Saturday, July 26, 2014

Junior World Track and Field Championships - Day 4

Beautiful morning: I took an easy 4 mile jog along the river. On the way back, several groups of African athletes were out walking, and they gave me big cheers in their native languages.

I love track.

At the venue; about 65 degrees and clear skies for the first event, the boy's 10,000m race walk.

Something I haven't seen before....a kid with k-tape....on his neck.

As soon as the race begins, the Hayward Field speakers being blaring that iconic song by Katrina and the Waves...

'Walking on Sunshine.'  Track people crack me up sometimes.

A Japanese kid bolts out at the gun and has 10 yards on the field in one lap. I'm not very interested until I see the time at 400m: 1:30.

This kid is going at 6 minute mile pace!  And it looks like he's....walking.

(ok, that's really bad...sorry, I haven't been sleeping well).

He's covering ground at my 400m sprint interval pace. He hits a mile in 6:16, then 5k in 19:32,  and I completely lose interest. So demoralizing to watch.

Here's the Board of Death:

This is where judges record infractions during the race. Three strikes and you are unceremoniously yanked from the track.

In second place is Diego Garcia, who is not only a great competitor but also a US Naval Base in the Indian Ocean as well as a now-defunct emergency landing site for the Space Shuttle. In my Navy time, I hadn't the pleasure of a visit, though a rock in the Indian Ocean near the equator was never high on my list of desired vacation spots. 

Our Japanese warrior leads wire to wire and finishes in 39:27. I really, really hate him.

The big difference among track events: runners walk as soon as they cross the finish line, and walkers break out into a run. I guess the grass is always greener...

Frank Fredericks from Namibia presented medals today... 4 Olympic silver medals of his own. Safe to say that I've had a man-crush on him for 20 years: classy guy, good looking, built very muscular yet lean.

An Egyptian girl is in the shot put ring, with no exposed skin except for her hands and face. I'm glad it's not very hot.

In 1992, Hassiba Boulmerka of Alergia won the Olympic 1500m race: afterward, she recounted getting death threats for training in shorts, yet the same people proclaimed Algeria's greatness when she won.

Just sayin'...

A Spanish kid crosses the track to talk to his triple jump coach; I notice the boy looks a whole lot like Nicolas Cage in the movie Valley Girl...

Asia is developing some incredible track athletes; ever since Liu Xiang won the Olympic High Hurdles in 2004 and became the Chinese version of Michael Jordan, that entire region has burst onto the scene. Case in point: China, China, Japan get all the medals in the men's long jump.

Today, in the 4 x 100m relay heats, I'm giving directions on the track to a kid from Botswana when I take a step backward without looking...

and nearly get cut in half by a Chinese runner who did one last warm-up sprint. Probably 6'1" and 180 pounds of solid sprinter muscle. I thanked him for not knocking me over; he nodded and smiled at me.

I love track. 

China wins their heat, with Thailand in second.

In the next heat, the US guys run to a very fast sub-40 second heat. And finish 2nd to the Japanese kids who run the 6th fastest all-time relay.

I think I'll brush up on my Pacific Rim knowledge. We're all going to need it.

Women's 100m final; the favorite is American Kaylin Whitney. She's also the youngest in the field, and maybe a bit nervous, too; she does the mambo while set in the blocks and the starters fire the gun twice.

That's not good. Any movement while set in the blocks is a false start, DQ. And thank you for playing.

Except that 10-15 starters and international officials have a huddle, then decide that she didn't gain an advantage. She's reinstated with a warning.

Lots of catcalls from the crowd who suspects partisan politics. Remember, though, the international officials are the ones who make the call, not the US folks.

Whitney wins in the restart. I suspect a handful of protests now, but the fat lady has sung.

A Japanese kid gets third in the high jump. Yes, Asia is on the rise, and in many areas.

Seen on a nearby University of Oregon campus building:

I love track.

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