Track is my field: Mark Cullen's international track and field website featuring storytelling, commentary, and predictions and event analyses for the Olympics and World Championships. I'll be writing from the 2018 European Championships in Berlin in August. I'm active on Facebook and Twitter: @trackerati.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Day 2 - Sun, 8/11 - m 20k walk, w Long Jump, w Discus, Decathlon, w 10,000m, m100m

Day 2 - Sun, 8/11 - m 20k walk, w Long Jump, w Discus, Decathlon, w 10,000m, m100m

m 20k walk
China’s Olympic bronze medalist Zhen Wang dominated the Lugano Cup by 90 seconds in a super-fast 1:19:08. Russia’s Denis Strelkov won the highly competitive European Cup with Miguel Angel Lopez of Spain and Matej Toth of Slovakia a mere 8 and 11 seconds in arrears. Strelkov says he doesn’t like heat, but with two excellent performances in the heat this year, he is a major contender in likely-to-be-sultry Moscow. China Teammates Jianbo Li and Zelin Cai sped to an impressive 1-2 finish in Taicing in February while Oly gold medalist Ding Chen DNFed in the same race. Late word is that Li will contest only the 50k and that China’s 1-3-4 trio from the Olympics will constitute China’s 20k team in Moscow: Ding, Zhen, and Zelin. On top of the world list is Piotr Trofimov (Rus) who scorched a 1:18:28 in Sochi this year on 2/23 – the fourth consecutive year he has walked his best early in the season only not to back it up later. Olympic silver medalist Erick Barrondo (Gua) was second to Diniz in the Euro Cup at Dudince over 50k and won at Dublin in May; he has remarkable range. But has he raced too much? This field is stacked; time to put the Yahtzee dice in the cup and roll. Russian legend Valeriy Borchin is nowhere to be found in this year’s results.

  1. Denis Strelkov, Rus
  2. Zhen Wang, Chn
  3. Erick Barrondo, Gua
w Long Jump
There’s no doubt that Brittney Reese (US) is the world’s greatest long jumper – female or male.
In spite of some stress-inducing inconsistency, she’s a great big-meet jumper who excels under pressure and regularly bests her competition by substantial margins. She’s won World-World-Olympic gold in the last three majors. If she would just nail a first-round jump for once, she’d make this so much easier on her many fans. Blessing Okagbare is in danger of spreading herself too thin. With two Diamond League wins and a defeat of Reese in Lausanne, Okagbare seems destined to be a multiple medalist in these Worlds. Will the LJ be one of them?

Janay DeLoach Soukup won the US title when Reese flamed out in Des Moines (Reese goes as defending world champ); the Olympic bronze medalist is poised for even the top of the podium given her steady and consistent performances.

Last year’s Olympic silver medalist Yelena Sokolova could pull a colossal upset; for her, it’s never ova ‘till the Russian national anthem plays.

  1. Brittney Reese, US
  2. Yelena Sokolova, Rus
  3. Janay DeLoach Soukup, US
w Discus
There are few more heavily favored athletes in these championships than London gold medalist Sandra Perkovic of Croatia. She’s undefeated in eight competitions and atop the world lists by over a meter. Olympic bronze medalist Yarelys Barrios of Cuba, who has five major meet medals to her credit, is having the best season behind Perkovic, with 5 firsts and 5 seconds in a busy 10-meet schedule. Yaimi Perez took her measure at the Cuban Championships in March; on a given day…Germany’s Nadine Muller was fourth in London and won silver in Daegu; she sits fourth on the yearly list, ready to pounce.

The mystery women of the year is China’s 20 year old Siyu Gu (Chn) who nailed a 222’ 8” throw in Weisbaden in May. But she hasn’t come closer than almost 5 ½ meters since! Was that her Bob Beamon moment?

  1. Sandra Perkovic, Cro
  2. Yarelys Barrios, Cuba
  3. Nadine Muller, Ger

Decathlon
Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Ashton Eaton remains a prohibitive favorite in this event, even though he acknowledges that he just doesn’t have the same spark this year that he had last. (Reuters) But Eaton has only one item missing from his resume, and that’s a World Championships gold medal; his silver experience in Daegu was, I think, one of the better things that could have happened to him in his development, as it showed him that not everything was going to come to him as easily as many had predicted. Giving him ample incentive will be two-time world champ and US teammate Trey Hardee, the Olympic silver medalist. Canada’s Damian Warner won the prestigious Gotzis competition in May and was 5th in London, and Germany has 4 atop the world list, which is not always a particularly helpful indicator in this event. Pascal Behrenbruck (8514) had a narrow win over Rico Freimuth (8488w) at the German national championships, and Holland’s Eelco Sintnicolaas was off-form at Gotzis but returned with an 8322 at the end of June. Russia’s Ilya Shkurenyov won their national title at 8354. Cuba’s multi-major meet medalist, including bronze in London, has been lying low but is always a huge factor. Hard to not call a repeat of London, but Behrenbruck and Freimuth are clearly ready for the podium.

  1. Ashton Eaton, US
  2. Trey Hardee, US
  3. Pascal Behrenbruck, Ger

w 10,000m
There’s always something of a mystery about who is going to run which distance event, but this year we seem to be in for disappointment as the latest word from Moscow is that Meseret Defar will run only the 5,000m and Tirunesh Dibaba the 10,000m. It’s bad enough that we have so many stars missing from Moscow, but to have them there and dodge each other? The frostiness between the Ethiopians is well-established; is it really better to avoid losing than to walk away with silver? It seems neither wants to risk losing twice. Nonetheless, this makes Meseret Defar a heavy favorite to win at 5k and Tirunesh Dibaba an even stronger favorite to win at 10k.

With four world and Olympic gold medals at 10k, and with 3 at 5k, Tirunesh Dibaba is the class of this field. A master tactician, patient, and possessed of a withering finish, Dibaba can handle any situation presented to her, whether it be a fast-from-the-start race or one which requires her to use her blazing speed – or both. A modest race schedule this season has her chalking up wins at 5k in Eugene and Paris in 14:42 (yawn!) and 14:23, respectively, along with a 30:26 10k in Ostrava.

Second and third in Ostrava are among the most likely contenders for medals in Moscow. Gladys Cherono (Ken) was three seconds behind with Ethiopian Belaynesh Oljira two more seconds back in 3rd. One of only two others under 31:00 this year is Yeshaneh Ababel (Eth) at 31:35, also in the Ostrava race. Emily Chebet (Ken) has been better over hill and dale as two-time world cross country champ. And Shalane Flanagan has an outside chance at a medal if she runs her own (fast) race and picks off those who started too fast for too long.

  1. Tirunesh Dibaba, Eth
  2. Gladys Cherono, Ken
  3. Belaynesh Oljira, Eth
m 100m
What if they gave a race and nobody showed? The highly anticipated clash between Usain Bolt (Jam) and Tyson Gay (US) dissolved in a test tube when Gay tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. This leaves Bolt as the prohibitive favorite over a diminished field. Some of the contenders for silver and bronze, including US 2nd and 4th placers Justin Gatlin and Michael Rodgers, are themselves returnees from drug suspensions. And in a year when there is a golden – well, silver or bronze – opportunity to win a medal, France’s Christophe Lemaitre is having an off year. Britain’s James Dasaolou is this year’s find, though his absence from the London Diamond League race muddies the waters for him. NCAA champ and USATF 3rd placer Charles Silmon was hot in June, but it’s looking as though it’s hard for him (or anyone else) to sustain his sharpness for such a long time.

Remember that the World Championship 100m is not the same as an invitational. It’s not who’s best in one single blazing race; it’s who’s fastest and strongest over four rounds in a day and a half.

  1. Usain Bolt (Jam)
  2. Nesta Carter (Jam)
  3. Justin Gatlin (US)




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