Bekele Opens 2007 in Winning Fashion

Story written by EPelle

Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele, winner of five consecutive IAAF World Cross Country Championships long- and short-course titles, obliterated his competition at the Event Scotland Edinburgh international Cross Country today, winning on the 9,3km course in 28.14.

Bekele, who has both sworn off and then verbally reconsidered competiting for any further accolades in the spring championships, defeated rival 10.000m runner Zersenay Tadesse Zersenay, the 2004 Olympic Bronze medalist, by 10 seconds.

Bekele's arch Kenyan rival Eliud Kipchoge, who, like Zersenay, became the first athletes to run under 27.00 over a 10km course in Spain two weeks ago, finished in third place, 37 seconds behind Bekele (full results).

According to a race description provided by onrunning.com (link), Bekele produced one of the most spectacular displays of running ever seen during a race at the elite level, when, with three laps remaining of the 9,3km course, he upped the ante and dropped his opponents - a move none were able to counter.

Ethiopian teammate Gelete Burka captured the women's 6,1km race in 23.25, nine seconds ahead of both Vivian Cheruiyot (2nd) and Benita Johnson, who finished with the bronze.

The reigning Olympic (2004) and World 10.000m (2003) champion extended his cross country winning streak to 26-straight since suffering his last defeat to Haile Gebrselassie in December 2001. He was pushed to the wire by Saif Saaeed Shaheen last year, when Bekele described himself as being tired, but was focused and prepared on this year's race.

"It was a good beginning to 2007," Bekele is quoted as stating by onrunning.com.

"I am very happy that I won my first race of the year.

"I expected it because of the training I have done."

Bekele, by far the most gifted cross country and long distance track athlete on the planet, stated yesterday that he lacks motivation to continue running in the world cross country championships.

"The motivation may not be there any more," he stated yesterday, according to The Herald (link).

"I don't know if I have the same hunger," he confided.

"That's why I won't do the world-cross again. I still want to improve my times, run fast on the track. I may try for some world records this year. I don't know where, or which one, either the 5000 or 10,000 metres. They are both my favourite events, but I think the 5000m record is harder."

However, IAAF post-race reports quote Bekele as stating he may consider running at the Cross Country World Championships if there is a new challenge.

Bekele’s manager, Jos Hermens, said that the 24-year-old Ethiopian is only 80 per cent fit, adding “he is a little bit chubby and could have been more prepared,” something one should possibly take with a grain of salt.

Bekele, who has broken 13.00-flat 13 times in his career, set the world 5.000m record of 12.37,35 in Hengelo nearly three years ago, swiping 2,01 seconds from Haile Gebrselassie's world and national record time of 12.39,36 set in Helsinki six years before that.

He first set the 10.000m world record of 26.20,31 in Ostrava in 2004, and eclipsed that with a mark of 26.17,53 one year later in Bruxelles.

Gebrselassie held the previous world record (26.22,75), a mark which he set in Hengelo in 1998.

The Herald quotes Bekele has stated that doubling up at either this August's world championships or next year's Olympic Games would be off the cards, citing that he'd prefer to race great in one race, rather than run two poor races.

Bekele was upstaged in the 2003 IAAF World 5.000m Championships in Paris after taking the 10.000m gold when Kipchoge (12.52,79) held off mile world-record holder Hicham El Guerrouj (12.52,83) by 0,04 seconds for the gold, with Bekele finishing with a bronze (12.53,12).

Bekele tried his hand at the double the following year in Athens, winning the 10.000m (27.05,10) ahead of teammate Sileshi Sihine (27.09,39) and Tadesse (27.22,57), but falling short to a reverse 1-3 world champs finish from El Guerrouj (13.14,39) and Kipchoge (13.15,10), running 13.14,59 to earn silver in a race which played into El Guerrouj's hand as a strong kicker.

Two years ago, running in his third major track championship, Bekele opted to contest the 10.000m only, narrowly edging out Sihine (27.08,87) and Kenyan Moses Mosop (27.08,96) by a total spread of 0,63 seconds. Bekele was tested to the limit and ran 27.08,33 - the 2nd-fastest winning time in meet history behind his 2003 triumph (26.49,57) - a race which he negative split under 13.00 to close out the 2nd 5.000m segment.

Perhaps it is high time for Bekele to rest during the spring months, and get in optimal athletics training for the busy summer ahead. He has demonstrated the capability to run hard and run fast following cross country training, and even snuck in a gold medal in the 3.000m at the 2006 IAAF World Indoor Championships to boot.

It shall be a marvel to see what Bekele can do in 2007 with his concentrations focussed specifically on the track rather than the hills.

Kenenisa Bekele was born 1982-13-June in Bekoji, Arsi Province, Ethiopia.

He holds personal bests of 3.33,08 (2006), 7.30,67 (2001), 12.37,35 (2004), 26.17,53 (2005) and 42.42 over 15km (2001).

9,3km Results (Courtesy IAAF):
Men’s Race (9.3km)1 K Bekele (ETH) 28:14; 2 Z Tadesse (ERI) 28:24; 3 E Kipchoge KEN) 28:51; 4 F Joseph (TAN) 28:52; 5 G Gebremariam (ETH) 29:00; 6 D Ritzenhein (USA) 29:02; 7 S Bairu (CAN) 30:34; 8 A Letherby (AUS) 30:35; 9 C Rooney (IRE) 30:43; 10 T Abyu (GBR) 30:51.

Bekele's achievements to date:

  • 2006 1st African Championships in Athletics 5.000m
  • 2006 1st IAAF Short Race World Cross Country Championships
  • 2006 1st IAAF Long Race World Cross Country Championships
  • 2006 1st IAAF World Indoor 3.000m
  • 2005 1st IAAF Short Race World Cross Country Championships
  • 2005 1st IAAF Long Race World Cross Country Championships
  • 2005 1st IAAF World Track & Field Championships 10.000m
  • 2004 1st IAAF Short Race World Cross Country Championships
  • 2004 1st IAAF Long Race World Cross Country Championships
  • 2004 1st Olympic Games 10,000m
  • 2004 2nd Olympic Games 5.000m
  • 2003 1st IAAF World Track & Field Championships 10.000m
  • 2003 3rd IAAF World Track & Field Championships 5.000m
  • 2003 1st IAAF World Short Race Cross Country Championships
  • 2003 1st IAAF World Long Race Cross Country Championships
  • 2002 1st IAAF World Short Race Cross Country Championships
  • 2002 1st IAAF World Long Race Cross Country Championships
  • 2001 1st IAAF World Junior Cross Country Championships

Baylor Runs 3.05,82 Indoors in Arkansas

Story written by EPelle

Baylor University's men's 4x400m relay squad automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships yesterday, winning the Arkansas Invitational with an outstanding time of 3.05,82 at the Randal Tyson Track Center.

“That’s smoking fast,” second-year Baylor coach Todd Harbour is quoted as stating on the Baylor track and field site (

"We’ve never opened up like this. It was a real fast time for this early in the season.”

Baylor won last year in 3.08,92, a 1,08-second victory over four Arkansas alumni.

The team of Reggie Witherspoon (Marietta, Ga.), J.T. Scheuerman (Littleton, Colo.), Kevin Mutai (Round Rock, Texas) and Quentin Iglehart-Summers (San Antonio, Texas) finished more than six seconds ahead of second-place Texas A&M’s 3.11,92.

Witherspoon, who took second in the 200m in 21,38 last year, won the event this year in an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 20,85.

Mutai won the 400-meter dash with a provisional qualifying mark of 47,04.

"Overall, it was a good first meet for both teams," Harbour said.

"We found out where we are at and what we need to work on. We had a lot of good performances and had some fun today. You don't go into the first meet thinking you are going to automatic (qualify) for anything, and yet we did so in the 4 x 400 and Reggie (Witherspoon) was very close in the 200, which was very impressive."

The Baylor men's 4x400-meter relay did not finish last year's 4x400m at the NCAA Indoor Championships at the same track in Fayetteville, as the third leg, Wil Fitts (DeSoto, Texas), pulled up with an injury around the fourth turn of his first lap.

The Bears had a firm grip on second place behind eventual champion LSU before the injury forced the team to abandon its hope for indoor gold, marking only the second time in the past 21 years, the indoor relay did not finish in the top five and did not earn All-America honors.

Baylor owns the NCAA collegiate 4x400m record - 3.03,96, a mark which they set in winning the 2004 NCAA Indoor Championships in Arkansas.

Baylor finished third in the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Sacramento last season, with a men's 4x400-meter relay team of Iglehart-Summers, Mark Teter (San Antonio, Texas), Mutai and Witherspoon finishing with a season-best 3.02,93, marking the 27th straight year the Bears earned All-America honors in the event, and the 21st time in that span they have finished in the top three.

LSU, the reigning NCAA champions and national-record holders, won the event with a time of 3.01,58, while TCU took second in 3.02,12.

Iglehart-Summers had a busy 2006, as he extended himself into the summer, running the leadoff leg for the victorious United States Junior 4x400m relay squad at the 11th IAAF World Junior Championships held at Chaoyang Sports Centre in Beijing, China.

The San Antonio native teamed with Justin Oliver, Bryshon Nellum and Chris Carter to run 3.03,76, the 11th-fastest time ever recorded. The United States holds the world junior record (3.01,09), and has the top-10 fastest times ahead of last year's winners.

Witherspoon, the 2003 High School Indoor Athlete of the Year, garnered all-region honours in the 400 metres, finishing second at the NCAA Midwest Regional with a time of 46,00. He became the first athlete in Big 12 history to win the indoor 200m and 400m conference titles, capturing gold in both events last season with times of 46,91 and 21,11, respectively.

Baylor returns to the track 19-20 January at the Lobo Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M.

The NCAA Indoor Championships will be held at the same venue in Arkansas on 9-10 March. Baylor has won the NCAA Indoor Championships six times (2004, 2002, 1998, 1992, 1991 and 1990).

4x400m Arkansas Invitational Flash Results

Finals 1 Baylor 3.05,82A 1; 2 Texas A&M 3.11,92 1; 3 Baylor 'B' 3.12,56 2; 4 ST Gregory 3.16,68 2; 5 K-State 3.16,83 2; 6 Houston 3.16,85 2; 7 Ole Miss 3.17,00 1; 8 Texas A&M 'B' 3.17,37 3; 9 Okla Baptist 3:18.09 3; 10 Texas-San Antonio 3.19,06 3; 11 Texas-Arlington 3.19,22 4; 12 Ole Miss 'B' 3:22.29 3; 13 Okla Baptist 'B' 3.22,88 4; 14 Texas A&M 'C' 3.23,39 3; -- Arkansas DNF 2 -- Jackson St. DQ 2 1st leg, lane violation

Full results, click here


Nigerian Onyia Likely to Switch Allegiances

Story written by EPelle

Josephine Onyia, the 18th-ranked 100m hurdler in the world in 2006, is on the verge of exchanging Nigeria's green and white colours for the maroon and gold of Spain - a move which could be both lucrative for the Spanish resident and costly at the same time.

African newspaper This Day reported today that Onyia's consideration to represent Spain has been causing backlash in the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (source). Nigeria, which has lost two exclusive athletes to migration, construes the attempt to be a deliberate one to deny Nigeria an opportunity for a medal shot in the event in Osaka in August.

"Since last year, Josephine (Onyia) has been making moves to dump Nigeria for Spain," revealed a source to This Day.

"We understand a former Nigerian athlete who also dumped the country after the Sydney Games has been facilitating her attempt to switch country," continued the unidentified source.

European sprint champion Francis Obikwelu, who earlier this week won the 2006 Waterford Crystal European Athlete-of-the-year award (blog link), disappeared following his last appearnce for Nigeria in the 1994 IAAF World Junior Championships in Lisbon, ending up in his adoptive country Portugal.

Gloria Alozie, another high profile sprinter - and hurdler - began competing for her new country, Spain, in 2001. African record holder at 100m hurdles, Alozie won the African Championships in 1996 and 1998, and 2nd at African Junior National Championships in 1995. Alozie holds a 100m best of 10,90 seconds, and a 100m hurdles personal best of 12,44 seconds.

“She was not made in Spain but here in Nigeria,” Amelia Edet, chief coach with the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and a close friend to Alozie is quoted in The Tribune India 18-August-2001 (source).

“Her exit is a challenge to us to work hard and produce another world-class athlete.”

Alozie's coach, Gad Onumaegbu, who trained her for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, had more understanding for Alozie, stating, “Has she not tried for this country? As a Nigerian, I feel bad about her decision. But what can I do? Nothing.”

Both athletes fled Nigeria mere weeks before the IAAF World Championships were held in Edmonton in 2001.

Onyia, 20, would provide excellent competition for Alozie, who won the Spanish National Championships 100m hurdles in 2002, the Spanish National Indoor Championships in 2003 over the 60m hurdles, and then doubled as 60m hurdles/60m flat champion at her 2006 national indoor championships.

AFN chiefs seem unwilling to let go of their hurdle sensation, who has dropped a remarkable 0,70 seconds from her best two seasons ago, running 12,78 for second place in Helsinki this past summer with a slight wind (+0,76 m/s). Onyia sprinted and hurdled under 13,00-flat four times in 2006, with a windy 12,70 (+3,9 m/s) victory at Bilbao Reunión Internacional de Atletismo win her biggest accomplishment of the season.

Onyia finished the 2006 season with 1260 IAAF points in the 100m hurdles, ranking 18th in the world.

American Michelle Perry (1385 points) led the world, with Alozie (1280), 13th-ranked on the accumulated points scale, and the fifth European.

"AFN is not willing to release her, " the unidentified source revealed to This Day.

"This girl has so much potentials of winning the next All Africa Games as well as qualify for next year's Olympic in China. If AFN refuses her exit, it then means that Josephine will have to wait for almost four years before she can compete for Spain," observed the source.

AFN chiefs are purported to be waiting to block Onyia's petition to change countries by using the fact that invitations were extended to her for both the Commonwealth Games and the African Championship last year. Onyia did not accept either invitation, and did not participate in either of the events.

The IAAF approved new rules on 3-August-2005 to mandate that athletes who change allegiance wait three years after being granted citizenship to compete in a major international event - or one year if both the expatriate and new countries.

Previously, athletes could compete as soon as they had completed three years without representing their former country in any major IAAF competition.

The IAAF council narrowly defeated a proposal for a six-year waiting period, a vote which was fiercely close, 90-80.

Africa has had a great number of its athletes - predominantly distance runners - flee lands like Kenya for greener pastures in Bahrain and Qatar. Two who took a different route were 800m world-record holder Wilson Kipketer, who moved from Kenya to Denmark, and Sierra Leone's Eunice Barber moving to France.

Nigeria has had its share of athletes flee the country, with one of the most prominent - former NBA star Hakeem Olajuwon - taking American citizenship in 1993 to represent the USA at the Olympics.

Nigeria seems adamant at stopping Onyia from making the grade as a Spaniard in Osaka. Not all top-level athletes have been lured to Europe by money, as Mercy Nku states.

"I have made up my mind not to take off. I love Nigeria and will remain here.”

Former AFN President Oluyomi Adeyemi-Wilson seems to have disagreed in 2001, stating that the exodus of Nigerians to Europe and abroad was due to a lack of welfare packages available to athletes.

“When athletes are assured of a brighter future,” he said, “they will not run away.”

If Onyia is unsuccessful, she will have to wait until 2010 to compete for Spain, and will miss two IAAF World Championships as well as the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Freitag May Get Probation

Story written by EPelle

South African Jacques Freitag, who was facing assault charges relating to an alleged road rage incident last January, settled his case with the alleged victim Raymond Williams during a closed door meeting with Williams while waiting for the case to be called on Thursday.

The case follows an alleged incident in January 2006 when Freitag, 23, and training partner Ziegfriedt Veenemans, 22, apparently drove very close to a car Williams, 17, was in, leading to a road rage incident where the two high jumpers allegedly assaulted Williams and broke his nose.

Both men where arrested on 27-January-2006, then released on warning following that incident. Freitag and his legal representatives reported at the Brooklyn police station, where Freitag made a statement. He then appeared in court and the case was postponed until 15-February.

Their first trial date was set to begin in May, but was postponed on 4-May to a date in October due to their involvement with the European circuit.

Attorney du Plessis told the court it was such a lengthy postponement as the two would be in Europe until early October.

Following the initial postponement, du Plessis and the prosecutors reached an agreement that du Plessis' team needed more time to prepare for the case, and had permission granted from Magistrate Dreyer van der Merwe of the Hatfield Community Court in Pretoria to have the postponement moved to 11-January.

The settlement agreement caused the case to take on a new element.

"The case has been resolved between the parties. There was no money involved," du Plessis is quoted as stating by IOL (source).

Freitag and Veenemans have had their case before the Hatfield community court, where their hearing has now been postponed to 6-March, when they will likely have been sent to a diversion programme.

Freitag and Veenemans will both be assessed by a probation officer to ensure that they qualify for the programme, and, if they successfully complete it, the court will then withdraw the charges against both men.

If they complete the diversion programme, which is stated to possibly include counselling or anger management classes, the charge against both defendants is likely to be withdrawn from prosecutors.

Police said Williams had reported that Freitag kicked and beat him outside a restaurant where Williams worked in Hazelwood, Brooklyn - east of the city of Pretoria. The incident, witnessed by patrons, was one which Williams reported to authorities that both defendants in the case had attempted to "assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm" (story).

Freitag set his current national record of 2.38m at the fourth ASA Champions meeting in 2004. He had hoped to be selected for his first-ever Commonwealth Games last season, but was overlooked by the national selectors.

He struggled with injury suffered from a vehicular accident on 29-January 2006. An MRI scan revealed he suffered bruising, had a lot of fluid in the area, and had tearing of the soft tissue on the hip which he injured in the accident.

Freitag - the 2003 IAAF World high jump champion (2.35m), 2000 IAAF World Junior Champion (2.24m) and 1999 IAAF World Youth Champion (2.16m) - missed out on the South African Championships in Port Elizabeth, which acted as the Commonwealth Games team trials.

Freitag had an opportunity to be selected if he could land back on his feet and demonstrate that he was fit enough to compete in the Games, a move which could have enabled selectors to make a recommendation to the board to include him as an exceptional case, but was not able to successfully manage the injury.

Freitag had been snubbed by the selectors on another occasion, back in 2000, when he jumped 2.30m shortly before Sydney Olympics, but not named to SA team. His was the =22 mark on the IAAF performance list that season.

Vyacheslav Voronin led the yearly list with his life-time best mark of 2.40m - the last man over the past six seasons to successfully manage that height outdoors. Russian Sergey Klyugin won the gold in Sydney with a mark of 2.35m.

Freitag, the first athlete to win gold medals at the IAAF senior world title (2003), Junior world title (2000), and IAAF Youth Championships (1999), has not been able to avoid injury along his young career.

After jumping an incredible seven-consecutive meets at 2.30m or better in 2002 - including three new South Africa records, Freitag suffered a serious ankle injury a few months later and underwent surgery in Finland.

Freitag's injury forced him to miss the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and the prestigious World Cup held in Madrid, which Africa went on to win for the fourth-straight season. Canadian Mark Boswell won the first of his two Commonweath titles in 2002, clearing 2.28m. Yaroslav Rybakov won the European Cup title with a jump of 2.31m.

Freitag has jumped 23 times against our national high jump sensation, 2004 Olympic gold medalist and 2005 European Indoor Champion Stefan Holm, with Holm finishing ahead of Freitag on 19 of those occasions (source).

Freitag's career progression (courtesy IAAF):

  • 1998 - 2.08m
  • 1999 - 2.25m
  • 2000 - 2.30m
  • 2001 - 2.31m (African Junior Record)
  • 2002 - 2.37m (African Record)
  • 2003 - 2.35m
  • 2004 - 2.34m
  • 2005 - 2.38m (World leader)
  • 2006 - 2.24m

Christine Ohuruogu Case Heard Before CAS

Story written by EPelle

Christine Ohuruogu stood before the CAS counsel yesterday to protest her 12-month ban imposed by the IAAF and handed out by UK Sport for her three missed drugs tests in an 18-month period.

Mattieu Reeb, the CAS secretary general, is quoted by Sportinglife.com as stating: "There will be no comment about the case until Friday at the earliest.

"However no decision is likely to be announced until the tribunal retires and considers the matter which normally can take between two and three weeks." (source)

Ohuruogu hopes the penalty period is reduced or dismissed, a move which would allow her to compete in the the British trials for Osaka which are in Manchester from 27-29 July.

Ohuruogu, an east Londoner, admitted the doping offense before the UKA disciplinary committee in September, with the committee conceding Ohuruogu made an unintentional mistake in missing her tests due to forgetfulness.

Ohuruogu's lawyers argued at a secret and lengthy CAS hearing in London on Thursday, stating to the panel that the IAAF sentencing guidelines are notably more stringent than other sports and she should be exhonerated rather than sentenced.

Though the UKA committee had stressed there were no reasons she was deliberately trying to beat the testing procedures, but felt the merits of the case were strong enough upon which to prosecute, nonetheless.

IAAF were also in attendance at the secret hearing to justify their policy.

"We are party to the hearing and will explain the one-year doping policy by providing background information," said Chris Butler, the IAAF's anti-doping media spokesman.

Butler insisted, however, that whatever guidelines may have been set by other non-athletics global governing bodies, the IAAF felt justified that their esablished guidelines are fair.

The issue in question is the case of the UK's world triathlon champion, Tim Don, who, under his sport's regulations, received only a three-month ban for the same offense.

Ohuruogu, who is no longer receiving lottery funding or UKA medical support - and had threatened to discontinue in the sport if she is not cleared of the offense, seems to be leaning to leaning toward a continuance according to her coach.

He said: "Christine is optimistic about the result but she is not building up her hopes. She's accepted the one-year ban.

"She'll wait for the result now but is not building up her hopes. Christine has been kicked in the teeth before," he added in reference to Ohuruogu's withdrawal from last summer's European Championships.

Lloyd Cowan, her coach, said to Sportinglife, "She was off for three months after having surgery on both her Achilles tendons. She did bits and pieces afterwards, but her full rehabilitation started 10 days ago when she started jogging.

"But she's enjoying being back and I think she'll stay in the sport whatever happens. She believes she can rebuild her career and in the future make championship finals."


Ohuruogu Set to Defend Before CAS

Story written by EPelle

Christine Ohuruogu, the 2006 Commonwealth 400 metres champion (50,28) and London 2012 Olympic hopeful, is facing high noon tomorow as she appeals the length of her drugs ban before the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Thursday.

The one-day hearing will take place at a secret location in London, writes Sportinglife.com (source), and Ohuruogu will ask the CAS tribunal to overturn the one-year ban imposed for missing three out-of-competition doping tests in an 18-month period - an offense which violates IAAF Rule 32,2(d).

Ohuruogu, who was given a provisional ban by UK Athletics disciplinary board in August, faced a the independent hearing on Monday, 15-September-2006. The board, after hearing the case, insisted Ohuruogu had violated anti-doping by missing three out-of-competition (random) drug tests when she admitted to the wrong-doing, but they didn't believe she had done so intentionally, stating she "had no intention of infringing the anti-doping rules".

UK Athletics' chief executive David Moorcroft said following the hearing: "For any anti-doping rule violation, UK Athletics appoints an independent disciplinary committee to consider the facts of the case in the context of the rules of our sport.

"We operate within a very stringent regime and accept the decision the independent disciplinary committee has made."

Ohuruogu, a 22-year-old east Londoner who missed her first test on 12-October, 2005, is unlikely to hear the findings immediately.

"That is very unlikely. It normally takes two or three weeks, with members going away to consider the case in detail before making their decision," said Mattieu Reeb, secretary general of CAS.

Ohuruogu's lawyers are thought to be planning an assault against the IAAF rules, stating that the 12-month ban handed out under IAAF guidelines is too stringent.

Ohuruogu, whom Brits consider to be a genuine medal possibility for the 2012 Olympics in her home city, London, has insisted she will quit the sport if her appeal process is unsuccessful.

BBC quoted Ohuruogu as stating "I am utterly devastated and completely heartbroken by the decision to exclude me from competing," following the UK decision to ban her from one year. She is further quoted as stating she would then "be forced to rationally consider my athletics future in light of today's decision" (link).

According to press reports, four British sportsmen and women who also committed the offence - including world triathlon champion Tim Don, and only received three-month punishments.

Paula Radcliffe, one of the world's leading outspoken anti-doping campaigners, believes because of the disparity, Ohuruogu was harshly punished.

Radcliffe said: "If Christine lived in any other country, she would not be serving a 12-month ban and that is not fair.

"I think it is good that the rules are strictly applied in Britain but it cannot be different in other countries.

"I don't think for one minute she is guilty of doping."

Though Ohuruogu has athletes and fan support on her side, UK Sport Director of drug-free sport, John Scott, staunchly defended the punishment handed out to Ohuruogu in September.

"The sanction is in line with that set out within the IAAF's rules and reflects the seriousness of the offense," he told BBC.

Meanwhile, Steve Backley, the four-time European Championships javelin gold medalist (1990-2002), believes the misshap is circumstantial - the result of an administrative mishap.

BBC quotes him as stating, "I know from first-hand experience it is tough to know exactly where you are going to be at every point of every day.

"I don't think for one second Christine Ohuruogu has tried to gain an unfair advantage or tried to avoid testing by any means.

"I think she has just been busy preparing for these championships and possibly not been where she thought was going to be on a daily basis.

"If that is the case and there is talk of her possibly missing the Olympics in the future, that is an absolute tragedy for Christine."

Ohuruogu is not the only athlete who has been in the spotlight regarding missing tests.

UK Athletics performance director Dave Colins stated on 8-August-2006 that Britons missed 70 tests in a span of 18 months.

"They are very aware of the seriousness of the situation and we are working with them," he stated on Radio Four's Today programme (link).

Asked if the four were high-profile athletes, Collins replied, "varying".

One such elite person on the bubble is Becky Lyne, Briton's top 800m runner, who has missed two tests, and in danger of being suspended if she misses a third.

Lyne, the European 800 metres bronze medallist (1.58,45) here in Göteborg, has missed two out-of-competition drug tests, leaving her just one missed test away from a one-year ban - and, possibly even missing out on the Olympic Games in 2012.

"It's true that I've missed two tests and I'm very ashamed of the fact that I'm in this tricky situation," Lyne admitted to the Telegraph.

"I know the tests have to be carried out in order to catch the cheats but I don't want to be branded a cheat for having missed two tests. Basically, now that I'm on two missed tests, I am extra, extra cautious not to miss any more."

"Now I have reminders everywhere and I have several people who I have asked to keep on reminding me," she said.

"The problem is that it's been very difficult for me to get into a routine this year. I recently moved house and even this week I've been staying at two different addresses.

"In the case of Christine and now Tim Don, it's really awful for them to be associated with a doping offence when I actually believe that they are innocent. It is very easy to miss a test but, at the same time, athletes have got to take responsibility."

British athletes are not the only ones who fear the out-of-competition testing system.

Carolina Klüft stated to Expressen newspaper that she's terrified (almost literally) of forgetting where she should be on a given day, as she has to provide written accounts three months ahead of time of where she will be 24/7.

Klüft stated she is very spontaneous, and this testing system denies her that spontaneity (like going to IKEA or her parents house just because she feels like it). She's had luck, she states, as she has a few times come upon it at the last minute that she was due at a location she stated three months ahead of time.

Klüft stated (in half jest) that one should implant in her a GPS chip so that they know where she is at.

Our testers seem to be a bit more lenient on the athletes here - an impression you may get from reading this article, where testers state that, for example, if an athlete (Klüft) was not at one locale, they would head to her home and wait. And wait. And wait. Finally, should she (or anyone else) continue to be unreachable, they would be forced to provide the athletics federation here an explanation, which must then be approved.

Our drug testers, as likely is the case with the UK testers, believe the athletes think this is a good process which works well for the athletes, whereas Klüft is absolutely petrified of being away for an unannounced one.

Ohuruogu has ample time to prepare for the 2007 IAAF World Championships if her CAS appeal is successful. The world championships begin in August in Osaka.

A CAS decision in her favour would almost certainly assist her in overturning a British Olympic Association ruling banning drug offenders from competing at future Olympic Games - a championship setting which will forever be devoid of British sprinter Dwain Chambers, as he is serving a lifetime ban from Olympic Games by UK Sport for his involvement with BALCO and performance-enhancing drugs abuse.

IAAF Seven-step process when unable to successfully test an athlete (link):
  • Step 1: The Doping Control Officer has made reasonable attempts to conduct a test on the athlete in accordance with the IAAF DCO Out-of-Competition Testing Policy but has been unable to do so and files an Unsuccessful Attempt Form with the IAAF.

  • Step 2: Upon receipt of the Unsuccessful Attempt Form, the IAAF verifies that the DCO has acted in accordance with the DCO Out-of-Competition Testing Policy in seeking to locate the athlete.

  • Step 3: If the IAAF is satisfied that the DCO has acted in accordance with the DCO Out-of-Competition Testing Policy and that there are grounds for a missed test, the IAAF Anti-Doping Administrator initiates a missed test evaluation.

  • Step 4: The Anti-Doping Administrator notifies the athlete of the evaluation and invites the athlete to provide an explanation for the unsuccessful test attempt within 10 days.

  • Step 5: The Anti-Doping Administrator reviews the athlete’s explanation and all other relevant documents in the file before deciding whether to declare a missed test.

  • Step 6: The athlete is notified in writing of the Anti-Doping Administrator’s decision.

  • Step 7: Upon notification of a missed test, the athlete has 21 days to notify the IAAF in writing that he/she intends to appeal the missed test at any future hearing for an anti-doping rule violation for 3 missed tests in accordance with IAAF Rule 32.2(d).

Alan Webb to Return to the Armory

Story written by EPelle

Alan Webb is heading to the New York Armory to run in the 2007 New Balance Games on 20-January reported the IAAF today (link).

Exactly six years to the day he is set to toe the line in the Big Apple, Webb became the first American high school miler to break the 4.00-minute barrier indoors - a feat which remains solely his to claim.

I informed you on 3-January that Webb was set to run the Boston Indoor Games (blog
link), and it appears the miling star has opted to continue testing himself at the distance, rather than focussing on longer training as he'd done the past two winters.

Webb, then an 18-year-old from South Lakes High School in Reston, Virginia, USA, ran 3.59,86 on 20-January-2001 to place third in the open mile race at a high-school meet at the Armory, and became the first to make the achievement indoors - the fourth high school runner to break four minutes overall.

Leonard Mucheru won the race in 3.57,90, followed by Matt Holthaus in 3.59,74 - 0,14 seconds ahead of Webb, who didn't see him sneak up in the final 40 yards of the race.

Webb ran even splits, hitting marks of 59,9 - 1.59,5 (59,6) - 2.59,9 (60,4) - 3.59,86 (59,9).

Thom Hunt of San Diego held the previous indoor mile record with a best of 4.02,7. Webb not only erased Hunt's 25-year-old mile record, he obliterated Hunt's high school indoor 1.500m record en-route, running 3.43,27 to Hunt's 3.46,6.

''I opted to run the elite race, because there would be less pressure than in a high school mile, where I would have to run the pace. And from the entry in the elite race, I knew the pace would be faster,'' said Webb to the New York Times on his historic day six years ago (

Jim Ryun (3.55,3), who holds the USA national high school record, broke four minutes on five different occasions outdoors, with Tim Danielson (3.59,4) and Marty Liquori (3.59,8) also managing to break the magical barrier outdoors.

Webb went on to break Jim Ryun’s long-standing high school outdoor record of 3.55,3 set 36 years earlier with his boggling 3.53,43 set at the Prefontaine Classic - a race which Hicham El Guerrouj of Morroco won in 3.49,92.

Webb's previous outdoor best was 4.03,33.

Along the way to his outdoor
mile record, Webb timed 3.38,26 for 1.500 meters, breaking Ryun's high school mark of 3.39,0.

Fast-forwarding six years to the date, Webb, a 2005 IAAF World Championship 1.500m finalist, two-time USA Outdoor 1.500m champion and 2004 Olympian, will face stiff opposition from James Thie from Wales, Jason Lunn (USA), Adrian Blincoe (New Zealand) and Andy Badderly (England) among others.

Each man has a personal best indoor mile time under 4.00-minutes.

Webb has outdoor bests of 1.46,53 in the 800m; 3.32,52 in the 1.500m; 3.48,92 in the mile; 7.39,28 in the 3.000m; 8.11,48 (American Record) in the 2-mile; 13.10,86 in the 5.000m; and 27.34,72 in the 10.000m.

Webb has a 3.57,52 indoor mile best set in 2004.

NB: Webb to run Mile at Furman University

Alan Webb is also scheduled to continuing his miling duties, having agreed to run a mile in April at Furman University in what may turn out to be the first sub-4.00 mile ever run on a track on South Carolina soil.

Elite athlete coordinator Mickey McCauley of the Furman Invitational said that Webb and a handful of other top milers had committed to participate in the Furman Invitational Elite Mile set for Saturday, 7-April.

South Carolina resident Marty Flynn currently holds the mark for the fastest track mile ever run in the state at 4.00,90, and stated to The Greenville News (link) that he will not sad to see his record toppled.

"Records are made to be broken," he said. "If you don't want your records broken, you should have run faster."

Indeed, Webb has his sights on running fast in 2007 - an IAAF World Championships season.

Webb spent the greater part of 2006 recovering from anemia-like symptoms in the winter and an injury following his spectacular 10.000m run at Stanford University. He appears on track this season to tackle on both the mile and the 1.500m, his bread and butter events.

Burgess Selected West Australian ANZ Sports Star of the Year

Story written by EPelle

Australian pole vaulter Paul Burgess, who on Sunday soared to 5.91m to place second at Perth's major annual track and field meeting, claimed The West Australian ANZ Sports Star of the Year title for 2006 on Tuesday night to complete a dazzling 72-hour period of time (link).

Burgess won the award for the first time, and is only the eighth athletics recipient in the 51 year history of the annual honour voted upon by a committee of sports writers from The West Australian and members of the WA Sports Federation, an award for Western Australian sportspeople.

The annual award has been running since 1956 and is chaired by Ron Alexander, director-general of the Department of Sport and Recreation in Australia.

Fittingly, the last track and field recipient was pole vaulter Dmitri Markov (2001), whose coach, Alex Parnov, now coaches both Burgess and Steven Hooker, his training partner who also cleared 5.91m in winning the vault in Perth. 2003 IAAF world champion Giuseppe Gibilisco of Italy relocated to Perth in October to work with Parnov, and has moved into Burgess' house (

Parnov, who guided Markov to the IAAF 2001 World Championship (6.05m, NR), was praised by Burgess.

“Without him nothing in my career would be the same,” he said.

Shirley de la Hunty, who won three Olympic golds, a silver and three bronzes, was the first track and field athlete to pick up the honour, earning the title in 1957, the second time The West Australian ANZ Sports Star of the Year award was handed out. Herb Elliott (1958), Dixie Willis (1962), Joyce Bennett (1963), John Gilmour (1974), Dean Capobianco (1993) and Dmitri Markov (2001) are the other track and field athletes who've won the award.

Burgess' mark at the Drug Free Track and Field Classic on Sunday propelled him to the number one ranking in equalling his best of last year, when he held that distinction for much of the season until losing his position to Hooker in Stuttgart.

With a $30,000 (Australian) bonus having been offered to beat Markov's national record on Sunday, Hooker and Burgess had the bar raised to 6.06m, a height which neither was able to successfully manage. Hooker won the event on countback and fewer misses.

World record holder Sergey Bubka (6.14m) is the only athlete to have ever cleared that height, having done so an incredible nine times, and tied 6.05m on four other occasions.

Markov is not alone in the Australian 6-metre club, as Burgess became the second Aussie - and the 13th in the world - to enter the exclusive club his vault in Perth in 2005 — the only time the height has ever been been cleared in Australia.

Burgess’ victory in the world athletics final at Stuttgart last September earned him the biggest payday of his career after he nudged American Toby Stevenson and German Tim Lobinger on a countback at 5.82m for the $40,000 first prize. Burgess' victory was a redemption of sorts, as he had lost his position as number one Australian vaulter to Hooker at the World Cup — an event in which Burgess did not compete.

Burgess had three IAAF ranking-meet wins in 2006, taking home firsts in Osaka (5.75m), Rome (5.82m) and Stuttgart (5.82m). He twice finished second (Zürich, 5.85m and Berlin 5.91m), and had a third place finish in Athens (5.75m) to land him 1357 points, good enough for second in the yearly rankings.

Hooker had four wins in IAAF ranking meets, taking home the Commonwealth gold (5.80m), as well as wins in Helsinki (5.83m), Berlin (5.96m) and Athens (5.80m). His finished second in two other IAAF meetings, Rome (5.77m) and Zürich (5.85m) to collect 1359 points, two ahead of Burgess when the final was tallied following the close of the 2006 season.

The pair's one-two world rankings was the first for Australians had achieved the feat since 1968 when Maureen Caird and Pam Ryan (nee Kilborn) won gold and silver in the 80m hurdles at the Mexico Olympics, running 10,49(A) and 10,46(A), respectively.

Burgess cleared 5.80m in 10 athletics meetings last season. Hooker managed the feat eight times.

Burgess has had mixed international success, having won the gold medal at the 1996 IAAF World Junior Championships in Sydney (5.35m PB), and finishing third in Annecy (5.20m).

He has twice finished second at the Commonwealth Games (5.50m in 1998, and 5.70m in 2002), and has a silver medal from the 2001 East Asian Games (5.50m) to add to his championship collection. However, Burgess has yet to make it to the Olympic medal stand. The other finalists up for the West Australian ANZ Sports Star of the Year award were vaulter Kym Howe and 400m sprinter John Steffensen, Amber Bradley of rowing, Bevan George of hockey, Eagles premiership captain Chris Judd, Clayton Fredericks of equestrian eventing, Daria Joura of gymnastics, Australian middle-order batsman Michael Hussey and cyclists Peter Dawson, Ryan Bayley and Sam Hill.

For more on pole vaulting, check out Pole Vault Power.


Obikwelu Voted 2006 Waterford Crystal European AOY

Story written by EPelle

Double European sprint champion Francis Obikwelu was voted 2006 Waterford Crystal European Athlete of the Year today - a first for the Portuguese sensation.

Voting took place on the European Athletics Association website for five weeks ending 31 December from a shortlist of 25 men and 25 women. Included on the shortlist were each of the 41 individual European champions in addition to other athletes who were deemed to have performed exceptionally in 2006. The short list also included 16 leaders of the 2006 IAAF world rankings for their event.

“The award means the world to me and I am really honoured to have won it,” confirmed Obikwelu to the European Athletic Association.

“I’ve had a really good season in 2006 and this just tops it off.”

Carolina Klüft was awarded the female recipient on Monday (blog link), the second time she has been honoured with the award.

Obikwelu (four points) narrowly nabbed the award ahead of Lithuania’s Virgilijus Alekna, the Olympic champion, and Andreas Thorkildsen (nine points), the reigning European and Olympic javelin champion, finished third.

Alekna had a fantastic season, going unbeaten in 17 competitions in 2006, and winning the European Athletics Championships discus gold medal during a very wet competition down the road at Ullevi Stadium here in Göteborg.

Alekna, carrying the European team on his shoulders as captain, led Europe to the IAAF World Cup victory in Athens in September, winning the discus (67,19m) on the second day - a mark which was crucial to the men winning the World Cup. Team Europe beat the United States by four points, 140-136.

Obikwelu, 28, who won two golds here in Göteborg (100m - 9,99 Championship Record, and 200m - 20,01 National Record), finished fourth at the World Cup in the 200m in 20,36 after winning the event in Madrid in 2002 with a time of 20,18. However, his accumulated six points were still enough to maintain the four-point spread between Europe's victory and the USA's silver medal team competition.

Obikwelu defended the European 100m title he won four years in Munich, and capped off his brilliant European sprinting by twice bringing our 200m speedster, Johan Wissman, home to national records (twice running 20,38) during Obikwelu's dominating semi-final and final performances - the latter which notched his second gold medal.

Obikwelu's leading moments in time prior to his double victory in Göteborg were in earning a bronze medal in the 1997 IAAF World Indoor Championships (21,10) in Paris, collecting a silver medal in the 1999 IAAF World Championships 200m (20,11 NR), and an Olympic silver medal in the 100m (9,86 PB/NR) five years later in Athens.

Nigerian-born, Obikwelu is a good-spirited man, and somewhat of a miracle find when it comes to his current success, something the EAA covered very well in an in-depth story.

"I went to Lisbon for the World Junior Championships in 1994 where I ran the 400m for Nigeria. After the race I decided not to go back, I basically defected with some other friends on the team. We stayed and tried to make a living. It was tough, very shocking, because I couldn't understand the language and what people were saying. I had to stop running because I had to eat and I ended up working in construction for 18 months, moving cement and logs around.

"I couldn't move to any other country because I didn't have any documents, I was scared, I didn't want to get caught by the police and sent back home.

"Getting back into athletics a little later was a kind of a miracle. I decided to go back into school to learn the Portuguese language, I knew that was going to help me and at the school I met a lady from Britain. I was working during the day and studying at night; but sometimes I played football and rugby with her son.

"Nobody else knew me so he spoke to his mum and she called a big club in Portugal. My first coach in Portugal then said: ‘You're pretty fast, try the 100m and 200m.' Up until then I had always thought of myself as a 400m runner," reflected Obikwelu to the EAA during the summer (article).

Obikwelu left the European Athletics Championships in Munich four years ago with a gold medal and one silver medal - the latter which became a bitter disappointment for not winning both golds for his new home country, Portugal.

"My objective for the last four years has been to come here and win double gold," Obikwelu said to the EAA following his 200m victory at Ullevi Stadium.

"Winning the gold medals here means a lot to me. Last time I finished second twice and it was my goal to do better this time (six points), last year’s winner, who is the reigning European, World and two-time discus champion. Norway’s ."

In taking home two golds, Obikwelu etched himself on par with former Italian world-record holder Pietro Mennea as the last two men to have won the elusive double. Twenty-eight years and six championships had elapsed since Minnea (10,27/20,16) won his golds in Prague.

Obikwelu, who holds a 9,84-second 100m personal best and a 19,84 200m best, led all Europeans in 2006 with his 9,99 100m and 20,01 200m times.

Waterford Crystal European Male Athlete of the Year 2006:

1) Francis Obikwelu (POR), 4; 2) Virgilijus Alekna (LTU), 6; 3) Andreas Thorkildsen (NOR), 9; 4) Christian Olsson (SWE), 12; 5) Roman Sebrle (CZE), 17; 6) Periklis Iakovakis (GRE), 20; 7) Stefano Baldini (ITA), 25; 8) Bram Som (NED), 31; 9t) Francisco Fernandez (ESP), 34; 9t) Ivan Heshko (UKR), 34

Francis Obikwelu's Personal Bests (EAA):
  • 50m indoor 5,79+ NR 4 Gaz Liévin 28 February 2004
  • 60m indoor 6.54 NR 2 Cagigal Madrid 24 February 2005
  • 100m outdoor 9,86 AR 0,6 2 OG Athens 22 August 2004
  • 200m indoor 20,46 NR 2rA Gaz Liévin 21 February 1999
  • 200m outdoor 19,84 NR 1,7 1s2 WC Seville 25 August 1999
  • 400m 46,29 2 Nuñez Granada 3 June 1998
  • 4 x 100 m 37,91 AR 3 WC Seville 29 August 1999 (NIG)
  • 4 x 100 m 39.18 NR 1 ECp-1 Thessaloníki 17 June 2006 (Por)
2006 Seasonal Bests:
  • 60 m Indoor 6,68 2h1 Valencia 11 February 2006
  • 100 m 9,99 1,3 1 EC Göteborg 8 August 2006
  • 200 m 20,01 NR 1.6 1 EC Göteborg 10 August 20064 x 100 m 39,18 NR 1 ECp-1 Thessaloníki 17 June 2006


Bernard Williams: A Changed Man

Story written by EPelle

Apparently we are going to be seeing less of the showboating, and more of the focussed, pius Bernard Williams on the track.

The American sprinter has apparently found meaning in the sport, and is going to go about business in a friendly, less made-for-television manner.

"I've sat back and realized that other people don't understand certain people, and not everybody is going to like what you do or understand what you do," said Williams recently to reporter Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun (story).

"I apologize to anyone that was offended because I meant no harm. None of us meant any harm. We were just four guys out there celebrating, having a good time and getting a gold medal.

"To be honest, I would do it again, because it was something I couldn't control. But I wouldn't take it to the extreme," said Williams. "I would cut it off because I know now to stop it. It was a tough lesson to learn. I never knew how many people were inspired by me until I got home. I found that out immediately after I got off the plane."

One need not think too far back to remember what the American gold medal men's 4x100m relay team did in Sydney, Australia, in the moments following their Olympic victory.

They had just run 37,61 seconds, 0,29 seconds up on silver medal winner Brasil, when Williams, Jon Drummond, Brian Lewis and anchor man, Maurice Greene took a bumbling, very raucous victory lap that carried 10 minutes over to the victory stand as they flexed, posed and wrapped themselves in the American flag.

"The crowd kept cheering us," Williams told Preston, "so we kept giving them more. If they had booed us, we would have stopped. One hundred and ten thousand people booing you gets your attention, but they didn't boo. We even grabbed the Australian flag and ran 50 meters and they cheered wildly. But that whole episode brought us a lot of unwanted attention.

Time, which is meant to heal all wounds, has made Williams more aware of the consequences of showboating and the indellible bad image it can leave. Williams didn't see a problem back then with his manners in Sydney - when he celebrated in a fashion completely many agree were against the spirit of the Olympic Games.

"I wished I would have stopped," said Williams.

But he didn't.

A bare-chested Williams draped himself in an American flag then began flapping it about as though he were a bird - an incident which not only iritated sportswriters, but angered US officials.

Images of the American showboating abound in circles around the world, and provide unnecessary attention to those American sprinters who generally seem to go about their work with professionalism and respect for the sport. American sprinters have received a fair share of press for what many perceive as a lack of respect shown to their competitors following championship victories, something which Williams wants to change.

"There's a professional way to behave and a time for everything," he stated to Preston.

"I'm glad I learned this early in my career, because if I learned it later, it might have been too much to recover from."As you get a little older, you gain a certain maturity, a certain wisdom. Then those questions come up, why did I do that? I know why. At the time, it just seemed the thing to do. But it shouldn't have lasted that long."

Williams says that the celebratory antics were not meant to be disrespectful, rather he was simply displaying the joy a young 22-year-old would show during the biggest moment of his life on the world's largest stage.

Preston has followed Williams a great deal of his career, and interviewed Williams back in June 2001 (read: Williams has goals beyond the finish lines), when Williams had an opportunity to look back on his life during the Olympic Games, and reflect.

"I don't talk much about what happened at the Olympics because there was no intent to be disrespectful," he said, "and I should have been more mindful of others. I look back now and laugh a little because I learned from it. But it's a new year and I'm a new man."

Indeed, Williams is making a concerted effort to live his modest life in peace, and would love the opportunity to be afforded a welcome back into the spotlight a changed man. He took a great turn for the better at the Athens Olympics four years later, where, after the Americans swept the event - Williams finished with the silver (20,01), the trio of knelt for a prayer and to remind each to make a dignified victory lap.

Said Justin Gatlin following the 200m sweep: “We’re going to represent the United States in a good way. We just wanted to go out and perform like gentlemen.”

With Gatlin now wrapped up in a drugs fight, Williams has a very good opportunity to take the focus off of the negative side of the sport there in his country, and shine a brighter light on American sprinting.

Here's wishing the best for Williams' success as he further matures into the stature and public figure of which winners are forged.

Bernhard Williams' portfolio:
  • 2004 Olympic 200m silver medalist (20,01 PB)
  • 2001 World Outdoor 100m bronze medalist (9,94 PB)
  • 2003 U.S. Outdoor 100m champion (10,11)
  • 2003 World Outdoor 4x100m relay gold medalist (38,06)
  • 2000 Olympic 4x100m relay gold medalist (37,61)
  • 2000 NCAA 100m champion (10,03)
  • 2000 NCAA 200m bronze medalist (20,28)
  • 2000 NCAA 4x100m relay gold medalist (38,35)
  • 1999 Pan American Games 100m champion (10,08)

Klüft Voted 2006 Waterford Crystal European AOY

Story written by EPelle

Carolina Klüft, our national athletics queen who has not lost a heptathlon competition in nearly five years, was voted the female Waterford Crystal European Athlete of the Year for 2006 - the second such accomplishment in her four-year professional career.

Klüft was voted number one by a tally of three different vote criteria which was open on the European Athletics Federation's homepage (click here for full press release) up to 31-December.

Klüft collected the fewest points (four) on the tally system, three fewer than runner-up Kim Gevaert of Belgium.

The Waterford Crystal European Athlete of the Year internet poll on the European Athletics website was open to Member Federations, the media and the public through three different voting forums.

All athletes' points were calculated by adding their position in each of the three voting categories.

Klüft, who was narrowly beaten for the award last year by pole vault world-record holder Yelena Isinbayeva - four points to seven - has not had a setback in the heptathlon or indoor pentathlon since finishing third (4535) to Russia's Yelena Prokhorova (4622) and Portugal's Naide Gomes (4595) at the 2002 European Indoor Championships in Vienna.

Klüft, according to our national federation's homepage (Friidrott) as well as the EAA, is planning on defending the pentathlon crown she won in Madrid in 2005 (4948) in Birmingham in March.

"For me the sport is all about performing at the major championships and I am really looking forward to the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Birmingham" she said.

"I won the World Indoor title there in 2003 and my great rival Kelly Sotherton (GBR) will have the home crowd willing her on this time, so it will certainly be a big challenge."

Sotherton (4733) finished second to Klüft in Madrid by 215 points, with Natalya Dobrynska (4667) of the Ukraine finishing third.

The three last met here in August at the European Championships, with Klüft (6740) winning the title over Holland's Karin Ruckstuhl (6423), with Germany's Lilli Schwarzkopf (6420) earning the bronze medal.

Sotherton finished a disappointing seventh with 6290 points.

Gevaert, who won the 100m/200m European sprint double here in Göteborg (11,06/22,68), and Isinbayeva - the 2005 Waterford Crystal European Athlete of the Year winner and 2006 European pole vault champion (4,80m - Championship Record), tied for second place just ahead of reigning Olympic long jump champion Tatyana Lebedeva (Russia) and high jumpers Kajsa Bergqvist (Sweden) and Tia Hellebaut (Belgium).

Lebedeva won the triple jump (15.15m) in exciting fashion over Greece's Hrisopiyi Devetzi (15.05m), jumping a championship record on her final attempt to secure her first outdoor European Championships title.

Bergqvist and Hellebaut were part of an exciting high jump final which saw no fewer than four women successfully manage the 2.00-metre barrier.

Hellebaut won the competition with a life-time best, national- and championship record jump of 2.03m, which was equalled by Bulgaria's Venelina Veneva, who finished with a silver medal on misses. Bergqvist, the indoor world record holder after a 2.08m jump in Arnstadt earlier in the year, jumped 2.01m in front of our home crowd, good enough for third. Blanka Vlasic, who had finished second to Bergqvist in the world-record meeting, finished fourth, also at 2.01m.

Klüft first won the prestigious trophy in 2003, following a spectacular break-out year where she improved from beating the best juniors in the world to winning two IAAF world titles (indoor pentathlon and outdoor heptathlon).

lüft is a finalist for the 2006 Gerringspriset, a very coveted prize which Radiosport here in Sweden awards for the year's best Swedish athletic performance. Susanna Kallur, who won the European Championships in the 100m hurdles (12,59) is also among the finalists.

One amazing feat which deserves notice is that Klüft has been atop the heptathlon world rankings for 223 weeks, and was awarded a spot among the world's top-10 best females by Track & Field News magasine (link) - the fourth-straight year she has appeared on the list. Klüfts appearances there are spectacular, because the magasine takes into consideration every athletic event when selecting its top-10 list. Klüft on average participates in three heptathlons per year.

Friidrott.se ran a great analysis (link) of Klüft through the years, netting the following great points:

  • Three losses in her career, the latest in the 2001 European Cup; she's racked up 17-straight victories.
  • Since she established herself as a senior in 2002, she has only twice (Euro Champs 2002 and World Champs 2005) not beaten her competition by at least 200 points, and her average score over 2nd-placers in those 15 competitions is 367 points.
  • Her average hep the past 12 competitions (between 2003-2006) is 6,780 - a mark which only 12 other people in world history have surpassed in a single competition.
  • 24 competitions without pulling out of one (she didn:t contest the 2000 Swedish Junior Nationals, because she was merely along to help a teammate chase the World Junior qualification mark).

Klüft was voted the fourth-best European female athlete by a panel of European sports journalists at the New Year. Klüft tallied 13 points in the voting. Isinbayeva (21) ranked third, and Gevaert (11) finished two points behind Klüft with a fifth-place spot.

Tennis player Justine Henin-Hardenne pulled in the most votes with 28 points.

2006 Waterford Crystal European AOY results:

1. Carolina Klüft, (SWE), 4
; 2. Kim Gevaert, (BEL), 7; 2. Yelena Isinbayeva, (RUS), 7; 4. Tatyana Lebedeva, (RUS), 14; 5. Kajsa Bergqvist, (SWE), 15; 6. Tia Hellebaut, (BEL), 17; 7. Susanna Kallur, (SWE), 25; 8. Tatyana Lysenko, (RUS), 26; 9. Lornah Kiplagat, (NED), 32; 9. Vanya Stambolova, (BUL), 32


1. Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS), 3 points; 2. Carolina Klüft (SWE), 7; 3. Tatyana Lebedeva (RUS), 11; 3. Paula Radcliffe (GBR), 11; 5. Kajsa Bergqvist (SWE), 12; 6. Christine Arron (FRA), 18; 7. Tatyana Kotova (RUS), 26; 8. Yuliya Nosova-Pechonkina (RUS), 28; 9. Christina Obergföll (GER), 31; 10. Eunice Barber (FRA), 32; 10. Olimpiada Ivanova (RUS), 32

Klüfts heptathlon/pentathlon portfolio (Source: IAAF):


  • 1st 28th European Indoor Athletics Championships 4948 Madrid 04 03 2005
  • 1st 9th IAAF World Indoor Championships 4933 Birmingham 14 03 2003
  • 3rd 27th European Indoor Championships 4535 Wien 01 03 2002


  • 1st 10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 6887 Helsinki 07 08 2005
  • 1st 28th Olympic Games 6952 Athens 21 08 2004
  • 1st 9th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 7001 Paris Saint-Denis 24 08 2003
  • 1st 18th European Championships in Athletics 6542 München 10 08 2002
  • 1st IAAF/Coca Cola World Junior Championships 6470 Kingston, JAM 20 07 2002
  • 1st IAAF/Coca Cola World Junior Championships 6056 Santiago de Chile 21 10 2000


Powell Vows to Break World Record

Story written by EPelle

Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell, the current 100m world-record holder who is filled with confidence following a dream-filled 2006 season, claimed Friday to the Jamaica Observer, that his current off-season training is going superbly, and he is focussed on breaking his world record from the get-go when his outdoor season gets underway in a few months' time.

"And when the World Championships comes around it's to win that gold medal in the 100 and the (sprint) relay and if I'm doing any other event (200m) to win the gold medal and... finish the season healthy without injury and in perfect condition," he added.

Powell was recently selected the Commonwealth's Outstanding Male Athlete for 2006 following a list of accolades he has plucked along the way following his last race - a disqualification for a false-start at the Yokohama track and field meet in Japan.

Powell has been busy this off-season, taking home the prestigious Track & Field News Male Athlete of the Year award based off of professional votes collected around the world in addition to collecting the Jamaica Gleaner Sportsman of the Year and the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association awards.

I delivered the news to you on 20-December (read: Powell Considering Osaka Double) that Powell was considering doubling up at the 2007 IAAF World Championships in Osaka - possibly running the 100m and 200m dashes as well as the expected 4x100m relay.

The Jamaican, ranked number one in the world at 100m in 2006, recorded 12 sub-10,00 clockings over his specialty distance, twice equalling his world record of 9,77 seconds.

American Justin Gatlin also equalled Powell's original world-record of 9,77 in Doha in May, 2006, but has been suspended of his title pending a drugs charge levied against him after testing positive for testosterone or its precursors at the Kansas Relays last April. He risks an eight-year ban from the sport, something which will effectively retire him from professional sprinting in the future.

Powell, meanwhile, won every competition he finished, a false start in Korea his only blemish on the season.

American Tyson Gay appears on paper to be the closest competition to Powell, having run 9,84 and a pair of 9,88 marks in 2006 - his first year under 10,00. Gay broke 10,00 six times, and recorded sub 19,85 200m times. His 19,68 time is tied for the fifth-fastest time ever recorded. He is tied with Namibian Frank Fredricks as the fourth-fastest performer all-time in the distance.

Powell has broken 9,90 11 times in his career, with seven of those marks posted in 2006. A stronger, more driven Powell in 2007 may wreak havoc on record-keepers, as Powell sets his sights on taking down the 9,77 time he recorded in Athens two years ago, and subsequently tied in Gateshead in June and Zürich in August this past summer.

"I'm feeling a lot stronger... the work-load is heavier than last year and I'm managing a lot better, so that's why I'm so motivated," he stated to the Jamaica Observer.

Indeed, if Powell feels stronger and can handle the workload - and stay injury-free, the only limit on his potential over 100m will be one of physics.

Stay tuned for more.

2006 Commonwealth Sports Awards Winners (Full press release here)

Final Placings

Sports Administrator of the Year
1. Filbert Bayi (Athletics) TAN
2. Zainal Abu Zarin (Disability Sport) MAS
3. Jenny Shaw (Swimming) WAL

Outstanding Young Achiever
1. Melissa Wu (Diving) AUS
2. Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (Gymnastics) CAN
3. Asif Hossain (Shooting) BAN

Outstanding Male Athlete
1. Asafa Powell (Athletics) JAM
2. Chris Hoy (Cycling) SCO
3. Alexandre Despatie (Diving) CAN

Outstanding Female Athlete
1. Alexandra Orlando (Rhythmic Gymnastics) CAN
2. Michaela Breeze (Weightlifting) WAL
3. Sherone Simpson (Athletics) JAM

Outstanding Male Elite Athlete with Disability
1. Matthew Cowdrey (Swimming) AUS
2. Benoit Huot (Swimming) CAN
3. David Roberts (Swimming) WAL

Outstanding Female Elite Athlete with Disability
1. Chantal Petitclerc (Athletics) CAN
2. Sue Gilroy (Table Tennis) ENG

Most Outstanding Team
1. Silver Ferns (Netball) NZL
2. Men’s Hockey Team AUS
3. M2006 Swimming Team SCO

Lifetime Achievement Award
1. Dr Bruce Kidd (Athletics) CAN
2. Owen Le Vallee (Administration) GUER
3. Dave Haller (Swimming) WAL

Dick Is Still A Featherweight, Pound-for-Pound

Story written by EPelle

Dick Pound, the WADA big boss in charge of ridding the world of drugs, is in the news again.

Pound is up to his wits in his fight to ensure life for athletes suspected of doping will continue to spin out of control, despite some of the hiccups he has faced in his pursuit of truth in the matter of Non-Analytical Positives vs. certain athletes - Marion Jones included.

The New York Times ran an extensive piece on Pound today, entitling the article, “The Scold”. The article is very long - six pages - and discusses everything from Pound's strong hand against doping to his abrasive behaviour toward those who cover up those offenses.

Pound has made no secret that he believes the USA is involved in cover-ups, especially when it comes to Carl Lewis having tested positive for low levels of drugs found in Sudafed, and being permitted to participate in the 1988 Olympics, nonethless. Pound considers the Lewis affair one of an anti-doping violation, and Lewis' participation in Seoul illegal.

Pound, engaging the United States directly – one of his biggest targets in the fight against doping due to what can be perceived as cover-ups, sounded off in the article, stating:

“There aren’t too many people who are prepared to point the finger at America and say: ‘Hey, take off the [expletive] halo. You’re just like everybody else.’ That’s a problem in America. America has a singular ability to delude itself.”

Pound was also featured in an article in Wired Magazine on 28-December-2006 entitled “The Righteous Fury of Dick Pound.”

There, Pound was portrayed as a one-man crusader who has made several enemies along the course of trying rid sports of drugs.

"It's confrontation," Pound says about his style.

"You're confronting a problem: People agree to certain rules of the game and then deliberately break them. You can't finesse it or isolate it or surround it. You have to confront it."

His critics disagree. To them, the problem isn't the rules, it's the enforcer.

"If Dick Pound is saying, 'I'm going to be an advocate in these cases,' then athletes start to wonder, 'Am I even going to get a fair hearing here?'" said Howard Jacobs in the article. Jacobs is an attorney who has represented several athletes including Marion Jones in her "A"-sample positive/"B"-sample negative case this past summer.

"When you have the head of WADA passing judgment on pending cases, whatever the intention is, certainly people can question whether one of the goals is to signal to arbitrators how you expect the results to come out."

Pound dismisses these complaints.

"I'm not getting much criticism from athletes who aren't using drugs. I'm getting it from the folks who either have been caught, are representing those who have been caught, or are representing organizations who don't want to admit that there's a problem."

There is no shortage of Pound-bashing around the internet world, nor from journalists willing to pen their names next to long articles portraying him as a man from the wild west. He's made himself out to be a tyrant of sorts, with his main goal in the latter stages of 2006 to rid the sport once-and-for-all of Jones.

Marion Jones found a temporary reprieve from WADA's outstretched arm by having her “B”-sample drugs test findings demonstrate levels inconsistent with her initial “A-sample” findings, thus eliminating her from the charges of performance-enhancing drugs use – but not removing her from any of the allegations. The reprieve seems to be nothing more than a personal satisfaction of having the law, and the upholding of it, on her side, as Pound continues on in search for answers in the case.

For those of you new to WADA - the World Anti-Doping Agency - WADA has an annual budget of $22 million and oversees the drug testing done by all of the world’s sports federations. WADA finances research for measures to stay catch up – and get ahead – of the BALCOs of the world, or those who attempt to beat the drug testing system. The International Olympic Committee established WADA in 1999 to bring together world-wide efforts to rid sports under the IOC umbrella of drugs and cheats.

WADA also credentials a network of drug-testing laboratories around the world – including the laboratory at UCLA, and conducts some of its own drug-testing of athletes. WADA also updates its list of prohibited substances in several publications as well as its home page, a list which 191 countries around the world have accepted as the binding Anti-Doping Code.

Pound has taken his role with absolute authority, ensuring the WADA mission of cleaning up drugs in sport is carried out to the greatest legal extent possible. He's been going full thrust ahead at athletes like Jones, because there are greatly circumstantial evidences against her which demonstrate she has been involved with performance-enhancing drugs, and he wants to net one of the sport's biggest fish from the nation he believes is most palpable in hiding away doped athletes.

This is not to be mis-interpreted as stating Jones took drugs, rather it is merely to establish that under oath provided by others whose testimonies have not been deemed to have been perjury, she is directly linked to drugs.

Pound has butted heads with Jones over this cleansing process.

Both Pound and Jones resemble two rams with very determined agendas and significant will-power spearing each other on to cripple and render ineffective the other. Jones may have been provided breathing room from Pound, but appearances – as folks have witnessed on so many occasions – can be deceiving.

Pound may (or not) deserve the attention he’s bringing upon himself, being construed as a brash, take no prisoners dictator. He’s become a master of quotes, and as much as he speaks, journalists continue to write. His goal, he states, is to keep sport clean. He believes in clean sport, but has less belief in athletes.

“Here’s the deal,” he says. “The shot-put weighs this much. The race is so many laps long. You can’t hollow out your shot-put and make it 12 pounds instead of 16. You don’t start before the gun. Run 11 laps instead of 12. And part of the deal is don’t use these drugs. It’s kind of an affirmation when you show up at the starting line. You are making an affirmation that you are playing the game the way it is supposed to be played.”

Pound may have justice on his side as far as world-wide disciplining is concerned. One question which arises, however, is what kind of fingerprint he wants to leave on the sport of athletics.

Pound has an opportunity to help rid the sport of cheats and uncover the other BALCO types out there, namely other lines of chemists, coaches, athletes and trainers who are involved in doping schemes hidden to the outer circle looking in. However, if he continues pressing on at all costs in a solo fashion - destroying chains of command in the process - folks will be less than willing to point him in the right direction.

Sport, according to the ancient Greek tradition, was broken down into two elements within the participants: the harmonious development of mind of body - agon, if you will, and arête - the conscious ideal of perfection.

Athletics - along with other sports within the Olympic movement - can be restored to a more even playing ground where athletes are competing clean over time, and the harmony between the pursuers and those pushing the envelop to cheat is smoothed out. As more wisdom is applied to the fight against doping, and athletes are held even more accountable for their crimes against the sport, fans can appreciate sport for what it is: entertainment and excellence.

In order to effect this change - where mind and body develops naturally in the absence of drugs, Dick Pound would be of better service if he continues his fight quietly - away from the headlines - and not create a perception of being a one-man show. If he can accomplish this, I believe people would come to trust WADA over time. If he is unsuccessful, and his desire to stand at the centre can not be quashed, folks will lose faith in the organisation as a whole - when it is Pound with whom they have their disagreement.