800m : WITH A LOGIC RACE, A LOGIC RESULT.
Without Rudisha, the final of 800m could have saved some surprise, but the reality was different. Everything happened as expected, and the final result was the logic conclusion of the value of the athletes.
Duane Solomon, as expected, went in front with good pace, after the first 200m in 23.55, slowing down during the 2nd and 3rd quarter of the race (50.28 running 26.73 + 1:16.78 running 26.50). Aman, learning from the mistake of the semifinal, immediately joined him, and before the bell was overtaken by Nick Symmonds and Mohammed. After 500m, Aman seemed to be boxed again, behind Solomon and with Symmonds and Mohammed on his side, while Souleyman continued to follow in 5th position, very relaxed. But after 50m Mohammed suddenly lost contact, and Aman had the opportunity to stay behind the two athletes of US more comfortably. At the beginning of the last furlong, Solomon was still in front, but Symmonds started to overtake him in the second lane. With 50m to go, Souleyman was able to place himself side by side with Solomon, who couldn’t maintain the same speed, surrending in the last 30m.
Aman was able to kick in the last 30m, showing to be the strongest in the competition, and confirming that, without Rudisha, at the moment is the best in the World. For Nick Symmonds a very good performance, well run tactically, and in my opinion it was the best he could do.
Souleyman showed he had big improvement in his speed, not having any experience about 800m, and after this result, if not too tired, can be very dangerous for the Kenyans in 1500m.
Solomon had let up in the last 50m, and this fact allowed Marcin Lewandowski to reach the 4th position with his best seasonal time.
How supposed before the race, Osagie and Bosse had a honest race, but never were in the middle of the battle, lacking of personality and self confidence.
If we want to look at the tactics the athletes used, in my opinion Duane Solomon did the mistake to run too slow the second and third fraction of 200m.
We can give the following estimated times, per fractions of 200m, for the first 3 athletes and Solomon :
Aman 23.5 50.5 (27.0) 1:17.0 (26.5) 1:43.31 (26.31)
Symmonds 23.7 50.4 (26.7) 1:16.9 (26.5) 1:43.55 (26.65)
Souleyman 23.9 50.8 (26.9) 1:17.2 (26.4) 1:43.76 (26.56)
Solomon 23.6 50.28 (26.68) 1:16.78 (26.5) 1:44.42 (27.64)
Of course Solomon had to use the tactic to go in front, since this is the tactic which allowed him to improve his performances both in times and positions. This is of sure a tactic suggested by John Gray, who is his coach and was the athlete allowing many other runners to run under 1:44.0 many years ago, always going in front for pacing at high speed.
However, there is a big difference between running in front when you can control the final position comfortably (as in semifinal), and running in front with the goal to create a gap with the other athletes, knowing this is the only way for winning.
A split of 50.28 in the first 400m is not very fast, if you allow the other runners to recover during the 3rd part of the race. In this case, you can’t create any gap with the other runners, becoming their best rabbit.
In all the top performances, and the victories, produced by front runners, the fraction between 400m and 600m is the fastest (apart the first 200m), and it’s there that athletes can build their race. This is exactly what Rudisha is able to do, but the same was in the past for Kipketer, Coe, Fiasconaro.
For having some personal chance, Solomon had to go, after 23.5, for splits of 49.8 (26.3) and 1:15.8 (26.0), hoping to be able to finish like today (27.6), with a final time of 1:43.4. The most important point was to create a gap with the chasers, psychologically playing with two opposite situations :
- The mental energies you can find in yourself when you see you have some advantage
- The possibility of some resignation in the mind of the chasers, who can decide to compete for the second position only
In any case, Aman showed during the last two years to be the only athlete able to defeat Rudisha (also if in particular situations), and also to be the most consistent specialist (apart Rudisha) during the last two seasons. The average of his best 10 performances is 1:43.35, while the average for Nick Symmonds is 1:43.705, and in the head to head races Aman beats Symmonds 3-2 (without forgetting last year he was the only athlete trying to follow Rudisha in London, and for that reason he paid at the end finishing in a position not in accordance with his value.
3000m Steeple WOMEN : IN THE FIRST YEAR WITHOUT RUSSIAN CHAMPIONS, FINALLY MICAH REACHES GOLD MEDAL
The event of steeple for women was dominated by Russian athletes during all the last big Championships.
The event became official beginning from 2005. During these Championships, organized in Helsinki, one Ugandan athlete I coached, Dorcus Inzikuru, won with 9:18.24, running in front from the first meter, but 2nd was the Russian Yekaterina Volkova (9:20.49), who won 2 years later in Osaka, running a wonderful 9:06.57, with Tatyana Petrova 2nd in 9:09.19. During OG 2008 in Beijing, Galina Samitova-Galkina destroyed the WR, running in front from the start, and is the only women under 9:00.0 till now (WR 8:58.81).
The best competition all time was in Berlin (WCh 2009), when the top 8 runners were together at the bell, and at the end the number 8 (Gladys Kipkemboi) ran in 9:14.62, better than the athletes in 8th position in the all-time list, before the start.
In 2009, the surprising winner was the Spanish Marta Dominguez, already 34 years old and new for the event, after this performance considered involved in the “Operation Puerto” with the doctor Emiliano Fuentes. In any case, another Russian, Yuliya Zaripova (changing name in Zarudneva after marrying), won silver running 9:08.39, and from next year became the best in the World, winning European Championships 2010, World Championships 2011 and Olympics 2012.
The fact this year Russia was not able to enter some good athlete in the event was a surprise (Zarudneva was in good shape during National Championships, but had an impact on a barrier during the last training session, and could not run due to this injury), but also opened the field to Kenyan and Ethiopian specialists only, because also the Tunisian Habiba Ghribi, silver Olympic medal, was out because injured.
Kenyans and Ethiopians use to run all the races of Diamond League, because this is the only way for earning some money, and they don’t have any economical assistance by the Federation, and very little contracts with technical Companies. On the contrary, Russians have a very strict strategy, being supported by their Federation in order to prepare top Championships in the best way.
This year, the competition became a challenge between Kenyans and Ethiopians only, able to occupy the first 6 places, with all the other athletes very far.
The race had a very linear development : Milcah Chemos always in front followed by Lydia Chepkirui, with Hiwot Ayalew and Etenesh Diro behind, while Sofia Assefa (the best Ethiopian) and Hyvin Kiyenk Jepkemoi closing the leading group.
With spits of good but not ecceptional level (3:01.72 the first km, 6:11.36 the second, always with Milcah Chemos in front) the competition continued without any variation. Soon after 2000m, Jepkemoi, clearly the weakest in the leading group, lost contact, and seemed the top 5 could run together till the bell.
But with about 700m to go an unexpected deed happened : Sofia Assefa went with her first foot against one barrier, falling down.
She lost about 25 meters and was overtaken by Jepkemoi, and at the same time Milcah started her progression. Assefa had to run very fast for trying to close the gap, being able to reach Diro at the bell and to overtake Ayalew after the water jump, still 10 meters behind Chemos and Chepkirui.
In the final furlong, Chemos easily sprinted controlling Chepkirui, and Assefa almost was able to catch the same Chepkirui for silver medal.
At the end, there was a good technical result : the best seasonal performance for Milcah Chemos (9:11.65), finally World Champion ; a PB for Lydia Chepkirui (9:12.55), and another seasonal best for Sofia Assefa (9:12.84), who lost absolutely more than 5 seconds falling down, and hardly increasing her pace far from the finish line in order to try to reach the leader. For that problem, Assefa had to distribute her effort in a wrong way, and probably the final result could have been different, without this accident (which in any case was a personal technical mistake).
This year, the global situation in this discipline is not very much interesting. The technical level decreased a lot, and few Countries entered good athletes in the event. Of course we are in a post-Olympic year, but also 2009 was a post-Olympic year, and the situation was very different…
It seems that, globally, all the performances in middle distances for women are worse than before, with the exception of the African, maintaining the same level of the past. There are many new names, but their talent doesn’t seem very high.
This means there is now room, also for athletes of medium talent, for reaching top results in the Championships, if motivated and trained in proper way.
TOPIC OF THE DAY
For the first day, in Moscow the stadium was almost full. This doesn’t mean Russian people suddenly started to love Athletics, but that there was in the field one of the few athletes everybody knows : Yelena Isinbayeva.
The “tsarina” wanted to win in front of her people, for crowning a wonderful career able to produce unbelievable results :
- 15 World Record outdoor, starting with 4.82 (13th July 2003) for finishing with 5.06 in Zurich (28th August 2009)
- 13 World Record indoor, starting with 4.83 (15 February 2004) for finishing with 5.01 in Stockholm (23rd February 2012)
- In Olympic Games : 2 Gold (2004-2008) and 1 Bronze (2012)
- In World Championships outdoor : 3 Gold (2005-2007-2013) and 1 Bronze (2003)
- In World Championships indoor : 4 Gold (2004-2006-2008-2012) and 1 Silver (2003)
She has an average, for the best 10 performances, of 5.01, and jumped 8 times over 5 meters, 24 times over 4.90 and 63 times over 4.80.
Born on 3rd June 1982, is 31 years old, and looks for building a family having a baby. But after this, she doesn’t rule out to come back, for trying to win the last Olympic Gold in Rio.
Today, she showed how important is the motivation and the ability to concentrate the mind for controlling pressure and emotions.
She failed the first jump at 4.55, and again at 4.75, before succeeding. At that point, she was 4th, behind Suhr, Spiegelburg and Silva. Jumping 4.82 at the 2nd attempt, Yelena became the 2nd, behind Suhr. Because of a higher number of faults, she needed to overtake 4.89 at the first attempt, and she did, with a wonderful jump, really 20 cm higher.
Yelena is one of the last champions able to inflame the crowd. In the athletic of today, only Usain Bolt and Rudisha among men, and may be Fraser and Dibaba among women, are able to reach similar effect.
This is one of the big problems for Track and Field : we need to produce champions everybody can know, not only who is interested in athletics, and today we have a structure of athletics not able to give visibility. People need top performances for enjoying, and need to recognize the athletes, while at the moment in many events (for example middle distances) in every meeting there is a different winner, making for normal people the race not interesting, looking at some unknown athlete without personal emotional involvement.
I think we need to find a new way for organizing and promoting Track and Field : looking at the drop in technical value of the performances, and in the interest of media and TV (apart WCh or OG), we are on the way for destroying what were able to build with more than 30 years of wonderful shows.