Whilst just quietly getting on with my 3 runs a week, I was glued to the box for the last week of August for the IAAF World Championship in Athletics in Daegu, Korea. I’ve been pretty busy since hence no updates, but I thought I’d better post my thoughts before we get into the Autumn Marathon season!
Great Britain’s head coach Charles van Comenee set a target of 7 Medals including 1 Gold which was met, with the team taking 2 Gold, 4 Silver and 1 Bronze. This is in line with medal hauls during the “golden era”, and joint 3rd highest of all time. It’s important to note that GB took NO relay medals – something which is often Britain’s strong suit. Whilst this is a poor performance, it does show the current strength and variety of GB’s individual athletes that they still hit the medal target.
- Gold: Mo Farah – 5000m, Dai Greene – 400m Hurdles
- Silver: Jess Ennis – Heptathlon, Mo Farah – 10 000m, Hannah England 1500m, Philips Idowu – Triple Jump
- Bronze: Andy Turner – 110m Hurdles
There were some disappointments, notably European and World medalist Jenny Meadows failing to make the 800m final, and Philips Idowu and Jessica Ennis failed to retain their Golds from 2009, both getting silver. Much has been made of Jess’ poor Javelin throw, but she would have had to equal her PB to win – in both cases, the Brits performed superbly but were beaten by better athletes.
Likewise, Mo Farah‘s 10 000m Silver medal was seen as a failure, despite the fact that he’d never before medalled on the world stage – his best finish being 6th. He silenced all doubters by holding off the fast finishing American Bernard Lagat, and Ethiopians Deriba Merga and Dejen Gebremeskel to win 5000m Gold in style. Despite coming second to Ibrahim Jeilan in the 10, he cemented his position as World number one distance runner this year, and probably the best Great Britain has ever produced (thanks must go to his American coach, former marathon legend Alberto Salazar).
The Medal Table
GB came 6th in the medal table, with medals coming from across a range of events. As usual the leading countries relied on dominating their specailist events. Whilst the USA and Russia medalled in a variety of events alongside their strong suits, Jamaica won all it’s medals in sprints and Kenya in distance (although it missed out on the podium in the men’s 5000 & 10 000m). Distance running rival Ethiopia performed poorly, getting only one gold.
- USA 25 – Sprints (14), Jumps (5)
- Russia 19 – Race Walks (6), Jumps (4)
- Kenya 17 – Middle Distance (7), Women’s Long Distance (5), Marathons (5)
- Jamaica 9 – Sprints (9)
- Germany 7 – Throws (5)
The new disqualification rule for false starts (immediate DQ, no warning) caused a media sensation when global superstar Usain Bolt was caught out in the 100m final. Earlier, Brits Christine Ohurogu and Dwain Chambers suffered the same fate. The IAAF shot itself in the foot by catching athletics’ best known name out – his disqualification was bigger news than compatriot Yohan Blake‘s victory in his absence. The rules will no doubt change once more, returning to a yellow and red card system, where any second false start in a race will result in disqualification of the second (or subsequent) false-starter.
The arguments over Oscar Pistorius‘ right to compete against non-disabled athletes, and whether his carbon fibre legs give him an unfair advantage were still in full swing as he raced his way to the 400m semi-finals. I have no idea whether he has a real advantage. I can see that he runs a flatter trajectory, and his prostheses will not become less effective as he tires, as legs would. But he has been allowed to compete by the IAAF, like Caster Semenya before him, and once you are cleared that must be the end of the discussion. He was unlikely to win it, being almost a second down compared to top runners – a lot in sprints, and I think diversity and media attention are an excellent thing for the sport.
On a lighter note it was nice to see Libyan marathon runner Ali El Zaidi racing in his country’s new colours!
Channel 4 UK Coverage
I know Ortis Deley got a lot of flack for his bumbling presenting (and was ‘sacked’ from the anchor role). He just seemed a bit out of his depth with live TV and obviously hadn’t done his track and field homework. I remember him as a children’s presenter, a role for which he was better suited. Rick Edwards, who took over from Delay was much more comfortable in the anchor role. He carried on presenting the highlights show as well and looked nackered doing 10am-2pm and 7-11pm shifts! All their pundits were excellent; Dean Macey, Iwan Thomas and Micheal Johnson in particular.
My Top Athletes in Daegu:
- Male Distance: Mo Farah – 5000m Gold and 10 000m Silver
- Male Sprint: Usain Bolt aside, Kim Collins – 100m individual and relay Bronze at 35 years old!
- Male Field: Christian Taylor – triple jumped 17.96m for Gold, beating favourite Philips Idowu.
- Female Distance: Vivian Cheruiyot dominantly took 5000 & 10 000m Gold
- Female Sprints: Sally Pearson technically superb to win 100m hurdles Gold
- Female Field: Maria Abakumova made Javelin exciting, taking Gold in a duel with Barbara Spotakova.
- British Male: As I’va already used Mo, Dai Greene proved that endurance and cool sometimes trumps speed in taking 400m hurdles Gold.
- British Female: Hannah England surprised even herself kicking into Silver position in the 1500m.
Best Victory Celebration:
After Usain Bolt’s false start, Kenyan Steeplechaser Eziekel Kemboi made it up the crowd with this tribal dance meets club moves display. (Russain commentary I think – not that it matters!)