ANALYSIS DAY 1 (EVENING)100m Women (Heats)
The track seems really fast. During the heats of 100m (women), already 6 athletes were able to run under 11”00, with the defending champion of Beijing, the Jamaican SHELLY-ANNE FRASER-PRYCE, going with a very easy stride in 11”00, and ALLISON FELIX using her final only for qualifying in 11”01.
The best time comes from CARMELITA JETER : 10”83 floating the last 30m without pushing. But all the other athletes running under 11”00 seemed not pushing too much : the Nigerian OKAGBARE (10”93) showed the possibility to run near 10”80, defeating TIANNA MADISON (10”97), that seems to have little margin of improvement. Good impression from AHOURE (10”99), able running faster, and from BAPTISTE of Trinidad, while VERONICA CAMPBELL-BROWN ran 10”94 using no more than 90% of effort.
I think the semifinal can qualify the above sprinters, that seems the fastest of the field.
DISCUS THROW Women (Qualification)
The best athletes of the season are at the top of the qualification : the Cuban BARRIOS (65.94), the German NADINE MUELLER (65.89) and PERKOVIC of Croatia (65.74).
However, we can find some athletes having a good seasonal best, but out of the final with poor result : the two Russians, SVETLANA SAYKINA (60.67 vs. a Seasonal Best of 63.25) and Vera KARMISHINA (59.90 vs. 64.20), the German JULIA FISCHER (60.23 vs. 64.22), the Cuban DENIA CABALLERO (58.78 vs. 65.60), and ARETHA THURMOND of USA (59.39 vs. 63.44).
LONG JUMP Men (Qualification)
The talent in this Olympic edition is very poor, and probably we go to see one of the worst competitions all time. Already without the best athletes of the last two years (Dwight Phillips of US and Lapierre of Australia), the event lost also Mitchell Watt before the start, and some athlete during the competition.
It was for me a big surprise to see athletes like IRVING SALADINO and LUIS MELIZ with no marks, and young talents like the Russian SERGEY MORGUNOV (8.35 of PB), the German CHRISTIAN REIF, the Spanish EUSEBIO CACERES (8.27 of PB) and GEORGE KITCHENS of US (8.21 of PB) not able to jump longer than the 7.92 enough for qualifying.
The board is not very reactive, and the athletes found a strange wind disturbing the precision of the take-off. However, I don’t remember any Olympic Game of the last 52 years (from Rome 1960) with so short performances and so little quality.
1500m Men (Heats)
One big surprise during the 3rd heat : NIXON CHEPSEBA, Kenyan no. 3 in the World, this year two times under 3’30”, was not able to qualify, doing a lot of tactical mistakes in the last 500m. In front at easy pace during the first 1000m, he was overtaken by the Qatari MOHAMED AL-GARNI followed by other 5 athletes, and finished in a very wrong position. Trying to move outside for overtaking the leading group, almost fell down with 200m to go, and at the end didn’t have the energy for going in the first 6.
With different kinds of heats, more fast or more tactic, the final result of the Spanish runners didn’t change, since all 3 were not able to qualify : ALVARO RODRIGUEZ, DAVID BUSTOS and DIEGO RUIZ.
Also CIARAN O’LIONARD competed very bad, finishing in a poor 3’48” without never being inside the real competition.
The first heat was very much faster than the other two, and the most part of the athletes recovered by times comes from that heat. The winner was the Algerian TAOUFIK MAKHLOUFI, who spent all his winter in Iten for training, very comfortable at the end with more than 1” of gap at the end (3’35”15 vs. 3’36”56), in front of ASBEL KIPROP that gave impression of absolute easy control.
In the second heat the young HAMZA DRIOUCH of Qatar produced the best impression, while personally I didn’t like too much my athlete SILAS KIPLAGAT, a little bit tactically confused.
The third was the heat of Chepseba, and can be a good teachment for athletes very tall, not having big agility : this type of runners can stay or behind the group at the beginning, or in front not too slow, but not in the middle of the group. Running tactical races can be very different from running fast races with pacers and no tactical problems.
HEPTATHLON Women (first day)
JESSICA ENNIS is a clear leader after the first 4 events. She is in the best shape of her life : during the first day of competitions, she bettered two PB with performances of high level also in single events : 12”54 in 100m hs, probably enough for reaching the final in the single Olympic event, and 22”83 in 200m. She is some point ahead of her PB of 6.909 points, made in Goetzis this year.
The 33y old AUSTRA SKUJYTE of Lituania, WR holder of the not official Decathlon for women, is in 2nd position, with PB in high jump (1.92) and the best performance all time in a multiple event in shot put (17.31).
But the agonistic level of this Heptathlon is one of the highest possible, since in 4 points, behind Sjujyte, there are 4 athletes : the Canadian JESSICA ZELINKA with 3.903 points, LYUDMILA YOSYPENKO from Ukraine with 3.902, HYLEAS FOUNTAIN from US with 3.900 and the young talent from Netherland, DAFNE SCHIPPERS, with 3.899 points.
At the moment, the World Champion TATYANA CHERNOVA seems out of the podium, also if can repeat her PB in the 3 remaining events, the same about the Olympic defending Champion, DOBRYNSKA of Ukraine.
SHOT PUT Men (Final)
We had another demonstration that the classic technique (O’Brien) can allow the athletes to be more constant in their efforts. The first two are specialists of that technique : TOMASZ MAJEWSKI from Poland, already winner 4 years ago in Beijing, fully merited Gold with four throws longer than 21.70 : 21.72 (2nd throw), 21.87 (3rd), 21.72 again (5th) and the final 21.89.
Behind him, the young talent DAVID STORL, only 22, World Champion, was a tough competitor, improving his PB two times, with 21.84 (1st throw) and 21.86 (2nd).
Very far the group of specialists adopting technique with rotation (Baryshnikov) : bronze for REESE HOFFA (21.23), 4th place for CANTWELL (21.19), out of the final with his 9th position RYAN WHITING (20.64).
The only athlete able to improve his PB was GERMAN LAURO from Argentina. After bettering the National Record during the qualifications in the morning, he improved again two times in the final, with 20.82 (2nd throw) and 20.84 (3rd).
During the qualifications, we had some surprise, because RUTGER SMITH (Netherland), MARCO FORTES (Portugal), RALF BARTELS (Germany) and ANDREI MIKHNEVICH (Belarus) were widely under their seasonal best, so not able to qualify.
Hoffa had a technical problem in all his throws, arriving in the final position with his shoulder too ahead, and for that reason his throws couldn’t have the right parabola. But also Cantwell and Armstrong were not able to use all the board in the right way, going too many times out of balance.
On the other side, the technique of Majewski and Storl was very good, and this is the reason because they were able to maintain their performances in a range included between 21.50 and 21.89.
It was the most expected competition of the first day, and the development of the race was really interesting, with a final result that clearly says there is no match between TIRUNESH DIBABA and every other athlete in the World.
During our presentation of yesterday, we already wrote that it’s difficult to speak about “duels” when the score is 11-0, and this was for Dibaba. Today, with a competition she always controlled without difficulty, the final gap, matured in the last 450m only, was without discussion : 5”6 over Sally Kipyego, silver, and 9”7 over Vivian Cheruiyot, that we cant consider at the same level of Tirunesh.
Kenyan supporters forgot that Vivian, winning her titles in 2009 and 2011, never met Tirunesh, out of the competitions for an injury. This can be a difficult thing to understand for Kenyan people. Kenyan newspapers, and also Kenyan government, are used to look at the greatness of a Country in Track and Field counting the numbers of titles only, forgetting that till 2008 Ethiopia could start any Championships with a bonus of 4-0, due to the double gold medals of Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba.
So, the reality of this Olympics is that the Kenyan Team is really the strongest ever, but probably at the end is not able to win the same number of medals of last year, because the come back of Tirunesh Dibaba (that in my opinion goes to win 5000m too, without too much pathos).
The Kenyans tried their best, putting JOYCE CHEPKIRUI in front for pushing the pace after the first 5 km, lead by Japaneses in 15’32”. Soon after the 7th km, WORKENESH KIDANE went in front increasing the speed very much, and Joyce dropped out. Also the third Ethiopian, BELAYNEH OLJIRA, lost contact, and 4 athletes remained for 3 medals. In the last km, SALLY KIPYEGO, in very good shape (honestly I supposed she was worse than last year, but I was wrong), pushed the pace, but TIRUNESH followed very comfortably till when, with 500m to go, decided to start her final.
VIVIAN CHERUIYOT did a race tactically correct, always controlling Tirunesh. Her tactic didn’t work for a very simple reason : Tirunesh is the strongest, and who can chose the tactic is always the strongest, not the weakest.
I don’t know if Sally is, at the moment, stronger than Vivian. Probably not, but Vivian, that has in her mind the gold only, when understood not possible to stay with Tirunesh, suffered mentally, and was not able to react for a position that in any case was under her expectation.
Here we can see the splits of TIRUNESH DIBABA per kms :
1000m 3’07”7 3’07”7
2000m 6’13”8 3’06”1
3000m 9’19”6 3’05”8
4000m 12’25”3 3’05”7
5000m 15’32”7 3’07”4
6000m 18’32”6 2’59”9
7000m 21’38”3 3’05”7
8000m 24’34”9 2’56”6
9000m 27’35”3 3’00”4
10000m 30’20”75 2’45”4
Last 5000m in 14’48”, last 3000m in 8’42”4, last 2000m in 5’45”8, last lap in 62”08.
Behind them, some interesting PB : the Ethiopian SHITAYE ESHETE, running for Bahrein, in 30’47”25, the two Britons JOANNA PAVEY and JULIA BLEASDALE under 31’ (30’53”20 and 30’55”63), and the 3 representing US (AMY HASTINGS, JANET CHEROBON-BAWCOM and LISA UHL) together in 31’10”69 (11th position), 31’12”68 (12th) and 31’12”80 (13th). A good global performance, but of course Africa is still far.