3 Doors Down And Two Strides to Go

Story written by EPelle

The rush moves me forward one beat at a time. I'm ordered to shape up and step it up. Links, links, links I hear as I push it up one final hill some 400m from my starting point.

If I've timed it right, the sound of victory will echo in my ears as I actually do turn left and head for the finish line - a small, dirt driveway down a one-lane passageway covered with barbed wire on either side.

If I've run faster than my previous best on the 11,6 km course, the 11th track song of Natasha Beddingfield's album "Unwritten", Wild Horses, will begin as I slump over after 40 minutes 20 seconds of moving, shaking, grooving and gasping for air with the likes of Rammstein, Everlast and 3 Doors Down aiding and abetting my great escape from laziness.

Night running usually gets me home to the broken wooden post which is my finish line faster than I am able to manage under the sun's watchful eye. Though the sun sleeps when I get my lazy self off the couch and take the tour around the neighbourhood, sweat still beads down my brow, and salt streams downward to my chapped lips. The four water containers I strap around my waist tend to get lighter between the ninth and 10th kilometre, when I have one massive hill remaining to test my resolve and determination.

Finishing this course under a blue heaven or under a black sky - neither of which I can see the end - is a lone journey I, myself, take each day to put myself to the test and give the body the right combination of shock and awe to both raise the fitness one notch one level while making it easier for me to sleep well into the night.

All I want is the wind in my hair
To face the fear but not feel scared
wild horses I wanna be like you
Throwing caution to the wind, I'll run free too
Wish I could recklessly love like I'm longing to
I wanna run with the wild horses
Run with the wild horses,

ohwhoahh Yeah, oh oh, ye-yeah
Keep your composure, and try not to laugh!

I'm not an ye-yeah person.

However, I can relate the words of running free - wildly away from the outer stresses of life - for that is one of the reasons we have chosen this form of exercise, no?

Throwing caution to the wind on my course means running harder earlier - knowing full well the big monster awaiting me five kilometres from the moment I pushed the start button on my blue digital stopwatch on my left wrist awaits me with the same fury and power it does when I take it easy and am out for a stroll in the neighbourhood.

Lactic acid - showing no mercy - builds up with every step in those instances where I abandon reason for a fast time, a burning sensation forms between my hips, and tears - I am unsure if they are of joy - often find their way down their designated paths on either side right into my mouth.

Although I am able to err on the side of foolishness when it comes to zipping up and down the hills, I can often manage the threshold of pain and the monumental desire to stop and rest, and press on toward the next kilometre marker 250m from the base of the large hill to the set of mailboxes along a dirt path which winds between four houses in a forested area here in Western Sweden.

Pace makes all the difference in how I go about my runs - no big secret if one wants to make it out, around and home in one piece.

However, stopwatch pace has taken on another meaning for me alltogether.

Music - the beat of sound, the message of rythm - is what stirs the pot, turns the heavy wheels and what makes the improbable possible for me in the face of great disbelief. Electric guitarres and silly sound effects have brought these two feet home in grand fashion many a time under the seemingly arbitrary time goal I have set up for myself for the trip around the streets of Göteborg.

Rammstein has been a good companion of mine, though the German group and I will never cross paths in our lives. Hustling in the snow to Asche zu Asche, or decending a hill to the perfection of beats in Büch dich are paramount to my enjoyment of long, boring runs where no car, man or pet ventures out on a cold winter's day.

Fittingly, Mutter seemingly always finds its way to my ears just as I pass a left curve and begin the ascent up and over the infamous hill known as "big momma" - one of the joys of perfect pacing.

It's an appreciation of music and the arts which have given me extra reserves when I've been either too mentally or physically tired to have otherwise given it a go down the road, through the hills, across the valley, and back up to my destination.

It's been an art trying to time my inner rythmic stopwatch with the beat count offered by the musical guests who've been captured in my mp3 player.

Whether on a long, easy, doing-it-for-the-health run on a Sunday, or a pace-boggling, mind-altering crisp run to meet the wild horses in the green pasteurs usually covered with snow this time of year, music has both stilled the heart, calmed the nerves, and wired me up so high that I'd be able to create a small electric current by the rate at which my feet continued hitting the ground.

In the absense of running, I've taken music for granted - showing no appreciation for beat, rythm, style, sound or text.

I've been impatient at home - or in the car - when attempting to decide what best fits the moment. Five seconds of one note just past its life-line tends to get booted for the exact line or text for which I am searching in the next. And this process continues through two or three CDs until the original moment for which I had been searching is a long, distant afterthought.

Running with music playing in my headphones calms the nerves, takes away the angst built up from long, hard workdays, and powers me forward when the spirit really is weak. Music is a terrific compliment to having powerful lungs and an iron will.

What songs motivate you to charge on, one step at a time - links zwo drei vier - when you're out braving the elements without a single, solitary soul anywhere to be seen on - or beyond - the horison?

One which gets me past the old grandfather of a man living down the road up to the peak of the run - to the highest point I must ascend - is Landing in London by 3 Doors Down.

And when the night falls in around me
I don’t think I’ll make it through
Ill use your light to guide my way
Cuz all I think about is you
Whoever you designate as "you", try taking along someone who understands your journey and can help mend your hurting lungs, tired will and doubting mind.

Country singers usually tend to do the trick!


Farah Picked for IAAF XC Championships

Story written by EPelle

Great Britain's Mo Farah, winner of the 2006 European Cross Country title last month, is one of six athletes UK officials have pre-selected for Great Britain at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, Kenya, on 24 March.

Farah, who turns 24 in March, was named for the senior men's team, while Jo Pavey and Hayley Yelling will toe the line in the senior women's race.

European Junior Cross Country Champion Stephanie Twell will lead the junior team, with pre-selections provided to Emily Pidgeon and Sian Edwards, respectively.

News site onrunning.com quotes Farah as stating that his new-found cross country success will not take his focus off of his long-term plan, namely participating in the 2007 IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Osaka.

"I have always said the summer's World Championships remain my top priority and nothing will alter that."

"But I'd also like to compete at the European Indoors because they are on home soil."

Indeed, it seems fit that Farah would likely contest the 3.000m in Birmingham in March in front of home supporters filled with high expectations for the Somali-born Brit, having placed sixth in the 2005 World Indoor Championships in Madrid (7.54,08 PB) - a race which saw Kenenisa Bekele (7.39,32), Saif Saeed Shaheen (7.41,28) and Eliud Kipchoge
finish 1-2-3.

Farah found success managing the 7,5-lap distance last summer, setting an outdoor personal best time of 7.38,15 in Zagreb. This past summer marked the first time Farah would ever break 8.00 outdoors.

The greater successes he earned were at the longer distances, however - at 5.000m, a distance at which he won the 2001 European Junior Championships (14.09,91) in Grosseto, Italy over Bruno Saramago of Portugal (14.11,65) and Spain's Noel Cutillas (14.12,43). Farah placed 10th at the 2000 World Junior Championships held in Santiago.

Farah's rise to the top of internationl respectability earned terrific stock when he earned the European 5.000m silver medal (13.44,79) here in Göteborg at the 2006 European Championships, essentially tranferring over his junior potential to the senior scale.

Farah, who has five English Schools titles to his name, showed signs of toughness prior to the championships in setting a 3.000m PB at the British Grand Prix at Gateshead, running 7.45,25 for a seventh-place finish. He followed that up with a tremendous breakthrough, running a personal-best time of 13 minutes 9,40 seconds in the 5.000m at the KBC Night of Athletics meet in Heusden, Belgium - a time which ranks second on the UK All-time list behind David Moorcroft's previous world-record of 13.00,41.

Farah is riding a high wave of new-found success, but first he must tackle on the task of making a great showing at the upcoming world championships in Kenya, for which he has been pre-selected in hopes of helping team Great Britain to fight for a medal. Farah took home the European Cross Country title by making a move in the 25th minute - a gutsy effort which no competitor matched in the race. His gold medal was never in danger as he completed the final two minutes of the race.

Having locked up the top spot, Farah became the first Briton to win an individual European cross country title in over a decade, following in Jon Brown's footsteps. Farah took home the title last month by covering the 9.950m course in 27.56 (2.49/km), holding a very comfortable lead over runner-up Fernando Silva of Portugal. UK fans and officials alike hope that Farah can continue building on the momentum he established in 2006, and make an international cross country break-through.

He placed 40th in the 2006 IAAF World Cross Country Championships short-course race (4k), and 21st in the 2005 European Cross Country Championships, but fared much better against Europeans in 2005 IAAF World Cross Country Championships

Farah has a very enduring stretch of racing ahead of him, with his ultimate goal medaling in Osaka. Following the world cross country championships, Farah will head over to Northern California, where he plans on contesting the Cardianl Invitational 10.000m held at Stanford University before heading into the beginning of the Grand Prix season.

"I'll be going to California and might run at 100000m at Stanford."

Here's hoping Farah enjoys greater success and remains injury-free as he plans his long flight through the ranks to the medal round in Osaka.

Mo Farah's Personal bests:

  • 1.500m: 3.38,62 Zürich, 19 Aug 2005
  • Mile: 3.56,49 London 6 Aug 2005
  • 2.000m: 5.06,34 Melbourne 9 Mar 2006
  • 3.000m: 7.38,15 Zagreb 31 Aug 2006
  • 5.000m: 13.09,40 Heusden 22 Jul 2006
  • 5km: 13.30 Stranolar (Ire) 26 Dec 2006
  • 10km: 28.37 NYC 21 May 2006
  • 10 Mile: 48.59 16 Oct 2005

NB: Farah placed second today to Sergiy Lebid over 4km at the 2007 Men's Great Edinburgh Cross Country, running 12.21 - one second behind Lebid.

NB: Farah placed sixth in today's (2007-Jan-7) 10,7km Zornotza Internacional race in Spain

Men (10.7Km) 1. Micah Kogo (Ken) 32.03 2. Tariku Bekele (Eth) 32.03 3. Joseph Ebuya (Ken) 32.04 4. Abiyote Guta (Eth) 32.04 5. Moses Masai (Ken) 32.19 6. Mohamed Farah (Gbr) 32.22 7. Juan Barrios (Mex) 32.48 8. Ali Abdallah (Eri) 33.06 9. Cutbert Nyasango (Zim) 33.26 10. Andrew Letherby (Aus) 33.27

Lagat, Mottram Headline Millrose Fields

Story written by EPelle

Three-time American record-holder Bernard Lagat and Australian Craig Mottram, who holds six national records, will headline the Wanamaker Mile at 100th Millrose Games to be held at Madison Square Gardens on 2-February.

Lagat, a two-time Olympic 1.500m medalist and reigning USA 1.500m and 5.000m champion, set the American indoor mile (3.49,89) and 1.500m (3.33,34) records at the Powered by Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA two years ago.

Lagat set his third American record, outdoors at 1.500m, with a time of 3 minutes 29,30 seconds at the 2005 Rieiti Grand Prix.

Lagat also owns the second-fastest American outdoor mile (3.48,38) and 5.000m (12.59,22) times recorded.

Steve Scott (3.47,69 - Oslo, 1982) and Bob Kennedy (12.58,21 - Zürich, 1996) hold the American mile and 5.000m records, respectively. Scott (3.51,8/1981) and Jeff Atkinson (3.38,12/1989) held the previous mile and 1.500m American indoor records.

Lagat has personal bests of 3.26,34 at 1.500m and 3.47,28 in the mile - times recorded prior to becoming an American citizen in 2004.

Lagat, seen above holding the 2005 Wanamaker Mile trophy (photo courtesy of Trackshark.com), will be seeking his fifth Wanamaker Mile victory, having won the 2005 edition in 3.56,85 in defeating Kenenisa Bekele, who was making his debut at the shorter distance.

If Lagat successfully defends his title, he will tie Irishman Marcus O’Sullivan for the third-most victories on the all-time Wanamaker Mile list, behind only Eamonn Coghlan (seven) and Glenn Cunningham (six). O'Sullivan holds the record for most sub-4 times recorded in the Wanamaker Mile, topping the list at 11.

Coghlan, who was the first man to break 3.50 indoors, running 3.49,78 in 1983 at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, USA - the fastest time ever recorded in the United States - won seven Wanamaker Mile titles (4.00,2 in 1977; 3.55,0 in 1979; 3.58,2 in 1980; 3.53,0 in 1981; 3.54,4 in 1983; 3.53,8 in 1985; and 3.55,9 in 1987).
Coghlan also competed in three Olympic Games, and won the 5.000m (13.28,53) at the inaugural IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Helsinki.

Among Lagat's challengers will be Australian Craig Mottram, who will be making his Millrose Games debut, though he will not be making his first running appearance in New York.

Mottram was the 2005 IAAF World Championships bronze medalist at 5000m (13.32,96), the first non-African to win a medal at that distance in a major championship since 1987, when Coghlan, mentioned above, won his world championship gold.

Mottram is also a two-time IAAF World Cup winner at 3.000m, running 7.41,37 in Madrid in 2002, and upsetting Bekele for the victory in 2006 with a 7.32,19 - also an Australian Record.

Mottram first gained international track & field notoriety when he broke 13.00 over 5.000m, running an Australian (and Oceanic) record of 12.55,76 in London in 2004 - narrowly losing to Haile Gebrselassie (12.55,51 All-comers record).

Mottram has also been a force on the fields as well, having placed 11th, ninth, fifth and eighth in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships short-course races (in descending chronological order), and 22nd and 13th in the long course races.

Mottram owns national records at the mile (3.48,98/Oslo, 2005), 2.000m (4.50,76/Melbourne, 2006), 3.000m (7.32,19/Athens, 2006), 2-miles (8.11,27/Sheffield, 2005), 5.000m (12.55,76/London 2004) and 10km road running (27.39/Madrid, 2006).

Mottram is large in stature, measuring 1.88m, and may have a disadvantage trying to kick past lagat on the tight turns on the 11-lap track. However, Mottram has pushed the pace in championship races, so a break away attempt to try gapping Lagat in a highly-publicised invitational may not be out of the question.

The last time these two locked up head-to-head over the 1.760-yard distance which is the mile, Lagat set his name in the US history book (2nd all-time), and Mottram set a national record.

Mottram set a 10km road best - and Australian record - in Madrid at the San Silvestre Vallencana race six days ago, running 27.39 on a course slightly too downhill for IAAF record purposes. Though he set an all-time best, he suffered defeat to Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge (26.54) and Eritrea's Zersenay Tadesse (26.54), the first two athletes to ever break 27.00-flat on any course.

Mottram also had a 10-race 10km win-streak ended in the process.

The sparks may not fly as high during the Millrose Games Wanamaker mile, as this is neither peak nor championship time for either athlete. However, the excitement fans will gain by watching them lock head-to-head will be there, nonetheless!

Stay tuned for more of what promises to be an exciting Millrose Games.

Mottram's Personal Bests (IAAF):

  • 1.500m: 3.33,97 Zürich 18 08 2006
  • Mile: 3.48,98 Oslo 29 07 2005
  • 2.000m: 4.50,76 Melbourne 09 03 2006
  • 3.000m: 7.32,19 Athens 17 09 2006
  • 2-Mile: 8.11,27 Sheffield 21 08 2005
  • 5.000m: 12.55,76 London (CP) 30 07 2004
  • 10.000m: 27.50,55 Melbourne 04 12 2003
  • 10KM: 27.39 Madrid 31 12 2006

Lagat's Personal Bests (IAAF):

  • 800m: 1.46,00 Berlin 10 08 2003
  • 1.000m: 2.18,70 Sydney 14 09 2000
  • 1.500m: 3.26,34 Bruxelles 24 08 2001
  • Mile: 3.47,28 Rome 29 06 2001
  • 2.000m: 4.55,49 Stockholm 30 07 1999
  • 3.000m: 7.33,51 Monaco 18 08 2000
  • 5.000m: 12.59,22 London (CP) 28 07 2006

Millrose Games Homepage


Prison Sentences for Drug Offenses?

Story written by EPelle

Jan Fitschen, the suprise European Championships 10,000m gold medalist from Germany, stated to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung today that court-proven doping offenders must be imprisoned if they are found guilty of performance-enhancing drugs.

Fitschen, 29, argues that the current maximum two-year competition ban the IAAF imposes on first-time offenders isn't enough in order to fight the battle against those who cheat.

Fitschen, who clocked a 28.10,94 personal best in defeating the Spanish duo of José Manuel Martínez (28.12,06 SB) and Juan Carlos de la Ossa (28.13,73) by sprinting by them off the final turn of the 25-lap race here in Göteborg last August, sees himself as a role model.

Fitschen was an unheralded 29-year-old ranked only 722nd in the world by the IAAF coming into the championships, yet he managed to time his kick perfectly and claim the gold medal as the best of the Europeans in a championship setting.

Fitschen revealed to the European Athletics Association following his race that a top-10 finish was an ideal placing for him prior to his victory.

“The last 600m was very, very hard for me. I looked up and saw I was fourth, and I said to myself that fourth is the worst place I could finish. So I started to try a bit harder again.

“When I saw that Belz couldn’t go with the Spaniards, I tried a bit harder again. When I passed him, I thought third was good, but there could be a bit better.

“I looked up at the scoreboard and could see the Spanish, and I could see from their faces that they weren’t very happy. I tried a bit harder again, and then I passed them. It was like it was a dream.”

The first half of the race was covered in 14.16,80, leaving a large pack in contention after 12½ laps.

Fitschen told the newspaper that he, himself, has never been tempted to use performance-enhancing drugs, because of his status in the sport.

However, he did concede that his living standard and lack of reliance on athletics to put food on the table may not be seen in the same light by athletes with a different financial background.

Fitschen's track success began with a fifth-place finish in the 5.000m at the 1999 Under-23 European Championships. He was then upped the stakes by winning the German Championships 5.000m title four times (2001, 2002, 2005 and 2006), and doubling as 10.000m victor in both 2005 and 2006. The European Championships race was only his fourth-ever attempt at the distance, though he won gold at the distance at the 2003 World Student Games.

Germany has been in the line of fire recently over drugs issues, with Nils Schumann, the 2000 Sydney Olympic 800m champion, and former European 400m champion Grit Breuer facing questioning by the German Athletics Federation (DLV) over suspected violation of doping rules.

Breuer, in a separate action, is seeking 300.000 € in damages from the IAAF, stating it unfairly banned her in 1992 over a violation of good sport rules.

2006 European Championship 10.000m results (Courtesy EAA):

1 451 FITSCHEN Jan GER 2 MAY 1977 28:10.94 PB 14
2 251 MARTÍNEZ José Manuel ESP 22 OCT 1971 28:12.06 SB 12
3 235 DE LA OSSA Juan Carlos ESP 25 NOV 1976 28:13.73 7
4 872 BELZ Christian SUI 11 SEP 1974 28:16.93 4
5 965 LEBID Serhiy UKR 15 JUL 1975 28:19.14 8
6 816 MAKSIMOV Dmitriy RUS 6 MAY 1977 28:20.43 SB 16
7 471 POLLMÄCHER André GER 22 MAR 1983 28:22.56 PB 15
8 355 EL HIMER Driss FRA 4 APR 1974 28:30.09 3
9 271 SERRANO Ricardo ESP 29 OCT 1980 28:38.40 13
10 595 MEUCCI Daniele ITA 7 OCT 1985 28:48.30 10
11 535 FAGAN Martin IRL 26 JUN 1983 28:54.04 18
12 762 RAMOS José POR 27 JUL 1968 28:55.45 2
13 342 BENHARI Mokhtar FRA 22 MAY 1974 28:56.07 9
14 184 PETROVIC Slavko CRO 23 SEP 1980 28:56.66 SB 5
15 145 VAN HOOF Willem BEL 18 FEB 1979 28:57.11 6
16 143 STROOBANTS Jesse BEL 10 NOV 1980 28:59.91 11
17 140 RIZKI Monder BEL 16 AUG 1979 29:13.62 1
18 723 KACZMAREK Michal POL 19 SEP 1977 30:14.37 17

Intermediate times:

1000m 2:50.96 140 RIZKI Monder (BEL)
2000m 5:38.45 235 DE LA OSSA Juan Carlos (ESP)
3000m 8:33.57 184 PETROVIC Slavko (CRO)
4000m 11:24.79 235 DE LA OSSA Juan Carlos (ESP)
5000m 14:16.80 965 LEBID Serhiy (UKR)
6000m 17:09.13 251 MARTÍNEZ José Manuel (ESP)
7000m 19:59.52 235 DE LA OSSA Juan Carlos (ESP)
8000m 22:51.94 235 DE LA OSSA Juan Carlos (ESP)
9000m 25:39.43 872 BELZ Christian (SUI)

Weather conditions: Temperature: 17 °C Humidity: 80 % Conditions: Partly cloudy

Chambers Given Another Look

Story written by EPelle

Dwain Chambers has made an initial cut of NFL hopefuls, and has been invited to an additional two-day camp in Barcelona to be held 13-14 January.

I first reported to you on on 20-December that Chambers had gotten his act together, and was pursuing his dreams in the NFL (read: From Threads to Riches).

NFL Europe coaches were impressed with Chambers' raw speed and determination during his initial tryout in November, and would like to have a better look at him and other rookies in their camp - to be held over a Monday and Tuesday.

Scouts had known of Chambers' raw speed, but did not expect to see such blistering pace and use of it when he was put through a simple drill at the start of the one-week camp in November.

This bodes well for Chambers, as he would like to forge a name for himself in the NFL and gain confidence in a new sport. The odds are highly stacked against him, but he's giving it a go.

BBC accurately reported that Chambers will need far more than raw pace if he is to fulfil his initial ambition of becoming a wide receiver for one of the five NFL Europe teams, as catching skills, strength, determination, teamwork and tactical appreciation all count equally into the total package exhibited by the best NFL players.

Whether or not Chambers makes a successful journey to the NFL, he vows to return to the track.

"Part of my mind is saying, 'leave track alone' but it is not the wise thing to do. If it doesn’t work out in Tampa, I’ve time for track this summer," he is quoted as saying in the Daily Mail (2006-December-29).

"I plan to come back to track regardless. It’s something I still believe I have a passion for. At the moment, I don’t but I will in time."

Chambers has a great support system behind him, having his mother, Adlith and his partner, Leone backing him as he continues forward from a past filled with a commitment to excellence, but also a past which crossed over to a darker period he'd just as soon forget.

Of Leone, he states: "If I didn’t [listen to her], I’d get my ear chewed. And then I speak to Jonathan and he brings a whole different perspective to it. It’s tough because I am used to doing everything my way."

Chambers opens up candidly about his mother.

"She always said, 'be careful what you do', and then for her to have to go out still holding her head up when people made comments … that’s hard on her.

"She was fantastic. In her mind, as long as I am okay, she is okay. She always says what people write in the papers are just words. Mind, I only showed her positive stuff in papers. Mothers don’t understand negative stuff, do they?

"She’s strong and she has her church and that kept her uplifted a lot, and during that time I kept with her a lot which helped put her mind at ease, and now she gets to see my son a lot which takes her mind off the other things."

Being a team-player - one who does things the coach's way - is one characteristic NFL scouts will look for in Chambers and his rookie class next week. If he's successful there, his wait on hearing if he is one of 80 players selected for a camp in Florida in March will be duly rewarded.

If Chambers can make a successful leap between the two sports and become an NFL player, the only thing he'll have to do is explain to his mother why those big, helmeted men are running as fast as possible to knock Chambers off his feet.

Click here for a link to NFL Europe.

NB (2007-January-16): Video Q&A With BBC (link)

Linford Christie Plans on Helping Jamaicans

Story written by EPelle

Former Olympic medalist Linford Christie, who in September was controversially given a major role as a technical coach by UK Athletics Performance Director Dave Collins to help British sprinters prepare for the 2012 London Olympics, spent his Christmas holiday in Jamaica preparing plans to help Jamaican athletes fulfill their potential.

Christie, vacationing in Jamaica - the Carribean island which was his home until he turned 14-years-old, is not currently coaching any high-profile athletes.

"Linford's future is working with people," today's Guardian quotes his coach Ron Roddan as stating. "He likes working with people, he likes talking with people, he likes teaching people and likes athletics, and he will do well in whatever he likes."

Christie, who has a passion for helping people, was caught in a drugs scandal in 1999 when he tested positive for nandrolone when he was semi-retired. He stated he had sought to be a coach on the 2012 team, but was passed over by Sebastian Coe - with whom he has been known to have been engaged in a war of words since 2001.

Collins appointed Christie to one of two available poss to mentor athletes heading up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, something which touched off a row between other athletes and fans, including Paula Radcliffe.

"We were aware that Linford is a name and a character which arouses strong emotions in people, in both directions," Collins stated on 8-September.

"Frankly though what we've done is to take the opportunity of looking at appointing two mentors and two technical coaches."

Daley Thompson and Katharine Merry were named for mentoring roles for junior athletes. Steve Backley received the other coaching appointment.

"Linford is there in a technical coaching role, extending the very good work he has been doing since before the Sydney Olympics.

"What we have done is use money from sponsors to extend (Christie's) role to be able to make greater use of his expertise in coaching."

The Athlete-as-mentor discussion has been a hot topic of late, with yours truly having also weighed in on the subject ("Are Atheltes Role Models?"). The Telegraph published a story on 8-August covering the apparent Christie appointment, going so far as to state that UK Athletics had become a laughing stock around the world.

"The IAAF ban led the British Olympic Association to decree that Christie would never be allowed team accreditation for any future Olympic Games. The BOA yesterday confirmed that their sanction would remain in place.

"UK Athletics, who claim to promote a strong anti-doping policy, are now set to become a laughing stock around the world."

Professor Peter Radford, the former world record holder for 200m and the British Athletic Federation's chief executive until 1997, condemned the appointment, quoted by the Telegraph as stating: "I am amazed that UK Athletics would take such a decision at this time. They are not the right messages and do not give the outside world any increased confidence that athletics is getting its act together.''

I am of the opinion that if an athlete - or a coach - has been involved in a wrongdoing, has learned a lesson from it, and can offer expertise without running afoul of the rules, they should be considered for such posts as Christie's.

Norwich Union pledged £50 million in sponsorship money to the sport through to the London Olympics in 2012, and has not requested where their funds be applied in terms of the Christie case.

It seems to be a bit of tomfoolery to keep out a person whose coaching passions help enable athletes rather than turn upside down the fairness of sport and competition.

Jamaican news reports have not yet surfaced concerning the possibility of Christie coaching its youth.

Christie, who was born in St. Andrew - a northern Kingston suburb of more than 500.000 inhabitants, is excited about the chance to lend a helping hand to athletes walking in Asafa Powell's footsteps.

"It would be nice to be able to play a part from overseas," states the Guardian.

"When I come back next time, or in the near future, I will see if I can be able to watch some of the youngsters. I am now trying to help others to achieve their goals and this could be seen as repaying for some of what you have achieved. They say the best thing to do is doing it yourself and the second best is showing someone else how to do it, and that's what I am hoping to do."

Jamaica has always produced talented sprinters - including world-record holder Powell, but many of their best crop of sprinters often move to the United States to find suitable coaching opportunities.

Keeping touch with elite athletes who have the technical experience to provide excellent instruction and training may help the future elite athletes Jamaica may produce remain loyal to their roots, and provide excellent diversification of the knowledge base those coaches bring.

Linford Christie - an Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European 100m gold-medal winner - may have a word or two of encouragement to offer.

Further Reading:
Linford Christie's IAAF Profile here


Alan Webb to Compete in Boston Indoor Games

Story written by EPelle

American miler Alan Webb has been added to the Boston Indoor Games on 27-January, organisers announced today through a press release.

This is great news for the American fans, as many of them have anxiously awaited both Webb's return to the track, and, more specifically, to the mile.

Webb, a two-time USA Outdoor 1.500m champion, a 2005 IAAF World Championships finalist and a 2004 Olympian at 1.500m, is making a bit of a comeback after injuring his hamstring in 2006 - a season which he took a few calculated risks by upping his racing distance to 10.000m -- 21 laps further than his specialty.

Webb had a break-through 2005 season, one which saw him run personal bests at every distance from 800m to 5.000m, and had added some intriguing international cross country races to his base last winter, running four races in Spain.

Webb and his agent, Ray Flynn, had planned on having Webb funnel down from strength to speed as the 2006 season unfolded.

Everything started off wonderfully for Webb, as he recorded the fastest-ever American debut at 10km, running 27.34,72, for a win at the Cardinal Invitational at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

Flynn had stated during the course of 2006 that Webb's focus on longer distances earlier in the year would help him have strength to run fast miles in August and September.

"There is nothing wrong with running a 10 earlier in the year, then running some 5s, then getting down to the mile at the end of summer. (In fact), It's a great plan, it's a perfect plan... Time will only show, (but) Alan will perform really well during the summer.

Webb handled the 25-lap workload very well, running rather even splits (2.45,2, 2.43,9, 2.47,0, 2.46,3, 2.45,6, 2.47,1, 2.47,7, 2.47,0, 2.46,3, 2.38,6) in the race. Webb split 13.48,0 at the half-way point, and ran his second 5km in 13.46,7.

He showed that he had maintained the excellent strength level he had gained by running longer cross country meets overseas, and had recovered from his winter sickness which kept him out of the USA Cross Country National Championships.

Many of Webb's fans across the pond there in America disagreed with Flynn, however, and began questioning the tactic of running a 10km race of that quality so early in Webb's career, believing the plan would backfire on Webb.

Several spoke out on message boards, and stated that Webb needed more speed, not more strength. I was of the opinion that Webb had missed out on his mid-winter/early-spring goal of running longer cross country races when he ran afoul of illness, and had simply extended his winter training a few weeks into the spring campaign in order to get back on track.

The worst came to pass for Webb following that monumental effort, as he was described by his agent, Ray Flynn, as being a "little injured" heading into his next race, the 2006 Adidas Track Classic 2-mile. Webb finished sixth in the eight-lap race with a time of 8.33,92 - well off his American record time of 8.11,48 set the previous year in Oregon.

Webb further aggravated the injury a week later at the 2006 Prefontaine Classic - the last track race of his season.

Webb ran a frustrating mile in Oregon, running 4.00,87 after stepping off the track briefly coming around the final turn, grabbing the back of his leg and then continuing to the finish. Webb's time was 11,95 seconds off his personal best time of 3.48,92 set one year earlier in Oslo.

Bernard Lagat, the American record-holder in the 1.500m (3.29,30) and second-fastest miler in American history (3.48,38), won the race in a world-leading 3.51,53.

Webb traveled overseas at the conclusion of the summer campaign, running a 1.51,59 800m (3rd-place) in Scotland, and a solo 4.02,73 mile in the wind. They were not the greatest marks, but they put him back on track, gave him focus, and helped him end his season with a victory against international competition.

His return back to the international scene not only benefits the American fans, but provides us here in Europe, as Webb has set three of his four personal bests (1.500m, mile, 5.000m) on European soil.

Webb appears to have fully recovered from his injury and anemia, recording a 23.37 at the 2006 Mayor's Cup at Franklin Park in Boston, USA on 22-October, a time which was 18 seconds faster than Webb ran in a runner-up placing three years ago.

Webb went on to place fourth at the U.S. Cross Country Nationals 12K, win the U.S. 1.500m title to qualify for the 2004 Olympic Games, and set a mile PR of 3.50,84 following his Mayor's Cup run in 2003.

Webb, who hasn't raced indoors since 2005, will toe the line in the mile against Chris Lukezic, the reigning U.S. 1500 metre champion indoors and 2006 World Indoor Championships finalist, among others. Lukezic and Webb were training partners two seasons ago.

Webb has an indoor mile best of 3.57,52 set in 2004 - a year which saw only two more of his countrymen break 4.00 indoors.

Results from the 2006 Boston Indoor Games Mile:

Mile: 1. Angwenyi (Ken) 3.55,95; 2. Lunn (USA) 3.56,77 (American Leader); 3. Rotich (Ken) 3.56,83; 4. Brannen (Can) 3.57,17; 5. Goucher (Nik)3.57,60 PR; 6. Woods (Can) 3.57,87 PR; 7. Sullivan (Can) 3.58,07; 8. Myers (USA) 3.58,24 PR; 9. Speaight (GB) 3.58,49 PR; 10. Lukezic (USA) 3.58,53 PR; 11. Kleimenhagen (USA) 3.59,00 PR; 12. Kiptum (Ken) 4.02,95.

HS Mile: 1. Coe 4.07,30 PR (High School Leader) (8, 8 HS); 2. O’Lionaird 4.09,41 PR; 3. Acosta 4.10,32; 4. McManamon 4.10,72; 5. Gauson 4.11,41; 6. A. Taye 4.11,44; 7. Harbor 4.12,68; 8. S. Taye 4.12,89; 9. Phillips 4.13,19; 10. Mitchell 4.13,42; 11. Rhodes-Devey 4.13,59; 12. Kelsey 4.15,35; 13. White 4.16,27.

Alan Webb's Personal Bests:

  • 800m: 1.46,53 (2004)
  • 1.000m: 2.20,32 (2005)
  • 1.500m: 3.32,52 (2005)
  • Mile: 3.48,92 (2005)
  • 3.000m: 7.39,28 (2005)
  • 2-Mile: 8.11,48 (2005)
  • 5.000m: 13.10,86 (2005)
  • 10.000m 27.34,72 (2006)

NB: Webb won the Father Diamond Invitational Mile held indoors at George Mason University on Saturday, 2007-January-6.

Full Results (Courtesy GMU)

Men 1 Mile Run 1, Webb, Alan, Nike, 3:59.34. 2, Burley, Sam, Asics, 4:09.58. 3, LaBoy, Andre, Georgetown, 4:09.70. 4, Scheid, Justin, Georgetown, 4:15.73. 5, Dalpiaz, Brian, Georgetown, 4:21.24. 6, Emerson, Zachary, Mount St. Mary's, 4:21.77. 7, Sanders, Thurman, Howard, 4:34.13. 8, Cavedo, Brent, Mary Washington, 4:39.53. 9, Boccher, Travis, George Mason, 4:41.12. 10, Cash, Matt, Mary Washington, 4:41.39. 11, Phillips, James, George Mason, 4:43.23. 12, Langat, Geoffrey, Virginia Union, 4:44.61. 13, Andes, Will, George Mason, 4:58.47. --, Pachella, Michael, George Mason, DNF. --, Smith, Richard, Unattached Athle, DNF.


2007 Calendar of Events

Story written by EPelle

Dear friend/reader, please find a list of major invitationals - including some US meets - for 2007 (courtesy of Telegraph.co.uk and Track & Field News).

I will add several more meets to the outdoor schedule - including televised European meets - as the season draws nearer. Until then, enjoy the banked turns and padded stops!

  • Jan 6: IAAF Cross-Country (Belfast)
  • Jan 13: Gt North Cross-Country (Edinburgh)
  • Jan 21: IAAF Cross-Country (Seville)
  • Jan 24: Indoor meeting (Dresden)
  • Jan 26: Indoor meeting (Budapest)
  • Jan 27: Norwich Union Indoor International (Glasgow)
  • Jan 28: Russian Winter meeting (Moscow)
  • Jan 31: Samsung Eurojump (Göteborg)


  • Feb 2: Millrose Games (New York)
  • Feb 3: BUSA Cross-Country Championships (also World Cross-Country Trial for UK seniors) (Bath)
  • Feb 3: Sparkassen Cup meeting (Stuttgart)
  • Feb 4: KBC Indoor Meeting (Ghent)
  • Feb 10: IAAF Indoor meeting (Valencia)
  • Feb 10-11: Norwich Union European Championships Trials (Sheffield)
  • Feb 11: IAAF Indoor meeting (Karlsruhe)
  • Feb 17: Norwich Union Indoor Grand Prix (Birmingham)
  • Feb 20: GE Galan Indoor meeting (Stockholm)
  • Feb 24: Inter-Counties Cross-Country Championships (Nottingham)
  • Feb 25: IAAF Cross-Country (Albufeira, Portugal)


  • March 2-4: European Indoor Championships (Birmingham)
  • March 11 IAAF Grand Prix (Melbourne)
  • March 24: IAAF World Cross-Country Championships (Mombasa)


  • April 15: Rotterdam Marathon
  • April 15: Paris Marathon
  • April 16: Boston Marathon
  • April 22: Flora London Marathon


  • May 5: Osaka (Japan) Grand Prix
  • May 5: British League Premiership (Hendon)
  • May 5: UK National 1 (Cardiff)
  • May 5: UK National 2 (Chelmsford)
  • May 5: UK National 3 (Stoke-on-Trent)
  • May 11: Doha Grand Prix
  • May 20: Gt Manchester Run
  • May 26: Hengelo (Holland) Grand Prix
  • May 26-27: IAAF Combined Events meeting (Gotzis, Austria)


  • June 2: British League Premiership (Manchester)
  • June 2: UK National 1 (Lee Valley Stadium, Picketts)
  • June 2: UK National 2 (Swansea)
  • June 2: UK National 3 (Southampton)
  • June 3: Norwich Union Classic (Glasgow)
  • June 6-9: NCAA Championships (Sacramento, CA)
  • June 10: International Games (Bedford)
  • June 10: British League Cup 1st round (various venues)
  • June 15: IAAF Golden League (Oslo)
  • June 18: Helsinki Grand Prix
  • June 21-24: US Championships (Indianapolis)
  • June 27: Ostrava (Czech Rep) Grand Prix
  • June 30: Cork City Games


  • July 2: Athens Grand Prix
  • July 6: IAAF Golden League (Paris)
  • July 7: British League Premiership (Birmingham)
  • July 7: National 1 (Eton)
  • July 7: National 1 (Edinburgh)
  • July 7: National 3 (Abingdon)
  • July 10: Lausanne Grand Prix
  • July 11-15: World Youth Championships (Ostrava)
  • July 12-15: European U-23 Championships (Debrecen, Hungary)
  • July 13: IAAF Golden League (Rome)
  • July 13-14: English Schools Championships (Birmingham)
  • July 14-19: Pan-American Games (Rio de Janeiro)
  • July 15: Norwich Union British Grand Prix (Sheffield)
  • July 19-22: European Junior Championships (Hengelo)
  • July 21: British League Cup semi-finals (various venues)
  • July 27-29: UK World Championships Trials (Manchester)


  • Aug 3: Norwich Union London Grand Prix (Crystal Palace)
  • August 4: British League Premiership & National 1 (Hendon)
  • August 4: UK National 2 & National 3 (Derby)
  • August 8-18: World Student Games (Bangkok)
  • August 11: Loughborough International meeting
  • August 18: British League Cup & Plate Finals (Bedford)
  • August 25-Sept 2: IAAF World Championships (Osaka)
  • August 28-Sept 9: World Masters Championships (Riccione, Italy)



  • Oct 7: Chicago Marathon
  • October 14: IAAF World Road Running Championships (Udine, Italy)


  • Nov 4: New York Marathon


  • Dec 9: European Cross-Country Championships (Toro, Spain)


Does One Ever Simply Walk Away?

Story written by EPelle

Carl Lewis retired from athletics in 1997, and has since been steadily involved in several personal pursuits, including acting and singing - passions he says he's had for the past 20 years.

He also has an interest in politics.

The Daily Yomiuri ran an article on Lewis today as one of their reporters caught up with Lewis in Japan where Lewis was on location for a television special.

The article takes the reader into Lewis' current life - one where he juggles interests in stardom away from the track, and completely away from the field.

This is the second of articles I've come across in the past four weeks in which Lewis makes a very concerted effort to distance himself from the sport at all costs.

One doesn't need much reminder of how dominant Lewis was on the world scene - his record speaks of itself.

Two of his most remarkable feats were in Lewis not having lost a long jump competition for a decade - winning 65-consecutive competitions, and winning four gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, equaling the 1936 accomplishment of his hero, Jesse Owens. Lewis took home Olympic titles in the 100m (9,99), 200m (19,80 Olympic Record), long jump (8.54m/28-0,25)and 4x100m (37,83 World Record).

Two more notables on his long list of accomplishments were his setting a world record (9,86) in the 100 meters at the 1991 IAAF World Championships in Tokyo - his third-straight individual 100m crown, and being part of the greatest long jump competition ever contested, finishing second to American Mike Powell's world-record jump in the same meet - 8,95 to 8,91w.

There are no parallel's between Lewis' accomplishments and any other sprinter in modern day history.

Sports Illustrated's Rick Reilly wrote about Lewis in 1996 following Lewis last Olympic medal - his fourth-straight long jump gold, stating "Lewis beat age, gravity, history, logic and the world at a rocking Olympic Stadium in Atlanta to win the Olympic gold medal in the long jump. It was quite possibly his most impossible moment in an impossibly brilliant career."

A career which Lewis seems very reluctant to remember, and apparently one which he wants the world to move past.

Lewis, a nine-time Olympic gold medalist, has found little time for athletics - though Lewis had recently launched a program to develop elite athletes. He was asked about his thoughts on the upcoming World Championships.

"What do you expect in Osaka next year?"

Lewis, continuing to keep the focus off his career, answered as such:

"It's interesting because I've been far, far away from the world of athletics. Since my retirement I've not been to one worlds, one nationals or any major meets. So I think it will be interesting and right now I'm still in the process to see whether I'm going to be there or not.

"But I've really chosen to stand back from the sport quite a lot since my retirement. And it was my choice.

"I have a new program called the "Carl Lewis' Elite Athletes Program" that will get me back involved in the sport. But just from putting together a team of coaches and staff people that can work with athletes, but we'll see if I'm going to be back involved there. Of course I hope the best and expect it to do very well because the Japanese people know how to do it. But I've just been so far removed from it, it's just hard for me to make a comment at this point."

I've been perplexed about Lewis' backdoor position, as it seems he has left a long legacy in the sport, but wants no business giving back to it on an elite level. He's done his, and has turned his focus onward.

He's creating an image of being nonchalant toward the sport - even when dicussion turns to drug use and cheating.

Ken Tamura, the reporter who met with Lewis in Japan, asked Lewis about why Ben Johnson had cheated. Lewis said Johnson did it, because he wasn't good enough. Lewis went on to say that people decide to cheat, because they want to be good enough.

When asked about how Lewis reacted to Justin Gatlin testing positive this summer, Lewis stated he didn't remember much of what had happened, stating, "I just saw the paper probably just like 90 percent of all of the people. Very disappointed because I'm tired of people cheating. If that's where it is, do the right thing. He talked a good game. As he was speaking out against drugs, he was taking drugs. It's very frustrating."

However, Lewis is shown on an ESPN special video late in the summer talking about Gatlin and Marion Jones not having to shoulder the blame alone in their recent doping scandals, stating that, instead, the athletes coaches are also in the wrong. He also chimed in and stated that running under 9,80 seconds in the 100m was unrealistic - an oddity, because he stated he never follows the sport.

Regardless of Lewis' involvement with the sport, his is still a voice which resonates far when one discusses steroids in athletics, and Lewis sees several ways the sport can be cleaner.

He had a chat with the Palisadian-Post about that topic on 28-September.

"There are three things that need to happen. First and foremost, athletes need to speak up about it. Otherwise, they may as well stop testing. Secondly, every athlete who tests positive needs to be investigated thoroughly. Thirdly, the federations that conduct the tests and institute the laws need to be held accountable. But it needs to start with the athletes themselves. "

I have no trouble with Lewis the athletics chapter in his life. He doesn't owe it to anyone to live in the past and dwell on how great life used to be. I wish him the best as he strives to make more of his life outside of athletics either as an actor, a mentor or a politician. He is striving to help rid the world of AIDS, and he wants to stop wars from occuring around the globe among other noble things.

However, I feel as though Lewis - by creating this atmosphere of being twice removed from his first love - has not gotten away from that image he portrayed during his career, namely one of being haughty and arrogant, cold and calculating, aloof and abrasive. His intentions may serve greater goods, but his style seems to lack the sharpening needed to be a leader.

Lewis performed in an era when athletics could not assure an athelte could earn substantial amounts of appearance fees and bonus money - it was a sport for "amateurs" and earnings were abismal. Many believe that Lewis' current blind eye to the sport is not for lack of interest in sprinting and records, but for being forgotten by the system for which he believes he was a catalyst.

He's currently involved in The Carl Lewis Foundation to help promote self-esteem in inner-city kids through sports and other programmes, and this may be one viable way for him to give back to the sport which has given so much to him. Children and at-risk teens may look up to him as a role model and a person of authority, giving Lewis 15 minutes of respect he missed out after his first Olympic experience.

However, being completely fair to his cause, I would like to point out that Lewis is thinking about some day running for office. He has a very keen interest in the No Child Left Behind Program, as he is quoted below from a 29-September Sports Illustrated article.

"Why do less than half the schools in America have P.E. as an elective? Why are we taking money out of schools and programs and then complaining about them?" he asks. "I mean, no child left behind? That means every child is not mine. They don't care about the basic kids in America. They create programs that are under funded. I just saw a report today that pissed me off. Do you know in order to get No Child Left Behind funds you have to allow the government to come in and recruit for the military?"

Lewis has been stated in the past to have lacked humilty. Perhaps one long discussion on the state of track and world affairs, his impact on the sport and a conscious effort by supporters to try understanding his movement into a possible political role may draw back his stiff, outstretched arm from the cold.

"I just think its ridiculous what we do," he said to Sports Illustrated.

"How politics and elections can get twisted, especially the 2004 election. It was ridiculous; all this patriotism and all this crap. Give me a break. I mean, Americans love their country, how dare anyone say you're anti-American if you don't support the invasion. I had "USA" on my chest. If somebody tells me I'm not American they haven't been out of their trailer. I mean, I'm sorry. If people think I'm un-American for my beliefs, they can go to hell. I had USA on my chest. I represented this country and they only know one zip code."

Until we're able to climb up to Lewis' postal code and talk "real life" instead of track, we know what to expect next time Lewis is asked to open up his mouth about athletics. All I can do personally is wish him all the best as he moves on forward one pursuit at a time.


Lyne's Confident Stride to Osaka

Story written by EPelle

I was more than pleasantly suprised to see Becky Lyne climb to number three on all-time on the U.K. 800m list this season, running no fewer than five sub-2 times, earning European Championships bronze, and setting the stage for a remarkable run at a possible medal at the 2007 IAAF World Track & Field Championships.

Lyne had a nearly impeccable outdoor campaign, finishing no lower than third in 10 of her 13 races, and running under 2.01 10 times. Two of her slowest times were in preliminary races - both victories, and her slowest, a 2.11,04, was the casualty of a nasty fall 500m into the European Cup in Malaga.

So remarkable and durable was Lyne's strength, that she was able to put up two sub-2 performances in the European Championships - a runner-up 1.59,11 in her semi-final, and a 1.58,45 - her second-fastest lifetime achievement - in the final behind Russians Olga Kotlyarova (1.57,38) and Svetlana Klyuka (1.57,48).

Lynne's success was long overdue, as she had run 2.01 five times in three years leading up to 2006 - a 2.01,26 runner-up at the BMC at Waterford in 2004 the quickest two-lap race she had managed to tuck under her belt.

Lyne had opportunity - prior to her remarkable 2006 breakthrough - to showcase her talents on an international stage, but failed to advance beyond the heats in the 2002 Commonwealth Games - her first major championships, running 2.05,26 for third place in heat three. Maria Mutola would go on to repeat as champion, running 1.57,35 - a Commonwealth Games record, and 0,25-seconds faster than she ran in 1998.

Lyne returned to the United States - where she was a student at Butler University, and made good on her potential in 2003, placing third at the NCAA Championships in Sacramento, CA, USA in 2.01,76 - her fastest time of the season, and a 0,69-second improvement over her previous best. Her performance was 0,01-seconds off the silver-medal performance turned in by LSU's Neisha Bernard-Thomas.

North Carolina's Alice Schmidt, who recorded three sub-2 performances (led by a 1.59,35) this season, won in 2.01,16.

Lyne placed no lower than third to any collegian in outdoor competition, moving up considerably from her failure to advance from heat 1 (2.10,05) at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA.

Lyne successfully built on that championship-level momentum, and won the European Under-23 title in Bydgoszcz, Poland in 2.04,66 over Slovakia's Lucia Klocová (2.05,02) and Spain's Esther Desviat (2.05,38).

Life for Lyne was at a crisp pinnacle, until she began suffering setbacks and injuries in 2004 as she attempted to translate her collegiate experience into elite-level performances.

I consider the mark of a champion how well they handle defeat - and bounce back from set-backs - as much as how they handle the pressure when they are on top.

Lyne had a small heap of adversity of which she would have to overcome between 2004 and the the winter of 2005, though she was yet an unknown to me here in Sweden.

"From the beginning of December through to about March I'd just struggled with injury after injury," Lyne told BBC Sport.

"So watching the Commonwealths and seeing our British girls do so well, it just felt like a million miles away from where I was at that time.

"It was quite a depressing time, so I'm really pleased that suddenly things seemed to turn around so fast."

Lyne considers her breakthrough race to have occured in Hengelo, a stop on the Grand Prix
circuit which she had never previously been able to land, because meet organisers had rejected her entry.

Lyne won the Thales Fanny Blankers-Koen Games (also known as Hengelo) with a fantastic effort, running 2.00,04 over Klocová (2.00,90) - a mark which took 1,22 seconds from Lyne's previous personal best. She also handed Morocco's Amina Aït Hammou (2.01,10) and Slovenia's Birgitta Langerholc (2.02,21) defeats in the process.

Aït Hammou and Langerholc had previously broken 2.00 before 2006, with Olympian Aït Hammou having twice finished third in IAAF World Athletics Finals, and Langerholc - the 2001 NCAA 800m Champion (2.01,61) - having Olympic, World Championships, European Championships and World University Games experience under her belt.

"Hengelo is a race I've tried to get into in the past but been rejected from, but I ended up running this time and that was quite a shock and a real highlight.

"It's always special when you make a bit of a breakthrough. I realised then I could do something quite special that year."

Her rise to the top of the athletics scale culminated with her being named named Britain's Female athlete-of-the-year by the British Athletics Writers' Association along with Mo Farah, the men's recipient, who won the European Championships 5.000m silver here in Sweden in August, and was the recent winner of the European Cross Country Championships.

The Independent published a very good article on Lyne today (Read: Lyne of succession puts Becky in golden glow), outlining her setbacks, her challenges, and her outlook on 2007.

Lyne has focussed her training on improving in 2007, having taken advice from Kirsty Wade, second on the British all-time 800m list at 1.57,42, believes she can continue mounting a great run at a medal in Osaka, home to the 2007 IAAF World Track & Field Championships.

"Kirsty was really helpful, and Tony too," Lyne says in the interview.

"There was a two-pronged reason for me to go there. I wanted to have a little bit of a break at the end of the season - it's beautiful where they live - but I also wanted to see if I could get a bit of an insight into Kirsty's training and pick up any advice she could give me.

"She gave me a big pile of training diaries and it was a real eye-opener to see how hard she trained. It's been a bit of a motivation for me. I remember my old coach, Gordon Surtees, saying that he'd never seen anyone train as hard in a session as Kirsty and Paula Radcliffe."

Not only is Lyne following an established regime which worked for Wade, she - along with a few other British runners - will join an Australian training group her agent, Nic Bideau, has under his watchful eye in Melbourne.

Bideau coached Cathy Freeman to her spectacular gold medal in 2000 - in front of her home crowd, and coaches Craig Mottram, who set five personal bests, three Australian records and a world road best in 2006.

Lyne has terrific focus on her 2007 campaign, taking no competitors for granted. She has two personal weapons at her disposal this year which she had never taken into the start of a season, namely elite-level status and respect.

Lyne will skip the 2007 indoor season in preparation for the rigours of the outdoor session.

Here's hoping to an excellent showing along the way, with the focal point of the season - Tuesday, 28-August - a day Lyne will hope to remember for ages to come. She has demonstrated that she has a great resolve to overcome adversity and to shine when under the gun. She has two iron lungs and a powerful will. Let's hope a bit of luck turns her way as she takes a great leap forward against the best of the rest.

Lynne's top-five 2006 times:
  • 1.58,20 (2) Gateshead, 11-June, British Grand Prix
  • 1.58,45 (3) Göteborg, 10-August, European Championships
  • 1.58,69 (2) London, 28-July, Norwich Union London Grand Prix
  • 1.59,11 (2) Göteborg, 8-Aug, European Championships semi
  • 1.59,73 (3) Bruxelles, 25-Aug, Ivo Van Damme Memorial