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Home stadium advantage a boost

Blake Risner
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Hello from Berlin, Germany.

After the first five days of competition, one country has a decided advantage over the rest in the 2009 World Championships of Track and Field.

The German athletes have received a noticeable boost from the home crowd each time they run, jump or throw in Olympic Stadium.



That added motivation has most certainly helped the German contingent to better performances, and even several appearances on the medal stand.

Following day four, Germany was in fifth on the overall “placing table” – which is a points-based scoring system similar to our high school system.



Steffi Nerius used the roar of the crowd to motivate her all the way to the podium, where she received a gold medal in the women’s javelin.

The noise level was deafening on Nerius’ first throw, which traveled 220 feet, 9 inches and put the pressure on the rest of the field.

No other thrower was able to outdistance the German.

Other German medalists include Jennifer Oeser in the women’s heptathlon (silver), Nadine Kleinert in the women’s shot put (silver), and Ralf Bartels in the men’s shot put (bronze).

We’ll see what effect the crowd has on the remaining German competitors in the days to come.

Defending world champion Bernard Lagat of the United States was feeling pretty good about his chances in the men’s 1,500-meter run following the semifinal round on Monday.

In the final, Lagat had positioned himself well with one lap to go. Unfortunately, the 35-year-old former Kenyan runner found himself “boxed” and unable to make a move on the leaders.

Lagat was finally able to squeeze through the traffic jam with 100 meters to go and sprinted to within a few meters of the leaders, crossing the line in third place with a time of 3 minutes, 35.93 seconds.

Two other Americans, Lopez Lomong and Leonel Manzano, qualified for the 1,500-meter final marking the first time since 1968 the U.S. has qualified three runners.

In other final action, former Colorado State University thrower Casey Malone placed fifth in the men’s discus competition with a fine toss of 66.06 meters.

The big news in this event was the raucous German crowd once again motivating one of their own to a spectacular performance. Germany’s Robert Harting was trailing Poland’s Piotr Malachowski through five rounds of throws.

Malachowski had twice set the Polish national record and sat atop the leaderboard with a heave of 69.15 meters.

Prior to Harting’s final throw, the entire stadium full of people rose to their feet to offer encouragement – and make some noise. The giant German responded with a throw of 69.43 meters to steal the gold medal away from Malachowski.

What a scene!

Log on to http://www.usatf.org to see the television listings for the World Championships and go to http://www.iaaf.org for complete results.

I hope that everyone is doing well in Glenwood Springs – especially our kids, Bryce and Bailey.

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 brisner@rfsd.k12.co.us.


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