Australia –AUSTRALIAN sports authorities have spent thousands of dollars preparing a pole vaulter who will represent Russia against our own defending champion Steve Hooker at the London Olympics.
None of the bodies involved in bringing Sergey Kucheryanu, his wife and child to Australia and supporting them for seven months at the West Australian Institute of Sport was willing to put a figure on the cost, but estimates vary from $50,000 to $100,000 in cash and kind on what turned out to be a misadventure.
Athletics Australia’s highly controversial high performance manager Eric Hollingsworth, who referred to Kucheryanu as “my pole vaulter”, was prime supporter of the plan to buy a world-class vaulter rather than invest the money in developing local talent. Continue reading
Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, was a French aristocrat with an enormous waxed mustache that hung on his face like a rogue accent mark. In 1914, the baron announced that he had designed a symbol for the 20th anniversary of the Games. “This, truly, is an international emblem,” he wrote of the five rings, linked together to suggest the unity of humankind. But where did the baron get his idea for the design? In 1984, a sports historian named Robert Barney was exploring a Greek archaeological site when he leaned over to tie his shoe and noticed a symbol etched into a weather-beaten stone: five linked rings. His heart fluttered. As it happened, Barney specialized in the history of the Olympics, and he believed that he had just stumbled across a breakthrough: Had Baron Coubertin – decades before – seen this same etching? Had it been his inspiration?
Actually, it had not. The “ancient” carving, which fooled historians before, turned out to be a relic of Nazi filmmakers. When Leni Riefenstahl passed through Greece to document the torch ceremony for the 1936 Olympic Games, she stage-crafted a mythic backdrop. Someone – perhaps a set designer – hacked that stone into an ersatz relic of antiquity. It was pure Goebbels-style kitsch: the Nazis would have liked us to believe that the Olympic symbol emerged from the mists of Delphi.
In fact, the design simply burst forth from the imagination of a baron with effulgent facial hair. Baron Coubertin believed in sport as a kind of religion “with its own church, dogmas and ritual.” And when he cast about for a logo, he may have been inspired by – of all things – an advertisement for Dunlop tires. The baron had been perusing a magazine illustrated with five bicycle tires at around the same time that he invented his design, according to the historian Karl Lennantz.
The Olympic rings were inaugurated in June 1914, the same month that a bullet felled an archduke and sent the world tumbling into war. It has since become one of the most-recognized logos in the world and a symbol for peace more
This is an extended interview from the 2012 ESPN The Magazine Body Issue.
Why did you decide to pose for the Body Issue?
AE: I struggled with it at first, but I talked with my mom and my fiancée [heptathlete and Canadian Olympic hopeful Brianne Theisen], and they said it was classy. I think it’s good for the sport and done in a way that represents athletes well.
If you could write the caption for your photo, what would it say?
AE: “What you see is a depiction of what I want to accomplish and how I want to do it.” My body is the way it is because there is this thing I want really badly — Olympic gold — and the things I have to do to attain that have crafted what you see.
What is the one exercise you can’t live without?
AE: Pole vault. It incorporates aspects of every event. There’s a lot of timing involved as far as your steps and takeoff. You get a lot of shoulder work in and there is a lot of general athleticism involved. And like every event, it’s very rhythmic
Why do you want to be the best? Continue reading
It is quite fitting that in a year where Ashton Eaton has set World Indoor and Outdoor records at the Heptathlon and Decathlon respectively, Gunnar Nixon became the first ever American to win the Decathlon World Junior title in the history of the event after a fantastic 2-day competition here in Barcelona.
Overnight, the American from Santa Fe (Edmond, Okla.) had a 10-point margin at the top of the standings from Tim Dekker of the Netherlands and that in fact was the first time the American found himself in top position after no fewer than 5 men swapped names at the top of the scoreboard over the course of the first 5 events!
As the athletes came back to the track this morning Nixon quickly lost his top spot to Dekker who ran a faster 110m Hurdles and then Jake Stein of Australia, the reigning World Youth champion whose class in the throwing events saw him leapfrog back in the lead courtesy of massive 51.43 and 69.61 in the Discus and Javelin Throw respectively. Continue reading
Gunnar Nixon clinched the Decathlon gold medal after a very tense 1500m contest where he had to defeat Jake Stein by 15 seconds to become the first ever American gold medallist.
Both multi-eventers produced their fastest ever metric mile times but a vastly superior Nixon ran 4:22.36 while his Australian rival more suited to the strength events recorded only 4:46.05 to surrender his lead.
Nixon’s USA record score and 2012 World leader saw him total 8018 points while Stein claimed an Australian record with 7951pts and Dutchman Tim Dekker took the bronze medal scoring 7815pts.
The final build up to the grand finale began with the Pole Vault at midday where Nixon thanks to a 4.50m effort went into the overall lead with 6539pts but by only one ahead of Dekker who cleared 4.20m. Stein vaulted only 3.80m for a tally of 6425pts.
In the javelin Stein with a big PB 69.61m – a three metres improvement – was back in the driving seat on 7308pts as Nixon after a 56.25m effort moved on to 7222 pts with Dekker who massively improved his personal best by over seven metres sitting third on 7099pts.
It made for an exciting finish after two days of action where the lead had almost continuously changed. After all the exertions Nixon proved himself on this occasion the better man. more
lacy Janson was always pursuing some athletic endeavor, and her first love was gymnastics. The Sarasota, Fla., native was 7 or 8 years old and vividly remembers family members watching her compete and the aunts and uncles casually asking the question to see what kind of response they will get: Are you going to the Olympics?
Janson didn’t give it much thought before replying, “Yeah. It’s easy.”
Janson remembers the goosebumps every four years when she watched the Olympics on television. She thought about it as a gymnast and later when she turned her attention toward volleyball.
With her focus on volleyball, Janson thought about playing the sport in college as a springboard to one day playing on the Olympic level.
“I came to a Florida State volleyball camp, and they whipped the tar out of me,” Janson said. “I was just winded. So I went out for track.” Continue reading
From humble beginnings in junior high to participating in the 2012 Olympic Trials, Logan Cunningham has done everything a pole vaulter dreams of doing.
“I started vaulting in 7th grade when I decided I wanted to join track and field,” said Cunningham, nutrition and foods junior. “After I saw pole vaulting, I knew that was what I wanted to do.”After participating in track and field at Texas State, Cunningham was invited to participate in the Olympic Trials. Cunningham’s grandfather and father, both involved in track and field, were largely involved in his early career. His father was a runner and his grandfather was a sprinter, making Cunningham the first pole vaulter in the family and the third involved in track and field.“I remember going to watch the track and field athletes when I first got started,” said Cunningham. “My dad had taken me, and it really is what made me get started. I would definitely credit my dad and my grandpa with getting me started in vaulting.”To gain an edge on his opponents, Cunningham worked with personal trainers in his free time and would practice on his own when he could. Paul Cunningham, Logan’s father, has been involved every step of the way in his son’s career.“To see him advance from 7th grade to where he is now is pretty incredible,” Paul Cunningham said. Continue reading
The UK’s armed forces are on standby to provide an additional 3,500 troops to help with security at the 2012 London Olympics, the BBC has learned.It comes amid fears that private contractor G4S would not be able to provide enough trained staff in time.The armed forces were already providing some 13,500 personnel – this could now reach 17,000, meaning summer leave for some troops will likely be cancelled.G4S said it had “some issues in relation to workforce supply”.G4S is being paid £300m to guard the Games, but the BBC understands it has not been able to guarantee it can supply the 10,000 guards it has been contracted to deliver.’No impact on security’A G4S spokeswoman said the company had accepted “that the government has decided to overlay additional resources.”She added: “This has been an unprecedented and very complex security recruitment, training and deployment exercise which has been carried out to a tight timescale.”We have encountered some issues in relation to workforce supply and scheduling over the last couple of weeks, but are resolving these every day and remain committed to providing a security workforce for the start of the London 2012 Games more
11 July 2012 – Monte Carlo – With just nine days to go, organisers of the Herculis 2012 Meeting, the ninth stop on the Samsung Diamond League series, hosted a press conference today with Olympic Pole Vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva and also provided an event-by-event update of the programme.
Isinbayeva, also the World record holder in the event and a resident of Monaco, made her season’s debut in Sotteville, France, yesterday where she scaled 4.75m. Her goal is only to improve on that in Monaco.
“I want to get higher than 4.85m in Monaco, it is a very good track, fast and soft. I love to compete here and want to do my best!”
“It is a very special competition,” she continued. “I have a lot of friends in Monaco and they all come to support me! I especially want to perform well for the Prince!”
Isinbayeva, 30, will be aiming to underscore her position as a legend in the event with a third straight Olympic title in London early next month. Monaco will be her last competition prior to the Olympics.
“To win at the Olympics I will need to go over five metres,” she said. I am training very hard and I am focused for London.” Preview: WOMEN’s Pole Vault: Jirina Ptacnikova cleared 4.60m to win European gold in Helsinki, and last winter jumped a national record 4.70m at the Pole Vault Stars meeting in Donetsk. She set another personal record in Prague with 4.72m, and looks to be Yelena Isinbayeva’s primary competition
Women’s Pole Vault
WJR: 15-2.25, Angelica Bengtsson, SWE, 2011
AJR: 14-4.5, Natalie Willer, U. of Neb., 2009
Recent Champs (plus/other top U.S. finishers)
2010: Angelica Bengtsson, SWE, 13-11.25 (7 tie-Kelsie Ahbe, 7 tie-Shade Weygandt)
2008: Valeriya Volik, RUS, 14-5.25 (4-Rachel Laurent, 8-Leslie Brost)
Recent marks to medal / make final
2010: 13-7.25 / 12-7.5
2008: 13-11.25 / 12-9.5
2012 IAAF World Top 3 (plus Team USA, in bold, with rank if top 20)
1. Angelica Bengtsson, SWE, 15-0.25
2. Liz Parnov, AUS, 14-9
3. Katie Byres, GBR, 14-3.5
5. Emily Grove, S. Dakota U., 14-2
– Sydney White, East Forsyth NC, 13-3.5
Analysis: Angelica Bengtsson SWE has been the pole vault queen on the Youth and Junior scene the last few years. She won WY and WJ titles in 2009 and 2010, plus the Youth Olympic crown in 2010, and no one in Junior history has gone higher than her 15-2.25 indoors. Australian Liz Parnov was runner-up in both Singapore and at the 2011 WY champs. They are the big faves for gold and silver. For bronze, though, American Emily Grove at 14-2 certainly has a shot at becoming the first from Team USA to medal here. The former IL prep, now at South Dakota, has improved nine inches this year. Having made her second US team, NC prep Sydney White was eighth in Lille last year. She has a history of vaulting best in the biggest meets, with her new PR coming at US Juniors. She should make the final, but contending for a medal might take another foot. Rachel Laurent’s fourth in 2008 is the best finish ever by an American.
Men’s Pole Vault
WJR: 19-0.25, Maksim Tarasov, URS, 1989 and Raphael Holzdeppe, GER, 2008
AJR: 18-8.75, Lawrence Johnson, U. Tenn., 1993
Recent Champs (plus/other top U.S. finishers)
2010: Anton Ivakin, RUS, 18-0.5 (7-Kyle Ballew, 8-Q/Grp B-Mark Thomas)
2008: Raphael Holzdeppe, GER, 18-0.25 (7-Joe Berry, 10-Maston Wallace)
Recent marks to medal / make final
2010: 17-6.5 / 16-6.75
2008: 17-4.5 / 16-4.75
2012 IAAF World Top 3 (plus Team USA, in bold, with rank if top 20)
1. Andrew Irwin, U. of Arkansas, 18-9.25
2. Ivan Horvat, CRO, 18-4.5
3. Didac Salas, ESP, 18-2.5
4. Nikita Kirillov, Ga. Tech, 18-2
16. Casey Bowen, U. of Kansas, 17-0.75
Analysis: It’s a shame Team USA doesn’t have the services of injured Andrew Irwin, the Arkansas frosh who’s improved a foot since high school and leads the world’s juniors by five inches at 18-9.25. But in Georgia Tech’s Nikita Kirillov, the Americans still have a vaulter who was a 17-footer in college and has improved dramatically in college – up to 18-2 and World #4 in Kirillov’s case. The former GA prep’s parents are from Russia and the Ukraine, and lived in and competed for Kyrgystan in international competition when he was younger. His father coaches at Tech. Kirillov will contend for a medal, possibly gold, while Kansas frosh Casey Bowen will hope to make the final. Ivan Horvat CRO is the top seed and another contender is 2011 World Youth champ Robert Renner SLO, who is ranked fifth. more
The men’s decathlon is shaping up to be an instant classic competition. Team USA co-caption Gunnar Nixon (Edmond, Okla./Arkansas) is an epic battle with Tim Dekker of the Netherlands and reigning World Youth Champ Jake Stein of Australia. Tonight’s final three events, the pole vault, javelin, and 1500 meters will be intense as medal hopes are on the line. Adding to the drama, the U.S. has never medaled in the decathlon in a World Junior Championship.
After seven events, Nixon stands in third with 5,780 points — 86 off the lead. For comparison sake, he is 100 points ahead of his personal-best pace (7892) that was set at the NCAA Championships in June. He began the morning with the 110-meter hurdles where he clocked a time of 14.54 seconds. In the discus, he added 18 inches to his personal best with the junior implement (1.75kg) with a throw of 42.23/138-6.
Dekker claimed gained seven meters on his personal best, notching a throw of 43.69/143-4. That performance placed him on top of the leaderboard with three events to go at 5,866 points. Australia’s Stein sits second at 5,863, but had a mark in the discus that was 15 feet short of his personal best.
As a result of injury, Garrett Scantling (Jacksonville, Fla./Georgia) sat out of today’s action. more