Archive for October, 2011

Merwyn Luckwell, turning his 27 late next month, has come a long way from deep in the shades early season back way into international territories with a late 83.52m throw in Wrexham late last month, the farthest by a Briton in five years, and get one foot on the British team for London in the progress. Here he is in his following effort, the second, that landed at 82.92m, also comfortably over the A qualifying standard and the second best of his career to the good.

Hopefully, that will serve as a springboard to move even beyond 85m and rise as a serious contender for a top eight spot in the Olympics, as well as spur on the likes of James Campbell (PB 80.38m), the arguable British No1 at the beginning of the season, and UK champion Lee Doran (PB 78.63) to follow him through into the team and new regions.

Talking of London, a man that is apparently also making plans to stake a claim of his own is Roald Bradstock, a top eight finisher in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, who will have turned his 50 years of age a little after the qualification period starts off. A brief former world record holder with the new specification, the US-based veteran closed out the season at a fabulous 74.73m and it’s going to be some story if he makes it into the British team!


The Great South Run, held in cold blustery conditions down in Portsmouth yesterday, wasn’t only an affair for the elite athletes but also for the thousands of fun runners that turned up to follow the very same route and share the moment. Here is a very nice video where you can also catch a glimpse of Katharine Merry commentating for Channel 4  in the compound and Iwan Thomas competing among a host of runners – he actually stepped up his training after that with immediate effect!

BMW Frankfurt Marathon, Frankfurt, Germany

Wilson Kipsang storms to second fastest in marathon history in a 2h03:42 clocking in Frankfurt

Wilson Kipsang turned every bit as good as he promised when he set out to chase Patrick Makau‘s newly-set world record of 2h03:38 in Berlin and for roughly three fourths of the distance he was well on schedule to land his goal, cruising halfway through in 61:40 and four seconds faster than his compatriot under perfect racing conditions.

Peter Kirui, who is making a fine reputation as a marathon pacemaker, was taking him along the way with amazing timing precision while Ethiopian Deriba Merga and the Kenyan duo of Levy Matebo and Albert Matebor comprised the rest of the company through the third quarter of the distance.

However, either by lapse of concentration or fatigue creeping up on Kirui, the pace drifted considerably off target towards around the 2h04 region within three kilometres, between 30th and 33rd, and suddenly Kipsang found himself faced with a mighty task to haul in a substantial deficit effected.

To his credit, he didn’t pack up his original goal and sensing the record slipping out of his grasp he took over matters from there to move up a gear and start slicing away the lost time, opening up quickly plenty of distance on the rest up front. But he may have taken a little too late to make that move as it turned out.

For he may have put in a gallant effort that all but made up the lost ground in the dying stages but still fell short of his target by a mere four seconds reaching a stunning 2h03:42, the second fastest mark in history and a huge PB on his previous course record of 2h04:57.

Magnificent though it is a feat, there might have been a bitter-sweet taste in Kipsang’s mouth and possibly a question “What if” hanging on his mind looking at his time, which astonishingly cannot even make a national record. It’s not everyday that you come so close to a world record, let alone in an event where your next attempt has to wait at least a few months.

Nonetheless, a time he has taken full pride of and that raises him as a main contender in the battle royal for one of the three much coveted marathon spots on the Kenyan Olympic team for London, which is unfolding nothing less of relentless and breathtaking.

Following Frankfurt’s staggering results, the Kenyans now occupy all top 19 places in the world rankings to demonstrate a dominance of no equal in any Olympic event in history in a single season. Not to mention that Nicholas Manza is lying equal 20th at 2h06:34! Sadly, only three can make the journey so who those three to see the light are going to be?

A dominance that was demonstrated in overwhelming manner as a lengthy array of world class performances from Kenyans were laid out behind; just 22-year-old Levy Matebo finished well to smash his own PB into a new mark of 2h05:16 and fourth spot in the global lists, Albert Matebor followed closely in also a massive PB of 2h05:25 and fifth in the world and Phillip Sanga was fourth in a PB of 2h06:04.

Further behind, 23-year-old Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot ended up fifth in 2h06:29 – just a SB and six seconds shy of his PB on the same course in 2009! – and Kirui made yet another pacemaker lately to hold on through the whole distance and get finally rewarded with a PB of 2h06:31 for sixth!

The first non-Kenyan home was ‘poor’ Siraj Gena (ETH) in eighth despite a 2h08:31 (PB), a picture no much different than the all-time top ten has shaped up where great Haile Gebrselassie is the only runner beyond the Kenyan borders to figure now, lying third with the until two months ago world record of 2h03:59.

Men’s Results

1.Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich (KEN) 2h03:42 (PB, 2nd fastest all-time, course record), 2.Levy Matebo Omari (KEN) 2h05:16 (PB), 3.Albert Kiplagat Matebor (KEN) 2h05:25 (PB), 4.Phillip Kimutai Sanga (KEN) 2h06:07 (PB), 5.Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot (KEN) 2h06:29 (SB), 6.Peter Cheruiyot Kirui (KEN) 2h06:31 (PB), 7.Chumba Dickson Kiptolo (KEN) 2h07:23 (PB), 8.Siraj Genah (ETH) 2h08:31 (PB), 9.Duncan Koech (KEN) 2h08:38, 10.Henry Sugut (KEN) 2h08:56

In women, Ethiopia’s Mamitu Daska rose through the ranks to score a rather surprise victory in a huge PB of 2h21:59, fifth fastest in the world and atop of the Ethiopian lists this term, shattering the course record by nearly one and a half minute.

Agnes Kirpop (KEN) followed on a distant runner-up in a PB of 2h23:54 and highly-rated compatriot Flomena Chepchirchir was third on an impressive debut of 2h24:21 while Rita Jeptoo Busienei dragged home fifth in 2h25:44.

Liz Yelling eventually came up short of the top end of qualication territory and had to settle only for a narrow Olympic B qualifier of 2h34:58 instead, a SB and her fastest in the distance since 2008. That means that she is finding herself very much on the ropes, with four runners holding already the high standard and Mara Yamauchi yet to go, so she will need to pull off an astonishing late rally to turn the situation round in the remaining months till the selection deadline.

Paula Radliffe ought to be considered a certainty for selection when the panel in charge meets for the first time on December 5 and others like Jo Pavey, who is racing in New York next Sunday, have the chance to improve on their times and pull further away in the race for places in London.

Women’s Results

1.Mamitu Daska (ETH) 2h21:59 (PB), 2.Agnes Kiprop (KEN) 2h23:54 (PB), 3.Fiomena Chepchirchir (KEN) 2h24:21 (PB), 4.Merima Mohammed (ETH) 2h24:32 (SB), 5.Rita Jeptoo Sisienei (KEN) 2h25:44 (PB), 6.Nadia Ejaffini (ITA) 2h26:15 (PB), 7.Fate Tola (ETH) 2h27:18, 8.Birugtait Degefa (ETH) 2h27:34, 9.Sabrina Mockenhaupt (GER) 2h28:08, 10.Alena Samokhvalova (RUS) 2h28:43,…, 18.Liz Yelling 2h34:58 (SB, Olympic B)

Following Kelly Sotherton‘s shocking announcement of switching back to the multi-events, there could be an interesting contest set up for the two places on offer behind Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon for the British team in the Olympics in London.

Apart from the former Olympic bronze medallist herself, Commonwealth champion and poetry lover Louise Hazell, holding the edge as owner of the Olympic A standard already, is an established serious contender for a berth while rising U20 star Katarina Johnson-Thompson could also enter the fray if she can range closer to her PBs across disciplines in a heptathlon, performing well within herself in her PB of 5787pts, and could improve substantially a season on.

So which two do you think are going to follow Jess into the arena of the Olympic stadium at Stratford?

Jemma Simpson has seen her appeal against her fall off the UK Athletics funding scheme eventually turned down by a panel involving head coach Charles van Commennee, meaning that she will most likely have to take a lonelier and tougher road to London next summer.

The three-time UK champion was surprisingly overlooked when the respective lists for the Olympic season came out last week as Jenny Meadows, Marilyn Okoro and Emma Jackson were preferred instead in the women’s 800m, amidst a wave of controversial decisions going either way across the board.

While the selection of Meadows was beyond any dispute on her excellent record, Simpson had serious grounds to feel hard done by as she still finished strong in a brace of 1:59.59 Olympic A qualifiers for third in the UK rankings off a largely curtailed season through injury, having also figured in the top three every single year since 2007.

Further, there were several athletes named in the top tier that have never achieved the A standard in their respective events and a certain case that didn’t show even a B as if to compound her disappointment.

An initial explanation given to her was that only three athletes per event could be selected, an apparent new clause inserted in the UK Athletics funding policy, but a closer look at the lists brought out five 400m and four 400m hurdles runners included instead. Later, it was also revealed that she was taken off funding after long consideration and eventual voting.

Now, whereas the flat one-lappers can be vindicated as serving also the purposes of the long relay, regarded as a strong medal prospect, the hurdlers are not directly related to that cause. Which is where Simpson should have probably built her case around.

As understood by the BBC story on the matter, she opted to highlight her world merit rankings in the top 10 in the previous two seasons and her progress through the international ranks into what is considered the peak age bracket in the event, underlying her promise.

But was that sufficient enough ground to mount her appeal? Although thorough and well-laid out, this is also considerably hypothetical and subjective and thereby highly unlikely to win her case.

She needed something to challenge the decision in its grounds and arguably one can’t help but wonder whether she did put her best card on the table. All the same, she could still take the matter further to an independent panel so all hope is not lost yet, but that could also affect her own efforts to prepare efficiently and thoroughly for the ‘Ultimate gathering’ of London 2012. So she has got to weigh up her options well before she makes up her mind, as herself admits.

“If I decide to take this further it will impinge on my preparation,” she commented. “With less than a year to the Games this is a stress I don’t need.

“My other option is to focus my energy on training harder than ever and look to build a longer lasting relationship with a private sponsor.”

BBC Report


Jemma’s thoughts in her latest blog on the ruling of the panel on her appeal, stressing “they failed to bring any facts to the table”:!.html

Don’t mess with Jenny!

Watch Jenny Meadows‘s October video blog over the early days of her winter build-up, offering some nice and interesting glimpses into her training practices and workouts,  as she is laying the groundwork towards a massive season that peaks in the Olympic Games in London. Trevor Painter, her husband and coach, pays duties as presenter while Helen Clitheroe makes a cameo at the gym.

By the way, do check out Jenny’s fighting skills as she punches in the mitts of Trevor in the gym – the message is, “Don’t mess with me, I’m outta get you”!

Kelly Sotherton has made a shocking announcement to Sky News earlier on that she is swapping back to her beloved heptathlon in an attempt to revive her dream of competing in the Olympics in London next summer.

Having endured a fruitless first season in the flat 400m, the 2004 Olympic bronze medallist has been convinced that her best chances are lying in the multi-events and admits that the first four weeks back into her more familiar multi-event regime have really rekindled the flame and hunger inside her.

Some shapshots of the memorable clashes between Karolina Kluft and Kelly Sotherton in the sounds of the Queen

Indeed, she never really looked happy and her trademark aggressiveness wasn’t there every time she stepped on the track to compete round the lap despite having shown competence and potential to do well, particularly back in the 2008 indoor season when she anchored a special laid-on triathlon against Karolina Kluft (SWE) to a 52.47 secs at the Norwich Union GP in Birmingham.

Later that year, she tore to a total PB of 52.19 secs for fifth in Gateshead and contributed a 50.35 second leg to the British relay in the final of the women’s 4x400m to bolster up her ranking as a potential future prospect over the distance.

Persisting injury problems condemned her to a long two seasons in the heptathlon twighlight and the 400m appeared as a lifeline to haul out into the hustle and bustle of athletics again, urged by UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commennee who was turning every stone to extend his options over the women’s long relay. On top of that, that was virtually her only way to extend her stay in the funding realm.

However, a stuttering string of outings peaking in a SB of 52.51 secs at Cottbus in late June saw her slip down to ninth in the UK lists this season and miss out on a relay spot for Britain in Daegu, while the imminent involvement of Shana Cox in the British affairs in earnest rendered her task even heavier going and drew her goal further beyond.

Which, in turn, may have dictated a radical change of plans and reverting to type, especially now that she lies no longer under the umbrella of the UK Athletics funding scheme.

The way of the heptathlon is simpler and more open as besides effective global number one Jessica Ennis and Commonwealth champion Louise Hazell there is a further vacant spot for the taking towards London. But is by no means strewn with roses.

An in-decent-form Sotherton ought to easily put away the Olympic A standard of 6150pts, a PB of 6547pts, and get a tight hold on that third place. At the moment, though, there is going to be a big question mark hanging over her jumping and throwing events while she may have to gain back some of the muscle she had to drop off so as to settle into the 400m last year.

What’s more, none should write off the chances of a breakthrough well over 6000pts from rising U20 star Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who performed well within herself in her PB of 5787pts in Tallinn, so there could emerge a battle for places behind Ennis as well.

But what matters at the moment is that the smile is restored on her face and the feel good factor has slotted back in place again which can take her a long way. Feeling happy where you operate is a first major step towards success in every department and can form an inexaustive source of strength and confidence to draw on all the way. Therefore, it could lay the platform to build up a fairytale return to the big stage for Kelly.

Incidentally, she has already dropped a hint about tackling her first heptathlon in about four years in May, apparently implying Gotzis as the venue of her multi-eventing return.

Great Haile Gebrselassie shrugged off the disappointment of Berlin last month to storm to a commanding victory on the windy and hilly course of the ‘Brum’ and restore his hopes of claiming a place on the Olympic squad of Ethiopia for London.

Racing after a long time in a city he holds special ties with, the Ethiopian picked up around the seventh mile to quickly fashion plenty of daylight on his rivals and never looked back, pushing on into the wind through the second half of the race.

A stiff late uphill really tested his strength and took a dent into his time towards the end but coming on top he was able to indulge in his return to the winning trail and beam across the line in 61:29, turning immediately his sights on the outlet of his renewed bid for an Olympic qualifier in Tokyo come February.

Haile still reckons that only a clocking in the region of 2h05 can earn him substantial hopes of selection but a look at the current form of most of his top countrymen suggests that even a 2h07 might turn sufficient enough. But then again, only time and events will tell.

Essa Rashed (QAT) followed on a clear runner-up roughly a minute behind in 62:28 while Daegu marathon 4th marker Abderrahime Bouramdane (MAR) was well-beaten into a distant third in 63:57, failing to make his credentials count.

Bud Baldaro-coached Jon Pepper, a useful steeplechaser in his U20 days in 2007, and U23 Welshman Dewi Griffiths (debut) turned on solid runs to post PBs of 65:32 and 65:40 for sixth and seventh respectively, taking the scalp of Commonwealth marathon champion John Kelai (KEN, 66:00).

In women, in-impressive-form Gemma Steel carried on from where she left off at the ERRA Relays at Sutton Park last weekend to nonchalantly dominate in a big new PB of 72:21, previous best at 73:32 in Bristol last month, into the wind and could well start pondering on her own chances of bidding for an Olympic place in the 10000m at the rate of her progress.

Still on heavy mileage ahead of Yokohama marathon, Louise Damen did not have the legs to cope with Steel’s sound pace and had to be content with a decent 73:51 timing in second place. She holds an A qualifier of 2h30:00 from London in April but that probaby won’t be sufficient and will need to slice at least two or three minutes off to stand a good chance.

Also Yokohama-bound Mara Yamauchi was a late scratch due to a minor knee injury and she may set her attention on the Great South Run 10-miler as a late sharpener.


Jemma Simpson, surprisingly announced out of UK Athletics funding early this week, is planning to lodge an appeal against the decision so that she could be reinstated in the scheme for the massive Olympic season ahead.

A fifth placer at the European Championships in Barcelona last year, as well as a multiple sub 2 mins performer, the Mark Rowland-coached athlete endured a largely curtailed summer due to injury issues that saw her miss out on a place on the British team to the World Championships in Daegu.

Despite that far from ideal build-up, she rallied her strength and resources to come back and finish strong late into the season in the shape of two Olympic A qualifiers of identical 1:59.59, placing 3rd in Zagreb and fifth in Berlin respectively, as well as a comfortable international win at the Tangiers meeting in Morocco to display that she has lost none of her racing prowess.

Simpson runs a PB of 1:58.74 in Monaco last year

Nevertheless, her recent form book didn’t impress Charles van Commennee and his team who opted to name Jenny Meadows, Marilyn Okoro and world championships debutant Emma Jackson for three places in the podium funding over her.

Fair enough up to that point, it was admittedly a very close call. But looking at some of the names that have been put up in the ‘top flight’, Simpson has got every reason to feel hard done by at the receiving end of the verdict.

Jemma Simpson on her funding cut

However, there could still be hope left for her to regain her place in the ‘grace of UK Athletics funding’. During her interview to BBC on the matter, she mentioned “but their rules are that they can only support three athletes per event on podium level funding and they’ve chosen three people ahead of me, so the chances are highly unlikely…” Well, not quite yet.

A closer look through the list at Podium level will reveal that there have been selected five 400m male runners – namely Martyn Rooney, Michael Bingham, Chris Clarke, Nigel Levine and Richard Strachan – as well as four male runners in the 400m hurdles – Dai Greene, Jack Green, Nathan Woodward and Rhys Williams.

The flat 400m runners could be justified as serving the purposes of the long relay, though one has got to wonder what the Relay Podium level is all about then, but the hurdlers are not directly related to that end.

Therefore, if there is indeed such a rule in place, there appears that it has been stretched or overstepped twice within the same frame, which would shape a firm ground for her to found her case and challenge the decision on a good chance of success.

So there looks plenty of the plot yet to be weaved on this front and let’s see what the future holds for her, while that could also pave the way for further appeals from other British athletes concerned. For the time being, Simpson remains focussed and pledges to keep pushing on with and accomplish her dream and main target, London Olympics 2012.

BBC Report

Phil Wicks had to grit his teeth and dig deep in the late stages of the Amsterdam marathon on Sunday to eventually edge inside the Olympic B standard in a PB of 2h15:37 and bring his London dream to life.

The 27-year-old Belgrave Harrier, in his initiation over the distance, started brightly and was on schedule for a time even under the A standard of 2h12 for much of the race.

But having missed his drinks up to the 24th kilometre counted against him and his chances as he cramped up around the 32nd and was forced to drop his pace, yet he fought bravely all the way and was able to save the day in the end.

His debut time was good enough to carry him straight up to number four in the British rankings this season but he will most likely need more to make the starting line in the Olympics in London come summer.

Scott Overall‘s naming in the top tier of UK Athletics funding yesterday effectively means that he ought to be picked for the marathon in the Olympic team when the relative selectors panel meet for the first time on December 5, therefore anyone else wishing to follow him through will have to duck inside 2h12 as well.

But a solid footing on the edge of that terriroty has been obtained and Wicks can sense that has got a fair chance of making it to the end himself, hopefully everything falling in place next time out.

Out in the front, the Kenyan contingent in action, led by pre-race favourite Wilson Chebet, carried out yet another marauding foray into the streets of a European city to sweep everything before them and not even Sileshi Sihine (ETH), the Beijing silver medallist and off a 26:39.69 platform over 10000m, could come up with anything to shake them and had to pull out around the 36th kilometre for a disappointing debut.

Having won in Rotterdam in a big PB and third fastest so far in the world 2h05:27 last April, Chebet thrived on Dutch soil once again in very much perfect racing conditions to pull away in the late phases from a relatively large leading pack and claim a convincing victory in 2h05:53, his second fastest ever and just 10 seconds outside the course record. As a matter of fact, he didn’t miss mentioning “I love the courses in this country (Holland)” in his post-race interview.

Laban Korir came through late to snatch the runner-up spot in a PB of 2h06:05 from pacemaker-turned-contender Erick Ndiema, who set a world best by an U20 in an astounding 2h06:07, while also ‘rabbit’ Nicholas Manza came fourth to add to the superb string of PBs in 2:06.34 and the stunning depth of the race – the ninth, tenth and equal fifteenth fastest times in the world this season! First non-Kenyan home, in fact, was Eritrean Samuel Tsegay in a PB of his own in 2h07:28 for only eighth.

Needless to say, the Kenyans enjoy a frightening dominance with no equal in the history of any Olympic event as their runners occupy the top 14 places in the global lists this season, with Manza making it a virtual top 15 as he is level with Brasilian Marilson dos Santos in that place.

Tiki Gelana salvaged some pride for the Ethiopians as she stormed to the win in a course record of 2h22:08 (PB) in the women’s affair, fifth fastest in the world, while Eyerusalem Kuma made it a one-two in a PB of 2h24:55 and former world cross-country champion Lorna Kiplagat (NED) was third in 2h25:52.

Men’s Results

1.Wilson Chebet (KEN) 2h05:53, 2.Laban Korir (KEN) 2h06:05 (PB), 3.Eric Ndiema (KEN) 2h06:07 (PB), 4.Nicholas Manza (KEN) 2h06:34 (PB), 5.Elijah Keitany (KEN) 2h06:53, 6.Paul Biwott (KEN) 2h06:54 (PB), 7.John Kiprotich (KEN) 2h07:08 (PB), 8.Samuel Tsegay (ERI) 2h07:28 (PB), …, 21.Phil Wicks (GBR) 2h15:37 (PB)

Women’s Results

1.Tiki Gelana (ETH) 2h22:08 (PB, CR), 2.Eyerusalem Kuma (ETH) 2h24:55 (PB), 3.Lornah Kiplagat (NED) 2h25:52, 4.Genet Getaneh (ETH) 2h25:57  (PB), 5.Nailya Yulamanova (RUS)  2h26:39