Saturday, August 22, 2015

Beijing Buzz - 8/22

Beijing Buzz
Saturday Morning, 8/22, Day 1
Marathon Mess
This morning’s marathon results show just how spectacular Sammy Wanjiru’s 2:06:32 was on the same Olympic course in 2008. The closest anyone got to his remarkable time today was 5:56 slower in conditions that were only marginally better.

An outstanding field fell apart. 24/65 starters did not finish in the hot and humid conditions, including the current and past world record holders, Dennis Kimetto and Wilson Kipsang.

Not surprisingly, no one recorded a personal best, though a surprising 12 recorded seasonal bests, including Scott Smith (US), whose 2:24:53 earned him 28th place, only 12:25 behind the winning time of Eritrea’s 19-year-old sensation, Ghirmay Ghebreslassie.

There was much confusion about whether or not to run an extra lap after running the first 100m in the stadium and crossing the start/finish line.

Even finishers around 2:25-2:30 - by which time officials should have had ample time to respond - were mightily confused about whether or not to continue. Most finishers stopped when waved down by an official farther down the track, and many ran into and through the groups of heptathletes who were warming up for the high jump.

A poor show, indeed – and surprising, especially the lack of timely response once it was so evident there was a problem.

Cheer for China
Qualifying for tonight’s shot put final went according to form, with Michelle Carter (US) a strong second behind favorite Christina Schwanitz. China’s Lijiao Gong and Yang Gao qualified 3rd and 9th, respectively. Tia Brooks (US) finished a heartbreaking 2cm out of the finals. 

Expect the Nest to be rockin’ later this evening when the Chinese take the stage. A nationwide audience of hundreds of millions. No pressure. 

When a Chinese athlete is introduced in the Bird’s Nest, it gets a little deafening in here.

I had an interesting exchange with Jenny Simpson at the USATF press conference on Friday. Simpson is the 2011 world champion in this event, and 2013 silver medalist.  

Often overlooked is her 2009 5th place steeplechase finish in Berlin, where she ran a magnificently paced race to finish fifth in an American record of 9:12.50. With her 1500m PR now 3:57.22, many observers think she would have a legitimate shot at the steeple world record of 8:58.81.

When I asked if she had any plans to incorporate the steeple into her future plans, she said it was unlikely, as she wants to limit the possibility of injury, and she demurs to her friend and training partner Emma Coburn, who broke Simpson’s record with her 9:11.42 in 2014.

With her Berlin 5th, Simpson - who was then known as Jenny Barringer - has a record of 5-1-2 in the last three World Championships, one of the finest records in US middle/long distance history.

She concluded, “Thanks for remembering the Barringer days.”

Men’s 10k Tonight

With Mo Farah’s major meet streak on the line, the field will be crazy to let it be a kicker’s race once again. The fields keep playing into his hands by letting him unleash his withering kick at the end. The only hope his competitors have of ending his streak is to take it out on this warm and humid night and try to burn the sting out of his kick. 

One name: Geoffrey Kamworor. A young talent from Kenya, Kamworor and teammate Paul Tanui are the two who have the best chance of pulling the upset against the World and Olympic champion. I would like nothing more than to see what Mo can do in a race that finishes in the 26:30s.

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