20-KILOMETER RACE WALK
BY ELLIOTT DENMAN
DOHA, QATAR - Maria Michta-Coffey is a brilliant young woman.
The 33-year-old Long Islander is a post-doctoral student in microbiology sciences at Touro College after graduation as valedictorian at Long Island University's CW Post College. She'll be happy to regale you about such matters as '"Hepatitis C virus cell entry determinants of occludin,"
her Ph.D. thesis subject.
A 22nd-placer at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and an inductee into her Suffolk County (New York) Sports Hall of Fame, she is also the greatest American female racewalker of this century with more USATF National titles to her credit than any contemporary. Who knew that when she won the USATF 40-kilometer title all those years ago, in a race hosted by Shore AC at Ocean Township's Joe Palaia Park in New Jersey, that the list would grow and grow, and grow and grow.
Well, she's still doing exemplary things.
Perfect example; the women's 20K racewalk final here in Doha, at the 17th World Championships of Track and Field.
Understand that even in the most ideal circumstances, she'd never have been a candidate to walk off with a medal.
Team USA's racewalkers, male and female, have a long-long way to go before catching up to the rest of the world - specially so in places like China, Russia, Spain, Mexico, Italy, Sweden, France, Japan, Colombia and Australia, where they give their racewalkers worlds of more support and encouragement.
But 'MMC' was out there - ''carrying the flag'' for her nation and doing all she could to keep America at least in the racewalking mix.
In perhaps the weirdest conditions ever for a 20K race of this magnitude - the event went off at a minute before midnight Sunday - and finished in the wee-small second hour of Tuesday - this lone American entry placed a courageous 35th place with a clocking of 1;46;02.
Scene of all this was the Corniche Park area - where all the road events, marathon runs as well as racewalks - are booked for the middle-of-the-night in the attempt to beat the heat and the steam of this Persian Gulf nation.
These attempts have all been in vain. The heat and the steam continue proving unbeatable. Winning times in these road events continue setting 'slowest ever' records for the World Championships.
Three outstanding athletes from China - Hong Liu (1;32;53), Shenjie Gieyang (1;33;10) and Liujing Yang (1;33;17) prevailed over
Brazil's Erica Rocha De Sena (1;33;36) to sweep all the medals.
Somehow, someway, 39 of the 45 original starters managed to finish this thing.
Just a few months ago, "MMC' would have been the longest of long shots just to be here.
You see, Maria and husband Joe Coffey welcomed daughter Llliiana to the world this spring.
On minimum post-partum training time, she still managed to get back into World Championships-level form.
A 2018 pre-Lilliana qualifying time proved her ticket to Doha.
"The female body is an amazing thing,'' she told you after crossing the finish line.
Anyone beyond the 'birds and the bees' stage of his/her own educational progress, should, of course, be aware of all these
Two-time 20K Olympian ''MMC' - and yes, hoping to make it three by Tokyo time - provided another reminder here - 'just in case.''
WILSON EARNS BRONZE MEDAL
AND NOW LOOKS AHEAD TO TOKYO 2020.
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
DOHA, QATAR - The message was written all over Ajee' Wilson's face.
She knew she'd run better, faster 800-meter races so many other times in the past. She knew she expected to finish higher in the Monday night women's 800 final of the 17th World Championships at Khalifa International Stadium. She knew that her third-place
run, after coming into the Worlds as the consensus favorite of her sport's cognoscenti to run off with a gold medal, wasn't what she expected.
At the same time, a subtler message became clearer. She knew that she'd be prepared to dig down deeper than she ever had before, that she would absolutely, no-doubts-about-it-be-totally certain that she'd use this one to build the motivation to run the greatest race of her life, at the next big one, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
And so the 25-year-old pride of Neptune, New Jersey and Temple University graduate, the 10-time USA champion and American record-holder indoors and outdoors, a three-time World Championships finalist, the 2019 Diamond League champion and a 2016 Rio Olympic semifinalist, knows the work to be done on the road ahead.
"Yes. it was disappointing," she told media members in the mixed zone where athletes emerge from the Khalifa track to explain what happened minutes before.
"It wasn't my best race. I'd hoped for better."
After a long flight home, and a suitable break from an arduous training routine under coach Derek Thompson in Philadelphia, Wilson will begin mapping plans for another long journey - to Tokyo.
She'd been so impressive on the Diamond League campaign - with wins in Monaco, Birmingham and Brussels.
She looked great in the first two rounds of these Worlds - twice winning decisively.
And thus she seemed to be headed to another big win as the 800 final got rolling. She bolted to an immediate lead, speeding 200 meters in 26.94, 300 in 42.34 and was co-leader with Jamaica's Natoya Goule at 400 in 57.96. It was Goule still ahead at 500 in 1:13.57 but Wilson right there with her at 1:13.60.
With the slender crowd now roaring, Wilson now made her big move of the race on the backstretch, leading at 600 in 1:28.14 and 700 at 1:43.20. She was still in front with just 30 meters to go.
But it was Uganda's diminuitive Halima Nakaayi who closed fastest of all, speeding the final 200 in 14.73 with a dramatic burst to win it all in 1:58.04, for her nation's first-ever victory in this event,
Wilson's USA and Philadelphia-based training partner, Raevyn Rogers, closed with a big rush, too. a 14.56 for a 1:58.18 finish.
Wilson's final 15.64 brought her to the line in 1:58.84.
As Nakaayi and fourth-place teammate Winnie Nanyondo, draped in Ugandan flags, trotted off to a victory lap, Rogers and Wilson adorned themselves in Old Glories.
"I knew something special was going to happen tonight," said Nakaayi, "So I just kept pushing and pushing. I was feeling strong and in the end I got it.”
Said Rogers, a three-time NCAA champion for Oregon, "silver means a lot to me. It's been a hard year with lots of ups and downs mentally and in other ways so this is a great way to end.”
Wilson's conclusion: I've got to feel good. I wanted to win, of course, and went off hard, but in the last part of the race I saw it was hard. At least I got a medal.”
As so many American ballplayers - some track people, too - have put it, "there's always next year."
AFTER 63 YEARS, AMERICA REACHES GOLD STANDARD
IN THE HAMMER THROW EVENT
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
DOHA, QATAR - It's been a 63-year-wait.
Remember 1956? Or might have read about it/heard about it/been told about it?
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was in the White House. Anthony Eden resided at 10 Downing Street, Congress passed the minimum wage act - and it was exactly one dollar an hour. An Oldsmobile "88" luxury sedan went for just under three thousand bucks, Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" topped the charts.
And, in the wake of the Hungarian Uprising, and the Suez Canal Crisis, the Olympic Games raged on in Melbourne, Australia.
These were the first Games ever held in the Southern Hemisphere and the Games held furthest into the calendar year - late November and early December.
The USA men's track and field team gave an amazing performance at Melbourne, running and jumping and throwing its way to a 15-gold medal performance, and one of those was Harold Connolly's victory in the hammer throw.
With 15 golds, that left just nine for all the rest of the world, an amazing factoid - but true.
Connolly's hammer win had been the first by an American since Fred Tootell in 1924.
And it has not been repeated since.
In all the years since Bostonian Connolly's win, just one American has even won a hammer medal at the Olympics. That was Lance Deal's silver in 1996.
The IAAF World Championships were first staged in Helsinki in 1983 and are now running their 17th edition here in Doha 36 years later.
The men's hammer throw, of course, has been on the Worlds program since the Helsinki beginning but no American has even come close to a medal. Ken Flax (seventh in 1991) and Deal (fifth in 1995) are the only Americans to even have made the top eight at Worlds all these years.
The women's hammer throw has been on the Worlds program since 1999 and no Americans had even come close to a medal from '99 to 2017, Anna Mahon (seventh in 2003), Jessica Cosby (seventh in 2009) and Jeneva McCall and Amanda Bingson (7-8 in 2013) have been the lone Americans to reach the top eight,
So we write all this as a prelude to DeAnna Price's magnificent, historic, wholly cheering win Sunday at Khalifa International Stadium,
The Missourian took the lead with a 76.87-meter throw in the first round, reached her eventual winning distance of 77.54 in round three, and had three more solid throws, 74.56, 73.77 and 75.68, to wrap up her great day. Poland's Joanna Fiodorow was happy with her 76.35 silver and China's Zheng Wang with her 74.76 bronze.
But DeAnna Price was incredibly overjoyed and brought to tears with her historic win.
She's a big woman, "strong and beautiful," as she puts, and downright proud of it.
Offered congratulations, she's often been known to express thanks with a big-league hug and a gentle lift off the ground.
It's the trademark that makes her a fan favorite everywhere.
Originally a softball player, she gave that up years ago "to give this track and field thing a go."
So just look at her now - "strong and beautiful", on top of the Worlds, and thus favored to win again at the Tokyo Olympic Games of 2020.
Yes, 63 years later, she's first American hammer thrower, male or female, to rule the planet since Connolly in 1956,
Connolly, who did much to popularize the hammer throw event in the years following his Olympic win, passed away in tragic accident in 2010.
But to those who knew Harold, he was surely smiling down from "up there" as events unfolded at Khalifa International Stadium on Sunday, September 28, 2019.
NEPTUNE'S WILSON MAKES IT LOOK EASY
IN FIRST ROUND OF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 800
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
DOHA, QATAR - When does more mean less?
And less mean more?
Neptune's Ajee' Wilson answered both those questions in exactly 2:02.10 seconds Friday at Khalifa International Stadium.
Expanding not a single surplus ounce of unnecessary energy, the 10-time USA National Champion (at assorted distances)
coasted to a very easy win in her first-round race of the women's 800 meters, the event nearly all World Championships Form Chart pickers now pick her to win.
All such energy will be required from here on out. Specially so in the brutally hot and steamy Doha conditions.
Just eight out of the 24 Saturday semifinalists will advance into the Monday night finals.
This is Ms. Wilson's third trip to the Worlds - she placed fifth at Moscow in 2013 (one spot higher than her original placing after the ouster of a drug-suspendee), missed Beijing 2015, then ran third at London 2017.
So is this her time to run off with the gold medal?
Her legions of fans and admirers surely hope so.
But it definitely will not be easy.
Uganda\s Winnie Nanyondo (winner of her section in 2:00.36) impressed many, too. Likewise for old rival Natoya Goule of Jamaica (who ran 2:01.01.)
Two other Americans figure in all this, too.
Raevyn Rogers, Wilson's training partner in Philadelphia, advanced easily in 2:02.01. Moving up, too, was American Ce'Aira Brown (2:01.14.)
But already out are Britain's Lynsey Sharp and fourth American Hanna Green.
Never in it, of course, was two-time Olympic champion and 2011 and 2017 World Champion Caster Semenya of South Africa, as her XY chromosone status continues to keep her on the
All in all, Friday was a darn good day for Team USA, which suffered no major casualties. Favored Christian Coleman and Justin Gatlin easily advanced in the men's 100, Jeff Henderson and Steffin McCarter in the long jump, Christian Taylor, Will Claye and Donald Scott in the triple jump, Paul Chelimo and Hassan Mead in the 5,000 meters, and Rai Benjamin, TJ Holmes and Amere Lattin in the 400 hurdles.
On the USA women's side, too.,defending champion Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs advanced in the 3000 steeplechase, Vashti Cunningham and Tynita Butts in the high jump, Sandi Morris, Jenn Suhr and Katie Nageotte in the pole vault, and DeAnna Price and Gwen Berry in the hammer throw.
One day down, nine to go.
Stay tuned, fans, for some major excitement, just ahead.
MANY CHEERS FOR MS. AMINA SMITH, OUR ILLUSTRIOUS SHORE AC TEAMMATE,
WHO PLACED FIFTH TODAY (and second for USA) IN THE BIG "THE MATCH"
USA VS EUROPE IN MINSK, BELARUS/////
AMINA HAD A JUMP OF 1.90 METERS (6-2 3/4) WHICH EQUALED HER SEASON BEST.
EARLIER. AMINA HAD EXCELLED IN OTHER EUROPEAN MEETS///
ALL BEST WISHES FROM ELLIOTT DENMAN AND SHORE AC TEAMMATES !!!
EUROPEAN ATHLETICSFINAL - TUE, SEP 10 13:10FINAL RESULTS
RANKBIBATHLETEMARKTEAM POINTS1235 2.02NU23R9+
5335 AMINA SMITH1.90SB4+
Outstanding performances by a shore star this past weekend!!! Jessica Abbott of Toms River earns a gold medal in both the 1500 and 3000 meter race at the USATF Region 2 Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships in Slippery Rock, PA! Way to make Shore A,C, proud, Jess and again great job!!
Just an update on the USATF 40km Championships from yesterday. Attached are the results. For the first time ever Shore AC swept places 1-4 In fact the ShoreAC team were the only finishers. The race was bitter sweet. 2012 Olympic 50km Champion Jared Tallent traveled over to race. Australia had extend their World Champs qualifying period until Midnight on June 30th just so Jared could take a shot at the 4:00 mark at our race. At the pre-race party Jared was relaxed. We presented him with a Shore AC Shirt and made him an honorary member of the club (by Elliott’s grace and request). We had A.J. Gruttadauro shooting for the same 4 hour mark as well as David Tokodi from Hungary who walked a 4:02 in Dudinsk this spring I believe. For the women the ageless Teresa Vaill and Erin Taylor-Talcott. On the junior 20km side, only one entry – Taylor Ewert!The race began at 5:30am to beat the heat. It was about 62 degrees with a light fog. Jared went right to the lead with AJ and David walking together and Taylor fairly close behind along with 10k entrant Joel Pfahler. The top 3 men would stay fairly consistent through 10km. Jared would continue to extend his lead and lap the second 2 competitors on the 1.0 km loop course. AJ suffered from some indigestional issues and also an upset stomach for the duration of the 40km race. This caused him to fall back a bit and then pick it back up – numerous times. Shortly after 22 km Jared stopped briefly and beat on his left hamstring (he has had hamstring issues over the past year). That kilometer took him nearly 6 minutes while all previous ones were in the 4:40’s. With no relief in sight, Jared hung up his walking shoes for the day. It was sad for everyone as it means that Jared won’t be there to race at the World Championships this year. Meanwhile Taylor continued to walk strongly passing 10km in just over 49 minutes en route to an American Record 1:13:50 15km split and a finish time of 1:38:55 to break Meaghan Podlaski’s mark of 1:47 and change, and in the process qualify for the 2020 US Olympic Trials at 20km.
The 40km women: Teresa (can she really be 56?) had a long flight from Florida – visited the family in Pine Plains, NY and then drove to Owego (3 hour trip) for the race. Probably way too much flying and as Teresa said – she hadn’t started her distance build-up yet since she was expecting the 40km in September. She would have tight/strained groin muscles and her body made her stop at 15km. Meanwhile Erin Taylor-Talcott was enjoying the early going – walking with some of the athletes she coaches at the shorter distances. She worked with fellow Shore AC teammate Chelsea Conway pushing her the last couple of laps in the 20km where she finished in a fine 1:53:28. Then she got down to business. She walked the second half quite a bit faster than the first and cruised to a second place overall, first master, first woman finish in 4:08:20. Ooh, what about AJ? He would struggle with his ailments but still posted a 3:30:05 for the Men’s Title. The Hungarian would be the only finisher in the 50km as he would not quit. His time was 5:06:29.
The Italian Stallion meandered down from Canada – actually what should have been 5 hours ended up being 10 hours as traffic was snarled on the QEW with accidents and slow traffic. Michael would also miss an alarm for the early start. 47 minutes into the race he arrived and asked permission to start the race. Permission granted, Michael would begin spot the field 52 minutes and would still wind up third walking a sub 4 hour performance which ended up 4:47:42 on the clock. Barry Blake was trying to give a go at his first ever 50km but with going past the 40km mark at 5:01:18 he decided not to hold everyone up by continuing. He was impressive throughout maintaining a consistent pace which garnered him the Men’s Masters title. Some other fine performances were had.
Erin and I thank Elliott and the Shore AC for their help and support
SHORE AC VARSITY TEAM STALWART JE'VON HUTCHISON EXCELS FOR TEAM USA AT PENN RELAYS AND WORLD RELAYS IN JAPAN !!
Hampton University graduate Je'von Hutchison continues to be a true stalwart of the Shore AC Varsity Track and Field Team !! And he's a stalwart for Team USA, too !! Je'von is happy to share all these great track and field experiences with his teammates, clubmates and track friends.
Here is Je'von's story of his outstanding exploits.
Cheers again to an illustrious teammate!
From Elliott Denman