Rio Olympics Day 9


MEN'S 1500M FINAL – RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES



he men’s 1500m final was one for the ages, although not in the way you might expect.

The gold medal was won in a time of 3:50.00, the slowest time since 1932, and the last time there was a US winner at this distance in the Olympics was back in 1908.

However, that will all be irrelevant, and rightly so, to Matt Centrowicz.

The two-time world championships medallist, with a bronze in 2011 and silver in 2013 as well as the 2016 world indoor title, completed his collection of medals from outdoor global championships after controlling the race almost from the gun and repelling all the attacks from his rivals, especially over the final 250 metres.

"There's nothing like it. It doesn't compare to anything else I've won in my life. Doing my victory lap, I literally kept screaming to everyone I know 'Are you kidding me?'" said a grinning Centrowitz.

Centrowitz, surprisingly to many still only 26, towed the field through the first 400m in a very sedentary 66.83 and then an even slower second lap of 69.76.

The entire field was still tightly bunched together at this point and there was no surprise that, with all the contact and jockeying for position, there was a faller and the unfortunate runner to take a tumble was the highly-rated Kenyan Ronald Kwemoi, who tripped and fell just before the runners passed the two laps to go infield display.

Kwemoi, the world junior record holder and still only 20, picked himself up quickly and tagged himself onto the back of the pack within a space of 40 metres – evidence of how slow they were going – but he eventually trudged in 12th and last.

After a brief stint in the lead by Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman, Centrowitz got back in front again with little more than 300 metres remaining.

Behind him, the three-time world champion and 2016 world leader Asbel Kiprop was starting to move up quickly down the back straight, having hung at the back of the pack and staying out of danger for nearly the whole race.

Also hovering around at the front was the defending champion from London four years ago, Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi, but Centrowitz could not be budged from pole position.

Centrowitz went through several gears around the final bend and down the home straight, and not even noted fast finishers such as Kiprop and Makhloufi could get on his shoulder as the US runner cranked up the pace.

He uncorked a 50.62 last lap to take the gold medal as Makloufi finished fast to take the silver just 0.11 behind, and New Zealand’s 2008 Olympic silver medallist Nick Willis surprised many by kicking hard to take the bronze in 3:50.24 and edge out Souleiman, as Kiprop inexplicably faded over the fianl 80 metres and finished sixth.


MO KNOW's

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Mo Farah completed his second consecutive Olympic double by successfully defending his 5000m gold on Saturday, winning in 13:03.30.

Farah returned after winning the 10,000m almost exactly a week before, in the first stage of his double defence.

Before Farah, the “double double” had only been completed successfully by Finland’s Lasse Viren, who won memorably won both races in 1972 and 1976.

At first, it appeared that the Ethiopian pair of Dejen Gebremeskel and Hagos Gebrhiwet  were going to attempt something similar to the Kenyan strategy from the 10,000m, and set a fast enough pace to run the sting out of Farah’s legs.

"(The plan) was to go fast and drop Mo Farah,” Gebrhiwet explained afterward. “My focus was on Farah.”

The pace they set wasn’t really quick enough for that, with Farah having a PB of 12:53.11.

The pair exchanged the lead through kilometre splits of 2:37.40, 5:15.96, and 7:57.15 (the last the slowest of the race).

By then the field, which had initially strung out in a line, had begun to close up behind them, with Paul Chelimo of the USA and Albert Rop of Bahrain leading the chase of the leading pair.

Gebrhiwet explained, “In the first six laps we tried our best, but when we couldn't see any change, we held it back then.”

Farah began moving from his favoured position at the back up towards the front as the pace lagged, and took over not long after 3000m. The Briton led through the 4000m mark in 10:39.38 but didn’t start his drive for the finish for real until just before the bell, when Gebrhiwet made a bid for the lead.

FARAH DIGS IN
Farah wasn’t ready to give up the lead at that point and so, by the time they reached the backstretch, the race was on in earnest.

Farah and Gebrhiwet appeared evenly matched all the way to the homestretch and part-way down it, but with 50 metres to go Farah picked up half a stride and from there it was as good as over.

"It's every athlete's dream but I can't believe it,” said Farah. "I wasn't going to let the inside lane go. I didn't want to get boxed in."

Behind him, though, hard-charging Chelimo picked off Gebrhiwet and moved through into the silver medal position in 13:03.90. Gebrhiwet took the bronze in 13:04.35.

"I'm happy with the medal,” said Gebrhiwet, “because four years ago in London I finished 11th."

Chelimo’s medal was the first Olympic medal for the USA in the men’s 5000m since 1964.

It almost didn’t happen, though, as initially Chelimo, Mo Ahmed of Canada (fourth in 13:05.94) and Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris were all disqualified under rule 163.3(b), which regards staying off the inside rail of the track.

After protests from the USA and Canada, Chelimo and Ahmed were reinstated.

Should the disqualifications have stood, bronze would have gone to 41-year-old Bernard Lagat, also of the USA, who was running in his fifth consecutive Olympic Games. As it was, Lagat finished fifth in 13:06.78 and became the oldest ever 5000m finalist, adding to his own statistic from London four years ago.

Gebremeskel, the silver medallist behind Farah in London, slipped back to 12th in 13:15.91 after doing much of the work in the lead early in the race.


Men 4  X 4

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The USA regained the men’s 4x400m crown from The Bahamas in the first ever long relay in history in which six teams dipped below three minutes.

While there was a certain inevitability about the eventual outcome of gold, it should be noted that for 1500m Botswana posed an unlikely threat to the USA until their anchor leg runner heartbreakingly faded down the home stretch to wind up fifth.

The minor medals were picked up by Jamaica in second – their first Olympic medal in this event since Sydney 2000 – with Bahamas, the 2012 gold medallists, holding off Belgium to grab bronze.

The USA had looked far from convincing in the heats after conceding a rare men’s 4x400m defeat to Jamaica, and in a hard-fought final they had to battle tooth and nail for the win.

After the first leg it was Botswana courtesy of Isaac Makwala (44.8), who held a clear advantage from the USA’s Arman Hall followed by Bahamas and Jamaica in close order.

By half distance, the USA, thanks to a stunning second leg of 43.2 by Tony McQuay, had hauled themselves level, although it should be noted Botswana were still bang in contention following an impressive 43.9 leg from Karabo Sibanda.

It was then Jamaica, Belgium and Bahamas with little to separate the trio.

The USA, with Gil Roberts in possession of the baton, finally opened up a small advantage on leg three from the tenacious Botswana quartet. However, Roberts almost came to grief on the final inside bend when veering on the rail and momentarily losing his balance.

Leading into the final leg, The Bahamas had moved up to third from Jamaica and Belgium thanks to a stunning 43.79 effort from Steven Gardiner.

With Lashawn Merritt – the USA’s anchor boasting an individual 400m PB almost two seconds quicker than Botswana’s fourth-leg runner Gaone Leaname Maotoanong – it always seemed a battle heavily weighted in favour of the former and so it proved.

The Olympic 400m bronze medallist was doggedly pursued by Maotoanong until the Botswanan’s race dramatically unravelled in the final straight.

With Merritt galloping to a 43.97 final leg and crossing the line in a world-leading 2:57.30, a struggling Maotoanong started to desperately pay for the early pace. As he was swamped by the chasing pack, he almost stumbled and fell 30 metres from the finish, only to drag himself across the line in fifth. He did record a solid 45.28 clocking and at least Botswana had the consolation of running a national record of 2:59.06.

Jamaica muscled their way into silver in 2:58.16 thanks to a stunning 43.78 anchor from Javon Francis. In a tight battle for bronze, veteran Chris Brown held off the late-charging Kevin Borlee (43.67) of Belgium by just three hundredths, recording a time of 2:58.49.

It was also a historic moment for 37-year-old Brown, who became the first man in history to win four Olympic medals in the men’s 4x400m. Besides today’s bronze, he also won 2000 bronze, 2008 silver and 2012 gold medals. It was also a record-breaking fifth successive Olympic 4x400m final appearance for the man they call ‘The Fireman’.

Cuba was the sixth team under three minutes, recording 2:59.53.

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Patience proved a virtue for Ruth Beitia, who became the oldest ever jumps champion in Olympic history as a flawless record up to and including 1.97m secured Spanish gold for the 37-year-old.

In a competition in which the top four all matched each other in terms of best height, Mirela Demireva of Bulgaria was a surprise silver medallist with Blanka Vlasic rewarded with bronze to clinch her second Olympic podium finish, eight years after claiming silver in Beijing 2008. 

Yet in an international career which began 21 years ago, before two of the 17 finalists who lined up for the final were even born, Beitia finally gained the ultimate reward by becoming the first Spanish woman to win Olympic athletics gold and the first athlete from her country to ever win a field event gold.

World leader Chaunte Lowe of the USA was the unlucky athlete to successfully negotiate 1.97m but miss out on precious metal.

With the entire field successfully clearing 1.88m, the bar was raised to 1.93m. At this height Beitia was one of only three women along with Lowe – who appeared to be having the time of her life, busting dance moves every time the camera came within her vicinity – and Italy’s Alessia Trost clearing at the first time of asking.

Of the other main contenders, Vlasic – who was understandably a little rusty competing in her first competition since January following achilles tendon issues – needed second-time clearances at both 1.88m and 1.93m to advance.

Five women found 1.93m beyond them – among them world indoor champion Vashti Cunningham. The US teenager – who earlier this year had leaped a world indoor U20 record of 1.99m – looked distraught, but in a nice touch she was generously consoled by her teammate Lowe.

As it turned out, 1.97m proved the pivotal height. Beitia, who was jumping first in the rotation, comfortably cleared the height to maintain her 100% record.

Demireva, the European silver medallist, matched Beitia’s accomplishment at 1.97m and in the process equalled her PB. However, a costly first-time failure at 1.88m meant the 26-year-old stood second in the overall standings.

Vlasic needed a second attempt once more to stay alive while Lowe – who surely possesses one of the quickest approaches to the bar ever seen – left it until her third and last jump to stay in the medal hunt.

The remaining eight finalists all withered at this height, among these were Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch of Germany – a 2.00m jumper this year – and Poland’s Kamila Licwinko, the 2014 world indoor champion.

As the bar was raised to 2.00m, the four remaining contenders were Beitia, Demireva, Vlasic and Lowe in that order. All had their opportunities to seize control of the competition. Yet in an anti-climactic conclusion to the competition, the quartet registered a total of a dozen non clearances between them. Vlasic, in particular, came close with her final effort, and Lowe with her familiar fast-jumping motion also came close.

However, in the final shake up it was Beitia who secured gold. Demireva took a shock silver and became the first Bulgarian to win a medal in this event since world record-holder Stefka Kostadinova struck gold 20 years ago in Atlanta.

Bronze went to Vlasic, a more than commendable accomplishment bearing in mind the horrific injury problems she has experienced in recent times.

In a footnote to the event, the gold medal-winning height of 1.97m was the lowest to win an Olympic gold since Italy’s Sara Simeoni leapt exactly the same height at the 1980 Moscow Games. It was also one centimetre less than Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium and Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson achieved competing in the heptathlon in the Olympic Stadium eight days earlier.

Womens 4 X 4

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The women’s 4x400m at most recent major championships has come down to a USA vs Jamaica duel, and tonight’s final was no different.

In the end, though, USA won their sixth successive title in this event, beating world champions Jamaica by more than a second in 3:19.06.

NCAA champion Courtney Okolo got the USA off to an early lead, handing over to Nastasha Hastings after covering the first lap in 50.3. Commonwealth champion Stephenie Ann McPherson was just 0.3 behind at the first changeover, while Canada, Great Britain and Poland were more than a second behind.

Hastings produced the fastest split of the day, 49.2, to extend the USA’s lead over Jamaica. But Anneisha McLaughlin’s 49.6 effort ensured that Jamaica was still within reach of the leaders at the half-way point.

Anyika Onuora had briefly taken Great Britain into third place on the second leg, but she was passed by Canada’s Alicia Brown and Poland’s Patrycja Wyciszkiewicz on the home straight.

Out in front, Jamaica’s world and Olympic bronze medallist Shericka Jackson managed to make up some of the deficit on USA’s Phyllis Francis, clocking 49.47 to Francis’s 49.82, but the USA had world 400m champion Allyson Felix on the anchor leg.

For a brief moment on the back straight, it looked as though Jamaica’s fourth-leg runner Novlene Williams-Mills was closing on Felix, but the Olympic silver medallist dug in with 150 metres remaining and maintained the USA’s lead, crossing the line in a world-leading 3:19.06.

Williams-Mills crossed the line in a season’s best of 3:20.34 to equal Jamaica’s best ever finish in this event at the Olympics.

Emily Diamond ran a strong third leg to put Britain back into third place before handing over to Christine Ohuruogu. The two-time world champion held on to the team’s advantage over Canada, Italy, Poland and a fast-finishing Olha Zemlyak of Ukraine, taking bronze for Britain in 3:25.88.

Hurdles specialist Sage Watson held off Zemlyak to take fourth for Canada in 3:26.43. The last time Canada finished higher in this event at the Olympics was 32 years ago.

Ukraine took fifth place in 3:26.64 with Italy finishing sixth in 3:27.05. Poland and Australia were seventh and eighth in 3:27.28 and 3:27.45 respectively. Aside from USA and Jamaica, all of the other teams ran faster in the heats.


Men Jav










Thomas Rohler bounced back from the back problems which left him down in fifth place at the European Championships last month and turned continental disappointment into a global gold with his fifth-round effort of 90.30m.

Competing for the first time since Amsterdam a month ago, there had been some questions asked about his appetite for the big championships despite his success in IAAF Diamond League events and other one-day meeetings, including throwing a world-leading 91.28m in June.

Rohler quickly dispelled all those doubts when he reached 87.40m in the first round to slot into second place behind Kenya’s world champion Julius Yego, who had thrown 88.24m with the previous throw

However, Yego was to injury himself with his second throw and that sadly ended his interest in the competition although his first effort stood up for the gold medal and he manged to gingerly return to collect him medal later on Saturday. Yego passed his third attempt, had a half-hearted fourth round throw and then retired before leaving the infield in a wheelchair.

This left Rohler, and the rest of the field, to play catch up.

The German rattled off throws of 85.61m, 87.07m and 84.84m before finally surpassing Yego in the fifth round with a throw that was just 27cm shy of the Olympic record set by Norway's Andreas Thorkildsen in 2008 and the second best throw in Olympic history.

With the last throw of the competition, with Yego getting treatment, Rohler had a valedictory foul, knowing that the gold medal was his.

“I think after this year and after last year, we all knew that it's going to be a competition on a really high level."

"It's just awesome. Super happy. My family is super proud. Everybody is cheering at home. Everybody is awake. I mean, it's three at night (0300) in Germany. Hopefully, (they're) very awake now and just cheering for me. I'm super proud and they're super proud and I'm just happy for the whole of track and field in Germany,” said the delighted Rohler.

Behind the leading pair, London 2012 Olympic Games champion Keshorn Walcott had to settle for the bronze medal in the defence of his title, winning a battle with Germany’s Johannes Vetter for the last place on the podium.

Vetter opened with 85.32m for third place at the end of the first round but was overtaken in the second round when Walcott went six centimetres further.

Neither man could improve after that point so Walcott took his second Olympic medal, and at only 23 years of age. 

Behind them, Ukraine’s Dmytro Kosynskyy improved his PB to 83.95m to finish fifth and 2014 European champion Antti Ruuskanen was also over 83 metres, finishing sixth with 83.05m.


Caster Semenya winning her semi-final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images)


Caster Semenya dismantled the field in clinical fashion, fulfilling her role as prohibitive pre-race favourite, to clinch a history-making first women’s Olympic track gold for South Africa.

The powerful Semenya, who won silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games and is unbeaten this season, kicked hard off the final bend and flew down the final 100 metres for a comprehensive victory by chipping 0.05 from her national record in 1:55.28.

Behind her, Francine Niyonsaba, the world Indoor champion, grabbed silver in 1:56.49 to win Burundi’s first ever female Olympic athletics medallist and just the second ever for her country 20 years after Venuste Niyongabo won the men’s 5000m gold in 1996.

Bronze went to the 20-year-old emerging Kenyan talent Margaret Wambui, who out-fought Melissa Bishop of Canada in a tight tussle down the home stretch to stop the clock in a PB of 1:56.89.

On a still and clammy night inside the Olympic Stadium, it was Semenya who grabbed control of the race from the gun leading the field through 200m followed closely by Niyonsaba with 2015 world champion Marina Arzamasova of Belarus tucked in close behind.

Maintaining a very healthy pace, the South African hit 400m in 57.59 running virtually shoulder-to-shoulder with the much more diminutive Niyonsaba, followed closely by Arzamasova and Canada’s 2015 world championships silver medallist Bishop.

The bell was the calling card for Niyonsaba to make her gold medal bid as she accelerated to the front pursued by a composed-looking Semenya, with Wambui also keeping close to the front.  

Around the final bend, the 25-year-old Semenya stepped on the gas with devastating effect and within what appeared a handful of strides she streaked past Niyonsaba, who appeared almost static by comparison.

Once in front, Semenya was not going to surrender her lead and she devoured the remaining distance to create a piece of history and get her first global title since winning the IAAF World Championships Berlin 2009.

Behind, Niyonsaba held on comfortably to the silver medal position with the big question mark, who would win the battle for bronze? Halfway down the home straight, Bishop held a slight lead from Wambui but the Kenyan gradually forced her way past the Canadian to grab the final spot on the podium and ensure an African 1-2-3.

Bishop, although without a medal, had the consolation of trimming 0.41 from her national record to post 1:57.02.

Finishing with an eye-catching late burst like in her semi-final, Joanna Jozwik of Poland grabbed fifth place in a new lifetime best of 1:57.37 and in a high-class race Lynsey Sharp of Great Britain also set a PB for sixth in 1:57.69.

The 206th IAAF Council Meeting was held today (20) and was chaired by IAAF President Sebastian Coe, who summed up a week of outstanding performances in the Olympic Stadium and on the roads of Rio de Janeiro.

Usain Bolt after achieving the triple triple at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
THREE WORLD RECORDS AND THE TRIPLE TRIPLE
The athletics programme of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games was contested by 200 teams, 199 from National Olympic Committees, plus the Refugee team. 

The past eight days was marked by three world records and further highlighted by Usain Bolt’s unique triple Olympic sprint treble. Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana's 10,000m world record opened the first session, South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk's 400m run from lane eight so nearly upstaged Usain Bolt on 100m final night, while Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk improved her own hammer throw mark.

As of the end of competition on Friday (18), there have been eight Olympic, 10 area and 95 national records set at these Games.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe commented: “Rio’s remarkable record week of athletics has enthralled and entertained, capturing the global imagination. This has been world-class athletics at its finest. The mass chant of ‘Usain Bolt, Usain Bolt’ which reverberated around the Olympic stadium will echo for decades to come. Historians will not fail to make the comparison with the crowd lauding another legend in the 1952 Olympics with ‘Zatopek, Zatopek’!”

HUGE INCREASE IN WEBSITE TRAFFIC
As of the end of Thursday (18), the IAAF website – iaaf.org – had seen a huge increase in users and usage compared with the same period during London 2012 Olympic Games with 91% more website users and 58% more user sessions.

The first seven days of athletics in Rio has seen 45% more users and 20% more user sessions than in the entire 10 days of athletics at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Mobile usage is up 361% on London with 50% of IAAF website users now accessing the website via portable devices.

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
IAAF Council today discussed three key issues which concern the integrity of competition and established new working groups chaired by Council members to consider the existing rules which govern them.

Transfer of Allegiance
Chair: Hiroshi Yokokawa

Age Manipulation
Chair: Adille Sumariwalla

Performance / Results Manipulation
Chair: Bernard Amsalem

TRANSITION
The IAAF’s new CEO Olivier Gers, whose appointment was announced on Wednesday (17) and will officially take office on 1 October, attended Council. 

The arrival of Gers marks an important moment in the transition of the federation both in terms of its organisation structure and its governance. Council gave approval in Rio to the proposals for the IAAF Governance Structure Reform. This autumn IAAF teams headed by Sebastian Coe will be taking the proposals to all six areas ahead of a special IAAF Congress at the beginning of December.

The four key platforms of governance reform are:
- Redefining roles and responsibilities
- Greater athlete representation
- Establishing gender balance
- New tribunal and disciplinary processes

RUSSIAN REINSTATEMENT
The reinstatement of the Russian athletics federation is a priority. The IAAF Taskforce met in Rio (16) during the Games and hopes to resume discussions with the Russian Olympic Committee’s Interim Coordination Committee to establish a clean safe environment for its athletes so that its federation and team can return to international competition.







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