Friday, August 11, 2017

V 7 N. 56 Some Musings, Observations, and Rants on the World Championships

This has been the first time in my life that I've been able to watch a Track and Field World Championship, unencumbered by distractions, like work, lack of video coverage, alternative responsibilities and somesuch.  I have found it to be an incredible pleasure to see such wonderful competitors from all over the world competing at possibly an even higher level than the Olympics.  I can say that because there are no other sports going on to disrupt my attention.  I don't have to turn away from the fifth heat of the 100 meters to watch beach volleyball or synchronized field hockey.  There is almost no pagentry other than a bunch of guys in funny, furry hats playing long horns to introduce the field events competitors.  

Controversy  (Isaac Makwala)

Until yesterday there was very little controversy until Isaac Makwala got "Q'd" out of the competition.  "Q'd?"  ie. Quarantined because he vomited on the warmup pitch before the 400 final.  How many of you have tossed some cookies before an event?  Should I say 'chundered' or 'called Ray' or 'barfed'? Okay I understand that one of the hotels housing some of the athletes had an inordinate number of their guests getting food poisoning.   Could this be a dastardly plot by ISIS to disrupt the championships?  Most likely not.  Had the hotel been blown up I might have allowed for some speculation. 

Observation (Rain)   In the men's 200 prelims, it was raining hard.  The configuration of the roof on the stadium protected runners in their starting postions in lanes 4-9, but the runners in lanes 1, 2, and 3 got soaked.  After about 50 meters though, everyone was out in the rain.   Also there seemed to be no effort to dry off the throwing ring in the hammer during that event.  Those guys were quite adept at not sliding out of the circle despite the water.  I tell  you guys, what I could have done with my leaf blower.

Observation (Women's 1500) This blog has already discussed hyperandrogenism, so I won't go into that again except to say I believe you should be allowed to run what you brung, genetically speaking.  

The last 600 meters of the women's 1500 meters was one of the best races in the meet.  It was just a superb display of running styles, going at each other with reckless abandon.  Faith Kipyegon proved her worth as an Olympic and now World Champion.  Jenny Simpson displayed the savvy of the wiley veteran, and Caster Simenya showed her durability in the longer race.  Siffan Hassan went for the long kick, but came up short.  Laura Muir who ended up a nanosecond out of the medals displayed great courage in taking the lead in a reasonable if not super fast pace, and charging down the stretch with her fellow competitors.  What that race took out of Laura showed in her performance in the 5000 meter heats today  (Thursday)  when she was barely able to hang on to qualify for the finals.   Indeed, for now her power to recuperate will be fully tested.

Observation (Justin Gatlin) We could go on and on with Justin Gatlin's win in the 100 taking away from the hoped for Hollywood ending to Usain Bolt's  career.  Gatlin was roundly booed by the house, but it must also be remembered that he had paid the price of  years of banishment from the sport.  Even Bolt recognized this  in the post race interviews.  The first bust was for a drug that we prescribe to thousands of children, Adderall, which may well have been prescribed for Gatlin.  
But he or his coach probably didn't know how to request a medical need exemption.  The second bust was no doubt legit.  The fact that he stayed with the sport says something for his character and willingness to take the merciless criticism that he did without flinching.  Ben Johnson couldn't do that.  And it should be noted that he is five years older than the 'aged out' Bolt.  No one has the Bolt's charisma and he will go on as a representative of the sport and live comfortably (  a villa in Monaco?)  the rest of his life, and I wish him well.

Announcing ( a small rant)
Living in Canada, I 'm able to watch the meet on both NBC, CBC and the IAAF livestream.  I chose livestream as there are no commercial interruptions.  Initially the commentary seemed a lot better than that put on by the Americans or even by the CBC.  Now it too is beginning to wear thin.  There are two men and a woman doing the commentary.  Steve Ovett is the more subdued of the males, but his work lacks color and vivacity.  Seems very ordinary.  The other male has only one adjective in his toolbox, the word 'massive'.  I'm reminded how Monty Python once went to the Thesaurus and found other words to use to describe a dead Norwegian Blue parrot.  This might help, because after the third time the word 'massive' comes up in this guy's commentating each day, his work seems to resemble a dead Norwegian Blue.  To see what I mean, please view the following:    
Dead Norwegian Blue Parrot  clik here.

(Word Selection)
So if the chap were to open  his Thesaurus he might  come up with other choices.  Put any of these words in front of 'throw'  or 'jump' or 'race' and you will see what I mean.

big,  colossal, enormous, extensive, gargantuan, gigantic, ginormous, gimongous, grand, great (rather bland and ubiquitous), heavy hefty, huge, immense, imposing, impressive, mammoth, monumental, substantial, towering, tremendous, vast, bulky , cracking, cumbersome, cumbrous, elephantine, gross, hulking, mighty, monster, mountainous, ponderous, prodigous, solid, stately, titantic (rather ominous), extremely titanic (too ominous),  walloping, weighty, whopping (not to be used to describe the Italian competitors), astronomic, epic, jumbo, sizeable, brobdinagian? , cyclopedean, super colossal, and Moby.     Moby?  Okay Mr. Melville, I now see your sense of humor.

If on the other hand  a performance should go 'massively' awry, our intrepid announcer might select one of the following words to describe a major balls up.

common, dwarfed, inconsequential, insignificant, limited, little, miniature, minor, minute, narrow, poor, short, slight, small, teeny, tiny, trivial, unimportant, unimposing, unimpressive, weak.

By injecting any of these adjectives one might move forward toward achieving a semblance of journalistic competence, sort of.

(Glenn Campbell, RIP)

One thing I need to add before continuing with the championships, and that is the passing of the entertainer Glenn Campbell.  I was very touched when his song "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" was played on the CBC at  the announcement of his death.  I was driving to the grocery, and found the tears were running down my cheeks. I'd travelled that road from Phoenix to Albequerque, to Oklahoma several times in my youth.  For those of you who wish to listen:  By the Time I Get to Phoenix  clik here.

(Comments from our Followers)

So here are some comments and repartee that has come in from some of our regular readers.  I'm witholding names to protect the not so innocent.


If it was one of my Irish relatives he would be saying "brilliant".

"We get the same day tape here but I taped the program and saw the whole three hours in less than two by fast forwarding through the commercials and the announcers pontificating."

"Some great runs by Van Niekerk."


I read if the Botswana kid, Isaac Makwala, won the 200 there would be a national holiday and he would be given $10,000. Botswana currency is the pula. ed.   Yes, that is serious money in Botswana, but we are not talking an economy where people toil in the fields all day for $1.35.  The gross domestic product per capita is $17,000 (72nd of 162 countries).  In the US that is $57,000, so roughly a 3.3 to 1 ratio.  Call 10 grand  $33 K  and you have in our money. How much is that in pula? This is for training your ass off all year and being the best in the world on one particular day.

Let's compare track and field to baseball.  Hunter Pence, a good, but not exceptional player, makes $18 million a year...oh, that is for a guaranteed five years.  Divide $18 mil by the 162 games he plays in right field, and you get a daily salary of $111,000.  (Yes, I had to run through those numbers a couple times to make sure the decimal point was in the right place.)  That is over $12,000 an inning.  In three innings he pops up to short, catches a fly ball, and fields a one bounce single to right and he's earned more than Makwala would for winning a world championship.  

Mamas get your kids off that track and onto a Little League team.

My reply: "I hear what you're saying, but does Hunter Pence get a national holiday for that performance?   And remember too that track kids are kids with few options.  They can't catch the ball, hit the curve, follow a blocking back downfield, or hit a golf ball 350 yards to within 20 feet of where they are aiming."

Reader: Good point.  I guess it evens out.

My ignorance was evident when Botswana was mentioned.  Botswana?  Africa?, but where?  Obviously I haven't traveled like you guys.  Did extensive research on the country- okay Wikipedia- to find that it is an amazingly up and coming nation with a strong economy.  Will be watching their athletes with great interest.  Go Botswanians!!

Botswana.  Always been a successful nation.  Lots of natural resources, a steady government, very little corruption.  Capital Gaberone, prounced Haberone.   Okavango Delta, Caprivi Strip.  Neighbor of Zimbabwe but not tangled up in their politics.  Read Alexander Smith MaCall's novels about the  No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.  And they have the pula to back up the dollar.

Prize Money
Here's what you get for placing in the top 8 of your event:
World Record  $100K
1st   $60K  individual     $80K relay
2nd  $30K
3rd   $20K
4th   $15K
5th   $10K
6th   $6K
7th   $5K
8th   $4K

(A certain Commentator)

1. Ato Bolden has chosen the right work.  his mouth cannot stop spewing the unnecessary.

2. The one I can't stand is Ato Bolden.  He's outrageous.  Right before the 100M he trashed Justin Gatlin, going on and on about how he's lost a step, a convicted doper etc.  He's ultra partial to any athelte from the Caribbean of course.  Gatlin served his time and stuck with it and won.  Good for him.

(Views of others)
We get snippets of the WC from TV from time to time, mainly on the weekends.  I have always found British commentators to be quite interesting and compelling, but I have also noticed that their "newness" gets old quicker than I would have thought.  They tend to be knowledgeable but often pompous.

Yes, we get nbcsn from 2 to 5 each day.  sure it's not live or, at least, not all live, but we're to dumb to know the difference as we dont' know the results anyway.  as to commentators, my afternoons are filled with "shut the f--k up you cretans!"  no "color" is good "color",  please change the to before dumb to too

Actually I'm getting ready to watch the doings in London at NBCSN.  The coverage has been quite good for jaded minds like mine.  Wonderful photography, great crowds, good visuals and flashy presentation.  We are missing some Ruskies I'm sure that would have been in the hunt, but at every Olympics/World Championships there is a no show or two.  I think I enjoy it more than the Olympics.  I get irked watching Africans representing any number of other countries.  T says that isn't important and smacks of Nationalism.  Maybe so but when I see Bahrain with " the best team money can buy" it sticks in my craw.  Yep, the US has two Africans (at least)  on the national team.  "Soldiers" who got  on the fast track to citizenship after running for US colleges.  I have no idea how this occurs.  Perhaps you do.

(The Young Turks)

I was curious about Ramil Gulyiev of Turkey who won the 200.  He put on two flags after the race.  What was the second flag?  Googled and Wiki gave some of his history.  Looks also like some of the tats were acquired in jail, but I guess not really.

The lad was born in Azerbaijan.  That explains the second flag.

Move to Turkey, young man. 
In April 2011, the IAAF enacted a transfer delay in line with its international rules, banning Guliyev to represent any country other than Azerbaijan until April 2014.  The runner highlighted the training and financial support he received in Turkey as significant and argued that language and culture were similar between the two countries.  Despite the ban, his home federation remained open to his representing Azerbaijan internationally again.  Following negotiations with the Azerbaijani Ministry of Youth and Sports, Guliyev confirmed his orgiinal decision not to compete for Azerbaijan.   The minister's feeling was that Guliyev was not good enough to be successful at Rio.    On September 8, 2015, he ran the  200 meteres  in 19.88.  At the time that ranked him tied for 34th best of all time and #6 for 2015.

Well, this year he won the 200  World Championship, Mr. Minister of Azerbaijan.  What do you have to say for yourself now, Mr. Smarty Pants?

(More Opinions)
Here are my (a reader's) opinions on the WC.
1) great video
2) like the fact that field events get some coverage
3) terrible announcing

It is as if the announcers are watching a different race than I am.
a) Jenny Simpson makes her great run on the final straight and isn't noticed.  Sort of an after thought, oh, by the way Simpson got second.

b) "Miller-Uibo and Felix are stride for stride at 200".  Bullshit  M-U had like 3-4 meters.

c) the capper was the men's 800 final.  The announcer is so enraptured with the race favorites that he doesn't see the French guy (Pierre Amboise-Bosse) make this strong move on the backstretch and take the lead.  It was like he was invisible.  He has the lead for well over 100 meters, and they are still talking about the favorites. With 50 to go they finally mention that he might win.

d) With all the hugging that takes place after women's races, I found it odd that no one approached Phyllis Frances who won the 400.  Not a hug, not a pat, nothing.

(And Finally)

1. Lashawn Merritt was not a factor due to plantar fasciitis.
2. Isaac Makwala was not allowed to run.  Couldn't they just have him enter the stadium with a mask, isolate him from the rest of the runners (After all they run out of staggers and in lanes all the way.
     Just tell him , "No hugs at the finish"! !  and have him leave immediately after with a mask, attended by a Nurse?????? Come on guys.  Get Organized.   Get real.  If the guy wants to run, find a way.  It's not like he has HIV!!  (Oscar Pistorius had no lower legs and they let him run.  ed.)
3. Fred Kerley not only finished 7th. but, gave up over the last 20-30 meters, Sad.  I hope that he will gain experience and toughness over the next two years and be able to tell a different story in 2020 in Tokyo!
4. Van Niekerk was great as advertised.  I love his Coach!  160 strides ain't bad either.    Can't wait to see him in the 200 final!

The 800 meter final was a big surprise.

1. The boss - Ran tough.  Ran Smart.  And he's a Frenchman who doesn't pole vault!  1:44.67
2. Adam Kszcot despite not being given the 'pole' lane, he ran an inspired race and his joy showed all over the place!  1:44.95.
Can I spell his name?  Maybe!  These two finishers made it all worthwhile for me!
3. Nijel Amos    1:45.85  for 5th?  really got himself banged all around.  I didn't know whether to feel sorry for him or stop wondering if I could still call him "A" mos or if I now had to refer to him as "Ah"mos" 

Back home in Botswana they must be playing Nina Simone's tune: 
Trouble in Mind Nina Simone  clik here to hear.  

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V 9 N. 20 A New Record in the Women's Mile and a Book Review

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