Anyone else been that annoying person this week when someone declares “Sports are back!” due to the NBA and MLB’s return and then it’s you who points out track and field have been going on for a few months now and so has soccer? 🙋♂️
Leagues have been working on their safety protocols and setting up bubbles but the virus continues to surge across the country. Many fans welcome sports back as a mental escape from life’s daily stressors but as excited as I am to watch the Yankees make a run for their 28th World Series title, I’m cautiously optimistic for how long that joy will last. In running, we’re still in the process of canceling events. Fall marathons, like Hamburg – which recently held out hope, are still being canceled. USATF has scrapped plans for a mid-September end-of-season meet, which means there will be no U.S. Outdoor Championship for the first time in 140+ years. And if you want to look further ahead, races in Japan scheduled for February 2021 are being canceled.
When the pandemic forced us into our homes and be with ourselves, we really learned to have a greater appreciation for so many moments and simplicities that we took for granted. That could’ve been group workouts or sitting at a bar watching a game. All I know is when we’re able to get that back, we’re going to savor it. So while I won’t be able to be in the bleachers in the Bronx this summer, watching on TV will do just fine. At the same time, the key is remembering to do your part by wearing a mask and social distancing so that return can eventually happen. We’re doing an awful job right now in America in contrast to a place like Germany, where the ISTAF meet in Berlin is going to host 3,500 spectators in September, if all goes well. We’re still a ways away from that.
Man, I’m really starting this week’s newsletter being a downer so let’s look at some good things…
MICHAEL NORMAN 9.86?!
To me, the most impressive performance of the week has to be 23-year-old Michael Norman running 9.86 for 100 meters at a small meet in Texas to become the first American man to run under 10 for 100 meters, under 20 for 200 meters and under 44 for 400 meters. The only other person to accomplish that feat in history is world record holder Wayde van Niekerk.
A better view of Michael Norman’s world-leading 100m time of 9.86 (+1.6) run today pic.twitter.com/nidxb8yeJl
— USC Track & Field (@USC_Track_Field) July 20, 2020
If you want a side-by-side comparison of their personal bests: van Niekerk is 9.94 (+0.9); 19.84 (+1.2) and 43.03 (WR). Norman is 9.86 (+1.6); 19.70 (+0.7) & 43.45. Van Niekerk benefits from the Olympic postponement because he’s still trying to regain his form from a super unfortunate ACL and meniscus tear in a rugby match in 2017. NBC Sports’ Nick Zaccardi recently wrote about van Niekerk’s comeback.
For those curious about what Norman’s options may be for the Olympics, I would think he solely focuses on the 400 meters. The schedule is just a bit too tricky to navigate with any double. Try and follow along here:
100/400 double: The first round of the men’s 100 is July 31 at 7:45 p.m. He would then come back for the first round of the 400 at 10:45 a.m. At night, he’d have the 100 semis and final – assuming he makes it that far. He’d have nearly 24 hours before he does the 400 semis on Aug. 2 and then waits until Aug. 5 for the 400 final.
200/400 double: Norman would have all three rounds of the 200 on Aug. 3 and Aug. 4 before he’d run the 400 final on Aug. 5. Noah Lyles will certainly not make it easy for him to win gold and then you kind of have to be at 100% to try and take down the likes of van Niekerk and 2019 world champion Steven Gardiner, 2019 U.S. champion and 2019 world bronze medalist Fred Kerly if they’re at their top form.
100/200: Definitely possible but you remove Norman out of his best event.
All the relays fall on Aug. 5, 6 and 7th. So…if Norman chose to triple and do the 4×100 and 4×400 relay, he would be racing about a dozen times from July 31 to Aug. 7. I called it impossible on Twitter. Someone responded that I should have said “improbable” and that’s true. Lots of time for Norman and his coach to make a decision.
BOWERMAN INTRASQUAD MEET III
The Bowerman Track Club hosted its third intrasquad meet in Portland and personal bests continue to roll in. The first race of the night featured an attempt to add another woman to the sub-4 club in the 1,500 meters. Only seven American women have accomplished the feat in history and they were paced by the fastest of them all in Shelby Houlihan. Karissa Schweizer ran 4:00.02 for a personal best but was juuuust shy of joining the club. Another good sign of fitness was Colleen Quigley being .88 seconds shy of her 4:03.02 personal best. Courtney Frerichs won the second heat in 4:07.39 to bring down her personal best from 4:11.05, which was set last July. In that second heat, I thought it was remarkable that Houlihan basically jogged in a 4:14/4:15 after her pacing duties were over with 200 meters left. She was smiling as she came down the final straightaway. I guess we just have to wait and see what she can do in an all-out 1,500 soon.
Now if a fourth intrasquad meet happens, I’d be curious what Quigley and Frerichs would be able to jump over water barriers at the moment.
(Sidenote: On Wednesday, the team announced that Canada’s Gabriela DeBues-Stafford will be joining the team in the fall once COVID-19 restrictions ease up. She was 6th in the 2019 World Championship 1,500m final and set a personal best of 3:56.12. It feels like so long ago but she also ran 4:19.73 for the mile at the Millrose Games back in February)
In the men’s 1,500, Mohammed Ahmed dropped down in distance and still kicked down all of his teammates who used to mock him for never having broken 3:40. Well, now he’s down to 3:34.89 and sits at No. 5 on the all-time Canadian list. Marc Scott notched a big personal best with his second-place finish in 3:35.93. Grant Fisher also went from 3:39.60 to 3:36.23 in third place.
Lopez Lomong won the 600 in 1:22.04 over Sean McGorty. The women’s 600 went out conservatively but then Houlihan just took off and won in 1:32.27. The mixed relay was well planned out by coach Jerry Schumacher and actually had a thrilling finish with three teams finishing within a second of each other.
Last year’s epic world championship final in Doha feels like so long ago. Joe Kovacs came away with the gold medal but it only ensured that the continued back-and-forth between him and Ryan Crouser would continue into the Olympic year. Crouser just raised the bar again and threw for 22.91 meters (while wearing a hat) in Marietta, Georgia. He is now tied with Kovacs, Germany’s Ulf Timmerman and Alessandro Andrei on the all-time list. A reminder that Randy Barnes holds the current record of 23.12 (75 feet, 10 inches) set in 1999. Not too long after setting the record, he was banned for two years by the IAAF for using the anabolic steroid methyltestosterone. He came back to win the 1996 Olympic gold medal before being slapped with a lifetime ban two years later for androstenedione.
He threw 22.15m, 22.24m, 22.73m.
And then he unleashed this monster on his final throw: 22.91m, to move into a tie for #3 on the world all-time list.
📹Paul Doyle pic.twitter.com/QlOQHQ2e48
— Jonathan Gault (@jgault13) July 19, 2020
I was thinking recently about why we haven’t seen as much shot put from these virtual meets. Someone mentioned to me that World Athletics had reached out to some of the top shot put throwers for something similar to their Ultimate Garden Clash that featured pole vaulters competing from their backyards but nothing ever came of it. At least, not yet.
MORE BIG WHEREABOUTS FAILURES
On Thursday morning, the Athletics Integrity Unit announced five doping sanctions including a provisional suspension against Kenya’s Elijah Manangoi, who won gold in the 1,500 meters at the 2017 world championships. He also boasts a 3:28.80 personal best, which makes him the 10th-fastest man of all-time. Last year, he won the Kenyan national championships in August but then missed a title defense because of an injured ankle.
He issued the following statement on his Facebook:
“What I can say is each of the missed tests happened during 2019, my case has nothing to do with prohibited substances and I’ve always competed as a clean athlete. Last year was the word period of my career when I was upset through injury which impacted everything on and off the track. I know I’ve let people down in particular my coach and fellow athletes and I know no matter what I say here I’ll be criticized. The facts of the cases are clean in my mind and I’m sure there will be a time when it is appropriate to go into more detail. But right now I’m focusing on compiling a formal response to the AIU so won’t be commenting further.”
Another notable suspension was Kenneth Kipkemoi, who tested positive for a banned substance in February. He was seventh in the 10,000 meters at the 2013 world championships in Moscow and has a personal best of 26:52.65 for the distance. He’s also run 59:01 for the half marathon and 2:05:44 for the marathon.
KEIRA D’AMATO CONTINUES BREAKING THROUGH
The most notable result from the MVMT Race Series in Boston last weekend was Keira D’Amato continuing her tear by winning the women’s 10,000 meters in 32:33. U.S. Olympic marathon trials runner-up Molly Seidel dropped out of the race.
For those curious as to what happened to Seidel, I asked her and she told me that the day before the race she was doing strides and her friend’s dog just took her out mid-stride. She slammed her shoulder and hip right into the pavement. She’s taking a few days off of no running. She said she was hoping that it was “nothing worse than some bone bruising.”
WHO IS THE BEST RUNNER YOU HAVE A PHOTO WITH?
Please enjoy this photo of Galen Rupp in cornrows from the 2003 World Youth Championships in Canada. How this is only surfacing on the internet now is bananas?! I took a dive into the Getty Images gallery for that meet and there’s only a handful of photos and none of them feature Rupp.
— Derek Mandell (@drikmandell) July 19, 2020
RALLYING FOR RIVS
I don’t know Tommy Rivers Puzey personally but it’s been amazing to see how much the running community is coming together to pray and support him as he fights for his life in an Arizona intensive care unit with an undiagnosed respiratory issue. On Wednesday morning, Jacob Puzey shared an update: “He is stable & being well cared for, but he is still sedated & on a ventilator. He has a team of very skilled doctors who still have more questions than answers.” I’m personally sending my prayers to him and his family. A GoFundMe has been set up.
– Alexi Pappas unveiled the cover for her upcoming book BRAVEY
– First came the New York City cancelation and now 11% of NYRR employees have been laid off
– Watched an advanced screening of HBO’s ‘Weight of Gold’ and I suggest you check it out when it’s out on Wed., July 29. It features Michael Phelps, Lolo Jones, Gracie Gold and more stars on mental health challenges coupled with the pressures of the Olympics.
– The 111th edition of the Drake Relays won’t happen in 2020.
“What I know is the aspect of being looked at differently because of our national heritage – in this case as Kenyan athletes who also happen to be Black in the United States of America. It’s real…One of the things that bothered me many times was that I would go and run a race and if it was a United States championship, they would say ‘Kenyan-born Sam Chelanga.’ What do you get by that? You get to tell people this is the real champion and this is not the real champion because he is Kenyan-born. My performance and my hard work go through the window.” – Sam Chelanga
Ahead of his book’s release, I caught up with four-time NCAA champion Sam Chelanga to go through everything from his humble beginnings in Kenya to life in the Army now. Listen to the episode now. You can read notable quotes and highlights with the complete show notes on CITIUS MAG.
Support for the podcast comes from GOODR SUNGLASSES – I’ve been rocking Goodr sunglasses throughout the past couple of months and they’re the best. No slip. No bounce. No fog. Polarized. Ridiculously affordable starting at $25 a pair. No discounts needed when they’re already the most affordable performance shades on the planet. – Visit GOODR.COM/CITIUS to check out some of my favorite pairs.
I recently watched NPR Code Switch’s eight-minute video on “How Running’s White Origins Led To The Dangers Of ‘Running While Black’” and highly recommend it.
One of the women featured in the video is Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, Ph.D., who is Dana Giordano’s guest on ‘More Than Running’ this week. In that episode, they discuss fitness culture, running in this important social movement and running in academia.
On ‘Track and Field History,’ Jesse Squire went through the nine failed bids to host the Olympics in Detroit.
If you made it this far down into this email, let me know what you thought of this edition of the newsletter. Did you learn something new? Enjoyed an episode of the podcast? Got something you want me to share? Feel free to hit me back: [email protected] or just say hi!
As always, I’m super appreciative if you forward this newsletter to any friend who you think would also enjoy getting to geek out on the sport.