Friday, March 28, 2008

Bianca Knight Waiting For Shoe To Drop

The University of Texas sprint sensation Bianca Knight has recently signed with agent Mark Wetmore of Boston-based Global Athletics, Inc. Global Athletics also represents pro athletes such as Tyson Gay, Dee Dee Trotter, Jenn Stuczynski, and Liu Xiang.

Pro runners typically earn the bulk of their income on shoe contracts. The track world is waiting to hear the winner of the sneaker battle to woo the services of Bianca Knight. Word is that Nike and Adidas are duking it out to win over the women who blazed the second fastest American time ever in winning the NCAA crown in 200-meters.

If it’s any indication of the market, in 2003 Allyson Felix signed a signed a six-year, six-figure endorsement contract with Adidas just out of high school. Bianca’s legs will make her mad money.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evanglist

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Carolina Kluft Won't Do Hepthalon

Swedish sensation Carolina Klüft has made the decision to not defend her Olympic heptathlon title in Beijing, stating that she was no longer motivated to train for and compete in heptathlons. Kluft will instead compete in the long and triple jumps.

Explaining her decision to local Swedish newspaper the Klüft said: “I’ve done the Heptathlon for a number of years. I really want to try something new. I want to focus on one or two other events. I want to feel fit in my body and not be exhausted week in and week out.”

Little known is known about Klüft in the U.S., but she is widely considered by many experts to be one of the world’s greatest all-around female athletes. The heptathlon event is a grueling two day event comprised of the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, and 200-meters on the first day. The long jump, javelin, and 800-meters are held the second day.

The 25-year-old, has won every major multi-events title since winning the world championship gold medal in 2003. Overall she has won three world championship golds and gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

The Klüft is the European record holder in the heptathlon with a personal best of 7,032 points. This score ranks second behind former American champion Jackie Joyner Kersee.

The absence of Carolina opens the door for a showdown in Beijing to win the heptathlon gold. The top candidates to emerge in Klüft absence are Britain’s Kelly Sotherton and Jessica Ennis. They are both genuine gold-medal contenders in their own right.

Sotherton took the bronze medal behind Klüft in Athens in 2004 and again at last year's world championships in Osaka. Ennis improved on her personal record by 300 points in finishing fourth at the ‘07 world outdoor championships. This shake up increases the chances that the heptathlon will be a hotly contested competition in Beijing.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Lolo Jones Runs Into Michael Jordan

Life continues to get better for Lolo Jones since winning the 60-meter hurdle world indoor title in Valencia, Spain that came with a $40,000 prize. The former LSU star is making a name for her self on and off the track.

Lolo revealed on her IAAF online diary that she recently met Michael Jordan at an Oakley event in Florida to promote the first sunglasses designed specifically for female athletes. Lolo had input into the development of the sunglasses. She explains that she had to get pass the body guards and PR guys surrounding Michael Jordan.

Jones said, “It took quite a while to set up the chance to chat with him but after I was introduced as a World champion he was super-polite and gave me such a strong handshake."

I wonder if MJ gave Lolo some pointers on taking her game to the next level. It’s nice to see Lolo get some well-deserved love since scraping her way past a part-time job to stay in the sport.

She will be in action next in her home town at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa April 24 to 26.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Final Lap: April = Relay Meets

Most professional runners are competing in relay meets in April. This is the relay time of year on the U.S. pro sprint scene. These collegiate track meets primarily feature relay races with a limited number of individual events, so the relays make for some exciting performances from pro runners.

Relay meets have an open section for professional runners. No pro outdoor meets are held in the United States at the early stage of the outdoor season.

Running on relays allows pro athletes to evaluate their training and conditioning in a low stakes environment while having lots of fun. Relays races are one of the few chances to have a team experience in what is largely an individual sport.

The meet schedule for the next month is packed with collegiate relay meets such as the Texas Relays (April 2), Kansas Relays (April 16), Mt. Sac Relays (April 18), Drake Relays (April 24), and Penn Relays (April 24) to name a few.

  • Fans at the 57th TSU Relays were witness to Jeremy “J Dub” Wariner’s 44.2 anchor leg this past Saturday on the mile relay at the Houston meet. This is an incredibly fast time considering observers report that J Dub shut it down 30 meters out.

  • The heat was definitely showcased on the track in Miami . In the mile relay, Xavier “X Man” Carter lit up the first leg in 44.9 to officially begin his season. Running first leg on the mile relay is very similar to running an open 400-meters, which means X Man is in primo shape.

  • The first fully pro meet on the Visa Championship Series is the Adidas Track Classic on May 18th.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Saturday, March 22, 2008

100-Meter Debate May Be Settled Soon!

Since last summer fans and pundits alike have been debating who will prevail in a 100-meter show down between reigning 100 and 200-meter world champion Tyson Gay of the U.S. and current world record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica.

What’s fueling the debate is that Gay beat Powell head-to-head in the 100-meter finals at the 2007 world championships last summer in Osaka. It was clear to most fans that Powell tensed up and panicked in the final 40 meters, finishing third behind Tyson Gay and Derrick Adtkins of the Bahamas.

Despite blazing times, Powell has struggled at major competitions, missing a medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics. The 2007 world championship race again called into question his ability to win the big races. Then one month later, Asafa went to Rieto, Italty in a meet that didn't matter much and broke his own world record in 9.74.

Hopefully, the speculating will end soon. Talks are currently under way between the sprinters’ agents and meet directors to solidify at least one, or possibly two, clashes between the track giants. The sprinters are likely to meet after the Olympic Trials and before the Olympic games, which leaves them meeting in July in Stockholm, London, or Monaco.

The debate, however, will not end until after Powell and Gay race at the 100-meter finals in Beijing. I love it! This star studded rivalry is good for track and field.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

BYOF: The U.S. Food Strategy at 2008 Beijing Olympics

Being your own food!

The food quality in China is so suspect that the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) plans to drop ship more than 25,000 pounds of meat and other foods to a training camp at Beijing Normal University. The USOC will serve athletes in several locations near the Olympic village during the 16-day event.

Other countries are considering the same thing, and Beijing is somewhat annoyed. “I feel it’s a pity that [the Americans] decided to take their own food,” said Kang Yi, the head of the Food Division for the Beijing organizing committee.

The move sounds drastic, but a look at the food quality issues in China reveals a serious cause for alarm. A caterer working for the USOC told the New York Times about finding a half chicken breast measuring 14 inches long while shopping in a Chinese supermarket. The abnormally large chicken breast could have fed a family of eight.

There’s also the worry that tainted food could lead to a positive drug test. "We had it tested, and it was so full of steroids that we never could have given it to athletes," caterer Frank Puleo told the Times. "They all would have tested positive."

Chinese produced food is, uh, not too appetizing. One seaport in China had 40 shipments of seafood to the U.S. denied by the FDA. China has been polluting their waters to the point of depletion. This depletion is forcing farmers to mix illegal veterinary drugs and pesticides into fish feed to neutralize the effects of the toxic water. Mmm… Mmm…

The USOC has made arrangements with sponsors like Kellogg and Tyson Foods to ship 25,000 pounds of lean protein to China about two months before the opening ceremony. The food shipped in will place an emphasis on healthy nutrition, which officials hope will boost athletic performances.

The moral of the story is that if the air doesn’t make you hack, then the food will get you.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist.

Texas Sprinter Bianca Knight Goes Pro is reporting that Bianca Knight turned professional, joining a growing number of track athletes leaving the college ranks early. She will forgo her remaining eligibility in collegiate track and field.

The world of elite track and field was introduced to Bianca Knight last Saturday at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field championship meet in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The freshman from the University of Texas broke the NCAA meet record at 200-meters in a stunning time of 22.40. The second fastest time ever by an American runner puts Bianca on the level of the world’s elite sprinter.

If Bianca can deliver similar times at the professional level, she’ll be competitive among the world’s best sprinters. To put her indoor time of 22.40 into proper context, just take a look at the results from the outdoor 200-meter finals at the 2007 World Championships: Allyson Felix won in 21.82, Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell took second in 22.34, followed by Susanthika Jayasinghe in 22.63. Runners typically put up much faster times outdoors.

Given the typically short career span of the average professional sprinter, I think Knight is wise to turn pro if she competes with the world’s best at this age.

Good luck Bianca!

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

11 Greatest Olympic Track Performances in the Last 100 years

  • Jesse Owens: Non-verbal rebellion, inspired by hatred.

  • The revolution was televised. The black-and-white footage of Jesse Owens defeating Hitler’s Aryan nation still brings a chill. In front of packed crowds, he showed the world Hitler’s theory was a crock of crap. Jesse achieved international fame in winning four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Games in the 100, 200, long jump and 4 x 100 meter relay.

  • Bob Hayes: No one faster than the speeding bullet.
  • By the summer of 1964, Bob “The Bullet” Hayes was dubbed the original “World’s Fastest Human” at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. The U.S. team was in fifth place when Hayes got the baton in this famous 4 x 100 meter relay — he couldn’t even reach out and touch them.

    In perhaps the most memorable 100-meters in track history, he blew away the competition and turned a nine-meter deficit into a two-meter victory. The winning time of 39.0 seconds was a world record, and Hayes' leg was timed unofficially in 8.6 seconds, still the fastest ever. That’s not running, that’s space travel.

  • Bob Beamon: The leap heard around the world.
  • Life is short, but great performances last forever. Just after Beamon barely made the 1968 Olympic squad, he unleashed the most fearsome long jump ever, featuring the most perfect combination of running and jumping. Beamon surprised even himself, collapsing when hearing he soared 29 feet, 2 ½ inches. He shattered the original mark by almost 22 inches. That’s as close as man has ever come to human flight. Bob’s record stood 23 years.

  • Dave Wottle: It’s never too late to be great.
  • Once upon a time Ethiopian and Kenyan runners dominated the middle distances. Against this backdrop at the 1972 Munich Olympics, 24-year-old American runner Dave Wottle was in last place in the 800-meter finals. Then the tension set in: starting at 500 meters, Wottle starting picking off runners one at a time. Coming down the final stretch, he hit the gas and won the 800-meters by .03 at the finish line. To this day, Wottle remains the only American to win at 800-meters since Munich.

  • Carl Lewis: The misunderstood track genius does it like no other.
  • Although an often polarizing figure in the sport, Carl Lewis was a magnificent, daring sprinter. He was a flawless runner and jumper with a keen ability under pressure. Carl Lewis pounced on every step of the 100-meters, 200-meters, and long jump, 4 x 100-meter relay to win every battle in which he competed at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. The elaborately executed performances became an Olympic memory reminiscent of Jesse Owen’s four gold medal feat in 1936.

  • Michael Johnson: Track’s leading man.

  • Between 1992 and 1996, Michael Johnson was track’s most reliable mindblower: winning 58 straight races over eight years. By 1996, the stage had been set at the Atlanta Olympic games, as some of the greatest 200-meter runners ever gathered for the event’s finals.

    The gun went off, and MJ stumbled the fourth step. He then covered the first 100 meters faster than any human ever, even out running the NBC track side camera. He crossed the line, and it was immediately evident he was track’s undisputed champ having offered further evidence of his mastery.

  • Jackie Joyner-Kersee: From Nowhere to Somewhere.
  • It is a gritty road to the top, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee couldn’t compete in a more demanding event than her signature heptathlon: 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m, long jump, javelin and 800m. It’s a definitive test of quickness, strength, and heart.

    Her 1988 Olympic appearance produced the still-standing world record of 7,291 points. Not enough to let that victory stand alone, JJK showed up five days later to grab the gold again – this time in long jump, gliding to 24 feet, 3 ½ inches. JJK had the audacity to stake a claim at being the greatest female athlete ever—and then pulled it off.

  • Sebastian Coe: Britain’s Iron Man delivers.
  • In 1983, Sebastian Coe had recently undergone lymph node surgery – a situation that his detractors said would sideline him for that year’s World Championships. But the following year, he was determined to win back-to-back Olympic 1500-meter titles.

    It wouldn’t come easy – he was facing challengers Steve Ovett and Steve Cram, who was considered the odd’s-on favorite for the gold at the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angles. Coe shocked the critics when he ran a perfect race, pulling away from Cram and the rest of the field in the final straightaway to win by six meters. His determination, style, and pace influenced a generation of runners.

  • Flo Jo: Brilliant at the highest speeds.
  • This track queen is an icon on two counts: she gave the first cross-over performance by a female track athlete and gave one of the most mesmerizing performances in recent history. The 1988 Seoul Olympic Games were Flo Jo’s show and she had her own superstar act. Her races included decorated nails, stylish outfits, and stunning looks. In the 100-meter final in Seoul, the 5-foot-7, 130-pound Joyner bettered the Olympic record with her 10.54. She blistered the 200-meters finals, and Flo Jo delivered an amazing 21.34 in capturing her second gold medal. Joyner, who died in her sleep in 1998, still holds the women’s 100 and 200-meter world records.

  • Edwin Moses: A self-made man.
  • Getting over hurdles was a skill Edwin Moses learned early in life. He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta which had a track team, no track, and no coach for him. He had run just one hurdle race prior to March 1976. As a 20-year-old unknown college student, he went to the Montreal Olympics in 1976. Moses broke the 400-meter hurdle world record running 47.64, winning gold by an eight meter victory in his first international competition.

  • Carl Lewis: Outraging fans and sponsors.
  • By the summer of 1996, Carl’s meteoric career had suffered some set backs. Though he won four gold medals at the 1984 L.A. Olympics, he never won fans over, at least in the United States. This time, the King of Track was in a battle with Mike Powell at Atlanta Olympic stadium.

    Carl wanted revenge: Powell had beaten him at the previous world championships and broken the long jump world record. An athletic shade of his former self, Carl Lewis delivered big. At 35, he pulled out some mojo to jump 27 feet, 10 ¾ inches, his longest distance in four years. That night in Atlanta was a reminder that others had run faster and jumped farther, but few had sustained such a high level of performance for so long.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tommie Smith 1968 Suedes

It’s about time that John Carlos and Tommie Smith finally got some love. Puma is paying a small tribute to the two former track stars with “Tommie Smith" Suede Pack.

During the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City when newly crowned 200-meter champion and record holder Tommie Smith raised his fist on the podium, along with bronze medal winner John Carlos, the controversy jumped off.

The barefoot athletes’ salute was meant to represent the civil rights movement and the struggle of African Americans. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were kicked out of the Olympic village, suspended from the U.S. Olympic team, and summarily sent home from the games.

To commemorate these brave men, a two sneaker collection of Suedes will release later this month with a repeating fist monogram along the upper and include golden accents. Look for the shoes to be available for purchase in August 2008.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Haile Gebrselassie Not Running in Beijing Marathon

Officials in Beijing are probably seething by news that distance runner Haile Gebrselassie just announced that he will not be competing in the Olympic marathon in Beijing. Haile is perhaps the sport’s biggest name and a fan favorite.

The city’s pollution levels and his exercise induced asthma are the reasons cited by the marathon world record holder’s agent about why he decided not to run the marathon. Rather, he will try to qualify for Ethopia in the 10,000-meters.

The pollution in China is a threat to my health, and it would be difficult for me to run 42 kilometers in my current condition,” Gebrselassie said in an interview.

Britain is leaning towards giving Olympic athletes pollution masks to deal with the rancid air. Maybe this is a job to call on NASA for help?

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Allyson Felix Voted L.A. Sportswoman of the Year!

Allyson Felix is in a class all her own. Felix was recently honored by peers at the 3rd annual L.A. Sports Award for a break-through season in 2007. The award marked a move from being a 200-meter runner to an all-around force that can compete from the 100 to 400.

“Sportswoman of the Year” was awarded to track star Allyson Felix by the Los Angeles Sports Council.

The L.A. native ran circles around opponents in an talent-rich 200-meters at the 2007 World Track and Field Championship in Osaka. There, Felix also helped the U.S. team win gold medals in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.

David Beckham was not on hand at the Beverly Hills Hotel to accept the “Sportsman of the Year” award. Felix said, “My only disappointment was not getting to meet David Beckham, who was named Sportsman of the Year.”

Congratulations Allyson!

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Monday, March 10, 2008

Records Are Meant to Be Broken: World Indoor Championships, Day 3 Blogging

Yelena Soboleva of Russia celebrates after setting the first world record of the Valencia event.

Team USA ended the third and final day with a strong finish in Valencia, Spain. All told, the United States led all countries in the final medal count with five gold, five silver, and three bronze medals.

The international meet, while absent some of the sport’s biggest names, was marked with quite a few memorable performances. There were break through moments for athletes who had been waiting for validation of their years of work and sacrifice.

Nine women towed the starting line in the 1500-meters and one ended by breaking her own world record: Yelena Soboleva of Russia. This race will be remembered in the halls of track for many years to come.

The first 1,200 meters passed at a brisk pace. Yelena took the lead at the final bell lap winning with nearly a 12-meter lead. When she crossed the line the clock read 3:57:71: a new world record.

Yelena ran away with $40,000 for first place and $50,000 for setting a world record. $90,000 is not bad for less than four minutes of work in her office on the track. Fellow Russian Yuliya Fomenko was second in 3:59.41, while Gelete Burka of Ethiopia grabbed the bronze.

American Bryan Clay dominated the men's heptathlon from beginning to end during the two-day competition. He registered a personal best total of 6,371 points, just 105 short of Dan O’Brien’s 1993 world record.

Clay said, “I was sick and then I was hurt. Two weeks ago I would have told you that I wouldn’t even be able to compete here. This just shows how well my training is going.”

In the women’s 800-meters, Maria Mutola came up short in her bid for an eighth indoor world title. In what was a disasterous race for her, Mutola gave up the lead to the inside and then got boxed in during the final lap. Tamsyn Lewis of Australia slipped by Mutola to won in 2:02.57. Mutola took home the bronze and closed the chapter on what has been one heck of a career.

Canada's Tyler Christopher took advantage of a world 400-meter final without Jeremy Wariner, Angelo Taylor, or LaShawn Merritt. Tyler drafted behind Johan Wissman of Sweden for most of the race and then swung out wide down the home stretch to win in 45.67.

The Russian women completely dominated the 400-meters without American superstars such as Sanya Richards and Allyson Felix. Olesya Zykina won by a lean over teammate Natalya Nazarova in 51.09. American Shareese Woods ran her fastest time ever to win bronze in 51.41.

The men’s 800-meters was a brutally fast race. Eighteen-year-old Abubaker Kaki Khamis of Sudan took the lead from the break and held the lead to win in a jaw dropping 1:44.81. Every runner in the final ran a personal best including a world best time and two national records. American Nick Symmonds took sixth but had to leave the meet knowing that he did not wilt under the intense heat on the race. Symmonds ran a personal best 1:46.48.

Afterward Symmonds said, "It was just too fast."

Tariku Bekele won the 3,000-meters in an inspiring fashion with a searing final 400-meters, to win gold in 7:48.23. The last name may ring a bell. He is the younger brother of Keneisa Bekele, the defending 3,000 meter champion, who skipped the world indoors to focus on the upcoming World Cross Country Championships.

Brad Walker of the U.S. set a personal best of 19 feet, 2.25 inches in the pole vault but it wasn’t good enough to beat Evgeniy Lukyanenko. Walker won silver and goes home with a $20,000 check.

U.S. Indoor champion Aarik Wilson was seventh in the men's triple jump with a leap of 55 feet, 4.75 inches, and Texan Amy Acuff cleared 6 feet, 4.75 inches for sixth place in the women's high jump.

Team USA ran away from all other men to win the 4 x 400 meter-relay. The American women took home bronze as the Russians won their eighth straight indoor relay title.

Fans can watch Team USA online via live, daily Webcast at, and on television on the Versus network. Check local listings.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Richards, Wariner, and Greene Spotted in Valencia!

Jonathan Edwards, Maurice Greene, Janeth Jeposgei, IAAF President Lamine Diack, Sanya Richards, Jeremy Wariner, Jonas Wistrom CEO of AF and Susanna Kallur.

Americans Sanya Richards, Jeremy Wariner, and Maurice Greene were in Valencia, Spain to promote the upcoming ÅF Golden League Tour. Europe’s lucrative outdoor track circuit kicks off in three months.

Athletes will compete for a part of the $1 million jackpot. A share of which is on offer to any athlete who can win at all six ÅF Golden League events. The six events in this year’s ÅF Golden League take place in Berlin (June 1), Oslo (6 June), Paris (July 11), Rome (July 18), Zürich (August 29) and Brussels (September 5). Appearance fees up to $100,000 per race are also paid by meet directors to entice top athletes to run in their meets.

I wonder if Maurice Greene, a well-known trash talker, was reminding the younger athletes that Nigeria's Olusoji Fasuba’s victory in 6.51 didn’t touch the 60-meter world record of 6.39, that Greene set 10 years ago?

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Stars Shine Bright in Valencia:World Indoor Championships, Day 2 Blogging

United States' LoLo Jones celebrates as she wins the gold medal in 60m hurdles.

Team USA wins 5 medals.

Excellent athletes stood up tall delivering sizzling performances on Day 2 of the 2008 World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain.

Track and field is in a phase of worldwide growth that includes Saudi Arabia and British Virginia Islands winning their first ever world indoor championships medals.

American Lolo Jones gets "most ecstatic" award for celeberatory mood after winning the 60-meter hurdles in 7.80, ahead of American Candice Davis. This is her first world title. The hurdler had sound technique and explosive speed to run away from the field as the Americans went 1-2.

Red hot favorite, Ethiopia's Meseret Defar, sat behind leaders during the early laps, then hit the gas. She produced a devastating last-lap burst leaving bitter rival Meselech Melkamu in the dust. This is Defar’s third straight world 3,000-meter indoor title.

Defar, who set a world best time for two miles earlier this season, clocked a time of 8:38.79 seconds, nearly two seconds ahead of Melkamu. Morocco's Mariem Alaoui Selsouli crossed the line in third and Kenya's Sylvia Kibet was fourth.

American Allen Johnson became the oldest ever world indoor medalist as he took silver at the age of 37. He was just ahead of joint bronze medalists Russian Evgeniy Borisov and Latvia's Stanislavs Olijars. Before coming to Valencia, Chinese world record holder Liu Xiang had not run indoor races, but he showed off his training running to gold in 7.46.

American pole vault queen Jenn Stuczynski earned a silver and valuable experience in her first international competition that may very well pay off for her this summer. Both Jenn and Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia cleared 15 feet, 7 inches. Isinbayeva won because she had fewer misses and took her third world indoor pole vault title in a row.

The men’s 1500-meters was a thoroughly enjoyable epic battle and arguable the day’s most entertaining race. Ethiopian Deresse Mekkonen took the title in a fierce foot race over the last 300-meters of the races. The lead changed hands no less than half a dozen times during the race. At the final bell lap, at least six men were in solid contention.

But soon after the thoroughly entertaining contest was concluded, Mekkonen was disqualified for a lane violation, giving Komen gold and a 2-3 finish for Spain with Casado gaining the bronze.

But the switch was short-lived. An appeal lodged by the Ethiopian Federation was upheld, reversing the initial disqualification and giving Mekkonen the victory, with Komen Kipchirchir second followed by Higuero and Casado.

The surprise medal of the night came from Texan Andra Manson who tied for bronze in the men's high jump with a season best of 7 feet, 6.5 inches. This was the first international competition on the elite level for Manson.

Go to IAAF for reviews of the semifinal men’s heptathlon, 400, 800, and women’s 400, 800, high jump, and pentathlon.

In addition to the free, live webcast on, fans can watch the World Indoor Championships on television. The Versus cable network will air the meet twice on Saturday and once on Sunday. Broadcast times are 3-4 p.m. ET and 7-8 p.m. ET on Saturday; 6-8 p.m. ET on Sunday. Check local listings.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Marion Jones Enters Federal Prison!

On Friday, Marion Jones surrendered to authorities shortly before noon in Ft. Worth, Texas to begin serving her six-month sentence. The former Olympic stand-out will also serve 400 hours of community service in each of the two years following her release while on probation.

The judge sentenced her to the maximum sentence under her plea deal to set an example to other athletes who might have messed up in the same fashion. Marion has admitted that she juiced up for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and has returned every single one of the five medals that she won there. Three of them were gold medals.

Marion Jones is the first professional athlete to serve jail time in this doping scandal. She got drugs from the same place, Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), as Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi. So why aren't they in prison and she is? Misogyny! Someone get Martha Stewart on the phone, she knows how it goes.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Friday, March 7, 2008

Fast & Furious: World Indoors Championships, Day 1 Blogging

Angela Williams triumphs over obstacles to win first 60-meters title.

The medal count for Team USA is off to a good start on the first day of the 2008 World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain. The U.S. has two athletes competing in each event. Participating athletes won roster spots at the U.S. indoor nationals two weeks ago in Boston.

It was an exciting first day for Team USA in Valencia, beginning a weekend of what is expected to be high level performances. The first day was filled mostly with preliminary races and three final events.

Angela Williams won her first elusive 60-meter title and prepared to shake up the female sprint world come this summer. The 28-year-old American sprinter won gold and collected a $40,000 winner’s prize for a superb effort and a confidence booster for Beijing. Williams was timed in a very respectful 7.06.

After the race Williams said, “It feels awesome, I’m so excited. Just confirmed that working hard and believing in yourself pays off. I was confident, but I didn’t want to be cocky. I said ‘today is the day Angie’. It’s about staying calm and focused on my race. I’m so happy. Now it’s a new beginning with the outdoor season.”

Great Britain's Jeanette Kwakye battled to the end before finishing second in 7.08 to set her nation's new 60-meter record. Back just a hair was Taheisa Harrigan of the British Virgin Islands finishing in 7.09--which was another national record.

After the incredible indoor season by American shot putters, it would have been quite disappointing if they didn’t make some serious noise in Spain. But they brought their A game.

American shot putter Christian Cantwell is back to his winning ways by taking another world indoor title after besting American Reese Hoffa. Cantwell’s 71 feet, 5.25 inch heave solidified his come-from-behind victory. The world title ends Christian’s streak of track meets since 2004 in which he has failed to medal in major meets.

When asked how he felt Cantwell said, “I’m happy with the win. My training has been going ok so far. There is no one in the world that can compete with us (Americans) in the shot. We’re expected to win.”

Americans fail to win men's 60-meters.
The chances of an American winning the 60-meters at the world champs went down with Leonard Scott at the USA Indoor Nationals when he pulled a hamstring in Boston. Scott is the former 2007 U.S. indoor national champion with a tremendous amount of international race experience.

Africa has found the continent's next elite sprinter since Nambias' Frankie Fredricks in Nigeria's Olusoji Fasusba, who sprinted to a dramatic victory in the 60-meter finals in 6.51. It marks the first title for Africa and Nigeria.

UK's controversial runner, Dwight Chambers ran a close second with a late charge and was followed by Kim Collins of St. Kitts & Nevis in third place. Both sprinters were credited with a joint silver medal in 6.54. Chamber is making his second come back after struggles to get reinstatement to British national team after serving a two-year drug suspension.

Michael Rogers of the United States ran a personal best of 6.57 and finished fourth after a sluggish start out of the blocks. The slow start probably cost him a medal. American Leroy Dixon took seventh in his heat in 6.75 and didn't advance.

Fans can watch Team USA online via live, daily Webcast at

Go to IAAF for reviews of the day's preliminary races in the men's 400, 800, 1500, triple jump, and the women's 400, 800, pentathlon long jump and pentathlon 800-meters.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Thursday, March 6, 2008 to Provide Free Live Webcast of World Indoor Champs

There’s no excuse to miss the action! is excited to announce:, in partnership with USA Track & Field, will provide free LIVE coverage for the 12th IAAF World Indoor Championships being held in Valencia, Spain on March 7-9.

The free live webcast starts at 10:00 a.m. ET on Friday, March 7th with continued coverage on Saturday, March 8 (10:50 a.m. ET) and Sunday, March 9 (10:50 a.m. ET).

Woo hoo!—who doesn’t love free stuff? Free-as in no money. No dinero. Leave your Visa in your wallet kind of free, because there are no hidden fees. If you find yourself doing the “I scored something free dance”, it’s quite alright because track fans never, ever get anything for free.

Track fans are normally treated like second-class citizens in the world of U.S. athletics. Thank you for showing some love to track fans.

The network normally charges $4.95 a month for membership plus free access to results, video highlights, breaking news, behind-the-scenes features, and more.

Free Webcast of 2008 IAAF World Indoors

March 7 morning session (on-demand)
March 7 evening session (LIVE 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET)

March 8 morning session (on-demand)
March 8 (LIVE 10:50 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET)

March 9 morning session (on-demand)
March 9 (LIVE 10:50 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET)

* all sessions will be available on-demand

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Mozambique Great Maria Mutola on Farewell Tour

Maria Mutola celebrates as she crosses the finish line to win the Olympic women's 800m gold medal in Sydney.

Living up to great expectations.

The upcoming World Indoor Track meet in Valencia, Spain will be Maria Mutola’s last indoor meet. She formally announced last month that she is retiring at the outdoor season’s end and will focus on her foundation. The retirement announcement early in the year allows fans an opportunity to enjoy this living legend’s last season.

Maria is a great person, and not because she’s the fastest or strongest. The fact she made it this far in life is a victory in itself. Her resolve was tested long before the fame began. In the 1970’s, she faced life in an impoverished suburb in the Mozambique capital Maputo during a 17-year stretch of war and poverty.

The international work by Mozambique’s first Olympic champion is just as impressive as her athletic feats. Through her charitable foundation in Mozambique, Maria has worked with the United Nations on HIV/AIDS awareness and the necessity of immunization in her home country.

Mutola is a pioneer having changed the women's 800-meters since her arrival on the international circuit 20 years ago, at the age of 14. Maria is known for a fast pace and a monstrous kick over the last 200 meters. She has been a contender in every championship race over the past twenty years, winning nine world titles and running in five Olympics.

It’s great to see her leave at the top of her game and on her own terms. But as anyone following her career would know, she wouldn’t have it any other way. Three times this year, Mutola has dipped below 2:00 minutes at 800-meters and won her three outings.

While Mutola isn’t the favorite going into Valencia, don’t count her out. The 2000 Olympic 800-meter champion has a huge heart and is a fierce indoors 800-meter runner having won a world indoor title seven times, the last in 2006.

It’s sad to lose one of track’s most dominant and recognizable stars. It’s been an honor to watch her career. Maria has assembled an incomparable body of work over her 20-year career, and we hope that she goes out in a blaze of glory, just like she when arrived.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

2008 World Indoor Championships TV & Webcast Coverage

Track fans typically scour the TV guide to find track & field broadcasts and often miss portions of the meets, or an entire meet, because the information is not readily available.

Look no further. has a complete broadcast list of when and where the 2008 World Indoor Championships from Valencia, Spain can be viewed March 7 - 9.

There is another avenue to see the worlds. WCSN (World Championship Sports Network) a cable tv network and website is broadcasting every hour of the 2008 World Indoor Championships. WCSN will provide live coverage and make the content available with a $4.95 monthly membership through their website Fans can log onto or watch on WCSN TV.

WCSN also will make the content available to viewers on as a video-on-demand product shortly after the competition is completed each day, together with clips capturing the key moments from each day's competition.

Live coverage of the Worlds will be on cable channel VERSUS this weekend.

Versus Broadcast schedule:

  • 3/8-3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
  • 3/8-6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
  • 3/8-7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • 3/8-11:00 pm - 12:00 am
  • 3/9-6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • 3/9-10:00 pm - 12:00 am

Based on last year's broadcast of the Worlds, it may be safe to assume the broadcasts in bold will be original programming, and the others will be replays.

You can register here for e-mail and/or text-message reminders from Versus on the events.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

Monday, March 3, 2008

World Indoor Champions in Valencia, Spain

It's all about the benjamins!

The World Indoor Championships are mad popular in Europe. This year a record 159 countries have entered athletes in the track meet held in Valencia, Spain from March 7 – 9. With the Olympics taking place in Beijing later this year, athletes have an extra incentive to perform well at the meet. The event is sure to be a spectacular affair.

This is the final indoor meet of the year before runners across the globe begin the outdoor season focusing on Beijing. The World Indoors is sold out which is a big boost to a meet that is already wildly popular.

Valencia, Spain certainly is a great host city with plenty to offer sports fans - it provided the home port for last year’s America’s Cup sailing competition and is set to do so again in 2009. The first Formula One Grand Prix on the city streets will take place later this year.

In total, the world’s greatest indoor meet will offer $2.5 million in prize money, equally shared with both male and female athletes. It’s important to point out that track & field was one of the first sports to pay women equally more than twenty years ago – a feat that Wimbledon just achieved last year in 2007.

Individual and relay events earn $40,000 for the winners, $20,000 for second place, $10,000 for third and goes down to $4,000 for 6th. Anyone who sets a world-record gets an additional $50,000 bonus, on top of their prize earnings from winning their race.

Keep in mind that some athletes run multiple events, such as an individual race and a relay or two individual races. Elite runners that win two events will return home with $80,000 for two days of running.

Not bad, but the international governing body which hosts the meet needs to increase the total prize money to $4 million. For example, the 2007 U.S. Open Wheelchair Tennis had a record total pot of $75,000, and the United States Golf Association (USGA) U.S Open had a staggering purse of $7 million.

The sport has a responsibility to the athletes. Larger purses might persuade international stars such as Jeremy Wariner, Allyson Felix, and Asafa Powell to run indoor track—which many stars are not doing now.

More star athletes translate into better television ratings for tour events. Better ratings would mean more money sponsorships that can be gained for future events.

Track is definitely work in progress, however with four world indoor records having already fallen this winter season, it’s evident that the 12th IAAF World Indoor Championships will be one of the most hotly contested global competitions in recent years.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist