Saturday, December 31, 2016

Brooks responds to post regarding decision to drop Jeremy Taiwo...

In response to the post regarding Seattle-based Brooks Running's decision not to retain 2016 US Olympic decathlete Jeremy Taiwo (left/photo by Paul Merca) for the 2017 season, paulmerca.blogspot.com received a statement from Brooks’ senior sports marketing manager Jesse Williams on the company’s decision:

"All of us at Brooks are huge fans of Jeremy and continue to be inspired by his career and accomplishments in track and field. As a running-only company, we've made the strategic decision to refocus our energy on athletes in running-specific events next year, which means we will not renew our contract with Jeremy for 2017. We wish him the best; Rio was a truly special moment and we look forward to watching him again in Tokyo."

While the company would not elaborate on the statement, it is widely believed that several factors came into play, namely their lack of specific shoes for the long jump, shot put, high jump, discus, pole vault and javelin.  For those events, Taiwo used other brands, but either covered the logos with tape or shoe sleeves, or removed the logos completely.

Taiwo, who was ranked #8 in the world by Track & Field News for the 2016 season, is in the process of reaching out to potential equipment sponsors for the 2017 season.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Jeremy Taiwo earns #8 world ranking by Track & Field News, and gets dropped by Brooks...

A few hours after Track & Field News released its 2016 world and US rankings on Friday, Newport HS and University of Washington graduate Jeremy Taiwo (above/photo by Paul Merca) announced on his Instagram account that the decathlete was being dropped by Seattle based Brooks, and that he would no longer compete for the Brooks Beasts in the 2017 season.

Taiwo’s performance in 2016, which included a fourth place finish at the GΓΆtzis Hypo Meeting, a personal best of 8425 points in finishing second at the US Olympic Trials, an 11th place finish in the Rio Olympics, and an overall second place finish in the IAAF’s season long Combined Events  Challenge, earned him a #8 world ranking by the magazine.

Taiwo was the only Brooks Beast member to earn a world ranking, and was in fact the only American male athlete sponsored by Brooks to make the Olympic team, even though the Seattle-based athletic shoe company does not make specialty field event shoes, and its list of sponsored athletes in track & field revolves around distance runners.


πŸ’› I have so much to be thankful for this year, and I would not have been able to experience my first Olympic Games without the sacrifices and helping hands of the many wonderful people in my life. Your belief was power. I so am grateful for absolutely everything. πŸ’œ Thank you to my community, thank you to my family and friends, and to Seattle. πŸ’™ After being told that my sponsorship  with @brooksrunning will not continue after this year.. I responded with .... πŸ’š "I have been told 'No' so much, I have failed so many times, and I have continually been told that I have no value to market... yet that's WHY I succeed, and I will continue to succeed...so thank you." πŸ–€ ...so ...just as equally important... a special "thank you" is for the haters, naysayers, and non believers. I love being told what I can't do. I soak that up and drink that in. Thank you so much for all the discord and doubt:) I ❤️ YOU ALL 😘😘😘❌⭕️❌⭕️ #Olympian #Decathlon #Decathlete #TeamTaiwo #ThankYou #Seattle #Rio2016 #Olympics #IWasThere #WhereWereYou? #BrooksRunning #ByeFelicia  #ILoveHaters #YouWasntWithMeShootinInTheGym #RickRolled #AmorFati
A photo posted by Jeremy Taiwo (@jeremytaiwo) on

A source close to the Taiwo camp revealed that the company offered him a contract for the 2017 season that was well under the current market value of a world-class decathlete.

An attempt by paulmerca.blogspot.com to reach Brooks’ media relations team for comment was unsuccessful at the time of this post.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Jerrion Lawson and Courtney Okolo win the Bowerman Award...

ORLANDO, Florida—Jarrion Lawson of Arkansas and Courtney Okolo of Texas were named by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Friday night as the recipients of the Bowerman Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate male and female track & field athletes of the 2016 season.

"It was like a relief feeling," Lawson said of hearing his name. "Actually, I was more nervous for the women’s Bowerman than the men’s Bowerman. I don’t know why. That initial anticpiation of you don’t know who the winner is and the men are second."

Lawson joins a prestigious fraternity of former male winners, headlined by two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time world record holder Ashton Eaton (2010). Galen Rupp (2009) and Derek Drouin (2013) also won two Olympic medals, while Deon Lendore (2014) captured bronze at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Okolo is the 8th women’s winner of The Bowerman Award and joins an elite sorority that includes the like of 2016 Olympic gold medalist Brianna Rollins (2013) and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Jenny Simpson (2009) thanks to a spectacular senior year.

"It means a lot," Okolo said of winning. "I hope that this can carry the weight that the Heisman does. It’s very important for us athletes to have something to honor us. I’m really blessed that they honored me with this award. When you look at the wall and see the Olympians, gold medalists and world record holders, you know this award it’s not just some small award: It’s a big deal. People who wins this award are the best ever."

The other men’s finalists were Donovan Brazier of Texas A&M and Edward Cheserek of Oregon, while the other women’s finalists were Keturah Orji of Georgia, and Raven Saunders of Mississippi.

The Bowerman Voters consist of national and regional media personnel, track & field statisticians, NCAA collegiate administrators, past winners, and presidents of affiliated organizations.  USTFCCCA members collectively receive one (1) vote, and fans collectively received one (1) vote. 

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.  Paul Merca of paulmerca.blogspot.com is one of the national media voters of The Bowerman. Photos of Lawson (above) and Okolo (below) by Mike Scott.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Who I gave my 2016 Bowerman votes to...

For the past several years, I have received a vote as a member of the media for the Bowerman Award, which is given to the top collegiate track & field athlete of the year. It is a privilege that I don’t take lightly, and I am thankful to the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) for giving me a vote.

I am fortunate to see many of America’s top collegians compete in person, either indoors at the Dempsey in Seattle, or at some of the major meets that I get to travel to during the year.

I got to see all six finalists compete in person at least once during the collegiate season.

My obligations with the NFL have forced me to miss this year’s presentation in Orlando, Florida today, but in the interest of disclosure, I will reveal who I voted for and why:

MEN—Jarrion Lawson, Arkansas

In my mind, this was an easy one to pick, as Lawson won the 100, 200, and long jump at the NCAA outdoor championship meet, becoming the first man to turn the trick since Jesse Owens of the Ohio State University did it in 1935-35.  His 31.5 points at the NCAA outdoors (he was part of the Arkansas 4 x 1 relay team that took third) was the most scored by an individual in the modern era of the meet.

Lawson made the US Olympic team in the long jump, and finished fourth in the finals in Rio de Janeiro.

My second and third place votes went to Edward Cheserek of Oregon and Donovan Brazier of Texas A&M, in that order.

WOMEN—Keturah Orji, Georgia

In the collegiate ranks, 2016 was indeed the year of the field event among the women, with Raven Saunders of Ole Miss in the shot put and Keturah Orji of Georgia dominating their events.

Going into the NCAA outdoor meet, I struggled between Saunders and Orji, but the American record that Orji set of 47-8 (14.53m) in winning the NCAA title sealed the deal for me.  It also helped that Orji finished the indoor season with a fourth place finish at the IAAF World Championships in Portland, despite not competing at the USA Indoors the week before (she won the NCAA indoor title that week, but got to compete at worlds as she was the only American with the standard).

Saunders’ marks in setting the indoor and outdoor collegiate records in the shot put were just as convincing, so she got my second place vote, ahead of Texas’ Courtney Okolo.

The Bowerman Voters consist of national and regional media personnel, track & field statisticians, NCAA collegiate administrators, past winners, and presidents of affiliated organizations.  USTFCCCA members collectively receive one (1) vote, and fans collectively received one (1) vote.  Lawson and Orji won the fan voting, which occurred in late June.

Media partner Flotrack will stream the Bowerman Award presentation, starting at 4pm pacific time.

To read more about the finalists, visit TheBowerman.org.

NOTE:  Photos of Lawson and Orji by Kirby Lee/Image of Sport

Sunday, December 11, 2016

WEEKEND RECAP: Nelson, Fulton & Polley place in top 40 at USATF Club XC champs...

In the final open championship meet of the 2016 season, Washington alum Aaron Nelson (left/photo by Paul Merca), finished 27th at the USATF National Club Cross Country championships Saturday at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Florida.

Nelson ran 30:11 for the 10 kilometer distance, as former NCAA cross country champion Sam Chelanga took the win in 28:55.

Nelson has relocated to North Carolina to pursue his professional running career as a member of the ZAP Fitness Reebok squad.

Nelson’s team finished fourth with 134 points, as the American Distance Project team out of Colorado won with 31 points, led by Chelanga’s victory.

Club Northwest finished 15th with 390 points led by Nathaniel Richards’ 73rd place finish in 31:02.

In the open women’s 6k, Washington alum Eleanor Fulton finished 33rd in 20:50, while Club Northwest’s Emma Polley was 36th in 20:54.

Fulton’s High Performance West team out of Portland was second with 87 points, finishing behind the Boston Athletic Association’s 33 points. Club Northwest was seventh with 223 points.

US Olympian Colleen Quigley of the Portland-based Bowerman TC won in a time of 19:31.


SAINT MARTIN'S MIKEL SMITH WINS HIGH JUMP AT JACKSON'S OPEN IN NAMPA...

In Nampa, Idaho, a small contingent of athletes from Saint Martin’s and Central Washington competed at Saturday’s Jackson’s Open meet hosted by Boise State University.

Among the highlights:

—In the men’s high jump, Saint Martin’s Mikel Smith, the reigning NCAA Division II outdoor high jump champ, cleared 7-0.25 (2.14m) to win that event.  Smith’s winning jump is just outside the NCAA D2 automatic standard of 7-1.5 (2.17m), and ranks him second in the country in this young season;

—Central Washington’s Luke Plummer won both the long and triple jumps, with marks of 23-2 (7.06m), and 48-10.25 (14.89m).  Plummer’s triple jump ranks him fourth in the nation in Division II so far this indoor season.

—Central’s Kyler Ooley won the men’s 60 dash in a time of 6.94, while teammate McKenna Emmert won the women’s pole vault, clearing 12-1.5 (3.70m).


HEATH TO DEFEND GREAT EDINBURGH X-COUNTRY TITLE

According to a post in Athletics Weekly, Garrett Heath of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts will open his 2017 season by defending his title at the Great Edinburgh International X-Country race in the Scottish city.

Heath won the 8k title last year, defeating double Olympic 10000/5000m champ Mo Farah in a dramatic finish at fabled Holyrood Park in Edinburgh.  He also won the 4k race in 2014, and repeated as champion in 2015, before moving up to the 8k distance last year.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Tarbert and Lack set new EWU school records in 55 dash at Candy Cane IX...

CHENEY—School records in the 55 meter dash by Eastern Washington’s Rebecca Tarbert (above/photo courtesy EWU Athletics) and Dawson Lack highlighted the Eagles’ 2017 indoor season opener at the Candy Cane IX meet at Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse on the EWU campus Saturday.

Tarbert, the Wenatchee native and defending Big Sky 60 champion, ran 6.78, breaking the 11-year old school record set by Joyce Rainwater.

Lack, a freshman from Medical Lake, ran 6.24 to eclipse the 16-year old record set by Johnnie Williams in 2000.

The Eagles also swept the pole vault competition, led by defending Big Sky indoor and outdoor champ Larry Still, who cleared 15-11 (4.85m).

Eastern’s Erin Clark won the women’s vault with a clearance of 12-10.25 (3.92m), as the Eagles took the first five places in that event.

Freshman Keshun McGee swept both the men’s long and triple jumps, jumping 23-2.25 (7.07m) and 49-7 (15.11m), the latter good for a new meet record.

Central Washington’s Kodiak Landis, who was third at last year’s GNAC decathlon championship, won the heptathlon with a score of 5119 points. Montana’s Erika McLeod, the defending Big Sky pentathlon and heptathlon champ, won the pentathlon with a score of 3842 points.

In the overall team competition, the Eagle men won over Montana by a 59-42 count, while the Grizzlies defeated the host Eagles in the women’s competition 68-39.  The longest distance run in the meet was 600 meters, and was primarily designed for the sprinters, jumpers and throwers of both squads.



ASICS ANNOUNCED AS NEW IAAF PARTNER…

ASICS and the IAAF are delighted to announce a new multiple-year partnership with ASICS becoming the latest addition to the prestigious group of Official IAAF Partners.

As Official IAAF Partner, ASICS will be present at and involved in all IAAF World Athletics Series events including the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, GBR (4-13 August 2017) and the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha, QAT.

As part of the agreement, ASICS will kit the officials and volunteers at all IAAF World Athletics Series events with ASICS’ footwear and apparel that will ensure the smooth running of these events.  For ASICS this important partnership will allow a strategic expansion of its brand recognition internationally by association with the world’s top athletics events that are viewed by significant global audiences.

ASICS President and CEO Motoi Oyama stated: “I am so happy to have the honour of supporting the IAAF as an Official Partner. We at ASICS hope to both develop excellent products and contribute to the growth the sporting world as a whole by supporting athletics around the globe as an Official Partner of the IAAF.”

IAAF President Sebastian Coe commented: “Global athletics starts a new chapter today based upon solid foundations of modern governance and a renewed determination to protect and promote clean athletes. We are delighted to have attracted ASICS, a world-class sportswear designer and manufacturer, as our latest Official IAAF Partner to share this new journey with us. This agreement is a huge endorsement of a bright future for athletics whose universality and diversity makes it a natural partner for a global corporation like ASICS. We are excited to be joined by a partner whose vision shares our strategy for a youthful, innovative sport that promotes fair competition and healthy living.”

The deal was brokered by the IAAF’s long-term commercial partner Dentsu Inc, in close collaboration with the IAAF, and ends in 2019.


NOTE:  The sports information office of Eastern Washington and the IAAF contributed to this report.

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