HERE’S THIS MONTH’S collection of short takes on generally off-track activities that have gone/will go a long way towards shaping the way the sport is headed.
High School Girls Editors Old & New
After many decades of valuable service as T&FN’s HS Girls Editor, Mike Kennedy has retired. We thank Mike for his long tenure in a difficult position, one he first claimed in the February ’82 issue.
And in the “what goes around comes around” department, Kennedy is being succeeded by a familiar face, that of Jack Pfeifer, who was our original HS Girls chief in the issues of March ’78 through November ’79. Welcome back, Jack!
Meanwhile, our indefatigable HS Boys Editor Jack Shepard continues in a role he first assumed in the January ’69 issue. And to give you an idea of how the sport’s landscape has changed in the last half-century, before taking the prep position, Jack was our Frosh/JC editor. Yes, we used to have the need for such a thing.
Bolt’s Records To Last A While Longer?
“A lot has changed in athletics over the past few years. I still think my records will hold for a while,” Bolt told France’s L’Équipe.
“Last year would have been ideal for bringing them down. The athletes, some very talented, all had new-generation super-spikes, and we know that the Eugene track is the fastest of all time.”
Analyzing his WRs, the Jamaican great continued, “In Beijing, I might have been able to run in 9.52, pushing to the finish line. It’s better than 9.58, but there is no major difference, it doesn’t really change much.
“Whereas under 19, that’s a barrier. My coach often said that we never saw my real potential, given how I was taking things in. But I sincerely think that if I had taken them differently, I would have failed.”
The next sprint superstar? “I think that Erriyon Knighton, if he has the right coach, will be terrific over 200m. He will be a great one.”
Said Knighton, “I actually want to go sub-19. I don’t want to say it’s possible. It’s possible, but you just never know… Only one human went under 19.20.”
’24 World Juniors Site Up In The Air
Lima, Peru, was scheduled to host next year’s World U20 Championships, August 26–31. But in early April WA announced that that hosting was off, citing “recent political instability and social unrest, as well as natural disasters” for the cancellation.
The next day the Jamaican federation said it was interested in stepping up. Said federation president Garth Gayle, “Jamaica is always ready to host track & field events.” He continued, “The timeline is very, very short but not impossible.” Jamaica’s capital, Kingston, hosted the ’02 edition of the meet.
THC Positive Sits Davis-Woodhall Down For A Month
Tara Davis-Woodhall is no longer the USATF Indoor long jump champ. A urine sample taken at the meet by USADA turned up positive for THC, the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis, marijuana, and hashish.
She received a 1-month period of ineligibility, the minimum allowed under the rules. It began on March 21, 2023, the date of her provisional suspension. In addition, she was DQed from all competitive results obtained on and subsequent to February 17, 2023, the date her sample was collected.
In announcing the low-level suspension, USADA explained, “THC is classified under a special category that allows for a reduced 3-month sanction if the athlete establishes that their use of the substance occurred out-of-competition and was unrelated to sport performance. The sanction may be further reduced to 1 month if the athlete satisfactorily completes a treatment program approved by USADA.”
’24 World Relays Crucial Olympic Qualifier
The next edition of the World Relays (Nassau, Bahamas, May 04–05, 2024) will feature a 5-race sprints-only roster of events: men’s and women’s 4×1 and 4×4 and the mixed-sex 4×4. The ’14 & ’15 editions of the meet had 10 disciplines and ’17, ’19 & ’21 had 9.
The Olympic-year competition will have 32 teams in each event. Top 8 nations in each discipline at the ’23 WC will automatically earn entry. The host country may also enter one team in each discipline, regardless of any entry conditions.
The remaining teams (up to 32) will be determined through the top lists in the qualification period (January 01, 2023–April 07, 2024.
The top 14 teams in Nassau will automatically qualify for places at the Paris Olympics. Teams will have two opportunities to qualify at the World Relays; if they’re unsuccessful on Day 1, another chance will be provided on Day 2.
The remaining 2 Olympic slots in each relay will be awarded based on top lists during the qualification period (December 31, 2022–June 30, 2024).
Doping Suspension For World Steeple Champ
Kazakhstan’s Norah Jeruto — history’s third-fastest steeplechaser — has been provisionally suspended by the AIU.
Her agent, Gianni Demadonna, told LetsRun.com that the reigning world champ, according to the AIU, had “hematocrit and hemoglobin levels in her Athlete Biological Passport that could only have been achieved by blood doping or EPO use.”
Demadonna said when the AIU reached out to Jeruto in August ’22, after the WC, she was asked to explain variations in her ABP from ’20. He also claimed her values remained consistent in ’21 and ’22.
“They didn’t stop her before World Champs,” he said. “They didn’t stop her immediately in 2021. Why did they wait until 2022? I don’t understand why. I would like somebody to ask AIU why they act like that. If they were already having the results of biological passport from 2020, 2021, one year before the World Champs, why they allowed her to compete?”
A Quest For Lost Trophies
It’s perhaps a longshot, but the family of 2-time Boston Marathon winner Tarzan Brown is hoping to get his trophies and medals back. Brown, the winner of the race in ’36 and ’39, is one of only two indigenous Americans ever to win the race.
Brown’s first victory on the course helped establish the mystique of Heartbreak Hill. That’s where defending champion Johnny Kelley caught up to him and patted him on the shoulder. Brown responded with a surge that broke Kelley. Later that year he represented the U.S. in the Olympics, failing to finish in Berlin.
Brown eventually sold his medals and trophies to help support his family. “During that time, he had four young children and a wife, and they lived in a two-room shack,” says his granddaughter. Now she has launched a search for them, in the hopes of returning them to the family to keep his memory alive.
The Economics Of Eugene’s Worlds
One of the key pieces of funding the ’22 Worlds in Eugene was that the state of Oregon come up with $40 million (about 53% of the Oregon22 budget), an investment that was sold to voters with the promise that it would yield a much bigger return in economic impact.
Now, a Nielsen post-event report shows that the event yielded an economic impact of $153.4 million, and that in terms of the value of the media coverage generated ($82 million), a better than 2:1 return.
The report also noted that efforts by organizers for environmental sustainability barely made a dent in the event’s carbon footprint, with only 14% of attendees using public transportation. Nearly half of the spectators came from Oregon, with 32% from the Eugene area.
The Russian Saga Continues…
Increasingly, the IOC’s Thomas Bach is insisting that the various Olympic sports open the doors to Russian and Belarusian competition as the Paris Olympics approach, with his opponents equally intractable
Ukraine has announced it will boycott Paris qualifying events where Russians are competing. The IOC issued a statement saying, “If implemented, such a decision would only hurt the Ukrainian athlete community, and in no way impact the war that the world wants to stop, and that the IOC has so vehemently condemned.”…
Ukraine did not back down, later clarifying that if any of its federations compete against Russians or Belarusians, they will lose their government funding. The IOC called that “a step too far.”…
Meanwhile, Poland has announced that any Russians hoping to compete within its borders must sign a statement condemning their invasion of Ukraine. The German interior minister has threatened to deny visas to any Russian athletes to keep them from entering Germany…
Germany’s Olympic discus champion, Christoph Harting, summed up the sentiment among many of Ukraine’s allies: “The fact that Bach is friends with a mass murderer wanted with an arrest warrant [Vladimir Putin] may be his personal decision, but he and the IOC are driving themselves into ruin with this attitude and are dragging us athletes all along.”
He added ominously, “I would not rule out violent riots within the Olympic Village. Or to put it another way: imagine, in their homeland, people have been killed by the murderers against whom they have to compete. Or, under threat of violence against you and your relatives, your state requires you to seize every opportunity in which you can harm Ukraine and its athletes.
“I can’t imagine having to go through this farce if I, as a Ukrainian athlete, had to compete against a Russian or Belarusian athlete.” ◻︎