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Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.

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Centrowitz_MattFL-Rio16.JPGMatthew Centrowtiz, photo by PhotoRun.net

 

Buenos Aries, Argentina

In the afterglow of outstanding track & field performances at the Summer Games of the 31st Olympiad, reflection of the fortnight is fresh. It is the perfect time to assemble my top ten favorite moments of these Games. Little objectivity is involved here. If you perhaps detect a not-so-subtle leaning toward American athletes, I plead guilty as charged. National pride - and prejudice - is prevalent throughout the Games and I am certainly no exception.

Being somewhat of an admitted "homer" and especially with Team USA having earned 32 medals - its most bountiful hardware harvest in recent Olympiads - restricting a listing to just ten memorable performances is difficult indeed. Thus, I've provided an honorable mention section as well. How stunning was track & field at these Olympics? Check out the Honorable Mention moments - as stellar as they are - that couldn't break into my Top Ten. In no particular order, they are: USA's Ashton Eaton defends deca crown and ties Ŝebrle's Olympic record; Jamaica's Elaine Thomson captures sprint double; USA's Michelle Carter uncorks monster final throw to swipe gold from shot put legend Valerie Adams; USA's Kerron Clement finds his 400H hurdle stride and wins gold to complete résumé; American Jeff Henderson's final round jump wins long jump gold; Poland's Anita Wlodarczyk dominates the hammer with world record heave; and Germany's Christoph Harting drops final throw bomb to keep Olympic discus gold in the family.

The Top Ten listing below reflects my personal preferences - moments that moved me, that will stay with me the rest of my life. Here's my list - in ascending order, of course - of my Top Ten Rio Moments:

Felix-Bartoletta4x1Q-Rio16.JPGAllyson Felix gets baton from Tianna Bartoletta, photo by PhotoRun.net

 

  U.S Women Soar; U.S. Men Baffled Again

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Everyone loves the 4x100 meter relay. Fans relish the spectacle, the electricity of this furious event which really is four mini-races all packaged in a 40 second presentation. With both the men's and the women's short relay finals being held Friday night, those who love track & field were prepared for a double dose of the event that requires both speed and execution. In the end, they got it all: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Allyson Felix to English Gardner, Thursday night, August 18, 2016, 7 pm local time, photo by PhotoRun.net

 

USA Relay Woes Continue


Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Yesterday at the Olympic Stadium as the USA women's 4x100 meter relay team was preparing to compete in their preliminary round, you could look around the stands and easily identify the American fans. They were the ones - in fearful anticipation - who were averting their gaze, shielding their eyes, afraid to witness yet another Team USA relay disaster.

The team the USA was sending out onto the track made sense. Tianna Bartoletta - fresh off her clutch, gold medal long jump performance the night before - was scheduled to lead off, just as she had done in the 2012 Games when the Yanks grabbed the gold with a world record performance. She would then hand off to the veteran Allison Felix who would race the backstretch before handing off to English Gardner to run the curve. The former Oregon star would then pass to Olympic newbie anchor Morolake Akinosun. Keen observers anticipated that when - or if - the Americans would make the final, a rested Tori Bowie would step in for Akinosun to run the anchor.

As the heat got underway, the seasoned Bartoletta got out well and flew around the curve. It was clear the Americans had the early lead. The first exchange between two veterans was just what you'd expect - conservatively scripted and carefully performed. Felix looked solid down the backstretch.

But then it happened.

T

Kipruto_ConseslusFV1a-Rio16.JPGConseslus KIpruto takes gold, Evan Jager takes silver and, for then, Ezekiel Kemboi takes bronze, photo by Photorun.net

 

Early Olympic Sessions Producing Great Performances

So you say you're too tired, you returned back to your hotel too late after yesterday's evening session of track & field, you had a few adult beverages to unwind, and you just can't make it to the morning sessions. Well, suck it up princess. This is the Olympic Games. Don't let a little sleep deprivation cause you to miss the action of this quadrennial celebration of sport. After all, you can sleep when you're dead.

 

Gatlin_JustinQ-Rio16.JPGJustin Gatlin, photo by PhotoRun.net

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Sunday evening when Usain Bolt was introduced prior to the start of his 100m semi-final race, the Jamaican defending champion was showered with a torrent of cheers from his adoring fans. Frankly, prior to the commencement of their competition, all Olympic athletes receive cordial greetings from the fans before the contest commences. Well, maybe not all. When American Justin Gatlin was introduced the same evening in the very next heat of the 100m semi-final, he was loudly booed. At subsequent points in the evening - after the semi results were announced, before the final, and even during the medalists' victory lap - the booing of Gatlin, who has won Olympic 100m medals of all colors, resumed with increasing intensity as the evening progressed. The serial booing was a grotesque and deplorable spectacle that sickened many, tarnished an otherwise magnificent evening of track & field, and was totally inconsistent with Olympic ideals.

Murphy_ClaytonFL-Rio16.JPGClayton Murphy, bronze medal, 800 meters, photo by PhotoRun.net


Middle Distance Talent Captures 800m Bronze


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Throughout his track career, Clayton Murphy has been misjudged, underestimated, and frankly unappreciated. Despite truly remarkable progression in both the 800m and the 1500m/mile during his three years as a collegian, Murphy's sparkling performances have never seemed to stimulate much excitement within our sport. That should all change now that the 21-year old ran a patient and exquisite race in the Olympic 800m final - capturing the bronze medal after a stirring stretch drive and crossing the line in 1:42.93 to become the first American medalist in the Olympic 800m since American record holder Johnny Gray grabbed the bronze in 1992. Murphy's clocking now positions him as the #3 performer [Gray and Duane Solomon] on the USA all-time list and the #31 performer on the all-time world list.

Malachowski-Harting-JasinkiA-Rio16.JPGPiotr Malachowski, Christophe Harting, Daniel Jasinski, Discus medalists, cool dudes, photo by PhotoRun.net

 

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This is my first Olympic Games. God willing, it won't be my last. I am only days into my first Olympic experience, but some truths have already become apparent to me. The Games can be a majestic theater where athletes - their emotions laid bare for all to see - fight fiercely for medals. But the fortnight - as a global gathering and quadrennial celebration - also serves as a magnet for evil: from the annoyance of petty criminals and pickpockets to the unspoken fear of some truly organized act of terror - as occurred at the '72 Games in Munich. And while the metropolitan centers that compete for and labor mightily to host these Games do the best they can, they, too, are exposed for all to see - not only their glamorous areas but also the tawdry, impoverished neighborhoods of their hometown. As the Olympics assaults your senses on all fronts, you have to do your best every day to take it all in; savor it all for what it is: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

delta airlines .jpgLess than recent Delta ad, courtesy of airplanesofthepast.com

 


For Some, Reaching Rio Requires An Olympian Effort

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Remember when air travel was an exciting, even sophisticated adventure? Airline television commercials featured majestic aircraft soaring into the skies while orchestras unfurled stirring classical pieces and you were invited to "fly the friendly skies." Perky, tailored stewardesses offered you cocktails and served you hot meals. "May I get you a pillow?" they'd ask with a smile. Heck, passengers even dressed up to take to the air. Flying was an uplifting, even soothing experience.

No more. Except for the one percent, commercial air travel is an erratic, numbing, and draining experience. All parties - airline personnel, tarmac workers, gate supervisors, and - of course - the weary travelers - are universally grumpy, teetering on the edge of meltdown as the entire experience is sprinkled with delays, cancellations, robotic service, untidy cabins, and that unruly whining 4 year old who always sits right behind you kicking your seat as you begin your three-leg journey to Milwaukee.

 

StadiumWide-Rio16.JPGRio 2016 Olympics, August 12, 2016, photo by PhotoRun.net

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

It took a 19 year old Olympic swimmer to bring the hush-hush subject of performing-enhancing drugs out of the shadows and into the spotlight here at the 31st Olympic Games. USA's Lilly King, gold medalist in the 100 meter breast, did what the various governing bodies were hesitant to do: speak frankly about the covert and often pervasive use of banned substances. Referencing her Russian competitor Yulia Efimova whom the American defeated in the final, King declared, "I think it is unfortunate that we have to deal with these things in this sport. A level playing field would be preferred."

It comes as no surprise that no credible voice has favored the unchecked use of PED's. That is not the issue. The multi-faceted issues regarding PED's facing track & field - and all sports for that matter - are real and include the following:

Kynard_Erik-OlyTr16.JPGErik Kynard, photo by PhotoRun.net

 

Eric Kynard - two-time Olympian and reigning Games silver medalist in the men's high jump - never attempted the high jump until he was in the 8th grade. It was an awkward baptism. "It wasn't necessarily natural. Jumping is natural, but high jumping is not natural. It was definitely not natural for me," the Toledo, Ohio native confesses. Decades after Dick Fosbury's back-bending approach revolutionized the event, Kynard's early tutelage remained primitive. "I started out with the Western Roll. I went like 5'3" or something like that," he laughs.

But soon things started to change. First, Kynard made a clumsy technique transition from a roll to a modified flop. "I eventually started to jump, twist, and just sit in the air - I was afraid to go over backwards. I didn't necessarily flop as far as technique was concerned until I was a freshman." Seeking a mentor, the young jumper switched schools. "I transferred to Toledo Rogers to get a really good high jump coach. It didn't take long at all," smiles Kynard.

RunBlogRun Some photographs on this site have been reproduced with permission from runblogrun.com.