No. 101: Christian Taylor Almost Set the Triple Jump World Record!

What a jump! That last phase looks like it hurt, but was so worth it! The world record in the triple jump is 60′. So close! That is the third time Taylor has jumped beyond 18m, equaling the number of times Jonathan Edwards – the world record holder – jumped beyond the 18m mark. He is making a strong case for nipping at Edwards’ heels as the greatest triple jumper in history. Check out these stats on the furthest jumps in triple jump history.

Here’s Christian Taylor speaking before the IAAF World Championships about switching his takeoff legs. He has jumped 58’9″ inches with his left leg, and 59’7″ with his right leg. Beast.

Another story from the championships is Kenya expanding beyond its dominance of the distance events. Nicholas Bett won the 400m hurdles in 47.79 from lane 9, while taking 13 steps between each hurdle for the entire race. Typically, you see athletes go 14-15 steps over the last 5 or so hurdles. Andre Phillips almost ran sub-47 seconds in the 400m hurdles going 13 steps. Kevin Young, the world record holder went down to 12 steps before finishing up with 13 steps!

Could we see Bett take the lead in pushing the event to the 47-second edge? With more work on his speed and technique, in particular, getting that lead leg down, perhaps! Check out his race below.

Julius Yego, another Kenyan, won the Javelin with 304’2″ – the furthest distance thrown in the event in 14 years. What a great throw!

Yego already had the world’s top throw of the year with a 299’8″ performance. I hope he has what it takes to push towards Jan Jelezny’s world record of 323′. Considering that Yego learned the sport through YouTube, while Jelezny grew up in the javelin-chucking center of the world, he is progressing quite nicely. Take a look at Yego’s progression, compared to Jelezny’s,

No. 7: Xiang Liu is Back?

13.09 – A long cry from the 12.88 Liu Xiang ran to set the world record back in 2006, but I am happy to see him getting back into form: Since his achilles injury Liu has absorbed a lot of disappointment from the Chinese people beginning in the 2007 season when he started showing signs of injury. Infamously, he walked off of the track in the 110 hurdle prelims during the Beijing Olympics.

The hurdle void Liu left was quickly filled by Dayron Robles, a kid from Cuba. In 2008, he lowered Liu’s world record to 12.87 and went on to win the Beijing Olympics in 12.93. When Robles injured himself in 2009, David Oliver took over and finished this past season undefeated. By the way, Oliver makes Minnesota Viking running back Adrian Peterson look like a normal person.

Now that Liu seems to be on his way back to good form, I’m interested to see how the 2011 season shapes up. Hopefully, Dayron Robles is healthy also, and the three fastest men in hurdle history get to battle it out.

No. 3: Ending the Hiatus

So, I’m looking through the splits of the men’s 4x400m relay at the NCAA East Regional meet, and I see, “43.94 FR Kirani James.” To provide more context: A 17-year old freshman at the University of Alabama ran a lap around the track in 43.94 seconds!  That’s the type of performance that keeps me perusing track results looking for the next track and field star. This guy is from Grenada. He won the 400m dash at the World Youth Championships last year in a time of 45.24.  That’s .01 secs. faster than what Lashawn Merritt ran when he won the World Junior Championships back in 2004.  Lashawn went on to win the 400m at the Beijing Olympics a full second ahead of the second place athlete – Jeremy Wariner, another athlete who stamped his mark as a star at a very young age. His sophomore year at Baylor University, Jeremy won the 400m dash at both the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships, the US Championships, and the Athens Olympics.

I owe you an apology for taking so long to update the blog.  Life had been really busy leading up to my wedding on May 1.  My wife and I are settling well into married life. I’m really grateful to have her as my teammate.  She’s been gently nudging me to honor my commitment to maintain this blog.  The amazing performances athletes have posted have also nudged me to keep my readers up-to-date on what is going on in the world of track and field.  Late in the spring, 20-year old Teddy Tamgho broke the indoor world record in the triple jump. Today, Chaunte Lowe set the American record in the high jump. University of Oregon senior Ashton Eaton set the indoor world record in the decathlon.  This has been a happening year in athletics!

My favorite performance to date is Tyson Gay breaking a record held by an icon in both the athletics world and Civil Rights Movement.   Tommie Smith is best known for raising his gloved right fist into the air after winning the 200m dash at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games.  A few weeks ago, Tyson Gay ran 19.41 in the straightline 200m dash. Back in 1966, Tommie Smith ran the straightline 200m dash in 19.5 secs a world record.  Since this event is no longer in official competition, Tommie Smith still holds the official record.  Notice the speed suit Tyson is wearing.  The suit Jesse Owens wore when he mastered the 1936 Berlin Olympics is the inspiration for this design.

Tyson Gay is in great form, and will continue to run some amazing times as the summer progresses.  He left me wide-eyed with his 44.89 in the 400m dash at a meet back in April: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=os2Q0QSAqNM.  He is the first athlete to run under all three significant time barriers: 10 secs in the 100m dash, 20 secs in the 200m dash, and now 45 secs in the 400m dash.  Moreover his 9.69 sec 100m and 19.58 sec 200m make him the second fastest human ever in each of those events.  I believe he is in better shape than Usain Bolt at the moment, and may threaten Bolt’s current dominance of the 100m and 200m dash. Look forward to my updates.

No.1: Speed It Is I Love

My first track meet ever, I lined up for the 100m dash next to a guy wearing Air Force 1s, jean shorts, and an NFL jersey.  All eight of us in the race had no idea how to get into the right stance, and were jumping around trying to get a jump on the starter’s gun.  When the gun did go off, my man in the Air Forces did not waste any time getting to the finish line.  While I was not the fastest guy, I had so much fun—just running. 

After winning the county championship in the 200m dash in the eighth grade, I had the opportunity to run with a track club during the summer.  Humility is something I learned quickly as I ran against the likes of Michael Grant, one of the fastest 13-year olds in the country.  I also learned what it was to have good form, and to develop my own by studying other athletes.  In high school I became a perfectionist, studying video after video of athletes like Justin Gatlin, Dwain Chambers, Aziz Zakari, and Maurice Greene.  I dreamed of dominance while watching Jesse Owens run and Bob Beamon jump.  I scoured professional athlete progressions on http://www.iaaf.org.  I began following other high school athletes on Dyestat and Milestat.  I raved about Kelly Willie and Jeremy Wariner facing off at the 2002 Golden West Invitational, both running sub-46 in the 400m dash.  Brendan Christian ran 10.20 in the same meet!  I wanted that kind of speed.

I was fortunate that my football coaches in college allowed me to continue running track.  Both sports taught me extremely valuable lessons.  I developed a mental toughness on the track that enabled me to push through a sophomore season in which I fouled out of meets for both the indoor and outdoor seasons in the triple jump, until I set a huge personal record in the Southern Conference Championship.  I developed a physical toughness on the football field that created a craving for contact. 

My obsession with track and field statistics bordered ridiculous.  After track meets, I would spend hours studying results from meets across the country.  I kept a mental log of the progression of a number of athletes and offered my predictions for the NCAA Championships, US Championships, and World Championships whenever anyone showed interest.  I am itching for the indoor track and field season to begin.  I did spend some time this fall expanding my knowledge of cross country running and road racing.  Look forward to comprehensive commentary on track and field at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels.