>My Sunday consisted of painting the living room, running with my team, and heading out to the Moose Lodge. Thus the tardiness.
What did we learn this week?
David Rudisha is fast. I guess we already knew that, but a new world record is definitely worth noting. Watch it here. In the points system I’ve devised for my Superfan Rankings, 1:41.09 is almost literally off the charts; only Usain Bolt’s 100 meters from last year rates higher among running-event world records. He has more or less clinched the Athlete of the Year award.
Deaths come in threes. Again, we already knew that. First came Joseph Chelimo, essentially unknown in this country but a major cog in the Kenyan running machine, who succumbed to a brain tumor. Then came word that Scott Davis, one of the world’s premier stat men, announcers and meet directors, was ill and passed away soon after. Finally (we hope) there was the great Hal Connolly, an Olympic champion who basically reinvented the hammer throw in the USA, whose death was sudden.
Obits are nice for what they are, but if you really want to appreciate someone’s life you must look to those who knew them. Heartfelt eulogies were written for Scott Davis by Paul Merca (who Davis called “Captain Slapdick”) and for Hal Connolly by Martin Bingisser (whose life was changed by Connolly).
The USA can run a relay. A quickly assembled team of Trell Kimmons, Wallace Spearmon, Tyson Gay and Mike Rodgers almost broke the AR on Friday in Zurich. Had Walter Dix been available for anchor duty (he’s injured), the record would have been gone and approaching Jamaica’s world record. BBC announcers said HSI coach John Smith had been charged with putting it together, and unlike at many recent championships it lined up the best available athletes on the right legs. Maybe a pro coach like Smith is the right guy to go with for World/Olympic teams, rather than a college coach. I doubt very much that Smith is swayed by athletes, agents, and the like, and I think some of our other “national team” (read: relay) coaches might be.
Rebellious 80s music is for old fogies. Like me. And track writers Larry Eder (who recently mentioned Black Flag in a blog post) and Paul Merca (who recently suggested following Sir Mix-a-Lot on Twitter). I guess we already knew that too.
No publicity is bad publicity. More than 2.3 million people watched Tyson Gay run on Tuesday night, based on Nielsen’s overnight ratings of Shaq Vs. While the whole thing was clearly in jest, Gay came off looking like the consummate professional that he is. And in the 60 meter / 30 meter dash contest (where he spotted O’Neal half the distance), Gay ran an eye-popping 6.08. This is much faster than the existing world record, suggesting that the race was either hand-timed or actually 60 yards. Either way, Gay was in rare form. The show was taped in late June, when he was not yet returning to racing, and says a lot about why he’s having such a good season.
Let’s Run is a cesspool. Again, we already knew that. But, taken in stride, it’s an entertaining one. Witness the pre-Zurich buildup of what Galen Rupp was going to do (sub-13:00, guaranteed) and the “Rupp fan-boy” bashing that ensued. Then, when he “only” ran 13:07, The Crazy went to another level.
Blessed are the poor. Just about every major religion tries to teach some version of this, so again we already knew that. But the vast majority of us who have never lived an extravagant lifestyle, and are instead content with whatever we have, got another lesson this week of how being rich can steal your soul. The new book Broken Silence of the Elite details the check-kiting scheme that landed Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery in jail. The catalyst for the plan was Montgomery realizing his running days were soon to come to an end due to the BALCO affair.
“They messin’ with my paper – my lifestyle – how am I gonna maintain my luxurious lifestyle?” Montgomery shrieked over the phone to [drug dealer LaShaun] Robinson. “Ya boy needs to do somethin’, because I’m tryin’ to maintain this lifestyle for the next 30 years, fam. Ya hear me?”
Football coaches aren’t the only ones with athlete headaches. When you think of college athletes and embarrassing scandals, you almost always think football. I guess track is moving up in the world. On Friday, Oregon head coach Vin Lananna had to issue a statement about his new star recruit being hit with a three-month THC suspension. And then there was the case of a University of Nevada trackster being arrested for prostitution in a Craigslist sting.
The Caster Semenya controversy will never die down. If not for David Rudisha’s amazing run, the only widely-circulated story that would have come out of yesterday’s ISTAF meet in Berlin was Semenya’s return to top-level racing and the resentment that comes with it. As usual, the best and clearest writing on the situation comes from the Science of Sport blog. The biggest problem? We don’t know what, if anything, is different about her this year as compared to last. Specific details aren’t needed, but some general idea is necessary if anyone is to take her seriously.