Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Imagined Introductions: Moscow Moments from Tuesday, 8/13

A compelling Tuesday night in the stadium as Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva, the pole vault queen who had been dethroned by Jenn Suhr - and who herself had done much to dampen expectations going into these championships - proved once again to be one of the greatest big meet competitors track and field has ever known. A thrilling come from behind win in front of the home crowd… and three tries at the world record.

She even got her own rhythmic clapping sequence early in the competition: short-short-long, short-short-long. No surer sign of track and field royalty than to have the crowd invent one for you.

And it was a crowd at last, drawn to the stadium to witness Isi’s swansong, to give her one last ovation at the end of this magnificent career. Shouldn’t we be glad she just made the final?

No; thankfully, Isi has never been one to stick to the script.

Robert Harting is king to Isi’s queen. He threw himself into the pantheon of discmen with his fourth consecutive major meet gold medal: Berlin, Daegu, London, and Moscow. And note that it’s five major meet medals in a row when his silver from Osaka (2007) is added to the sequence.

His touching tweet includes thanks to his discus teammate brother, Chris, his girlfriend, and “Mama Und Papa.”

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was dominant in the 100m and she struck gold - well, pink, actually - in the fashion and makeup championships as her lipstick matched her hair… well, half her hair…

Oregon frenzy as Willamette University’s Nick Symmonds wins silver and changes his life. Two years ago he took the huge but necessary chance of revamping a training program and racing style which brought him great success on the US national level but not on the world stage he so craved.

The program evaluation is in: it works.

And more Oregon frenzy as Brianne Thiesen Eaton wins silver as well. Wasn’t all that yellow in the stadium for Oregon?

I may be forced to acknowledge that, outside of Hayward Field, yellow can sometimes represent more compelling interests, like nations. Last night’s sea of yellow was for Ukraine.

I saw Yelena Lashmanova in the stadium and she found the finish line she’d been looking for earlier in the day. It was on top of the podium.

Kirani James’ 400m bubble burst, but when it bursts, you’re Olympic Champion, and you’re 20, is it really so bad? Mary Cain will have a night like this someday, but it’s starting to look as far away as James’ next slow race does now.

Cain (US, 1500m, 17) continues to astonish in her debut on the world stage. I took a photo of the semi-final results board since I saw there something so thunderously unexpected that it’s challenging to give it the context it deserves:

4. Mary Cain, USA, 4:05.21
5. Genzebe Dibaba, Eth, 4:05.23
6. Nancy Jebet Langat, Ken, 4:05.30.

Allow me to do the imagined introductions:

Mary, this is Genzebe, the World Indoor champ whose PR is 7 seconds faster than yours. You may have heard of her and her family. Sister Tirunesh runs the distances fairly well, as her multiple golds and world records attest. And sister Ejegayehu – did I mention her Olympic silver?

G’s cousin? Olympic Champ Derartu Tulu, who got it all started for African distance women with her 10k gold in Barcelona.

They give the term “it runs in the family” a whole new meaning.

And Mary, this is Nancy. You may have heard of her - she’s the 2008 Olympic 1500m gold medalist.

You just outkicked them both down the stretch.

'Yeah, so? This is why I don’t run high school track anymore.'

Then again, Mary, you might not have heard of Nancy.

When she won gold in Beijing, you were 12.

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