THE WORLD ATHLETIC CHAMPIONSHIPS 2017  –  FROM AN AUSTRALIAN {CURRENT} PERSPECTIVE

In London over the past week or so, we have seen the World Athletics Championships in Track and Field conducted.   Now in Australia generally, there is not an abundance of interest in athletics, except maybe around the times of the Olympic or Commonwealth Games, when some of us suddenly realise there are athletes competing for Australia, who in the main, we hear little of in-between those events!  Hence the purpose of this article, which aims to at least bring to the attention of readers [here in Australia at the very least] some of the names which are likely to appear on our radars in April. 2018, at the Gold Coast, where the next Commonwealth Games are to be held.

The 2017 IAAF World Championships was the 16th edition of this event, held from 4 to 13 August 2017 in London, United Kingdom,  that city being officially awarded the Championships by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), in Monaco, on 11 November 2011  The championships were held in the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, London  [where the 2012 Summer Olympics were hosted], a stadium which has a capacity of 60,000.  Even the earlier sessions of the 10 day event saw the stadium almost filled to capacity, sadly something that would not occur consistently here, except on those occasions when special individual events were taking place, for example,  the Melbourne Cricket Ground hosted some huge crowds on most days of  the 2006 Commonwealth Games athletic events that year. Similarly, in Sydney at the 2000 Olympic Games, the Olympic Stadium was often at capacity, though admittedly at those times, Australia had a more successful team of athletes than has been the case recently, and, as it turned out, on this occasion..

For the London event, Australia had a relatively small team of competitors, and while over the ten days, they did not, with a couple of exceptions, achieve any significant results [apart from two significant results, and personal improvements which is never a bad thing],  I intend to highlight their individual performances, good or bad, and basically introduce their names to my readers, hopefully to generate some interest in those Australian athletes likely to be  participating at the Gold Coast next year.  I have basically gone through the program in chronological order. A full listing of the Medal results has been placed at the end of the narrative.

Day One  –  Friday 4 August

The program  this afternoon,  included one Medal event, and it was great see a capacity crowd at the London stadium for what was essentially a two and half hour session covering three Field events, two Track event heats, and the Men’s 10,000 metres Final.

In the men’s Long Jump qualifying round, Australia had two competitors –  Henry Frayne, who finished in 14th position with a jump of 7.88 metres, and Fabrice Lapierre, who qualified for the Final, in 12th position, with a jump of  7.91 metres. Fabrice jumped conservatively, which possibly cost him some distance. The best qualifying jump was  8.24 by Radek Juska of the Czech Republic.

The Men’s Discus qualifying round saw Australia  represented by Ben Harradine [finished in 21st position with a throw of 60.95 metres] and Mitchell Cooper [28th with 57.26 metres]. Neither progressed to the Final [held on Day 2 with the Long Jump],  Sweden’s Daniel Stahl had the best qualifying throw with a distance of 67.64 metres].

The Women’s Pole Vault qualifying saw Australia’s Liz Parnov vault 4.35 metres to finish in 15th place, which meant she’d not progress any further. The leading vault was 4.55 metres by Sandi Morris of the USA, that Final to be held on Sunday night.

In the Women’s 1500 metres, three  Heats were conducted, and we had three girls attempting [unsuccessfully]  to qualify for the next round.  Zoe Buckman finished 9th in Heat 1 [in 4.05.44] and 17th position overall [she qualified for the semi-finals].  Georgia Griffith finished 11th in Heat 3 [4.08.99] and 27th overall. Linden Hall came 9th in Heat 2  [4.10.51] and was 33rd overall.  The fastest Heat time was 4.02.62 by Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba.

The first round of the Men’s 100 metres took place during this session. There were no Australian competitors. The fastest qualifier from the heats  –  Julian Forte [Jamaica] in 9.99 secs. Usain Bolt, ran 10.07 secs in winning his heat but a number of others bettered that time. The semi-finals and Final were scheduled for Saturday night.

The Men’s 10,000 metres Final was for this writer, the highlight of the session. Of the 24 starters, 21 of them had been born in Africa, though some of them now run for other nations. Australia’s representative was Patrick Tiernan. The field included the legendary Mo Farah [now competing for Great Britain, and quite clearly, the crowd favourite and hero], a truly amazing athlete.  IN the early stages of the race, Patrick stayed close to Farah who was content to remain near the rear of the field and was in no ‘hurry’ or concerned about moving up to the leaders. It was only with about 16 laps of the 25 lap race to go, and the Kenyans and Ugandan runners setting the pace, that we see Farah begin to make his move towards the leading group, ‘show-boating’ a little as he waves to the crowd [also did that in the first lap]. He was still in 12th position at the 5000 metre stage, and it was here that Patrick Tiernan lost touch with Farah, and the field in general. At 6000 metres, Farah is in 6th position as the East African runners continue to alternate the lead. by now Patrick, while at the front of the second group of runners, is well behind the leaders, and in fact, with two laps to go, and Farah having taken the lead in the race, after alternating between 1st and 3rd for a few laps, Patrick is lapped by Farah.

Here we see the example of the ‘true athlete’  as after running almost 10 kilometres, four African born competitors, sprint for the last 150 metres, but in the end it is a commanding performance by Britain’s Mo Farah to win in a time of 26.49.51 from Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda. The next eight placings went to Kenya, Kenya, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Canada, USA and Ethiopia [all African born]..

Day Two  –  Saturday 5 August

Two sessions today – a morning session, followed by an afternoon/evening session.

The Women’s Heptathlon event commenced today – a multiple event which sees the ladies compete for points over two days and seven events. Sadly, no Australian girls apparently met the standard to compete on this occasion though we have had Heptathlon success in the past.

The seven disciplines in this event are the 100 metres Hurdles, the High Jump, Shot Put, 200 metres [today’s events], and  the Long Jump, Javelin throw and the 800 metres. Points are allocated on the basis of times, distances, etc.  At the end of the first day’s competition, with 31 original starters, the leader was Carolin Schafer [Germany] on 4036 points, followed by Nafissatou Thiam [Belgium] on 4014 points, Yorgelis Rodriguez [3905 points] and Katarina Johnson-Thompson [Great Britain] 3838 points. Thiam is the current Olympic champion in this event.

The Men’s Shot Put qualifying rounds saw the appearance of Damien Birkenhead for Australia, He would finish 20th overall with a throw of 19.90 metres, and not qualify for the final.The best qualifying throw was by New Zealand’s Tomas Walsh with 22.14 metres. That final was on Sunday.

The Women’s Hammer-throw qualifying – no Australian competitor, and the best qualifying throw was by Malwina Kopron [Poland] 74.97 metres,

The Men’s 400 Metres had four heats today  – Stevin Solomon of Australia ran in Heat 2, he finished 7th in 46.27 secs, and was placed 38th overall in the event. The fastest heat time was by Isaac Makwala of Botswana in 44.55 secs. The semi-finals took place on Sunday.

The Women’s Triple Jump qualifying – again. No Australian representative –  the day’s best jump was by Olga Rypakova [Kaz] of 14.57 metres.

The Women’s 100 metre Heats  –  no Australian women sprinters [very sad]  – the fastest qualifying time was by Germany’s Gina Luckenkemper in 10.95 secs.  The final to be run on Sunday evening.

Men’s 800 metre heats followed, with the best 24 runners to proceed   –  Australia represented by Peter Bol in Heat 4. He finished in 7th position, in a time of 1.49.65, and eventually classified into 38th position overall. The fastest qualifying 800 metres was by Thijmen Kupers [Nederlands] in 1.45.53.

The Women’s 1500 metres semi-finals saw Australia’s Zoe Buckman run in the first heat where she finished 8th in 4.05.93, an overall position of 14th in the event.

The Men’s Discus Final saw the Gold Medal go to Andrius Gudzuis [Lithuania] with a throw of 69.21 metres, from Daniel Stahl [Sweden] and Mason Finlay [USA].

The Men’s Long Jump Final saw Australia’s Fabrice Lapierre finish with a jump of 7.93 metres in 11th position.  The event was won by Luva Manyonga [Rep of Sth Africa]  with a leap of 8.48 metres, from  Jarrion Lawson [USA] and Ruswahl Samaai [RSA].

The Women’s 10,000 Metres Final proved to be another outstanding long distance race, and again, with African born athletes dominating proceedings. Due to the television cameras concentrating on the Men’s Long Jump and Discus events, we didn’t see a great deal of this race until the latter stages.

We had two Australian girls competing amongst the 33 starters  – Eloise Wellings [finished in 22nd position in 32.26.31] and Madeleine Hills [finished 26th in 32.48.57] – must admit that we didn’t see much of either of the girls, until they were lapped by the eventual winner!!  That winner was Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia [who was also the current Olympic Games titleholder] – she would go the lead quite early in the race [a sharp contrast to the Men’s event], and by the last third of the race, was literally destroying the rest of the field as she began to lap other runners, running an average of 69 seconds a lap, or 3.05 mins per kilometre. Simply commanding, in a class of her own, an unbelievable performance, even sprinting over the final 100 metres or so to win by over 300 metres, another lap and she would most likely have lapped the 2nd and 3rd place-getters [Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia, and Agnes Jebet Tirop of Kenya]. A pure example of ‘front running’ at it’s very best for the bulk of the race.

The Men’s 100 Metres Final followed, after earlier in the day, we’d witnessed the semi-finals of that event. The fast semi-final time had been recorded by Christian Coleman [USA} in 9.97 secs, ahead of Usain Bolt [Jamaica] in 9.98 secs. Justin Gatlin of the USA was 6th fastest in 10.09 secs.

The Final was a different story. This was to be Bolt’s last individual race. Writing from London before the finals, Scott Gullan said  “Scary is probably the best way to describe life without Usain Bolt. For almost a decade he’s been athletics’  safety blanket. The shadow of doping has loomed over the sport’s most famous event, the 100 metres, in particular, ever since a steroid-fuelled Ben Johnson burnt up the track in Seoul in 1988.Britain’s Linford Christie was Olympic champion four years later, but he too would get busted for drugs. Then in 2004 American Justin Gatlin won in Athens and two years later was kicked out of the sport for his second doping infringement – only to return four years later after his ban was halved. At the 2007 world championships Tyson Gay won the sprint double – beating Bolt in the 200 metres – and six years later was banned for taking steroids. But then bolt emerged and saved everything………………….After all the scandals, which continued with Russia banned from the Rio Olympics, how could anyone watch track and field …and think it was clean? Well, they did still watch and in a large part it was because of Bolt. They like him and trusted him, so when he shrugged off Gatlin’s challenge for his titles, everyone felt warm and fuzzy again……”

Well, on each appearance at these London championships, Gatlin was roundly booed by the crowd [partially I believe he never showed any contrition for ‘crimes’ committed], while Bolt, as he had been for years, was lauded as the crowd’s favourite and a sure winner today.

Usain Bolt didn’t win  –  in a shock outcome, the Men’s 100 Metres Final saw Bolt beaten into 3rd place by his two American rivals in the race  –  won by none other than Justin Gatlin [9.92 secs] from Christian Coleman [93.94 secs] and Usain Bolt [9.95 secs]. As some of the headlines in the following day’s media would highlight –  Bolt bows out as drug cheat upsets Usain’s fairytale ending  – or as Scott Gullan again puts it –  “It doesn’t get much worse than his. The greatest athlete the world has seen not only fails to win his final race but is beaten by a two-time drug cheat who epitomises everything that is bad with track and field”.  From a more competitive practical point of view  –  Scott also writes  –  “Finally Usain made to pay for slow start….Usain Bolt has been a poor starter for all of his career but through freak natural ability has managed tro deal with it. That was until his final race…”

After the race, as to be expected, Usain Bolt was gracious in defeat, and Gatlin knelt down in front of the champion to acknowledge his greatness.

 Day Three  –  Sunday 6 August

The Men’s 3000 metres Steeplechase began today’s program began with three heats, 47 athletes in total, including Australia’s Stewart McSweyn.  The first three in each heat automatically qualified, with the next fastest up to a total of 15 in the final.  McSweyn ran in the 3rd heat [of 15 runners] –  not a promising  start which saw him at the rear of the field, where he would basically remain for most of the race, until the last 100 metres when a determined effort to at least beat one runner home as successful –  he finished in 14th position ion a time of  8.47.53.  The fastest qualifier for the final was Evan Jager [USA] in 8.20.36

The Women’s Heptathlon concluded today, with the last three of the seven scheduled disciplines – today, the Long Jump, Javelin Throw, and finally, the 800 metres [which was the third last event on the Day  3 program] – the 800 metres was  conducted over three heats, with the lower ranked performers up until that stage competing in the first heat, the middle ranked girls second up, while the medal chances ran in the third heat.

I think of all athletes [track and field], one should particularly admire those men and women who compete in these multiple discipline events, i.e, the Heptathlon for the ladies, and the 10 discipline Decathlon event for the men. While most of these competitors would not have personal world standard times and/or distances arising from their respective competitions, their all-round ability at a number of different track and field disciplines gives them special recognition in my eyes.  Anyway, after a tough Long Jump competition [won by Anouk Vetter of the Nederlands [6.32metres], and the Javelin throw [also won by Anouk Vetter with a throw of 58.41 metres],  the girls fronted up for the gruelling final deciding in their two day competition –  while the fastest 800 metres went to the Hungarian competitor, Xenia Krizsan in 2.07.17, the overall Heptathlon result saw the Gold go to the Olympic champion, Nafissatou Thiam [Belgian] with an overall total of 6784 points, ahead of Carolin Schafer [Germany] on 6696 points, and Anouk Vetter [Nederlands] 6636 points. The winner’s best scoring events were the Hurdles, High Jump and Long Jump

The Men’s Marathon [always this writer’s favourite viewing event] took place Sunday evening [AEST]  –  but gone are the days when the marathons were a stand-alone event on at times when there were no other competitions underway, and TV fans would get a complete coverage of the complete race – now it is shared [painfully at times] with other events on in conjunction, today no exception. Nevertheless, I enjoyed today’s coverage – the race began and finished on the Tower Bridge in London, and was more or less a circuit course of approximately 10 kilometres for each leg. The commentators suggested a starting list of 100 runners, of whom eventually, just 71 would finish the course.

Of the three Australians who entered race, one of them was a non-finisher, that being Josh Harris. The other two Australians  – Jack Colreavy finished 45th in 2.21.44, while Brad Milosevic finished 60th in 2.25.14. Mind you, Australia has a fairly successful history of marathon runners [male or female] in major events, but of recent years, that success has dwindled.  The first World Marathon championship, back in 1983,  was of course won by our own Robert de Castello.  Meanwhile, in 2017, after the first hour of the race, there was no sign of the Australians in the leading group, and they were basically not sited until they finished. At that stage, it was clear that the East African runners were once again setting the tempo of the marathon, and by an hour and 52 minutes into the race, the eventual winner had got right away from any opposition, and would go on to a comfortable win. The winner was Geoffrey Kipkorir Kirui [Kenya] in 2.08.27, ahead of Jamirat Tola [Ethiopia] and Alphonce Felix Simbu [Tanzania]. A strong finish by Great Britain’s Callum Hawkins, saw him just miss out on the Bronze Medal by 26 seconds after coming from a fair way back in the closing stages.

The Women’s Marathon was also run today, but as far as I’m aware there was little recognition or coverage of it [in Australia anyway] which was a pity. The race was won by Rose Chelimo of Bahrain in 2.27.11, followed by Edna Mgeringwong Kiplagat [Kenya] and Amy Cragg [USA]. Australia had three competitors again, another reason that coverage of the race out here would have been welcome. All three achieved excellent results. Jessica Trengove  finished in 9th position with a time of 2.28.59, while the  other Australian girls were Sinead Diver [20th in 2.33.26] and Milly Clark [24th in 2.35.27].  This event had 92 starters, of whom 78 completed the course.

The Men’s 400 metre Hurdles were run with 5 heats. There were no Australians entered. The fastest time from the heats went to Yasmani Copello of Turkey, in 49.13 secs.

The Women’s 400 Metres event was of interest to Australia with the inclusion of young budding Indigenous  star, Morgan Mitchell. Today, there were 5 heats with the first three in each heat and the next 6 fastest going through to the next round. Morgan had made it through to the semi-finals at the Rio Olympics, but sadly couldn’t repeat that feat on this occasion. She ran in the 5th heat, and finished 5th in 52.22 secs, and was classified 26th overall. The best qualifying time came from Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Nasar in 50.57 secs, while the slowest qualifying time was 52.01 secs, so Morgan missed out by 0.21 sccs.

The Men’s 110 Metre Hurdles heats followed, with the first 4 in each of the 5 heats through to the semi-finals. Nicholas Hough ran in the 5th heat for Australia – he was 5th in 13.61 secs, after a slow start and a powerful finish, but not enough, with the last qualified time recorded as 13.58 secs.  The fastest qualifier was Aries Merritt of the USA in 13.16 secs  – a courageous runner, having returned to competition after having had a kidney transport!

The Women’s Pole Vault Final was completed today  – this saw a wonderful performance by the Greek competitor, Ekaterini Stefanidi with a vault of 4.91 metres. She won over the USA’s Sandi Morris, and Venezuela’s Robeilys Peinado.  Australia’s Liz Parnov finished in 15th position with 4.35 metres.

The Women’s Javelin qualifying event saw two Australian girls represented.  Kelsey-Lee Roberts qualified for the final with a throw of 63.70 metres [7th best overall], while Kathryn Mitchell finished in 25th position with a throw of 57.42 metres. The best qualification thrown came from China’s Huihui Lyu [67.59 metres].

The next three events had no Australian representation.

The Men’s 400 metre Semi-finals with the first two in each of the three semi finals plus the next fastest times to  through to the final  – the best qualifying time was recorded by Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas in 43.89 secs ahead of Jamaica’s Nathen Allen, and South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk.

Similarly, the Men’s 110 Metre Hurdles semi-finals, three events looking for 8 finalists –  the best time came from Omar McLeod of Jamaica in 13.10 secs, ahead of Garfield Darien [France] and Sergey Shubenkov [ANA – Russian runner competing independently because of current bans on that country].

The Men’s Shot Put Final produced a tense and close finish, and of local interest, the Gold eventually went to New Zealand’s Tomas Walsh with a distanced of 22.03 metres, from Joe Kovacs [USA] and Stipe Zunic [Croatia]. Australian Damien Birkenhead, who finished in 20th position [19.90] did not qualify for the final.

The Men’s 800 Metre semi-finals saw the best time go to Kipyegon Bett [Kenya] in 1.45.02, ahead of  Mohammad Aman [Ethiopia] and Brandon McBride [Canada].

Day 3 ended with the Final of the Women’s 100 Metres. Earlier in the day, the three semi-finals of the event were run with the fastest time going to Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson in 10.84 secs, in front of the Ivory Coast runner, Ta Lou.  Thompson  was probably rightfully regarded as a favourite for the final [as per Usain Bolt], but it was not to be  –  in fact, she would finish in 5th position [10.98]. The sprint winner was Tori Bowie of the USA, in 10.85 secs, just shading out Maree-Josee Ta Lou [Ivory Coast] and Dafne Schippers [Nederlands].

Day Four –  Monday 7 August

We had just the one session today [early Tuesday here in Australia] with four finals to be decided [two Track, and two Field events].  As usual, detailed final results [Gold, Silver & Bronze, together with Australian performances] in all events, will be posted at the conclusion of this report of the ten days of competition.  Monday night in England, saw another almost packed house at the London stadium, for a wonderful sporting occasion.

The Men’s 200 metre heats got the program underway.  Again, no Australian representation – where are all our sprinters these days?  There were 7 heats of this event, with the fastest qualifier of the day going to Jereem Richards [from Trinidad & Tobago] in 20.05 secs, with Great Britain’s Nethaniel Mitchell-Blake not far behind in 20.08 secs.

The Qualifying round of the Men’s Triple Jump was the first field event of the day, with the best distances from the two groups being Chris Benard [USA] with a jump of 17.20 metres, and Cristian Napoles [Cuba] leaping 17.06 metres. There was no Australian participant in this event.

The Women’s Hammer Throw Final saw a trio if very happy ladies at the end of a tough competition, with the Chines competitor squeezed between two Polish girls on the victory podium at the competition. That was won by Anita Wlodarczyk [Poland] with a throw of 77.90 metres, ahead of Zheng Wang [China] and Malwina Kopron [Poland]

The Women’s 400 Metre Hurdles heats saw Australia’s Lauren Wells compete –  she appeared in Heat 1 of what is traditionally a gruelling event on the track. Sadly, Lauren did not progress any further, finishing 7th [last] in her heat in a time of 56.49 secs, and overall, would be placed 25th in the competition.  Lauren has previously competed at the Commonwealth Games in the 400 metre hurdles event and the 2012 and 2016 London & Rio Summer Olympics in that event, and is also a 400 metre runner and long jumper.  The fastest heat today was run by the USA’s Dalilah Muhammad in 54.59 seconds [in Lauren’s heat], with Jamaica’s Ristananna Tracey running 54.92 secs in Heat 3.

The Men’s 400 metre Hurdle semi-finals followed, with the first two in each heat to the Final plus the next best two times.  The three semi-final winners were Kerron Clement [USA} in 48.35 secs; T J Holmes [USA} in 49.12 secs, and Abderrahaman Samba [Qatar] in 48.75 secs.

The Women’s Triple Jump Final proved very popular, especially with the crowds on the opposite of the stadium to the main straight, where the event was conducted, and resulted in a close tussle between two South American competitors with the lead changing on a number of occasions.  The result would have been a rare piece of good news for the politically and economically embattled nation of Venezuela  –  their competitor, Yulimar Rojas won the Gold Medal with a jump of 14.91 metres, ahead of Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen [14.89] and Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan [14.77].

The Women’s 400 Metre semi-finals [aka Cathy Freeman’s 2000 Olympics triumph at Sydney] consisted of three heats, in which we saw the fastest time go to Salwa Eid Nasaer [Bahrain] in 50.08, just shading out the hot favourite [and winner of six Olympic Gold Medals], Allyson Felix of the USA in 5.12 secs.  The World Record in this event currently stands at 47.60 secs.  The final will be held early Thursday morning, AEST.

Well, we had two thrilling track finals to finish up the program on Day 4.

The Men’s 110 Metre Hurdle Final saw a strong field line up at the start, including the defending champion [the then Russian competitor, Shubenkov], the 2012 London Olympic champion, Aries Merritt, who has since undergone a kidney transplant, and current World No. 1, Omar McLeod of Jamaica.  The World record for this event stands at 12.80 secs.  Today’s result – the Gold went to Omar McLeod [Jamaica] in 13.64 secs, ahead of Sergey Shubenkov [now running as an independent competitor for ANA – Authorised Neutral Athlete –  during Russia’s current suspension period], and Hungary’s Balazs, bringing up an unexpected 3rd placing in 13.28 secs. This was Jamaica’s first Gold, and would help to make up for the disappointments created by the defeats of Usain Bolt and Elaine Thompson, amongst others.  Aries Merritt finished in 5th place in 13.31 secs, behind France’s Garfield Darien.

The Women’s 1500 Metre Final, another wonderful distance event.  The World Record of 3.50.07 seemed out of reach of these competitors, despite a strong field of 12 starters, who included the Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion [Kenya’s Kipyegon].  The Brit, Laura Muir, and the USA’s Jennifer Simpson took the initiative at the start and went out fast, and while Muir was still just in front at the 800 metre mark, she was soon overtaken, while Simpson had dropped well back in the pack.  As they approached the winning straight, we could a fight back by Muir,  but then like a galloper coming from the back at the last bend, two brilliant finishes by Jenny Simpson, and South Africa’s Caster Semenya, saw Muir just knocked out of the Bronze Medal result near the finish line. The race was won by Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon [Kenya] in 4.02.59, with the Silver and Bronze medals going to Jennifer Simpson [USA] and Caster Semenya [RSA]. Muir finished in 4th spot, just 0.07 secs behind the South African girl.

After a few medal presentations, that event brought an end to Day 4’s competition.  For Sally Pearson fans, the Heats of the Women’s 100 metre Hurdles commence from 7.45 am on Friday, 11 August; and if she progresses, the Semi Finals are scheduled for 4.05 am on Saturday, 12 August, with the Final, at 5.05 am on Sunday, 13 August [Foxtel Channel 511], all times Australia Eastern Standard Time.

Day Five –  Tuesday 7 August

 Before beginning our summary of Day 4 of the Championships, I’d just like to make reference to a few points of interest

  • When referring to the Final of the Women’s Pole Vault on Saturday, I neglected to mention that there were in fact two Bronze Medals awarded on that occasion,that came in behind the Gold to Greece and the Silver to the USA- to the competitors from Venezuela and Cuba [full results appear at the end of the Championship’s report.
  • .On the morning after the Men’s 100 Metres Final, the ceremony for that event [with the Gold to be given to Justin Gatlin of the USA], it was decided by officials much earlier than originally planned, prior to the start of that day’s competition, and before the bulk of the crowd had arrived. Gatlin had been consistently booed by much of the crowd [due to his prior drug related convictions], so this move was made to avoid too great an embarrassment to the IAAF [and I suppose the athlete himself]. As it turned out, of the crowd who were there at that stage, there was a percentage who did boo Gatlin as he received his Medal.  It is difficult to know how to respond to this  – Gatlin had served his time out of the sport because of his actions [one of those sentences had been reduced in length], but I believe the antipathy towards him was partially related to the fact that he had apparently not shown any remorse or, shall we say, humbleness, over his actions, which, as with so many other instances in the sport over recent years, have tarnished athletics. In my report some years ago of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games [copies available upon request], I praised the achievements of the American sprinter, Marion Jones, only to discover in later years [as did the sport] that she had been taking drugs at the time of those Olympics. The words I quoted at the time [which would be regretted in many circles later] were “Though she failed to win the five crowns , it was a record debut at an Olympics and she became the darling of the track [yes, a US sprinter in Australia]. She came under immense pressure when it was revealed her husband, C.J.Hunter, had failed four drug tests’.  And yes, to respond and perform in the way she did, won her to the hearts of Australian spectators –  but little did we know at the time!!
  • I was not away that the name of the London Stadium was in fact ‘Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’ – I assume that title was granted at the time of the London Olympics, in 2012.
  • During these championships, the death was announced of one of Australia’s great athletes –  Betty Cuthbery [1938-2017]. Prior to today’s program at the Stadium [just an afternoon/evening session today], a tribute was paid to Betty Cuthbert by the IAAF  – total silence in the 60,000 full stadium for a couple of minutes, a beautiful moment. I recall that at the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympics, Betty Cuthbert was wheeled into the stadium carrying the Olympic torch, and pushed by Cathy Freeman [later, Australian winner of the 400 metres Gold Medal].  As a further tribute, the remaining Australian athletes competing in London, would wear a black armband [though I noticed later that didn’t seem obvious in some instances]. Betty Cuthbert won the 100, 200 and 4 x 100 relay Gold Medals at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Gold in the 400 metres at Tokyo in 1964, along with numerous medals at the Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1958 and 1962, and many national titles. She became Australia’s first inductee into the IAAF Hall of Fame, in its inaugural year of 2012

But now back to this day’s events, with a crowd of 60,000 [capacity] in the stadium again.

Women’s Javelin Throw Final

Australia’s Kelsey-Lee Roberts had just managed to scrape into this final, from the qualification rounds, but unfortunately failed to make the final cut in today’s event, despite distances thrown this year of over 65 metres  – her three rounds today saw distances of  60.76, 59.39 and 59.76. She would finish 10th overall in the competition. Kelsey-Lee failed to qualify for the Rio final, but was the most recent Commonweslth Games Bronze medallist.

The winning throw of 66.76 metres went to Czechoslovak’s Barbora Spotakova [a 36 year old Mum, who won this event ten years previously], from the two Chinese competitors [on 66.25 and 65.26]..

Women’s 200 Metre Heats

This event saw Australia represented by two athletes – Riley Day, and Ella Nelson. I couldn’t help noticing prior to the start of each of the shorter races, the absolute silence that pervaded the stadium as we waited for the starter to send the athletes on their way.

There were 7 heats, with the first three runners in each heat into the semi-finals, plus the next fastest competitors [can’t recall the number in this instance].

Riley Day competed in Heat 1, and finished back in 7th place [last] in a time of 23.77 secs. The winner was the Nederlands Dafne Schippers in 22.63.  Heat 2 was won by the USA’s Kimberley Duncan, in 22.86 secs. Ella Nelson took her place in Heat 3, and I would actually be disappointed for her sake with her 7th [and last] placing in 24.02 secs. She had essentially finished in 9th position at Rio, having missed out on a place in the Olympic final by 0.01 secs.  The winner of this heat was Deajah Stevens [USA] in 22.90 secs. The other four heat winners were Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas in 22.69 secs, Dina Asher-Smith [GBR] in 22.73, Maree Josee TA LOU [CIV] 22.70 [it was a real joy to watch the running style of this girl]; and Rebekka Haase  {Germany] 22.99.

Men’s Pole Vault Final

Despite my earlier assumption, that he had not qualified for the final, Kurtis Marschall [Australia] sneaked in near the end of qualifications, so took his place in today’s final. He succeeded at the height of 5.65 metres but later failed at his three attempts 5.75 metres. Overall in the Pole Vault, Kurtis finished in 7th position. Kurtis was a Junior champion vaulter a couple of years ago.

Unusually in this event, three of the final  12 vaulters have dropped out of the event at the first height of 5.50 metres.  The winning vault in the event which lasted well over two hours, the commentators describing the closing stages as representing ‘match point’ on a number of occasions as the tussle between the American and French competitors dominated the final battle for supremacy, with a Pole having a say in the outcome also. The final outcome saw the Olympic Gold medallist, Sam Kebdricks [USA] win with a vault of 5.95 metres, over Piotr Lisek [Poland] on 5.89, and Renaud Lavillenie [France] 5.89. The Frenchman attempted 6.01 to take the Gold over the American, but failed in that attempt.

 Women’s 400 Metres Hurdles Semi-finals

No Aussies in this event, which consisted of three semi-finals. The first 2 in each heart  plus the 2 fastes losers would go into the final.  Winners were Zuzana Hejnova [Cze]  54.59;  Ristananna Tracey [Jamaica] 54.79; and Dalilah Muhammad [USA] 55.00.  The existing World Record in this event is 52.34 secs.

Women’s Shot Put Qualifications

This year, there was no Australian representative. The leading qualkifiers for the final were in Group A: Anita Marton [Hungary] with a Put of 18.76 metres, and in Group B, Lijaio GONG [China] 18.97. The qualifying distance for the final was 18.30 metres. 

Men’s 3000 Steeplechase Final

As with all distance races, this event would attract my particular attention, having preferred to attempt [never successfully I might add] the longer journeys as a young man.

There were 15 starters in the final, of whom 14 would finish. The USA’s Evan Jager  would lead for a large part of the race, but inevitably, the Kenyan runner, Conseslus Kipruto [who was also the Olympic champion], would overtake him in the final stages. Jager was described as ‘serving it up to the Kenyan’, and losing probably his best chance at winning a world championship event, having finished second behind  Kipruto in the Olympic event. He would actually finish in 3rd place, behind Morocco’s Soufiane Elbakkali.  The winning time was 8.14.12 [compared with the existing world record of 7.53.63].

Men’s 800 Metres Final

Another classic race at these championships. The World Record is 1.40.91. Interestingly, a Kenyan born athlete has won 9 of the 15 editions of this particular race, but it was to be a different story today, with two Europeans finishing ahead of the sole Kenyan runner – in fact we had eight different nations represented in this final, with the opportunity for the competitor from Botswana [Nijel Amos] to win for the first time for his country [again not to be, he finished in 5th position [1.45.83]. The victory went to France’s Pierre-Ambroisse Bosse in a time of 1.44.67. It was a tactical victory for the Frenchman who skipped the field in the last 200 metres and was never going to be caught from that point. Second place went to Poland’s Adam Kszczot, ahead of Kenya’s Kipyegon Bett.  Australia’s Peter Bol, who had failed to qualify beyond the heats stage, finished overall in 38th position, in a time of 1.49.65.  Great Britain’s Kyle Langford almost snatched the Bronze from the Kenyan, one more stride would have done it, missed out by 0.04 of a second.

Men’s 400 Metres Final

Now this event used to be regarded as a ‘USA birthright’, with that nation having dominated the event over many years. The existing world record is 43.03 secs. Today’s seven starters would not get near that mark. There had been listed eight starters, but the runner from Botswana was banned from taking his placed in the field [after arriving at the stadium to do so] following a bout of illness which had affected a number of athletics and others in one of the hotels they were staying at. He was Isaac Makwala, and he will come to our attention again over the next two days, having also been preventing from competing in the 200 metre heats because of the illness.

The winner of this final, from South Africa, was described as being in a ‘class of his own’, through the brilliant manner in which he ran and won this race – also of significance because he was also a competitor in the 200 metres event, which came him little recovery time between races.  Wayde Van Niekerk won the Gold in 43.98 secs, ahead of Steven Gardiner [Bahamas] and Abdalelah Haroun [Qatar]. He appeared to win without effort, yet afterwards was criticised by the two British ‘interviewers’ because he didn’t do a lap of honour, and lay down in the interview area for a long period of time [being interviewed by some whilst still lying on the floor, and then leaving before he reached the English interviewers]. He did speak to them the next morning, though I’m not sure if that satisfied them completely – they felt, that as these interviews were televised world-wide and perhaps in the stadium itself, the successful athletes in particular had a duty to meet such obligations. Most certainly did, but Niekerk obviously felt that he was not fully recovered from his run to meet all those obligations! He was due to run in the 200 metre semi-final next day, and while he had looked refreshed almost at the end of the 400 metres, that energy seem to have deserted him soon afterwards. Having run a number of 400 metre races many years ago, I can easily understand such exhaustion – it is a gruelling distance to cover in a short time!!.

Day Six, Wednesday, 9th August

 It was a dreadful day, weather-wise in London – rained throughout the entire evening’s program [there was no morning session again today], and at one stage, the likelihood of events such as the Hammer-throw might have to be deferred. However, all events proceeded as planned, and must have main things much more difficult than they needed to be – after-all, athletics is a Summer sport, and such conditions would be difficult to adjust to., but in most instances, they did just that.

There was the usual presentation of medals from the previous day’s events at the beginning of the day’s program [it appeared that the presentation stand was just under the cover of the standing roof, as there was a lot of water on the ground just behind where it continued to rain steadily, but the athletes and officials involved in the medal ceremonies appeared to be relatively sheltered, as so they should have been].

The ‘program’ began with an unusual event. The runner from Botswana [ Isaac Makwala] who had been prevented from competing in the 400 metres Final yesterday, appealed to the IAAF that he be allowed to participate in the 200 metres semi-finals [the heats of which he had also missed yesterday]. He was granted permission to undertake a ‘time trial  –  to run the 200 metres, alone, with the aim of completing it in a time of 20.53 secs or better, which was the time run by the slowest qualifier for the semi-finals [that runner would not be prevented from taking his place if Makwala succeeded].  Well it was a big ask  –  he undertook the run in driving ran at the beginning of the evening’s session, with the knowledge that if he succeeded, he would have to line up again in 2 hours.  Succeed he did  –  in 20.20 secs, powering towards the finish line in a desperate attempt to ensure he made the required time.  That was a very ‘popular’ run as far as the almost capacity crowd was concerned [numbers obviously down a little as a consequence of the weather].

 Women’s 3000 Metres Steeplrchase Heats

This event officially began the evening session. Australia had two girls competing  –  Genevieve Lacaze and Victoria Mitchell. The world record in this event is 8.52.78, held by Ruth Jebet of Bahrain, who would finish second in Heat 2 today in the much slower time of 9.19.52.

In view of the weather conditions, I found myself feeling the way I do when watching horses over steeples and hurdles –  just hoping they all get to the end safely, as this event seemed to be a particular danger to the athletes in the driving rain [although from a ‘dampness’ point of view, there would be little concerns about falling at the water jump!!]. The first three in each heat plus the six fastest would progress – there was some criticism of that format of qualification, and it was suggested that the competitors [which was a very slowly run heat] in the first heat were disadvantaged and it was unlikely that anyone after the first three to get through because of the pedestrian pace of the race, whereas the second two heats had some indication of how fast they needed to run. However, surely that situation applies in any event beginning with heats?

In any case, the 1st heat was eventually won in 9.39.86 by the German girl Gesa Felicitas Krause, ahead of the two Kenyan runners, the first of those finishing just 0.03 secs behind Krause.

The 2nd heat saw Victoria Mitchell included in the field of 13 starters. This was a much faster run heat  – too fast for our girl, who finished back in 11th position in a time of 10.00.40. The winner was Beatrice Chepkeoch [Kenya] in 9.19.03..

The third heat went to another Kenyan – Celliphine Chepteek Chespol in 9.27.35. Australia’s Genevieve LaCaze ran a strong race, being amongst the leading runners for a large part of the race, was 4th with 2 laps to go, and finished  up in 3rd place in a time of 9.27.53  –  it was great, after mostly failures to see an Australian competitor get through to a track final!  Genevieve had finished 9th in this event at Rio last year.  Genevieve was a finalist in the Rio 5000 metres event. Speaking after her race, she said that ‘Worlds were not even a possibility two months ago –I thought I was going home” after suffering a host of injuries this year.

 Women’s Long Jump Qualification

This event, as with all others today, conducted in persistent rain.  Two Australian girls took part  –  Naa Anang, and Brooke Stratton.  Naa took her place in Group A,  where she would finish in 13th position with a jump of 6.27 metres. The leading qualifier in that group was Claudia Salman-Rath of Germany with a jump of 6.52, together with Chantel Malone of the British Virgin Islands.

In Group B, Brooke Stratton finished 4th with a jump of 6.46 metres, behind the leading qualifier, Lorraine Ugen of Great Britain [6.63 metres].  As far as the coverage of that event, we saw very little of the Australian competitors – of course, this is a British broadcast we are taking, so in the main, the Australian competitors, particularly in the field events, well we see very little of them! As for Brooke, she qualified for the Final, finishing in 12th position to sneak into the Final. She finished 7th in the Rio Olympics final, and has shrugged off an injury-prone season to get to this championship event,. Not having competed during the Australian summer due to injury. Speaking after the qualification rounds, Brooke said that she’d not expected to make it to London, and didn’t feel that her best leap of 6.46 metres would get her through to the final, saying “I had frozen feet which isn’t ideal for jumping and made it quite difficult”. The Long Jump final is scheduled for the early hours of Saturday morning, AEST.

 Men’s Hammerthrow Qualification, Groups A and B

We had no Australian representative in this event. Despite the weather, most of the throwers seem to cope fairly well with the bad conditions. The best qualifiers in each of the two groups were Pawel Fajdek of Poland [76.82 metres], and Wojciech Nowicki also from Poland [76.85 metres].

 Men’s 5000 metre Heats

There were two heats in this event which included three Australian competitors  – Morgan McDonld, Sam McEntee, and Patrick Tiernan [who’d had a rather disappointing 10,000 metre run earlier in the competition, when he appeared to be disorientated as he was lapped during the final stages].

Morgan and Sam lined up in Heat 1, which also included the great Mo Farah [who won the 10,000 metres Gold]. The two Aussies would find themselves in the middle of the field early in the race, but gradually would drift bavk towards the rear, while Mo Farah who had started in his customary position at the race, gradually made his way forward. After 8 laps, there were 15 men in the leading pack, with both Australians at the rear of that group. With the first five in each of the two heats plus the next 5 fastest runners, Mo Farah did not seemed concerned about his eventual 2nd placing behind Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha [13.30.07].  While Sam McEnteee would finish back in 11th position [of the 21 starters], Morgan McDonald finished the race strongly, coming home fast trying to get into that 5th spot of automatic qualification  – a desperate effort in the closing metres, saw him just miss out, finishing 7th in 13.30.73 [0.37 secs behind the 5th runner].

The second heat, run in the still driving rain,  saw a much stronger race by Patrick Tiernan.  There was a lot of physical contact in this race, particularly towards the latter stages, and Tirnan was able to take advantage of the fall of two competitors with just over 3 laps to go, in fact he jumped over one of the fallen athletes to avoid going down himself. A tall man, he took the lead in the race [great to see] with 3 laps to go – at the 4000 metres mark, Tiernan still held that lead, however with two laps to go, he is overtaken by the African runners and is soon sitting back around in 4th/5th position. Certainly a much better run than his 10,000 metres, and he battled on in the closing stages, 3rd in the final lap, in pouring rain,  to finally come home in 4th position [13.22.52], and automatically qualify for the Final. The eventual winner was Selemon Berega of Ethiopia [13.21.50] ahead of the competitors from Bahrain and Kenya.Tiarnan had run himself into the final, with McDonald just missing out.

 Women’s Shot Put Final

This event saw a tight battle at the end between the competitors from China, the USA and Hungary, with the three Chinese finalists eventually finishing in 1st, 5th and 12th position.  The winner was Lijiao Gong  [also the Olympic champion] with a put of 19.94 metres, ahead of Hungary’s Anita Marton, and Michelle Carter of the USA.

No Australian had qualified to participate in this event.

 Men’s 200 metre Semi-finals

We chad the three semi-finals of this event today –  the first two in each heat only, to the final plus the next two best times. Heat 1 saw Isaac Makwala [of Botswana] run his second 200 metres within two hours, following his especially IAAF granted early morning trial. I think he may have been the crowd favourite [aside from the Great Britain competitor] with a lot of sympathy directed towards his efforts.  Makwala would finish second [and qualify for the final, almost from aick bed] behind Isiah Young [USA] who ran 20.12 secs [Makwala in 20.14] with the Great Britain competitor coming in third place, 0.05 secs behind.

Heat 2, saw a win to the exciting young athlete from Trinidad & Tobago  –  Jereem Richards, in a time of 20.14 secs, an easy win on the day, and to many, the sign of a future star.

Heat 3 went to the Turkish runner, perhaps a surprise result ahead of more fancied oppoments including the South African Gold Medalist of the previous day, Van Niekerk  –  Ramil Guliyev won in the time of 20.17 secs, at the time, the 4th fastest qualifier for the upcoming final.

 Men’s 400 metres Hurdles Final

This was a very welcome, and perhaps unexpected win for Scandinavia  –  Karsten Warholm of Norway, stormed home to win the race in the time 48.35 seconds – a race which considering the ongoing weather conditions, was probably more of a challenge than it normally is. In any case, he gate crashed the party from behind in the closing metres to defeat Yasmani Copello [Turkey] and Kerron Clement [USA]. Clement started as one of the favourites for this race  n-  he was the reigning Olympic and World champion in the event, and had been the fastest qualifier. The winner, a very personable young man, was rather excited about his success. In his homeland, he apparently trains up to 7 hours a day, and following today’s success, wore a Viking helmet for an hour or so during his lap of honour and post-race interviews, etc. Watching his medal ceremony the next morning, I wondered if I’d ever heard the Nationa Anthem of Norway previously?

 Women’s 400 metres Final

The final event on today’s rain-plagued day of competition, saw the long-time success story of American track, Allyson Felix into the third spot on the podium by her  fellow country rival, Phyllis Francis [USA]  winning the Gold in the time of 49.92 secs. The Silver Medal went to Salwa Eid Naser [Bahrain], with the Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller – Uibo fading to 4th after looking a possible winner earlier in the race. Francis hs normally being regarded as a relay specialist, so this would be a special result for her.  For Felix, this would be her 14th Championship medal, of which 9 had been Gold medals.

 Day Seven, Thursday, 10th August

On this 7th day of the Championships, we saw a number of Australian athletes attempt to make their mark on this competition.  Prior to this day’s events, the Medal tally stood at USA: 4 Gold, 5 Silver, 6 Bronze;  Kenya: 3 Gold, 1 Silver, 3 Bronze, and South Africa: 2 Gold and 2 Bronze. There were 14 other individual countries having won at least one Gold Medal. In total, there were 27 countries having secured a medal of some colour so far  – but for Australia, not yet a single medal. Could today be the start of something, down under?

Compared to yesterday’s weather, London turned on a good day for the athletes. Here is the way things eventuated.

Women’s 5000 metre Heats

With two heats of the 5000 metres for the girls, we had the first 5 in each heat, plus the next 5 fastest to go through to the final.  Australia had three competitors  –  Madeline Hills and Heide See [both running in Heat 2] and Eloise Wellings [in Heat 1].

Heat 1 also included the 10,000 metre winner, Almaz Ayana, and the UK hope, Laura Muir. This was the strongest of the two heats. After the first lap, we found Eloise near the rear of the field, yet by the 2 km stage, we had all 16 runners bunched up together in a fairly tight pack.  At the 3,200 metre mark, Ayana hits the front momentarily, as if to say “I’m in charge now’, although she would share the lead for the rest of the race with the Kenyan and Ethiopian runners. Meanwhile, Eloise  was gradually starting to lose ground on the leading group with 3 ½ laps to go, and at 600 metres, the field was really beginning to stretch out. The English girl, really has her work cut out now, and appears to be struggling, eventually finishing back in 7th position. The race would eventually be won by Hellen Onsando Obiri of Kenya in 14.56.70, ahead of Ayana who made no real attempt to finish in front at the end, perhaps saving herself for the Final at the weekend.  Eloise Wellings finished second last, in 15th position [15.25.92]

Heat 2, which involved Madeline and Heidi for Australia,  who as with many of the Australian competitors received little acknowledgement from the British commentators as the competitors lined up [I guess not really having made names for themselves on the international stage to this point in time]. There were again 16 starters in this heat, which saw a courageous run by the American, Molly Huddle who took a ‘bold move’ and went out to a substantial lead over the field at about 4 minutes into the race. With 8 laps to run, Huddle was still in the lead by about 40 metres, and as the laps progressed, and that lead increased to about 7 seconds over the following pack who had made no real effort to close the gap.  At that stage, Hills was in 11th position, while Heide See was near the rear of the runners.

With 3 laps to go, Hills has moved up into 7th position and appears to be running strong, while Huddle [barring a major mishap] looks to have done enough to secure a win with one kilometre to go. Hills goes back to 10th.  However, with one lap to run, the gap has closed to around 4 seconds, and suddenly it is closing very fast now fast for the brave Huddle who is passed by six competitors in the final 60 metres or so,  a very disappointing outcome for the American after taking the field on do early. The eventual winner was Letsenbet Gidey of Ethiopia in 14.59.34, over runners from the Nederlands and the USA. Molly Huddle finished in 7th position in 15.03.60. The two Australian girls finished back in the field  – Madeline Hills was 10th [15.13.77] and Heidi See came in 14th spot [15.38.86]. None of the three Australian girls qualified for the final  – in the overall standings, Hills [19th], Wellings [27th] and See [29th] of the 32 starters.

Men’s Javelin Qualifying, Groups A and B

Australia’s representative in this field event was Hamish Peacock. The qualifying mark for advancement to the Final was 83 metres, in which the best 12 competitors would participate. . Competing in Group A of the competition, against 14 other throwers, Peacock’s  three rounds produced 77.88, 82.46 and 82.19, just short of the qualification distance, he would have to wait until the completion of Group B to see if he could get through. In Group A, he was placed 6th behind five rivals who all passed the 83 metres. The leading throw was by Johannes Vetter of Germany [a very self-confident man – my harsh description was ‘a bit full of himself’ but perhaps he’d earned that attitude  – he did throw a massive 91.20 metres].

In Group B, it was quickly evident that our man was going to miss out, as the number of successful throws grew rapidly   – eight of the sixteen competitors exceeded the 83 metres, with the winner of the group being Petr Frydrych [Cze] throwing 86.22 metres.  In the overall classification summary, Hamish Peacock finished in 14th position with his best throw of 82.46 metres, the best non-qualifier on the day, with the top 13 going into the Final..

Women’s High Jump Qualifying

In the direct telecast of this event, there was little of it shown, and certainly, prior to the various replays of the events, no progressive results were indicated to the viewers.    Nicola McDermott was jumping for Australia.

We would later learn that she competed in Group A with 15 others, but sadly did nor register a jump, failing at her three attempts at an opening height of 1.80 metres. Nicola would be classified overall at the bottom of the 30 starters in the event. A disappointing journey for the young Australian.

The leading heights in the two groups were Katarina Johnson-Thompson [the unsuccessful British Heptathlon competitor] with a leap of 1.92 metres, and Maria Lasitskene [ANA – one of the independent Russian competitors] with 1.92 metres also.

Women’s 800 metre Heats

The first three go into the semi-final stage, plus the next best six. There were six heats, and we had three Australians competing  –  Lora Storey, Brittany McGovern and Georgia Griffiths.

Heat 1 went to Ajee Wilson [USA] in 2.00.52.  Heat 2 went to Poland’s Angelika Cichocka in 2.00.86. Australia’s Lora Storey found herself well back in the field of eight with a lap to go, and finished in 7th place in 2.07.17.  Heat 3, resulted in a similar outcome for Brittany McGovern, who 6th of seven starters, in the time of 2.02.25. The winner of that heat was Caster Semenya of South Africa in 2.01.33. Heat 4 went to the Kenyan runner, Margaret Myairera Wambui in 2.00.75. Heat 5 was won by Charlene Lipsey of the USA in 2.02.74. Australia’s Georgia Griffith put in a strong finish to miss out on 4th place by 0.09 secs – her time, in 5th position was 2.03.54. I was hoping the times for Griffith and McGovern might qualify them for the next stage. Heat 6 went to Francine Niyonsaba of BDI in 1.59.86.

In the overall classification of results before the semi-finals which none of the Australian girls qualified for, we found that Brittany McGovern finished 28th, Georgia Griffiths, 38th, and Lora Storey, in 41st position of the 45 original starters in the heats.

 Men’s Triple Jump Final

This  event received all of the coverage not allocated to the Women’s High Jump, both undertaken at similar times.  It turned out to have the Americans going ‘toe for toe’. The World record for this event has been held for some 20 years by one of the broadcast interviewers, England’s Jonathan Edwards on 18.29 metres – he and his offsider felt that record might be broken today.

Well, despite the battle between two Americans that didn’t happen, and Jonathan’s remained secure for a little longer.  The eventual winner would be Christian Taylor [USA] with a jump of 17.68 metres ahead of his fellow countryman, Will Claye, 17.63 metres. Nelson Evora of Portugal came for the Bronze, with the third American in the Final finishing in 6th position.

Men’s 1500 Metre Heats

One of the glamour events of any athletic completion is the 1500 metres, and in past decades, Australia had some success in the event, but not in recent times. We had three hopefuls in this race  – the experienced Ryan Gregson, the high prospect. Luke Matthews, and  Jordan Williamsz.  There were three heats with the first six in each heat plus the next best six runners to progress to the semi-final.

Heat 1 saw Williansz compete in a field of 14 starters, and he was sitting in 8th position at the 8oo metres mark. The race would be won by Elijah Motonei Manangoi of Kenya in 3.45.93, in a ‘bunfight’ of a finish involving up to eight seeking one of those first positions. They included Jordan Williamsz who finished very strongly, coming from behind to grab the 6th position, in 3.46.11, and qualify for a start in the next round.

Heat 2 featured Ryan Gregson, whom I’d anticipated would finish close to the front, but despite a strong run towards the final straight, he dropped back in the closing stages to finish in 9th position in a time of 3.43.28. The Heat 2 winner was Sadik Mikhou of Bahrain in 3.42.12. Gregson failed to qualify.

The Heat 3 result  was a rare pleasing one for an Australian viewer. Luke Matthews was in 4th position at 400 metres, 3rd at the 800 metre mark, and back to 4th at the bell lap. Early in the final lap, he went to the lead, and despite close opposition managed to retain that position to win the heat for Australia in 3.38.19 [he had apparently run times of around 3.35 in Australia]. It was a rare pleasant to view an Australian athletic cross the line in first place –  true, only a heat, but the opportunity is there. In the overall classification, he was in fact the fastest qualifier, while  Ryan Gregson, whom I thought had qualified initially, just missed out, in 20th position. Meanwhile, Jordan Williamsz finished back in 29th position in the overall time classification, but because of his 6th placing in the heat would also compete at the semi-final stage.

 Women’s 200 Metre Semi-finals

The world record for this event is 21.34 seconds. The first two from each of the three semi-finals plus the next two fastest would advance to the final. Our two Australian girls were eliminated at the Heat stage.

Semi-final One saw victory go to Dafne Schippers [Nederlands] in 22.49secs.  Semi-final 2 was won by Shaunae Miller-Uibo [Bahamas] in 22.49 secs, while the third semi-final went to Marie-Josee Ta Lou [CIV] in 22.50 secs.  So the leading three qualifiers going into the Final, all finished within one hundredth of a second of each other.

Women’s 400 Metre Hurdles Final

The reigning champion in this event was the girl from the Czech Republic, Zuzana Hejnova, and she was highly fancied to retain the crown. However others had different ideas, particularly the two American runners.

The Gold medal was won by Kori Carter of the USA in the time of 53.07 secs, followed by Dalilah Muhammad [USA, the Olympic champion] in 53.50. The runner from Jamaica, Ristananna Tracey, secured the Bronze medal ahead of Hejnova who finished in 4th place.

 Men’s 200 Metres Final

The world record in this event is held by Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, in 19.19 secs. He is not competing in the event on this occasion.  The final had a great line-up of prospective winners including South Africa’s Van Neikerk [who had qualified as a fast loser], Jereem Williams [from Trinidad and Tobago], and the crowd favourite due to the circumstances of him reaching the Final, Isaac Makwala. Perhaps overlooked was the man from Turkey..

It would turn out to be a close finish after Richards got away to a sluggish start but flashed towards the finishing line a big threat to the also fast-finishing South African  –  but it would in fact be the man from Turkey, Ramil Guliyev, who stole the race from them all – being the second European runner [formerly of Azabrahan] to ever win this race –  in a time of 20.09. Guliyev had finished 8th in the event in Rio last year, and this was apparently his first ever medal in an international championship event.  The minor medals went to Van Miekerk and Richards, while Botswana’s Isaac Makwala finished in 6th position in 20.44 secs, much slower than the times he recorded in his ‘solo’ heat, ands semi-final time.

A full listing of the event results, together with those of all other finals, appears at the end the Championships report.

 Day Eight,  Friday, 11th August

We had the two sessions of competition today, and the highlight as an all-round athletics fam, would be the start of the Men’s Decathlon event, and return to the international track of Sally Pearson. There will be more on both of those shortly, but the day also saw of number of other Australian athletes competing in semi-final and final events.

Friday was a sunny day in London, right up until the last event just before 9pm, where a shower of rain briefly hit the stadium, and for competitors such as the Men’s Hammer Throwers, and the Women Steeplechasers, it was a welcome change from their rain-drenched events of two days ago.

Morning session

 The Men’s Decathlon, to be spread over two full days, would get the program underway, and it was great to have an Australian contestant to follow in this multi-disciplined event. It has been a World Championship event since 1983, with the inaugural winner being the great Daley Thompsom.

The decathlon is a combined event in athletics consisting of ten track and field events. The word decathlon is of Greek origin, basically meaning ‘ten’ and ‘feat’. Events are held over two consecutive days and the winners are determined by the combined performance in all. Performance is judged on a points system in each event, not by the position achieved.  It is basically the male equivalent of the Women’s Heptathlon, which opened the Championships at the beginning of competition.  It combines the results of competition in four runs, three jumps and three throws  –  on Day 1, we have the 100 metres, Long Jump, Shot Put, High Jump and 400 metres, while on Day 2, contestants compete in the 110 metre hurdles, Discus, Pole Vault, Javelin and the 1500 metres. A true test of all around athletic prowess in a broad range of track and field.

While today’s events were spread over the two sessions, I’ll summarise today’s results before moving on to other events. Australia’s representative was Cedric Dubler, who competed as Australia’s first decathlete in 16 years at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, placing 14th. In 2014 he won Silver at the IAAF U20 World Junior Championships in Eugene, setting a new Oceania Junior Record of 8094 points.[4] In 2012, aged 17, Dubler placed 4th at the same competition in Barcelona.  While not anticipating a medal opportunity, he hoped to improve at that Rio performance.

The Decathlon 100 Metres consisted of four heats which saw the following first place getters  – Mihail Dudas [Serbia] in 10.75 secs [917points]  – Kevin Mayer [France] in 10.70 secs [929 pts]. Cedric Dubler finished 4th in the 2nd heat in 11.06 secs, earning 847 pts  –  Martin Roe [Norway] in 10.90 secs [883 pts]  –  Damian Warner [Canada] in 10.50 secs [975 pts].  I was interested to note that before the start of the heats, the competitors each went around shaking each other’s hands, with the Australian initiating that in his heat – something that despite the fierce competition of the Decathlon, is typical of the r4espect and friendship of this particular group of athletes [similarly with the Heptathlon event]. In any case, the leaders after the first of the ten disciplines [remembering that points earned are based on times run, not the position finished] – 1. Damian Warner [Canada]: 975.  2. Rico Freimuth [Germany]: 968;  3. Karl Robert Saluri [Estonia]: 963. Cedric Dubler was in 17th position with 870 pts.

The Decathlon Long Jump saw points earned for successful jumps in each of the three rounds. As with most the field events in which Australians were competing, I would be constantly disappointed that the British cameras could never seem to find the Australians  – this event was no different, Cedric was there, but never jumping when the cameras bothered to be about, I think he appeared once on the second track out of view as the British competitor jumped. Anyway, be that as it may, he will slip back a little in this event, finishing 17th overall, an earning 883 points, with a best jump of 7.29 metres. The leading jumpers were Sutthisak [Thailand] 7.65metres [975 pts], Kai Kazmirek [Germany] 7.64 [970 pts], and Ilya Shkurenev [ANA – the Authorised National Athletes team consisting of 19 Russian athletes] 7.62 [965 pts].  At the end of the 2nd discipline, some movement at the top  –  1. Rico Freimuth [Germany] on 1898 pts. 2. Damian Warner [Canada] on 1895 pts, and 3. Karl Robert Saluri [Estonoa] on 1895 pts. Cedric Dubler now sits in 19th position on 1730pts. At this stage, of the original 35 starters, there were now 33 left in the competition.

The Decathlon Shot Putt  – this event was held late in the morning session, with all other events included –  but the British cameras still could not manage to find our Australian man, in covering the Shot Put – my gripe for the day  – he is there, but is seemingly ignored until it’s time to sum up the result!! Anyway, like the Long Jump this would be conducted in two groups with points again allocated on the basis of distance thrown. The leading results were  –  Lindon Victor [Grenada] 15.86 metres [843 pts]; Kevin Mayer [France]  15.72 [834 pts], and Bastien Auzeil [France] 15.23 [804 pts].  Cedric Dubler’s best put was 11.36 metres, in 32nd position [568 pts]. At the conclusion of the Shot Put, the overall placings saw  1. Kevin Mayer [France] on 2703 pts. 2. Rico Freimuth [Germany] on 2678 pts. 3. Trey Hardee [USA] on 2647 pts.   Cedric had now dropped to 29th position overall, on 2298 pts. However, his two best events of the day lay ahead.

The Decathlon HighJump followed  – this event was held in the very early hours of an Australian Saturday morning, and was almost over before the advertised starting time.  Australia’s Cedric Dubler had a very good competition in this event, though the writer didn’t get to see any of his jumps.  In the overall washup at the completion of the two group stages, Cedric finished in 5th position, with a leap of 2.08 metres, earning him a total of 878 points.  The leading contenders in the High Jump event were Kai Kasmirek [Germany], 2.11 metres [906 pts];  Pau Tonneson [Spain] 2.08 metres [878 pts], and Jorge Urena [Spain]2.08 metres [878 pts].

After four disciplines in the Decathlon, we find the leading three to be Kevin Mayer [3581 pts], Kai Kazmirek [3472 pts], and Rico Freimuth [3472 pts] – very tight at the top, while Cedric Dubler has improved his overall position to 22nd position on 3176 points.

The Men’s Decathlon 400 Metres  – there were 4 heats of the 400 metres, with the respective winners in each being Mihail Dudas [Croatia] in 48.08 secs [905 pts]; Cedric Dubler [Australia] in 48.31 secs [894 pts]; Rico Freimuth [Germany] 48.41 secs [889 pts], and Kai Kazmirek [Germany] 47.19 secs [949 pts].  The 2nd heat win by Cedric was great run which saw ,him come from the pack and surge ahead in the closing stages, and allow his overall position to improve further at the end of Day 1 of the competition.

At the conclusion of today’s Decathlon events, the leading three were Kevin Mayer [4478 pts], Kai Kazmirek [4421], and Rico Freimuth 4347 pts], followed by Daniel Warner [4347] and Trey Hardie [4313].  The Australian lad has moved up to 18th position with a total of 4070 points]. There are now 27 athletes following 8 withdrawals since the start.

Women’s Discus Qualifying

Australia had two representatives in the Women’s Discus –  Taryn Gollshewsky competed in Group A, and unfortunately ended up in 14th position of the 15 position – her best throw was 54.29. In the overall competition, she finished 27th of the 30 starters. Dani Stevens competed in Group B, and her first and only throw exceeded the distance required to qualify for the Final  –  she threw 65.56, which was the third best qualifier of all competitors. Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic [hot favourite to win the event] had a best distance of 69.67 metres, and Yaime Perez of Cuba, threw 65.58 metres.  Dani Stevens has had international success previously, including the Commonwealth Youth Champion in 2004, World Champion in 2009, and Commonwealth Games Champion in 2014, and I look forward to her performances in the Final.

As mentioned previously with other field events, we were given very little opportunity to see any of either Australian girl’s participation in the Discus, which, as probably guessed by now, I have found very disappointing.

Men’s High Jump Qualifying

With an initial qualification height of 2.31 metres, this event was conducted over 2 groups. The initial stages saw a number of fancied competitors knocked out , and at relatively low heights. In the end, we would have twelve athletes qualify for the Final, six of them achieving a height of 2.31 metres, and the other six reaching 2.29 metres. Quialified in position one was  Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar. Unfortunately, we had no Australians entered in this event.

 Women’s 100 metres Hurdles Heats, and Semi-Finals

For Australian supporters this event is probably [and also sadly] the only event at this competition that have any likelihood of a major medal, with Sally Pearson making her comeback appearance at the World Championships, after missing the last competition, and the Rio Olympics due to injury.  Sally was of course ‘our’ Olympic hero at this very stadium one August day in 2012, when in driving rain, she won the Olympic 100 metres hurdles that year, after previously winning the event at the same title at the World Championships in 2011. After 2 years of disruption, originating with the breaking of her wrist in a race in 2015, and then suffering other injuries, followed by a decision to self-coach and virtually start over again, Sally is back!!

Meanwhile, we would also be represented in this event by Michelle Jenneke, who is recorded as being the second fastest Australian [obviously behind Sally] in this event.

The morning session saw the heats of the race, while the semi-finals were held a few hours later during the evening session. The competition had a very strong field including the current world record holder, Kendra Harrison [USA], who was expected to be very difficult to defeat, despite the fact that Sally in a recent Diamond League race at the London Stadium, ran 12.48 secs, her fastest time for five years to finish just a stride behind Harrison [12.39 that day].

The results of the five heats were as follows:  Heat 1: went to Danielle Williams [Jamaica] in 12.66 secs. Heat 2 also went to Jamaica – Megan Simmonds in 12.78 secs.  Heat 3 saw the appearance of Australia’s Michelle Jenneke  –  the heat was won by Kendra Harrison [USA] in 12.60 secs, while Michelle finished in 6th position, in a time of 13.11 secs. I thought at that stage that she would not proceed to the semi-final stage, but at the end of the heats, that time was good enough for her to qualify.  Heat 5 saw the comeback of  30 year old Sally Pearson. She won the heat in convincing fashion in a time of 12.72 secs, a wonderful return to serious competition after having to completely rebuild her form. However, our British commentators continued to give her not much of a chance of actually winning the event again because of the time that has passed, the recovery phase, self-coaching project, and so on – they felt that Williams and Harrison for far above all the other runners in the race.  Meanwhile, the 5th heat was won by Christina Manning [USA] in 12.87 secs. There was a disturbing fall during that race – the runner from Trinidad & Tobago [Deborah John] appeared to suffer a leg injury of some sort which caused her to crash right through the hurdle partway through the race, and she remained motionless on the track for some time after the race before being taken by stretcher for medical attention.

The Semi-finals of the 100 Hurdles followed later on in the evening program.  Sally Pearson [voted as the world athlete of the year a few years ago] stepped up to the first of three semi-finals, with the first two in each race guaranteed a start in the final plus the two fastest non-qualifiers. Kendra Harrison holds the current world record of 12.20 secs. Sally came to the track, looking very serious, and totally concentrated on the task ahead of her, and when introduced to the crowd, we received a very mild obligatory smile.

Semi-final One was won by Sally Freeman in 12.53 secs, a convincing win , which certainly enhanced her credentials, and left looking a lot happier than before the race, and admitted to the English interviewers [who had given her little hope of progressing] that she had been afraid before of losing, the depth of concentration totally on avoiding that occurring. The next place-getter in that race was Nia Ali of the USA in 12.79 secs.

Semi-final 2 included Michelle Jennecke  –  the race was won by Christina Manning [USA] in 12.71 secs, while our girl, after a strong start in which she appeared to be running with confidence, faded in the latter stages of the race to finish back in 7th position in 13.25 secs.

Semi-final 3 was somewhat of a sensation. A false start, which appeared to involve Harrison, but ended as a ‘warning’ only to the German runner [Dutkiewicz] created a momentary ‘scare’ in the stadium. All got away at a second attempt, but then Harrison crashed through one of the early hurdles which cost her the race, and almost, a place in the final. It was won by Dawn Harper Nelson [USA] in 12.63 secs, with Harrison finishing 3rd in 12.86 secs. Harrison qualified for the Final in 8th position, one hundredth of a second ahead of Norway’s unlucky Isabelle Pederson. Almost a sensation!!!

In the overall wash-up of the event, prior to the final, Michelle Jenneke finished in 21st position of the 24 semi-finalists.

Women’s Long Jump Final

The twelve finalists included Australia’s Brooke Stratton, who had qualified in 11th position. Brooke has jumped over 7 metres in the past, but in this field, she would probably need to do that gain. In fact, she would get past the cut-off point after the first round today, and managed to legally complete all of today’s six jumps  –  6.27, 6.54, 6.67, 6.55, 6.67 and 6.64  –  sitting in 6th position, with her last jump, Brooke was still in a position to create an upset, if she could jump to her potential. Unfortunately that didn’t occur, and she would finish  in 6th position with her best jump of 6.67 metres. Again, we only briefly saw Brooke, her final jump near the end of the event!

The winner was Brittany Reese of the USA – of her six jumps, only two were recorded, the best of those being enough to win at 7.02 metres. She was ahead of Darya Klishina [Authorised Neutral Athletes] with 6.97, and Tianna Bartoletta [6.96]

Women’s 800 Metre Semi-finals

There were three semi-finals for this event, with the first two in each race plus the two fastest losers into the Final.

The current World Record is 1.53.28.

Semi-final 1:  won by Ajee Wilson n[USA] in 1.59.21 from Melissa Bishop [Canada] in 1.59.56

Semi-final 2, we witnessed the irresistible strength of the South African runner, Caster Semenya [the current Olympic champion] who powered away in the closing stages, to win in a time of 1.58.90, ahead of Angelicka Chichocka [Poland] in 1.59.32. The English girl, Lynsey Sharp finished 4th, and qualified for the final, but was then disqualified for interference near the end of the race. Her position was reinstated after an appeal by the Great Britain team.

Semi-final 3 went to Francine Niyonsaba  [BDI] in 2.01.11, ahead of Margaret Nyairera Wambui [Kenya] in 2.01.19, with Brenda Martinez of the USA in third spot.

Men’s 1500 Semi-finals

These races featured two Australians, who on the basis of their heat runs might have expected a better outcome than what eventuated. The first five in each race would go automatically to the Final.

In Semi-final 1,  Luke Matthews [Australia] came into the race as the fastest qualifier, but with a lap to go, and running at around 5th or 6th,  he found the pace too strong for him, and he would finish back in  7th place, his time of 3.40.91 not good enough to qualify for the final.  That heat was won by Elijah Motonei Manangoi [Knya] in 3.41.10, ahead of Asbel Kiprop [Kenya] in 3.40.14

Semi-final 2 was won by Jakub Holusa [Cze]  in 3.38.05, ahead of Timothy Cheruiyot [Kenya] in 3.38.24.  Australia’s Jordan Williamsz ran a similar race to Matthews, was around 8th to 10th position for the bulk of the race, moved into 7th at the bell lap but couldn’t come on with it this time, eventually finishing in 8th position in a time of 3.38.93. In fact, had he managed a couple more strides, he could have made the final, being 25/100 behind the 7th runner, who qualified.

Men’s Hammer Throw Final

For the twelve finalists, their competition was held in vastly contrasting conditions to that experienced two days earlier in the pouring rain.

Despite a bit of seeming tight tussle evident towards the end of the competition,  the eventual winner from Poland –  Pawel Fajdek  never really looked to be challenged, and would win his second World Championship in the event. His winning throw was 79.81 metres, ahead of Valeriy Pronkin [ANA} with 78.16, and Wojciech Nowicki [Poland] on 78.03. The Polish team are in fact fast moving up the medal tally ladder, having successes over a range of areas. As already noted earlier, the ANA nation represents the ‘Authorised Neutral Athletes’, a team consisting of 19 approved Russian athletes.

Women’s 3000 metres Steeplechase Final

There were 14 starters in this Final, including Australia’s Genevieve LaCaze, and six Kenyan runners [although not all running for their birth nation these days]. After ac lap of the race, LaCaze was back at tail of the field, and would generally remain in that area, gradually falling back to the rear of a second group later as the field spread out, with the stronger runners increasing the pace.

An amazing and costly event [for the athlete involved] occurred, I think at either or second pass over the water jump. The highly fancied and experienced Kenyan runner, Jepkemoi, came to the water jump, and in a brain fade or something, forgot to jump it, running around instead – which meant she had to turn around, retrace her steps, and create a new run-up in order to get over the water jump. That obviously cosy her 50 or 60 metres, and alternatively, the race itself. This was followed by a fall from another athlete later in the race. After four minutes, the Olympic champion, Ruth Jebet [Bahrain] took the lead and retained that role for a few laps. Meanwhile, Jepkemoi was making up ground from her mishap, and was soon back up with the leaders, but it was assumed that the effort of making up lost ground would prove too much in the end. In fact, she hit the front, temporarily as the last lap was being run, with Jebet now out of it, but was running ‘out of gas’  –  in the final analysis, the two Americans would run the East Africans off their feet, in a stunning result.

The Gold Medal went to Emma Coburn [USA]  in the time of 9.02.58, ahead of her compatriot, Courtney Frerichs, in 9.03.77. The luckless Hyvin Kiyemg Jepkemoi, finished third in 9.04.03, followed by Beatrice Chepkeoch [Kenya] and Ruth Jebet [Bahrain].  Genevieve LaCaze finished back in 12th position, in a time of 9.26.25, with just the Canadian runner behind her.

Women’s 200 metre final

This Final concluded the day’s program, and featured 8 starters. A top field including the defending champion, Dafne Schippers, and the Olympic champion,the US’s Deejay Stevens. The world record for the distance is 21.34 secs.

Dafne Schippers of the Nederlands, retained her title, winning the race in 22.05 secs, from the unlucky Maree-Josee Ta Lou [of the Ivory Coast, who picked second close finish to a Gold medal this week], her time was 22.08 secs, while thirds place went to Shaunea Miller-Uibo [Bahamas] in 22.15 secs. And as the British commentators bemoaned, it was ‘another 4th placing’ for a British athlete for Dina Asher-Smith.

So that leaves us with two days of competition.

Day Nine,  Saturday, 11th August

 On this penultimate of the Championships – a sunny day with a very healthy weekend crowd in attendance, we would witness  more ‘scripts’ go astray, a former ‘winner’ resurrect herself with a brilliant victory, and Great Britain achieve greatness in a relay.

For today’s events, I’m  not going to report along the lines of the normal daily chronological sequence of the program, which was again divided into a morning and evening session, but instead go first to the event that brought this Australian scribe the most pleasure and emotion of the week, shortly after 5am, on Sunday morning, my time.

The Women’s 100 Metres Hurdles Final

This event was one of a number of finals that ended Day 9, and featured Australia’s Sally Pearson, whose story is briefly summarised below, in the ABC report following the race. The World record of 12.20 secs was held by Kendra Harrison [USA], one of the 8 finalists in race. The field also included the Rio Olympic Silver medallist, Nia Ali [USA], and Holland’s Nadine Visser [who finished 7th in the Heptathlon early in the week.

As with her semi-final run, Sally, when introduced to the capacity crowd, ‘responded’ with just a weak smile, having come out to the track looking extremely concentrated, and serious [her usual pre-race demeanour].

Once again, as we waited for the starter’s pistol to send the eight girls on their way,. I would be mesmerised by the complete and utter silence in the stadium [more evident I think with the sprint events], but certainly evidence of total respect for the competitors.

The Final was over in 12.59 seconds  –  and the girl over the line first  her resurrection complete –  was Australia’s Sally Pearson. I’ll allow the ABC online reporter to briefly tell the story of Sally and her race..

From ABC news this morning [Sunday] – Sally Pearson has capped an extraordinary comeback from injury by winning gold in the 100m hurdles at the world athletics championships in London.  Competing at her first major global championship since 2013 and having overcome serious wrist, hamstring and achilles injuries, the Australian powered away from the field to win in 12.59 seconds.  “That was bloody hard,” an emotional Pearson said shortly after crossing the finish line. “I’ve worked so hard, I don’t know what has just happened out there. “I’m so tired but I’m sure it will sink in soon.  “It’s been a long journey back from injury, but to get this moment and go and celebrate in front of my family is unreal. “My husband is in the crowd there somewhere, I’ll try and find him and give him a hug soon. “This is just so incredible, to be a world champion again.” Her long-time rival Dawn Harper-Nelson from the United States was second in 12.63 and Germany’s Pamela Dutkiewicz claimed the bronze in 12.72. World record holder Kendra Harrison from the US finished out of the medals in fourth place.

It was a third major 100m hurdles title for Pearson, who had previously won gold at the 2011 world championships in Daegu and the 2012 London Olympics. The 30-year-old joined 400m runner Cathy Freeman and 400m hurdler Jana Pittman as the only Australians to have won two world track and field titles.

Her next challenge will be winning a third successive Commonwealth title on home soil on the Gold Coast next year. After injury denied Pearson of the opportunity to defend her Olympic title last year in Rio, she decided to coach herself.  It proved to be masterstroke.  She became the favourite for the world title when she clocked the fastest semi-final time of 12.53 on Friday evening and carried that dominance into the final.

So there you have it  –  a moment, not just an emotional one for the winner herself, but also for this viewer and writer, and a popular win in the stadium at London where Sally’s rivals included four world-class Americans.

And later  –  it was wonderful to hear for the only time this week, to hear the Australian National Anthem played in the London stadium – it has been a lean week despite of personal outstanding performances.

Women’s High Jump Final

In the hour before the Hurdles final, a very entertaining Women’s High Jump final was in progress, and while there were no Australians in the field of 12 finalists, I thoroughly enjoyed the almost full coverage of the evenrt, with competitors including  the Olympic champion [Ruth Beitia], the defending World champion [Airine Palsyte],  the world youth champion of 2015 [Michaela Hruba],  the Olympic silver medalist [Mirula Demireva], a junior US champion [Vashti Cunningham], and a representative of the Authorised Neutral Athletes team [of 19 Russians], Maria Lasitskene who had achieved the 5th highest jump in history of 2.06 metres.

With the height bar starting at 1.84 metres, that height would not be reached today, but the winning jump was not far behind, after nine of the contestants had gradually being eliminated from the event,  we had a tense battle between Lasitskene, nthe Ukraine’s Levchenko and Poland’s Cicwinko.

The High Jump was eventually won by Maria Lasitskene [ANA] with a leap of 2.03 metres – she did make three attempts at 2.08 metres after victory was assured but was unsuccessful on each occasion. Second place went to Yuliia Levchenko [Ukraine] 2.01 metres, followed by Kamila Cicwinko [Poland] 1.99 metres. The 4th to 6th placings achieved 1.95 metres, 7th to 11th, 1.92 metres, while the first competitor to go out was the Olympia champion, Ruth Beitia [Spain] jumping only 1.88 metres.

As the winner was not officially representing Russia, the Anthem for that nation could not be placed – instead we had a short but inspiring piece of Russian classical music [which this classical music lover must admit to not actually recognising].

Men’s Decathlon Final:  Disciplines 6-10  [110 m Hurdles; Discus; Pole Vault; Javelin; and, the 1500 metres run.

We left yesterday’s  Decathlon events, with the three leading competitors being Kevin Mayer [4478 pts], Kai Kazmirek [4421], and Rico Freimuth [4347 pts], with Australia’s Cedric Duble 18th position  [4070 points]. There were 27 athletes of the original 35 left at that point  – by the time we got to the 1500 final event, there would be just 20 Decathlon athletes remaining in the competition.

The 6th discipline today was the 110 metre Hurdles –  consisting of four laps which resulted in wins for Janek Oiglane [Estonia] in 14.56 [906 pts] ; Pau Tonnesen [Francwe] 14.57 [902 pts];  Jorge Urena [Spain] 14.15 [955 pts]; and Damian Warner [Canada] 13.63 [1023 pts].  Cedric Dubler ran in Heat 3 where he finished 6th in 14.92 secs, earning him 859 points..  Leaders after 6 events were Kevin Mayer [France]: 5485 pts; Rico Freimuth [Germany] 5377; and Damien Warner [Canada] 5370, while Cedric Dubler was sitting in 18th position with 4929 pts. As a rough estimate, each additional gain of half a second is worth approximately 65 points.

The Discus event was divided into two groups. The topthree performances in this vent were Rico Freimuth [Germany], with a best throw of 51.17 metres [895 pts]; followed by Oleksiy Kasyanov [Ukraine] with 48.79 [845 pts], and Martin Roe [Norway] with 48.24 [834 pts]. Cedric Dubler  finished in 19th position with a throw of 40.85 metres [worth 682 pts].

The leaders after 7 events  –  1. Kevin Mayer [6296 pts]. 2. Rico Freimuth [6272 pts]. 3. Oleksiy Kasyanov [6095 pts], while Cedric Dubler fell back to 20th position with 5611 pts.

The Pole Vault discipline would prove more difficult for some, with by this stage, at the end of which we would see the field reduced to 23 competitors.  Undertaken in two groups, Cedric Dubler finished in 6th position in Group A, with a best vault of  4.90 metres  – overall in the event, he finished in 9th position, earning 890 points. The three leading pole vaulters were Pau Tonnesen [Spain] 5.40 metres [1035 pts], followed by Zach Ziemek [USA] 5.10 [941 pts], and   Janek Oiglane [Estonia ] 5.10 [941 pts].

The leaders after eight events  –  1. Kevin Mayer [7237 pts]. 2. Rico Freimuth [7121 pts]. 3. Kai Kazmirek [Germany] on 7021 pts.  Cedric Dubler improved his position  to 15th position with 6491 pts.

The Javelin throw, the penultimate event in the Decathlon competition followed. This was obviouslky not Cedric’s strong event  – he finished down in 20th position with a throw of 52.10 metres [earning him 620 pts]. The three leading Javelin throws came from Janek Oiglane [Estonia] 71.73 [916 pts]; Adam Sebastian Helcelet [Cze] 71.56 [913 pts] and Ashley Bryant [GBR] with 67.97 [858 pts].

The leaders after nine events  –  1. Kevin Mayer [8067 pts]. 2. Rico Freimuth [7894 pts]. 3. Kai Kazmirek  [7796]. .  Cedric Dubler’s position continues to move up and down –   now in 19th spot on 7111 pts.

At this stage, we now have just 23 competitors in the competition, but by the start of the final event, that number had been reduced to 20 men.

The Decathlon 1500 metres final.  This event would normally be divided into two or more heats, however, it was decided to run all remaining competitors in the one race. Essentially, Kevin Mayer simply needed to complete the race in retain his lead in the event based on the various 1500 metre capabilities of those nearest to him on the leader’s board. In terms of 1500 metres, it was a very mundane and slowly run race, with the exception perhaps of the Japanese winner, who would finish almost 4 seconds ahead of anyone else who was no challenge to the event leaders because of his overall position near the tail of the board.  The result of that race saw  Akihiko Nakamura [Japan] win in 4.22.62 [794 pts],  ahead of Jorge Urena [Spain] 4.26.46 [768 pts] and Ashley Bryant [GBR] 4.27.15 [763 pts].  Kevin Mayer earned 701 pts for his 8th position, sand Rico Freimuth, 641 pts [17th in the race]. Cedric Dubler finished in 19th position, earning 617 pts for his time of 4.50.31, with only one runner behind him –  with half a lap to go, Cedric was to be seen looking behind him to make there was at least one other who would come in after he did, having been near the rear of the field for much of the race.

Decathlon Final results  –  20 competitors completed the 10 discipline program, with the predicted winner from early in the competition being Kevin Mayer [France] on 8768 points, followed by Rico Freimuth [Germany] on  8564 pts, and Kai Kazmirek [Germany] on 8488 pts.  The Brits Ashley Bryant finished in 11th position on 8049 pts, while Australia’s Cedric Dubler finished 18th on 7728 pts.  There were a total of 20 competitors completed the 10 discipline event..

The Men’s Javelin Final would be the last field event for the day.

The usual 12 finalists going for the medals, with 8 of those men progressing to the final round.

The three medal winners were  Johannes Vetter [Germany] winning Gold with a best throw of 89.89 metres, which was in fact his 1st attempt, of 6 throws.  The Silver went to Jakub Vadlejch [Cze]  with a best throw of 89.73 metres, while the Bronze was collected by Petr Frydrych [Cze] with 88.32 metres. Australia’s Hamish Peacock, who narrowly missed the final, finished in 14th position overall, with a throw of 82.46 metres.

The Men’s 5000 Metres Final  –  eagerly looked to, another swansong for the great Mo Farah, winner of the 10,000 and expected to complete the double today. However, as with other ‘scripts’ throughout the week,  something turned out differently. Farah was actually going for four championships in a row, in this final of around 12 ½ laps, with 14 starters lining up. The 5,000 metres world record stands at 12.37.35. One of those finalist was Australia’s Patrick Tiernan –  he had run a very disappointing and out of character race in the 10,000 metres, but showed vast improvement and commitment in the heat of this event. We’d not see this race in its entirety due to the ongoing coverage of  the closing stages of the Women’s High Jump, and the Men’s Javelin.

Unusually, Mo Farah went up towards the front of the field early, and would stay around that area for the bulk of the race.  Tiernan was 7th at the end of the 1st lap, then with 8 laps to go was in 8th position. With Mo in front after 6 minutes of the race, there seemed to be a lot of indecision, with no-one prepared to commit to take the field on

Eventually, the man who took that challenge was the Australian – we came back from the high jump, at the 3,000 metre mark, to find Tiernan in front of the field by about 10 metres, and he would retain that position for about 1200 metres, with Mo leading small of runners behind him. Sadly it was not expected that Patrick would be able to withstand the finishing speed of Mo and the other African runners – as a viewer, one just had a faint hope that he might be able to hold on. However, from the 800 metre mark, he has ‘done his dash’ and quickly seems to be swallowed by a number of runners. In the final lap, it is Mo against three Ethiopian runners, and the African born American, Chelimo, and as we come to 50 metres from the line, Farah appears to be struggling –  will he get there with the line approaching far too quickly. Well, to the shock of the British crowd, the Ethiopian obviously hadn’t read the British script, and the GBR runner was beaten into 2nd place, by Muktar Edris, in a time of 13.32.79, well outside of the world record [not that Edris was concerned by that]. Mo Farah’s time was 13.33.32, while Chelimo of the USA took the Bronze medal, in 13.33.30, a very tight finish, with Mo just surviving for the Silver medal.

Meanwhile, Patrick Tiernan, after what I considered to have been a brave attempt to take on the field, dropped right back in that final lap, top finish in 11th position, in a time of 13.40.01, a commendable performance.

Like Usain Bolt, after his 100 metre loss, Mo Farah seem to get more of the crowd adulations following the race, but I guess they regarded him in the same way as the British commentators were speaking of him – as a living legend, certainly, though African born, and apparently living in the US these days, the British regarded him as theirs!! Fair enough.

And now to the relays!! Always a source of excitement, although unlike our swimmers, Australia seldom has much if any of a role in athletic relays these days!

Women’s 4 x 100 Metre Relays

The two Heats of this race were run during the morning session today.  Australia did not have a representative team.

Heat 1 was won by the USA [41.84 secs] from Great Britain & NI, Switzerland and the Netherlands [those four teams qualified for the Final] – the losers in the heat were France, Ghana, and Ecuador with Nigeria not finishing..

Heat 2 was won by Germany [42.34secs] ahead of Jamaica, Brazil, and Trinidad & Tobago. Ukraine and Kazakhstan did not qualify, China was disqualified,  and the Bahamas failed to finish.

The Final was held at the end of the evening session –  The Gold Medal went to the team from USA in 41.82 secs [Aatiyah Brown, Allyson Felix, Morotake Akinosun, and Torie Bowie] ahead of  Great Britain [42.12] and Jamaica [42.19]. Other teams in order were Germany, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Brazil and the Nederlands.

Men’s 4 x 100 Metre Relays

Australia had a team of runners in this event, again run with two heats in the morning, and the final at the end of the evening program,

Heat 1 was won by the USA [37.70], ahead of Great Britain & NI, Japan and Turkey [those four teams going through to the final] while out of the action were Trinidad & Tobago, Netherlands, Australia and Barbados. The Aussies finished in 7th position, in 38.88 secs, their four runners being Trae Williams, Tom Gamble, Nicholas Andrews and Rohan Browning, their appearance at the Championships being rather short lived.

The final of the Men’s event  –  to say the least, another sensation.  Jamaica went in as the world record holders, the team unbeaten in ten years, while Usain Bolt in his last ‘official’ race was going for his 12th world title. Although the Jamaican team had not had the success of past years at these championships, they were still [with Bolt at the helm] expected to win. Again, somebody didn’t read the script. Before the race, Bolt was performing his usual crowd entertaining antics, nothing unusual for his bubbling personality.   In the final, all changes of the eight seemed to go okay, but as we came to the last leg, it was obvious that Jamaica, under Bolt in that last 100 metres, were going to struggle to beat the British and/or the Americans who were both running extremely well. Then disaster struck – soon after taking the baton from Yohan Blake, Bolt faltered, the stopped and fell to the track clutching his leg  –  the race was over for Jamaica, and a career for Usain Bolt.

And to the joy of the British crowd, it was a second Gold medal at the championships [finally, in their eyes] with the Great Britain & Northern Ireland team winning the event in 37.47 secs, ahead of USA [37.52] and Japan [38.04].  The GBR team consisted of Chijinda Wah, Adam Gemili, Daniel Talbot and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, while the US team was made up of Mike Rodgers, Justin Gatlin, Jaylen Bacon and Christian Coleman. The other teams in finishing order were China, France, Canada, Turkey, while Jamaica did not complete the race. As Bolt seemed to be walking much better after the race, it seems his problem was largely one of cramp.

Women’s 4 x 400 Metre Relay Heats

Australia fielded a team in this event, competing in the first heat  – Anneliese Rubie, Ella Connelly, Lauren Wells, and Morgan Mitchell.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see this race, but the Australians failed to qualify for the final,  finishing 0.43 of a second behind the 4th placed team.

Heat 1  saw victory go to the USA in 3.21.66, from Great Britain & NI, Botswana and France, while the other non-qualifying places were filled by Australia and Canada, while India and the Netherlands were disqualified.

Heat 2  was won by Jamaica in 3.24.64, from Nigeria, Germany and Poland [those teams qualified for the final], followed by Italy, Ukraine and South Africa, with the Bahamas team failing to finish.

The two 4 x 400 Meter Finals were scheduled to be the final two  events on the championship program in the early hours of Monday morning, Australian time.

Day Ten,  Sunday, 12th August

An early start today, with the entire morning, going into the afternoon devoted to the walking racesa

50 Kilometre Walk for Men and Women

We have two separate races, but taken place together, although the women would finish a considerable time behind the men. In the Men’s event, we had a starting field of 48 walkers, while for the Women’s event – which was the first running of the event, there was a very disappointing field of just seven walkers. The best of central London was opened up for the event, with some of the principal on the 2 kilometre route [of 25 laps each], included St. James Park Lake, Buckingham Palace, The Royal Park, Trafalgar Square, the Admiralty Arch, and other sites.

Men’s 50 Kms Walk.  As I watched the start of this event, I soon realised that the Australian entrant, Jared Tallent was not included amongst the competitors, and yet he had been listed to compete. It seems I had missed the news of a few days ago, on the 9 August   –  Australia’s champion race walker and perennial medallist, Jared Tallent, had been forced to pull out of the world championships, with a hamstring strain. Australia’s performances [at that stage, a few days ago] had been underwhelming, so losing the Rio Olympic Silver Medallist from the 50 Km race walk was a setback to Australia’s limited medal hopes…”. That was certainly a disappointment, as he had always been a reliable and consistent competitor for Australia, and on numerous occasions had missed medals coming in behind Russian athletes who were later found to have cheated  – in fact there were no Russian walkers in this race, because that area of their athletes program had proved to be extremely toxic, in respect to drug use.

In any case, today’s race would be dominated by the French holder of the world record for the vent, Yohan Diniz, who would go to the front very early in the race, and soon dominate it for most of the journey. Some of his time splits as the race progressed were 48 mins.47 secs at 11 kms;  1hr.8mins,.51 secs at 14 kms;  moving at 8-9% faster than the rest of the field; at the 20 km point he was  in front of the chasing pack by 2 mins, 10secs;  a time of 1hr.48 mins.24 secs at 25 kms [the halfway mark], and so on. At the 2 hour point, he appeared to slow briefly, but after a kilometre or so, quickly picked up the pace again, with a lead of 3mins 7 secs at the 29 km mark.  His 30 kms came up in 2.09.81, and at 37 kms, it was 2.39.10, not on world schedule, but nevertheless, still moving at a fast pace, while holding one red warning against him [incurred around the 25 km stage] for much of the distance up to then.  Certainly, it was an aggressive walk by Diniz,

This question of disqualification was discussed on a number of occasions by the commentators, with reference to new technological advancements been made to improve the credibility of the sport, such as sensor pads and shoes, to constantly monitor walking styles and adherence to the rules, etc; there was even the proposal to introduce a sin bin system in preference to the straight out disqualification which at times seems severely. They made reference to an occasion I witnessed at the Sydney Stadium during the 2000 Olympics, when Australian walker Jane Saville, walked into the stadium, to potentially win the Gold medal, only to be disqualified as she came through the stadium tunnel, a moment I will never forget, watching her approach on the big screen!!

Anyway, at 46 kms, Diniz’s average km time was  4 mins 10 secs, and was leading his two nearest challengers [both Japanese] by 17 seconds, although they themselves were being challenged for one of the medals by a Ukranium walker who was at that stage the fastest walker on the road, apart from Diniz. But that challenge was negated in the last lap, as the Ukranian realised he could not catch the Japanese walkers. Meanwhile, Diniz goes into the 40th km at 3 hrs 25 mins 1 sec, by now certain of the Gold, and surviving the walk, in contrast to his Rio Olympic event, where he was severely affected by heatstroke, yet still managed to finish 8th before being hospitalised. Om this occasion however, there were no ‘hiccups’, and Diniz would go on to a convincing win, smiling as he did so, and draping the French flag around his neck over that last 100 metres or so.

Yohan Diniz won the Walk in a time of 3.33.12, which was the second fastest in history [behind his own world record], about 8 minutes ahead of the two Japanese walkers [Hirooki Arai and Kai Kobayashi, who had walked together for the bulk of the race, with Igor Glavan of the Ukraine next to finish, 23 seconds later.

Of the 48 actual starters, 33 would complete the course, 9 were disqualified, and another 6 did not complete the course.

Women’s 50 Kms Walk.  As indicated above, just seven starters for this race, and before 10 kms had been covered, the field was reduced to just 6, with the disqualification of one of the three Americans [the former US record holder in the event, Erin Talcott. Another two of the women would not complete the course, because they were beyond the required time limit at the end.

After 25 kms, the time was 2.02.18 for the two leaders from Portugal and China, however the Portugese soon took the race on, and after three hours of walking, she had a 10 minute lead, which would eventually end up at around 3 minutes of the race. Inez Henriques [Portugal] commanded the second half of the race, with a powerful performance, and from a long way out, she was heading for a world record, even though women had not been walking this distance for very long [the original record was 4.08.26].  Henriques eventually won in the time of 4.05.56 [the first World Record of these championships], ahead of the two Chinese walkers  –  Hang Yin [4.08.58] and Shuqing Yin, a lap further behind in 4.20.49. America’s Kathleen Burnett was the only other to complete the race, in 4.21.51.

Women’s 20 Km Walk Final

This race was held over the same course as the 50 km races, and would have 61 starters, including three Australian girls  –  Claire Tallent [wife of Jared Tallent, who’d withdrawn from the 50 km walk due to injury], Beki Smith and Regan Lamble.  Unfortunately, apart from some early ‘glances’ we would not see anything of our three girls throughout the race coverage, they simply got too far back, after beginning the race early in the second group behind the main pack, and then gradually drifting further and further behind. At around the 5 kms mark, Lamble appeared to be the best placed Australian but she soon disappeared.  The appearance of the speed of the early group almost seemed as though they were jogging, rather than walking  – it certainly is a fine line for judging purposes on that score alone!

At 32 minutes, there was a clear breakaway pack of 10 walkers, and as the race progressed, that number would gradually dwindle to 8, then 5, and finally a race between just four possible medallists. It was towards the end of the race that we saw a couple of the oft-repeating tragedies of the walking competition  – a few kilometres from the finish, the Russian walker [representing the ANA, Afanseva] who had looked to be suffering under extreme duress for much of the race after being a part of the original leading group of 10, was disqualified some kilometres from the finish, and her distress was evident. But worse was to come. The leading quartet going into the last 2 km lap were two Chinese, a Mexican and an Italian walker, although the latter seemed the most likely to miss a medal. Both of the Chinese girls has one red card against [three cards meant disqualification]. With less than a km to go, a Chinese competitor received two more red cards, but she did not realise, nor was officially told initially –  it was even possible, in a close finish, that she would cross the line first.  As the quarter reached the last 200 metres, an official waved the disqualification flag at her – she either didn’t notice, or ignored him, and kept going  –  until another official step out in front of her, as she was about to enter the final 50 metres in a minor medal position. One can barely imagine the reaction that would have had on her [Xiuzhi Lyu], it can be a very cruel sport sometimes.

While all this was about to occur, that battle for the medals took place as the leaders lapped Australia’s Claire Tallent [almost the first sign we’d had of a former champion walker].

The race was eventually won by Jiayu Yang [China] in 1.26.18, one second ahead of Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez [Mexico] with Italy’s Antonella Palmisano a further 15 seconds back. The win for Yang would have been tempered a little as soon as she realised that her fellow Chinese competitor who had walked with her for almost the entire race, had been pulled out just before the finishing line.

Of the 60 starters in this race, 52 completed the course, 6 girls were disqualified, and 2 did not complete the race. The three Australians were placed as follows  –  Regan Lamble, 22nd, in 1.31.30; Beki Smith, 38th, in 1.35.31, and Claire Tallent, 43rd, in 1.37.05. The television had initially indicated that Regan had been disqualified, but that appears to have been incorrect. It should be noted, that Claire Tallent gave birth to her first son, less than three months ago, so to even have entered today’s race, was something of an achievement.

Men’s 20 Km Walk Final

This race followed on from the women’s event, but certainly as far as Australia was concerned, there was no television coverage of it, which I found disappointing, as we had Australian competitors in the race. They were Dane Bird-Smith and Rhydian Cowley.  There were a total of 64 starters, of whom 58 would finish the race, 3 were disqualified, and 3 failed to complete the course.

From SBS online news, the following report of the race must suffice for now……..Australian Dane Bird-Smith was happy with a personal best, but not so much with the way the men’s 20km walk panned out at the world athletics championships.  The 25-year-old stripped nine seconds off his PB, clocking one hour 19 minutes and 28 seconds on Sunday, which ended up being good enough for sixth spot in a race won by Colombian Eider Arevalo in 1:18:53.  The minor medals went to Russian Sergei Shirobokov, competing in London as an affiliated athlete, and Brazil’s Caio Bonfim.

Having claimed a breakthrough bronze medal at last year’s Rio Olympics, Bird-Smith arrived in London confident of another podium finish. But it wasn’t to be.  “I can’t be disappointed with sixth in a PB but it wasn’t the race I wanted to race and I am a bit disappointed in that,” said Bird-Smith, who received two cautions from the judges during the race on a hot, sunny day on The Mall in central London.  “I had a lot more to give and I could have raced it better on my own, but I was influenced by what the other guys were doing around the track.  “I just couldn’t find the rhythm and I was a target in that pack.”

Fellow Australian Rhydian Cowley was 56th in 1:30:40.

In fact looking at the final times of the top place-getters, Bird-Smith finished just 24 seconds behind the bronze medallist, and 35 seconds behind the Gold Medallist, so I think we can regard his performance as outstanding.

And so began the final session of the Championships, that would start and finish with a number of medal ceremonies, which included a number of British athletes, after a very lean week for the host nation. Meanwhile, the Championship mascot, which I think was a ‘hedgehog’ proved to be a very active and popular ‘character’ throughout the week, and seemed to be as well accepted by the athletes, as he [?] was by the large crowds each day.

The Men’s High Jump Final got this session underway, and proved to be quite entertaining  –  no Australians involved, but I enjoyed the competition nevertheless.

With 11 starters [the Chinese finalist, Wang Hu,. Having withdrawn from the event], the bar was set initially at 2.20 metres The field include former world champion, Bohdan Bondarenko [Ukraine], Britain’s former 2012 medal winner, Robert Grabarz, and Bryan McBride [2017 US champion].  All would manage to clear the opening level [eventually], but we saw four men go out at 2.25 metres,  three at 2.29 metres, while the Bulgarian competitor [Ivanov] withdrew due to injury after his first attempt. One of the happiest men on course, was the Bronze Medallist, from Syria, Majd Eldin Ghazal – there was not much representation from his homeland, for obvious reasons, so he was obviously ecstatic to have reached that level.

The battle for Gold came down between the Russian competitor, Dail Lysenko [competing under the ANA banner], and Qatar’s brilliant high jumper, Mutaz Essa Barshim, who would eventually take the title with a final leap of 2.35 metres, with Lysenko on 2.32.  Barshim did make three unsuccessful attempts at 2.40 metres, after the win had been secured.

Women’s Discus Final

Like yesterday’s Women’s Hurdles final, this would be one of the few events, that as an Australian supporter, one could get particularly excited about.  The field of  12 discus throwers in the final included Australia’s Dani Stevens.  Formerly Dani Samuels, she had won this event in 2009 in the Berlin championships. Writing the other day in Melbourne’s media, Scott Gullan said “Two months after a heart-breaking fourth at the Rio Olympic Games, the Australian discus champion decided she had to watch footage from the event. It confirmed what she thought had happened. ’I had a look at the footage and in the qualifying that was really, really tough, but you can kind of see it on my face, I was determined, you would have guessed that I was going to do it then. Then in the final, I was red in the face. You could see it on my face that I was throwing out of fear, not out of aggression or happiness and those things that work for me. I made it my mission this year not to throw out of fear of fouling or failing’.  The new motto certainly worked in qualifying in London, where Stevens automatically qualified for the final with her first throw, an impressive 65.56m.”

Well, there was no evident fear today, despite the fact she was up against the holder of two Olympic titles, unbeaten in 2016 and red hot favourite, Sandra Perkovic of Croatia, whom nobody expected it would be possible to defeat.  Dani Stevens legal throws were 64.23m, 65.46m, 66.82m, 66.59m, and 69.64m.  Against that, the Croation champion had four recorded throws at 69.30m, 70.31m, 70.28m, and 69.81m. No other competitor came near to either Stevens or Perkovic, and Australia would gain only its second medal of these championships, a wonderful Silver to Dani Stevens, with the Gold of course going to Sandra Perkovic.  The Bronze medal went to France’s Melina Robert-Michon, with a best throw of 66.21m. While we didn’t have our Anthem played, it was great to see an Australian on the medal rostrum.

Five more track events to complete the program  –  and once again, scripts would be thrown out the door, and some unexpected results thrown up.

Women’s 5000 Metres Final

There were 15 starters in this 12 ½ lap race, where the world record, set back in 2008 was 14.11.15.

The field included three Kenyans, three Ethiopans, three Americans, and two each from Great Britain and the Netherlands. The run-away winner of the 10,000 metres event a few days ago, Almaz Ayana, was anticipated as a likely winner, with her main opposition being Kenya’s Obiri, who had a child in 2015. The Brits big hope was the luckless Laura Muir who after a not very promising start, would finish strongly.

The race began at a painfully slow pace., where the runners appeared to be almost jogging [described by one of the commentators as ‘pathetic’]. Eventually, Ayana tires of this, and goes to the lead, but she is a reluctant pacemaker on this occasion, and there is no evident surging going on, except that the three Kenyans and three Ethiopians are dominating the leading group.  At around the 1600 metres mark, Ayana appears intimidating as the gap widens with the rest of the field, with only Obiri willing to take up the challenge. They are 50-70 metres in front of the others, but one wonders if Obiri has got more in her legs  – this is a real spectacle watching these two African runners, a brilliant exhibition of powerful distance running in what is now a ‘two-horse’ race. Ayare can’t shake Obiri off, who is stalking her constantly –  gets in front of the little Ethiopian in the back straight on the last lap, but Ayana responds, and one anticipates that she will soon burst away from her ‘stalker’  –  but suddenly, Obiri has hit the front, and while Ayana tries to respond, the former streaks away in the last 100 metres, burning Ayana off, literally thrashing the Ethiopian in that final 8o metres or so.

It is a wonderful effort by Kenya’s Hellen Onsando Obiri, to win in 14.34.86, ahead of the vanquished 10,000 winner, Almaz Ayana [14.40.35],  with the European runner, Sifan Hassan [Netherlands] snatching the Bronze medal away from the next group of Africans, in 14.42.73.  A courageous run by Britain’s Laura Muir saw her finish close up in 6th position, in 14.52.07.

Women’s 800 Metres Final

There were 8 finalists in this race, for which the existing world record was 1.53.28. The field included the sometime controversial South African runner, Caster Semenya, who has won 28 races t the 800 metre level, but it was felt might be suspect today as it was her 6th race in 10 days. The commentators made reference of the fact that Semenya still had her doubters, and they were never likely to be silenced. Her problems arose after winning the 2009 championships.  From one of the Wikipedia sites, we read that  “Following her victory at the world championships [in 2009], questions were raised about her sex.  Having beaten her previous 800 m best by four seconds at the African Junior Championships just a month earlier,  her quick improvements came under scrutiny. The combination of her rapid athletic progression and her appearance culminated in the IAAF asking her to take a sex verification test to ascertain whether she was female.  The  IAAF says it was “obliged to investigate” after she made improvements of 25 seconds at 1500 m and eight seconds at 800 m – “the sort of dramatic breakthroughs that usually arouse suspicion of drug use”.  The sex test results were never published officially, however some results were leaked in the press and are widely discussed, resulting in claims about Semenya having an intersex trait.

Irrespective of that controversy, she lined up today with a strong field of 800 runners – including Niyonsaba [Burundi], Wanbui [Kenya], Chichocka [Poland], and the USA’s Ajee Wilson. At the end of the first lap, Semenya was sitting 5th behind the leading group headed by Niyonsaba – in fact that last 100 metres looked like it would be an all-out battle for the medals between up to five runners. But in the final straight, Semenya took over and powered to the front, and there was no chance of the others taking back the lead.  She won in the time of 1.55.16, ahead of Francine Niyonsaba [Burundi] in 1.55.92, and Ajee Wilson [USA] in 1.56.65. The Brit in the field, Lynsey Sharp finished back in 8th in 1.58.98.  Kenya’s Margaret Nyairera Wambui came in 4th position.

Men’s 1500 Metres Final

There were 12 finalists in this most prestigious race of all athletic championship, in which Australia, in past years has had much success, though not in recent times.

The world record was 3.26.00, and today’s field included three Kenyans who have shared the Gold and Silver in two of the past three championships. The three Kenyans would run together for much of the race, including the winner of the last three titles, Asbel Kiprop, and with 800 metres to go, they filled the first three spots and looked as though they would share the spoils. However in the closing 200 metres or so, challenges came from the competitors from Norway, Spain and the Czech Republic, and in the rush to the line, while his two fellow countrymen finished in the top two positions,  Kiprop faded back into 8th position. A partial ‘coming together’ of the Norway and Spanish runner just prior to the line may have been cause for an appeal, but nothing  came of it, so the Norwegian, Filip Ingebrigtsen, gained the Bronze medal in 3.34.53, behind Elijah Motonei Manangoi [Kenya] 3.33.61 and Timothy Cheruryot [Kenya] in 3.33.99. The 3rd Kenyan, Kiprop finished in 3.37.24.

Women’s 4 x 400 Metres Relay Final

Eight countries to compete in the second last event of the program, for which the existing world record is 3.15.17, achieved by the USSR back in 1988.

By the third leg of the relay, the USA team were well ahead, and easily dominating the field. There was another disaster for the Jamaican team, with their second runner breaking down soon after she started to run with a hamstring injury.  Has been a very unsuccessful Championships for Jamaica, with only four medals won, including the Gold Medal in the sprint hurdle race.

The USA team [of Quanera Hayes, Allyson Felix, Shakima Winbly and Phyllis Francis] won easily in the time of 3.19.02, from Great Britain & NI [3.25.00], and Poland in third place [3.25.41].  The other teams followed in order of France, Nigeria, Germany, and Botswana, with Jamaica unable to complete the relay.

It’s interesting to note that America’s Allyson Felix has won 16 world championship medals, and yet she is not spoken off, nor received the broad fame of athletes such as Usain Bolt, or Mo Farah  – for one reason or another, she had not received the real credit deserved from her successes, certainly on an international basis anyway.

Men’s 4 x 400 Metres Relay Final

This final to be completed by teams from France, Belgium, Cuba, Trinidad & Tobago, Spain, Poland, USA, and Great Britain & NI. The existing world record belongs to the USA, from 1993 of 2.54.29, and was not considered to be under any real threat. The USA have won this event on five previous occasions, and lost it a couple of times due to disqualification or baton mishaps, and went into this race as hot favourites.

At the end of the first leg, the US held a narrow lead, while at the end of laps 2 and 3, the US, Trinidad & Tobago and Great Britain had cleared away from the other teams, and they would not be caught in the final lap.

We saw a close finish, but once again, the script of the  likely outcome was ignored by one of the US’s opponents, with a brilliant effort by the 4th Trinidad & Tobago runner, as he ran down the American, defeating the USA in the closing metres of the relay.

The final result saw Trinidad & Tobago first in 2.58.12, ahead of the USA [2.58.61], and Great Britain & NI [2.59.00. The medal winners were followed by Belgium, Spain, Cuba, Poland, and France. The members of the winning team were

The  remark was made after the race by one of the English commentators that ‘USA have the quality of runners, but do they have the heart as a quartet?”, He was suggesting that Trinidad & Tobago had the heart, they were able to place pressure on the Americans proving it could be done. Perhaps a little harsh, but it was certainly good to see another nation win a prestige relay race.

Brief reflections

The host nation completed the competition with just the six medals – four in the relays, and two to Mo Farah  – they had expected much more of their athletes. As for Australia  – our team was described as the biggest team ever, with the worst result yet it has been noted that prior to these championships, Australia had won 21 medals since the Beijing Olympics of which 11 were shared between Jared Tallent and Sally Pearson  – a fact that should set off alarm bells about the rest of the track and field team. A total of 62 went to London, and its planned to ensure the full quota of 90 athletes is entered for events at the Gold Coast in next year’s Commonwealth Games. We need to be  looking for some successors to those two athletes, and certainly both Australia and Great Britain will be looking for more favourable results and outcomes next April, particularly in light of the absence of the big non-Commonwealth nations.

In the meantime, one of the final activities held at the London Stadium on Day 10, after the final set of medal ceremonies were conducted,  was a special tribute ceremony held for Usain Bolt, described as the greatest sprinter in history. He gave the sport a huge boost, not necessarily as the saviour of athletics, but certainly a wonderful ambassador.  Anyway, he completed a ‘lap of honour’, mainly in the form of a walk, but it was a much more sedate and contemplative Usain Bolt out on the track tonight –  almost emotional scenes, he looked much more subdued than usual as he walked around to the applause of the crowd, as we brought down the curtain on a great track and field athlete. Bolt looked almost sad, I guess because the week had not turned out the way he had assumed it would as he’d planned and hoped for. He was certainly not as upbeat as he would have been had he won the 100 metres or relay, having got so used to winning, the whole show didn’t end the way he wanted to bow out.  It was wondered whether his response to this week’s disappointments might encourage him to ‘come back’.

In my view, the ‘ambassador’ connotation is an accurate reflection of his influence on the sport and his attitude to the sporting public  – something I feel that a couple of high profile Australian male tennis players could take serious heed of.

This has been an interesting project – aimed at compacting the overall week’s program into a consolidated summary, if not for the benefit of readers [though I hope what I’ve done is of value to interested readers] but for my own benefit and record. Like Sydney 2000, I would have loved to have offered my services as a volunteer at next April’s Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast, in Queensland, but 17 years down the track, the energy levels to undertake such a role are sorely missing. I’m sure there will be another writing project undertaken.

[Bill Kirk  – 13th August, 2017]

 

SUMMARY OF MEDAL RESULTS [including Australian participation]

MEN’S EVENTS

Men’s 10,000 Metres Final

1.Mo Farah [Great Britain]: 26.49.51

2.Joshua Cheptegie [Uganda]:  26.49.94

3.Paul Kipagatich [Kenya]:  26.50.60

22.Patrick Tiernan [Australia]:  29.23.72

Men’s 100 Metres Final

1.Justin Gatlin [USA]:  9.92

2.Christian Coleman [USA]:  9.94

3.Usain Bolt [Jamaica]:  9.95

4.Yohan Blake [Jamaica]:  9.99

5.Akani Simbine [RSA]:  10.01

6.Jimmy Vicaut [France]:  10.08

7.Recie Prescod [Germany]:  10.17

8.Bingtran Su [China]:  10.27

Men’s Discus Final

1.Andrius Gudzius [LTU]:  69.21

2.Daniel Stahl [Sweden]:  69.19

3.Mason Finlay [USA}:  68.03

21.Ben Harradine [Australia]:  60.95

  1. Mitchell Cooper [Australia]: 57.26

Men’s Long Jump Final

1.Luvo Manyonga [RSA]  : 8.48

2.Jarrion Lawson [USA]: 8.44

3.Ruswahl Samaai [RSA]:  8.32

11.Fabrice Lapierre [Australia]: 7.91

14.Henry Frayne [Australia]:  7.88

Men’s Marathon Final

1..Geoffrey Kipkour Kirui  [Kenya]:   2.08.27

  1. Tamirat Tola [Ethiopia]: 2.09.49

3.Alphonce Felix Simbu [Tanzania]:  2.09.51

45.Jack Colreavy [Australia]:  2.21.44

60.Brad Milosevic [Australia]:   2.25.14

DNF.Josh Harris [Australia]

Men’s Shot Put Final

1.Tomas Walsh [New Zealand]:  22.03

2.Joe Kovacs [USA]:  21.66

3.Stipe Zunic [Croatia]:  21.46

20.Damien Birkenhead [Australia]:  19.90

Men’s 110 Metres Hurdles Final

1.Omar McLeod [Jamaica]  13.04

2.Sergey Shubenkov [ANA]  13.14

3.Balazs Baji [Hungary]  13.28

27.Nicholas Hough  [Australia]   13.61

Men’s Pole Vault Final

1.Sam Kendricks [USA]  5.95 metres

2.Piotr Lisek [Poland]  5.89

3.Renaud Lavillenie [France]  5.89

7.Kurtis Marschall {Australia]  5.65

 Men’s 400 Metres Hurdle Final

1.Karsten Warholm [Norway]  48.35

2.Yasmani Copello [Turkey]  48.49

3.Kerron Clement [USA]  48.52

 Men’s 3000 Metres Steeplechase Final

1.Conseslus Kipruto [Kenya] 8.14.12

2.Soufiane Elbakkali [Morocco] 8.14.49

3.Evan Jagger [USA]  8.15.53

40.Stewart McSweyn [Australia]  8.47.53

Men’s 800 Metres Final

1.Pierre-Ambroisse Bosse [France]  1.44.67

2.Adam Kszczot [Poland] 1.44.95

3.Kipyegon Bett [Kenya]  1.45.21

38.Peter Bol [Australia]   1.49.65

Men’s 400 Metres Final

1.Wayde Van Niekerk [South Africa]  43.98

2.Steven Gardiner [Bahamas]  44.41

3.Abdalelah Haroun [Qatar]  44.48

38.Steven Solomon [Australia]  46.27

.Men’s Triple Jump Final

1.Christian Taylor [USA]   17.68

2.Will Claye [USA]    17.63

3.Nelson Evora [Portugal]  17.19

 Men’s 200 Metres Final

1.Ramil Guliyev  [Turkey]  20.09

2.Wayde Van Niekerk [South Africa] 20.11

3.Jereem Richards  [Trinidad & Tobago]  20.11

4.Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake [Great Britain] 20.24

5.Ameer Webb [USA] 20.26

6.Isaac Makwala [Botswana] 20.44

7.Abdiu Haken Sani Brown [Japan]  20.63

8.Isiah Young [USA] 20.64

Men’s Hammer Throw Final

1.Pawel Fajdek [Poland]  79.81

2.Valeriy Pronkin [ANA]  78.16

3.Wojciech Nowicki [Poland] 78.03

Men’s Decathlon Final

  1. Kevin Mayer [France] 8768 pts
  2. Rico Freimuth [Germany] 8564 pts
  3. Kai Kazmirek [Germany] 8488 pts

18.Cedric Dubler [Australia]   7728 pts

Men’s Javelin Final

1.Johannes Vetter [Germany]  89.89 metres

2.Jakub Vadlejch [Cze]   89.73

3.Petr Frydrych [Cze]   88.32

14.Hamish Peacock [Australia]  82.46

Men’s 5000 Metres Final

1.Muktar Edris [Ethiopia]  13.32.79

2.Mohamed Farah [GBR]    13.33.22

3.Paul Kipkemoi Chelimo [USA]  13.33.30

11.Patrick Tiernan [Australia]   13.40.01

20.Morgan McDonald  [Australia]  13.30.73

24.Sam McEntee  [Australia]  13.31.58

 Men’s 4 x 100 Metre Relay Final

1.Great Britain & Northern Ireland  37.47

2.USA   37.52

3.Japan   38.04

4.China 38.34

5.France   38.48

6.Canada   38.59

7.Turkey   38.73

Dnf. .Jamaica

Men’s 50 Kilometre Walk Final

1.Yohan Diniz [France]    3.33.12

2.Hirooki Aria  [Japan]     3.41.17

3.Kai Kobayashi  [Japan]  3.41.19

Australia’s Jared Tallent withdrew from the event due to injury.

Men’s 20 kilometre Walk Final

1.Eider Arevalo [Colombia]  1.18.53

2.Sergei Shirobokov [ANA]  1.18.55

3.Caio Bonfim [Brazil]  1.19.04

6.Dane Bird-Smith [Australia]   1.19.28

56.Rhydian Cowley [Australia]   1.30.48

 Men’s High Jump Final

1.Mutaz Essa Barshim [Qatar]   2.35

2.Damil Lysenko  [ANA]    2.32

3.Majd Eddin Ghazal [Syria]   2.29

 Men’s 1500 Metres Final

1.Elijah Motonei Manangoi [Kenya]   3.33.61

2.Timothy Cheruiyot [Kenya]   3.33.99

3.Filip Ingebrigtsen [Norway]   3.34.53

–  Jordan Williamsz [Australia]  3.38.93

–  Luke Matthews [Australia]      3.40.92

–  Ryan Gregson [Australia]       3.43.28

Men’s 4 x 400 Metre Relay Final

1.Trinidad & Tobago      2.58.12

2.USA                             2.58.61

3.Great Britain & NI       2.59.00

4.Belgium                        3.00.04

5.Spain                            3.00.65

6.Cuba                            3.01.10

7.Poland                         3.01.59

8.France                          3.01.79

 

WOMEN’S EVENTS

 Women’s 10,000 Metres Final

1.Almaz Ayara [Ethiopia]: 30.16.32

2.Tirunesh Dibaba [Ethiopia]: 31.02.69

3.Agnes Jebet Tirop [Kenya]:  31.03.50

22.Eloise Wellings [Australia]:  32.26.31

26.Madeleine Hills  [Australia]:  32.48.57

Women’s Marathon Final

1.Rose Chelmo  [Bahrain]:   2.27.11

2.Edna Ngeringwong Kiplagat [Kenya]:  2.27.18

3.Amy Cragg [USA]:  2.27.18

9.Jessica Trengove [Australia]:  2.28.59

20.Sinead Diver [Australia]: 2.33.26

24.Milly Clark [Australia]:  2.35.27

Women’s Pole Vault Final

1.Ekaterini Stefanidi [Greece]:   4.91

2.Sandi Morris [USA]:  4.75

3.Robeilys Peinada [Venezuela]:  4.65

3.Yarisley Silva [Cuba]   4.65……………………….Two Bronze medals awarde

15.Liz Parnov [Australia]: 4.35

Women’s Heptathlon Final Result

1.Nafissatov Thiam [Belgium]:   6,784 pts

2.Csarolin Schafer [Germany]:    6,676 pts

3.Anouk Vetter [Netherlands]:    6,636 pts

Women’s Hammer Throw Final

1.Anita Wlodarczyk  [Poland]    77.90

2.Zheng Wang [China]    75.98

3.Malwina Kopron  [Poland]   74.76

Women’s 100 Metres Final

1.Tori Bowie [USA]:   10.85

2.Marie-Josee Ta Lou [Ivory Coast]:  10.86

3.Dafne Schippers [Netherlands]:  10.96

4.Murielle Ahoure [Ivory Coast]:  10.98

5.Elaine Thompson [Jamaica]: 10.98

6.Michelle-Lee Ahyr [Trinidad & Tobago]:  11.01

7.Rosangela Santos [Brazil]:  11.06

8.Kelly-Ann Baptiste [Trinidad & Tobago]: 11.09

Women’s Triple Jump Final

1.Yulimar Rojas [Venezuela]     14.91

2Caterine Ibarguen [Colombia]   14.89

3.Olga Rypakova [Kazakhan]   14.77

Women’s 1500 Metres Final

1.Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon [Kenya]   4.02.59

2.Jennifer Simpson [USA]   4.02.76

3.Caster Semenya [RSA]   4.02.90

17.Zoe Buckman  [Australia]   4.05.44

27.Georgia Griffith [Australia]   4.08.99

33.Linden Hall [Australia]   4.10.51

Women’s Javelin Throw Final

1.Barbora Spotakova [Czech Rep]    66.76 Metres

2.Lingwei LI [China]  66.25

3.Huihui LYU  [China]   65.26

10.Kelsey-Lee Roberts [Australia]  60.76

25.Kathryn Mitchell [Australia]  57.42

Women’s Shot Put Final

1.Lijiao Gong [China]  19.94

2.Anita Marton [Hungary] 19.49

3.Michelle Carter [USA] 19.14

Women’s 400 Metres Final

1.Phyllis Francis [USA]   49.92

2.Salwa Eid Naser [Bahrain]  50.06

3.Allyson Felix [USA]  50.08.

Women’s 400 Metres  Hurdles Final

1.Kori Carter [USA]  53.07

2.Dalilah Muhammad [USA] 53.50

3.Ristananna Tracey [Jamaica]  53.74

25.Lauren Wells [Australia] 56.49

Women’s Long Jump Final

1.Brittney Reese [USA]  7.02

2.Darya Klishina [ANA]  7.00

3.Tianna Bartoletta [USA] 6.97

6.Brooke Stratton [Australia]  6.67

22.Naa Anang [Australia]   6.27

Women’s 3000 Metres Steeplechase Final

1.Emma Coburn [USA]   9.02.58

2.Courtney Frerichs [USA] 9.03.77

3.Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi [Kenya]  9.04.03

12.Genevieve LaCaze  [Australia]   9.26.25

33.Victoria Mitchell  [Australia]  10.00.04

Women’s 200 Metres Final

1.Dafne Schippers [Netherlands]  22.05

2.Marei-Josee Ta Lou  [Ivory Coast]  22.08

3.Shaunae Miller-Uibo [Bahamas]  22.15

36.Riley Day  [Australia]   23.77

43.Ella Nelson  [Australia]   24.02

Women’s High Jump Final

1.Maria Lasitskene  [Authorised Neutral Athletes]  2.03 metres

2.Yuliia Levchenko [Ukraine]   2.01

3.Kamila Cicwinko [Poland]    1.99

30.Nicola McDermott  [no height]

 Women’s 100 Metres Hurdles Final

1.Sally Pearson [Australia]    12.59 secs

2.Dawn Harper Nelson [USA]    12.63

3.Pamela Dutkiewicz  [Germany]  12.72

4.Kendra Harrison [USA]  12.74

5.Christina Manning [USA]  12.74

6.Alina Talay [Belarus]   12.81

7.Nadine Visser  [Ned]  12.83

8.Nia Ali [USA]  13.04

21.Michelle Jenneke  [Australia]   13.25

Women’s 4 x 100 Metre Relay Final

1.USA  41.82

2.Great Britain & NI    42.12

3.Jamaica  42.19

4.Germany 42.36

5.Switzerland  42.51

6.Trinidad & Tobago  42.62

7.Brazil  42.63

8.Netherlands  43.07

 Women’s 50 Kilometre Walk Final

1.Inez Heniques [Portugal]  4.05.56 [World Record]

2.Hang Yin  [China]  4.08.58

3.Shuqing Yang [China] 4.20.49

 Women’s 20 Kilometre Walk Final

1.Jiayu Yang [China]  1.26.18

2.Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez [Mexico]  1.26.19

3.Antonella Palmisano [Italy]  1.26.36

22.Regan Lamble [Australia]   1.31.30

38.Beki Smith [Australia] 1.35.31

43.Claire Tallent  [Australia]  1.37.05

 Women’s Discus Final

1.Sandra Perkovic [Croatia]   70.31

2.Dani Stevens [Australia]       69.64

3.Melina Robert-Michon [France]   66.21

27.Taryn Gollshewsky [Australia]  54.29

 Women’s 5000 Metres Final

1.Hellen Onsando Obiri [Kenya]   14.34.86

2.Almsaz Ayana [Ethiopia]     14.40.35

3.Sifan Hassan [Netherlands]    14.42.73

19.Madeline Hills [Australia]   15.13.77

27.Eloise Wellings [Australia]   15.25.92

29.Heidi See  [Australia]    15.38.86

Women’s 800 Metres Final

1.Caster Semenya [South Africa]    1.55.16

2.Francine Niyonsaba [Burundi]   1.55.92

3.Ajee Wilson  [USA]    1.56.65

28.Brittany McGovern [Australia]    2.02.25

38.Georgia Griffith [Australia]   2.03.54

41.Lora Storey  {Australia]   2.07.17

 Women’s 4 x 400 Metres Relay Final

1.USA     3.19.02

2.Great Britain & NI    3.25.00

3.Poland   3.25.41

4.France     3.26.56

5.Nigeria      3.26.72

6.Germany    3.27.45

7.Botswana   3.28.00

DNF   Jamaica

-Australia [5th in heat]   3.28.02

 

 

 

Position Nation GOLD SILVER BRONZE TOTAL
1 United States of America 10 11 9 30
2 Kenya 5 2 4 11
3 Republic of South Africa 3 1 2 6
4 France 3 0 2 5
5 China 2 3 2 7
6 Great Britain & Northern Ireland 2 3 1 6
7 Ethiopia 2 3 0 5
8 Poland 2 2 4 8
9 Authorised Neutral Athletes [ANA] 1 5 0 6
10 Germany 1 2 2 5
11 Bahrain 1 1 1 3
12 Czech Republic 1 1 1 3
13 Australia 1 1 0 2
15 Colombia 1 1 0 2
14 Turkey 1 1 0 2
16 Jamaica 1 0 3 4
17 Netherlands 1 0 3 4
18 Croatia 1 0 1 2
19 Norway 1 0 1 2
20 Portugal 1 0 1 2
21 Qatar 1 0 1 2
22 Trinidad & Tobago 1 0 1 2
23 Venezuela 1 0 1 2
24 Belgium 1 0 0 1
25 Greece 1 0 0 1
26 Lithuania 1 0 0 1
27 New Zealand 1 0 0 1
28 Japan 0 1 2 3
29 Ivory Coast 0 2 0 2
30 Hungary 0 1 1 2
31 Bahamas 0 1 0 1
32 Burundi 0 1 0 1
33 Mexico 0 1 0 1
34 Morocco 0 1 0 1
35 Sweden 0 1 0 1
36 Uganda 0 1 0 1
37 Ukraine 0 1 0 1
37 Brazil 0 0 1 1
38 Cuba 0 0 1 1
39 Italy 0 0 1 1
40 Kazahkhan 0 0 1 1
41 Syria 0 0 1 1
42 Tanzania 0 0 1 1
48 48 49 145
Note: two Bronze medals awarded in the Women’s Pole Vault Final

 

 

 

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Posted by: jkirkby8712 | August 1, 2017

Weir completes magical season in style.

Those of you who know the  writer personally,  will be aware of his enthusiasm for, amongst other things, all things sport, particularly at the international level  where Australia is involved.  He also has a strong interest in the horses [thoroughbred racing style], so while this article may be limited in its appeal to many of his readers, no apologies are offered, it is simply included nevertheless as a matter of general interest for those who can be bothered reading it.

Darren Weir was the trainer of the 2015 Melbourne Cup winner ‘Prince of Penzance’ though most of the fame for that event went to the jockey, Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. Unfortunately, while Michelle’s fame as a winning jockey has somewhat dwindled over recent times, that of Weir has literally soared, and the following article, taken from today’s edition of the ‘Ballarat Courier’ explains the reason for that statement. I follow it up with the precise statistics of Weir’s year.

‘Darren Weir says it might be impossible to better his stunning 2016/17 racing season , which ended with 449 winners across the nation. The official racing season came to a close on Monday with the Weir stable completing the campaign with another winning treble at Mildura. Weir prepared Pharja, Bonus D’Oro and Crafty Devil to claim victory at the season-ending meeting. Harry Coffey rode all three of those horses to victory.  The 449 winners across Australia sets a new National and Commonwealth mark by a single trainer, surpassing his own record of 347 from season 2015-16.  Weir told the Courier on Monday, before the Mildura meeting had started, that it was an ‘unbelievable’ season and felt the number of winners would be difficult to surpass. “I would have thought it would be hard, but it’s not about beating it, it’s about winning the good races”, Weir said.  The ‘good races’ no doubt include those at Group 1 level.

In 2016/17 Weir won eight contests at the elite level, including six in Victoria, one in South Australia and one in Western Australia. His most successful track was Moonee Valley, where he was triumphant on 37 occasions. Not far behind was his home circuit of Ballarat, where he produced a total of 31 winners.

Dean Yendall was the Weir stable’s most successful jockey with more than 100 wins while Burning Front proved the most winningest of the horses, crossing the line first in seven races. Black Heart Bart was the highest earner for the yard, with his four wins netting $1,466,000. The former WA galloper took out the Memsie Stakes, Underwood Stakes, C.F. Orr Stakes and Futurity Stakes, all at  group 1 level.

Weir said his success was a result of a lot of good work from people behind the scenes who don’t get much recognition.

To highlight Weir’s dominance this season, the Ballarat horseman finished 170 winners clear of the David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig training partnership. New South Wales trainers Chris Waller, John O’Shea and Kris Lees rounded out the nation’s top five.  Weir has won a host of state-based titles, including the highly sought-after metropolitan crown. At the final metro meeting of the season on Saturday, Weir managed a double despite just four races being completed before the day was abandoned due to strong winds [he also picked up two winners at Adelaide the same day].  Throughout the last twelve months, Weir has had more than 2,600 starters and won more than $24 million in prizemoney’.

[from the ‘Ballarat Courier’ by Tim O’Connor, Tuesday, 1 August 2017]

The factual statistics:  Weir entered 2,687 runners during 2016/17.  He had 449 winners, 355 second place-getters, and 323 3rd place-getters.  That is one winner in every 6 starts, or in percentage terms, a Win ratio of 16.7%, and a Place ratio of 41.9%..  He gets underway  today for the first Victorian meeting  of the new year [2017/18] with 8 starters at Warrnambool.

 

 

Posted by: jkirkby8712 | July 28, 2017

Jockey battles

With this weekend representing the end of the 2016/2017 thoroughbred horse racing season in Australia, the respective Jockey premierships for the year in Melbourne and Sydney point to an exciting finish with Saturday’s racing schedule.

In Melbourne, Craig Williams sits 3 wins ahead of   Beau Mertens [an apprentice jockey]  – 76-73.  Williams has 9 [10] rides on Saturdayat Caulfield, while Mertens has 8  rides.  As there are only 9 races on the program, Williams is extra keen to win, being scheduled as rider of  ‘two’ horses in Race 6, which may be difficult to achieve!!

In Sydney, it’s slightly tighter – between Hugh Bowman on 81 wins and Brenton Uvdulla on 78.5wins. Tomorrow at Rosehill, Bowman has 9 rides, and  Avdulla  8 rides.

Ballarat trainer, Darren Weir sits easily at the top of the National Trainer’s Premiership, with a record 438 wins, and 1,116 placings from 2,663 starters. Between now and the 31st July, he has a maximum of 23 horses scheduled to race.

Meantime, August 1st is officially the birthday of horses here in Australia.”

Posted by: jkirkby8712 | August 30, 2016

RIO OLYMPIC GAMES UPDATE – from an Australian perspective

Bill’s Rio Olympics Update No. 1 Day Minus One [4 August] : Couple of interesting Men’s Football results – South Korea defeated Fiji 8-0 [partially expected], while Nigeria defeated Japan 5-4 [not expected, Nigeria leading 5-2 late in the 2nd half]. Sadly, the Aussie Men’s team did not make it to Rio. Yesterday, our girls lost their first match, to Canada 2-0.

Bill’s Rio Olympics Update No. 2: Day One [5 August]: Much has been said about the downgrading in many eyes of the value of, and interest in, the Olympic Games over recent times, with drug scandals, doping cheats and so on. But there is one Australian athlete who deserves the highest of praise and respect – who can proudly accept the accolades of ‘hero’. Participating in her fourth Olympic Games, and this morning, having earned the well-deserved honor of carrying the National flag for Australia at Rio. She has overcome the adversity of a near-fatal accident, and through months of rehabilitation, persistence, belief and determination, returned to do what she loves the best – and has then succeeded at the highest level in her chosen sport, in addition to becoming a wonderful ambassador and representative of our nation’s sportspeople [probably her most valuable and important success] – ‘not only a champion of her sport, but a fine leader’ [Sir Peter Cosgrove] – Anna Meares, I for one, salute you and wish you well for further success at Rio.

Bill’s Rio Olympic update no. 3: Day One [5 August]:: Well the hype of the Opening Ceremony is over, now time for the athletes to show their stuff!! Earlier today the Archery competition got underway seems like South Korea are strong here,but the Aussie three man Men’s Team have made it to the quarterfinals to be played overnight. Up to 21 events on over next 17 hours

Bill’s Rio Olympic update No. 4: Day Two [6 August]:: Perhaps unbelievably, Australia leads the medal tally after the first full day of competition [with 2 Gold and 1 Bronze] – doubt I’ll get to say that again!! Other countries to collect Gold medals were Vietnam[Shooting], USA [Shooting], Belgium [Road Race], Sth Korea [Archery], Argentine and Russia [Judo], Hungary [Fencing, and Swimming], Japan [Swimming] and Thailand [Weightlifting]. Despite the two swimming Gold Medals, my highlight of the day has to be the Men’s Archery team [Alec Potts, Ryan Tyack & Taylor Worth] – won the quarter final over France, lost the semi-final to South Korea [ a team of precision & accuracy], and then won the Bronze medal against China. South Korea defeated the USA for the Gold.
Of course, two Swimming Gold medals rounded off the day – Mack Horton in the 400 metres Freestyle, and the four girls in the 4 x 100 metres Freestyle Relay, defending their title from London [Emma McKeon, Brittany Elmslie, & Cate and Bronte Campbell, in a new World record].Finalists in the Men’s 400 metre Individual Medley were Thomas Fraser-Holmes [6th] and Travis Mahoney[7th]. In the equivalent race for Women, the Hungarian swimmer created a world record. David McKeon [sister of Emma] finished 7th in Mack Horton’s race.
Team results today – Men’s Hockey: Australia defeated New Zealand 2-1; Men’s Basketball: Australia defeated France 87-66; Women’s Basketball: Australia defeated Brazil 84-66; Football Women: Australia drew with Germany 1-1 after leading for 95% of the match; Women’s Hockey: Great Britain defeated Australia 2-1; Men’s Water Polo: Brazil defeated Australia 8-7; Women’s Beach Volleyball: Australia defeated Costa Rica 2-0; Women’s Rugby 7’s: Australia defeated Colombia 53-0, and defeated Fiji 36-0;
In the Men’s Cycling Road Race [277 kms over 6 hours on the road] Australians Simon Kerridge crashed midway, Richie Porte [5th in the Tour de France] crashed with 37 kms to go, possible broken collar bone, while Simon Clarke finished in 27th position. Greg van Avermaet won the Gold for Belgium[their first win in that event since the 1950s]..
All of today’s rowers in the Sculls events progressed to further opportunities; one of our three Table Tennis players competing today won through to the next round; John Millman was the only Australian tennis to win today – a credible 6-0,6-0, while Jordan Thompson and Thomas Kokkinakis lost their matches, as did the doubles combinations of the Rodionova sisters, and Chris Guiccione/John Peers; amongst other Australians competing today, Boxer, Jason Whateley lost his 91 kg bout to his Brazilian opponent.

Bill’s Rio Olympic update No. 5: Day Three [7 August]- 

Not everything covered, however today,  a couple of the lesser sports [in some eyes] have brought home medals for Australia. My highlight today – the performance of Catherine Skinner, the Victorian Shooter who won Gold in the Women’s Trap competition. It was a tight battle against her Kiwi opponent, Natalie Rooney after a slow start, and perhaps a surprise win with her more favoured team mate, Laetisha Scanlon failing to get into the last six.

We also gained a Bronze Medal in the Diving Synchronised 3 metre Springboard competition [ Maddison Keeney and Annabelle Smith] finishing behind the Chinese and Italian duos.

Swimming today possibly didn’t meet some expectations – the Men’s 4 x 100 metre Relay team [James Roberts, Kyle Chalmers, James Magnussen & Cam McEvoy] finished a credible third behind the USA and France [with Michael Phelps of the USA at his 5th Olympics, collecting his 19th Gold Medal – incredible]. A disappointing note on the swimming – the question of doping made it’s presence felt – Mack Horton’s views about his Chinese opponent yesterday [banned in 2004] could have being left away from the Games, while the crowd’s adverse reaction to a female Russian swimmer [banned on two occasions] after she won her heat today, and then the ‘booing’ by the crowd of the Russian men’s relay team when they came out onto the pool deck was also a little disappointing, though to some degree, understood! Other Australian swimmers in today’s Finals – Emma McKeon finished 7th in the 100 metres Butterfly, while the Women’s 400 metres Freestyle Final saw Tamsin Cook [6th] and Jessica Ashwood [7th] in a race dominated by a World Record swim by the USA’s Katie Ledecky, who won the race 4 years ago in London as a 15 year old.

Other Australian performances today –   the Woman’s Cycling Road Race, won by Anne van der Breggan of the Nederlands, saw Amanda Spratt [15th] and Rachel Neylan [22nd]  –  in Tennis, Daria Gavrilova went down in 2 sets to Serena Williams, she and Sam Stosur lost a Double match to the Swiss pair in 3 sets, while Sam won her singles match against a Latvian girl, in 3 sets. The shock of the tennis tournament – Novak Djokovic defeated by Argentine’s De Potro in 2 sets  –   in Table Tennis, Jian Fang Lay won her second round match.

Amongst the team results  –  Rugby 7’s Women’s Quarterfinal, Australia defeated Spain 24-0 [after earlier finishing on top of their Group after just managing a 12-12 draw with the USA]  –  Women’s Beach Volleyball, the USA defeated Australia 2-0  –  Women’s Basketball, the Opals defeated Turkey 61-56  –  in Equestrian Team Dressage, Australia finished in 6th position behind Canada and New Zealand  –  while the Men’s Hockey team lost to Spain 1-0 [both our Hockey teams have now lost their first matches]

Interestingly, there were complaints made after the first day of rowing as to the rough conditions of the water with suggestions the first day’s competition should have been postponed but wasn’t because of TV commitments – well today, that competition was delayed for some hours because of the water conditions.

 

 

Bill’s Rio Olympic update No. 6: Day Four [8 August]-  intended only as a summary of some of Monday’s Australian performances and highlights, apologies to anyone readers think I should have included!.

Our highlight for Monday must be the win of the Women’s Rugby 7’s team in that competition – the ‘Pearls’   defeated Canada 17-5 in the Semi Final, then went on to win the Gold Medal, defeating arch rugby rival New Zealand 24-17. Canada went on to win the Bronze over Great Britain. Historic win for the girls –  first time the event in the Olympic Games, and the last time an Olympic rugby medal was won was by the USA men in 1921. The Men’s competition begins on Tuesday..

The women’s Hockey team continued their poor form,  with their second loss, this time 2-1 to the USA, will now have to hope they can make their way the hard way through the quarterfinals.

The Water Polo team [men] drew their match with Hungary 9-9 in a game which apparently proved to be more than just a fight for the ball!!  Meanwhile, our Men’s Basketball team, who have not yet won an Olympic medal, created a bit of history by winning their first two matches, today coming from behind with a 33-17 last quarter, to defeat a strong Croatian team 95-80. In Beach Volleyball, the Australian girls went down to Switzerland 2-1 [where would you find a beach in Switzerland?].

A few individual results from Monday’s events:

Tennis –  Sam Stosur has surprisingly won two matches in a row – she goes through to the 3rd round after defeating  Misaki Doi [Japan] in two sets. A courageous effort by John  Millman in the 2nd round of the Men’s Singles was not enough – he was defeated by Japan’s Kei Nishikori 7-6,6-4, after leading 5-2 in the first set and then 4-0 in the subsequent tie breaker, but class won out in the end. However, who needs Krygios or Tomic in the team,  when we had John,  who not only plays good tennis but is a gentleman off and on the court. Well done John Mills..

In the K1 heats of the Canoeing, our Jessica Fox has won her way into the semifinals after a slow start in the heats

The Women’s Eights [last minute inclusions in the rowing with the suspension of the Russians] have qualified through the Repechages to the next stage of their event. They only arrived in Brazil two days ago.

The Equestrian  Eventing competition continued with the ‘Cross Country’ section –  Australia’s Christopher Burton on ‘Santano II” performed beautifully demonstrating a wonderful partnership between horse and rider, and he currently sits at the top of the overall standings after the Dressage and Cross Country sections with the Jumps to come on Tuesday. In fact, Australia will go into the final day on the verge of claiming Gold in both the Team and Individual competitions. On that we shall wait and see.

Men’s 10m Air Rifle Shooting saw the Australians finish well down the list – Dane Sampsom [37th] and Jack Rossiter [46th].

In the Swimming events today, Australia were chasing more Gold, but had no success.- in the Women’s 100 metres Backstroke, the highly favoured  Emily Seebolm could only manage 7th, and Madison Wilson 8th, with her second Gold of the Meet going to the Hungarian swimmer, In the Men’s equivalent event, Mitch Larkin finished in 4th position behind the Americans, and Chinese competitors. More controversy with the Russian swimmer in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke Final – once again, booed as she came onto the pool deck, and just beaten for the Gold by an American much to the delight of the anti-Russian crowd!

Meanwhile, the sailing competitions commenced on Monday and will continue over the next few days. The Medal tally at the end of Monday sees  the USA and China on top with 5 Golds each, followed by Australia [4], and Italy, Japan and Hungary [all on 3 Golds[.

 

Bill’s Rio Olympic update No.7: Day Five [for Tuesday 9 August]- 

My highlight for Tuesday –  two swimming finals, and a young Australian swimmer. The vening swimming program in Rio commences after 10pm Brazil time [11am the following morning here in Eastern Australia].

Two star studded fields of superstars went out in the Women’s 200m Freestyle Final [with two Aussie girls] and the Men’s 200m Butterfly Final [no Australians in the field]. The women’s event saw a magnificent swim by Australia’s Emma McKeon to gain the Bronze Medal behind the American and Swedish champions, while Bronte Barratt, competing in this event for the 3rd time [3rd in 2008, 7th in 2012] came in equal 5th with a personal best time.  AS for the Men’s event, well, Michael Phelps was going for his 20th Gold Medal –  he’d won this event on the three previous occasions, holding both the World and Olympic records  –  and yes, he won again, 2o Gold Medals over four Games. An amazing effort!!.

While on Swimming, Kyle Chalmers [qualified 2nd] and Cam McEvoy [qualified equal 3rd] swam their way into Wednesday’s Men’s 100m Freestyle Final

Meanwhile  – in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley Final, the ‘Iron Lady’, Hungary’s Katinka  Hosszu [World and Olympic record holder in the event] won her third individual Gold Medal in four days [and a new Olympic record], while Australia’s Alicia Coutts finished 5th in her last Olympic final, after announcing retirement.

As for Michael Phelps – not finished yet – the Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay Final completed the night – the USA won that Relay [the 17th time they have done so]  – and Michael Phelps won his 21st Gold Medal, treated almost as a God by the crowd after the medal presentation for his earlier event. Australia’s Relay team of Thomas Fraser-Holmes, David McKeon, Daniel Smith & Cam McEvoy finished 4th behind the USA, United Kingdom and Japan.

Let’s continue today with the disappointments of the Games so far – the performances of our two Hockey teams, both having suffered two losses so far. The Australian Men’s Hockey team faced up to Belgium today –  watching some of these hockey matches is more frustrating than soccer, the scoring is so minimal. Once again, Belgium scored in the first quarter, and that was it  –  Belgium defeated Australia 1-0 [our second non-scoring match]!!

Meanwhile, watching one of the weightlifting competitions, it’s amazing to see a 69kg man lifting up to 180kgs above his head. One of those competitors today was from North Korea – I was wondering what awaits him back home, if he fails in his efforts [I guess the same thought applies to all Olympians from that country?]. Not much in the way of Australian weightlifters as in earlier years and no stand out representatives that I’m aware of.

Other team results from Tuesday –  in Water Polo [Women], Australia defeated the Russians 14-4.

In the Rugby 7’s Men’s competition, the Australians played two games –  we lost to France 31-14, but defeated Spain 26-12.

Basketball for Women –  the Australian ‘Opals’ were victors over France 89-71 [the Opals third win in a row].

Women’s Football saw the Matildas manage to move into the quarter finals with a 6-1 win over lowly ranked Zimbabwe.

In the Equestrian Eventing competition, Australia went into the third day with hopes of Gold medals in both the Team and Individual categories – those hopes didn’t eventuate, but we did pick up a Team Bronze Medal

after slipping back a little in Tuesday’s Jumping category – congratulations to Christopher Burton, Stuart Tinney, Shane Rose & Sam Griffitths. For winning the Team Bronze. Individual overall results saw Sam Griffiths [4th], Christopher Burton [5th], Stuart Tinney [22nd], and Shane Rose [eliminated],

There were a number of individual performances on Tuesday worth noting here  –

In Boxing, Daniel Lewis moved onto the next bout in the 75 kg division with a close win over Poland’s Jablonski.

Meanwhile, in the Women’s Singles of the Tennis, after an atrocious first set, Sam Stoser showed more fight in the second set in going down to World No. 2 Angelique Kerber [Australian Open winner] 6-0,7-5. I believe we are still alive in the Mixed Doubles competition to start on Thursday with Sam Stosur & John Peers teaming up.

In the quarter and semi finals of the Rowing events, a number of Australians have gone through – Spencer Perrin & Alexander Lloyd were 2nd in the Men’s Pairs semi-final, while in the Single Sculls quarter-finals, Rhys Grant [2nd], and Kimberley Brennan [1st] got through to the next stage.

In the Men’s Individual Archery, Taylor Worth has won his way into the quarter-finals, while Alice Ingley in through to the Round of 32.

In Judo, Katherine Haecker lost in the Round of 16 in the 63kg class, while Ean Loughlan lost in the Round of 32 in the Men’s 81 kg division.

Finally today, a sport we see little coverage of here, but which I consider quite an exciting event –  Handball – the leading nations in their respective groups at present are France and Denmark in Group A, and Germany and Slovenia in Group B.

 

Bill’s Rio Olympic update No.8: Day Six [for Wednesday 10 August]– 

Medals for Australia’s swimmers have been limited so far, but Wednesday found  a trio of medals. Probably no surprise that I’m suggesting a highlight of the day to be that of 18 year old Kyle Chalmer’s swim to win the Men’s 100m Freestyle, back around 7th as they turned for the second fifty, this young man [quietly spoken, conservative, a future outstanding sports ambassador] flew home to snatch the Gold Medal in the closing stages. The son of former Adelaide & Port Adelaide AFL player, Brett Chalmers, Kyle wisely chose swimming over football, and this race was the ultimate outcome – one can only imagine what the future holds for him.

My other highlight was the ‘Boomer’s’ performance against the USA, in Basketball, but I’ll get to that shortly. The Silver part of the Medal set, went to our Women’s 4 x 200 metres Relay team, coming in behind a powerful USA quartet, and ahead of Japan – Leah Neal, Emma McKeon, Bronte Barratt [her last swim before retirement] and the 17 year old Tasman Cook, a gutsy effort by Cook to hold on for second.  A second Silver went to Madison Groves in the Women’s 200m Butterfly.

On Tuesday, the efforts by the US’s Michael Phelps attracted some interesting statistics – one of those was the reflection that if Phelps were a ‘country’, he would rank 39th equal with Ethiopia in the all-time Olympic Gold Medal table, and at that stage, stands just two golds short of host Brazil’s all-time tally –  and has more targets on the horizon!!

Meanwhile, the media continues to make much of the ‘supposed clash’ between Australia’s Mack Horton and China’s Sun Yan – they come up against each other at the weekend in the 1500 metres swim. As reported elsewhere ‘the much maligned Yang has spent the past few years splashing from one controversy to the next, particularly during his time training in Australia. There has been a positive drug test, an assault allegation from a female swimmer at last year’s world championships, and driving offences at home in China….if a scripy were written for swimming’s version of a good versus evil tale, this may just be it’ [the 1500m race]. Both swimmers have already won a God Medal this week.

For the second day this week, the rowing events were postponed because of poor weather and the condition of the waterway. That weather also meant that conditions on the roads would be quite dangerous and slippery for the Men’s & Women’s Cycling Time Trial events. Following the crash in the road race the other day by Richie Porte, a sole competitor in the Men’s Time Trial was Rohan Dennis. He would finish out of the medals, in 5th place. In the Women’s event, Australia’s Katrin Garfoot finished 9th – the race won, for the third time by the USA’s Kirsten Armstrong, on the eve of her 43rd birthday, an amazing effort.

I mentioned basketball above –  the Men’s game, Australia versus USA was a ‘cracker’, and while the Americans eventually went on to win by 10 points [98-88] that was the biggest margin of the match, with for most of the first half, the Boomers in front.  The USA threatened to blow us away in the second half, but the Australians refused to go away, and constantly came to level the scores or get back in front. It was only in the closing minutes that the American domination of the sport was demonstrated. A wonderful effort by the Boomers, and proves that they are not just in Brazil to make up the numbers, they are after the Gold.

In the Men’s Hockey competition, the World No. 1 team [Australia] took until 10 minutes to go in their 3rd match of the tournament, against Great Britain, to score their first goal of the Games. They would that one up closely with a second, and then had to fight out a desperate attempt to draw the match by Great Britain, the final result, 2-1 to Australia.  In a must win game, after two unexpected losses,  the Women’s team [the Hockeyroos] thrashed India 6-1 and gave themselves a chance to progress into the quarterfinals in a few days.

Our Men’s Rugby 7’s team bowed out of the quarter finals. Having beaten South Africa earlier in the day with the score of 12-5, they would come up against that opponent again in the 4th Quarterfinal, but on that occasion were quickly out of the game [two x 7 minute halves], losing to South Africa 22-5. Other quarterfinal winners were Fiji, Japan and Great Britain.

In Men’s Water Polo, the Australians held out against Japan, to eventually win 8-6, with the score at 3-3 at halftime. The points for winning were needed following a close loss to Brazil, and that brutal drawn match with Hungary.

Women’s Beach Volleyball saw a win and a loss for Australia  –  Louise Bawden & Taliqua Clancy defeated a Nederlands duo over 3 sets, however the pair of Mariafe Artacho & Nicole Laird went down to China in 2 sets.

Looking at some other results on Wednesday – in Men’s Archery, Taylor Worth won his Round of 32 match 6-4;   in Shooting [Men’s 50m Pistol], Daniel Repacholi finished 28th,  and in the [Men’s Double Trap], James Willet finished 5th in the semifinal.

In the Sailing events which take place over 10 – 12 races, some of the Australian participants following Wednesday’s races,  stand as follows

  • Men’s Finn[dinghy] – Jake Lilley [15th];
  • Mixed nacre 17 – J Waterhouse & L Darmanin [4th];
  • Men’s Laser [dinghy] –  Tim Burton [5th];
  • Men’s 470 [dinghy] – W Ryan & N Belcher [2nd];
  • Women’s 470 [dinghy] – J Ryan & C Smith [13th];
  • Women’s Laser Radial[dinghy] – Ashley Stoddart [11th];

Obviously, there are numerous other competitions throughout the Games, many where there are few or no Australian representatives – if readers are interested in the progress of a particular sport, let the writer know, and we shall attempt to find an updated situation. For myself, the real interest begins on  Friday [Brazil time] when the Athletics program gets underway…………………….

 

Bill’s Rio Olympic update No.9: Day Seven [for Thursday 11 August]- 

A day of upbeat Australian hopes [by commentators and media anyway] which in most cases didn’t eventuate.

A different highlight today, for me! The Men’s Rugby 7’s competition was concluded. Australia playing for 7th/8th place were defeated by France 12-10.  The Bronze Medal game saw South Africa defeated Japan 54-14, while for the Gold Medal, Fiji were winners over Great Britain 43-7. It was emotional to watch the Fiji team members after the game – clustered together in a semi-circle, singing, praying and chanting [unfortunately not in English]. Then, I caught the end of the medal presentations – Gold Medals awarded to the Fiji players by Princess Anne, none of your normal handshakes or hugs/kisses on the cheeks etc –  as each medal was presented, the Fiji player [all of whom had to step down off the dais to allow Princess Anne to place the medals around their neck] then gave a small clap of the hands, which was reciprocated by the Princess in each case. She then walked the lines of Great Britain and South African players and shook each of their hands – not a gesture normally undertaken by the presenter of the Gold medals!  I thought that was all rather special.

A sport that I’d not normally associate with the Olympics commenced today – Golf, and after the completion of the 1st round, Australia’s Marcus Fraser leads the field by 3 strokes with a score of 8 under [63] ahead of a Canadian and Swedish competitor. There are three rounds leading up to the final. The Women’s event follows in a few days.

Our Women’s Basketball team won a tight game against Japan, 92-86 – the girls have now won their four preliminary matches with one to come against Belarus on Sunday in Group A of the competition.

The Women’s Hockey team continued with the form thy found against India, by defeating Argentina 2-1. That gives the girls 2 wins/2 losses with a final against Japan on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in Women’s Water Polo [Group A] Australia were defeated by Italy 8-7 – a win and loss to Australia with one preliminary game to come, again on Sunday against the host nation.

The Badminton competition began today. In the Women’s Singles [an indication through the names of the multi-cultural of many of our sports competitors] Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen of Australia went down to the Thai player 2-0. In the Men’s Doubles preliminaries, Matthew Chau & Sawan Serasinghe were defeated, though not thrashed, by the South Korea World No. 1 duo in two sets, 21-14,21-16. As a sidenote, have to admit that Badminton was one of  rare sports this writer ever had any kind of success in [well I called some of my results anyway!!] –  the other were my attempts [in fact fails] to emulate the long distance abilities of two of my younger brothers

The Gold Medal in the Men’ Singles of Table Tennis was between two Chinese competitors, with Ma Long defeating Zhang Jike  4-0. The Bronze went to Japan.

In the Rowing events, which have already lost two days due to bad water and weather conditions, there were hopes of Australian Gold today. I think sometimes our media builds up too high a prospect for many of our sportspeople, and we saw a few examples in different sports today. Certainly, in the Men’s Quad Gold Medal race, the Australian team of Girdlestone, McRae, Fosterling & Belonogoff went into the race as favorites, with the London Olympic winners Germany supposedly below form. Rowing from Lane 1, the Germans proved otherwise, and despite a gallant effort by the Aussies in the closing stages [having perhaps got a little too far back in the middle stages] went on to win back to back Gold Medal in that event. Estonia finished 3rd behind the Australian Silver medallists. In the Men’s Coxless Pairs, the Australian duo of Spencer Tarpin and Alexander Lloyd finished 6th in the final. Meanwhile a brave effort by Australia’s Woman’s 8 in a Reperchage race to get into the final, though finishing 5th and not qualifying – three weeks ago, the girls were not even scheduled to be in Rio.

Popular canoist, Jessica Fox, competed in the Final of the Women’s Kayak Single Canoe Slalom for the second Olympics in a row [she won Silver at London] –  Jessica won another medal, this time Bronze, finishing behind competitors from Spain and New Zealand. Another wonderful effort by Jess.

An update on the Sailing competition – in the Men’s 470 Dinghy event, Australians W Ryan and M Belcher are second overall behind Croatia after 3 races. In the Mixed Nacra 17 [multihull] event the Australian pair of  J Waterhouse & L Darminanare in the lead after 4 races

For the fans of Synchronised Swimming [not a choice I’d make if other viewing was available] the Women’s Duet competition commences at 12 am on Monday, our time, while the Team event commences at 2am on Friday, 19th.

In Women’s Gymnastics – the All-Round Final went to Simone Biles [USA}.

Track Cycling is now underway, and In the Men’s Team Sprint, Australia [P. Constable, N Hart & M Glaetzer] lost the Bronze Medal ride off against France. Gold & Silver went to Great Britain, over New Zealand.

In Judo – the Men’s 100kg division saw another Gold Medal go to Azerbaijan – it is countries like that that seem to often pick up medals in sports such as Judo, where countries like Australia, where the emphasise is on the more traditional and favoured sports, seldom feature. The official Olympic Games Guide didn’t even have a feature article about Judo, for example, or sports such as Handball which I find disappointing!

Finally today, a look at the Swimming Finals. Yesterday, we felt there was little more to be said about US swimmer Michael Phelps –  but, he is Michael Phelps, and today he won his 22nd Gold Medal in winning the Men’s 200m Individual Medley final, ahead of Japan and China, with his supposed main challenger, Ryan Lochte [also of the US and World Record holder and World Champion] falling back to miss a medal. As for Phelps, this was the 4th time he had won this particular event since 2004, and after receiving his medal today, was back in the pool, swimming a close second in the 100m Butterfly semifinal –  we haven’t seen the end of him yet!! Meanwhile, Australian competitors in swimming finals today  were – Taylor McKeown, 5th in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke, while Mitchell Larkin swam his way to a Silver Medal in the Men’s 200m Backstroke final, behind a strong American.

I hinted earlier that I felt there was too much commentator hype about some of our hopes –  I think the Campbell sisters [Cate and Bronte] were a classic example of that, and being featured in regular promos, advertisements, etc [I think they were the 7 network mascots]. Today, a bit historic, they both swam in the final of the Women’s 100m Freestyle, and I guess all supporters of Australia were hoping one or other of them could follow on from Kyle Chalmers win the day before. Some commentators even had them dead heating for first!!! Certainly on form and 1 and 2 placing was not out of this world.  So yes, we did get a dead heat – but not the one dreamed of  –  between Simone Manual [USA] and Penny Oleksiak [Canada], with the Bronze going to Sarah Sjostrom [Sweden]. Where were Cate and Bronte [6th and 4th respectively], described as a ‘boilover’ by the Channel 7 commentator. It was interesting to see the 8 finalists in the ‘waiting’ area before the race, there seemed a great deal of camaraderie between most of the girls particularly the Campbell sisters  – good for the sporting aspect, but perhaps a little more serious approach at that stage may have been wiser [it wasn’t exactly a school swim meet!!]. My view anyway.

Medal standings after today’s competition shows  [Gold, Silver, Bronze, Totals]

USA:                    16  –  12  – 10   [38]

China:                 11   –   8  –  11  [30]

Japan:                   7   –   2  –   13  [22]

AUSTRALIA:         5   –   4   –   6   [15]

Followed by South Korea and Hungary [5 Gold each]  and Russia, Great Britain and Germany [4 Gold each]

 

 

Bill’s Rio Olympic update No.10: Day Eight [for Friday 12 August]- 

The athletic track & field program began today with a substantial Australian team attempting to improve on earlier Olympic results. Though sadly, with today’s events, we seemed to have no representatives qualified in some of them. To me, athletics is the most identifiable part of the Olympic Games, despite in Australia’s case, the bulk of medals usually accruing from swimming, cycling, etc. Athletics typifies the Olympic motto of ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’ [Faster, Higher, Stronger]. A total of 47 events [24 Men and 23 Women] will be contested.

Today, the first four events of the Women’s Heptathlon were held – I was disappointed that Australia didn’t have a competitor! Held over two days, the Heptathlon consists of seven track & field events with a points system which awards higher scores for the better results in each category, the final total gives us the winner. On Day 1 [today] those events were he 100m hurdles, High Jump, Shor Put and 200m [Day 2 has the Long Jump, Javelin and the 800 metres].

At the end of Day One of the Heptathlon, which began with 31 starters, the British competitor, Jessica Ennis-Hill was leading the competition of 1,14 points.

Field events today were as follows:

Men’s Discus – Australians Ben Harradine [6085m] and Matthew Denny [61.16m] both failed to qualify for the Final.  Women’s Shotput [again, no Australian competing] saw the qualifying rounds. The Men’s Long Jump qualifying rounds saw both Henry Frayne[8.01m] and Fabrice Lapierre [7.96m] win their way through to the final tomorrow, qualifying in 6th and 8th position, with the best qualifying throw coming from Wang of China with 8.24m. The Women’s Hammer Throw [no Australia] ended Round 1 with a best throw of 76.93 metres by the Polish competitor.

Track events today were:

Women’s 1500m qualifying heats – Lindon Hall finished 6th in Heat 1, Jenny Blunden finished 8th in her heat , while the 3rd Australian, Zoe Buchanan also qualified 6th in her heat., all three qualifying for the semi-final round.  The Men’s 800m qualifying events saw Luke Matthews, 7th in Heat 2, Jeff Risely, 4th in Heat 6 and Peter Bol, 6th in Heat 7. None of them qualified for the semi-finals.  The Women’s 10,000m Final, with a big starting field of 37 runners,  saw the usual dominance of the African runners, with girls from Ethiopia, Kenya and Ethiopia raking the medals, while Australia’s Eloise Wellings finished in 10th place with a personal best time. Commentator, Bruce McEvaney,  in his usual over statement, described the race as the greatest ever!!!!! Admittedly, the African runners always produce something spectacular in their distance running.

The Men’s 20 km Walk saw a successful outcome for one of Australia’s representatives, Dane Bird-Smith who finished strobgly into 3rd position and the Bronze Medal behind two Chinese walkers –  he gave an emotional, genuine and humble interview afterwards, not so his father and coach, who became so excited in trying to get to his son at the end of the race, that he was arrested by Brazilian, and was still in court when his son was presented with his medal!!  Our second walker, Rhydian Cowley, finished in 33rd position.

Qualifying heats were held also for the Women’s 100m event – Melissa Breen finished 7th in Heat 7[in 11.74 secs]. The fastest qualifier was Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica in 10.96 secs.  The Men’s 400m qualifying heats again had no Australian representative – the fastest qualifier after Round 1 was Kirani James of Grenada in 44.93secs This is one of the tougher ‘short’ races on the program – I know from personal experience [many years ago in Ballarat on a few occasions!!!].

There were some Australian disappointments at Rio today. The biggest loss for me was that of the Women’s Football team – well fancied to win the tournament, our ‘Matildas’ went out to Brazil in the Quarter Final – with the score still at 0-0 after extra time, the match was decided by a penalty shootout, best of 5. That got to 4-4 when the Brazilian goal keeper missed an Australian shot, leaving our next penalty taker with the chance to win the game for Australia. Her shot was saved, and the shootout continued, until tragically for our girls, Brazil went on to win the shoot out 7-6, and proceed to the semi-final. Other Quarter final winners were Germany defeated China 1-0;Canada defeated France 1-0, and Sweden defeated the USA after penalties also when their score was locked together at 1-1. Not a day of big scores!!

In Archery, for the Men’s Individual title, our team winning gold medallist, Taylor Worth, found himself in a losing quarter final against the Korean champion, going down 6-5. The medal winners were South Korea, France and the USA.

Rowing finals on the program today, and more disappointment in the Final of the Men’s Four event – Will Lockwood, Josh Dunkley-Smith, Josh Bruce & Alex Hill] were in it for the Gold Medal, but they just fell short in the 2000 metre race to the highly fancied team from Great Britain, with Italy taking the Bronze. A great effort by the lads nevertheless. The other three finals today featured no Australian finalist with the Nederlands winning the Women’s Lightweight Double Sculls, France in the Men’s equivalent race, and Great Britain won the Women’s Pairs. IN the semi-finals of the Singles Sculls, Rhys Grant finished 5th and missed out on the final, while Kimberley Brennan won her event, and looks a real possibility in the Final tomorrow.

Shooting competition results  – in the Men’s 50mRifle Prone Final, our two men finished 31st [Dane Sampson] and 35th [Warren Portent]. The event was won by Germany over South Korea. In the Women’s Skeet Final, the Gold & Silver went to Italy, while our Aislin Jones finished in 17th position.

A couple of Australians featured in Boxing today.  In the Men’s 75kg Middleweight Division, Danny O’Brien, in a bout to get to the quarter final, was beaten by the boxer from Uzbekistan.  Meanwhile, in the Women’s 60kg division, Shelley Watts lost to an Italian woman.

Round 2 of the Men’s Golf tournament was completed today –  Australia’s Marcus Fraser finished with 2 under for the day to take his score to 1o under, and leads the competition [on 132]  by one stroke from Thomas Pieters of Belgium.  Australia’s Scott Hend is on 143.

In the Tennis competition, the Mixed Doubles saw the end of Sam Stoser and John Peers, defeated by the Indian pair.

Some other Team sports results included:

Men’s Hockey – unfortunately for the Olympic hosts,  they found  the Kookaburras in hot form – the Australians defeated Brazil 9-0.

Men’s Basketball  –  Australia defeated China 93-68, and the Men have now won 3, lost 1 in their pool.

Men’s Water Polo –  this saw a very tight match against a tough Serbian team  – at halftime, Australia leading 5-4, at three quartertime 6-6 all, but after that break,  the team from Croatia exerted it’s greater experience to defeat the Australians 10-8. Australia’s final preliminary match will be against Greece.

Track Cycling continued today, and there were two finals. This program saw the first appearance of Anna Mears ‘the lady of the track’ – a ten time world champion across various disciplines and winner of five Olympic medals.  I’ve earlier referred to the accident she suffered in 2008, when she broke her neck, dislocated her shoulder and tore ligaments and tendons. Within 19 days she was back on the bike, but had to endure  intensive rehabilitation, but recovered in time to win a Silver Medal at the Beijing Games that year.

In today’s event – the Women’s Team Sprint, Anna teamed up with Stephanie Morton and hopes were high for a medal. This event is where a team of two women race for two laps [the equivalent Men’s race has 3 men over 3 laps]. The girls were defeated by a German du for the Bronze Medal [by .02secs]. The Gold went to China over Russia.  The Men’s Team Pursuit consists of two team teams in each contest leading up to Bronze and Gold Medal contests, of 4 riders – the teams start on opposite sides of the velodrome [cycling track] and race in laps equally of a distance of 4000 metres.  After the preliminary rounds today, the Australian team of Jack Bobridge, Michael Hepburn,, Alexander Edmondson & Sam Welsford came up against the powerful Great Britain team which included multi-medal winner Bradley Wiggins. Australia came into this event aimed at the Gold Medal, but they would be disappointed, and were beaten for the second Games in a row by the British team. Australia went into that race as World Champions, the British as Olympic Champions, and in the finish, both teams today broke the previous World Record , the winning time 3.50.26  In the Men’s Sprint, preliminaries were held today, and these saw Matthew Glaetzer win his heat and move into the round of 16, while Patrick Constable moved through after winning his reperchage race.

Today’s Swimming finals didn’t achieve any medals for the Australian team, who appeared to have performed below par. In the final of the Women’s 200 metre Backstroke, Belinda Hocking came in 5th behind the USA, Hungary and Canada – the Hungarian swimmer, Katinka Hosszu, was trying to win her 4th individual Gold Medal for the Games, she was just beaten by the American. In the Women’s 800 metres Freestyle race, we saw an awesome performance by the 19 year old American, Katie Ledesty, who led the whole 16 laps, and won by a margin of  almost 12 seconds in a new World Record of 8.04.79. Australia’s Jessica Attwood swam gamely into 5th place in a time of 8.20.32. Ledesty had already won the 200 and 400 metre events.  The Men’s 50 metre Freestyle Final – won by the USA. Australia’s prospect, Cam McEvoy had only managed a 7th in the semifinal the previous day.

The Final of the Men’s 100 metre Butterfly [with no Australians in the field] had Michael Phelps going for Gold Medal No. 23. He had won this event in the previous three Olympic Games. Interestingly, just before the race, a picture of him with an 8 year old boy, taken about 10 years ago, was shown on the screen. That boy was Singapore starter in the race, Joseph Schooling.   Phelps was beaten in the race –  by Joseph Schooling, who gave Singapore it’s first ever Gold Medal in any sport in the Olympic Games. While Phelps didn’t win, he was again part of history – there was a three-way tie for the Silver Medal with the swimmers from Hungary and South Africa. An amazing result.

Obviously, there are many other sports and competitions at the Games – I am trying to cover most of those in which Australians are represented.

 

 

Bill’s Rio Olympic update No.11: Day Nine [for Saturday 13 August]- 
A great Saturday of sport at the end of Rio’s first week.
Our highlight – would have to be the effort of Kimberley Brennan.
Rowing – Women’s Single Sculls Final – our Australian girl has worked long and hard for this one [her brother won a Pairs Gold a couple of Games ago]. She collected a Silver and Bronze in different boats at London. Today she went out fast to an early lead and maintained that lead for the race duration, winning in 7.21.54 over the USA and China. A wonderful effort, and brought Australia it’s 6th Gold Medal. In the Men’s Single Sculls, the Gold was won by New Zealand over Croatia – bit of confusion at the finish when a dead heat was assumed with both having the same recorded time, but a photo was able to separate them. The Men’s and Women’s Eights were won by Great Britain, and the USA respectively.
Today’s Track Cycling featured three main events. Qualifying and finals of the Women’s Kieran race were held – an interesting event, the Kieran Pursuit originated in Japan, and involves an electric bike [called a demy] which goes around the circuit and sets a pace. Riders all start at the same time and must follow the gradually increasing speed of the demy until there are only two laps to go, at which point the demy leaves the track, and the riders sprint at breakneck pace for the win. In the 1st Round today, Anna Meares finished 2nd in her heat, Stephanie Morton, was 5th and then 2nd in a subsequent Reperchage. In Round 2, Anna won, but her time forced her into a ride for the Bronze Medal which she subsequently won. The Gold and Silver went to the Nederlands and Great Britain. In the Women’s Team Pursuit race, the Australian team [of G Baker, A Ankudinoff, A Edmondson, A Cure & M Hoskins] finished in the race for 5th & 6th place, defeating Italy to gain the 5th spot. The medals went to Great Britain, USA & Canada. The Men’s Sprint finals concluded the program – our riders, Patrick Constable and Matthew Glaetzer, both missed out on the medals. . Constable finished 8th overall, while Great Britain took out the Gold and Silver medals, with Russia collecting the Bronze in defeating Glaetzer.
A few individual and team events today:-
Shooting – the Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Final, saw David Chapman finish 26th, where medals went to Germany, France & China in that order. The Men’s Skeet Final resulted in a Gold Medal win for Italy over Sweden. Keith Ferguson [10th] and Paul Adams [19th] represented Australia.
In Women’s Hockey, Australia defeated Japan 2-0, and finished 3rd in their Group.
In Women’s Water Polo, our girls had a strong win over Brazil 10-3, while the Women’s Basketball team defeated Belarus 74-66, and from that win, earned a finish at the top of their Group.
Australia’s sole male lifter competed today in the Weightlifting Men’s 94 kg Division, Simplice Ribouem. He was placed 5th in his Group, and finished 13th overall in that competition which was won by Iran ahead of Belarus and Lithuania.
In the Badminton competition, in the Men’s Doubles preliminaries, Chinese Taipei defeated the Australian duo of M Chau & S Serasinghe 2-1.
The Men’s Golf tournament ended Round 3 with Australia’s Marcus Fraser retaining his one stroke lead over the competitor from Belgium, and two strokes ahead of the Swedish golfer.
The Gymnastics Trampoling event saw Australia’s Blake Gaudry finish in 13th position.
The Women’s Tennis Singles medals were decided today. For the Gold Medal, Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig defeated this year’s Australian Open champion, Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-4,4-6,6-1 – the first Puerto Rican Gold Medal in Olympic history. The Bronze medal was won by Petra Kvitora [Czech Rep] in 2 sets over Madison Keys [USA]. It was a wonderful result in the Men’s Semi Final Singles match – the Argentinian Juan Martin Del Potro defeated Rafael Nadal [Spain] 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, and he will meet Andy Murray [Great Britain] who defeated Kel Nishikori of Japan in 2 sets in the other Semi Final.
The Men’s Football Quarter Final scores were – Nigeria defeated Denmark 2-0, Germany defeated Portugal 4-0, Brazil defeated Colombia 2-0, and Honduras defeated South Korea 1-0 – the semi-finals to be Brazil vs Honduras, and Nigeria vs Germany.
The Women’s Beach Volleyball competition today saw the Australian duo of Bawden and Clancy win their way into the quarter finals with a two sets to one win over the Polish pair in the last of their Round of 16 matches.
Today, we finally saw the conclusion of the Swimming program. This continued with the week-long trend of the Australian team overall performing below par, certainly as far as the ‘experts’ had been predicting – built up as ‘the darlings of our swimming conscience’ I feel our media, commentators and probably the public expectations demand too much of our young swimmers who are treated as heroes almost as soon as they start to compete. Before the Games, the team was described as one of the strongest international teams we had sent to the Games, but the results didn’t demonstrate that, nor the prediction that we would head the medal tally, just look at the outcome below [ Gold – Silver – Bronze – Totals]
USA: 16-8-9- [33]
Australia: 3-4-3- [10]
Hungary : 3-2-2- [7]
Japan: 2-2-3 – [7]
Anyway, today’s results: the over publicised Campbell sisters swum in the Final of the Women’s 50 Metres Freestyle – they finished 5th [Cate] and 7th [Bronte]. The winner was Denmark, in 24.07 secs, ahead of the USA – this was in fact Denmark’s first Gold Medal in the Pool since 1948.
In the Men’s 1500 Metres Freestyle, in which the Australian competitor was built up as a medal prospect, Mack Horton [Gold Medal winner of a few days ago] finished back in 6th place behind a mighty command performance by Gregorio Pattrinieri of Italy in a time of 14.34.57, just below the world record, which for much of the race, he was ahead of. Horton suggested his error was swimming in the previous day’s relay final!
The program finished with two relays, Australia represented in both. The Women’s 4 x 100 Medley Relay – the Australians – Emily Seebolm [who’d had a disappointing week after a successful career], Taylor McKeown, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell – were well out of the medals at the end of the third leg, however a wonderful redeeming swim by Cate in the last leg, brought the Aussies from 5th into a Silver medal finish, behind the USA, a gutsy finish. It was a similar outcome in the Final of the Men’s 4 x 100 Medley Relay – our quartet of Mitch Larkin, Jake Packard, David Morgan and Kyle Chalmers [Gold Medal winner], were also behind the eight ball at the end of the 3rd leg, but a brilliant last leg swim by the 18 year old Chalmers , dragged the team up into the Bronze Medal position behind the USA and Great Britain.
Day Two of the Athletics program took place today and a summary of events follows:
Men’s Discus Final – Australians Brian Harradine [60.85m] and Matthew Denny [61.16m] finished 19th and 20th in the qualifying rounds. The Gold Medal went to Christoph Harting of Germany [68.37m] ahead of throwers from Poland and Germany.
The Men’s 100 metres [no Aussies] Preliminary & First Round Heats were held – the World and Olympic records are 9.58 secs & 9.63 secs. Interestingly, the preliminaries consisted of 3 heats with representatives from a number of the smaller nations, with the fastest time recorded there being 10.43 secs by Hassan Saaid of the Maldives, and he earned a place in the semi-finals with the big boys, which of course, included Usain Bolt of Jamaica [10.07 secs] and fastest Round result by Justin Gatlin [USA] in 10.01secs. The semi-finals and Final occur on Monday
Women’s Triple Jump. [again,no Aussies] – the qualification round saw a best jump of 14.52m by the Colombian competitor, the Final due on Monday.
The Women’s 3,000 Metre Steeplechase, always an exciting spectacle, saw two of the three Australian girls qualify for Tuesday’s Final – Madeleine Hills, 6th in her heat, and Genevieve La Gaze, 2nd in her heat, both made the Final, while Victoria Mitchell, finished 10th in her heat. The fastest time of the heats was 9.12.63 by the runner from Bahrain.
The Women’s 400 Metres, saw both our girls qualify for the Semi-finals – Morgan Mitchell [an Indigenous runner with a bubbly personality, and inspired by Cathy Freeman] finished 2nd in her heat [51.30 secs], while Annaliese Rubie finished 3rd in her heat [51.92 secs]. The fastest heat time was 50.58 secs by the USA athlete. Finals on Tuesday.
The Men’s Long Jump help hopes for Australian medals – but was not to be. Fabrice Lapierre and Henry Frayne made it to the final 12 – Lapriere was first to go out, finishing in 10th position in the final with a throw of 7.87m [well below his best]. Frayne would finish in 7th position [8.06m] behind the eventual winner, Jeff Henderson of the USA [throwing 8.38m], followed by South Africa and Great Britain. Disappointing outcome for the Australians.
The Men’s 10,000 Metres – this event is always my favorite Athletics race, and is generally one of the most spectacular races usually generated by the runners directly from, or originating from the African continent. The London winner was Mohamad Farah representing Great Britain – partway through today’s race [in which 34 starters set out on the 25 laps of the track], Farah fell, but picked himself up, and continued with the race. A wise move. He went on to win the Gold in a time of 27.05.17 ahead of the runners from Kenya and Ethiopia. The Australians in the race were – David McNeill, ran a great race to finish 16th in 27.87.71, and Ben St. Lawrence, who finished 28th in 28.46.32. Interestingly, with 9 laps to go, of the first 20 runners at that stage, 18 of them were of African origin, while David MCNeill was sitting in 21st position at the time.
Women’s 100 Metres, always one of the glamour events of the Games – with an existing World Record of 10.49 secs, the Gold Medal went to Elaine Thompson [Jamaica] in 10.71 secs ahead of Tori Bowie [USA] in 10.83 secs and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce [Jamaica] 10.86 secs – the latter trying to win this event for the third time.
Men’s Pole Vault qualifying [won previously by Australia’s Steve Hooker] saw Australia’s Kurtis Marschall finish 10th in his Group with a leap of 5.60m, and overall, 15th, meaning he didn’t qualify for Tuesday’s final. The best jump today was 5.70m.
Men’s 400 Metres Semi-finals produced a fastest run of 44.02secs by Kirani James of Grenada, and that Final will also be held on Monday
Similarly the Semi-finals of the Men’s 800 Metres were run – the fastest time was that of the runner from France in 1.43.86 [against the World Record of 1.40.91], that Final to be held on Tuesday.
Finally, the Woman’s Heptathlon, second day of competition with the last three of the seven events that make up the competition – Long Jump, Javelin and the 800 Metres. Unexpectedly, the favorite was beaten after leading into the last event. Nafissatou of Belgium won Gold with 6,810 pts, over Great Britain’s Jessica Ennis-Hill [6775 pts] and Canada’s Brianne Theisen Eaton [6653]. Ennis-Hill had being the title holder.
History created – three countries have so far won their first Olympic Gold Medals ever – Fiji [Men’s Rugby 7’s], Singapore [Swimming] and Puerto Rico [Women’s Tennis].
More tomorrow…………………………..

 

 

Bill’s Rio Olympic update No.12: Day Ten [for Sunday 14 August]- 
I might begin today’s update on the Men’s Golf competition –  for the first rounds, Australia’s Marcus Fraser seemed to be in a great position to take out the title, in front for first couple of days, then down to third during the final round, and suddenly slipping out of contention. In the end, the Gold Medal went to Justin Rose [Great Britain, total 201], from Henrik Stenson [Sweden, 202], while Fraser slipped down to 5th position overall.

Meanwhile, my highlight of the day belongs to athletics, and in particular, the Men’s 400 Metres race., The Final was held in the evening session –  the existing World Record was 43.18secs, established in 1999 [the Olympic Record 43.49 secs]. It was a magnificent run by the winner, running ‘almost blind’ [to his opponents at the start] running from Lane 8 on the outside, South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk produced a ‘golden moment’ for his country – racing away from the two more favoured runners, one the previous winner to produce a new World Record of 43.03 secs  –  winning from Kerani James [Jamaica] and LaShawn Merritt of the USA. And after the run – none of the showmanship that we were soon to get after the next race – Van Niekerk was straight over to his family support where he remained for some time – a big winning margin followed by a humble acceptance of the fact.

The Men’s 100 metre Final followed soon afterwards –  a World Record of 9.58 secs [Olympic Record 9.63secs], and as usual a strong field of the fastest eight men in the world – though most eyes on Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, the ‘darling’ of the crowd [and unabashed hero of Australia’s commentating team], while from the USA, Justin Gatlin [involved in various doping misdemeanours since the 2000’s, received a rather ‘frosty’ from the pro-Jamaica crowd].  Bolt had gained the fastest time in the semi-finals  [9.84secs] – of the original 24 starters in those three semi-finals, 19 of them had broken the 10 seconds fpr the race. In the Final, Catlin actually got out to a brilliant start, and for the first 40 metres, it looked ominous for Bolt, who appeared to have almost being last out of the starting blocks,  but then he turned on his engine, and it was suddenly all over, and Usain Bolt had won his third 100 Metre Gold Medal in a row. His time – 9.81 secs, from Gatlin [9.89 secs] and Andre De Grasse of Canada third in 9.91 secs. Of course that wasn’t the end of it for Bolt –  we then had a long protracted series of celebrations [which the crowd, and Channel7 obviously adored] – in contrast with the South African winner, here we had pure showmanship, arrogance, popularism, as he reaches the ‘top of the mountain’ once again, it’s all about him – yet apparently, the crowds,

And even his opponents love him!!

The day’s program began with the Women’s Marathon, over 42 kilometres – a huge starting list of 141 runners, from 80 different countries [and apparently including triplets from Estonia I believe!!]. We had three Australian girls competing, and they finished as follows  –  Milly Clarke, 18th in 2hrs 30mins 53secs, Jessica Trengrove [sister of AFL Melbourne footballer] 22nd in 2:31:44, and Lisa Jane Weightman in 2:34:41. Meanwhile the winner from Kenya [Jemima Jelagat Sumgong] completed the run in 2:24:04, with runners from Bahrain and Ethiopia filling out the minor placings. In actual time difference, our girls were not that far behind. With such a large field, there were some great overhead camera shots of the race at different stages.

In the Women’s 400 metre Semi-finals, Australia had two competitors. In the 2nd semi-final, the excitable and bubbly Indigenous girl, Morgan Mitchell finished last in 52.68 secs. Ammaliese Rubie, competing in the 3rd  semi-final, finished 6th in 51.96 secs. The fastest time recorded into the final  was by Allyson Felix of the USA in 49.68 secs  [the current World Record stands at 47.60 secs].

Australia had, what was possibly a record number of starters in the Women’s 1500 Metre semi-finals  The fastest time came from the Ethiopian runner in 4.03.06. Unfortunately, none of our girls qualified for the Final. Lindon Hall and Zoe Buckman finished 8th and 9th in their semi-final with times of 405:81 and 4:06:95, while in the other semi, Jenny Blundell finished 11th in 4:13:25   .

The Men’s High Jump qualifying rounds took place, with two Australians in the field. Brandon Starc [brother of Test cricketer Mitchell] achieved a height of 2.29m, while young Joel Baden jumped 2.17m. The leader at the end of the qualification round was Canada’s Derek Droin with a leap of 2.29m. Starc made it into the final group, the event to be held on Wednesday.

The Women’s Triple Jump Final was completed. Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia won the Gold [with a jump of 15.17m] ahead of competitors from Venezuela and Kazakhstan. Sadly again, no Australians.

In the Equestrian Individual Jumping event, Edwina Tops-Alexander  [0 penalties] qualified for Friday’s Final. Scott Lach [4 penalties], and Matt Williams & James Paterson-Robinson each had 8 penalties.

Tennis Finals were held today. The Men’s Singles Final saw Andy Murray of Great Britain finally overcome the brave Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro 3 sets to 1..  The Bronze Medal went to Kel Nishikori of Japan over Rafal Nadal of Spain , 2 sets to 1. The Women’s Doubles Final was won by B Makarova & E Vesmine [Russia] defeating the Swiss pair of Martina Hingus & T Baesinszky, 2 sets to 0. A Czech pair won the Bronze Medal. In the Mixed Doubles Final, two American pairs played for Gold & Silver – with J Sock & B Mattek-Sands defeating Venus Williams & R Ram 2 sets to 1. While the Bronze medal went to   the Czech Republic over India.

In Shooting today, in the Men’s 50m Rifle, 3 positions, the medals went to Italy, Russia and France. In the qualification round, Dane Sampson finished 20th, and William Godward, was 39th.

Men’s Water Polo saw Australia defeat Greece 12-7 in it’s final preliminary match, which we had to win, and then depend upon other results if we were to proceed. Unfortunately, the Australians did not get through to the Quarter Finals, to be held on Wednesday. In the Women’s Water Polo, Australia will play Hungary in a Quarter Final match on Wednesday, at 4.30am  AEST.

The Men’s Hockey Quarter Finals were played today –  the Australian had begun the tournament with high hopes of success, but a poor start gave them a tough quarterfinal match. Results were:  Netherlands defeated Australia 4-0; Belgium defeated India 4-1; Argentina defeated Spain 2-1; and Germany defeated New Zealand 3-2. The Women’s Hockey team will play New Zealand tonight at 11pm AEST in the Quarter Final.

In Men’s Basketball, the Men’s competition almost witnessed a shock loss to the USA team –  the USA eventually defeated France 100-77. In Australia’s final preliminary game, they defeated Venezuela 81-56.Australia will feature in Thursday’s quarter final against a yet to be determined opponent,  In Women’s Basketball, the Australian girls will face Serbia on Wednesday in the Women’s quarter final..

Today’s Diving event was the Women’s 3m Springboard Final in which two Australian girls featured in the final. While Medals went to China [Gold & Silver] and Italy, the Australians finished 5th [Maddison Keeney] and 6th [Esther Qin]

Cycling at the Velodrome continued today.  In the Men’s Sprint Final,. Patrick Constable finished in 8th position. The Gold Medal race saw Jason Kenny of Great Britain defeat his teammate Callum Skinner, while the Bronze went to Dennis Dmitriev [Russia], defeating Australia’s Matthew Glaetzer.

In the Women’s Sprint, Stephanie Morton and Anna Meares lost their Round of 32 rides, while Anna went onto win  her Repechage event,  while Stephanie finished 2nd in hers. Anna was subsequently beaten in her Round of 16 ride. Quarter and semi-finals take place on Tuesday.

The Men’s Ominium event commenced today. This event takes place over two days and is made up of six events, three on each day. The winner is determined from points earned during those events. They are a Scratch race of 15kms for men [10kms for women]; an individual pursuit race of 4 kms for men [3kms for women], an elimination race which is a mass start where the last rider crossing the line every two laps is eliminated, time trial races [1km for men, 500 metres for women], the flying lap – a race against the clock with a flying start, and, the points race where men cover 40kms [women 25kmns], the final placing is determined by the accumulated points won by riders in intermediate sprints and by laps gained on the main field. After the first three events held today, the standings see cyclists from France and Italy in the lead followed by England’s Mark Cavendish [trying to win the one trophy that has eluded him]. Australia’s Glenn O’Shea, a bit of afancy for the overall race is currently sitting in 7th position, on 76 points [the leader has 106 points].

The Women’s Beach Volleyball Quarterfinals commenced today – Australia’s duo of T Clancy & L Bawden came up against the Americans [K Walsh Jennings and April Ross] – the match didn’t actually commence until midnight, Rio time, which didn’t seem to worry the locals!! The Aussie girls began strongly, but it was not long before the Americans exerted their superiority and went on to win in two sets – 21-14,21-16.

Some progressive Sailing results -. For finalsdu over the next couple of days.

Men’s 470 [Dinghy] – W Ryan & M Belcher currently placed 2nd;  Men’s 49er Skiff – N Outteridge & I Jensen in 6th position;  Women’s Laser Radial [dinghy]  – Ashleigh Stoddart is 9th;  and Women’s 470 [dinghy]  – J Ryan & C Smith, 11th; Mixed Nacra 17 [multihull] – J Waterhouse & L Darminan are placed in 4th position;

In Gymnastics, Max Whitlock [Great Britain] won Gold in the Men’s Pommel Horse; Russia’s Aliya Mustafina won Gold in the Women’s Uneven Bars; Simone Biles won the Women’s Vault for the USA; while Max Whitlock also won the Men’s Floor Exercise.

Synchronized Swimming , not exactly a ‘sport’ that turns this writer, however that competition commenced today, and the Australian standings in the Duet ended as follows – N. Pablo & R Stackpole were 24th in the Free Routine category after Day 1 of competition. The leading countries were Russia, China and Japan.

Football semi-finals for the Men are on Thursday [Brazil vs Honduras, and Nigeria vs Germany],  while the Women’s semi-finals are on Wednesday between Brazil & Sweden, and Germany & Canada.

Handball quarter finals will be played on Tuesday [Women] and Wednesday [Men], those results will appear as they occur.

Incidentally, my ‘Day Numbering’ commences from the Friday of the Opening Ceremony – there were Archery competitions on earlier that day. I believe the 7 Network regarded the Saturday after the O.C. as day One!!

 

 

Bill’s Rio Olympic update No.13: Day 11 [for Monday 15 August]- 

Into Week 2 of the 2016 Olympic Games, and from an Australian perspective [the direction in which these updates have been written], many of the predictions of success in certain disciplines have not borne fruition. Today, we lost two more of our teams, one highly fancied!

 

In Women’s Hockey, a big disappointment there, with our team, and joining the highly regarded Men’s team on the sidelines. Quarterfinals in this competition today –  Australia up against our neighbour, who proved too strong on the day –  New Zealand defeated Australia 4-2, to go into the semi-finals. The other quarter final results saw  Germany defeat the USA 2-1, Great Britain winners over Spain 3-1, and the Netherlands defeated Argentina 3-2.   The Semi-final line-up will; be Netherlands vs Germany, and Great Britain vs New Zealand, to be played on Thursday.

 

In the Women’s Water Polo competition, the Australian girls were defeated in their Quarter Final by Hungary, in a reasonably close finish 13-11, disappointment for the Aussie girls. Other quarter final results were USA defeated Brazil 13-3, Russia defeated Spain 12-10, and Italy defeated China 12-10. The Semi-finals will be Hungary vs USA, and Russia vs Italy, also due on Thursday.

 

The Women’s Open Water Swimming[Marathon] race was held this morning over a distance of 10 kilometres. In the lead up to the Games, much was made of the likely unhealthy condition of the open waters around Rio –  and as I watched the girls swimming, I wondering what longer term affects their swim might leave them with? In any case, the race saw a win to the competitor from the Netherlands [Sharon van Rouwendaal] in 1 hr 56 mins 32 secs. Silver and Bronze went to the swimmers from Italy and Brazil. Australia’s Chelsea Gubecka finished in 15th position in a time of 1:58:12, less than 2 minutes behind the winner.

 

The Wrestling competition is underway – in the Greco-Roman 130 kg Division, Ivan Popov competed for Australia. He was defeated in the Round of 16 by Sweden’s Johan Euren.  Cuba won the Gold over Turkey, while the two Bronze medals went to competitors from Russia and Azerbaijan

 

Athletics produced another exciting day, albeit interrupted during the evening session by a rain storm. The session finished after midnight, with a magnificent contest in the Men’s Pole Vault Final between the French and Brazilian competitors which kept the big crowd in the stadium. One commentator [Steve Hooker, who won the Gold Medal for Australia in this event ] described it as the greatest ever Olympic Pole Vault competition – he should know, though some of the television experts often get a bit carried away [especially if they are named McEvaney!!]. Anyway, Renaud Lavillenie [France] jumped brilliantly throughout the competition and looked to have the Gold in his pocket, but Brazil’a Thiago Braz De Silva had different ideas, and produced a brilliant come from behind leap to win the host nation’s first Gold medal at the Games, with a vault of 6.03 metres.  Lavillenie’s leap was 5.98m, while the Bronze went to Sam Kendricks of the USA, with 5.85m. No Aussies were in the final.

Other field events today:  the Women’s Hammer Throw – the medals went to Poland, China and Great Britain, the winning throw being 8.29 metres, a new World Record.  The Men’s Triple Jump qualifying event  saw the best qualifying jump by Christian Taylor of the USA – a leap of 17.24 metres. .  The Women’s Discus Throw qualifying rounds, part of which took place in driving rain, saw Australia’s Dani Samuels finish with the 4th nest throw of 64.46m behind the Cuban competitor’s 65.38m. The final will be held early Wednesday morning, our time.

There were a number of track events today. 

The Women’s 3,000 metres Steeplechase Final, which included two Australian girls, fell just short of a new World Record. The winner was Ruth Jebet of Bahrain in a time of 8 mins 59.75secs. I’ve noticed that Bahrain seems to have quite a strong contingent in the athletic competition, and noting that Jebet originally came from Kenya, I wonder if they have ‘imported’ a team! Silver and Bronze medals went to Kenya and the USA. Both Australian girls ran excellent races, improving on their previous best times – Madeline Hills finished 7th in 9:20:38, while Genevieve LaCase finished 9th in 9:21:21.

[There may be some interesting post-Games discussions –  most of our swimmers failed to improve on their times in these Games, and results showed.  In contrast, while not winning as many medals, etc, most of our athletic team are improving on past performances.  Food for thought].

Qualifying rounds were held for the Men’s 3000 metre Steeplechase. Runners from Kenya and Uganda produced the fastest times – 8:21:40 and 8:21:53. Sadly, I couldn’t find an Australian in the heats.

The heats of the Women’s 200 metres saw Australia’s new prospect Ella Nelson, record the 11th fastest time of 22.66 secs, and give her a place in the 2nd semi-final on Wednesday morning. The fastest heat run was 22.31secs by Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Core d’Ivoire [Ivory Coast]. The World Record is 21.34 secs.

Men’s 400 Metres Hurdles qualifying heats saw a fastest qualifying time of 48.37 secs by Annsert Whyte of Jamaica. Semi-finals will be on Wednesday, the Final on Friday. The Women’s 400 metres Hurdles also featured qualifying heats – once again, a Jamaican runner had the best time of 54.88 secs. .Lauren Wells of Australia finished 4th in her heat in 56.26secs and qualified for the 3rd semi-final to be run on Wednesday,

Men’s 110 Metre Hurdles qualifying heats were also held – the fastest qualifier was Omar McLeod of Jamaica in 13.27 secs.

The Women’s 400 Metres Final produced a brilliant but exhausting run by Shaunae Miller of The Bahamas in 49.44 secs – she literally fell/threw herself at the line to just defeat the USA favourite, Allyson Felix.  Morgan Mitchell of Australia finished 7th in her semi-final in a time of 52.68 secs, while Anneliese Rubie came in 6th in 51.96 secs in her semi-final.  I would later describe the winner’s performance as an example of the 400 metres being one of the hardest races on the athletic calendar – Miller’s effort an example of physical courage beyond the limits of the human body. She lay on the track for a good 10 minutes trying to recover, and then only lasted about 100 metres on her victory before she collapsed again.

The Men’s 800 Metres Final saw a second win in the event to David Rudisha of Kenya, in  1:42:15. The Silver and Bronze medals went to Algeria and the USA, with Kenya also making up 5th and 7th position.

 

The Canoe-Kayak competition commenced today.  In the Men’s K 1000m race, Australia’s Murray Stewart finished a relaxed 2nd in his heat, then went on to win his semi-final in convincing fashion. I hate to say it [commentator’s curse] but he is one of the favourites for tomorrow’s final.  In the Men’s C1- 1000m race, Martin Marinov, competing for Australia, was a five time Olympian, aged 48 years, coaxed out of retirement to compete at Rio. Not unexpectedly, he finished 6th in his heat, and 7th in the semi-final, but has earned himself a place in the Consolation Final, at 10pm tonight. . The fastest qualifier in the main Final is the canoeist from Uzbekistan.  The Women’s K2, 500 metre race saw Alyssa Bull and Alyce Burnett competing for Australia. They finished in 7th position in their heat, and 6th in their semi-final, but with the 6th fastest time overall, the girls will be competing in the Final tonight, at 10.23pm.

 

Weightlifting  –  I noted on an earlier day that the medal winners in events like weightlifting often do not come from the more recognised Olympic winners. The Weightlifting Men’s 105kg event is an example. Competitors winning the medals were  – Gold [Uzbekistan]; Silver [Armenia]; and Bronze [Kazakhstan].

 

Track Cycling continued today. 

The Men’s Omnium [described in yesterday’s update] was completed today – with the second set of categories – Time Trial, Flying Lap, and the Points race. Australia’s Glenn O’Shea who had been sitting inn around 7th position after the first day’s events, continued his good form in the Time Trial, where he finished equal 2nd with the eventual overall winner. In the Flying Lap, he finished in 6th position. Unfortunately, in the Points race, through no fault of his own, he came across, and joined in, a crash of two other riders, and did not accrue any points in that section.  Glenn would finish in 7th position with an overall points score of 144.  The Gold Medal went to a very emotional Italian rider, Elia Viviani, with a score of 207 points. Mark Cavendish of the UK, who came into this race seeking a medal from the other international competition he’d not previously gained one, had to be satisfied with Silver, on 14 points, while the Bronze went to Hansen of Denmark on 192 points.

The Women’s Omnium began today with their first three events – with the Scratch Race, Individual Pursuit and the Elimination Race. Our representative, Annette Edmondson  finished 6th in the Scratch Race, had 7th fastest time in the Individual Pursuit, and was 5th in the Elimination Race. Overall, after Day One, Annette was in 7th position with 90 points to her credit. The leading cyclist was Great Britain’s Laura Trott, on 118 points, event to be completed tomorrow.

The Women’s Sprint Finals saw the exit of Anna Meares from international competition.  Anna finished the event in 10th position after being beaten in her heat and repechage races. That event concludes over the next couple of days. I’ve covered Anna’s contribution to the sport, and to sportsmanship in general previously – a young lady who wears ‘her heart on her sleeve’.

 

Gymnastics update on a number of events – the medals in the Men’s Vaults went to North Korea, Russia and Japan. The Men’s Rings medals went to competitors from Greece, Brazil and Russia.

 

In Synchronised Swimming, the Women’s Duet, the Australian pair of  N Pablo and R Stackpole finished in 24th position and did not qualify for the Final on Wednesday morning.

 

Handball quarterfinals will be played overnight Tuesday, our time  –  they are Brazil vs Netherlands, Spain vs France, Sweden vs Norway, and Russia vs Angola.  This is a very entertaining and fast sport to watch, but despite the Seven network having at last three channels dedicated to the Games, there is little opportunity to see this and a range of other sports. It seems that when the ‘major attractions’ are not in action, all three channels persist in constant ‘replays’ instead of at least being dedicated to the less popular sports. I suppose that is to be expected, but to this writer, it is disappointing. Even with Boxing – I recall in earlier years, quite an extensive coverage given to Boxing, especially near the finals of the various divisions – we will be lucky to see snatches. If Australians are not involved, the coverage is not considered, unless your name is Usain Bolt!!!…………………..

I shall return!!

 

 

 

Bill’s Rio Olympic update No.14: Day 12 [for Tuesday 16 August]- 

 

Day 11 produced a series of highs and lows for the Australian Olympic team – where do I start?

Perhaps with a couple of lows today…

 

Our Women’s Basketball team [the Opals] suffered a devastating narrow loss to Croatia in the  quarterfinal match, just unable in the closing seconds to force extra time, by going down 73-71. The Opals had won all of their pool games, and his loss meant the first Olympics since 1992 in Barcelona that they will not come away with a medal. Other Quarter Final results were – France defeated Canada 46-44; the USA defeated Japan 110-64; and Spain defeated Turkey 64-62. The semi-finals to be played on Friday will be Spain vs Serbia and the USA vs France.

In the Men’s 10km Open Swim, Australia’s Jarrod Poort led strongly for the first 9 kms, but he couldn’t sustain the effort, and he was quickly swallowed up by a large group within that last kilometre, and in fact, fell right back to finish in 20th position. A thrilling finish saw the same time recorded for first and second with a large group of swimmers right behind them. Gold went to Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands [1:52:59] ahead of Spyridon Gianiotos [Greece] in the same time, with the Bronze going to France, just .03 sec behind –  in fact down to 12th position, there was only 0.7 sec behind the winner – after 10 kms of swimming! Poort’s time was 1:53:40.

 

In the Canoe/Kayak events another expected Medal winner that didn’t eventuate was in the Men’s K1 [Kayaking] 1000m Final  –  Murray Stewart, regarded as a big hope, after an excellent semi-final swim yesterday, finished out of the medals in 4th position after fading badly, his time 3:33:74. The medals went to Spain, Czech Republic & Russia, the winning time being 3:31:44. The 21 year old Spaniard came from nowhere in the closing stages to swamp the Czech and Russian competitors.  In the Women’s K2 500m Final, the two Australian girls – Alyssa Bull & Alyce Burnett, who just scraped into the final yesterday, finished in last place behind Hungary, Germany and Poland – the margin between first and second was 5/100th of a second!!  In the Consolation Final [no medals awarded] of the Men’s C1 1000m, our 48 year old Martin Marinov [who had been coached out of retirement to compete] finished in last position. Originally from Bulgaria he is now a coach in China.  The Medal race in that event was won by Germany, over France and Moldavia

 

In other team events today

In the Men’s Basketball, the Quarter finals to be played tomorrow morning are Australia vs Lithuania [12 midnight]; Croatia vs Serbia [that should be a hot one!!]; Spain vs France; and USA vs Argentina.

In the Men’s Football competition, the Semi-final results were Sweden defeated Brazil in extra time; and Germany defeated Canada 2-0. The Gold Medal match between Sweden and Germany is scheduled for 6.30am on Saturday morning.  The Women’s semi-finals will be played early tomorrow morning .

The Men’s Hockey Semi-finals saw Belgium defeat the Netherlands 3-1, and Argentina defeat Germany 5-2, with the Gold Medal match between Belgium and Argentina to be played on Friday morning. The Women’s Semi-finals will be played tomorrow morning.

Handball quarterfinals [Women]  will be played early tomorrow morning, while the Men’s Quarter finals will also be played in the morning.

 

The Olympic Sailing completion produced two medals for Australia today.

In the Men’s Laser Final, Australia’s Tom Burton began the last race knowing that he really needed things to go his way for a win to be possible.  Well they did, and Tom went on to win Australia’s 7th Gold Medal,  with 73 points, coming in ahead of Tonci Stipanovic [Croatia] and  Sam Meech [New Zealand]. Burton foiled Croatian Tonci Stipanovic’s plan to keep him at the back of the fleet. Burton was second going into the final race, 10 points behind Stipanovic, and needed to finish five places in front of him to claim gold. Stipanovic’s attempt to push Burton back at the start failed and Burton was able to chase down the rest of the fleet and finish third in the double points race to claim gold. Meanwhile, in the Mixed Nacra 17 event, Australian cousins Jason Waterhouse and Luke Darmanin claimed the Silver Medal, just one point behind the Argentine winner – they had been in 4th place going into today’s final event. The pair finished second in the medal race and second overall after Argentina’s Santiago Lange and Cecilia Seroli overcame a bad start to claim gold

The Equestrian Jumping Team qualifications took place today – the Australian team of Scott Keach, James Pattterson-Robinson, Edwina Tops-Alexander and Matt Williams were in 13th position after the qualifying round  which was led by teams from Brazil,. Netherlands and the USA., and missed the final medal round.

In Synchronised Swimming today,  the Duets Free Routine Final was decided, and the Medals went to Russia, China and Japan. The Australian dup finished 24th [Nikita Pablo and Rose Stackpole].

Artistic Gymnastics competition had three vents on the program.  In the Men’s Parallel Baes, the Medals went to the Ukraine, USA and Russia.  The Men’s Horizontal Bars event was won by Germany from the USA and Great Britain.  The Women’s Floor Exercise went to Simone Biles of the USA with Silver and Bronze won by the USA and Great Britain. Australia’s Larissa Miller finished in 67th position.

In the Diving competition, two Australians competed in the Men’s 3m Springboard event.   Kevin Chavez [26th in the Preliminaries] and Grant Niel,[15rh in the semi-final] did not qualify for the last 12 in the Final. That was won by Cao Yuan of China from Great Britain and Germany.

Track Cycling  –  it was the final day of this program, with three events to complete things.

The second day of the Women’s Omnium and last three categories – Time Trial, Flying Lap, and the Points Race, saw a Gold Medal win to Laura Trott of Great Britain [230 points] from Sarah Hammert of the USA [206 points] and Jolien D’Hoore of Belgium [199 points].  Australia’s Annette Edmondson 8th overall with 168 points.

The Men’s Keiren event completed the Men’s program. The Winner was Jason Kenny of Great Britain ahead of the cyclists from the Netherlands and Malaysia. Australia’s Pat Constable [5th in his Heat]  and Matthew Glaetzer [finished in 10th position [after falling during the raced for 7th to 12th] did not feature in the Final.   The Women’s Sprint race went to Kristina Vogel [Germany] over [Rebecca James [Great Britain] with the Bronze going to Katy Marchant of Great Britain. Anna Meares [yesterday] finished in 10th position.

Finally, I’d like to concentrate and exam the results of today’s Track & Field events in  the Athletic Program.

The Women’s 5,000 Metres qualifying heats produced an outstanding result for Australia with the rare outcome of three Australian girls running their way into the Final.  While the fastest qualifier in the Heats was Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia in 15:4:35, the runs of Eloise Wellings [qualified 5th in time of 15:19:02], Genevieve LaCaze [15:20:45] and Madeline Hills [15:21:33] produced much promise for the future of long distance running for our women athletics, and this achievement was my ‘highlight’ of the day.

The Men’s 1500 Metres qualifying heats had two Australia competitors  –  Ryan Gregson, in Heat 1, produced a flying finish from a position of 8th as they entered the strait, to get into second place, in a time of 3:39:13 [and gain a berth in the Semi-final while Luke Matthews finished 12th in his Heat in 3:44:51, and did not qualify for the final.  The fastest heat time was  3:38:31. The Semi-finals take place on Friday morning, and the Final [usually one of the last races on the athletic program] on Sunday morning.

The Women’s 100 Metre Hurdles Heats included  Michelle Jenneke running for Australia. She finished 6th in her heat, in the time of 13.26secs. The fastest qualifying time was 12.54 secs by Brianna Rollins of the USA. Our girl didn’t make it to the Semi-finals, which with the Final will be held on Thursday.

The Final of the Men’s 110 Metre Hurdles was completed. Against World and Olympic Records of 12.80 and 12.91, the fastest time in the Semi-finals was 13.15secs. In the Final, the winning time by Omar McLeod of Jamaica was 1305secs. Oddly, this was the first time a Jamaican runner had won this particular event.

The Men’s 200 Metre qualifying heats were held today. Australia’s Alexander Hartman finished 5th in Heat 6 of 10, in a time of 21.02secs, which result didn’t get him into a semi-final. The fastest qualifier was Andre De Grasse of Canada in 20.09secs. Usain Bolt qualified 16th in 20.28secs, however, while he won his Heat, Bolt was easing right off as he approached the finishing line, so that standing prior to the Semi-finals and Final [due tomorrow and Friday morning] has little significance.

Final of the Women’s 1500 Metre race  started off at a very slow pace but that didn’t last for long. The Gold Medal went to Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon of Kenya [time 4:08:93] ahead Ginzebe Dibaba from Ethiopia and popular 29 year old American, Jenny Simpson.  Our three Australian girls failed to qualify beyond the semi-finals. The World & Olympic Records for this event are 3:50:07 and 3:53:96 respectively.

Womens 200 Metres  began with 9 qualifying heats. Elia Nelson [another Australian athletic with a beautiful personality] qualified through to the semi-finals. She finished in the second of those finals in a time of 22.50secs but it was not fast enough to earn her a place in the Final – in fact she was in 9th position overall [the Final, to be run tomorrow morning has 8 runners] but in the post-race interview was very happy with her performances overall. Another bright prospect for Australia’s future athletic hopes. The fastest qualifier for the final was Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands in 21.96 ahead of Tori Bowie [USA} and Elaine Thompson [Jamaica]. The World and Olympic Record is 21.34secs.

Not so happy was Lauren Wells of Australia, following her run in the Women’s 400 Metre Hurdles semi-final  – the nine times Australian champion, running in Lane 1 of Semi-final 3, finished down in 7th position, and later, very disappointed with the outcome, apologised to her supporters for running well below her best – one of our few track athletes to have done that so far – most have improved their times.

In the Men’s 400 metre Hurdles semi-finals, the fastest qualifying time was 48.26secs by Kerron Clement of the USA. That Final will be held on Friday.

Now looking at some of today’s field events, there were a couple of major disappointments for Australia.  In the Women’s Discus Final, our long term thrower, Dani Samuels, missed a Medal result by 0.56cms, throwing 64.90m to finish 4th in the Final. She considered that result an opportunity lost – ‘I guess I’ll have to come back and try again’!! The Medals went to Croatia, France and Cuba with distances of 69.21, 66.73, and 65.34.

The Women’s Javelin Throw qualifying event Australia had three competitors, only one of whom went through to the Final, to be held on Friday morning. Kim Mickel, our brightest hope competed less than 12 months after having a major shoulder reconstruction, a brave comeback [says he, the recipient of arthroscopic surgery on both shoulders in the last two years]  –  in Kim’s case, much more severe, and it was during her 3rd throw today, that she dislocated that same shoulder, and was taken to hospital in quite a deal of pain, her Olympics over. She actually was placed 22nd in the competition, achieving a throw of 57.20m. Kelsey-Lee Roberts, finished 28th with a best throw of 55.25m, while our third competitor, Kathryn Mitchell had a best throw of  61.63m, and finished 12th in the qualifying round – which put her into the Final on Friday morning. The best qualifying throw was 67.11m by Poland’s Maria Andrejczyk.

Qualifying round of the Women’s Long Jump saw Chelsea Jaensch [with a best leap of 6.41m, which left her outside the top 12] and Brooke Stanton [with a best leap of 6.56m, the 9th best result, and into Thursday’s Final]. The best qualifying leap of the competition was 6.87m by Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic.

The Men’s High Jump competition was concluded today, and resulted in a Gold Medal jump of 2.38m by Derek Drouin of Canada, ahead of competitors from Qatar and the Ukraine. Australia’s Brandon Starc [brother of Test cricketer Mitchell Starc, currently playing in the Third Test over in Sri Lanka] finished 15th in the Final with a leap of 2.20m.

Another busy day in Rio  –  we shall return folks!!

 

 

Bill’s Rio Olympic update No.15: Day 13 [for Wednesday 17 August]- 

 

The Men’s Basketball Quarter Finals took place today, and Australia continued it’s search for that elusive basketball medal.  In fact it was a convincing win against the powerful northern European nation of Lithuania, winning 90-64 – keeping ‘a lid on it’ but the Boomers on track to win their first Olympic basketball medal.

The other Quarter Final results  –  the USA defeated Argentina 105-78; Spain defeated France 92-67;  and Serbia defeated Croatia  86-83 [the only close game of the four].. Semi-finals will be  –  USA vs Spain [8am Saturday morning], and Australia vs  Serbia [4.30am Saturday morning].

 

In athletics, a true definition of real athletic prowess is I believe revealed in the Men’s Decathlon event [and the equivalent Women’s Heptathlon concluded earlier this week].  The Decathlon commenced today with the first five of the event’s ten track and field competitions. The word ‘Decathlon’ is if Greek origin, Events are held over two consecutive days, and the winner determined by the combined performances in all ten, based on a points system in each category and the position obtained. Australia’s representative –  our first competitor since the 2000 Sydney Games  –  is Cedric Dubler, a World Junior Silver Medallist in the event. The ten separate competitions are – Day 1: 100 Metres, Long Jump, Shot Put, High Jump, and 400 Metres. On Day 2, we have the 110 Metre Hurdles, Discus, Pole Vault, Javelin, and a 1500 Metres run – overall, a true test of endurance and courage!

At the conclusion of Day One, the following are the leading athletics  –  1st:  Ashton Eaton, USA [4621 points];  2nd: Kai Kazmirek, Germany [4500 points], and 3rd: Damian Warner, Canada [4489 points]. Australia’s Cedric Dubler issitting in 12th position with 4219 points.  He was 15th overall, in the 100 metre Heats; 11th in the High Jump; 30th in the Shot Put; 3rd overall in the High Jump; and 7th fastest in the 400 Metre event. Hopefully, his particular strengths lie on Day 2, tomorrow.

 

History was made today in one of less publicised sports [as far as Australia is concerned]  –  in the Wrestling  competition, Women’s Freestyle 58kg  –  the Japanese competitor, Kaori Icho, won the Gold Medal over Russia’s Valeria Koblova Zholobova, and while  this bout was in a different weight division [58 kg this time] Kaori achieved the claim of winning Gold Medals in four different Olympic Games, having won God Medals at Athens, Beijing and London in the 53kg division. A report from the Sydney Morning Herald noted that  – ‘Her position among the top rung of Olympic athletes of all time is indisputable, however, after becoming the first woman to win four individual gold medals at four consecutive Games. Women’s wrestling is only a recent addition to the schedule, introduced in 2004, and there will be all kind of arguments about the depth and competitiveness of this and other sports, but her record at the very least makes a case for her as the greatest female Olympian of all time. Icho left it late to secure her place in history, very late. With less than five seconds remaining on the clock in her gold medal match against the Russian,  she trailed 2-1, having been forced outside the ring by the valiant 23-year-old early in the contest. It took a two-point takedown almost on the buzzer to pull off a dramatic victory’ [and move into history]. Icho is relatively unknown outside the wrestling strongholds that tend to vie for Olympic medals. But within her sport she is a legendary figure, as is her countrywoman Saori Yoshida, who on Thursday will bid to match Icho’s record of four gold in four Games in the women’s 53kg division. Yoshida, should she win, she may have even more argument for inclusion alongside Phelps and co. Having been the 55kg champion at the past three Games she has only dropped down in weight because that is not an Olympic category anymore.  .

 

Back to more familiar sports, for most of us anyway.

The Women’s Golf Tournament commenced today –  the best of four rounds. The leader board after Round One showed Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand in front [score of 65] ahead of two South Korean golfers. Australia’s Minjee Lee was in 11th position [69], and Su Hyun Ho in 26th position [71]  – once again demonstrating the multicultural make-up of many of the Australian competitors in these Games.

 

There were some Canoe Sprints and Semi-finals held in the morning, with Finals to be held on Thursday night, our time.. In the Men’s Kayak Double 1000m, Ken Wallace and Lachlan Tame have qualified for the Final.  They had the fastest time in the semi-finals. In the Men’s Canoe Single 200m Sprint, Ference Szrkszardi failed to qualify for the final, finishing back in 23rd position overall. The Women’s Kayak Singles 500 metres, Naomi Flood of Australia finished 18th fastest in the semi-finals, and didn’t qualify for the final. The Men’s Double Kayak 200 metres Sprint, Daniel Bowker and Jason Wood finished 11th in the semi-finals, and earned a spot in the Consolation Final [no medals].

 

The Jumping Teams Final in the Equestrian saw the Australian quartet finish well down the list of competitors [14th] in the event still to be completed, with a jump off between Germany and Canada due.

 

An event which doesn’t over-enthuse this writer is the Cycling-BMX competition – today saw the BMX Seeding runs – in the Men’s Division, Australia’s Sam Willoughby qualified third [with 34.71 points] behind Joris Daudetof France [34.61 pts] and David Graf of Switzerland [ 34.67 pts].Bodi Turner finished on 35.33 pts, and Anthony Dean on 35.44 pts. In the Women’s section, hoping to make up for missing out in London, Caroline Buchanan finished the day seeded into 2nd place [34.75 pts] behind Colombia’s Mariana Pajon [34.50 pts].Lauren Reynolds finished on 35.66 pts.

 

The Women’s Beach Volleyball Final which finished after midnight in Rio resulted in a win for Germany over Brazil – 2-0, while the decider for the Bronze Medal saw the USA [initial favourites for the tournament I thought] defeat the second Brazilian duo 2-1. The Men’s Final tales place about 1pm Friday AEST.

 

A couple of the Taekwondo division medals were decided today. In the Women’s 49kg section, the Gold Medal went to Serbia over South Korea, while competitors from Thailand and Azerbaijan won the two Bronze medals on offer. The Men’s 58 kg event went to China over Thailand, and Bronze medals were won by the Dominican Republic and South Korea. Australia’s Safwan Khalil lost his quarter-final bout against the eventual South Korean Bronze medallist. Caroline Martin [Australia] will compete in the Women’s 57kg division tonight,

 

In the Olympic Sailing, poor conditions out on the water caused a partial postponement of the day’s events. The Medal races in the Women’s and Men’s 470 races will be held early Friday morning, our time.  While our two women, Jaime Ryan & Carrie Smith are not in medal contention, the Men’s pair of Matthew Belcher and Will Ryan are in the hunt for Gold, their chief rivals likely to be Croatia’s Sime Fantele & Igor Marinu.

 

In the Diving competition, in the Women’s 10 Metre Platform event, Brittany O’Brien and Melissa Wu are among the last twenty divers in tonight’s semi-final, due to commence at 11pm.  The Final will take place at 5am tomorrow morning AEST.

 

We mentioned the Decathlon above.  There was another big day of Athletics at the Olympic Stadium in both Track and Field events.

The Men’s 3000 Metres Steeplechase Final was won by [you guessed it] a runner from Kenya, Consesius Kipruto,  in an Olympic Record time of 8:03:28. Silver and Bronze went to the USA and France.. There were no Australians in the event.

The Qualifying Heats of the Men’s 5000 Metres saw  three Australian men in the two heats. Sam McEntee finished in 18th position in the 1st Heat, his time 13:50:55. The 2nd Heat saw Patrick Tiernan finish 13th in 13:28:48, and Brett Robinson, an encouraging 9th position in 13:22:81 which earned him a place in the Final.  The  fastest qualifier was Paul Kipkemoi Chelimo, representing the USA in 13:19:54. The World and Olympic Records for the event are 12:37:25 and 12:57:82 respectively.

The Qualifying heats [8 of them] for the Women’s 80 Metres saw Melissa Bishop of Canada the fastest qualifier [1:58:38], while Australia’s Selma Kajan finished down the field in 54th position in a time of 2:05:20. The World Record is this event is 1:53:28..

The Women’s 200 Metres Final saw another champion from Jamaica defeat the Netherlands heroine to win the Gold Medal. Elaine Thompson ran 21.78secs ahead of Dafne Schippers, and Torie Bowrie of the USA. Australia’s Ella Nelson missed out on the Final, recording 9th fastest time in the semi-finals, .01secs behind the 8th and final qualifier –  a brilliant effort by Ella, another of the bright young prospects for future women’s athletics in Australia.

The Women’s 100 Metre Hurdles Final [previously won by our own Sally Pearson, missing this year because of injury] saw two siblings in the race, but that didn’t stop a trifecta of Americans taking out the three medals –  Brianna Rollins [12.48 secs], from Nia Ali [12.59] and Kristi Castlin [12.61].  The existing World Record is 12.20 secs, while the current Olympic Record of 12.35 secs is held by Sally Pearson.

The Men’s 200 Metre Semi-Finals completed the Track program  –  with the fastest time being recorded by Jamaica’s Usain Bolt [19.78] over Canada’s Andre de Grasse [both running in the 2nd semi-final, and carrying with a bit of humorous banter with each other as they crossed the finishing line.  The World Record in the Men’s 200 is  19.19secs. The Final will be run at 11.30 am Friday, AEST.

There were a number of Field events today also.

The Men’s Hammer Throw Qualifying with no Australian thrower, saw Poland’s Wojciech Nowicki the top qualifier with a throw of 77.64 metres. The Final will be held on Saturday morning,

The Women’s Long Jump competition concluded today, and event in which Australia has always performed well, yet not won any medals. The final proved to be quite an exciting tussle between the last 4 or 5 competitors, ending with Gold and Silver going to the USA, ahead of Serbia. The winning jump was 7.17 metres by Tianna Bartoletta of the USA. Australia’s Brooke Stratton finished the Final in 7th place, jumping 6.74m  – at her first Olympics, she was quietly confident afterwards that she was young enough to have at least two more Olympic Games ahead of her to improve on that 7th position.

The Men’s Javelin qualification proved disappointing for the two Australians. The leading qualifier on the day was Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad & Tobago with a throw of 88.68m.  Joshua Robinson of Australia finished in 13th position [80.84m] and Hamish Peacock was 25th [77.91m]. The Final will be held on Sunday morning.

The race I’m looking forward to [apart from the Marathons and Walks] is the Women’s 5000 Metre Final to be run on Saturday morning at 10.40am –  with the unprecedented presence of three Australian women included in the field – Eloise Wellings, Genevieve LaCaze and Madeline Hills it’s a race not to missed by Australian athletics supporters.

As for the Olympic Medal Tally Australia currently sits in 10th position with 7 Gold, 8 Silver and 9 Bronze [ a total of  24 medals]. The nations ahead of us are USA [30-32-31], Great Britain [19-19-12], China 19-15-20, Russia [12-14-15], Germany [12-8-9], Japan [10-5-18], France [8-11-12], Italy [8-9-6], and the Netherlands [8-4-3].  As with most of the last 12 days, our commentators and medal are telling us that medals will be won today!!!

We shall wait and see, but not necessary with ‘bated breath’ or as Shakespeare wrote in ‘The Merchant of Venice’ – “With bated breath and whispering humbleness”………………,

 

 

 

Bill’s Rio Olympic update No.16: Day 14 [for Thursday 18 August]- 

 

Just tracking back to yesterday’s Equestrian competition  – in the Equestrian Team Jumping Final  – some classic jumping displays by the three medallist teams in particular –  France, USA and Germany – horses and riders, beautiful to watch. Today, the Final of the Individual Jumping commenced, with Aussies, Matt Williams and Edwina Tops-Alexander in the mix for medals.  Edwina finished the day with 9 penalties, and Matt with 14. Both will compete in Round A of the finals later tonight.

 

We picked up a medal in the Canoe/Kayak finals today. In fact we started the morning program with a medal, in the Men’s K2 1000 metres Final. Ken Wallace and Lachlan Tame, targeting Gold from Lane 3,  started well for Australia, but the German pair took the race out hard, and went on with it, finally just ahead of Serbia [who yesterday beat Australia in the semi-final] with Australia finishing in the Bronze Medal position in 3:12.593 [the winning time was 3:10.781]. The celebrations of the Aussie pair with a large group of close family and friends after the race, suggested they were more than satisfied with the Bronze – a very personable pair of Aussies, good representatives of their country.  The winning Germans – both police officers, hence the coining of the phrase after the race  ‘I fought the law, and the law won’!!

In the Men’s C1 200 metre Final, it was all over in 39 seconds – Gold went to the Ukraine competitor from Azerbaijan and Brazil.  In the Women’s K1 500 Metres Final, medals went to Hungary, Denmark & New Zealand, with Australia’s Naomi Flood missing out on the final.  In the Men’s K2, 200 metre Consolation Final [no medals] the Australian pair of Daniel Bowker and Jordan Wood finished 3rd behind Sth Korea and Brazil. The Medal event was won by Spain from Great Britain and Lithuania, the winner’s time just 32.07 secs.

 

In today’s Sailing completion found some success for Australia Two Australian sailors – Matthew Belcher & Bill Ryan – won themselves a Silver Medal in the final and Medal race of the Men’s 470 [Dinghy] event. With 10 completed races behind them leading into this Medal race, the pair from Croatia apparently needed to finish within the first 6-8  [of 10 boats] to claim the Gold medal, while Australia and Greece were the only other teams in the mix for a medal. The race itself was won by Switzerland from the USA and Great Britain. Croatia finished 8th, and secured the Gold Medal but then we had an exciting tussle at the rear of the field [water] between Australia and Greece, with at one stage, Australia’s Bill Ryan falling out of the boat, though thankfully still secured, and able to retrieve his position. The Australian pair to hold on  and finish just ahead of Greece to gain the Silver Medal.  Exciting stuff on the waters of Rio, though at times, for the novice viewer, a little difficult to understand the tactics!!

The Women’s 470 [Dinghy] was won by Great Britain from New Zealand and France, while Australia’s pair of J Ryan and C Smith finished 15th overall.

In the Men’s 49ers Final, Australia picked up a second Silver Medal for the day,  coming in second behind New Zealand, with Germany taking out the Bronze. The Aussie pair of Iain Jensen and Nathan Outteridge finished 4th in the final & Medal race which was enough to secure 2nd place overall.  The Women’s 49er FX Final went to Brazil from New Zealand and Denmark.

 

In the Men’ Beach Volleyball Final, this event commence at Midnight, Rio time, and in retrospect, the authorities might have preferred an earlier time slot. As the match commenced, so did the rain, and it would continue to pour for the duration – not that the packed crowd in the open uncovered stadium cared, with the two teams competing being Brazil and Italy who had apparently met on 9 previous occasions so the two participants in each team knew each other well. Despite the rain, drenched played, officials and spectators, it was quite a spectacle, and of course with the final result being a 21-19, 21-17  win to Brazil, the place at 12.45 am became a bedlam of joy for the host nation.

 

Some team sports results.

In Men’s Water Polo   –  in the matches to determine 5th to 8th position, the results were –Hungary defeated Brazil 13-4; and Greece defeated Spain 9-7, while the Semi-final results saw  Croatia defeated Montenegro 12-8; Serbia defeated Italy 10-8.  The Gold Medal match, Croatia vs Serbia, and Bronze Medal match, Montenegro vs Italy will be played early Sunday morning.

 

In Men’s Hockey, the finals were played today.  For the Gold Medal, Argentina defeated Belgium 4-2, while the Bronze medal went to Germany over the strong Netherlands team, after extra time. The Women’s finals will be played early tomorrow morning – Great Britain vs Netherlands [for Gold] and Germany vs New Zealand [for Bronze].

 

Football Finals will be played – Men’s competition, on Sunday morning, Brazil vs Germany [for Gold] and Honduras vs Nigeria [for Bronze] and the Women’s competition on Saturday morning –Sweden vs Germany [for Gold] and Brazil vs Canada [for Bronze].

 

In the Olympic Diving competition, we saw the Semi-final and Final of the Women’s 10m Platform which had Brittany O’Brien and Melissa Wu competing for Australia. Unfortunately, Brittany finished 15th in the qualifying round and did not get into the final 12 divers.  Melissa Wu put up a brave performance in the Final but fell short of a medal result. The medals went to China, China and Canada, with Melissa finishing in 5th position with a score of 368.30 [the winning score was 439.25].  The Men’s equivalent event will be held on Sunday morning.

 

The Taekwondo competition today featured two events. The Women’s 57kg event went to Great Britain from Spain, with the Bronze medallists being Egypt and Iran over Belgium and Sweden.  The Men’s 68kg division saw the  Gold Medal go to the competitor from Jordan over Russia, while the Bronze medals went to Spain and South Korea over Venezuela and Belgium.

 

The BMX Men’s Quarter Finals held today resulted in two of our three competitors winning through to the Semi-final stage – Sam Willoughby, with 3 wins, and Anthony Dean,  qualified  for the next stage, while Bodi Turner only managed a 5th in his heat.

 

The Men’s Triathlon was held today, an event which consists of three categories – a 1500 Metre Swim, a 40 km bike ride, and a 10 km run.  Triathletes compete for fastest overall course completion time, including timed “transitions” between the individual swim, cycle, and run components. The word “triathlon” is of Greek origin.

Australia’s three competitors did not figure bin the medals but achieved strong performances –  Aaron Royal finished9th in 1:46:42, Ryan Baillie 10th in 1:47:02 and Ryan Fisher, 24th in .1:48:34. The Gold and Silver medals, once again went to the British Brownlee brothers  –  Alastair in 1:45:01 and Jonny in 1:45:07, while the Bronze medal went to Henri Schoeman of South Africa.

 

Round 2 of the Women’s Golf Tournament was completed today. At the end of Round 2, the leaders are Inbee Park [South Korea] on 132, Stacy Lewis [USA] on 133, and Brooke Henderson [Canada] and Charley Hull [Great Britain] on 134. The Australians – Minjee Lee, 8th on 136, and Su Hyun Oh, 38th on 143. The 3rd and Medal rounds remain to be played.

 

And now to the Athletics program for Thursday, plenty of highlights, as always.

The Men’s Decathlon [described yesterday] was completed, with the second of five events. Last night, we left Australia’s Cedric Dubler sitting in 12th position with 4219 points, with the overall being Ashton Eaton, [USA] on 4621 points. Cedric’s results today –  in the 110 Metre Hurdles, finished 8th overall; in the Discus Throw, he was placed 23rd; in the Pole Vault he was 10th [both the 400 metres yesterday, and today’s Pole Vault he produced personal best results]; the Javelin Throw, he finished 22nd; while in the 1500 metres, he had the  11th fastest time.  The overall result was a strong win for the Gold Medal to Ashton Eaton of the USA with 8,893 points [which equalled the previous Olympic record], from Kevin Mayer of France [8834 pts] and Damian Warner of Canada [8666 pts]. Cedric Dubler finished in 14th position overall, with a score of 8,024 points.

Men’s Shot Put Qualifying and Final was conducted  –  our Damien Birkenhead, from the Corio Athletic Club, qualified into the Final, in  9th place with a throw of 20.50m. Unfortunately in the Final, his top distance distance was less, at 20.45m which put him down to 10th position. The Gold Medal went to Ryan Crouser of the USA with a distance of 22.52m [a new Olympic Record], from Joe Kovacs [USA] and Tomas Walsh [New Zealand].

The Women’s High Jump Qualifying round for Sunday’s Final, saw young Eleanor Patterson competing for Australia – from Leongatha, in Victoria, Eleanor was described as a bit of a recluse who tries to avoid the media, but is very comfortable in the team environment. She would jump successfully to 1:89 but then bombed out of the competition after 3 attempts at 1:92, and was noticeably disappointed at that outcome. Yet despite the above comment, she bravely faced up to the Seven commentary team after her jumps.  The best height was a jump of

1:94, which was achieved by all 17 competitors in Sunday’s final.

The Women’s Javelin Final went to Sara Colak of Croatia with a distance of 66.18m, over competitors from South Africa and the Czech Republic.  Australia’s Kathryn Mitchell finished in 6th position with a throw of 64..36m, and she may well have achieved a higher result had she not fouled on at least three throws.

The Final of the Men’s 400 Metre Hurdles race was marred at the start, when the runner from Puerto Rico was disqualified after he broke the start. It was disturbing to see him shortly afterwards, on his hands and knees severely distressed at what had just happened – no second chances in athletics these days [I still recall lying in bed in the middle listening to a radio description of the the Women’s 200 metres from Canada in 1976, when Raelene Boyle of Australia, broke twice in the final and was disqualified].In any case, Kerron Clement of the USA went on to win Gold today in 47.73 secs, ahead of Kenya’s Boniface Muchero, and Yasmani Copello of Turkey. The World Record of 46.78 secs was left unchallenged.

The Women’s 400 Metre Hurdles final produced no like dramatics  – the winner was won by Dalilah Muhammad of the USA in a time of 53.13 secs from Sara Petersen [Denmark] and Ashley Spencer [USA]. The World and Olympic Records are 52.34 secs and 52.64secs respectively.

The Men’s 1500 Metre Semi-finals saw the presence of Australia’s Ryan Gregson, running in the 2nd Heat. He finished 4th in a time of 3:40:02.  The fastest qualifier from the two semi-finals was Asbel Kiprop of Kenya in 3:39:73. Ryan has earned himself a place in the final to be held at 10am on Sunday morning AEST, a race to look forward to.

Meanwhile, the three Semi-finals  of the Women’s 800 Metres produced a fastest qualifying time of 1:58:15 by Caster Semenya of South Africa. That final will be held at 10.15am on Sunday morning, following the Men’s 1500 Metres.

The event which attracted Bruce McEvaney’s attention [ad nausem] was the Men’s 200 Metre Final  –  which had Jamaica’s Usain Bolt hunting another 100m/200m double, for the 3rd time [Beijing/London/Rio], and also a new 200 Metre World Record [that stood at 19.19 secs, and the Olympic Record 19.30secs]. Well, he didn’t get the latter, but did get everything else  –  first in a time of 19.78 secs, followed by Andre de Grasse [Canada] in 20.02 secs and Christophe Lemaitre of France in 20.12 secs. This result means that Usain Bolt has won 8 Gold Medals, and if Jamaica win the 4 x 100 Relay at the weekend, he will have created some sort of history by winning the 100 metre, 200 metre & Relay Golds at three consecutive Olympic Games – little wonder that ‘Statistics Bruce’ is getting so excited!!!

The Semi-finals of the Men’s and Women’s 4 x 100 Metre Relays were also run today. In the Women’s event, the USA recorded the fastest time of 41.77 secs, after in fact dropping the baton in their Heat, and on appeal, surviving a run-off against China [don’t understand why China had to suffer as a consequence]. The finalists on Saturday morning, at 11.15 am will be the USA, Canada, Nigeria, Germany, Great Britain, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and the Ukraine.  In the Men’s event, the fastest qualifier was the team from the USA in 37.65secs. The field in the Final [at 11.35 am on Saturday] will be Great Britain, Brazil, USA, Jamaica, Japan, China, Canada and Trinidad & Tobago.

 

Badminton Finals completed today  –  in Women’s Doubles, the duo from Japan defeated Denmark for the Gold Medal, while the Bronze went to South Korea over China. Finals in the Women’s Singles and the Men’s Doubles will be held overnight, this evening.

 

At 9pm tonight AEST, the Men’s 50 km Walk will be conducted, Australia to be represented by Chris Erikson, Brendon Reading and Jared Tallent [who was recently awarded the Gold Medal for the London Olympics after coming in second behind the Russian competitor, subsequently banned due to doping offences]………………..three more days to go!!

 

 

 

Bill’s Rio Olympic update No.17: Day 15 [for Friday 19 August]- 

 

A day with a few disappointments, mixed with some excellent results.

I will begin today’s update with a report on the Modern Pentathlon, which takes place over the next couple of days  in both the Men’s and Women’s divisions. But first, ,a brief explanation.  The Modern Pentathlon these days comprises athletes competing in fencing, swimming, horse riding, running and shooting events. The first event is [normally] a 200m freestyle swim where points are given based on speed of completion. Fencing is the next event, and each athlete must fence against each other. The third event is horse riding with athletes navigating a 12 jump course, and unlike equestrian events in which riders use their own horses,  the athletes are allocated their rides through a draw on the day.. At the end of the jumping, the scores and times of the competitors are converted into a time handicap which determines the starting times for the combined final 3.2km running and shooting event. Athletes are required to shoot at sets of five targets after running three sets of 1km stretches. The first to cross the finish line wins the gold medal.

In this year’s Olympics, the Fencing aspect was completed first for both Men and Women, to be followed by  the swimming leg, . In the Women’s competition, the top three scores for Fencing were Oktawai Nowacka of Poland [262 points], Lena Schoeneborn of Germany [244 pts] and Melanie McCann of Canada [238 pts]. Australia’s athlete, is Chloe Esposito, who wassitting in 13th position on 214 points. In the Men’s competition, the leaders were Aleksander Lesun of Russia [268 points, an Olympic Record], Patrick Dogue of Germany [238 pts] and Omar El Geziry of Egypt [238 pts].  Max Esposito of Australia is in 29th position on 189 points.   Max is a younger brother [aged 18]   of Chloe, who finished 7th in the London Games.

 

Well, the media and commentators have built up a lot of hype about our swimmers, some of the athletes and most of the teams,, and in the majority of cases, that hype has so far being misdirected.  Chloe Esposito was given no such exposure, and I would imagine that prior to today, not many Australian sporting fans would have been aware of her existence.  So it was a highlight of the Games so far, from my point of view to awake this morning and watch the closing stages of the event – and see Chloe continue on, without any fanfare, and win Australia’s 8th GOLD MEDAL in the Modern Pentathlon event for women, coming from 7th to 1st on the last leg of the run and shooting component. . A  wonderful, and for most of us, an unexpected addition to our meagre winning tally.

Overall result: Gold: Chloe Esposito [Australia] with 1372 points [an Olympic Record]; Silver: Elodie Clouvel [France] 1356 pts; and Bronze: Oktawai Nowacka [Poland] 1349 pts.

 

Friday the Men’s 50km Walk, and the Australian representatives included Jared Tallent, retrospective winner of the Gold Medal from London [after the Russian winner tested positive to a banned substance], Silver Medal at the same distance in Beijing [the winner of which has subsequently being banned for two doping offences plus one prior to the event], and a Bronze in the 20 km Walk, also at the Beijing Games. Chris Erickson [a three time Olympian] and Brendon Reading [who has been coached by Erickson since 2010] were also walking for Australia in today’s event.  At about the halfway mark, the French World Champion, Y Diniz  who had made an early break to the front, was leading by about 1 minute 49 sec from a chase group which included Tallent. At that stage, without mishap, it looked a big ask for anyone from that group to catch the Frenchman. However that did happen, and towards the end of the race, Jared was in the lead, but ran out ‘of steam’ in the closing stages to fall behind his friend, and fellow competitor, Matej Toth of Slovalia. The winner’s time – 3hrs:40mins & 58secs. Jared Tallent finished 2nd in 3:41:16, while the Bronze went to Hirooki Arai of Japan in 3:41:24.  Chris Erikson finished in 10th Position in 3:48:40, while Brendon Reading finished 40th in 4:13:02. Tallent was philosophical about the result – many suggesting that he was the defending champion twice over, beaten on this occasion. I actually went off to sleep before the race ended,  and was a little to learn of the outcome in the morning.

 

The Equestrian competition continued with the Individual Jumping Final, the Aussies represented by Matt Williams, and Edwina Tops-Alexander. The Medals eventually went to Nick Skelton [Great Britain], from Peder Fredricson [Sweden] and Eric Lamaze [Canada]. Edwina finished 9th with just the 4 penalties, and Matt Williams failed to qualify for the final rounds and jump off.

 

Heats and semi-finals were held today in some more Canoe and Kayaking events. In the Men’s K1 Semi Final, Stephen Bird of Australia finished 2nd, and qualified overall in 4th position for tomorrow’s Final. Fastest time went to the Liam Heath from Great Britain.   In the Men’s C2 1000 metres Australia’s Martin Marinov and Ferenc Szekszarsi finished 5th in their semi-final, which only managed them a spot in the Consolation final. Fastest time for the Medal Final went to the duo from the Ukraine.  In the Men’s K4 1000 metres semi-finals, the Australian quartet of Ken Wallace, Jacob Clear, Riley Fitzsimmons & Jordan Wood  finished 2nd in their Heat behind a big winning German team, and finished narrow winners in their semi-final over Portugal. Fastest time going into tonight’s Final [at 11.12pm] was the Czech Republic just ahead of Germany.

 

Early afternoon in Rio, would see the Women’s 20 km Walk, in which Australia was represented by Rachel Tallent [sister to Jared], Regan Lamble & Tanya Holliday.  The winner of this event was Liu Hong of China in 1:28:35 from Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez of Mexico in 1:28:37 and Lu Xiuzhi of China in 1:28:42. The Australians finished as follows – Regan Lamble, 9th in 1:30:28, Tanya Holliday, 26th in 1:34:22, and  Rachel Tallent, 40th in 1:37:08

 

In the Taekwondo competition , yesterday’s Women’s 67 kg event in which The Gold Medal went to South Korea Australia’s Carmen Martin, who was defeated in her bout by the then Turkish world champion, 11-1. Her sister, Caroline, competed in the Women’s 57 kg division.and was defeated by the Swedish competitor in her preliminary round. The Gold Medal was won by Jade Jones of Great Britain.   In the Men’s 80kg division, Hayder Shkar was defeated by the Great Britain competitor in his opening bout. The Gold Medal went to Cote d’Ivoire.

 

Rhythmic Gymnastics got underway today  –   the Individual All-Round Qualification saw the top three scores before the Final go to Russia, Russia and the Ukraine. Danielle Prince of Australia finished in 25th position, and did not qualify for the Final on Sunday morning.

 

The Synchronised Swimming competition continued with  the Teams Free Routine Final. The Nedals, from Gold to Bronze, went to Russia, China and Japan. Australia finished in 8th [and last] position

 

One of the disappointments of the day, from a pre-publicity point of view, occurred in the Cycling – BMX competition  –  Semi-finals and Finals of the Men’s and Women’s Individual events.  In the Men’s Final we saw the highly fancied Australians, Sam Willougby finish 6th, while Anthony Dean fell and did not finish. The Final was won by Anthony Dean of the USA.  In the Women’s division,  both Caroline Buchanan and Lauren Reynolds were involved in crashes in their semi-final, finishing in 5th and 6th place, and neither qualified for the Final which was won by Mariana Pajon of Colombia.,

 

The Men’s Basketball Semi-Finals were held today.   Australia [the Boomers] were attempting to win the first ever Medal in the Olympic arena, and with just the one loss in the opening rounds [to the USA by 10 points] they were in hot form coming up against Serbia whom they d4efeated a few days ago in convincing fashion.  But a different Australian team came onto the court today  –  Serbia raced away to an 8-0 lead, and never looked back –  at halftime, Serbia led 35-14, three quarter time 66-38, with the final score, a not very flattering loss to Australia 87-61. After six great performances, the ‘dream for Gold’ was over, with another semi-final lost by the Australian men by a big margin, with Serbia far too strong and committed after their earlier loss to the Aussies. As former basketball great, Andrew Gaze suggested [I was interviewed by his father for a job once!!] ‘Australia needs to suck it up, and take our hit’ –  the team can still create history by winning the Bronze at the weekend against Spain, who lost their semi-final match, narrowly, against the USA 82-76 earlier in the day.

 

In other team sports –  in the Women’s Football Final, Germany defeated Sweden  2-1 for the Gold Medal,  while Canada won the Bronze Medal over Brazil 2-1.   In the Final of the Women’s Water Polo the USA defeated Italy 12-5 for the Gold Medal, while the Bronze went to Russia over Hungary 19-18.   The Gold Medal match in the Women’s Hockey Final went to Great Britain over the more fancied Netherlands team –  level after normal and extra playing time at 3-3, a penalty shoot-out gave a convincing win to the Brits.  The Bronze was won by Germany over New Zealand 2-1.

 

In Wrestling today  the Men’s Freestyle 74 kg event saw Australia’s Taigat Ilyasov defeated in the qualification round 5-0 by the Japanese wrestler. The Gold Medal was won by Hassamn Yazdani of Iran.

 

Diving program continued today with the Men’s 10 Metre Platform. Two Australian divers competed –Dominic Bedggood and James Connor who have both qualified for the semi-final dives, commencing at 12am on Sunday morning, AEST. In the Preliminaries, Connors finished with the 9th best score, and Bedggood with the 17th highest score.  Tom Daleyof Great Britain leads the pack.

 

In the Badminton competition,  the Final of the Men’s Doubles was completed  –  Gold Medal went to H F Fu & N Zhang [China] over W K Tan & V S Goh of Malaysia. The Bronze Medal went to Great Britain over China [2nd tram]. In the Women’s Singles competition Carolina Marin of Spain won Gold over P V Sindhu of India, while the Bronze went Nozomi Okuhara of Japan. The Men’s Singles Finals will be played tonight – for Bronze, China vs Denmark at 9.30pm AEST, and for Gold , China vs Malaysia at 10.20pm AEST

 

Another wonderful evening session of Athletics today. And another Olympic Record created!!

The Women’s Pole Vault Final saw daughter of former Australian champion vaulter, Ray Boyd, competing in the final field – Alana Boyd, was at one stage in line to get into the Gold Medal position, but eventually couldn’t get beyond her final successful leap of 4.80 metres, and would finish in 4th place on a count back behind the New Zealand teenager, Eliza McCartney, who gained the Bronze Medal with the same leap.  The Gold Medal went to Ekaterina Stefanidi of Greece [4.85 metres], and the Silver to Sandi Morris of the USA [also 4.85 metres, defeated on a count back].

The Men’s Hammer Throw Final saw Gold go to Dilshod Nazarov of  Tajikistan [78.68m] ahead of Ivam Tsikhan of Belarus [77.79m] and Wojciech Nowicki of Poland [77.73m].

The Final of the Women’s 5000 Metres event was one I’d been looking forward to –  but had to listen to a radio description in the car.  An achievement for such a final to include in the field, three Australian girls  – true, unlikely to win a medal but just getting there was an achievement for Australian athletics alone. Not surprisingly, the first two runners to cross the finishing line were from Kenya – Gold to Vivian Cheruiyot in 14:26:17; Silver to HellenOnsando Obiri in 14:29:77, while the Bronze went to Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana in 14:33:59. The 4rg and 5th runners came from Kenya and Ethiopia also. As for the three Australians  –  Elois Wellings finished in 9th place [15:01:59], Madeline Hills was 10th [15:04:05] and Genevieve LaCaze in 12th place [15:10: 35]. There had been 18 starters in the field – last to finish, to the special applause of the stadium crowd was the girl from New Zealand, Nikki Hamblin, who in the heat had stopped midrace to assist a fallen fellow competitor – both girls were given special approval to compete in the final, although the other was unable to take her place because of the injury sustained in the initial fall. A wonderful example of sportsmanship by the Kiwi.

The Women’s 4 x 100 Metre Relay Final – Gold went to USA from Jamaica and Great Britain.

The Men’s 4 x 100 Metre Relay Final  –  well the winning Jamaican team, team, as their last runner crossed the finishing line received a tumultuous and sustained round of applause and cheers, because that runner was Usain Bolt, and by Jamaica winning that relay, he personally created Olympic history – by winning the Gold Medal in three events [100 metres, 200 metres, and the Relay] at three consecutive Olympic Games – Beijing, London & Rio] – yes he is a showman, but generally, not in a distasteful manner, my gripe has been with ‘sickening’ adoration and saturation coverage, in particular by our Seven television network, and Bruce McEvaney especially – but I guess that is what the average fan wants, just not this one. A brilliant athlete, nevertheless!!  Gold, Silver and Bronze to Jamaica [37.27secs], Japan [37.60] and Canada [37.64]. USA disqualified for some misdemeanour in the race.

The Women’s 4 x 400 Metre Relay Heats  –  the four Australian girls – Jess Thornton, Morgan Mitchell, Anneliese Rubie and Caitlin Sargent-Jones –  finished 4th in Heat 1 behind the USA, Ukraine and Poland, while Heat 2 was won by Jamaica from Great Britain and Canada. The fastest time was by the USA in 3:21:42. Australia qualified for the Final with a 8th fastest time of 3:25:71. That Final will be held at 11am Sunday morning AEST..

The Men’s 4 x 400 Metre Relay Heats saw Jamaica qualify fastest in 2:58:29 followed by USA and Belgium. Final to be held at 11.35 am Sunday morning.

 

Athletic and other Finals due Sunday morning, AEST time are  –  Women’s High Jump [9.30am]m Men’s Javelin [9.55am], Men’s 1500 Metre [10am – Ryan Gregson]; Women’s 800 Metres [10.15am]; Men’s 5000 Metres [10.30 am – Brett Robinson]; Women’s 4 x 400 Metre Relay [11am – Aussie girls]; and Men’s 4 x 400 Metre Relay [11.35am].

Women’s Triathlon [Midnight]; Men’s Modern Pentathlon [1-8 am – Max Esposito]; Women’s Basketball & Handball  [4.30am]; Men’s Football and Water Polo [6.30 ad 6.50am]; Men’ 10 Metre Platform Diving [5.30am], and Women’s Cross Country Mountain Bike [1.30am].

 

 

 

Bill’s Rio Olympic update No.18: Day 15 [for Saturday 20 August]- 

 

We are talking about Saturday’s events, but at 9.10 am Sunday, AEST,  you had to feel and be a part of the emotion that generated out of the huge crowd in the football stadium –  despite five World Cups, Brazil had made 13 attempts to win Olympic Gold in soccer. And they did –  in the Men’s Football Final  –  Brazil defeated Germany after the scores were ties at 1-1 following full time and a period of extra time –  followed by a penalty shootout – won by Brazil 5-4.For the people of Brazil, it was not just a football match, not just an Olympic final, and a first win in the Olympic football tournament –  it was described as a rediscovery of a lost identity for Brazil, in a sport that is a national passion, second only to the nation’s religion. Germany did nothing wrong throughout the tournament – except miss that one final penalty shot, and send the pro-Brazilian crowd into a frenzy of ecstasy!!

Gold Medal: Braxil; Silver Medal Germany;  Bronze Medal to Nigeria who defeated Honduras 3-2

 

Today’s competition saw the conclusion of the Women’s Golf Tournament.  It was won convincingly by Inbee Park of South Korea with a score of 268. The Silver went to Lydia Ko of New Zealand on 273, and the Bronze to Shanshan Feng of China on 274. The two Australians finished in equal 5th position [Minjee Lee on 276] and equal 9th [Su-Hyun Oh on 279]. Early inj the final round, the eventual overall winner had a clear lead of about 5 strokes, but she would eventually finish down the list for the day’s results but retained a strong enough score over the four rounds to remain in front at the end.

 

The Women’s Basketball Finals were completed today – for the Gold Medal, the USA won yet again, to defeat Spain 101-72. The Bronze Medal went to Serbia over France 70-63.  Serbia are proving a very powerful team in both the Men’s and Women’s event.

 

The Women’s Handball Finals saw a Gold Medal win to Russia over France 22-19. The Bronze Medal was won by Norway when they defeated the Netherlands 36-26.

 

In the Men’s Final of the Water Polo, Serbia defeated Croatia 11-7 for the Gold Medal, and Italy defeated Montenegro 12-10 to win the Bronze Medal

 

A short but spectacular program of track events in the Athletics Program today.

The Final of the Men’s 1500 Metres, featured for the first time in 40 years, an Australian finalist –  Ryan Gregson, current Australian record holder.  It was back in 1976 that Graham Crouch from Ballarat ran in this race – run at Montreal on the 31 July that year, Crouch finished in 8th [of 9 starters] in the time of 3:41:80 [ he had come second in a semi-final race in 3:39:86. The eventual winning time was 3:39:17 by New Zealand’s great John Walker.  I think I competed in the Ballarat athletics competition at the same time that Graham was in Ballarat in his developing years, though not against him, I imagine one of my brothers possibly did at some stage. He would win the 1500 Metres Final at the 1974 Commonwealth Games at Christchurch, NZ in an Australian record time of 3 mins 9 secs. Anyway, today’s race was run chasing a World Record of 3:26:00 and Olympic Record of 3:32:07 – neither would be challenged today after a very slow two laps, before the speed came on [in fact I believe it was the slowest 1500 race since 1932, and the Australian’s finishing was similar to Graham Crouch, Tyan finished 8th of 13 starters, running on strongly as he does, but this time left it a bit too late against a class field – his time: 3:51:39 [slower than Crouch].  The Gold Medal went to Matthew Centrowitz Jnr of the USA in 3:50:00. Silver to Taoufik Mackhioufi of Algeria in 3:50:11, and the Bronze Medal to Nick Willis of New Zealand in 3:50:24.

The Final of the Women’s 800 Metres followed the 1500. The Medals here went to Caster Semenya of South Africa [1:55:28], from Francine Nitonsaba of Burundi [1:56:49] and Margaret Wambui of Kenya [1:56:89].  The existing World and Olympic records of 1:53:28 and1:53:43 remained intact.

The Final of the Men’s 5000 Metres proved to be quite a rough race with the initial 3rdand 4th placegetters, and a third runner,  disqualified for interference during the race. Australia’s Brett Robinson was included in the field, and despite a game effort against a classy field, he finished back in 15th position [a time of 13:32:30] with one other runner behind him. The race winner was the popular Somali born athlete representing Great Britain , Mohamed Farah – in 13:03:30 – he created for himself the record of winning both the 5,000 and 10,000 Metre races at both the London and Rio Games. He won despite a ‘tactical’ race early by the Ethiopian runners to thwart Farah’s progress. Therewas some confusion over the order of placings initially, when 3rd, 4th an d a third runner were disqualified for interference, but eventually, on appeal, those disqualifications were reversed.  The Silver Medal went to Paul Kipkemoi Chelimo of the USA[ the Kenyan born US soldier] in 13:03:90 while Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia won the Bronze Medal in 13:04:35. Interestingly, the whole field were pretty well bunched together with 5 laps to go, with the unfortunate Robinson remaining near the rear of the pack for most of the race. The 5,000 Metres World Record is 12:37:35, and the Olympic Record 12:57.82.

The Women’s 4 x 400 Metre Relay Final saw the appearance of the four young Australian girls who ran so well in the semi-final on Friday – running in the same order as that race –  Jess Thornton, Anneliese Rubie and Caitlin Sargent-Jones and Morgan Mitchell –  were keeping up with the second half of the field after the first two laps, but by the time the baton got to Mitchell, there was too much ground for the young Indigenous runner to make up, and the girls would finish the race in 8th and last position, in a time of 3:27:45 [Friday’s time was 3:25:71].  The three medals went to the USA [Gold] in 3:19:06, the fast-finishing Jamaica [Silver] in 3:20:34, and the Bronze to Great Britain in 3:25:88. The World and Olympic record for this event is 3:15:17.

The Men’s 4 x 400 Metre Relay Final was won by the USA in 2:57:30, from Jamaica [2:58:16] and the Bahamas [2:58:49]. The US were challenged during the race by the team from Botswana, who faded back to 5th place in the last 100 metres behind the medallists, and a late dash by the Belgium team. The World and Olympic records are 2:54:29 and 2:55:39.

Two field events were finalised today. The Women’s High Jump Final was won by Ruth Beitia of Spain, with a jump of 1.97m, on a count back ahead of Mirela Deneriva of Bulgaria [1.97m], with the Bronze Medal going to Blanka Viasic of  Croatia [1.97m].

The Men’s Javelin Final went to Thomas Rohler of Germany [90.30m], ahead of Julius Yego of Kenya [88.24m] and Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad & Tobago [85.37m].

 

The Women’s Volleyball Final was a late finisher on Saturday’s program, again, a team sport involving Serbia up against China.   The team from China defeated Serbia for the Gold 3-1, while the Bronze Medal went to the USA over the Netherlands 3-1.

 

In the Diving competition the Final of the Men’s 10m Platform was decided. The Gold went to Chen Aisen of China [585.30 pts], the Silver to German Sanchez  [532.70 pts] and the Bronze to David Boudia of the USA [525.25 pts].  Domonic Bedggood of Australia finished last [12th] with 403.80 pts.

 

Today’s Kayaking finals featured four vents. The Final of the Men’s K1 200 Metres saw a win to Liam Heath of Great Britain from the kayakers from France [Silver]  and Spain and Germany, who dead heated for third. The winning time just 35.19 secs. Australia’s Stephen Bird finished at the rear of the boats in 36.42 secs.

The Final of the Men’s C2 1000 Metres was won by the duo from Germany in 3:43:91 from Brazil and Ukraine. In the Consolation Final, the Australians Martin Marinov [born Bulgaria] and Ference Szekszard [born Hungary] finished 2nd in that event in 4:10:23.

The Final of the Women’s K4 500 Metres was won by Hungary, from Germany and Belarus, in the winning time of 1:31:48.

The Final of the Men’s K4 1000 metres – which once again, saw the ‘experts’ suggesting Australia were a strong medal chance [Australia were the defending champions] –  the Gold Medal went to a strong German quartet [in a class of their own] in 3:02:14 ahead of Slovakia and the Czech Republic.. The Australians – Ken Wallace, Jacob Clear, Riley Fitzsimmons & Jordan Wood  – 4th in 3:06:73. Interestingly this was a reverse of the 2012 result when Australia finished 1st, Germany in 4rg position.

 

The Women’s Triathlon event was held today. The Gold Medal went to Gwen Jorgensen of the USA in a time of 1:56:16; the Silver to Nicola Spirig of Switzerland [1:56:56], and the Bronze to Vicky Holland of Great Britain [1:57:01]. The three Australian competitors were –  Emma Moffatt [1:57:55], Erin Densham [1:59:27] and Ashleigh Gentle [2:01:44].

 

In Cycling, the Women’s Mountain Bike Cross Country event  – here, our Rebecca Henderson, who I believe was suffering from an injury of some kind, finished back in 25th position, having been lapped. The three medals went to Jenny Rissveds of Sweden in 1hr, 30 mins,15secs, from Maja Wioszczowski of Poland [1:30:52], and Catharine Pendril of Canada [1:31:41].

 

The Men’s equivalent of the Modern Pentathlon followed today. I mentioned the other day that the Fencing component  had been held for both Men and Women on Thursday before yesterday’s Women’s event. In fact that was a ‘seeding’ competition for the Fencing to determine the order of contestants etc, as each competitor is required to fence each other. So as with yesterday, the order of categories for the Men was the same as the Women. The Women’s Gold Medal winner – Chloe Esposito – her younger brother was in today’s events, and like his sister, he would start the final section of the race [running and shooting] some 45 seconds behind the leader, but would produce a similar fast finish – not enough to get him into the medals on this occasion, but running on  from 17th to 7th position in the final analysis, with 1,462 points. The Gold, Silver and Bronze went to Aleksander Lusun of Russia [1479 pts, an Olympic record], Pavlo Tymoshchenko of Ukraine [1472 pts] and Ismael Hernandez Uscanga of Mexico [1468 pts].  A successful Olympics by the Esposito siblings.

 

Rhythmic Gymnnastics –  the Individual All-Round Final – Gold and Bronze went to Russian competitors from Ukraine.

 

We had some Boxing Finals today.  Men’s Middleweight, 75 kg –  Gold to Cuba, Silver to Uzbekistan, and Bronze medals to Azerbaijan and Mexico. Men’s Bantamweight 56kg –  Cuba defeated the USA for Gold, while the Bronze winners came from Russia and Uzbekistan. Women’s Flyweight, 51 kg – Gold to Nicola Adams of Great Britain, over France, with the two Bronze winners being China and Colombia.

 

In the Badminton competition, that program ended today with the Men’s Singles Final. The Gold Medal match saw the Chen Long of China  defeat Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei 2-0,  while for the Bronze medal, the second Chinese player, Lin Dan was defeated by Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen..

 

The final full day of competition tomorrow  includes the Men’s Marathon at 10.30pm Sunday AEST; the Men’s Basketball finals – for Bronze, Australia vs Spain [12.30am Monday AEST] and for Gold, USA vs Serbia [4.45am Monday]; Men’s Cross Country Mountain Bike [1.30 am Monday]; and finals in Rhythmic Gymnastics, Wrestling, Men’s Volleyball Final [Italy vs Brazil, 2.15am], Boxing; and the Men’s Handball Final [France vs Denmark, 3am].

 

 

 

Bill’s Rio Olympic update No.19: Day 16 [for Sunday 21 August]- 

Final day of competition prior to the Closing Ceremony of the 2016 31st Olympic Games.

The day began with what I consider one of my favourite events – the Men’s Marathon, run over 42.195 kms [or 26 miles, 385 yards] – a huge starting list, created as a consequence apparently of the authorities relaxing a little bit the entry qualifications for participation. The event was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Philippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens, who reported the victory.

The marathon was one of the original modern Olympic events in 1896, though the distance did not become standardized until 1921. More than 500 marathons are held throughout the world each year, with the vast majority of competitors being recreational athletes as larger marathons can have tens of thousands of participants.

Australia had three participants this year – all completed the run though were not in contention for any medals.  The eventual winner was  Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya [only the second Kenyan to have won the Marathon] in the time of 2hrs,8mins,44secs. The Silver Medal went to Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia in 2:09:54, and Bronze to the USA’s Galen Rupp in 2:10:65.

The three Australians –  Liam Adams finished 31st in 2:16:12; Michael Shelly, 47th  in 2:18:16; and Scott Westcott in 81st position in 2:22:19. This race was Scott’s debut run in the Marathon, at the age of 40 years – Westcott, 40, was the oldest athlete on the Australian athletics team, and the third oldest runner in the marathon field.  He has taken a lifetime to be here [after making numerous attempts to qualify for the event] and knew it was to be his run of a lifetime. There would not be another Olympics

 

The Finals of the Men’s Basketball competition was to be the Australian team’s attempt at redemption for their failure two days ago in the semi-final against Serbia. After another slow start in the match for the Bronze Medal against Spain, the ‘Boomers’ matched it goal for goal for most of the second half  – and with under 6 seconds to play, only had to get the ball down to their goal and score to win the game –  somewhere along the way, we lost control of the ball, and lost the opportunity for the Men’s Basketball team to win its first ever Olympic medal of any colour  –  the result Spain  89 defeated Australia 88, a shattering disappointment in what had been a terrific campaign by the Boomers with perhaps the exception of the semi-final.

The Gold Medal match was won as expected by the USA defeating Serbia 96-66. One might have expected the Australians on the basis of their overall form to have got much closer to the USA, if they’d taken the opportunity to win their way into the Gold Medal match. Now, the team is looking ahead already to Tokyo in 2020.

 

There were two other team sport finals today.  The Men’s Volleyball Final saw another popular win to Brazil, defeating Italy 3-0. The Bronze Medal went to the USA over Russia 3-2.  In the Men’s Handball Final [a coverage of which I would have loved the opportunity to see], the Gold Medal went to Denmark who defeated France 28-26 in an obviously exciting finish. The Bronze Medal went to Germany over Poland 31-25.

 

The Men’s Cross Country Mountain Bike event resulted in a win for Nino Schurter of Germany [in 1:33:28] ahead of  Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic [1:34:18] and Carlos Colona Nicolas of Spain [1:34:51]. The two Australian competitors were Daniel McConnell, finished 16th in 1:38:42, and Scott Bowden, 36th [lapped].

 

Rhythmic Gymnastics final event was the Group All Round Final – This went to Russia ahead of Spain and Bukgaria.

 

Wrestling finals were held in the Men’s Freestryle 65 kg division – Gold and Silver Medals went to Azerbaijan and Russia while the two Bronze medals were won by the wrestlers from Italy & Uzbkistan [Australia’s Sahit Inzreni lost his qualifying round event].  In the Men’s Freestyle 97 kg division, the medal winners were the USA, Azerbaijan, Romania and Uzbekistan.

 

In the Boxing competition –  Men’s Light Welterweight [64kg] was won by Uzbekistan over Azerbaijan, with Russia and Germany gaining the Bronze medals.  The Women’s Middleweight [75kg] went to the USA over the Netherlands, Kazakhstan and China.  The Men’s Super Heavyweight [Over 91kg], last event on the program, saw the Gold go to France over Great Britain, with the Bronze medals awarded to Croatia and Kazakhstan.

 

The Final Medal Tally for the Top 10 teams stood as follows.  Gold    Silver    Bronze    [Total]

  1. USA…………………..46 37    38     [121]
  2. Great Britain………….27 23     17    [67]
  3. ,………………..26 18     26     [70]
  4. Russia…………………19 18     19    [56]
  5. Germany……………..17 10     15    [42]
  6. Japan…………………12 8      21   [41]
  7. France………………..10 18     14   [42]
  8. South Korea………….9 3       9    [21]
  9. Italy            8      12      8      [28]
  10. Australia 8      11      10    [29]

 

I shall return for one final assessment of ‘my’ most memorable moments of the 2016 Oly,puic Games

 

 

 

Bill’s Rio Olympic update No.20: My highlights

 

I make no apologies for my lifelong passion and interest in both the Olympic and the Commonwealth Games – yes there are drawbacks, controversies, scandals and particularly the problem of drugs and doping. But I respect and support the overall concept of the Games, and what they are supposed to represent.

When I wrote my booklet about the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, at which  I was a Volunteer in the Spectator Services area,  and also attended a variety of events, I would make the comment  – ‘The Games in Sydney, and other previous Games, always appear to create a magnificent aura of goodwill and acceptance between different nationalities, races etc, as athletes from all corners of the world meet together, march as one [particularly in the Closing Ceremony], live and share the facilities of the Games villages, and while competing strongly to be the particular winner in their eventual event, in the main do so in an environment of mutual respect, friendship and admiration for those they compete against.’……………..sadly 16 years later, one still has to suggest that…………..”it is therefore disappointing that so often, that kind of environment cannot be maintained between the respective nations of those athletes. While that cannot be held as the responsibility of the Olympic Games, as such, it must surely be the responsibility of the human race to endeavour to carry over that chain of goodwill into life outside of the various Games arenas’………….and probably as then, that can only be still a ‘pipedream’ of mine, yet I’d still like to try and maintain some element of optimism, that somehow, the kind of goodwill generated amongst those who participate and support the Olympic Games can be maintained outside of the ‘arena’.

 

As for 2016, here briefly are the performances that had the most effect on my ‘passion’ and interest in what happened at Rio, Others may have far-differing opinions, and of course not all events were of equal interest to me, for example, the young American female gymnastic competitor who won four Gold medals would rank highly for those with a particular interest in that area.

 

The first three listed are my three major highlights,  the others are not listed in any particular order.

  1. Chloe Esposito’s performance, finish and lifelong dedication, in winning the Women’s equivalent of the Modern Pentathlon [and a day later, her younger brother’s almost equal performance in finishing 7th in the men’s event] – Chloe you were an inspiration.
  2. Our Women’s Rugby 7’s Team in winning the Gold Medal.
  3. The four young Australian women athletes who won themselves a place in the Final of the Women’s 4 x 400 Metre Relay, they came last but provided a demonstration of the hopes of the future of Athletics in this country, together with a number of other excellent performances by Australians in the athletics competition [a couple noted below] – the girls, Morgan Mitchell, Jess Thornton, Anneliese Rubie and Caitlin Sargent.
  • The performances over 4 Olympic campaigns of American swimmer, Michael Phelps.
  • The New Zealand athlete who stopped in her 5,000 Metre semi-final, and remained behind the field to assist a fallen fellow competitor, and encourage the injured girl to continue. Both girls were placed into the final in recognition of that incident, though only the Kiwi was fit enough to run.
  • The 32 year old Japanese wrestler, Kaori Icho, who became the first woman to win Gold Medals at four consecutive Olympic Games, in her sport.
  • Brazil’s team Gold Medal wins in the Women’s Beach Volleyball, and the Men’s Football Final, the latter in particular for what it did for the restoration of the lost pride of the host nation; and Fiji’s win in the Men’s Rugby 7’s, what a boost for that little nation..
  • The performances of Australian athletes in winning places in the finals of their respective events – Ryan Gregson in the Men’s 1500 Metres Final, and Elios Wellings. Madeline Hills & Genevieve LaCaze in the Women’s 5000 Metres Final.
  • The Gold Medal to our Shooter [Catherine Skinner Women’s Trap], and Silver medals to six Australian sailors in the Mixed Nacra 17  [Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darminan], Men’s 470 [Matt Belcher & Will Ryan – this one I really enjoyed watching], and Men’s 49er [Nathan Outterideg and Iain Jensen] .
  • Usain Bolt – say no more!
  • Special mention – to our flag bearer and champion cyclist, Anna Meares.

 

Interested in other viewpoints.

 

 

Posted by: jkirkby8712 | September 27, 2014

ANZAC Centenary a mission gone wrong

There are many who will probably disagree passionately with the sentiments expressed in parts of this article, which appeared in the Melbourne Age newspaper on the 26th February this year, and written by columnist, James Brown. I generally have felt a great deal of respect and pride for most of our Australian forces who for various reasons have been required to serve overseas in major or minor wars and other conflicts since the days of the Boer War, though perhaps in modern times, our motives and reasons for such involvement have changed. My Grandfather served in Northern Africa and France in World War I, my Father served in New Guinea and associated areas during the Second World War, and my youngest brother’s career was with the Australian Army, including a period in Malaysia during that country’s problems, and as a part of Australia’s peace keeping role in East Timor in more recent years. So my respect is personal as well as general in it’s outlook.
However, I do feel that James Brown makes some relevant points, and I personally feel that there are other areas of war and conflicts that Australian forces have served in, which in many cases, achieved more success, and less loss of life, than the pre-occupation with the disastrous ANZAC campaign at Gallipoli. Mind you, as you read this article, it will become obvious that Brown’s particular concern is with the excess expenditure on such things as the ANZAC commemoration in preference to more contemporary military needs as part of our modern day defence capabilities, and that we don’t just look to the past, but keep the future in mind as well. Whatever readers feel on the subject, I include Brown’s piece in my Column for general interest and consideration of another view of the plans for ANZAC and WWI centenary celebrations……………………
However, before we read James Brown’s article, let me briefly point to the comments of author Jonathan King from his book of a few year’s ago ‘The Western Front Diaries’’ published on the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I. There he makes it quite clear, that the importance of the Gallipoli campaign from the 25 April 1915, has wrongly overshadowed Australia’s efforts on the Western Front during most of the duration of World War I. Writing in 2008, King notes: –
“Although Gallipoli may long have held a place in the national psyche as the most important Australian theatre of all, this honour really should belong to the Western Front. Never have so many Australians fought so hard in one campaign to achieve such great results. While they retreated from Gallipoli with great reservations at leaving a job undone and so many mates buried on those hopeless slopes, after the Western Front the Diggers returned to Australia [those who survived] full of pride at having acquitted themselves with honour………………………..many Australians have not heard of major Western Front battles or know where they were, so preoccupied are they with Gallipoli…’ [pp.33-35 in ‘The Western Front Diaries’ by Jonathan King, pub. 2008].
But back to the recent article, referred to at the beginning of this contribution, and while he doesn’t refer directly to the Western Front, his emphasise points to the ‘over-indulgence’ of the Gallipoli campaign to the exclusion of all else, including modern defence needs……………………
By James Brown, the Age, 26th February 2014 – Excess in the Anzac centenary overlooks other military endeavours – Beyond the crass commercialisation, this extravaganza perpetuates a myth that undercuts the work of modern soldiers.
Australia is about to spend $325 million commemorating Anzac. It’s an extraordinary amount of money for a country that already has a war memorial in nearly every suburb. It stands starkly in contrast to the cost-cutting across every other area of policy in cash-strapped state and federal governments.
Though we are absolutely right to mark the significance of the centenary of the First World War, Australia will outspend the United Kingdom’s centenary program by 200 per cent. Anzac remembrance on this side of the Tasman will cost nearly 20 times what our New Zealand colleagues have allocated. Rather than letting silent contemplation be our offering to those who served and died for us, we are embarking on a discordant and exorbitant four-year festival, that looks like an Anzacs arms race of sorts.
Across the country, and in the Dardanelles, Australians are looking for bigger and better ways to salute our military forebears. And many companies are looking to cash in.
In 2015 cruise ships will ply Anzac Cove as Bert Newton narrates the war. One company has applied for permission to market an Anzac ice-cream, another here in Melbourne has been awarded $27million in contracts for Anzac events management. Government is crafting an Anzac merchandising plan to match. A century after Gallipoli, the Anzac spirit is being bottled, stamped, and sold.
But beyond the excesses, and crass commercialisation, the real danger of our approach to this centenary is that all our efforts might be occluding the stories of our modern veterans and undercutting the work of the current Australian Defence Force. Every story we tell about Simpson and his donkey in the next four years is a story we are not telling about the work of our modern military in places like Afghanistan.
Over the past years I’ve been staggered by the fact that despite attending dawn services in increasing numbers, Australians I speak to seem to understand less and less about the nature of modern war and the work of our serving soldiers. We have a limited bandwidth to look at military issues, after all we live in a country thankfully far away from most of the world’s traditional conflict zones and relatively unscathed by direct experience of war.
It’s stretching a little – but only a little – to conclude that most Australians would only have ever seen their soldiers performing ceremonial duties. That is true for surprising numbers of our elected representatives as well. Engaging with the military on only one day of the year may be engendering a superficial public understanding of the Defence Force and modern war.
Compared to our closest allies, public conversations on the military in Australia seem excessively simplistic and bifurcated. On one hand shrill voices deny the legitimacy of a professional military and the possibility of armed conflict. On the other the jingoistic mindlessly trumpet the majesty of the Defence Force without pausing to critically assess its performance. The middle ground, in which we accept military force is sometimes necessary but should not be used capriciously, has fallen away. A nuanced public discussion that should help lift the performance of our military isn’t happening. Putting the soldiers of 100 years ago on too high a pedestal can be problematic too.
Because of our constant stories of Anzac, many Australians believe in the exceptionalism of the Australian soldier. A belief that all Australia needs do in time of war is hand a rifle to every athletic man, and a grenade to every cricket player, engenders complacency about current defence policy.
Inexplicably, while we are planning to construct more war memorials, our Defence Force remains under-funded. Both sides of politics acknowledge that we are spending 0.4 per cent of GDP less on the military than is necessary to keep its equipment modernised and ready, and its people well trained and protected.
In Port Phillip finishing touches are being applied to Australia’s two new helicopter carriers. One hundred years after the landings at Anzac Cove our Defence Force is once again looking to learn the science of amphibious operations and landing troops on distant shores. Though Australians have focused much on the sacrifice at Anzac, we have forgotten many of the lessons of the military operation at Gallipoli.
Today, the military experts on the amphibious battles of the Dardanelles are to be found in Quantico not Canberra. In the 1930s George Patton jnr, then a lieutenant-colonel, was dispatched to Anzac Cove to study the Australian defeat. His conclusions and a multi-year study helped the US Marine Corps develop the amphibious doctrine that underpinned their success in the Pacific during the Second World War. Even today, new Marine Corps officers study the battles of Gallipoli in detail. Yet in the Australian Defence Force, our junior officers engage with Gallipoli mostly through the emotion of Anzac Day.
If we are serious in our concern about the needless loss of lives in battle, then we have a responsibility to understand more about where our soldiers might be deployed tomorrow and how they might be led. Rather than building new multimillion dollar Anzac interpretative centres in far-flung Albany, we need a centre to interpret the lessons of our more modern wars and help shape our thinking about defending against future strife.
Respect for our military dead is important. There is much that is good about Anzac. But we must make sure that we balance looking back to the past with looking ahead to the future.
We cannot bring back our slain soldiers, no matter how grand our commemorations. But we can work to save the lives of soldiers now, and in the future.
[James Brown served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Solomon Islands. He is the author of Anzac’s Long Shadow: the cost of our national obsession.]

An overcast and cold morning outside when I eventually emerged this morning. Another day of hospital visiting ahead was my plan, and we will just see what else the day brings. Seems like it might be a little more difficult to keep warm this time!

As has happened on numerous occasions over past weeks, Heather and I sent texts to each other at almost the same moment, not as a response to an earlier message, it just simply occurred that way. As I submitted my morning greeting, hers came through!  A  pleasant way to start one’s morning.

Occasionally yesterday, whilst talking to me, or to others, Heather would express the desire for a ‘bullet’ as a solution to ending the pain that her newly reconstructed leg was giving her. Perhaps the following verse might have been a good comeback to those feelings. Written by Eileen Caddy in ‘Footprints on the Path’, it read as

When you feel

that you have reached the end

and that you cannot go

one step further,

when life seems to be

drained of all purpose;

What a wonderful opportunity

to start all over again

to turn over a new page.

 

After leaving the motel this morning, I decided that my first ‘port of call’ would be the Art Gallery of Ballarat – quick look through the ;shop’, and a brief perusal of any new acquisitions or exhibitions currently on display. Just before I left, the sun came out as I was having a brief chat with the motel proprietor, but it was short-lived [the sun] at that stage!!

I spent about 40 minutes in the Art Gallery – always enjoy mu visits there, though today, I only explored the lower floor displays after a period of perusal in the shop area. Discovered that there were no large future prints of  the Australian classics planned for the near future – a bit of a disappointment as I was hoping  to purchase a companion to the Charles Condor print I’d bought earlier in the year. I did buy an ‘arty’ card for Heather. Meanwhile, a cappuccino in a nearby cafe took the time of my parking meter in Lydiard Street up to ity’s kimit, before I was on the move again.

Drove up to the Macarthur Street Primary School, and wandered in to the office/administration area. While I was not optimistic about getting any response today, I was wanting to confirm my enrolment date at the school. Surprisingly the lady who attended to my enquiry was able to find the relevant record from some 14,000 names she had on an Excel spreadsheet. It was confirmed that I ‘commenced my schooling at the Macarthur Street school on the 3rd February  1953 where I was admitted to Grade 1. This fitted in with the following years, ending up in Grade 6 on 1958, finishing mu Primary School education on the 19th December 1958, from whence I went to the Ballarat East High School as it then was.  At February 1953, I was six and half years old. Prior to then, I had this memory that I was a pupil at the Pleasant Street Primary School, on Wendouree Parade, opposite the Lake, but only for a short period of time. Next stop was that school  – their records were archived and more difficult to access.  The administration person took note of my details, and promised to get back to me at some stage with the answer to my enquiry – was I ever enrolled at Pleasant Street?

Spent just under an hour with Heather in the ward  – her friend Jan was there for about half of that time, and there was a brief break for a medical situation, when I went for a walk downstairs. Apparently Von, and Heather’s neighbour, Judy, had both been in earlier – again, I was sorry to have missed them. As for Heather, she seemed much brighter this morning, not in quite the same degree of pain as she was yesterday, although her major worry for a large part of the day, was the suggestion that she would be right to go home tomorrow!! That was obviously not a realistic proposition, yet it would not be until late afternoon that medical and nursing agreement, and a bit of push from a couple of social workers, that Heather could be confident that she was going to be allowed to remain until at least Monday.

Visiting hours off between 1pm-2.30pm – that saw me back into the city area, where after a light lunch, I called in at the Collins on Sturt bookstore./ A bit of a mistake that  – there for quite a while, and spent a bit of money I’d not really intended!! That included a couple of small inspirational booklets for Heather – yes, she was getting spoilt –  and a couple of selections for myself, including two classic Wordsworth volumes by Homer  – The Iliad, and The Odyssey  –  I think I may have an old copy of one of those, but decided these were a set that would fit in nicely with my ‘Wordsworth’ library collections. Also purchased a copy of a book by Michael Kerrigan –  ‘100 Great Art Masterpieces’ – just a cheaper discount volume, but an interesting selection of some of the great paintings.

With Heather at the hospital for just under 3 hours this afternoon – various visits from medical personnel, her social worker friends, etc, all of whom combined to make sure that Heather was not forced to return home tomorrow. Relief for her eventually when it was confirmed that the situation would be reassessed on Monday. Not a great deal of time for us to be alone, but that was expected and accepted – Heather has a great support group of friends, and I was pleased that they were making their presence felt. I just hope that support continues after she returns home and is relative immobile for a few weeks! Once again, I would leave a little earlier than intended, with the hope of allowing Heather a bit of extra rest – but again, that hope was short-lived, as she would have further visitors. At least tonight, she would manage to get a reasonably uninterrupted sleep with a few other emergency cases keeping the attention of the nursing staff away from my friend.

A quick drive back to the motel – seemed to be a few more patrons tonight, including a group of guys who seemed to be settling in to watch the football, in the room next to mine.  Perhaps it may not be so quiet tonight!! Drove back up to Mair Street, just half a block from the hospital, where Ross & Anne loved – eventually found their home, not so obvious in the dark. I liked their place – long passageway with various rooms leading off to one side, and the upstairs and external areas – and all the walls covered with paintings, pictures and various other ornamental decorations covering a wide range of areas – bit of emphasise on sports, grandchildren, etc, chandeliers, and so on – I imagine much of the material in the house had come from the Antique shop in Armstrong Street, just recently sold up!

Dinner tonight at the Eureka Pizza Restaurant in Sturt Street, guests of Ross and wife Anne. She was quite tired this evening – fairly normal apparently for a Friday night after a long day with a large group of kindergarten children that she teaches!  On the odd occasions when talkative Ross wandered off, and was waylaid by someone he knew [everyone in the restaurant it seemed], I found myself unusually having to make the conversation with Anne, I think she is often so tired [with Ross’s regular conversation, that she chills out. Heather’s brother is a great guy  – he loves ‘talking’!!  Meanwhile, I enjoyed a beautiful meal  – marinara pasta plus a shared pancake later with Ross. Very popular, large, busy and noisy restaurant, and with our table almost opposite a well replenished fire place,  it a lot warmer than was possibly comfortable at times. I must admit that I found it intriguing, the way Ross introduced me to people –  ‘our friend Bill, who is currently looking after my big sister’!!

Back to the car parked in Mair Street, said our goodnights, and I later also exchanged a greeting with Heather who was settling down for the night. No other distractions, I drove straight back to the motel – bit of writing, reading, and watched the end of a close Collingwood/Geelong football match. The end of that game signalled the departure of some of my neighbour’s friends, but it was a while before the room occupant himself settled down – not much thickness in the adjoining walls!! For myself, a bit of a restless night, but managed a reasonable sleep.

 

 

 

I intended to begin the day with a visit to the gymnasium, but after a day and night, not feeling at all well, I decided it might be best to give that exercise a rest today, instead took my time getting organised this morning, for an earlier start than planned, for another trip to Ballarat   I was actually surprised by an early morning ‘hello’ from Heather – didn’t think she would have her phone in the hospital ward.

I think it was soon after 9.30 when I left Sunbury. Despite a very cold start to the morning, it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, and the drive down the highway, via Melton was quite warm in the sunshine.  My arrival in Ballarat, found the same weather, a glorious day. More or less drove straight up to the Ballarat Bass Hospital, parking a couple of blocks away in a two hour spot!  As visiting hours this morning were 11am-1pm, and I arrived here just after 11am, that was perfect. It took me a little find to familiarize myself with the hospital layout, but eventually found my way to Room 209 on the second level of the north wing, and found Heather and her daughter, Von, sitting on chairs talking, beside the bed. Von left soon after. And I would stay with Heather until just before one o’clock.

Surprisingly, she was in a lot more pain, than she really should have been, and it was not until I returned later that afternoon that the reason for that was discovered. She was supposed to be wearing some form of pain patch, but apparently during her shower this morning, it had been knocked off, and not noticed until this afternoon. Staff had been filling her up with other pain killers, probably thinking she was asking for too much, when the real villain was lying on the bathroom floor for half the day.  As it was, it would not be until after 5pm, before the hospital pharmacy finally provided a replacement patch. So for a lot of the time that I was there with Heather today, she was genuinely in a lot of pain from her ‘repaired’ knee. Meanwhile, during that morning period, her brother Ross called in briefly, with some flowers and greetings – he didn’t stay long, but I was pleased to see him.  I think our patient was trying to recover from a rather unappetizing lunch, when I left at around 12.45pm.

I drove down to the main town area, and eventually met up with my sister Jean, and her husband Ross, in the Mall, and we adjourned to a nearby restaurant for a bite of lunch. Rosemary and Marc joined us soon after, although they had already eaten! A pleasant hour or so over lunch –  I decided today was the time to have what was a rather tasty Mediterrean Salad, and even survived the rich layers of oil, and the multitude of olives which I generally avoid in any quantity. Ross, who had recently resigned from his technician’s role at the Ballarat Grammar School, was ‘enjoying’ his new found freedom of working weekends and some weekdays as a motor cycle instructor and teacher, so a lunch outing like this was a treat for him too. Actually, the meal was a treat for me – I didn’t have to pay!!  I enjoyed that brief sojourn with my sister and part of her family, though had to offer apologies for staying at a motel in Ballarat, rather than accepting their hospitality out at Enfield – explained in terms of  independence, convenience, etc. I think that was understood!

From lunch, I drove across to the Eureka Lodge Motel, where I was expected, and checked for a couple of days. Slightly different room to the one bed variety I had the other night – this one had three beds in it!!  I really only needed the one!  From there, I drove across to Wendouree Parade, via Neil  & Macarthur streets, purchasing a copy of the Ballarat Courier, and the Age, along the way. Stopped at the Chaser’s Restaurant, where I had met Heather and Von last Sunday morning – the weather much more pleasant today –  and shouted myself an ‘over-expensive’ iced coffee, and read a bit of the ‘Courier’. It was while doing that I came across a couple of interesting articles. One of them related to the Ballarat Art Gallery!  As a member and fan of the Art Gallery of Ballarat, I was interested to find the following article [partially reproduced] in today’s Ballarat Courier, under the heading ‘Celebrate the art we do have’, and written by journalist, Kim Anderson – obviously in response to criticism from some areas as to why the Ballarat Gallery did not exhibit the recent successful ‘Grace Kelly’ exhibition held at the Bendigo Art Gallery. After reading this, I simply had to say “hear, hear”!! The article follows, in part.

‘Of all those people leaping onto the bandwagon to criticise the Art Gallery of Ballarat for not holding a ‘frock show’, how many of you have also bothered to actually visit the gallery and view the amazing collection on display? Yes – the permanent collection- as in work that we, collectively, as citizens of Ballarat, can be proud to call ours. Why is it that we are quick to praise something further afield, while ignoring the riches literally beneath our noses?

Ballarat has an extremely significant permanent collection with a major focus on Australian art, a collection which is ever-increasing in quantity and quality thanks to the passion and vision of the gallery’s directors, both past and present.  And it doesn’t cost a cent to see. You can walk in there, free of charge, and view masterpieces by some of Australia’s greatest artists including Margaret Olley, Jeffrey Smart, John Brack and Hans Heyson, to mention but a few. And I haven’t even mentioned the stunningly beautiful indigenous art on display, nor the extensive collection of works on paper or the rare illuminated manuscripts. Ballarat’s collection also offers an invaluable insight into the history of our region from the very first colonial settlements [including many works by convict artists] right through to works by local artists. Surely that holds much greater value than a few dresses worn by a dead movie star [with all due respect to Princess Grace]. The Grace Kelly exhibition, along with all the other ‘couture’ shows that Bendigo has held recently, has been brought in, ‘ready-made’ from the UK at great expense [my greatest apologies to Duchamp for using the term in this instance].

The Art Gallery of Ballarat curates the majority of its own shows, most of which showcase at least some aspect of its permanent collection. And that, I might point out, is Ballarat’s strong point. Our permanent collection is one of the best in Victoria outside of the NGV, and dare I say it, in all of Australia……………..The Art Gallery of Ballarat is one of the most spectacular jewels in Ballarat’s crown, achieving it’s status neither from royalty or celebrity, but from a genuine vision to establish an uplifting and inspiring cultural institution that originated with its founder James Oddie in 1884. However, unfortunately, artistic and scholarly integrity now seems to be undervalued and overlooked in favour of temporary easy-to-digest blockbusters. Titanic might have broken numerous box office records, and it’s even been presented in 3D now,  but could it actually be truly classed as a high-quality film? The sad truth is that mediocrity tends to appeal to the masses, and before you retaliate I’m not the first to say so. Bendigo’s visitor numbers mean very little when it comes to making comparisons between the two institutions. Apples are not oranges, and a fashion show is not an exhibition of art – although certainly there can be a crossover in some cases. I absolutely agree that there is an appropriate place for both, and neither should be in competition with each other………………Dresses and shoes are pleasant and pretty. ‘Real’ art is perhaps perceived as a little more challenging………..Art is challenging, memorable, soothing, provocative, emotionally and psychologically arousing, raises many questions and provides some insights into the human condition. It’s incredibly complex, and thus ultimately more rewarding.’

Spent the next 3-4 hours back in the ward with Heather, although she was not there when I arrived – was away having x-rays. When she came back, with me waiting in the background, she was helped in the bathroom for a while [that was when the missing pain patch was discovered], and it was afterwards that the full extent of her distress from pain was evident – not so bad lying down, but when she has to try and walk, even with assistance, the pain and  discomfort becomes quite severe. She was upset that I was seeing her distressed in that manner, though I think we quickly assured my friend,  that such feelings were unnecessary, I just wished there was something I could do to ease her discomfort! No other visitors while I was there, until after school when Von came in with her two teenage daughters [Heather’s granddaughters]. Earlier, I went for a wander downstairs, while Heather was attended to by the nursing staff again, and returned while she was eating the evening meal – in fact, she was actually eating the meal this time, which was a good sign.

I think it was getting on towards 6.30pm when I left, felt that Heather was probably ready for a rest and a bit of a sleep – however, she would have to wait for that, as she had some late visitors – I was a little disappointed to have missed a  return visit by her brother Ross, and a couple of other friends, would have liked to have met them.

Bought a meal of roast vegetables from a nearby establishment, and returned to the motel for the evening, where I would have a comfortable and warm night. A couple of goodnight messages from Heather, as she tried to settle down for the night, although no doubt she would be disturbed throughout the night by the nursing staff.  UI had no such problems – very quiet again, around this motel, watched a bit of TV, wrote, read, and generally slept fairly well, with the occasional short break.

 

 

A bit of a Face Book  message discussion with Ruth during the morning concerning my ‘friend’ in the Ballarat Hospital. I guess Ruth guessed!! Meanwhile, I was kept up to date with progress, and by early afternoon, the operation was over and Heather was out of recovery and into her ward, feeling rather miserable and ‘away with the pixies’ to quote her daughter.  I the meantime, I decided to get some flowers delivered – via White’s Florist in Ballarat, and I later learnt they arrived a few hours afterwards!

Throughout the day, I was kept updated on the recovery phases of Heather after this morning’s operation, by her daughter. In fact this evening, while I was eating, Heather rang me herself – just a brief chat, as she was rather hard to understand, sounding very groggy and tired, said she couldn’t stay awake, but she was clear enough to mention the flowers had arrived J  Told her I would be there tomorrow.

Other matters took a bit of my attention today, surprisingly – a visit to the Sunbury Library, where I met up with three other Family History Society committee members, and the George Evans Museum curator, Sue Sutton [a former member of the Society] to discuss the archiving of a number of boxes of old Shire of Bulla papers and records, which went back to the late 1800s. A mammoth job for a small group of volunteers but it seems like we are going to take it on. We also discussed some initial arrangements for a genealogical exhibition to be held in August within the Museum surrounds [which is located at the rear of the municipal library]. This would be followed up by the general members’ meeting tonight which included a speaker from the Commonwealth Bank, giving us a bit of a rundown on the kind of archives held by the Bank and/or it’s successor, the former State Savings Bank of Victoria. Quite interesting, and also short – which for me, meant an early night – not feeling that well, and would have preferred initially to have not had to go out. Also had to find time this evening to check the spelling etc, of yet another of my son’s university assignments!! The things I agree to do!! Haven’t finished the audit of those church accounts as yet however!!

On a different subject, there was I thought an interesting Editorial in today’s Age newspaper concerning the need for Australia to consider it’s role in a US military build up. I won’t comment on it, but include it here for the information and interest of readers.

‘JUST in case the Gillard government thought China had decided to overlook the deployment of 2500 US marines in Darwin, Beijing this week issued advice to the contrary. When the announcement about the marines was made during President Barack Obama’s visit to Australia in November, the response by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman was diplomatically phrased: ”It may not be quite appropriate to intensify and expand military alliances and may not be in the interest of countries in the region.” But Foreign Minister Bob Carr evidently received a blunter assessment during talks with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, and other officials in Beijing. Their view, Senator Carr said later, was ”that the time for Cold War alliances had long since passed”.

Few Australians expect or want this country to repudiate its alliance with the US, which is not only based on strategic necessity as it was understood during the Cold War and, earlier, during the war against Japan. The alliance also reflects deep cultural affinities, including, most importantly, shared democratic values. Acknowledging these things to be so, however, is not the same as saying that Australia’s national interest lies in closer military integration with the US as it shifts its global projection of power away from the Middle East to an emphasis on the Asia-Pacific.

In the context of that shift, the basing of US ground forces in Australia for the first time since World War II can only be seen in Beijing as a provocation. And the language used by Senator Carr to explain the marine deployment – ”an American presence in the Asia-Pacific has helped underpin stability there” – can only seem like weasel words.

The Gillard government likes to talk of the 21st century as the Asian century, and to portray Australia as especially well placed to participate in this global reorientation. Thus far, however, its actions have rarely been consistent with that rhetoric, for its inclination has not been to act independently as a middle-ranking power in the Asia-Pacific region. This government, like its predecessors of both political persuasions, has preferred Australia’s historically comfortable role of doing the bidding of a powerful protector.

No nation in the world can ignore the rise of China as a great power, and potentially a superpower. But China’s increasing reach, economically and strategically, holds different consequences for Australia and the US. For this country, China is the industrial giant whose demand for Australian raw materials has been the chief driver of growth. It would be naive to assume that this demand will continue indefinitely, but neither can Australia pretend that economic exchange is not fundamental to its relationship with China.

For the US, matters are more complicated. China is both the low-wage economy that has come to dominate global manufacturing and the expanding military power whose new assertiveness means the Pacific is no longer an American lake. And, China’s resistance in international forums to interventions aimed at protecting human rights in third countries is a constant reminder of its obsession with preserving its own creaking, authoritarian system. In all these things lies the possibility of conflict. Yet the fortunes of the reigning superpower and the contender are also entwined, for China is the biggest holder of US debt. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said, ”How do you talk toughly to your banker?”

When the marines’ deployment to Darwin was announced, The Age argued that if a military build-up in the Pacific by the US and its allies results in a new Cold War, the Obama administration and the Gillard government will have seriously miscalculated. Mutual hostility will not easily bring about a more open, less suspicious China, let alone a democratic one. This week Mr Carr got a chance to learn that directly.’

 

I had my usual Wednesday morning phone in to Ron at the radio station this morning [6.45 am] with some local sports results. But before that, a slightly earlier rising, so that I could give Heather a ring before she went into hospital. Daughter Vonda was to collect her at 6.40 am for the short drive down to the Ballarat Base Hospital, where we were all hoping that this time, the surgeon would agree to proceed with the knee reconstruction operation required to her right knee.

By the time that short conversation was finished, I think my friend was more upset, than the nervous state she had woken with this morning, after a restless night with not much sleep. Her big fear was that the surgery would be deferred, again as it was 12 months ago because she had a minor infection at the time.  Around 7.30, I received a more cheerful message [obviously pre-op prep time from within the hospital] from Heather, and I took it from that, things were going to proceed as planned.  An hour later, at 8.30am, a message from her daughter – ‘Mum has just been taken off to surgery – I’ve been told it will probably take 3 hours for surgery and recovery..’.  So that first step had been passed, actually getting to surgery this time.

Where flowers bloom, so does hope [Lady Bird Johnson]

The flowers take the tears of weeping night, and give them to the sun for the day’s delight [Joseph Cotter]

A couple of early morning text exchanges with Heather – more blood tests and other medically related factors she had to get through today, wished her well in all of those things!  Personally, I could have done with a sleep in this morning, but Susie had signed up for a first aid course in the city today, and asked me to drop her off at the train station. That suited me, because shortly afterwards, I took my car to the local Ultra Tune service station for a bit of a check up. I had undertaken a few more trips in it than previously anticipated, and wanted to have a few items checked out. First time I’ve had to pay for a car service [my own car, that is, ignoring the ‘kids’ I’ve helped out] for five years, and today’s little venture will no doubt not be without some cost!!

Decided to walk home rather than catch the bus – but stopped at the Jolly Miller café for a cappucino & toasted ham sandwich along the way. Interestingly, a young lady in the café – reminded me instantly of a young Shirley Clyde [now French] of 40 years ago – a wondered if she had a niece down this way, the girl just looked so familiar!! I’ll ask her one day. Meanwhile, the walk from Sunbury township, up past the high school to Fisher Court – well it was a little tougher than I recalled, and was uphill virtually all the way!!

Rest of the day at home – a cold overcast day, busy at the computer, etc, and awaiting phone calls, principally regarding a pick up time for the car – had a couple of those concerning items that had been found and a fix up was advisable  – each phone call, I could see the dollar $$$ signs getting bigger!!!  During the afternoon, another awaited message came through from a nervous Heather  – her operation, to her knee, was set for first thing in the morning, she was first on the list, now all she had to pray for was that the surgeon would not find an excuse not to go ahead, as happened twelve months ago. I must admit to a little concern about the state of mind this girl would be in if such an event occurred! Positive thoughts required here! In the meantime, mail, two days in a row from this friend, almost makes collecting the daily mail a pleasure, never know when there will be a surprise there.

Meanwhile, the mail in my inwards box included the weekly message from the ‘Coaches Box’, Brett Ratten, coach of Carlton. This should be interesting, following last night’s ‘performance’!!

‘Dear Bill
Behind closed doors in the aftermath of last night’s 24-point loss at Etihad Stadium, the players and I homed in on the drop-off in intensity from the first three matches as opposed to the next block of games.  There is obviously a discrepancy there. The fanaticism shown in getting after the ball and the man is not quite at the level we’ve seen of this team.  We also discussed that little period of time towards the end of the third quarter of last night’s contest where it looked like we were beginning to get our mojo back in that vital area of the game. Clearly we need to get it back for four quarters, together with our ball use going inside 50 and the drop of the ball in our back half. The opposition got 11 inside-50s for eight shots on goal in the first quarter and that’s hard to live with.
Obviously we’ve been faced with two scenarios this season where we’ve been behind and on both occasions when we’ve been up against it we’ve also kicked inaccurately. In the second quarter of this game we kicked 3.5 so the simple lesson learnt is that when you’re trying to claw your way in you need to be able to kick goals. In saying that, while we did have to deal with some structural issues in the fourth round match at the MCG, last night was more about our intensity or lack thereof. Put simply, it was about our inability to roll up our sleeves. Some have questioned the pressure of expectation given the significance of a victory in the lead-up to last night’s match, but I suspect that’s a scenario that plays more into the hands of the opposition. Perhaps the opposition players thought “Gee, are they looking more at the final siren rather than the first bounce?” and maybe that afforded them a little more energy. At the end of the day we had a fair bit to play for, although nothing was said about it going in. There was no need to talk about the outcome – it was more about how we were going to win – but we were beaten by a more aggressive, intensive group who got in our faces and didn’t allow us to dictate terms.
Talking of intensity, our next opponent Adelaide presents a massive challenge in what is a short turnaround time to next Sunday afternoon’s game. The Crows are at the top of their game right now and we’re faced with some massive challenges as we seek to regain that intensity we on show through rounds one to three. Once again Etihad provides the backdrop for what will hopefully be an ample turnout of Carlton Members, and it’s to all Members I offer my sincerest congratulations for smashing our all-time Membership record last week.
Despite last night’s loss we feel we’re continuing to build something special at the club – and through the course of this week those of us on the coaching staff and in the playing group will be feverishly working the phones through Wednesday and Thursday to help drive our membership towards 50,000.
Kind Regards

Brett Ratten  [Member #1018372]

That was the word from the coach, whom I to some degree, critised in last night’s summary. Perhaps in the above, I might have liked to see him admit to some fault, but then that would obviously come over as a major negative. Best left unsaid!

On a local matter, a bit of attention has been directed in the media to one of our local schools in Sunbury – the Sunbury Downs Secondary College [which school Jodie attended, on I was a member of the School Council, included a couple of years as President]. I became a bit annoyed at some of the biased comments and unfair generalizations, on the basis of a couple of individual students not having the ability to fit into the school’s culture,  that were directed towards the school as a result of this, and responded accordingly on the Face Book page. The story itself appears in this week’s local ‘Sunbury Weekly’ newspaper, written by Tara Murray.

‘SUNBURY Downs College has defended its policy of compulsory parent-teacher interviews despite having apologised to the family of a student with a learning disability who was suspended. Last week, year 12 student Brendan Mason was suspended by a vice-principal after his non-attendance at two detention sessions imposed after he and his parents failed to attend interviews. Brendan’s father Andrew said he was disappointed by his son’s suspension. “As Brendan has a learning disability and [has] a learning aide, we speak with them regularly about his progress; so it’s not like we don’t have contact with the school,” he said. “We were away for those couple of days when the interviews were conducted … it’s the first two days I’ve had off in eight months.” School principal Brett Moore later apologised to the family, saying it was a misunderstanding. Mr Moore said that because of the regular meetings between Brendan’s parents and his integration aide and teachers, they weren’t required to attend the interviews.  “It was a misunderstanding and Brendan shouldn’t have been issued with the detention in the first place.” Mr Moore said parents and students were aware that they were required to attend the interviews. The school newsletter states students who don’t attend the interviews will face two detentions. Mr Moore said the two previous schools where he worked had similar policies and they worked successfully. “The school works hard to communicate with students and parents,” he said. “We are the only school in Sunbury that has two orientation days at the end of the year and another at the start of the year. We have a great reputation for being supportive of our children.” Mr Mason said his family was pleased the suspension had been lifted, but he was disappointed with the handling of the situation. “Brett was good and, as I expected, he was unaware. But there is no excuse for the rudeness of the vice-principal, who hung up on me. We achieved what we wanted, which was for Brendan to return to school. “I don’t think it will happen again.” He said he didn’t agree with the school’s policy. “The child should not be penalised because of parents’ action. “It is up to the parents if they have an interest in their child’s education.”’

Obviously, this policy has come into the school since I lost contact, as I don’t it been enforced in the nature referred to a few years ago, but there were certainly at the time, a number of parents who did not attend parent/teacher interviews in those days, when it was a preferred option, though no penalties were applied. In my own case, I think from memory that I attended all such interviews at both Primary and Secondary level – but I did so either alone, or occasionally with the child in question. I don’t ever recall Shirley attending!  My comments on Face Book, were along the following lines, and were partially a response to the comments of a parent whose child for whatever reason, couldn’t fit into the school’s requirements, was withdrawn, and obviously did better at the subsequent school, yet the original school has been blamed for that child’s problems ever since, without any consideration that perhaps the fault lay with the child in their younger years! Maturity was beginning to set in at the time of the second school. Whether that is a fair or unfair assessment [my myself], my gripe here is with the constant unfair and biased degradation of the school’s value because of one unfortunate situation, and here we see the same type of thing happening. Anyway, my major contributions were that:-

·         Don’t judge a school on the actions of one, a poor judgement was made and has been apologised for. The news seldom reports on the achievements of a place, those kind of things are not what people can be bothered reading about these days!
·         From someone else -[I think it depends on the child and I really don’t think Brett Moore deserves all the negativity he is getting. If it is so bad why have enrolments nearly doubled? Obviously some people still think it is an ok school and going in the right direction].
·         There’s been a constant vendetta and unwarranted criticism against Sunbury Downs by some people for years, and as a former SC President, I consider the school was getting close to the equal of SC when I left and some wonderful advances have been made under Brett. So yes, let’s get on with life and not retain personal grievances!!
I picked up my car late this afternoon, after it’s service  – cost not too bad, although any money spent on car servicing is painful, and the bad news was that it was considered I needed 3 new tyres. I had been concerned a little about one of them, but from my perspective, I would not have considered them close to been unroadworthy!! Such is life!  That was followed by a ‘long’ wait at the station for Susie’s train to arrive from the city – a more painful wait for her, almost an hour at Sunshine station, while police and other emergency personnel dealt with a person threatening to jump from an overhead in front of a train!! This delay did not improve Susie’s view of the convenience of public transport!!  Meantime, she had gone to the city today to do a short First Aid Course, think she is going to do some part time work at Jodie’s work place, and required that status. Seems to be the air – Shirley was over this evening using my computer so that she could watch a cd on first aid, a requirement she needed to update herself on! Eventually, my computer was free later in the evening, to allow me to prepare the sports report for tomorrow morning’s radio ring-in!!

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