Wednesday, 21 September 2011

What is a World Record?

Following the recent IAAF congress in Daegu, South Korea, it has been decided that world records achieved in mixed sex events ie mainly marathons, will not be recognised as World Records but only as World Bests. The rational for this is the 'unfair advantage' that is perceived to result from having 'male pacemakers' in the same event. The vast majority of major marathon events save for major championships such as the World and Olympic Games feature mixed events. There will inevitably be many misgivings amongst event organisers.
The most affected athlete is Britain's Paula Radcliffe. She currently holds the 'World Record' (2 hrs 15 mins and 25 seconds) for a mixed marathon from 2003. This would now become a 'World Best'. The World Record would then, ironically, be her 2005 effort of 2hrs 17 mins and 42 seconds.
Event organisers, including David Bedford (London Marathon) are to meet with the IAAF and make representations. In the mean time they will recognise both records as 'World Records'.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Role Model - Not

Serena Williams has just today(15/2/13)  reclaimed the World Number 1 slot. No doubt this is an accurate reflection of her standing in the Women's Game. However I cannot feel anything other than dismay. Any hopes, long since cherished, for a more upstanding comportment within tennis have taken a serious blow. Unfortunately the wishes expressed in the following short piece written in 2011 have not borne fruit. Williams has flourished as others have flattered to deceive.
The umpire officiating the Women's Singles Final at Flushing Meadows this weekend received something like $250 for her part in the proceedings. Who knows what Serena Williams earnt over the course of the last fortnight. Her official reward for being runner - up (losing) was $1.4m. In the event the overwhelming favourite was spectacularly thrashed by the unfancied, but much deserving winner, Sam Stosur, of Australia. Finally somebody took the fight to Serena and the American quite clearly could not handle it.
Worse, much worse, she showed it. In a demonstration of a total lack of star quality, Serena abused the umpire for having the temerity to make a call against her. It matters not whether the call was right. Serena told the umpire, inter alia, that she was 'unattractive inside'.

Poor Sport

 The tournament organisers, confirming their total lack of credibility fined her $2000 dollars for this display of petulance. Serena could not even bring herself to apologise post match. The Grand Slam Committee decided in their infinite wisdom that the abuse did not amount to a major offence. What a terrific role model!
Serena was already on probation at the US Open. 2 years ago, whilst also losing (coincidence?) in the semi final against Kim Clijsters, she made unpleasant threats to a female line judge. She was given a suspended sentence. Memories are clearly short.
It would be nice if the authorities for once chose to stand up for their own officials rather than the spoilt children they pander to. Serena will never be considered a great and memorable champion, certainly by this writer. Lets hope the likes of Stosur continue to expose the shortcomings in Serena's game as well.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Greek Tragedy/French Farce?

Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou have just been 'acquiited' by a Greek Court of faking a motorcycle accident to explain their failure to present themselves for drug testing just prior to the commencement of the 2004 Olympic Games in their own country. An appeal court ruled that there was no evidence that the 'accident had not happened'. The pair's suspended sentences of imprisonment were rescinded. Is that any vindication? Quite categorically no.
The pair had already missed 2 out of competition tests in 2004 before they failed to make themselves available for the eve of Games tests. They had managed to evade testers by the skin of their teeth and, some say, with the connivance of, or at least a blind eye turned, of their national association.
Much was at stake for the Greeks. Greece was one of the smallest countries, along with Finland in 1952, to have ever been awarded the Olympics. Prior to 2000 Greece had not had an Olympic Gold medallist on the track since the inaugural games in Athens in 1896.
Kenteris was a failed 400m runner. He became associated with Christos Tzekos a coach who himself had a checkered history. In 1997 he was banned for 2 years from acting as a coach after he had physically manhandled a drug testing official enabling a number of his athletesto be spirited away avoiding testing altogether. Within a relatively short period of working together Kenteris had gone from a complete nobody to the 1996 World Champion at 200m. The improvement in his performance was considered by many to be 'astonishing' and almost unprecedented. In 2000 Kenteris achieved national legend status by winning the Olympic gold at the Sydney Games. He broke the symbolic barrier of 20 seconds. It was one of the most surprising results of that Olympiad.
Thanou won the 100m silver medal in Sydney. She shared the same coach and was Kenteris' 'training partner'. Her result was equally surprising. Ironically she was beaten by Marion Jones, who later admitted doping, and was jailed for perjury. Thanou was never awarded the gold and bizarrely the IOC awarded the bronze medallist a joint silver with Thanou and upgraded 4th placed Merlene Ottey to bronze.
In 2002 suspicions were growing. Links  were uncovered between the infamous Balco Laboratory in the USA and 'Greek athletes'. The IAAF clearly suspected Kenteris and Thanou and began to target them. They managed to slip the net until the eve of their own Games.
In the event Kenteris and Thanou, in what can only be described as an ignominious departure, handed in their olympic accreditation, and withdrew from the Games, without appearing before the disciplinary tribunal. Their disgrace was complete. They never competed again. Their home Games was overshadowed.
Notwithstanding their latest pyrrhic victory, surely justice was done in 2004, although both athletes have managed to hang onto their Olympic medals from 2000. Nonetheless they now live in obscurity and are totally discredited, notwithstanding the protestations on their behalf of their lawyers.