Action, storylines abound at Worlds
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Hello from Berlin, Germany. The third and fourth days of competition at the 2009 World Championships of Track and Field are now in the books, and there is much to report.
The unthinkable has happened. Someone other than Elena Isinbaeva won the gold medal in the women’s pole vault.
In fact, the two-time defending Olympic champion, four-time defending world champion and the world record holder in the event did not even make a height.
As is her routine, the extremely confident Isinbaeva appeared to be sleeping under a blanket as the competition progressed from height to height. The Russian finally emerged to briefly warm up and begin jumping at 4.75 meters, or 15 feet, 7 inches, only to bail out on her attempt. She then passed to 4.80 meters (15-9) and narrowly missed her final two attempts.
Demon tracksters take note … even the best in the world need to properly warm up and prepare for competition.
Poland’s Anna Rogowska was the benefactor of Isinbaeva’s mishap, winning the pole vault at 4.75 meters and American Chelsea Johnson also took advantage by garnering a silver medal with a jump of 4.65 meters.
The king of the 10,000-meter run, Kenya’s Kenenisa Bekele, defended his Olympic and world championship titles with an impressive championships record of 26 minutes, 46.31 seconds.
Bekele was patient, remaining in the middle of the pack through the first half of the race. The leaders came through the initial 5K mark at 13:40.
The diminutive Bekele made a move with a group of three other runners that separated themselves from the pack and waited until the final lap to show his superior speed. Bekele ran his second 5K in 13:05 and his final mile in 4:06 en route to the gold medal.
Former University of Colorado runner Dathan Ritzenhein placed sixth for the U.S. and American Galen Rupp finished in 8th.
The women’s 100-meter dash final saw Shelly-Ann Fraser of Jamaica add a world championship gold to the gold medal she won at last summer’s Olympic Games. Fraser’s time of 10.73 was the fastest time in the world this year. American Carmelita Jeter won the bronze with a time of 10.90.
Coming into the 2009 world championships, my sentimental favorite to win a gold medal was America’s Sanya Richards.
Richards is a 400-meter specialist – in fact, she has been the world’s top-ranked quarter-miler for the last four years – but has been unable to win the gold in a major championship. She has been plagued by illness, injury or nerves every year when the world championships or Olympic Games roll around.
This entire year, Richards has been running with one purpose – to cross the finish line first in Berlin. Tonight, she did just that while running the season’s best time of 49 seconds. Sanya never gave up hope and never complained about her past failures and, at age 24, is a world champion.
The 400-meter distance, this time over hurdles, once again proved to be golden for the United States. Kerron Clement won the 10-hurdle race by running a world-leading 47.91. American Bershawn “Batman” Jackson took the bronze with a time of 48.23.
In other action, Great Britan’s Phillip Idowu won the men’s triple jump with a leap of more than 58 feet, Kenya’s Ezekiel Kemboi won the men’s 3000-meter steeplechase with a championships record of 8:00.??, and Germany’s Steffi Nerius used the crowd’s motivation (see the next column) to win the javelin with a toss of 67.30 meters.
Blake Risner is Glenwood Springs High School’s track and field coach and is currently overseas in Berlin taking in all the action at the World Championships. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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