Saturday, August 23, 2008

Day 9 of the Olympics--evening session...

6:30 am--This concludes the Olympic track & field competition, except for the marathon, which gets underway at 7:30 am Beijing time/4:30 pm Saturday in Seattle.

Before signing off, we'd like to thank several people for their help, including Parker Morse from the IAAF, Larry Eder & photographer Victah Sailer from The Running Network, and Brian Russell, who were on site in Beijing. Others include Jill Geer of USA Track & Field and Mathieu Gent├Ęs from Athletics Canada. Walt Murphy, Carol Lewis, and Adam Geller of NBC Sports also provided key information in Beijing.

Martin Rudow from Northwest Runner and Northwest Runner/Running Network web producer Chuck Bartlett also must be thanked for their help.

From the shoe companies, Jacie Prieto, Jill Zanger and Heidi Burgett of Nike, Jesse Williams from Brooks, Heather Moening, and Vanessa Asell from Asics all were helpful with information leading up to the Olympics. Freelancer Matt Taylor, who produced the "Chasing Bolt" video clips for Puma, helped with video content for the site.

We're sure we missed several others who were helpful, so apologies are in order.

Most importantly, thanks go to the athletes and their support personnel (agents, managers, coaches, PR folks) that were of great help as well. Without the athletes, there is no show to watch. We must send a big shout out to those athletes who have personal Facebook/Myspace pages, as it was helpful in procuring background information...believe it or not, those are valuable assets in the Internet era!

We'll see you later for the men's marathon...we hope to put up some content before the marathon.

6:26 am--
Vlasic misses her third attempt, so in a mild upset, Hellebaut wins the high jump, as the bespectacled Belgian breaks through in the biggest meet with her national record clearance. Vlasic has her 29-meet winning streak snapped.

Chicherova will get third at 2.03m/6-8.

6:24 am--
Hellebaut is the World Indoor Champion in the pentathlon, which she won largely on the strength of her very high clearance in this event. Vlasic, of course, is the World Indoor and Outdoor Champion in this very event.

Vlasic has missed twice at 2.07m/6-9.5, with Hellebaut missing once, and passing. Parker notes that her Achilles tendon is taped.

6:15 am--
While we were away with the relay, Parker writes, "We had two more misses for Chicherova, so it's Vlasic and Hellebaut at 2.07m. Hellebaut leads, Vlasic second. The OR is 2.06m, set in Athens by Slesarenko."

Hellebaut cleared 2.05 in her first attempt, with Vlasic over on her second attempt. 2.05m is 6-8.75.

The 4 x 4 team missed the world record by .10.

6:11 am--
After a 44.01 opening leg by Merritt, Angelo Taylor ran 43.98, then handed off to David Neville, who ran 44.17.

Jeremy Wariner pushed the anchor, running 43.23, as Team USA set a new Olympic record of 3:55.39.

The Bahamas finished second in 2:58.03, and Russia was third in a national record 2:58.06. Belgium, who was second for most of the race faded to fifth in a national record 2:59.37.

6:05 am--
Team USA will start in lane 7, with LaShawn Merritt leading off, and Jeremy Wariner on the anchor. Angelo Taylor, and David Neville will run legs 2 & 3. Since 1984, the USA has won every 4 x 4 (but they were DQ'd for 2000 a few months ago after the Jerome Young/Antonio Pettigrew doping cases).

In the high jump, it's now a battle between Hellebaut & Vlasic.

The USA are wearing red tops again.

5:55 am--
The men's 4 x 400 teams are on the track. Usain Bolt is not on the track, as some suspected.

In the high jump, Vlasic & Chicerova have cleared 2.03m/6-8. Tia Hellebaut of Belgium and Elena Slesarenko of Russia stand 3rd & 4th. Chaunte Howard of the USA will get 6th in 1.99m/6-6.25.

5:44 am--
After Mary Wineberg led off, Allyson Felix got the USA back into contention.

For a moment, we were not sure what team it was, as they were wearing red tops instead of the blue.

Monique Henderson lost the lead on the third leg, but it was Sanya Richards who reeled in the Russians on the anchor with a 49.49 split according to CBC to get the Americans the win in 3:18.55.

The Russians hold on to second with a time of 3:18.82, and Jamaica third in 3:20.40.

The high jump is now down to Blanka Vlasic and Anna Chicherova of Russia--check that, four have cleared 2.01m/6-7.

5:40 am--
Parker Morse from the IAAF writes, "We haven't mentioned that it's warm tonight - 30 C (92 degrees)- and that, as usual, the Bird's Nest is packed. We can't see any empty seats; usually we can find some up at the top of the third deck."

5:30 am--
While the 5000 was going on, Andreas Thorkildsen won the javelin, defending his title in an Olympic record 90.57m/297-1, with Ainars Kovals of Latvia second at 86.64m/284-3. Pitkamaki gets third at 86.16m/282-8.

In the high jump, five competitors are left, with the bar at 2.01m/6-7.

Women's 4 x 400 teams are now on the track.

5:25 am--With the last 1200 in 2:53, Kenenisa Bekele wins the 5000 in an Olympic record 12:57.82, with Eliud Kipchoge & Edwin Soi from Kenya 2-3 in 13:02.80, and 13:06.22.

Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Victah Sailer/Photo Run/The Running Network) finishes ninth in 13:26.89, and Matt Tegenkamp was 13th in 13:33.13.

5:20 am--
It's down to 5 guys, as the other 2 Ethiopians are dropped. Now it's Lagat that's getting dropped.

5:18 am--
The 3k is at 8:01, with Lagat in sixth, now moving up to fourth.

5:15 am--
In the women's high jump, the bar's at 1.96m/6-5.

5:12 am--
2:45 through the first kilometer...the Bekele brothers are up front, going through 1600 around 4:21. 5:22 through 2k, with all three Ethiopians up front.

5:10 am--
The next event on the track is the men's 5000, with world champ Bernard Lagat from WSU, and Kenenisa Bekele. Others include Matt Tegenkamp, Tariku Bekele, & Alistair Craig.

4:58 am--
Nancy Langat of Kenya dropped a 58 second last lap after a relatively modest pace with Jamal up front to win, taking off with about 270 to go, winning in 4:00.23.

Ukrainians Iryna Lishchynska & Nataliya Tobias go 2-3, picking off a fading Jamal, running 4:01.63 & 4:01.78. Rowbury, who was fourth with 300 to go, faded to seventh in 4:03.58.


4:55 am--
This is turning into a 600 meter race! The leaders go through 800 at 2:13.70.

4:50 am--
Next on the track is the women's 1500 with world champ Maryam Jamal from Bahrain, and San Francisco's Shannon Rowbury.

4:35 am--
With a relatively modest first 400 at 53.35, the pace accelerated down the backstretch to 1:19.17 at 600m. Wilfred Bungei of Kenya took the victory at 1:44.65, followed by the other Sudanese runner, Ahmed Ismail in 1:44.70, with reigning world champ Alfred Yego of Kenya third in 1:44.82.

Just missing out in 1:44.94 was world championship bronze medalist Gary Reed from Victoria, BC. Afterwards, he told CBC that "They ran tough, but that's that. I left it all on the track--no regrets."

Women's high jump is at 1.96m/6-5; in the men's javelin, defending champ Andreas Thordkilsen of Norway currently leads at 85.91m/281-10, with Tero Pitkamaki of Finland, the reigning world champ stalking him along with countryman Tero Jarvenpaa.

4:25 am--
800 meter runners are getting on the track but they won't start until the women's 4x100m relay medal ceremony's over. They're running through a few more ceremonies for last night's winners! The bar in the women's high jump is at 1.93m/6-4.

Getting back to the 800m, the top two finishers in Athens did not qualify for the finals, along with the current world leader, Kaki from Sudan.

4:10 am--
Ni hao from the Bird's Nest! Events are going fast and furious, with tonight being all finals--on the field, it's the men's javelin, and women's high jump; the men's 800, the men's 5000 with Bernard Lagat, the women's 1500, and both men's and women's 4 x 400 relays!

This is the final night of track & field; however, it is not over for us, as we'll have the men's marathon in about twelve hours time.

In the women's high jump, it's Croatia's Blanka Vlasic versus the world--if you have not seen her in action, she's heads and shoulders above the field. You'll love her little dance when she wins! Here's her bio, courtesy nbcolympics.com.

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