Athletics: Order in disorder

30 athletes and support staff who were said to be affected by a sudden outbreak of norovirus.

Published: 13th August 2017 09:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th August 2017 09:06 AM   |  A+A-

South Africa's Caster Semenya prepares to start a Women's 800m heat during the World Athletics Championships in London. | AP

By Express News Service

One-two: SA-SA-SA

Anyone who has taken an interest in South African athletics will be aware of the fight between Sunette Viljoen and SASCOC (NOC). She launched a rant on Twitter after finishing second in the javelin in Rio about how the body has not lived up to its promises. But it seems the athletes are unmindful of that. Caster Semenya, Luvo Manyonga, Wayde van Niekerk, Ruswahl Samaai et. al. The end result has been telling – fourth in the medals table, with promise of more

14

No of world medals Allyson Felix, Usain Bolt and Marlene Ottey have. The former two could still improve their haul because of relays.

Why India, why

After drumming up noise about not sending specific athletes, AFI has more eggs on its face. Performances were way below personal bests (Govindan Lakshmanan only one who achieved that). Nobody expects a medal, but to see them going down without a fight on a consistent basis is disappointing. Take Dutee Chand’s 100m result, her 12.07 was eight-tenths a second slower than her best.

Where are the records?

At Beijing in 2015, there was one world record, five meet records and 17 world leaders. In 2017, no world records, one championship record (by Emma Coburn in picture) and seven world leaders. There are two ways to look at this – one, the athletes who are here are super clean. While that could be the case, there has certainly been a substantial drop in performance.

System at fault

The legend will bow out from track racing after one last final. He doesn’t have a world record but the British public won’t care. But there is one lingering problem when he fades away – suspicion. A decade younger, he used to run slower times. Then, he joined hands with Alberto Salazar in 2011. Salazar is now under investigation by the USADA. This is not to say Farah is a cheat. Till such time he comes clean on his association with the likes of Salazar, doubts will remain. A strange narrative followed after Justin Gatlin’s win. Good lost to Evil. While nobody likes to see tainted stars win, there is a problem with that. The larger point here is how IAAF don’t have the mandate to hand out life bans to repeat offenders. That will be the strongest deterrent to doping. Remember: Gatlin is a very minute part of the problem. Five of the seven athletes who started with Bolt in the 100m final in 2012 are offenders.

Farah’s silence

System at fault The legend will bow out from track racing after one last final. He doesn’t have a world record but the British public won’t care. But there is one lingering problem when he fades away – suspicion. A decade younger, he used to run slower times. Then, he joined hands with Alberto Salazar in 2011. Salazar is now under investigation by the USADA. This is not to say Farah is a cheat. Till such time he comes clean on his association with the likes of Salazar, doubts will remain.

US, Europe taking on

Kenyan might Ewan Jager summed up the stat of the Championships so far. “America won more steeplechase medals than Kenya.” Jager himself became the first from the USA to medal at the steeplechase. If that in itself was a shock, what the women did was astonishing. Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs completed a US 1-2, with the favourite Hyvin Jepkemoi finishing in third. If that wasn’t a surprise, France’s Pierre-Ambrose Bosse took home the men’s 800m.

The feel-good stories

Sergey Shubenkov wasn’t allowed to compete at Rio. He looked at his mom, who knew the pain. Natalya Shubenkova had to miss the 1984 Olympics after the Soviet Union boycotted it. Sergey, competing as a Neutral Athlete here, won silver. Kenya’s Hellen Obiri missed 2015 thanks to pregnancy. Eighteen months later, she was back, performing to the best of her abilities. Gong Lijiao won gold in the women’s shot put. After six years of finishing behind Valerie Adams.

We need to talk about Ethiopia One The Guardian reporter’s findings during event. WADA in 2016 found the country does next to no anti-doping tests. Ayana has not failed a single test but fans need more than that in terms of reassurance

Oh, IAAF, what have you done!

Given Gatlin was allowed to compete, IAAF should have been willing to face consequences – possibility of handing him a medal during primetime. But once he won, changing the medal ceremony (irrespective of what press release said) was a no-no. If that was uncalled for, the way they handled Isaac Makwala issue after the norovirus fallout reeked of incompetence.

Jamaicans fail

This could be one of those knee-jerk reactions to a blip but what has happened to the nation that made running such a joy to watch the last half-adozen years! In the last three Majors (Moscow 2013, Beijing 2015 and Rio 2016), Jamaicans won 6, 5 and 5 medals in individual sprints. In London, Usain Bolt’s solo bronze is their only medal in these events. The women have faced a complete blowout, with not a single athlete even qualifying for the 200m final.

30

The reported number of athletes and support staff who were said to be affected by a sudden outbreak of norovirus.

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