Monday, August 31, 2009

Lagat held off by Kipsiro in 3000 in Gateshead...

GATESHEAD, England--Under windy and blustery conditions, Washington State graduate Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished second in the 3000 meter run at the Aviva British Grand Prix meet Monday at Gateshead International Stadium.

Moses Kipsiro of Uganda, who finished fourth in the 5000 meter run at the Berlin world championships last week, held off the American silver medalist in the home straight to finish first in 7:35.69, with Lagat clocking 7:36.68, as he tried to chase down Kipsiro.

For complete results from the Aviva British Grand Prix, please click here.

To read the IAAF's meet recap, please click here.

World championship silver medalist Bernard Lagat returns to action Monday in Gateshead...

GATESHEAD, England--Recent Berlin World Championships 5000 meter silver medalist Bernard Lagat returns to action Monday as he competes in the 3000 meter run at the Aviva British Grand Prix at the Gateshead International Stadium.

Lagat will compete against a field that includes Kenya's Abraham Chebii, fellow American Chris Solinsky, and the British duo of Mo Farah & Nick McCormick.

For more information on the Aviva British Grand Prix, please click here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ginnie Powell fifth in Zurich...

ZURICH, Switzerland--On a night in which Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva atoned for her shocking no-height performance at the world championships by breaking her own world pole vault record, Seattle native Ginnie Powell (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished fifth in the 100 meter hurdles at the Weltklasse meeting Friday night.

Powell ran 12.70 as reigning world champion Brigitte Foster-Hylton of Jamaica took the victory in a time of 12.46 seconds.

Isinbayeva set the 27th world record indoors and outdoors of her storied career, clearing 5.06 meters (16-7 1/4).

In his first individual race since smashing the world record in the 200 meters, Jamaica's Usain Bolt easily won the 100-meter dash, defeating countryman and former world record holder Asafa Powell, winning in 9.81 seconds.

Thirteen years after Bob Kennedy set the American record of 12:58.21 in the 5,000 meters at the Weltklasse Zurich meeting, 2008 Olympic marathoner Dathan Ritzenhein from Eugene smashed that record by almost 2 seconds finishing third in 12 minutes 56.27 seconds. It was an almost 20 second personal best for Ritzenhein, which makes him the second-fastest non-African in history and only the third American ever to run under 13 minutes.

For complete results from the Weltklasse meet, please visit www.weltklasse.ch.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Former Washington sprint coach LaMonte Vaughn & Gonzaga volunteer coach Forest Braden head to UCLA...

LOS ANGELES--Two coaches with ties to the state of Washington in the form of former Husky sprint and hurdles coach LaMonte Vaughn and Forest Braden, the volunteer distance coach at Gonzaga, are heading south to coach at UCLA.

Vaughn joins the Bruin staff after having previously coached at the University of Washington from October 2004 to September 2008 where he assisted with the sprints and hurdles events. While at Washington, Vaughn had much success, highlighted by six-time NCAA All-American Ashlee Lodree (hurdles) and four-time All-American Jordan Boase (400m). He also helped coach Husky athletes to four NCAA finals in the relays, nine school records, had 19 NCAA Championship participants, 25 West Region qualifiers, two USATF Championship qualifiers and 65 all-time UW top-10 marks. One of his athletes, Shane Charles, also set a national record for Grenadine in the 400m hurdles. Vaughn also coached at Eastern Kentucky University and Marshall University.

"It is an honor to be a part of such a prestigious program," said Vaughn. "I look forward to helping the Bruins add to the strong tradition of UCLA track and field, as well as working with the talented group of young athletes that we have and recruiting new talent to our program. I am excited to meet the proud UCLA alums that have made this such a historic program."

Braden comes to UCLA after having served as a volunteer distance coach at Gonzaga University last season where he worked closely with standout distance coach Pat Tyson. Braden was an All-American runner for new UCLA men's head coach Mike Maynard at Boise State from 2002-2007, earning accolades in cross country and both indoor and outdoor track. He also won seven WAC titles at Boise State.

This season, Braden, who competed professionally for Brooks, finished tenth at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the 10000 meters, running 28:43.98.

"I am thrilled to be on board with the premier athletic university in the country," said Braden. "I am ready to help bring the UCLA distance squads back to conference and national prominence and will dedicate myself to building a program based on hardwork, integrity, and trust. I look forward to coaching some amazing student-athletes and working with one of the best coaching staffs in the country to help bring more conference championships and NCAA titles to UCLA."

World champs sixth placer Ginnie Powell entered in Zurich...

ZURICH, Switzerland--Rainier Beach High School graduate Ginnie Powell (left/photo by Paul Merca), who finished sixth in the finals of the 100 meter hurdles at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Berlin last week, is entered in her specialty at the Weltklasse Zurich meet Friday.

The Zurich meet, part of the Golden League series, is perhaps the best one-day annual invitational track meet on the circuit.

Powell will face a field that includes five other world championships finalists, including all three world championships medalists.

Notably absent from the field is WSU All-American and former world champ at 1500 and 5000 meters Bernard Lagat, who was spiked in the semi-finals of the 5000 last week, and needed medical attention afterwards.

The complete start list for the Weltklasse meet is available here.

The Zurich meet will be aired online at universalsports.com starting at 10:50 am on Friday.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lagat gets silver to close out world championships...

BERLIN, Germany--Washington State University graduate and defending world champion Bernard Lagat's (left/photo by Paul Merca) quest to retain the championship over 5000 meters that he won in Osaka two years ago fell just short, as he battled Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele in an epic clash over the final 100 meters of the race at the Olympiastadion.

After a slow first 800 meters, run in 2:20, the pace gradually picked up, with the two leading contenders always near the front of the pack.

Once the race reached the 3000 meter mark in 8:14.63, the last two kilometers were run slightly under 5:03, with the last 200 meters covered unofficially under 25 seconds.

Describing the last lap, and specifically the last 100, Lagat said, "I was determined to not let Bekele leave me. When he moved, I moved. In the last lap, they started going hard. With 80 to go, he went, and I passed him with 50 to go. He came back at me with 40 to go, and we struggled over 20 meters."

"I gave it all I had today. I really wanted to retain my title, and wanted to defend it really, really bad. There was nothing more important than for me to defend my title. However, after the finish, after I realized that I lost to a great champion, I wasn't disappointed. In the 1500, I got bronze, and today I got the silver. What I achieved here in this meet is a step ahead of what I did last year, because of the injury."

Following up on our earlier post on the women's marathon, 2008 Olympic Trials 5,000m champion and 10,000m runner-up Kara Goucher (Portland, Ore.) was the top U.S. finisher at the women's World Marathon Cup competition Sunday through the streets of Berlin. The race was contested under mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the low 70's.

Goucher, who stayed with the main pack for the majority of the race, finished 10th in a season's best time of 2 hours 27 minutes 48 seconds. Goucher's finish is the highest by an American woman in the World Championships marathon since Linda Somers finished seventh in 1995.

Goucher was closely followed by 2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon fifth-place finisher Desiree Davila (Rochester Hills, Mich.), who finished 11th in 2:27:53, which greatly improves on her previous personal best of 2:31:33 set last year in Chicago.

2008 Olympic Trials marathon fifth-place finisher Tera Moody (Boulder, Colo.) rounded out the scoring for Team USA as she placed 28th in 2:36:39 to give the U.S. its combined time of 7:32:20.

After the race, Goucher saiid, "-My legs felt great, and I felt really relaxed. It was great to have a loop course where my husband and coach could yell at me. The pace felt comfortable, and it felt like practice."

"I had a lot of problems keeping my fluids down. After the second personal fluid station, I started throwing up what I took in. I would start taking it, then a mile later, I'd throw up."

"I started to cramp with 13k to go, and then the field started to surge. It wasn't there. I just wasn't good enough today. I thought I hydrated myself well leading up to the race."

"When the field made their break, my body wouldn't go. "

For more information on the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, please visit http://berlin.iaaf.org.

Semi-live from the women's marathon...

BERLIN, Germany--Just a quick note that the women's marathon is now underway, as they have passed roughly 12-13 kilometers.

Here's a quick photo of the lead pack, including Portland's Kara Goucher (with sunglasses in center wearing white top/photo by Paul Merca).

UPDATE: At 15 k, Epiphanie Nyirabarame from Rwanda currently leads.

12:34 pm--The pack is about 18-20 people with Kara Goucher in it. She wen through 20k at 1:09:49.

Second American runner is Desiree Davila, a former Arizona State standout, then it's Paige Higgins and Tera Moody, with world championships veteran Zoila Gomez the fifth runner.

1:15 pm: As the race enters the 30 kilometer mark, there is now some separation with four women in contention. Goucher was about sixth or seventh.

I will say this: The organizers have done a good job with the presentation aspect of the race, with music blasting to keep spectators entertained between laps.

With my obligations to USA Track & Field, and a short time period before the start of the track session (4:25 pm, Berlin time, when Bernard Lagat runs in the finals of the 5000 meter run), this will be the last marathon post. The marathon course is about 5 miles away from the Olympiastadion, and I will have to ride the S-Bahn to get there, which will be an adventure in itself.

There will be a recap of the marathon, along with a story on how Lagat fares upon the conclusion of Sunday's competition.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Aretha Thurmond finishes tenth

BERLIN, Germany--Renton High School and University of Washington standout Aretha Thurmond (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished tenth in the finals of the women's discus Friday night at the Olympiastadion.

After a rain delay, which pushed the competition schedule in the discus 70 minutes, Thurmond, appearing in her first final in four appearances at the world championships, threw 59.89 meters (196-6) in the second round.

The event was won in an upset by Dani Samuels of Australia who threw 65.44 meters (214-8) in round five.

Afterwards, Thurmond said to reporters in the mixed zone, " Going into the second round, I know that I had a decent throw, but I knew that it wasn't going to hold up. I thought that it would take another meter or two to guarantee a spot in the final.

"The power and the velocity of the discus was what I needed, but I just didn't get the height. In a (enclosed) stadium, you have to put up a little more height. On the last throw, I tried to time it but just quite didn't get it."

"It's tough to do everything right, but miss on one thing. That's the curse of a technical event like the discus. I wish that it was just aggression, but it's not. I need technique, poise and composure. It's passive-aggressive. The intensity was there, the excitement was there, and the energy was there."

"For me (the rain delay) wasn't the preparation I would've liked. I like taking a few warmup throws at the practice track, but instead it was going from one holding tank to another, and then it's like, 'BAM! Two practice throws at the stadium, and let's go.' If I had three more throws, who knows what the outcome might have been. "

With the withdrawal of reigning world pole vault champion Brad Walker from the qualifying round of the pole vault on Thursday, no athletes from the state of Washington will compete Saturday.

The final athlete with Washington ties remaining in the world championships is defending world champion Bernard Lagat, who is running in the finals of the men's 5000 Sunday at 4:25 pm local time (7:25 am in Seattle).

Speaking of Lagat, the 2007 double world champion did not speak to members of the media Thursday night after his 5000 meter semifinal, as he was getting treatment from the USA team medical staff on his ankle.

On Lagat's Twitter page (twitter.com/lagat1500), he said, "We worked all day on improving range of motion on my injured ankle. It's improving really fast! I'll be ready for Sunday's 5000m final."

For more information on the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, please visit http://berlin.iaaf.org.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blame it on Usain--19.19 in Berlin!

BERLIN, Germany--Once again, Usain Bolt of Jamaica (left/photo by Paul Merca) shocked the world with 19.19 seconds that may define his status as one of the world's greatest athletes, with his dash to history, and skipping the 19.2 barrier in the process.

With nearly every seat at the Olympiastadion taken, the Jamaican sensation set his second world record of these world championships, taking the title over 200 meters.

While speaking to track-side interviewers after his victory lap, he said: "It wasn't a good race, but it was a fast one."

Indeed it boiled down to a race between Bolt and the clock, and his winning margin of 0.62 seconds is by far the biggest in World Championships history.

In the non-Usain Bolt portion of the meet, Washington State graduate Bernard Lagat opened his title defense at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at the Olympiastadion in Berlin over 5000 meters with a solid fourth place finish, running 13:23.73.

Lagat's finish, one day removed from a third place finish in the 1500 meters, earned him a spot in the finals, which will be held Sunday, the final day of the nine-day competition at 4:25 pm, local time (7:25 am, Seattle time).

Afterwards, Lagat did not speak to members of the media waiting in the mixed zone, opting to consult with members of the USA Track & Field medical staff.

In Friday's competition, former Renton High School and University of Washington standout Aretha Thurmond throws in the finals of the women's discus at 8:20 pm Berlin time (11:20 am in Seattle).

For more information on the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, please visit http://berlin.iaaf.org.

Ryan Brown does not advance in first round of 800m...

BERLIN, Germany--Ryan Brown, a former NCAA champion at 800 meters from the University of Washington out of Renton High School, competed in the third of seven heats of the 800 meter run Thursday morning at the Berlin Olympiastadion, but was not able to advance to Friday night's semi-finals.

Brown clocked a time of 1:46.92 to finish fifth in his heat, won by Canada's Gary Reed in 1:45.76, with 2004 Olympic champ Yuriy Borzakovskiy second in 1:45.86.

Brown was thrown off stride at the beginning of the second lap (above/photo by Paul Merca) when Germany's Robin Schembera fell in front of him. Brown managed to hurdle past the German and regained contact with the lead group, but may have expended extra energy in trying to catch up with the pack.

At the time of Schembera's fall, Brown was positioned around sixth place.

Washington State grad Bernard Lagat returns to the track later this evening to run in the first round of the men's 5000 meter run, an event in which he's the reigning world champion.

Brad Walker has withdrawn from the pole vault at world championships...

BERLIN, Germany--Pole vaulter Brad Walker's title defense is over before it begins.

Walker, the world champion from Osaka two years ago, has withdrawn from the pole vault qualifying competition Thursday that starts at 10:15 am local time, according to the IAAF.

The CIS (commentator information system) monitors available to reporters sitting in press row confirms this fact.

Here is the text of the USA Track & Field release:

"Defending world champion Brad Walker on Thursday morning withdrew from men's pole vault competition due to injuries sustained July 28 at the Herculis meet in Monaco. While competing in Monaco, Walker landed partly off the mat on one of his attempts, causing his hips to hit the ground. The result was trauma to his public symphis joint.

According to Walker's agent, Peter Stubbs, "Every time he runs, it causes movement of the joint and extreme pain. To avoid a potentially career-ending injury, Brad has made the very difficult decision to withdraw."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lagat's title defense at 1500 meters falls short...

BERLIN, Germany--Bernard Lagat's (left/photo by Paul Merca) attempt to defend his world championship title came up a bit short in the finals of the men's 1500 meter run Wednesday night at the Berlin Olympiastadion, as the Washington State University graduate finished third.

Burundi's Yusuf Saad Kamel, a Kenyan expatriot and the son of middle distance legend Billy Konchellah took advantage of a tactical race that was slow through the first 800 meters, and scrambled to the victory in a time of 3;35.93.

Finishing second was Ethopia's Deresse Mekonnen, who ran 3:36.01, with Lagat following at 3:36.20.

With 300 meters to go, Lagat, normally a superb tactician, appeared in good position for his patented late-race rush, but got pinned to the inside of the rail when it came time for the critical move to be made.

He spent most of the last 150 trying to get out of the box he was in, and expended his energy by running left to right instead of straight ahead. Many observers noted that he was even fortunate to medal, given the predicament he was in on the last lap.

Afterwards, he told reporters, "Everything I was trying to avoid in this race, it happened."

"That was the hardest box ever. This is a box that was happening a little too close to the finish. Normally, when it happens, with 300 meters to go, you can make your way out of it. This one happened at the wrong place, with 150 meters to go. I couldn’t do anything."

On his longevity at the world championship level, Lagat said, "Even if I am the oldest runner in the field at 34, I still have the hunger to beat the field, so I am looking forward to Daegu (site of the 2011 world championships in Korea) and the London Olympics. I don't look at age, but at progression."

Rainier Beach High School graduate Ginnie Powell finished sixth in the finals of the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 12.78 seconds, one place short of her finish in Osaka two years ago.

In describing her race, Powell said, " The race was very messy. I felt good, especially over the first four hurdles, and then I was trying to press so hard that I was clipping hurdles. I clipped one real bad and that threw me off."

"It's sad that two of America's top hurdlers couldn't medal, and especially under Bob Kersee. It's the first time in a long time that he didn't get a medal in a major meet."

"Anyone on that starting line could have won that race. (One of the girls) was saying that if you make one little mechanical mistake, no matter how fit or strong you are, it's over."

Earlier in the evening, she ran 12.73 in the semi-final round.

Marysville-Pilchuck HS grad Jarred Rome finished 11th in the finals of the men's discus, with a throw of 204-11 (62.47 meters).

"I felt great yesterday. My legs felt great. My technique felt good. Everything felt good. Then today, nothing felt good. I couldn’t even hit one throw. I had high expectations and I don’t even know what happened."

In Thursday action, former Washington All-Americans Brad Walker and Ryan Brown go into action for the first time in this meet, as Walker begins his title defense in the pole vault at 10:10 am, Berlin time (1:10 am in Seattle), and Brown makes his world championship debut at 11:45 am (2:45 am in Seattle).

Lagat returns to the track to begin his world championship defense in the 5000 meters at 6:55 pm local time (9:55 am in Seattle).

For more information on the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, please log on to http://berlin.iaaf.org.

Aretha Thurmond nabs final qualifying spot in discus at world championships...

BERLIN, Germany--Renton High School and University of Washington graduate Aretha Thurmond (left/photo by Paul Merca) earned the final qualifying spot in the women's discus trials Wednesday morning at the Berlin Olympiastadion to kick off day five of the IAAF World Track & Field Champioships.

The three-time US Olympian, who had yet to make a world championships final during her storied international career, came through with a clutch third round throw of 61.08 meters (200-5) after throwing 60.09 (197-1) and 59.09 (193-10) over the first two rounds.

Thurmond said afterwards, "I think I just gave my high school coach some grey hairs today. It's been my M.O. unfortunately my whole career. I'm the type of competitor that takes a while to get into a groove. It's like sprinters in a qualifying round, where everyone's so tight and trying to get a feel for what's about to happen".

"The point was to get out there and make it through to the finals. We've got two Americans in the finals and now we can go see if we can put two on the podium."

In the evening session, Marysville-Pilchuck HS graduate Jarred Rome will compete in the finals of the men's discus throw at 8:15 pm local time (11:15 am in Seattle), while Washington State alum Bernard Lagat runs in the finals of the 1500 meter run at 8:25 pm (11:25 am in Seattle), with coverage available on Versus and online at universalsports.com.

For more information on the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, please visit http://berlin.iaaf.org.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ginnie Powell easily advances in first round of 100 hurdles at world championships...

BERLIN, Germany--Rainier Beach High School graduate Ginnie Powell easily advanced to the semi-finals of the women's 100 meter hurdles Tuesday night at the Berlin Olympiastadion with a strong second place finish.

Running behind Olympic bronze medalist Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (12.56), a former collegiate rival of Powell's, the two time USA national champion clocked 12.77 to capture the runner-up position in the third of four first-round heats.

After the race, Powell told USA Track & Field, "It was clean. I hit one hurdle. But it was a good race. I was looking to actually work on my trail leg. I hit a hurdle with it, probably because I slowed up a bit. You can’t do that in the hurdles. But it’s the first round and that’s why I slowed up."

On Wednesday, former Washington Husky Aretha Thurmond competes in the qualifying round of the women's discus throw at 10:10 am Berlin time (1:10 am in Seattle).

Powell runs the semi finals of the 100 hurdles at 6:45 pm local time (9:45 am in Seattle), with the finals one of the last events of the night at 9:15 pm local time (12:15 pm in Seattle).

Marysville-Pilchuck HS graduate Jarred Rome will compete in the finals of the men's discus throw at 8:15 pm local time (11:15 am in Seattle), while Washington State alum Bernard Lagat runs in the finals of the 1500 meter run at 8:25 pm (11:25 am in Seattle), with coverage available on Versus and online at universalsports.com.

For more information on the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, please visit http://berlin.iaaf.org.

Marysville native Jarred Rome advances to finals in men's discus...

BERLIN, Germany--Marysville-Pilchuck HS graduate Jarred Rome (left/photo by Paul Merca) had the fourth furthest throw in Tuesday morning's qualifying round to advance to the finals of the men's discus throw at the Olympiastadion.

In the second flight of the competition, Rome threw 65.51 meters (214-11) to be one of seven men achieving the automatic qualifying mark of 64.50 meters (211-7) and move on to the finals, which will commence on Wednesday night at 8:10 pm, Berlin time (11:10 am in Seattle).

Afterwards, Rome told USA Track & Field, "This is the best I have ever felt for a major championship. In 2005, I got seventh. I was a few centimeters away from medaling. This year, I started the year slow. I was feeling OK in nationals. I made the team. I've been over here for two months, since nationals, just training. My warm-ups were good, all over the qualifier. My first one, I think, I got the nerves a little bit. The second one, I hit really hard, 65.50. I'm ready to medal."

Washington State grad Ian Waltz was 14th overall in the two combined flights with a toss of 62.04 meters (203-6), a mark he set in the final round, after the officials initially ruled it a foul.

Mart Israel of Estonia, who attended the University of Washington during the 2006-07 academic year, also did not qualify for the finals of the discus, as he only threw 59.58 meters (195-6) in the first round, before aggravating an upper leg injury on his second throw.

In Tuesday night's competition, Rainier Beach HS grad Ginnie Powell will run in the first round of the women's 100 meter hurdles at 6:10 pm Berlin time (9:10 am in Seattle).

For more information on the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, be sure to visit http://berlin.iaaf.org.

Craziness in Berlin...

It's been a crazy first few days here in Berlin to say the least!

As many of you who read this blog know, this is an extension of what I do for Northwest Runner magazine, as I try to give folks a feel of what it's really like at a big meet like the IAAF World Championships.

In addition to covering the Washington affiliated athletes competing here in Berlin, I am working for USA Track & Field as a media assistant in the mixed zone, helping the federation obtain quotes from the athletes upon the conclusion of their competition.

The mixed zone is a crazy area as I wrote two years ago in this blog from Osaka, with journalists from many countries trying to get stuff from athletes, some of whom are happy, while others run the full range of emotions.

Upon the conclusion of the women's pole vault, the reporters in the mixed zone all converged on Yelena Isinbayeva (above/photo by Paul Merca) after her shocking no-height performance in the pole vault. Meanwhile, winner Monika Pyrek of Poland (edit--actually second place finisher; my bad) somehow slinked through the mixed zone with very few print journalists wanting to talk to her, probably because they figured that they could catch her at the mandatory medalist's press conference.

We get things under way in less than an hour with men's discus qualifying featuring Ian Waltz, Jarred Rome, and Mart Israel.

Have not yet had an opportunity to play tourist here yet...I'm sure I will at some point, though I'm staying at an apartment two blocks from Checkpoint Charlie, which we found out very quickly yesterday is a tourist trap as we waded our way through the masses to get to the grocery store.

Heading to the track right now!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bernard Lagat moves one step closer to defending world title in 1500...

BERLIN, Germany--Defending world champion Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) moved one step closer to defending his title and a potential matchup against Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, as he advanced to the finals of Wednesday night’s 1500 meter finals Monday night at the Olympiastadion.

Using the same tactics he did in the first round, Lagat kept himself out of trouble, as he cruised to a third place finish in the first heat of the semi-finals, running 3:36.75, just behind Amine Laalou (3:36.68) of Morocco and Lopez Lomong (3:36.75) of the United States.

In the mixed zone after the race, Lagat told the IAAF media services that Wednesday’s final sets up to be an exciting conclusion.

He agreed that defending his title will be a challenge, and that it will be tough.

“The final is going to come down to the last 600 meters. I’m glad that three US guys are in the finals, and this is incredible.”

In Tuesday’s competition, Marysville-Pilchuck graduate Jarred Rome, Washington State University graduate Ian Waltz, and former University of Washington standout Mart Israel all will throw in the qualifying round of the men’s discus, beginning at 10:05 am, Berlin time (1:05 am in Seattle).

In the evening session, Rainier Beach High School graduate Ginnie Powell begins her quest in the 100 meter hurdles at 6:10 pm, local time (9:10 am in Seattle).

For more information on the IAAF World Track and Field Championships, please visit http://berlin.iaaf.org.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Usain Bolt shocks the world again with a dash for the ages...

BERLIN, Germany--On a warm humid night at the same Olympiastadion where Jesse Owens made track and field history in 1936 by winning four gold medals at the Olympics, Jamaica's Usain Bolt (left/photo by Paul Merca) made history with a dash for the ages that even Owens would have simply marveled at.

Reaching speeds that no man in this sport ever imagined, Bolt made believers of the witnesses attending Sunday night's 100 meter final as he clocked 9.58 in the sport's premier test of who can run the fastest.

In scoring the first sub 9.60 dash to history, the Lightning Bolt defeated two men who once held the world record in this event--defending world champion Tyson Gay, who ran 9.71 to set a new American record, and his Jamaican countryman Asafa Powell, who ran 9.84.

"I was definitely ready for the World record and I did it," Bolt said. "I didn't think I could run a tenth (of a second) faster than my World record, but for me, anything is possible."

According to the IAAF release, his was the largest chunk ever – by far – to be sliced from the 100m World record.

Previously, both he and Maurice Greene shaved 0.05 from the standard to earn the moniker of World’s Fastest Man. A few days ago, Greene suggested that Bolt and other top sprinters weren’t currently on the same planet. Bolt’s performance this evening gave Greene’s assessment an otherworldly ring of truth.



So profound was Bolt’s achievement that defending champion Tyson Gay clocked a sensational 9.71 in second, a national record, that was just 0.02 shy of the previous World mark. And the American, who is now the second fastest man in history, was nowhere near the Jamaican when the finish line was crossed.

"I'm disappointed to have lost the race, but i ran my fastest time," Gay said.

From a personal perspective, this has to be one of the greatest sporting achievements I've ever witnessed. I don't know where this ranks in the context of Ali-Frazier, DiMaggio, Namath in Super Bowl III or any of the great athletes who have performed at a level far above and beyond humankind's capabilities.

While the Olympiastadion and the millions of viewers around the world expressed joy at Bolt's feat, former Washington State standout Diana Pickler finished the two-day heptathlon competition with an eleventh place finish, scoring 6086 points.

In the afternoon session, where she jumped 20-5 3/4. she threw the javelin 41.13 meters (134-11), a sub par performance in her mind, but she came back and clocked a personal best 2:15,60 worth 884 points.

Afterwards, Pickler said, "I came in so prepared. I went in here faster and stronger than I've ever been, and I felt mentally prepared. It just didn't start out this way."

"The first day was a struggle, and it was so frustrating, because I knew that I did everything to prepare right for this meet. It was hard to go out there and be disappointed with the way things went yesterday. I was nowhere close to where I should have been."

"Today, I just tried to block everything out. I was really happy with setting a PR in the 800 after what I went through the competition. Setting a PR in the 800 is going to make me mentally stronger."

The only athlete with state of Washington ties competing Monday night is former Washington State standout Bernard Lagat, who runs in the semifinals of the men's 1500 meters at 8:10 pm Berlin time (11:10 am pacific time).

For more information on the IAAF World Track and Field Championships, please visit http://berlin.iaaf.org.

Pickler moves to tenth in heptathlon at worlds with two events to go...

BERLIN, Germany--With two events left to go in Sunday's heptathlon, former Washington State University All-American Diana Pickler stands in tenth place in the heptathlon competition at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships with 4513 points, thanks to a seasonal best in the long jump.

Pickler jumped 20-5 3/4 (6.24 meters) to place eighth in her group and tenth overall from the two groups, scoring 924 points in that event.

After the end of day one, Pickler was twelfth.

Vancouver's Kara Patterson (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished 14th in her group, and 28th overall in the women's javelin, with a throw of 52.71 meters (172-11).

Afterwards, she said, "I felt awesome today, but I'm frustrated and confused. I'm ready to be more consistent. The fact that I didn't pull it together today is upsetting."

"I had a conversation with (US womens assistant coach Carrie Lane) and told her about what my cues are. I knew what I was doing, but I like to have a little conversation to reinforce what I'm doing. I felt great after that and had my best throw of the day, but it was still pretty bad."

Her first season as a professional has been an experience so far. After a rough travel experience earlier this summer going to the London Grand Prix meet, the Skyview High graduate said, "I now have a better idea on what to expect. I had an awful experience traveling to London (for the London GP), but I'm now ready for anything after that. With experience, things will get easier."

Patterson stated that she'll have two more meets after the world championships, one in Estonia, and another in Great Britain. After the season concludes, Patterson and her boyfriend, national class thrower Russ Winger, will relocate closer to the West Coast from her current base at Purdue University in Indiana, and to her family, once their training situation is established.

For complete results from the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, please go to http://berlin.iaaf.org.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

IAAF World Championships--day 1 recap...

BERLIN, Germany--Former Washington State University All American Bernard Lagat opened his world championship title defense Saturday evening with an easy first round advancement, running 3:41.60 to finish behind 2008 Olympic silver medalist Asbel Kiprop of Kenya.

Lagat stayed out of trouble during the early laps of the race, then positioned himself on the outside entering the final 200 meters, easing up slightly over the last 25 meters of the race.

Afterwards, Lagat told USA Track & Field, " I just wanted to run very smart. I wanted to get outside so I don’t get boxed. That has been my strategy all the time. The most important thing is I want to run strong and feel like I can run fast with them in the last lap. That is why I wanted to make sure I ran with the guys. With 300 meters to go, I followed it and I felt really good. I wanted to feel like I can accelerate but even go faster. I’m feeling really good about my race today."

After four events in the heptathlon, fellow Washington State alum Diana Pickler stands twelfth in the heptathlon, with a current score of 3589 points.

In the evening session, she had a sub par performance in the shot put, only throwing 12.40 meters (40-8 1/4), worth 688 points.

In the day's final event, she won her heat, running a season best time of 24.75, worth 910 points.

Historically a better second-day performer, Pickler will have to come close to her personal bests in the long jump, javelin, and 800 if she's to contend for a top-eight finish.

In Sunday's events, Vancouver's Kara Patterson will be the only other athlete besides Pickler with Washington ties competing, as she will throw in the qualifying round of the women's javelin.

For complete results from the IAAF World Championships, please go to http://berlin.iaaf.org.

Pickler currently in eighth after two events of the heptathlon...

BERLIN, Germany--The first session of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships are in the book, and Washington State University grad Diana Pickler (left/photo by Paul Merca) currently stands in eighth place with a score of 1991 points.

In this morning's opening event, the 100 meter hurdles, Pickler ran 13.50 for a score of 1050 points which put her in a tie for fourth place.

In the high jump, she cleared a sub par mark of 5-9 3/4 (1.77 meters) for 941 points.

As she walked through the mixed zone after the high jump, she was slightly perturbed by her performance this morning, stating that "I need to do a better job of competing."

Great Britain's Jessica Ennis leads with 2267 points, followed by American Sharon Day, a 2008 high jump Olympian from San Luis Obispo.

Behind Pickler are Bettie Wade of the USA, formerly from the University of Michigan with a score of 1986 points, and the University of Oregon's Brianne Theisen from Canada with a score of 1964 points.

Day 1 of the heptathlon action resumes shortly after 6 pm in Berlin with the heptathlon shot put, and concludes with the 200 meter dash.

Washington State graduate and reigning world champion at 1500 and 5000 meters, Bernard Lagat opens up his title defense over the metric mile at 6:15 pm.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bernard Lagat speaks to the media in Berlin...

BERLIN, Germany--Washington State University graduate Bernard Lagat, the reigning world champion at 1500 and 5000 meters, spoke to members of the international media Friday in advance of his title defense in both events at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships.

He spoke about how his training's been going, the disappointment of last year's Olympics, and what it means to compete in the same stadium that the great Jesse Owens competed in at the 1936 Olympics.

Viewer's guide to Washington athletes competing at IAAF World Championships...

BERLIN, Germany--Here is the viewer's guide to help you track the state of Washington affiliated athletes competing at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at the Olympiastadion.

This document has brief bio information, along with personal and 2009 season bests for the Washington state affiliated track & field athletes competing in Berlin, along with the schedule of when each athlete will be competing during the World Championships.


Wash World Champ09 Track

Below is the television and webcast schedule for the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, with times listed as eastern time.

Aug. 15 4:05 a.m. ET universalsports.com webcast
Aug. 15 11:35 a.m. ET universalsports.com webcast
Aug. 15 1:00 p.m. ET NBC TV
Aug. 16 4:05 a.m. ET universalsports.com webcast
Aug. 16 12:05 p.m. ET universalsports.com webcast
Aug. 16 2:00 p.m. ET NBC TV
Aug. 17 11:45 a.m. ET universalsports.com webcast
Aug. 17 1:00 p.m. ET Versus TV
Aug. 18 4:05 a.m. ET universalsports.com webcast
Aug. 18 11:45 a.m. ET universalsports.com webcast
Aug. 18 1:00 p.m. ET Versus TV
Aug. 19 4:05 a.m. ET universalsports.com webcast
Aug. 19 12:05 p.m. ET universalsports.com webcast
Aug. 19 1:30 p.m. ET Versus TV
Aug. 20 3:55 a.m. ET universalsports.com webcast
Aug. 20 11:45 a.m. ET universalsports.com webcast
Aug. 20 1:30 p.m. ET Versus TV
Aug. 21 3:10 a.m. ET universalsports.com webcast
Aug. 21 10:55 a.m. ET universalsports.com webcast
Aug. 21 1:30 p.m. ET Versus TV
Aug. 22 5:35 a.m. ET universalsports.com webcast
Aug. 22 11:45 a.m. ET universalsports.com webcast
Aug. 22 1:00p.m. ET NBC TV
Aug. 23 5:05 a.m. ET universalsports.com webcast
Aug. 23 9:35 a.m. ET universalsports.com webcast
Aug. 23 2:00 p.m. ET NBC TV

Welcome to Berlin!

After a journey that began at 5:30 am Wednesday morning at the Beacon Hill Sound Transit station to Sea-Tac Airport, then to Minneapolis-St Paul for dinner with my friends in crime Derek, Jana and her daughter Ashlee, and a change of planes in Amsterdam, we are ready to start our coverage of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships from the Olympiastadion in Berlin!

I hope I don't look too looped out, as I took a sleeping pill after dinner on the MSP-Amsterdam leg.



The opening shot was taken a few minutes before landing in Berlin's Tegel Airport.

We'll have more videos in the days to come!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

adidas Athlete Video: Tyson Gay...

As part of our coverage of the IAAF World Championships in Berlin, which begins August 15th, this is another in a series of videos featuring some of the stars that will compete at the Olympiastadion.

This video features reigning world 100 meter champion Tyson Gay as he discusses his preparations for world championships.



Thanks to Lyn Famiglietti of adidas media relations for allowing access to the interviews.

adidas Athlete Video: Blanka Vlasic...

As part of our coverage of the IAAF World Championships in Berlin, which begins August 15th, this is another in a series of videos featuring some of the stars that will compete at the Olympiastadion.

This video features reigning world high jump champion Blanka Vlasic of Croatia as she discusses her preparations for world championships.



Thanks to Lyn Famiglietti of adidas media relations for allowing access to the interviews.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's scramble time...

Many apologies for not posting since Sunday, as paulmerca.blogspot.com is in scramble mode trying to get things ready for our coverage of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Berlin, Germany.

Our itinerary on getaway day takes us to Minneapolis, where I will meet up with "Professor Marathon", Sean Hartnett.

Our journey takes us to Amsterdam, then the short flight from there to Berlin, where we land Thursday afternoon.

Then it's scramble time all over again, as we dash to obtain our credentials, then check in to the apartment that we've rented for the duration of the championships.

It's our hope to give you loyal readers the kind of coverage you've come to expect from this site over the last two years.

We'll have a special .pdf file for you when we arrive in Berlin that you can print and have by your side while watching on NBC, Universal Sports, Versus, UniversalSports.com, and on CBC, similar to the viewer's guide from last year's Olympics in Beijing.

See you on the other side of the Atlantic!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Chris Randolph finishes Thorpe Cup in seventh...

MARBURG, Germany--Seattle Pacific University graduate Chris Randolph (left/photo courtesy Kenny Beele-www.zehnkampfteam.de) finished seventh in the Thorpe Cup decathlon dual meet competition between Team USA and Germany that concluded Sunday at Georg-Gassmann-Stadion.

2003 world champion Tom Pappas won the competition with a meet record score of 8569 points, the second best mark in the world this year, to help lead Team USA to a 39,462-35,927 (combined scores of each team's top 5 finishers) victory over the host nation.

Randolph, who finished fourth in the USA Championships in late June in Eugene, posted a score of 7434 points.

Randolph ran the 110 hurdles in 15.10 seconds, worth 837 points, threw the discus 36.26 m/119-0 for 589 points, pole vaulted 4.95 m/16-2.75 for 895 points, threw the javelin 54.56m/179-0 for 656 points, then finished the day by running the 1500 meters in 4:39.27 for 685 points.

In the accompanying heptathlon, Washington State University alumnus Julie Pickler, a non-scoring guest participant, finished the day with a final score of 5549 points.

Julie long jumped 5.62 m/18-5.25 for 735 points, then threw the javelin 39.23m/128-8 for 653 points, then concluded the competition with a 2:22.65 clocking in the 800 meters for 788 points.

In her final preparation for next weekend's heptathlon competition at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin, Julie's twin sister Diana, the reigning USA national champion, participated in two events in Sunday's competition, the long jump, and the javelin, where she leaped 6.09m/19-11.75, and threw the javelin 45.89m/150-6.

Complete results from the Thorpe Cup can be accessed here (in German).

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Berlin is in training...

Cute trailer promoting the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, courtesy of the Berlin organizing committee:

adidas Athlete Video: Jeremy Wariner...

As part of our coverage of the IAAF World Championships in Berlin, which begins August 15th, this is another in a series of videos featuring some of the stars that will compete at the Olympiastadion.

This video features two-time world 400 meter and 2004 Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner, as he discusses his preparations for world championships.



Thanks to Lyn Famiglietti of adidas media relations for allowing access to the interviews.

Chris Randolph currently in tenth after day one of the Thorpe Cup...

MARBURG, Germany--After the first day of competition, former Seattle Pacific University standout Chris Randolph (left/photo courtesy Kenny Beele-www.zehnkampfteam.de) stands tenth in the Thorpe Cup decathlon dual meet between the United States and German national teams.

Randolph scored 3,772 points to end day one, as he ran 11.35 in the 100 meters (784 points), long jumped 6.65m/21-10 (732 points), threw the shot put 12.90 meters/41-4.5 (661 points), high jumped 1.92 meters/6-3.5 (731 points), and finished the day by running the 400 meters in 48.94 seconds (864 points).

2003 world champion Tom Pappas leads the competition with 4472 points.

In the Thorpe Cup heptathlon competition, former Washington State University All-American Julie Pickler, who is competing as a guest competitor and not factoring in the team scoring, ended day one with a score of 3,373 points.

Pickler ran 14.07 in the 100 hurdles (968 points), high jumped 1.71m/5-7.25 (867 points), threw the shot 11.77m/38-7.5 (646 points), and ran the 200 meters in 24.94 (892 points).

Julie's twin sister Diana, who is prepping for next week's IAAF World Championships, competed in the 100 hurdles, where she ran the fastest time of the day at 13.61 seconds, worth 1034 points.

Former University of Minnesota star Liz Roehrig currently leads after day one with 3611 points.

Complete day one scores from the Thorpe Cup can be accessed here.

Here's a link to photos from the Thorpe Cup here.

AROUND THE TRACK--In Cottbus, Germany Saturday, former University of Washington Husky Märt Israel finished second in the discus behind Spaniard Mario Pestano.

Israel threw 61.92m/203-2, well back of Pestano's winning throw of 65.25m/214-1.

Results from the Cottbus meet can be accessed here...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Chris Randolph & Julie Pickler to compete in Thorpe Cup...

MARBURG, Germany--Former Seattle Pacific decathlete Chris Randolph, who missed a spot on Team USA's squad competing in next week's IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Berlin by finishing fourth at the USA Championships in June, leads the Americans into battle at the 2009 Thorpe Cup decathlon dual meet in Marburg, Germany Saturday and Sunday.

The Thorpe Cup (named after 1912 Olympic champion Jim Thorpe) is an annual multi-event meet featuring the teams from the USA and Germany.

This is the 16th of a series of annual international team decathlons between the USA and Germany. In the current series, the first meeting was arranged in Aachen, Germany in 1993 where Stefan Schmid of Germany and the VISA USA team were victorious. Recently, the US won the 2005 meeting in Bernhausen, the 2006 meeting at Kansas State University in Manhattan, a return affair in Bernhausen and last year‟s major win in Manhattan where the Americam squad, for onl;y the 2nd time in history, averaged over 8000 points per man.

Randolph is looking to redeem himself, as he failed to finish in last year's meet in Manhattan.

In the women's heptathlon, former Washington State University standout Julie Pickler, who has yet to compete in a heptathlon this season, is scheduled to participate in the meet as a guest competitor.

Julie's twin sister Diana, who is preparing for next week's heptathlon competition at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin, is scheduled to compete in several individual heptathlon events, but not complete all seven events.

For more information on the Thorpe Cup, please visit decathlonusa.typepad.com.

adidas Athlete Video: Allyson Felix...

As part of our coverage of the IAAF World Championships in Berlin, which begins August 15th, this is the first of a series of videos featuring some of the stars that will compete at the Olympiastadion.

This video features the reigning world 200 meter champion Allyson Felix, as she discusses her preparations for world championships.



Thanks to Lyn Famiglietti of adidas media relations for providing the video.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Could local track fans see Alan Webb run in Seattle in 2010?

According to this report from the Washington Times, American mile record holder Alan Webb (hip #3/photo by Paul Merca) will relocate from Virginia to Portland, Oregon to train under Nike Oregon Project coaches Alberto Salazar and Jerry Schumacher.

Webb, who set the American record of 3:46.91 in Belgium two years ago, has struggled since breaking the record. Last year, Webb, who was one of the heavy favorites to make the US Olympic team in the 1500 meters, only finished fifth at the Olympic Trials.

This year, Webb has dealt with Achilles tendon, and hamstring issues, the latter forcing his withdrawal from the finals of the 1500 meters at the national championships in Eugene in late June.

Webb will join an enclave of outstanding runners that include the likes of Adam & Kara Goucher, Galen Rupp, Amy Yoder Begley, and new members Matt Tegenkamp, Shalane Flanagan, and Dathan Ritzenhein, making the group one of the most formidable professional training groups in the country.

Since the Nike Oregon Project was started by Salazar shortly after the 2000 Sydney Olympics, NOP athletes have regularly made the drive up from Portland to Seattle to compete in various indoor track meets hosted by the University of Washington at the Dempsey Indoor.

Bottom line--good chance folks will have an opportunity to watch Webb race in Seattle in the 2010 indoor season!

UPDATE--Here's a link to a USA Today article written by Dick Patrick on Webb's decision to move to Portland.

Jeremy Wariner launches Ambition PowerBounce ahead of World Championships’ title defense in Berlin...

adidas PowerBounce jumps to a whole new level this Fall/Winter09 with the introduction of the Ambition PB designed with 400m World Champion Jeremy Wariner.

Bounce technology turns every last bit of energy into momentum to enable longer workouts with more fun and less effort. The Ambition PB features new two-stage Bounce structures combining stability frames with elastic center bars in a second colorway. This energized cushioning system is built full length into the shoe plate as requested by Jeremy Wariner, a true fan of this unique footwear technology.


The Ambition PB colorway features a black lycra upper with Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) detailing strips to complement the Techfit apparel worn by Jeremy Wariner both in competition and training. The metallic three stripes reflect the Texan’s signature accessory, his sunglasses. A vibrant red line runs through the center bars of the Ambition PB and on to the outsole which is made from adiWEAR®, a durable and non marking rubber designed to resist against wear and tear.

Wariner says, “I’ve been using Bounce technology for over 2 years now and find it provides me with the best possible energy return and cushioning during my training sessions. Ambition PB takes Bounce to a new level. The black, red and metallic colorway is really exciting and audacious. I’m looking forward to wearing these both on and off the track this Fall.”

Ambition PB is currently available from adidas Sport Performance stores and select retailers worldwide at a recommended retail price of $130. It is also available online at www.shopadidas.com.

NOTE: Lyn Famiglietti of adidas media relations contributed to this report.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

City of Berlin tourism video...

Courtesy of the Berlin Tourism & Marketing Group, here's a 7-minute video on what visitors can expect to see in Berlin (captions in German)...


Meanwhile, here's a release below, courtesy USA Track & Field on the families of Jesse Owens & Luz Long reuniting in Berlin at the world championships:

The granddaughter of Olympic legend Jesse Owens and the son of German long jump great Luz Long will be part of the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, to be held August 15-23 in Berlin's Olympic Stadium.


Thanks to a joint effort between the IAAF, USA Track & Field and the Berlin Organizing Committee, Marlene (Owens) Dortch and Kai Long will represent their families as they award the medals for the men's long jump final on August 22. They also will take part in other events related to the Championships.


At the 1936 Olympic Games, Long played a pivotal role in helping enable Owens to achieve his historic four gold-medal performance. During long jump qualifying, Owens had fouled during his first two attempts. Facing elimination from the competition if he did not post a qualifying mark on his third attempt, Owens received assistance from Long, who set the Olympic record during qualifying. Long suggested to Owens that he move back the start of his run-up so he would take off well before the long jump board.


Owens followed Long's advice and easily qualified for the final, where he won the competition with a leap of 8.06m/26 feet 5.5 inches, with Long taking the silver. The two walked from the stadium, arm-in-arm, and in the more than 70 years since that moment, the two families have remained in contact.


"These Championships provide a rare opportunity to honor the bond of international friendship formed between Mr. Owens and Mr. Long," IAAF President Lamine Diack said. "It is our earnest hope that the power of athletics to unite the world in friendship can be displayed once again in Berlin during these World Championships."


Throughout the 2009 outdoor athletics season, USA Track & Field has promoted the team's return to Berlin, honoring Owens in all its domestic television broadcasts and arranging a special showing of the Bud Greenspan film, "Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin", at its national championships in June. At the World Championships, the U.S. team will wear a special uniform approved by the IAAF, which features the initials of Mr. Owens.


"To see the families of Jesse Owens and Luz Long, side by side, will provide the capstone to a yearlong celebration for USA Track & Field," USATF CEO and General secretary Doug Logan said. "Few athletes mean more to our sport's international heritage than Mr. Owens, and it is our honor to assist in bringing the Owens and Long families together again."


Family members also are expected to take part in events at the KulturStadion, located at the Brandenburg gate, which will feature athletics celebrations throughout the Championships.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Berlin! Berlin! We're going to Berlin!

Courtesy of the Berlin 2009 organizing committee, here's another in a series of trailers promoting the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at the Olympiastadion:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Joe Abbott from WSU earns bronze medal at Pan Am Juniors...

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago--Washington State sophomore-to-be Joe Abbott (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished third in the finals of the men's 800 meter run on the final day of the Pan American Junior Athletics Championships at Hasely Crawford Stadium.

Cuba's Raidel Acea Morales won the event in 1:48.09, followed by Gavyn Nero of the host country, who ran 1:48.90, and then Abbott, the reigning US junior champion out of Reno, Nevada, who ran 1:48.99.

Another Washington State University sophomore-to-be, Courtney Kirkwood from Othello, finished seventh in the women's javelin, with a best toss of 41.64 meters (136-7).

Colombia's Maria Lucelly Murillo won the event with a throw of 51.76 meters (169-10).

Earlier on Sunday, the University of Washington's Angus Taylor from Richmond, British Columbia, failed to place in the men's hammer throw, as the Canadian fouled on all three of his preliminary round attempts.

Complete results from the Pan Am Junior Championships can be accessed here.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Preparing for Berlin...

In the days to come, paulmerca.blogspot.com will post an assortment of content on the site in preparation for its coverage of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, beginning Saturday August 15th at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany.

Courtesy of the Berlin 2009 Organizing Committee is a video trailer (in German) promoting the world championships, which returns to Germany after the country hosted the event in Stuttgart in 1993.


On a personal note, this will mark the ninth world championships that I've covered, either on the television or written press side. I began attending the world championships in 1991, when Rick Noji from Franklin HS and the University of Washington competed for Team USA in Tokyo, and have had the good fortune to cover the meet in Stuttgart (1993), Athens (1997), Seville (1999), Edmonton (2001), Paris (2003), Helsinki (2005), and Osaka (2007), only missing the 1995 championships in Goteborg, Sweden.

This will mark the second time that I will have content up from the world championships on this site, as we began blogging the event in Osaka two years ago.

With the rapid and exponential growth of the Internet and the web, technology allows folks to give readers more information than what was available even ten years ago.

It's my hope to expand upon our coverage from Osaka through the use of video interviews, as well as the writing and photography that readers of this blog have come to expect. Alerts on my Facebook (registration required) and Twitter pages will allow readers to instantly know when a post is up.

While the emphasis on this blog will be on athletes with ties to the state of Washington, we will divert and cover the stars of these championships as well, so Usain Bolt, Ariane Friedrich, and Kenenisa Bekele will warrant coverage as well as Ryan Brown, Mart Israel, and Diana Pickler.

We hope to also give readers a feel for the atmosphere in the city as it hosts the third largest sporting event in the world, behind the Olympics, and soccer's World Cup, an event which Berlin hosted just three years ago.

If there's anything the readers wish to see in our coverage, please don't hesitate to leave a comment.

PS--The world famous football is packed for the trip to Berlin!

WSU's Joe Abbott wins semi-final heat at Junior Pan-Ams...

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago--Washington State University sophomore-to-be Joe Abbott, the 2009 USA junior champion, ran the fastest time of the day in the semi-finals of the 800 meter run as day two of the Pan Am Junior Championships concluded at Hasely Crawford Stadium.

Running in the second of three semi-final heats, Abbott clocked 1:52.30 and defeated Trinidad & Tobago's Gavyn Nero (1:52.51) and Jose Juan Esparaza (1:52.73) of Mexico in what eventually turned out to be the fastest of the three heats.

In Sunday's concluding events at the Junior Pan Ams, Abbott along with WSU teammate Courtney Kirkwood in the women's javelin will compete for Team USA.

Also competing in the final day is the University of Washington's Angus Taylor, who will represent Canada in the hammer throw.

Results from the Pan Am Junior Championships can be accessed here.

Kara Patterson eighth in Leverkusen...

LEVERKUSEN, Germany--Vancouver native Kara Patterson (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished eighth in the javelin at the Bayer International Athletics meeting in the German city Friday.

The two-time national champion and 2008 US Olympian out of Skyview High School and Purdue University threw 53.18 meters (174-6) on her third attempt.

The event was won by Steffi Nerius of Germany, who threw a season best of 66.82m (219-3).

Complete results from the Bayer International Athletics meeting can be accessed here.

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