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Ajee Wilson

IMG_8744.jpgAjée Wilson taking USATF title, June 2017, photo by PhotoRun.net

Wilson's Monaco AR Suggests She's Ready

August 10th, 2017

London, England

Over the years we have observed 800 meter specialist Ajée Wilson as she has won important races, developed as an athlete, and matured into an accomplished and confident young woman. We've watched her win national titles. We've seen her deliver poised performances on the world's biggest stages. And recently - in Monaco's Diamond League gathering - we witnessed her battle Olympic medalists down to the wire as she clocked 1:55.61 to break Jearl Miles Clark's nearly 18 year old American record. The stars and planets seem to be aligning perfectly. Might this be the moment when Ajée Wilson wins an outdoor world championship medal?

Coburn_EmmaQ-London17.jpGEmma Coburn, photo by PhotoRun.net

August 9th, 2017

London, England

In the development and progression of world class track & field talent, some performers [e.g. an Allyson Felix; perhaps a Christian Coleman] can step right onto the world stage and quickly experience success. For others, that evolution from national winner to influential global athlete occurs - if at all - on a different timetable. Think about it: it is not uncommon for an American athlete [e.g. a Galen Rupp; a Nick Symmonds; and may we now add a Phyllis Francis] to be a dominating performer in his or her own country, yet must further develop, build confidence, and sometimes even learn how to race and compete in the rarefied air of a global championship to achieve success on a worldwide level. It has ever been so.


August 8, 2017
London, England

On a raw London night, 12 finalists in the men’s pole vault got underway with an opening height of 5.50m/18’½”. Major casualties came early as ’13 world champion Raphael Holzdeppe no-heighted on the opening bar. U.S high school phenom Armand Duplantis – competing for Sweden – went 3 and out at the next height of 5.65m/18’6½.

Four perfect jumpers – Sam Kendricks, Renaud Lavillenie, Changrui Xue, and Pawel Wojchiechowski – were knotted at the top as the bar went to 5.75m/18’10¼”. Defending champion Shawn Barber was among those who failed there while the American, French, and Chinese jumpers plus Piotr Lisek – another Pole – made first attempt clearances.

Kendricks and Xue kept their cards clean with first attempt clearances at 5.82m/19’1” But after failing on their initial vaults, Lavillenie – who won his Olympic title in this stadium – and the two Poles all passed to the next height.

Lisek’s pass at the earlier height looked particularly brilliant at the next bar – 5.87m/19’3” – as he moved into second behind Kendricks as those two were the only first attempt successes. Lavillenie cleared on his second attempt while Wojchiecheowski went out. Following 3 misses – his first of the evening – Xue was transformed him from co-leader to spectator.
Only three competitors remained as the officials set the bar at 5.95m/19’6¼. Kendricks, Lisek, and Lavillenie were all guaranteed a medal, but what color? None could clear in their first two attempts. On the 3rd round of jumps – after Lisek missed and went out – the American, technically sound all night, unfurled a majestic clearance as the crowd roared. What would the London Olympic champion do? Lavillenie could take his third attempt which, if cleared, would move him into 2nd place, but still trailing Kendricks. Or he could pass and take one final crack at possible gold at 6.01m/19’8½. Without hesitation, the Frenchman passed.

After a first round miss by Kendrick, Lavillenie fidgeted alone in the darkness before his only jump at 6.01m. His last valiant effort was unsuccessful and set the medals: gold for Kendricks; silver for Lisek; with Lavillenie taking the bronze.
"I am very happy to be able to fight until the end,” offered a relieved Lavillenie, recovering from a string of injuries. Lisek revealed his competitiveness. "When I saw the conditions here, I told myself I must fight for gold. I wanted to beat Sam today but he was stronger and deserves the victory,” said the Pole. And Kendricks – who earlier this season became only the 22nd man to clear 6.00 meters – was gracious and articulate as ever. “It is all part of a mission for me. I make a goal and chop it down to make it attainable. I've finally got that world title and I could not be happier. It was another fantastic competition today and I had to jump high to take the gold."



Kendricks_Sam1c-Pre17.JPGSam Kendricks, (from Pre Classic), photo by PhotoRun.net

Kendricks Tense Vault Chess Match!


August 8, 2017

London, England

The current confederation of the world's elite men pole vaulters is a highly-competitive, yet strangely collegial group. The legion is an assemblage of ambitious, focused, and talented athletes to be sure. But almost to a man, the top performers also possess an authentic and refreshing team spirit: occasionally engaging in friendly banter and encouraging each other onward to clear higher and higher heights. And on a raw and blustery London night, USA's Sam Kendricks - the fraternity's head cheerleader - strung together a magnificent series of jumps to win the world championship.

Clement_KerronSF-London17.jpGKerron Clement, 400 m hurdle rounds, London 2017, photo by PhotoRun.net

Olympic Champion Seeking Unprecedented 3rd 400m Hurdles Gold!


August 7th, 2017

London, England

Once accomplished world class athletes have tasted great success, how do they find new, fresh motivation to press on? If you are Kerron Clement - highly-decorated 400 meter hurdler - you find a way to create goals, preferably goals as yet unachieved by anyone else in the sport. "It would be amazing," declares an animated Clement as he shares his 2017 world championship gold medal dream. The reigning Olympic 400H champion already has two WC golds that date back to '07 and '09. "I would be the only hurdler in history to have three. I'm going for history," states the former University of Florida star who has never been coy about outlining his goals. "I'm really excited to have the opportunity just to get it. I'll try everything I have in my bones and in my body to get that third gold medal."

Merritt_AriesQ-London17.jpGAries Merritt, London WC, 110m hurdles, photo by PhotoRun.net

The Incredible Journey Of Oly Champ, WR Holder Continues

August 6th, 2017

London, England

It is difficult to believe that just two years ago, Aires Merritt - the then-reigning Olympic champion and world record holder in the 110 meter hurdles - was, in essence, fighting for his life. Arriving in Beijing to compete in the 2015 IAAF world championships, the American hurdler at last went public with the news release that he had been battling chronic kidney dysfunction and would be speeding back to the States after the Worlds competition to receive a kidney transplant from his sister Latoya Hubbard. Somehow, someway, Merritt - suffering from collapsing focal segmental glomerulosclerosis and competing with a dangerously low level of kidney function - found a way to string together 3 consecutive seasonal bests, including a clean 13.03 in the final, to capture the bronze. After the final, a beaming and somewhat incredulous Merritt proclaimed to the media, "This medal will shine brighter than my Olympic gold medal."

Since then, the American hurdler has undergone the successful transplant and recovery, resumed rigorous training, and recaptured the ability to compete in the 110 meter hurdles at the sport's highest levels.


Huddle_Molly-WC17.JPGMolly Huddle, photo by PhotoRun.net

Infeld_Emily-WC17.JPGEmily Infeld, photo by PhotoRun.net

Sisson_Emily-WC17.JPGEmily Sisson, photo by PhotoRun.net

: USA 10,000m Threesome Performs Honorably, Gains Top 10 Finishes


August 5th, 2017

London, England

Let's be honest: Americans love their winners. While this can be said of all sports, it seems to ring especially true in track & field. Consider last year's Olympic Games when the women's sweep of the medals in the 100m hurdles final ignited coverage that was extensive and deep. But like all countries, the United States also participates in some events here in these world championships where its athletes, while most skilled and prepared to be sure, only have diminished chances to make the podium. This is not to denigrate these talented athletes. But sometimes the cold reality is a fair number of their global competitors are frankly, well, better.

This dichotomy - terrific American performances that don't translate into medal stand glory - is perhaps best evidenced by Molly Huddle and her outstanding race in last year's Olympic 10,000 meter final. The focus was on the battle that raged up front with Almaz Ayana grabbing the gold with her world record time of 29:17.45. But back up the track, running her own disciplined race, Huddle stuck with her race plan to clock a sparkling 30:13.17 to take down Shalane Flanagan's 8 year old American record - to finish 6th.

But that was then and this is now. And while no noise had been expected in tonight's women's 10,000 meter final from the talented American trio of Huddle, Emily Infeld, and Emily Sisson, one of them just might have been able to scrap and claw her way onto the podium. Impossible you say? The "impossible" happened 2 years ago in Beijing when the then lightly-touted Infeld closed with a vengeance to capture the world championship 10,000 meter bronze. Everything's impossible until it isn't. That's why they run the races.

Farah_MoFH1-London17.jpGMo Farah wins his final 10,000m champs ! photo by PhotoRun.net

Brit Legend has Winning Response to African Race Strategy

August 4th, 2017

London, England

On opening night of the 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships, the rabid British track & field fans - and indeed most of the capacity crowd that packed London's Olympic Stadium - got their wish as the incomparable Mo Farah fended off a multi-national assault by a squad of African athletes and utilized a blistering finish to win his 3rd straight world championship 10,000 meter crown.

After a tantalizing undercard which included the Bolt-featured opening rounds of the men's 100 meters, the restless audience was sufficiently amped for the only final of Day One, the night's closer: the men's 10,000 meter final. As the 24 distance warriors were led out onto the track behind juvenile standard bearers, the athletes walked with determination up the homestretch. All except one. Farah - who has never lost in this stadium - joyfully skipped into lane three. Almost giddy, the two-time defending champion waved his arms to exhort on his legion of adoring followers as he danced to the starting line. One thing was clear: he was ready to roll.



Matt Ludwig 1.jpgMatt Ludwig, photo courtesy of News-Herald.com

Zip Sophomore's NCAA Win Burnishes Akron's Vault Heritage


July 30, 2017

In the wide-sweeping mosaic of collegiate track & field, there definitely are recognized pockets of event excellence. When you think about high jump proficiency, you think of Cliff Rovelto's program at Kansas State. The 400 meters? Well, Baylor's Clyde Hart and his one-lap thoroughbreds led by Michael Johnson and Jeremy Wariner certainly come to mind. Top flight hurdling encourages many to reflect upon South Carolina's Curtis Frye and his prodigies Lashinda Demus and Terrence Trammell. And terrific sprinting and horizontal jumping immediately prompt thoughts of Florida's Mike "Mouse" Holloway and his legion of dash men and sky pilots at the University of Flight.

 Well there may be a new university poised to join this fraternity of event excellence. The University of Akron - with 5 NCAA pole vault championships since 2014 - is making quite a name for itself in this vertical jump and is increasingly being recognized as an incubator of collegiate pole vault superiority. Canadian Olympian Shawn Barber kicked off the current streak when he captured the 2014 NCAA indoor vault crown. German athlete Annika Roloff followed suit for the Zips when she was victorious in the 2014 NCAA outdoor championship vault. Barber kept it rolling in 2015 - his storybook year - when he successfully defended his NCAA indoor title, captured its outdoor vault crown, and later won the world championship pole vault gold medal in Beijing.

Drew Windle winning 800m at Portland Tracktown Summer Series,

photo by PhotoRun.net


Donovan Brazier wins, Isaiah Harris second and Drew Windle has third!

photo by Brian Eder/RunBlogRun

Young Symmonds Disciple Makes World Team!

Last month in Sacramento, the sunbaked fans in Hornet Stadium raised eyebrows as they witnessed a relative unknown - a former Div. II champion in a florescent yellow singlet - uncork 3 consecutive furious finishes in the 3-race 800 meter war of attrition to gain a spot on the U.S. world championship team. For Drew Windle it was the fulfillment of a dream concocted nearly a decade ago. "My senior year in high school I set a goal that you set even though it is super far-fetched at the time," notes the Brooks athlete as he reflects on that promise he made to himself to make a national team. "We kept working at it. I went to a Division II school [Ohio's Ashland University] and did really well there - enough to get me a contract with Brooks in Seattle, Washington. The stars kind of aligned on the right day. And it happened. It was kind of a dream come true."

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Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

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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