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It’s almost December and you know what that means… competition season!
This article may seem trivial, but every year there are stories. Horror stories. I’ll share a few here.
Entries: Bogus seed times, Heat sheets, and Lane draws
Bogus seed times is the MY BIGGEST PET PEEVE in Track and Field, especially indoor track where a good seed time gets you a better lane draw on the oval events. This applies to heats and straight timed finals. Personally, I don’t care if it’s 3 or 4 rounds like International meets, as the first round is usually a warm up race for those who are lucky.
Time and time again, I see this happen. I also see the host track team get the favourable lane draws, too. (** cough cough Sherbrooke University cough cough **)
And that is for the regular athletes.
The elite ones have it even tougher. We banned Mt SAC after several years of getting jerked around trying to get our athletes in the elite sections. Coaches put their PRs from several years ago when they are clearly not running what they used to.
And when the results are posted, those coaches say, “oh, it was a negative wind” or “the track was soft”.
This story really irks me, even though it’s from swimming. But it could apply to track and field.
Basically, the coach emailed the entries on Friday afternoon instead of entering them via directathletics.com. The Tournament Director had left the office for the weekend and by Monday morning, the entries were pulled from the website and the list of 24 qualifiers in each event had been sent out.
There was no exception. The athlete would be watching the opening heats from the stands or from home.
The pool has 8 lanes and they had compiled 3 heats. By adding a late entry, it would require 4 heats. Or bumping the 24th qualifier which would not be fair, either.
The swimmer could go to the meet and be on “stand by” or “waiting list” in the event of a late scratch, but there’s nothing worse than not knowing if you are going to run. Trust me. See my Mt SAC rant above.
Getting there: Bring ID
When I was coaching and competing in Canada, we often had to go to Dartmouth College in Vermont (back in the days when Vin Lanana was coaching there… yes, he was even a *nice* guy back then) and Cornell University.
Granted this was all pre-9-11-2001 but you still need proper ID to cross the border.
We had one athlete who just brought their bus pass, and we were detained for over two hours. The 400 meters heats were that day, and I literally had time for one indoor lap jog, and few stretches, one stride, and then the gun went off. I can tell you one thing: without a proper warm-up, I had buckets of lactic acid everywhere. Even there.
If you have International students, make sure they get their tourist visa sorted out before hand. Usually it’s a $6 I-94 card that’s good for 3 months.
Getting there: Bad weather
Speaking of Cornell University, our bus went off the road during an icy snow storm on the dreaded Highway 401 that links Montreal and Toronto. We did manage to push the bus back on the highway with 28 athletes. The problem was the bus was perpendicular to the highway and once the bus was in motion, the oncoming cars wouldn’t yield us the right of way. Then we got stuck again. So we had the skinny distance women go on the highway and stop traffic, while the men pushed the bus. I love shot putters and throwers. Putting tree branches under the tires helped, too.
Please drive carefully.
I think the one story everyone remembers was the infamous 100m quarter-finals in the Munich 1972 Olympics and the disqualification of two American sprinters, Eddie Hart and Rey Robinson, who missed their quarter final races.
Lee Evans, who was on the 4×400 relay team, did a valiant effort to sprint back to the Athlete’s Village to inform them of the schedule change.
Hart and Robinson missed their races, but the 3rd American Robert Taylor got there less than a minute before his race, stretched twice and finished second, advancing to the semi-finals. Taylor, who died in 2007, would later win the bronze, and he was considered the “3rd string” next to Hart and Robinson. The latter duo would have (could have?) given Borzov a run for the Gold (here is the video).
Well, maybe, but we’ll never know.
You can read more on coach Stan Wright here.
If you have any horror stories to share, I’d love to see them in the comments below.