Thursday, July 24, 2014

Junior World Track and Field Championships - Day 3

Very hard to write up race violations when it's pouring rain; the heat sheets and incident cards turn into sloppy oatmeal when wet.

Fortunately, things improved later in the day...nice shot showing the flags of the 200 countries represented.

Brought some snacks in case I became hungry...

Umpire briefing under the stands before the events began...

The heat sheets are a source of valuable information. For example, you get to see some world class names:
  • Sri Lanka's Himasha Eashan Waththakankanamg
  • Norway's Elmo Savola (my daughter will love this one)
  • Nigeria's Ejowvokoghene Divine Oduduru
  • Nigeria's Praise Oghenefejiro Idamadudu
  • Madagascar's Avotriniaina Rakotoarimiandry
  • Jamaica's Nathon Allen (come on: who spells 'Nathan' with an 'O?')
Forgive my stereotyping: everyone from Czechoslovakia and Croatia looks and sounds like a drill sergeant! The coaches, the parents...they seem accustomed to combat, just from their tone and demeanor...reminds me of my native New Jersey.

I'm working on a very experienced umpire crew, and it shows in their nicknames: Bo, Giz, the Clark Brothers (one black, one white), Festus, Mooseman, Goose, and Numbnuts. Maybe someday I'll rate a similar moniker...hey, a guy can dream, can't he?

Facts about the Steeplechase that you may not know:
  • The race is 7.5 laps with 35 jumps. That  means no jumps on the first half lap, so the runners go around the water jump the first time, and the barrier at the beginning of the homestretch is put in place only after the runners pass it once.
  • The barrier just beyond the finish line is longer than the other movable barriers. This is the first jump they'll encounter; since the field will still be bunched up, the barrier spreads over four lanes instead of three.
During the women's steeple heats, a very well-dressed coach is screaming at his runner, "VENGA, VENGA, VENGA!!!" Easy to say, harder to do.

I'm at the start of the 200m, and there are lots of heats. Before one particular race, the Canadian team contingent in the bleacher behind me is cheering for a teammate about to run. During a brief intermission, the Jackson 5's "A,B,C" is piped over the loudspeakers, and one of the Canadian kids is singing.

He's singing, all right. Horribly. Cringe worthy.

I turn to him with a big smile and say, "Dude, you are TONE deaf!"  He turns red, and his buddies roar.

The kid says, "My mom tells me I sing well."

I reply, "She's SUPPOSED to say that."

Too fun.

Later, I see something I don't think I've ever seen: a Kenyan sprinter.

Then I see an unfamiliar jersey name: come I didn't know that was Greece? Because my college didn't have fraternities, just one big dormitory...

A French girl misses 3x in the pole vault and is done. Then she spends the next 5 minutes shaking hands with every pole vault official. Class act.

Aussie girl is in 4th place in the PV, down to her last attempt. She clears the bar and parties HARD on the way down, lots of fist pumping and screaming. Something very cool about seeing someone pull it out when their back is up against the wall.

She then clears the next height on her first jump. Her previous celebration now pales in comparison to this one.

Then, to be redundant, she clears the NEXT height, and again on her first jump. Two PRs in two jumps in the biggest meet of her life. She is seriously losing her mind on the descent, as is the Australian contingent in the adjacent stands. She bounds out of the pit, screaming her fool head off, and is about to hug everybody in the bleachers, when....

She is abruptly stopped dead in her tracks by a very loud and insistent official, who notices that the mens' 400m final is about to start. Yep, I knocked her from exhilaration to 'oh crap' in a split second, and it showed on her face. The crowd behind me busted up laughing.

Later, when a different official is in that location, another girl clears a height and runs across the track in the middle of the 3000m. The bigger problem is that the cameraman follows, dragging 50 feet of cable across 8 lanes. During the race! Fellow umpire Bob lays down the law and quickly restores order.

Maybe the starters will let us carry their pistols for such incidents...

Fort Worth native Desiree Freier gets a national record in the vault on the way to second place. At five foot nothing and a very low center of gravity, she looks like she'd be more at home in a West Texas backfield as a fullback. Nice diamond earrings, though.

Great pole vault competition all around. Lots of pressure and lots of heights cleared.

Women's 800m; there is a runner from Iceland, of all places. Not exactly a hotbed of track, but maybe that's changing. Except the girl takes it out in 56 freakin' seconds, then fades like an old t-shirt. As the field comes off the last turn, I see a yellow flag come up...not sure why, but it's time for me to move to the next assignment.

I'm hustling thru the turn when I pass the starters heading in the opposite direction. They have farther to go than I do, and the next race won't begin without them. So I smile, throttle down, and enjoy a leisurely walk.

Once I set up on the home stretch for the 3000m, I notice Ms. Iceland walking slowly down the track with a smudge on her forehead. Evidently she stepped on the curb and went down, hence the yellow flag.

In the 3000m, it's Mary Cain and two or three Africans with 200 meters to go. Then, from across the track, I see a lot of forearms and body-checking. The result is that Ms. Cain busts out of the box and blisters the last half lap on the way to a final 400m in 63 seconds and a sub-9:00 clocking.

Then a Russian girl comes from behind to win the javelin by six inches on her last throw and bawls her eyes out. Remember what I said about last minute heroics?

Yep. One happy boy...

I love track.

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