Track & Field (153)
The Bowerman Mile field was announced today, and it is absolutely loaded. Some people are saying this is the best mile field ever assembled for Pre, and they may very well be right. All three London 1500 medalists (Makhloufi, Manzano & Iguider), the Beijing Gold (Kiprop) and Silver (Willis) medalists and the Daegu Bronze medalist (Centrowitz) highlight the field. Basically it's Beijing and London combined into one race. The best tactical racers of the past four years will all be in this race. If you want to learn how to beat the best, watch this race. Seriously, if you are a track fan, you need to watch this. Go to the meet, or at least watch it on NBC. Then watch the replay, then watch it again, and again, and again. I honestly don't know who will win (I would guess Kiprop, but if Makhloufi is in shape, I wouldn't bet against him. But is he in shape yet? I guess we'll find out.) , but anyone wants to learn a thing or two about race tactics needs to watch the Bowerman Mile.
So Ashton Eaton has something that is "kind of like a strain" according to his coach. However, his coach is precisely the reason that American track fans should not be worried. Harry Marra is one of the best coaches in the world, in any sport. His technical knowledge of every event area is incredible. His coach-athlete relationship with Ashton is truly remarkable. If any coach can help any athlete overcome an injury, its Coach Marra and Ashton Eaton. Worry not track fans, I suspect Ashton to be ready for a great performance over ten events in Des Moines in one month.
The IAAF World Challenge continues on Tuesday with a stop in the famed Bird's Nest in Beijing. Although not as high quality across the board as the Diamond League, many of today's greatest athlete's compete in World Challenge Meetings. There will be plenty of exciting, world-class Track and Field in the centerpiece of the 2008 Olympics. Gatlin will battle Rodgers and Patton and Chinese record holder Zhang in the 100. Oliver and Richardson will face off in the 110 hurdles. Allyson Felix and Lashawn Merritt highlight the 200s. Look for some fast times and great marks to come from Beijing tomorrow.
On another note, it is very exciting to see Track and Field return to its most iconic stadiums, the Olympic stadiums. I must applaud both London and Beijing for continuing to use their Track venues to host the world's best athletes. Although the fanfare and pageantry of the Olympic Games itself is impossible to replicate, I love watching Track and Field take place in some of the best venues ever constructed specifically for the sport.
Let the best athletes compete against each other in the best stadiums, on the grandest stage. That's what makes the Olympics so succesfully captivating. That's what our sport deserves.
From an international perspective, much of the attention at the Oxy High Performance meeting in Los Angeles was understandably on Great Britain’s Olympic hero Mo Farah but he was rather upstaged by US prodigy Mary Cain on Friday night (17).
The Shanghai Diamond League meeting is going to be a great day of competition. There are going to be some great head-to-head rematches from London that will also probably previews of Moscow. The Fraser-Pryce vs. Jeter battle in the 100 meters is going to be particularly intriguing as both try to gain an early season edge to build confidence for when the championship meets start. All three of the mens 400 meter medalists from London will be competing in Shanghai, which will also be an early season battle with big implications for Moscow. Especially if 2008 Olympic Champ Lashawn Merritt can recapture his form from a few years ago and show the world he is back. I expect Merritt to have a chip on his shoulder as he tries to prove himself against the best from London. The men's long jump features Rutherford and Watt, the London Gold and Silver medalists, as they try to continue their success against the "old" gaurd of Phillips and Saladino. Meseret Defar and Genzebe Dibaba will provide a great show in the women's 5000. These are the key events to watch, in my opinion, but every event is loaded with Olympic and World Champs and medalists and world-class talent, which the Diamond League always delivers. It should be a fantastic display of Track and Field.