Here are some thoughts and opinions from the 2009 World Championships in Berlin “half-time report”.
As usual, I’ll try to focus on coaching and training concepts.
Starting Blocks – Back to the Low Blocks
Track and Field at the elite level has gone back and forth from low blocks to high blocks during the last 3 decades.
With the low block where the heel is exposed, this is good because the stretch reflex generated by the calf muscle (i.e. gastrocnemius) provides a greater force output.
Personally, these blocks are ideal.
High blocks, enough to provide complete foot contact including the heel is also another theory where a greater force can be applied due to maximal contact.
My first thought during the opening round was Berlin’s low blocks. (see photo) Beijing had high blocks. Perhaps the good folks at Berlin were looking for a WR so they switched back?
Or, was it just the type of blocks they had in their storage locker?
Simon Magakwe - Fails to Advance
Last April, I covered the story of South Africa’s Simon Magakwe, the semi-homeless guy carrying his world’s possession in a plastic shopping bag with a PB of 10.45,
He then runs 10.32, gets the race called back due to a false start, then immediately runs 10.21 with very little recovery. Yes, he won both races. And in a 3 year old pair of hand me down 800 meter spikes.
10.21, by the way, is an IAAF “A” Standard qualifying time.
In Berlin, he ran well in the opening round, but failed to advance to the semi finals with a 10.71. Here are all the videos of the five Quarter-Finals races.
Don’t worry Simon, “goals” are simply dreams with an “due date”. He’s not done.
Never Celebrate until AFTER you cross the line
I don’t understand why people have to raise their arms in victory. I also don’t understand why they have to slow down a step or two, which is just enough distance for a chasing rival to sneak in for the Gold.
We have seen this happen time and time again.
The women’s 10,000 meters Finals just proved my point, and the race video will be added to my collection of WHAT NOT TO DO.
Why on earth do you run for 9998 meters and then slow down?
That’s what Ethiopia’s Meselech Melkamu did allowing Kenya’s Linet Masai to win the women’s 10,000m.
I don’t mind losing, but not under someone’s stupidity.
Safe Pole Vaulting? Isinbaeva No Heights
Elena Isinbaeva should have some comfort knowing that the nightmare happened to Sergey Bubka in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. As well, Dan O’Brien shared the same misery at the 1992 USATF Olympic Trials.
There are many other stories of “no-heighters”, from College to High School, to hundreds of open meets Only the big names gets the headlines.
American Football Coach Bobby Bowden of the Florida State once said to a field goal kicker,
“You will make field goals and you will miss some. That’s part of the game. Just don’t miss the one where I need you to make one”
Isinbaeva normally starts a 4.75 which is a warm up for her. Should she have opened up at 4.65m?
Unlike the Long Jump or Triple Jump where you can safely take off several feet behind the board, you can’t go back with the Pole Vault. There is a lot of room for error, from wind speeds to just plain mechanics.
Maybe she was taking a page from Suzy Favor Hamilton and “saving her next performance for Zurich”? (Sorry for the sarcasm, but I just couldn’t resist)
Jessica Ennis – No Jogging on the Last Event
Most Decathletes would jog or pace off the other athletes. A win is a win, right? Bib numbers are adjusted according to Rank after each event, so you know who’s who.
Daley Thompson (and others) would drive me insane when they jog the 1500m with the gold medal secured and a shot for the World Record. Maybe I am brainwashed because I witnessed Bruce Jenner win Gold in my hometown back in 1976?
Yes, these are big men, and yes, they are exhausted being out in the sun for 2 whole days, but these are the Olympics and World Championships.
Jessica Ennis had a 171 point lead going into the last event. That’s about 13 seconds according to my tables. She took it out hard and made it a decent race for all the runners. She won the 800m and secured the Gold.
Congrats, Jessica. Say Hi to Kevin Tyler and Derek Evely the next you see them.
20Km Race Walk Course – Trend of the Future?
Did anyone watch the race walk? Does anyone care?
The course was a 1000 meter stretch on a flat city road that resembled a 2000 meter track with super tight turns, similar to the 1896 Athens Olympics!
Some marathons are using 5-mile or 10km loops.
I can certainly see the benefits:
- RFID chips and only 2 timing pads are required for accurate 1km splits for the entire course
- Coaches can give personal aid every 2 km. I noticed one-third full “water” bottles.
- Fans see a lot more of the race… perhaps that’s why NASCAR and Formula One is so popular?
- Less officials required to DQ
The only downside would be for the athletes as being boring as hell.
Anything over one lap, I take a taxi.