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.
Sunday, August 21, 2016
I had planned on visiting the Christ the Redeemer statue early this Sunday morning, but it was pouring, I didn't feel well, and most of all, the men's marathon was up - event #47 of 47. I saw a few brief minutes of it out on the course and returned to my hotel to watch the finish. Galen Rupp earned himself a worldwide audience for the medal ceremony during Closing Ceremonies tonight with his third-place bronze.
Later in the afternoon, after a restorative nap, I decided to give the trip to the statue another try, and this time they did everything but tell me they had closed down the gondola. A windstorm had come up, and my guess is that gusts in my neighborhood exceeded 40 mph. As I was walking back to the hotel, I heard corrugated metal ripping from a roof. Just across the street, a palm tree shed its fruit with a small but startling explosion all its own. The television in my room has gone on and off of its own accord twice, and a neighboring back door light gave its own show.
Now we are minutes from the start of Closing Ceremonies. I can only hope they will not be disrupted by the storm outside. Maracana Stadium is open in the center and so the performers likely will be affected, but I fear those in attendance will have stood in the usual long lines to get in, and this time in the rain and wind.
As for me, I'm going to head for the same place I watched Opening Ceremonies, the Catete Grill, and see how the neighbors view the end of their big event.
With some luck we'll get the real deal this time: Hela Pinto, the true inspiration for "The Girl from Ipanema," and not that same imposter we had during Opening Ceremonies.
UPDATE: It's pouring rain 15 minutes before the start of the race at 09:30 Rio time.
Saturday, August 20, 2016
Well, 46/47 previews and predictions are posted. I'll post the men's marathon before its early start tomorrow. It has been a new and different experience writing the previews for a much broader audience on RunBlogRun. With more explanation of references and the need to establish context for that wider audience, the individual previews bloomed from 250-350 words to an average of 460 each this time.
Friday, August 19, 2016
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Monday, August 15, 2016
Wayde van Niekerk accomplished that unlikely feat last night in Estadio Olimpico when he set the 400m world record of 43.03.
Van Niekerk broke Michael Johnson's 43.18 set 17 years ago in the World Championships final in Seville; I have the rare privilege of having seen the last two M 400m world records.
This morning Poland's Anita Wlodarczyk shattered her own world record in the hammer throw by 1.21 meters with a remarkable 82.29/269-11.
In a series for the ages, she had three of the top 5 longest throws in history; three times she moved her own previous bests down the lists! It is not overstating it to say that she is competing with herself, as she won by 18-2/5.54.
With that margin, she could win the pole vault.
While the hammer dramatics were taking place, Brunei's Ruth Jebet scared the steeplechase world record when she won in 8:59.75, missing the current world record by less than a second.
Jebet had 70 seconds to complete the last lap - well within her reach - and set the new record, but she slowed dramatically as she approached the finish line, seemingly more from joy than fatigue. After all, she was about to become Olympic champion, and no one else was close.
About that Bolt guy... the atmosphere in the stadium last night was electric, and the anticipation of the men's 100m final so high that the volunteers who brought out the blocks got a wild ovation from the crowd! And with all the anticipation of the 100m, van Niekerk stepped in to show there's more to the world of track and field than Mr. Bolt... and then Mr. Bolt stepped up to remind us that our sport truly can't live without him.
One of my favorite nights in 45 years of track and field.
If you didn't see it last night, you might enjoy my twitter feed of the evening, which includes several photos: @trackerati.
In a rather humorous moment, late in the evening just before the men's 100m started, I got a text message.
"Oh, great," I thought, "someone's responding to my tweets!"
It was our friends at AT+T saying, "Dude, you're blowing your data plan out of the water!"
On a personal note, I am now up to five event coverage assignments for Track and Field News. Two of them are - get this - the women's hammer and the women's steeplechase. Today I covered my first world record and came within a second of covering two at the same time.
Not sure if someone's going to wake me up and tell me that actually I'm at the Oregon Twilight Meet. More like the Twilight Zone, perhaps, but I do know this. I am
Sunday, August 14, 2016
Three major championships, three last throw wins.
Here is a link to the article I wrote about Carter for the IAAF website in April:
Carter sure has been waving to crowds a lot this year.
Meanwhile, in the men's discus, Germany's Christoph Harting won on - guess what? - his last throw to upset World champion Piotr Malachowski (Pol). Harting is likely already sick of being referred to as discus king Robert Harting's little brother (CH is 6' 8 3/4", RH is three-time World and 2012 Olympic champion).
Research mavens are hard at work trying to find out if siblings have ever succeeded each other as Olympic champions in the same event; none found so far.
Meanwhile, this morning the women's Olympic marathon passed about 10 minutes from my hotel. Why it started at 9:30 instead of 7:30 is beyond me. It was hot just standing there and watching.
Meanwhile, I believe there's a little gathering of sprinters tonight. If I see any, I'll be sure to let you know.
Sunday, August 14
Mare Dibaba (Eth) had a pretty nifty 1-2 last year: 1st at Worlds and 2nd at Boston. And her fastest race of ’15? A scintillating 2:19:52 at Xiamen. As she showed at the World Championships, she has the unnerving ability to run fast over the last 9 km as well as the ability to run fast over the last 100m.
Saturday, August 13, 2016
Friday, August 12, 2016
The previous world record of 29:31.78 was held by China's Wang Junxia, set 23 years ago in 1993.
In the greatest 10k of its era and certainly one of the two or three greatest in history - women's or men's - the all-time lists were completely rewritten as four runners broke 30:00 minutes.
There are small bits of insanity in these results.
Eight national records were set, including that of the United States by Molly Huddle in 30:13.17 in 6th place.
The first 13 runners set personal bests and 18/35 finishers did so.
Former US citizen Alexi Pappas, now running for Greece, set the Greek national record of 31:36.16 - and finished seventeenth.
Most striking is simply this:
Kenya's Vivian Cheruiyot was second, Ethiopian legend Tirunesh Dibaba 3rd, and Kenya's Alice Nawowuma finished 4th after having done much to set up the race for Ayana in the first 5 kilometers.
If anything, it appeared Nawowuna was headed for bronze until Tirunesh Dibaba and she traded places twice between 7 and 8 kilometers, with the Ethiopian veteran pulling away to win the battle for 3rd.
Imagine running 29:53.51 and finishing 4th.
In my preview of this race I suggested that it was time for the 22-year-old Nawowuna to run an open 5,000m race to break her prodigious 15:16.74 - run when she was 16 years old.
Today she did just that.
She led the race at 5,000m in 14:46.81.
Thursday, August 11, 2016
This tome is over forty pages now and tomorrow's previews are queued up and ready to go. The men's discus will get these Games underway at 9:30am local time.
It is done in spite of the exasperation of my hotel having lost internet connectivity at the height of my work on the preview - for 36 hours. Yowza! My blood pressure is fine now - no, really.
You can see my tweets even if you don't subscribe to twitter. Just go to their website and plug in @trackerati and you can see my communications there.
Some of you may have seen my 'Grim Reaper' tweet a couple of days ago. There is more in that pic than meets the eye.
Notice the badge hanging around my neck? After an application process that lasted four months - and a week into my stay here - I was issued a pass to the Rio Media Center. This gets me into a great place to work, a place where numerous press conferences are held, and best of all, a place where I mingle with journalists from around the world.
To be clear, this is neither an all-access (royal blood required) nor single-sport pass, both of which are quite hard to come by (Track and Field News, the publication of record in international track, gets one sport specific pass per Olympics).
But it is certainly enriching my experience here, to wit:
|One of the great hangout places on the planet.|
Food trucks and picnic area outside the Rio Media Center.
Tonight a gracious couple, Patricia and Sidney, who are Cariocas - Rio residents - made room for me at their table and we hung out for a good - no, a great - half hour. She works in insurance security and he with a prominent energy company. They could not have been more welcoming - or funnier! We truly did have the best time. Thank you, Patricia and Sidney, for such a gezellig evening! Yes, we discussed language, among many other things.
Oddly, finishing the previews frees me up to do a greater variety of writing, even though track starts on Friday. I am eager to get a post up about the beach volleyball I attended, as I lucked into a historic match on the women's side when the Egyptian women's team played. I'll get that posted this weekend.
The press pass came about, in the end, in a rather funny way. After months of the most picayune picking apart of my application, I knew we had it down to the last possible detail. One last submission and... I waited. And waited. Again. For two more days.
In the meantime, I had met Heloisa Pinto.
The light went on.
I wrote them a rather cheeky message and said, "While awaiting your reply, I wrote a story about meeting the "Girl from Ipanema" - thought you might enjoy it." And sent them the link.
I had the pass 2 hrs, 44 minutes, and 42 seconds later.
Three years and two days after I started this blog.
Happy Birthday, indeed.
No sooner had I pressed 'post' than I received an email message from Track and Field News.
That men's discus at 9:30 tomorrow morning? I'll be covering it for them.
Monday, August 8, 2016
Saturday, August 6, 2016
This Catete crowd was deeply connected - to all the events on the screen.
Friday, August 5, 2016
40 years have elapsed (or lapsed, depending on your point of view) since I attended the Summer Olympics in Montreal. Those were, from a geographer's perspective, noteworthy for having been held in summer, unlike these games, which are being held in Rio's winter. Good thing, too, as today was the first day in a week that could reasonably have been called hot.
'16 feels very much like a major case of second verse same as the first: in '76 the state of the unfinished facilities was bemoaned, the worst traffic in world history was expected, the East Germans were accused of using performance-enhancing drugs - and were later found to have run a state-sponsored doping system... does all of this sound familiar?
The cast of characters has changed, but the drive to excel and the desire to be the best haven't - thankfully - changed a bit.
Sooner or later, someone will touch the wall first. Someone will lean at the finish and win by a hundredth, and we will adjudge one performance as better and more significant, no matter the path. Someone will rip the entry. Someone will score a penalty kick, rip off her jersey, and change sporting life for a generation of girls. Someone will stick the landing.
We'll never forget it.
Today my tour group went to Sugarloaf, one of Rio's vertical promontories, and we had much excitement when the return gondola was closed in anticipation of the arrival of the Olympic torch. There we were, stranded at the intermediate station, but with views like this, that's some kinda stranded.
The torch didn't arrive while we were there, but it was interesting to see how the possibility of it turned us into giddy children.
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
|trackerati meets Heloisa Pinto, inspiration for |
"The Girl from Ipanema"
|Aren't we a lovely couple?!|
"Tall and tan and young and lovely..."
Yes, she still is.
For the first few nights I am staying at a hotel across the street from Copacana Beach. It's beautiful here, and interestingly, it hasn't been hot yet. "It's our winter," the locals keep saying. Also, I haven't encountered a single mosquito - nada, not one.
Tomorrow I will join the Track and Field News Tour as it arrives in Rio, and I'll be staying at one of their four hotels. While it's closer to the most of the Games sites, it's still a good hour from the stadium, with much yet to be resolved about logistics here.
I'm active on twitter: @trackerati.
More - much more - to come.
Sunday, July 10, 2016
The universe has been telling you this for some time now. You’re the Olympic Trials champion and in the thick of a worldwide discussion of who the Olympic hurdle medalists will be.
Or actually it began late.
Saturday, July 9, 2016
The roar was deafening as Prefontaine approached the finish stripe, but the sound when he crossed it is unlike any I have heard before or since.