Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Notes and Quotes: Day 1 World JR T+F

photo by Mark Cullen
A dramatic men’s 10,000m final highlighted the first day of action at the World Junior Athletics Championships in Eugene on Tuesday.
Keisuke Nakatani and Hazuma Hattori of Japan were the somewhat surprising early leaders. They clicked off consistent laps in the 70-71 second range and led at 6k, but a strong chase pack made quick work of them in the seventh kilometer. Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda led Elvis Cheboi and Nicholas Kosimbei of Kenya to a 1-2-3 African sweep of the medals in the meet’s first final. Cheptegei ran an unanswerable 2:02.85 for the last 800m and won in 28:32.86.
Cheptegai said that he was concerned that the Japanese runners went out so fast, but that he was confident in his race plan. His coach, Narisesio Bigingo, said that he attributes Cheptegei’s win to “good preparation, good training, building stamina, and disciplined work.”
Bigingo concluded, “When you train hard, you win easy."

photo by Mark Cullen
Joshua Cheptegei, Uganda, 10k Champion
Ecuador’s Angela Tonorio had the most unusual path to the women’s 100m semi-finals. She was disqualified for a false start, but her protest was successful and she was allowed a solo rerun. She had to run 11.77 or faster to advance, and her run was added to the meet as the last event after the men’s 10,000m. After an agonizing delay due to technical reasons, she finally ran solo in front of an appreciative and enthusiastic crowd – and flew to an 11.28 clocking, the second fastest of the day.
Note well, bid deciders: in Sacramento at US Outdoor Nationals last month, when the men’s 100m finished, half the crowd left – and missed the next and final race of the evening, the scintillating women’s 10k won by Kim Conley over Jordan Hasay. Here, a large crowd was present for the men’s 10k, and almost everyone stayed to watch one woman run against the clock - and herself – in what was now the woman’s 100m dash.
Kudos to Conductor Brian McWhorter who led an orchestra in playing throughout the men's 10k race this evening. McWhorter, a University of Oregon conductor, composer, and music professor, composed the music for this evening's event. His creative process was celebrated in an article in the New York Times:
Highly recommended reading. Props to Professor McWhorter, who, of course, will henceforth be known as 'Coach.'
The evening ends late, and as I approach Franklin Boulevard, an animated man asks me if I have men’s 400m results from today. I look through entry lists on my phone and finally we find the heat results. The man introduces himself as Alex and says that he wants to find the results for Kazakhstan. We find his athlete only to learn that he has been disqualified. I let him know where the Jury of Appeals tent is located so he can find out more in the morning.
We talk for quite some time and after a while I ask Alex if he was a competitor… something is stirring in the deep recesses of my brain and I know I have seen him before. Now Head Coach of the Kazakh National Youth and Junior Team, Alex is Alexsandr Korchagin, a successful pole vault competitor in the 1990s. Where had I seen him compete? At the World Championships in Stuttgart in 1993 in my very first trip to Worlds, 21 years ago.

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