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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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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.

 

Harrison_KeniSF-USOlyTr16.jpGKeni Harrison (center), Queen Harrison (foreground), 100m hurdles, US Olympic Trials), photo by PhotoRun.net


World Record Diamond League Win Salves Trials Wound

August 7th, 2016

There's an old saying in track: You're only as good as your last race. And last month professional 100 meter hurdler Kendra Harrison arrived at the Olympic Trials riding a string of exceptional races. Coming in with the top 4 world-leading times in her back pocket and a jaw-dropping victory at the Prefontaine Classic where her 12.23 clocking took down Brianna Rollins American record, Keni Harrison arrived in Eugene as the high hurdles odds-on favorite. But they don't hand out berths on the U.S. Olympic team based an athlete's credentials coming into the Trials. That - if I may borrow yet another shopworn track expression - is why they run the races.

Fred Samara.jpgFred Samara, courtesy of of YouTube.com

 

Revered Princeton Coach and Olympian Embraces Balanced Approach

No Ivy League school has ever captured a men's or women's team title at the NCAA Div. I outdoor track & field championships. Never. And, by the way, don't count on an Ivy team to be placing that winning team trophy in its award case any time soon. The Ivies don't roll that way.

The eight universities [Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale] which make up the Ivy League do not constitute a sports confederation on a par with the so-called "Power-5 Conferences." They don't aspire to be. Comfortable in their own skin, these eight schools are unified in adhering to their shared credo of combining an exemplary education opportunity with a first rate environment of superb coaching, facilities, and support which can allow their respective undergraduates to achieve their fullest potential as student athletes - be it making the Olympic team or simply scoring a critical point as a senior at the Heps championships.

 

Huddle-Conley-Infeld-HoulihanH-OlyTr16.JPGMolly Huddle, Kim Conley, Emily Infeld, Shelby Houlihan, photo by PhotoRun.net

 

At the Olympic Trials, you can witness a myriad of emotions as track & field combatants pass through the mixed zone. From jubilation to despair - and every emotion in between - you will see it all as animated, joyful athletes celebrate achieving their childhood dream next to despondent fellow competitors whose life's ambition has slipped away.

Emotions among those who actually make the Olympic team can vary as well. For example, even though he made the team, Nike's Donn Cabral - whose 3rd place finish in the men's 3000 meter steeplechase will send him to the Games for the second time - was harshly self-critical immediately after his race, while first-time Olympian David Verburg was absolutely ecstatic after his 3rd place finish in the men's 400 meters ensured he would be competing in Rio.

On final day of these Trials, 16 women swayed nervously on the track just before the start of the women's 5000 meter final - no doubt wondering what their emotions would be less than 20 minutes hence.

 

 

 

Ageless Bernard Lagat Makes His 5th Olympic Team

 

A familiar theme at this and previous Olympic Trials has been the changing of the guard. Emerging new talent supplanting fading veterans is a recurring process that is often painful to witness. But an increasing number of long-serving sentinels are resistant to surrender their posts as advances in training, therapy, equipment, and nutrition aid maturing athletes seeking to prolong their careers. Shalane Flanagan, Allyson Felix, Jenny Simpson, Shannon Rowbury, Jenn Suhr, Justin Gatlin, LaShawn Merritt, Galen Rupp, Bershawn Jackson, and others doggedly stand guard, repelling the advances of the youngsters.

Bernard Lagat - an aging soldier - is yet another still defending his post. Earlier in these Trials, Lagat pulled up with 2600 meters remaining in the 10,000m final. Overcome by heat - and perhaps by daunting competition - Lagat lay prone on the backstretch pouring water on his torso. Would this 41 year old really come back to compete in the 5000 meters?

 

Donn Cabral, by PhotoRun.net

Princeton Steepler Makes Second Olympic Team

After Princeton steeplechase athlete Donn Cabral posted the fastest qualifying time in the preliminary round of the men's 3000 meter steeplechase earlier this week, I sent him a congratulatory text wishing him well in the final. In his prompt reply, he declared he was "ready to fight." Was he ever.

Hurdles-USout11.JPGHurdles at Tracktown, photo by PhotoRun.net

 

World Record Just A Tick Away For Kendra Harrison

If you look around, occasionally you can find countries that dominate a particular event. How about Kenya in the men's 3000 meter steeplechase? Forget about it! But the talent pool of that East African nation in the barrier event pales in comparison to the quality and depth that the American women bring to the 100 meter hurdles. Consider this: Currently, 5 American athletes - Kendra Harrison, Jasmin Stowers, Brianna Rollins, Sharika Nelvis, and Kristi Catlin - have combined to produce the top 11 marks on this year's outdoor world list in the women's high hurdle event. But wait, there's more. The red, white, and blue presently has 17 of the world's top 20 performances in the w100mH as well.

 

Murphy-Berian1a-OlyTr16.JPGClayton Murphy and Boris Berian battle over 800 meters, photo by PhotoRun.net


Racing Styles Collide In Men's 800m Final

"If they're going to run themselves out in the first 400,
I'll just catch them in the last 100." - Clayton Murphy

We should have known. The pre-race scoreboard video was a premonition of the excitement to come. Minutes before the start of the men's 800m final - with 1972 Olympic gold medalist Dave Wottle waving from the medal podium at the south end of Hayward Field - the stadium scoreboard displayed a montage video of Wottle's career highlights, including the final strides of his electrifying last step Olympic win over highly-touted Yevgeny Arzanov in the Munich 800m final. Many consider that final the most exciting race of all time. Perhaps until tonight.

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