at Echo Summit. Both expressed gratitude and appreciation to the US Forest Service for their support of the ‘100 Days at Tahoe’ in 1968 as well as Friday’s ceremony.

“Look around and you see the goodness,” Smith said to the many youth foresters who staffed this event. “My heart is so full now.”

Smith remembered what it was like to take the turn from Highway 50 to the track at Echo Summit. “I hated to see that turn because that meant I had to train against him, and to train against John Carlos is no fun at all! You would have to run a world best just to stay in his shadow,” said Smith.

Smith noted the humor that came with practicing at a site that was carved out of a forest. When Bob Seagren came down from a 17’ pole vault clearance, Smith recalled, “I thought he had fallen out of a tree!” 

To say that they raised the bar for each other is to put it mildly. “Tommie and John had to run awfully fast to put themselves in a position to mount a protest that will outlast any record,” said Burns.

Carlos paid tribute to the US athletes who watched the Olympics from home.

'I have to remember those individuals who did not make the team… It’s just unfortunate that God put so many of us in a cluster and we could only pick three. But it didn’t stop us in terms of who we were as human beings... as civil libertarians... as people that were concerned about humanity.'

Smith reflected on his remaining time on this earth. “I hope that it’s longer than I feel sometimes… Sometimes you get up in the morning, you head for the door - and it never gets to you!”

Carlos concluded by noting that “the only downfall that we had here is the fact that we didn’t have a co-ed team. It was a shame that the women that represented this nation did not have a chance to experience the beauty, the love, the understanding, and bonding that we had.”

In 1968, their silent act of courage echoed around the world;  it reverberates still.

Today, it echoed among these trees, one last time.

photo credit: pausatf.org

Peter Norman Update

Peter Norman, Australian silver medalist, also paid dearly for his courage. He wore a badge of the Olympic Project for Human Rights in support of Smith and Carlos, and for this he, too, was vilified in his home country. 

In spite of the fact that he met the 1972 100m and 200m qualifying marks repeatedly, was the 200m defending silver medalist and the Australian 200m record holder (and still is to this day), he was not named to Australia’s 1972 Olympic team. To Australia’s eternal shame, Norman was not invited to the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

It was in 2012 that the Australian Parliament finally apologized to Norman.

Too little too late; he had died in 2006.

Smith and Carlos, lifelong friends of Norman’s, served as pallbearers at his funeral.

Research credit for information about Peter Norman: Riccardo Gazzaniga.


Track and Field Autographs of a Lifetime



Program signed at the dedication of the Echo Summit, CA, site of the
1968 US Olympic High Altitude Training Center and Olympic Trials
June 27, 2014

Photo copyright 2014 Mark Cullen. All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2014  Mark Cullen/Trackerati.com. All Rights Reserved





Friday, May 29, 2020

Steve

Memorable encounter with Steve Prefontaine 
the day he won the 1972 Olympic Trials 5,000m
by Mark Cullen
Steve Prefontaine Murals
Coos Bay, Oregon
United States
It’s the last day of the 1972 US Men’s Olympic Track and Field Trials. 

The organizers at Eugene’s legendary Hayward Field were no fools. They scheduled the men’s 5,000m race as the last event of the 8-day program.

It featured Steve Prefontaine, the young man whom Sports Illustrated named  “America’s Distance Prodigy,” and George Young, the venerable veteran, the three-time Olympian trying to make his 4th Olympic team.

In an epic race that would see both men break the American Record, Prefontaine and Young went at it, lap by excruciating lap, and the issue was in doubt until the 9th circuit, when Prefontaine edged ahead, inexorably, and led Young to the finish.

Prefontaine (13:22.8) and Young (13:29.4) both broke Pre's American record of 13:29.6.

It would be a cliché to say that the crowd went wild.

But it did.

The sound of that last lap lives with me still. 

The roar was deafening as Prefontaine approached the finish stripe, but the sound when he crossed it is unlike any I have heard before or since.

If there’s one word I associate with that day, it’s “spectacle.”

The spectacle of Gerry Lindgren bounding from the stands with his memorable “Stop Pre” t-shirts, a lasting symbol of the Sparrow’s impish sense of humor.

The spectacle of the race itself, of seeing this prodigy realize the next stage of his potential.

The spectacle of what followed.

A lengthy victory lap, an ovation sustained, an achievement shared. What was so appealing about this young man was his generosity - his willingness to share his joy and, indeed, his triumph.

The celebration continued well into the evening, though it became more personal in nature. It shifted to an area on the east side of Hayward Field, where temporary bleachers had been erected to accommodate the overflow crowds. There a media platform had been built.

On it, young Mr. Prefontaine held court.

The television lights were blinding, the camera bulbs kept flashing, and person after person, kid after kid, asked something of him.

Long after the friends I had watched the race with decided their evening was over, I knew mine wasn’t finished.

For the previous nine months I had embarked upon a running career, such as it was, of my own. I had started running in Bill Bowerman’s beginning jogging class in the fall of 1971, a week after Bowerman had been named head coach of the US Olympic track and field team.

Bowerman’s “Hamburgers” shared the track with Gary Barger, Todd Lathers, Pat Tyson, Arne and Knut Kvalheim, future Olympic discus champion “Multiple” Mac Wilkins, US Olympic decathlete Craig Brigham, and Steve Prefontaine himself.

I was captivated and missed but one meet in five years.

When you run on the track inhabited by the likes of these memorable Ducks, no matter how slowly in comparison, you do get to know them. One of them, Coach Pat Tyson of the Mead and now Gonzaga University cross country programs, remains a friend to this day.

When it came to young Mr. Prefontaine, we saw each other 4 or 5 times a week during the first year I ran. I was from the wilds of Western Massachusetts and knew little of him when I began running. He seemed to like the fact that I never got caught up in the myth of Pre, and that we used each other’s first names was a bond of its own.

That I saw him as a new compatriot, special in terms of his ability but otherwise in many ways like everyone else, created the framework of our passing relationship, and formed the basis of what we Yankees call a 'nodding acquaintance.'

Indeed, the one time, the only time, I asked him for an autograph - not for me but for the 8-year-old son of a friend I had in tow - he grew quite impatient with me. It took me awhile to realize I had violated the boundary. It was the only time in his presence I had bought into the mythic “Pre.”

Fortunately, he forgave me.

So, as he sat surrounded by worshipping kids and an adoring, and yes, fawning press, I wanted to watch the rest of the spectacle.

I made my way up the temporary bleachers, sat in the corner closest to him, and watched. Watched for over an hour as Steve sat there with the patience of a saint, even though he wasn’t one, and did not claim to be.

Every now and then he’d cock his head, look up at me and wonder what on earth I was doing there.

Come to think of it, for someone known for his strong opinions and sometimes colorful language, “what on earth” were probably not the words he was thinking.

Yet he was curious, inquisitive, clearly wondering.

It got dark.

Fortunately, the scoreboard operator had a sense of the moment and didn’t turn off the lights. The darker it got, the more clearly etched into the evening sky was Prefontaine’s new American Record.

I can see it today, just as clearly, more than half a lifetime later.

Finally, there were only a couple of families left, little kids waiting for their moment of magic. I scurried up the rickety bleachers, down to the track, and waited while he completed his hero’s duties.

He smiled in recognition, still with that quizzical look.

*   *   *   

The kids are gone now, and it’s just the two of us with his drug tester in attendance. We exchange greetings and I offer my congratulations. I’m delighted to sense his receptivity, in spite of how long his day has been.

He actually has a few moments left, for me.

Well, I say, I’ve watched this spectacle unfold this afternoon, and now this evening.

He nods.

I’ve seen many people approach you and ask for many things.

He nods, as if to say this is not news.

An autograph, a photograph, an interview, a moment, even, with you.

Yes.

But Steve, I say, for all these people have asked, and all you’ve given in return - one thing has not been said today.

One thing is missing.

What’s that?

Thank you.

He clutches my forearm with both hands.

He will not let go.

Tears come to his eyes.

We both just stand there, at ease in the moment.

When he can speak, I wish him success in the Olympics, and he wishes me good luck in the summer all-comers meets.

Off he scampers across the track and onto the infield. Before he vanishes into the enveloping darkness, he turns and gives me a huge, full-body wave.

I wave back.

Off he jogs into the underbelly of the now gloomy West Grandstand and to his appointment with destiny in Munich.

My favorite photo of Steve Prefontaine.
With Coach Bill Bowerman the day Pre first broke 4:00 in the mile.
Multiple sources listed, including milesplit.

copyright 2016 Mark Cullen. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Listen to the Universe, Dudes!

Ayoub Harrouchi and Mark Cullen
Note the Little Mermaid over Harrouchi's shoulder.
A year ago today I had one of the most memorable travel experiences of my life. 

I was in Denmark on my way to Aarhus and the World Cross Country Championships. At the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, I ran into a kind man from Morocco, Ayoub Harrouchi. We took each other's photos at the mermaid, chatted for a while, and then went our separate ways. 

I was kicking myself for not having exchanged contact info with this nice and thoughtful man. 

Hours later, as I was about to cross a street, I looked over my right shoulder - and there he was at the window of a coffee shop bar! I went inside and we talked for a long time. We also met for coffee the next day before he departed, and yes, this time we exchanged contact info. 

Utterly remarkable that our paths crossed a second time within hours in a city of over 2 million. 

Ayoub and I have exchanged notes a few times since, and I had especially looked forward to a reunion this May during the Diamond League track and field meeting in Rabat, but for obvious reasons I won't be making that trip this year. The world is a very different place than it was a year ago, and in ways I could not have imagined. 

Nonetheless, this experience in Copenhagen gives me hope. The universe stated rather clearly, "Dudes (yes, the universe says "dudes!"), you were supposed to stay in touch!" 

Miraculously, it gave us a second chance. 

Happy Friendship Anniversary to my kind friend, Ayoub, in Morocco.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Prefontaine Classic and Bowerman Mile Named World Athletics Legends

Millrose Games, Wanamaker Mile Honored As Well
by Mark Cullen
Copyright 2019. All Rights Reserved.

The Prefontaine Classic and the Bill Bowerman Mile were named World Athletics (IAAF) Heritage Legends in a ceremony honoring the greatest milers, miles, and meets in Monaco Thursday night.

The iconic United States single-day track meet was originally the Hayward Field Restoration Meet, held in 1973 and 1974. It was scheduled to be renamed the Bowerman Classic in 1975 in honor of '72 US Olympic Head Coach Bill Bowerman, but only two days after the tragic loss of distance legend Steve Prefontaine and with Bowerman's approval, the Oregon Track Club renamed the meet the Prefontaine Classic.

Steve Prefontaine and Bill Bowerman
after Pre's first sub-4:00 mile
photo credit: Milesplit.com
The Bowerman Mile is the concluding event of the Prefontaine Classic every year, and its all-time lists are dazzling. The meet itself is usually ranked by World Athletics as the #1 or #2 best single-day meet of the year (the Diamond Monaco Herculis meet is the other).

The Prefontaine Classic and the Bowerman Mile are in good company: among the others named "Legend of the Sport" were Roger Bannister and Diane Leather Charles, respectively the first man under 4:00 for the mile and the first woman under 5:00.

In addition, three other meets were accorded Legend status: The Ivo Van Damme Memorial (Brussels), the Oslo Bislett Games, and New York City's Millrose Games. Oslo's Dream Mile, Millrose's Wanamaker Mile, and the UK's Emsley Carr Mile were honored with Legend plaques as well.

Germany's Indoor Karlsruhe Meeting, site of Genzebe Dibaba's world indoor 1500m record, was honored with a Legend plaque.

Here is the complete announcement from World Athletics:
https://worldathletics.org/news/press-releases/bannister-charles-honoured-heritage-mile-nigh


Sunday, October 6, 2019

Somalia's Sister

The greatest athlete in Doha was far from the track.

by Mark Cullen
Copyright 2019 Mark Cullen and Trackerati.com. All rights Reserved.

Doha hotel.

Tall Dutchman, born of Somalia.

We speak of track and field, but that’s not why he’s here.

His younger sister was in the wrong place at the wrong time when a suicide bomber detonated herself in Somalia, where a rash of such attacks have taken place this year.

Among the survivors, his sister is most grievously wounded, with extensive injuries to her left face, her left shoulder, her left hip.

Here to reclaim her young adulthood.

Two days later, the lobby, a tap on my shoulder.

The tall Dutchman with his entire entourage.

This is my sister, he says, as she extends her hand from her wheelchair.

I encounter their mother at breakfast every morning, a towering familial fortress of strength and reserve. I glance and nod, my daily brief greeting.

Impenetrable.

On a day, she holds my eye.

On another, a barely perceptible nod.

Ten days sweep by.

At breakfast, a movement captures my attention. A woman is using a walker.

Her daughter.

Mother follows.

She waves.


Saturday, October 5, 2019

Imaginary Outcome

by Mark Cullen
Copyright 2019 Mark Cullen and Trackerati.com. All rights Reserved.
Joe Kovacs
75-2/22.91
Historic Gold
Photo: Getty Images for IAAF
Last night IAAF issued a results sheet for the men's shot put. It must be a test page to make sure the system is working. On it, they have an imaginary outcome, and you can tell that the techies preparing it had a lot of fun.

It has Joe Kovacs winning in 75-2/22.91. I know there are a lot of guys throwing over 22.00/72-2 1/4 these days, but this has the winning throw almost a meter farther. I know Kovacs has been off the radar screen a bit, if you can imagine a radar not picking up Kovacs, but he's an unlikely pick for gold.

It has Ryan Crouser and Tom Walsh tied at the same distance one centimeter behind. Great to have techies who know the sport so well because this scenario tests the system's ability to break a tie on the countback, and it nailed it.

Interesting, too, that it should be Crouser and Walsh they have behind Joltin' Joe. They must have included the Prefontaine Classic results in their algorithm. There, Crouser and Walsh were co-favories, and Brazil's Darlan Romani was the unlikely winner.

Here, same scenario, different champion. At least this time Track and Field News hadn't asked me to write a feature on the winner. They did at Pre, and I was really well prepared for my story on Crouser or Walsh.

The whole idea of three guys throwing within one centimeter of each other is absurdly fun and creative. Can you imagine ever seeing an outcome like that? You and I could go outside right now - just the two of us -  and take several dozen throws with a shot and we'd never tie.

Statistically improbable.

Physcially, even more so.

Well, good one on you, mates. It was lots of fun to read this. But I have a deadline and the humor is wearing thin.

Would someone please send me the real results?


Friday, October 4, 2019

A Night at the Stadium

by Mark Cullen
Copyright 2019 Mark Cullen and Trackerati.com. All rights Reserved.
Mutaz Essa Barshim
Hometown High Jump Hero
This evening I titled my post "A Night at the Stadium" before the competition began. The general idea was to reflect what happens on any given evening of World Championship track and field. From semi-final race strategy to the interruption of the men's high jump by a medal ceremony, I wanted write without a plan and respond to what was happening in the stadium. But I'll save these for my next post and write this instead.

On my way into Doha, at the airport, I ran into a young man named Daniel and his wife. While waiting for luggage we struck up a conversation, and he grew quite interested in the championships. I urged him to come for even one night, and he picked this night, of all nights, a night of nights.

A world record by Dalilah Muhammad in the 400m hurdles, her second of the year. The crowning comeback win of Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar in the men's high jump in front of a raucous home crowd - a year's recovery from serious injury that had many doubting a return at all. A steeplechase win by the resurgent Conseslus Kipruto - by a thrilling one one-hundredth of a second. And a discus title by Cuba's Yaime Perez in her 6th attempt at a global medal. Her last major title? 2010 World Junior gold.

In a week overshadowed by drugs, Daniel chose the best night of these championships. Here's what I wrote to Daniel:

"I am so pleased that you chose tonight of all nights. To see a world record is something rare and special - when someone does something that no one else has done before.

"And Barshim on top of that - a packed house rocking and roaring.
This was track and field at its best."

So, Daniel, there's hope for this troubled sport yet. Keep on coming back. I can't always promise a night like this, but I can promise that each will be memorable in its own way. It's worked for me for 48 years.
Dahlilah Muhammad (52.16) and Sydney McLaughlin (52.23)
2xWorld Record setter with #2 all-time

Photo Credits: Getty Images for IAAF




Updated 1:47pm 10/5/2019 to include last paragraph.

Doha Dhaze - #1

Air pollution, heat, humidity, a heat index to top all - none stood in the way of a successful start to the World Track and Field Championships - yet.

As I write this, the women's marathon will start in two hours, and while I have pledged to myself that I'll watch in person one of the five midnight events, it won't be this one a starting the Championships by being on a course until 3:00am in this heat and humidity does not seem like a good idea. For someone just standing there, much less running 26 miles.

IAAF has decided to go ahead with tonight's race, and it's telling that a decision had to be made. In a press release this afternoon, IAAF made a revealing comment; read carefully and see if you see what I see.

"Any decision to alter the starting time of the event will be made by 10:30pm, on the recommendation of the IAAF Medical Delegate, who also has the authority to withdraw any athlete before or during the event if he believes the athlete is experiencing any type of severe distress."

Let's check this out: "...has the authority to withdraw any athlete before... the event..." In other words, if an athlete is so cooked by the very act of being outside before the race has even begun..."

I hope this ends well; I fear greatly that it may not.

In better news, DeAnna Price led all qualifiers in the women's hammer to remain the favorite going into Saturday's final. Gwen Berry joined her by finishing 10th of 12, and Brooke Andersen, plagued by injury at the end of the season, ended her memorable 2019 run by finishing out of the top 12. Nonetheless, Anderson is now #3 on the US all-time list and the 24 year-old is still quite young for this event. Nothing but tremendous potential here.

Price delivered a message before competition even began with a sector-splitting warmup toss that had to have left an impression on her competitors. "It was really nice," she said. "That's how it's been; that's how we've been practicing."

Gwen Berry was pleased to advance even though she seemed a bit off her earlier season form. "I was a little nervous," she explained. "I feel like I should have warmed up a little more maybe because once we got into the call room we couldn't warm up, so I'll have to take that into consideration for tomorrow."

"I feel confident about tomorrow," she said. "I got in the ring and shook out the nerves, so I'll do better tomorrow."

Brooke Andersen, "I've had some injuries come up the past few months because it's been such a long season... Unfortunately, some of them acted up before my warmups...I haven't been able to practice the last few weeks as well as I would want to."

"Right now it's hard to think of all my great accomplishments this season because this was the one thing I was working towards all season and it didn't go how I pictured it. But I definitely had a great season overall and I'm really appreciative for the season I did have and all the accomplishments I did have along the way. It's hard to see them right now - I'm just so bummed."

While her clear goal for 2020 is the Tokyo Olympics, "Right now I'll rest and take some time off and get back to it in a few weeks."

"I'm one of the youngest in the field," she reflected, but takes away the knowledge that this World Championships experience can be of substantial benefit to her as early as next year. I'll take away the experiences like going through the motions like getting through the call room and taking few warmups. It's always a little but different in each international meet.

"I've gotta get used to the net being so close," she said, "and I've got to get used to the competition feel. Being here on this  international stage - track feels way different than being at home is the US. Track is definitely more... they love track over here! They love track over here! It's great coming over here and the atmosphere - you get the whole stadium effect with all the people clapping for you. It's a really good experience for us to come over here and get all this international experience before Tokyo."

"The ring when I tested it felt faster than it did today, so it was a little funky for me. It felt a little bit slower. I didn't mind it - I just wasn't necessarily prepared for the switch up. I don't know if it was the humidity... but it's overall a great facility definitely one of the better ones I've competed in so far internationally in my experience so far - in my rookie year!"


Thursday, October 3, 2019

Sometimes You Go to the Mall and This Happens

IAAF Heritage Exhibition Brings Out the Stars
by Mark Cullen
Photos and Text Copyright 2019 Mark Cullen and Trackerati.com. 
All rights Reserved.
Heritage - and Heritage in the Making
Brianne Theisen-Eaton
Jakob Ingebrigtsen
Filip Ingebrigtsen
Ashton Eaton


IAAF Heritage's Doha display is a tour de force of track and field history. Curator and Director Chris Turner has staged an extensive, masterful display of track and field history. 


Yesterday, I rounded a corner on my way to the Heritage reception and found the Eatons and the Ingebrigtsens engaged in cheerful conversation. They weren't the only ones here.
Olympic decathlon gold medalist Daley Thompson, center,
and 2x World cross country champion, John Treacy, right

Mike Powell, World record holder and World champion, long jump

The Heritage display will conclude its six-month run next Monday, October 7, at Doha's City Center Mall. This is must see territory for every track fan here for the World Championships. https://www.iaaf.org/heritage/news/heritage-collection-doha-eaton-ashton-brianne

Ashton Eaton
World and Olympic Champion, Decathlon

Eamonn Coghlan, 1983 World 5000m champion, 
making a point with IAAF CEO Jon Ridgeon

Chris Turner, IAAF Heritage Director
For heritage, note Ashton Eaton, Brianne Theisen-Eaton, 
and Mike Powell in the picture.

My favorite IAAF Heritage moment
Morocco's Nezha Bidouane taking a photo of her own display
Ostrava, Czech Republic, 2018
2x World champion, 400m hurdles

The University of Oregon's track and field bureau, which is onsite here in Doha with four students under the direction of instructor Lori Shontz, conducted extensive interviews with many of the sport's legends in attendance, most especially a lengthy, engaging one with Thiessen-Eaton. They will be posting their work on their website at https://sojctrack.uoregon.edu/
Brianne Theisen-Eaton, 2016 World Indoor Champion, Heptathlon
 University of Oregon School of Journalism Track Bureau students
Brett Taylor, Brooklynn Loiselle, Alex West, Nate Mann

It just goes to show that at the reception, you can always get what you want.


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

OUCH!

by Mark Cullen
Copyright 2019 Mark Cullen and Trackerati.com. 
All rights Reserved.

A single-sentence press release from IAAF

"On the request of USATF, the IAAF can confirm that Mr Alberto Salazar’s IAAF World Championships accreditation has been deactivated."

Teacher's assessment:

Clear focus, crisp writing, to the point.
Effective cause and effect sequence.
Proper placement of comma.
Clear understanding of possessive and where to place apostrophe.
Razor-like use of "deactivated."
Invokes high moral and ethical standards
Restores integrity, trust and believability to track and field performances.

Aspirational.

A+

Monday, September 30, 2019

King Carl and King Tajay

by Mark Cullen
Copyright 2019 Mark Cullen and Trackerati.com. All rights Reserved.
Tajay Gayle
Jamaica's Newly Crowned Long Jump King
Photo credit: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF
The men's long jump demonstrated the ebb and flow of being 'on' one day and 'off' the next - or in this case, the reverse. Jamaica's engaging young star, Tajay Gayle, had difficulty finding his form in Friday's qualifying. He was last to make finals, at 7.89 (25-10 3/4), far behind favorite Juan Miguel Echevarria, who led at 8.40 (27-6 3/4).

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Priceless

DeAnna Price Makes Hammer History
by Mark Cullen
Copyright 2019 Mark Cullen and Trackerati.com. All rights Reserved.
DeAnna Price (US) and Joanna Fiodorow (Pol)
celebrate their gold and silver hammer throw medals.
Photo credit: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF
DeAnna Price turned her steel hammer into gold Saturday night at Khalifa Stadium as she won the first global hammer title by a US woman.

Price Leads Q; Brooke Andersen Opens Up about Her Terrific Season on Day of Doha Disappointment


 by Mark Cullen
Copyright 2019 Mark Cullen and Trackerati.com. All rights Reserved.

DeAnna Price led all qualifiers in the women's hammer to remain the favorite going into Saturday's final. Gwen Berry joined her by finishing 10th among the 12 qualifiers, and Brooke Andersen, plagued by injury at the end of the season, ended her memorable 2019 run by finishing out of the top 12.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

I'm Not Supposed to Be in the VIP Lounge

A Day in the Doha Writing Life
by Mark Cullen

From attending a press conference with some of the sport's biggest stars, to retrieving the swag bag I missed in the excitement of having Fahal the Falcon show up at registration, to meeting again with Mr. Ismail of 'selfie joy' fame, to facilitating a meeting of the University of Oregon School of Journalism's track writing class with the rock star crew from LetsRun.com, to attending a sweltering practice for 4.5 hours that I had thought would last for 1.5, to orienting myself to the stadium and finding myself in places I'm really not supposed to be... there is much more to the writer's life than meets the eye.

The Future Meets the Present

LetsRun.com and Oregon Track and Field 
Journalism Class Meet in Doha
by Mark Cullen/trackerati.com. Copyright 2019. All Rights Reserved
photo credit: Mark Cullen/trackerati.com
Track and field journalism's present met its future in Doha at the Media Reception tonight.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Doha Daze

*USA Team Practice
*Oregon Journalism Class #Ducks in Doha!
*Heat Concerns as Marathon Approaches
Hammer Favorite Deanna Price with Husband/Coach JC Lambert
USA Team Practice, Qatar Sports Club


Team USA held an open practice at the Qatar Sports Club in downtown DohaTuesday. The heat index was 113, and even as the sun went down and the temperature dropped, the humidity rose from the mid-50s to mid-70s to keep the heat index squarely at 113 until practice closed at 9:30pm.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Seb Coe on Eliud Kipchoge's Sub-2:00 Marathon Attempt

Seb Coe replies to my question about the legitimacy of Eliud Kipchoge's sub-2:00 marathon attempt. Find it here on the IAAF YouTube Channel; start at 14:30. And watch the faces of the panelists as they hear my question unfold.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PuYmZzcAi8

This begs the question of what is assistance and what's not. Coe certainly makes  a good point, however, about attracting people into the sport.
Photo and magazine from the Cullen Collection

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Jarred Rome

I am deeply sorry to report the untimely passing of two-time US discus Olympian, Jarred Rome.

A graduate of Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Rome, 42, died in his sleep Saturday morning after being inducted Wednesday evening into the Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame in Everett, Washington.

Please see Paul Merca's touching tribute to Rome, the Olympian and the remarkable coach, and for quotes from Rome from his Hall of Fame induction.

Track and Field Selfie of the Year

Mascot Falah the Falcon Makes a Man's Day

by Mark Cullen/Trackerati.com. Copyright 2019. All Rights reserved.

The Media Accreditation Center at Khalifa Stadium in Doha is an enormous room - a wide and lengthy hallway with walls that arrive later than you might expect.

As I sat to have my photo taken for my press pass, Falah the Falcon sat down next to me for his.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Brussels Diamond League Finals

Toe to Toe in Stade Baudouin

copyright Mark Cullen/trackerati.com. All rights reserved.

The men’s shot put inaugurated the Finals festivities on Thursday night at downtown Brussels’ Place de Brouckere. New Zealand’s Tom Walsh opened with what turned out to be the winning throw, a 22.30 (73-2) that proved uncatchable by one of the deepest fields ever assembled. It took over 22.00m (72-2¼) to get on the podium; Darlan Romani (Bra) and Ryan Crouser (US) joined Walsh in 2nd and 3rd at 22.15 (72-8) and 22.08 (72-5 ¼).

Good news for discus queen Sandra Perkovic, who seems back in form with her 66.00 (216-6). Not such good news for her? Jaime Perez’ (Cub) 68.27 (223-11) last-throw capper on a night which saw her lead from start to finish. “In the past I was always very nervous at important competitions and now I have this much more under control,” understated Perez.

Akeem Bloomfield and Michael Norman
go toe to toe in the 400m


Photo by Jiro Mochizuki
The leader off the final turn of the men’s 400m was Michael Norman – no? OK, Fred Kerley then. Still no? Akeem Bloomfield (Jam) has three weeks to nail his finish as he pressed Michael Norman to a 44.26 win over Kerley’s 44.46; Bloomfield was third at 44.67. Norman and Kerley will be looking for each other in Doha; they’d be wise to keep Bloomfield in their sights as well.

Dina Asher-Smith’s stated goal is to win a major championship medal, a fact she underscored last summer when she said that her triple European gold performance was deeply satisfying but not the standard by which she wants her career to be judged. She has done much to put herself into the mix for 2019 World medals with her 100m gold today and 200m silver in the Zurich DL final.
Marie-Josee Ta Lou, Shelly-Anne Fraser Pryce, and Dina Asher-Smith
 go toe to toe in the 100m

Photo by Jiro Mochizuki
Asher-Smith turned back Jamaica’s double Olympic gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 10.88-10.95, after SAFP took the lead at 60m. Not many can say they’ve come back on SAFP at that stage of a 100m and won. Dafne Schippers (Ned) continued her perplexing year with a 4th place finish at 11.22.

Sifan Hassan (Ned) is entering Athlete of the Year territory. Her finish is a weapon deployable to withering effect at any distance, and right now it looks as though she could win World titles over a remarkable range: 1500 – 5k – 10k. In the Brussels 5,000, her main competitor, World 5,000m and World XC champion Hellen Obiri looked tired, with arm movements almost self-conscious as she tried to stave off what is becoming the inevitable. Hassan closed with a withering 59.70 to win in 14:26.26.

During steeplechase introductions, a cold night turned wet, and once the gun went off, the pacers didn’t help. They were notably a hindrance in the women’s 5,000m and men’s 1500m as well. Having pacers in major title championships seems unthinkable – it puts the races at cross purposes to themselves. I am all for a well-coordinated assault on a world record, pacers and all. But the women’s 5,000m looked ridiculous: the pacers were running for time. The rest of the field was running for what they came for: the title and yes, the cash that comes with it.

Guess what happened when the pacers dropped off? The field slowed and bunched, and the real racing began with 600m to go - a classic, strategic championship race. The day I can run more helpful splits than the pacers is the day they need to be banned from championship competition. I’m 67. ‘Nuff said.

Timothy Cheruiyot continued his dominance of the men’s 1500m with a controlled 3:30.22 - yes, controlled - as he won by 1.4 seconds over 18 year old Jakob Ingebrigtsen’s stellar 3:31.62.

Ingebrigtsen and his brother, Filip, ran a textbook-worthy race. They let the pacers go too fast on the first lap and hung in the middle of the chase pack in 7th and 8th, with Filip ahead of his younger brother. They trusted their own pacing and moved up throughout the race, then 5th and 6th, then 3rd and 4th, and on the final lap, Jakob passed Filip to give the brothers an impressive 2-3 finish.

Cheruiyot was undefeated in Diamond League races last year and is 5/6 this year for a remarkable 11/12 two-year DL record. “I prepare to win in Doha,” said the gentlest man on tour, ominously.

Jamaica’s Danielle Williams is looking ever more the Doha favorite as she came as close as is currently possible to dominating one of the deepest events in the sport, the women’s 100m hurdles. She turned back world record holder Keni Harrison by a substantial margin, 12.46-12.73; Harrison’s WR is 12.20.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s discus king Daniel Stahl finished 1-2-3-4-5. Well, actually, he merely won, but he did have the competition’s five longest throws.

Noah Lyles ran a leisurely 19.74 200m to become the first to win 100m and 200m Diamond League titles in same year. However, Ramil Gulieyv (Tur) and Andre de Grasse (Can) served late-season notice that they are major medal contenders once again with fast 2nd (19.86) and 3rd (19.87) place finishes after heretofore lackluster seasons.

There was considerable controversy at the finish of the men’s steeplechase as 19-year-old Getnet Wale (Eth) drifted into Soufiane El Bakkali’s (Mor) path. No foul was called and the results stand, with Wale the winner by .16 in 8:06.92. Wale has finished in the top 3 of all 6 of his steeples this year, for those of you considering your medal picks for Doha. Lamecha Girma (Eth) recorded a notable PB of 8:07.66 to claim bronze; he’s 18.

El Bakkali, 23, now has three consecutive Diamond League Finals silvers to his credit. I trust you can guess where he finished in 2017 Worlds. If not, let the Moroccan World News assist you. It describes El Bakkali as the “3000-meter steeplechase world vice-champion.”

Priceless.

***
The greatest mark in the world this week came not at a Diamond League final but at a low-key meet in Andujar, Spain, where Julimar Rojas (Ven) jumped the #2 triple jump in history. At 15.41 (50-6¾), she’s a mere 9cm behind the long-standing (1995) 15.50 of Ukraine’s Inessa Kravets. This ups the Doha ante between Rojas and TJ legend Caterine Ibarguen (Col) considerably; they have been conducting an intracontinental South American duel ever since Rojas pulled off the unthinkable upset of Ibarguen at 2017 Worlds.  Add Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts, who jumped an improbable 14.93 (48-11¾”) PB to win the Diamond League title last week in Zurich, and we have in the offing one of the most fascinating competitions of the entire World Championships. 

Complete Brussels Diamond League results: