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.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lightning Bolts and Twitter Mavens

Bolt vs Gatlin Part Deux
The Usain Bolt/Justin Gatlin travelin’ road show stopped in Beijing once again this evening. After the super hype that accompanied their 100m showdown, tonight’s event seemed positively tame in comparison.

While Gatlin couldn’t beat Bolt, a Chinese photographer on a Segway nearly did. He tripped Bolt and both went down hard, but Bolt, in spite of joking that the photographer “tried to kill me,” bounced back and seemed none the worse for wear.

Bolt was his usual playful self before the race; has he ever met a camera he didn’t love?! Gatlin, on the other hand, seemed tense and nervous, and his smile for the camera seemed forced. The outcome of this race was no surprise.

I attended part of their post-race press conference and was surprised to find a fairly friendly and respectful relationship between the two. Bolt razzed Gatlin about his age, and Gatlin said that what the rest of the world doesn’t see is Bolt calling him “old man” in the waiting room before races.

Gatlin as evil and Bolt as good is disaggregated by Alan Abrahamson in this thoughtful and discursive piece from his site, 3 Wire Sports: http://www.3wiresports.com/2015/08/25/cut-justin-gatlin-some-slack/. As you’ll see, good vs evil is neither as simple nor as cut and dried as it seems.

Hammer Time
The 80.85/265-3 fourth round hammer throw by Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk is a championship record and the second-farthest hammer throw in history. Poland has won three of the six hammer medals in these championships; their men’s team won gold and bronze – a dominant performance by one nation in one event. 

Even more impressive is Germany’s across the board performance in the throwing events, as they have advanced two or more to finals in all but one throwing event so far. In that, David Storl won silver in the shot put.

Heartbroken at the end of the women’s hammer was Amanda Bingson (US). The top 8 advanced to the last three throws (and a likely top 10 world ranking). Bingson was in 8th place with only two throwers left who could displace her out of the last three rounds. Moldova’s Zalina Marghieva topped Bingson’s mark by 3cm: 237’ 5” – 237’ 4”.

400m for the Ages
Last night’s men’s 400m race was one for the ages. 

Specifically: 23, 29, and 22. 

In order to medal, you had to run under 44 flat. South Africa’s 23 year old find Wayde Van Niekerk defeated veteran LaShawn Merritt, 43.48 - 43.65. No slouch in bronze was Grenada’s Kirani James in 43.78. 

James won this title in 2011 in 44.60. When he won the 2012 London Olympics, he ran a slowish 45.23. Neither time would have medaled here.

James is a favorite of mine in the stat book. He holds the record for the fastest 400m ever run by a 14-year-old - 46.96 - which is nice work if you can get it. He’ll turn 23 next month.

IAAF Daily Event Reports Link
I took a break from writing daily summaries to write a piece about the importance of both the reality and the symbolism of the results in the men’s javelin, in which gold and silver were won for the first time by throwers from Africa. It’s received a strong online response and was posted on the popular RunBlogRun website today, along with another piece about women’s hammer qualifying. 

As it’s not possible for me to summarize all 47 events and do each justice, here is a link to the excellent daily event summaries being prepared by the crack IAAF writing team: http://www.iaaf.org/competitions/iaaf-world-championships.

Throws Twitter Maven
When you think of me you think of twitter maven, right? Hello?

Or better yet, you think of me as throwing events twitter maven - no?

Well, I started sending out round by round qualifying and finals results on twitter, and the international throwing community found these faster than Anita Wlodarczyk can spell her name. To say that there’s been a whole lotta tweetin’ and retweetin’ goin’ on is to put it mildly. The tweets are reaching an estimated audience of upwards of 75,000 during each event, and throwing fans are delighted to see their events getting this kind of attention.

This is not completely out of the blue. The German site Throwholics is posting my articles about the throwing events, and they have a very dedicated and enthusiastic following.

Still, I knew all this had gone too far when a USATF staffer saw me in the mixed zone and said, “Hey, there’s the throws guy!”

Please don’t tell anyone in Eugene, OK?


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