Tag Archives: 2019 World Championships

Malaika Mihambo crowned German Sportswoman of the Year

Malaika Mihambo was crowned German Sportswoman of the Year for the third successive year on Sunday (19) at the traditional Kurhaus Gala in Baden-Baden.

Mihambo completed the set of major titles at the Tokyo Olympics this summer by winning gold in the long jump with a season’s best of 7.00m.

This was her third major triumph in a row after winning gold at the 2018 European Championships in Berlin and the 2019 World Championships in Doha.

Mihambo becomes the first sportsperson to win this coveted award three times in a row since retired discus thrower Robert Harting (2012-14) and the first sportswoman to do so since Steffi Graf who won four titles between 1986 -1989 and five in total.

Mihambo was the commanding favourite among the 980 sports journalists who submitted their votes.

The 27-year-old topped the voting with 1845 points ahead of fellow Olympic champions Aline Rotter-Focken in wrestling (942) and Ricarda Funke in canoe slalom (686).

Source: european-athletics.com

Testosterone Again

In the first 2-mile race of her professional career, Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba beat Ethiopia’s 5000m world record holder Letesenbet Gidey by six seconds in Friday’s women’s 2-mile at the Prefontaine Classic in a Hayward Field record of 9:00.75, less than two seconds off Meseret Defar’s world record.

Question: should this result reopen the conversation regarding high-testosterone in women’s athletics, or does it simply represent a particularly full-ranged athlete in top form? After all, Niyonsaba placed 5th in the Tokyo Olympic 10,000m final in 30:41.93.

Acknowledging her hyperandrogegism in 2019, Ms. Niyonsaba, the 2016 Rio Olympic 800m silver medalist, was among a handful of athletes (most famously South Africa’s Caster Semenya) forced to abandon their primary racing distances (400m up to the mile) in light of new World Athletics rules governing athletes with naturally high testosterone levels competing in those races.

Caster Semenya (center), 2016 Olympic silver medalist Francine Niyonsaba (left) and bronze medalist Margaret Wambui would be denied a potential rematch in Tokyo at 800 meters because of the regulations Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The World Athletics Council approved new eligibility rules at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar. The new rules required female athletes with naturally high testosterone levels, as well as transgender female athletes, to lower their testosterone concentration levels to a new limit of less than 5 nanomoles per liter of blood to “bring them back into a competitive balance”.

That new < 5 nmol/L limit would then have to be maintained continuously for a period of at least 12 months prior to an athlete being declared eligible for competition in the 400m to 1-mile. The previous limit was < 10 nmol/L But those lower levels would not be necessary for races contested below 400m or above the mile.

I was never good at math, so this new equation meant to represent “competitive balance” had me a bit flummoxed.

When you Google “normal testosterone measurements for females”, you discover values scaling between 0.52 to 2.43 nmol/L.  (Normal men range from 7.7 – 29.4 nmol/L).

My math-challenged male brain then wondered why an allowance nearly twice the high end of the normal limit (5.0 vs. 2.4) could be considered as “competitive balance” as it seemed decidedly imbalanced.

Why isn’t the appropriate new level for High-T and transgender females within the “normal range” topping out at 2.43 nmol/L, or rounded off at 2.50?  The answer World Athletics gave is that < 5 nmol/L is the number because that is the highest possible level that a healthy woman with ovaries would have.

Alright, but should the highest possible value become the new standard if the goal is to achieve “competitive balance”, especially if that number involves a very small but important segment of the racing population?

While that new standard may well produce an equilibrium, it’s hardly an even balance. In fact, you could argue that with no policy at all the sport had achieved equilibrium. A decidedly imbalanced one, mind you, but an equilibrium nonetheless.

Why should athletes within the normal range of 0.5 – 2.4 nmol/L be expected to compete fairly with athletes with essentially double their testosterone levels (5.0)? So they lose by, what, a lesser but still substantial margin?

Also, if regulators expect transgender or high-T females to reduce to a certain level, why not allow the non high-T or transgender athletes to go up to the same < 5.0 nmol/L limit that their high-T/transgender competitors have to come down to, all in the interest of fairness?

If World Athletics now requires drug use to lower certain athletes’ lab levels – call it performance-restricting drug use – then drug taking per se doesn’t seem to be the primary issue at hand anymore. Rather, it is the level of testosterone concentration in the athletes that officials are most concerned about.

So why not test everyone, and put them all in a similar range? If < 5 nmol/L is the number, then that’s the number for everybody. Those too high have to come down, but those below are allowed to come up.

We always talk about the winners and try to control their advantages. Why don’t we talk about the non-winners and make compensations from that end of the spectrum, too?

As always, just asking.

Source: tonireavis.com

Coe hopeful all countries will attend 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha despite diplomatic dispute

International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe has expressed his hope that all nations will participate at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, despite the ongoing diplomatic issues surrounding Qatar.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were among countries to cut ties with Qatar in June 2017.

They accused the nation of supporting terrorism, a claim which has been denied.

A resulting blockade included withdrawing ambassadors and imposing trade and travel bans.

The ongoing diplomatic crisis has put pressure on Qatar with sport among several sectors impacted.

Qatar’s capital city Doha is set to host next year’s World Athletics Championships, but concerns have been raised over whether the crisis could impact the event.

IAAF President Coe has expressed his hope countries involved in the dispute will still send their athletes to the Championships, however.

“I want every federation to be there,” Coe said, according to Agence France-Presse.

“I see no reason why they shouldn’t.

“Political fragility from time to time emerges in all systems.

“It is very important that international sport maintains its primacy.

“Picking your partnerships around politics can be a pretty transient process if you’re not careful.

“I’m confident that we’ll have a full house in Qatar.”

The Gulf Cup of Nations was among the events impacted by the political crisis, with the tournament having been scheduled to take place in Qatar in December.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE threatened to withdraw from the event, resulting in the Asian Football Confederation moving the competition to Kuwait.

The competition was set to form part of Qatar’s preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

In August last year, Egyptian handball clubs Al-Ahly Sports Club and Zamalek turned down invitations to compete at the International Handball Federation Super Globe event in Qatar for political reasons.

Source: insidethegames.biz

IAAF seeking new host for World Relays as Bahamas ends deal

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is seeking a new host for its World Relays event after the Bahamas government opted to end its hosting agreement.

The Caribbean country has been the home of the World Relays since the event’s formation in 2014 and was due to host its fourth edition from May 10-11 next year. However, the government is reported to have taken the decision to end the contract due to concerns over the cost of hosting the event.

While the government has yet to comment on the matter, the news has been widely reported in local media. Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ president Rosamunde Carey, who served as chairman of the Local Organising Committee for the last World Relays in 2017, told The Tribune newspaper: “It’s very unfortunate that after working so hard to make the Bahamas the destination for the World Relays that we won’t be able to host it again.

“Over the years, we have made this one of the premier events hosted by the IAAF, because a lot of the things that were introduced at the World Relays are now being staged at various meets by the IAAF.”

The latest innovation introduced by the World Relays was the mixed relays, which was utilised at last year’s event and has now been added to the programme for the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

Carey said she had spoken to IAAF president Sebastian Coe and that a decision on a replacement host country is expected to be announced next week.

“It’s very disappointing, but we understand the consensus of the government,” she said. “As the former chairman, I just want to say thank you to the previous Bahamas government and the IAAF for allowing us to showcase such a prestigious event.

“We have made the Bahamas a global sporting mecca, hosting the event to the high standard that the IAAF expected us to put on. We have been able to put the event as a staple on their calendar and fulfil the confidence that they had placed in our council and the Bahamas in general.”

The Bahamas’ fellow Caribbean country, Jamaica, has already signalled its interest in the 2019 World Relays. Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) president Dr Warren Blake said he is keen on staging the event, but added that it would require financial backing from the government as the National Stadium would need significant upgrades.

“JAAA is willing to take it on, once we have the government’s support,” Blake told The Gleaner newspaper. “We made this position clear months ago, when we became aware that there may have been a vote against it. We are very interested in hosting the World Relays, it just depends on the financial backing of the government.”

sportbusiness.com

Cheruiyot as motivated as ever in the latest chapter of her career

It took Vivian Cheruiyot three attempts at the distance to get it absolutely right but it wouldn’t be fair to say her win at this year’s London Marathon was simply a case of third-time lucky.

The outcome was the result of a more rounded and robust preparation. The Kenyan covered more miles in training in the build-up and combined it with a game-plan which was mindful of Cheruiyot’s condition, the experience of her debut last year when she faded to fourth, and the fact the race was billed as a world record attempt.

Mary Keitany and Tirunesh Dibaba both started aggressively in pursuit of Paula Radcliffe’s mark in conditions which Keitany later reflected were not conducive for such exploits but Cheruiyot – unlike last year when she described herself as “totally kaput in the last half” – still had plenty in reserve at the corresponding checkpoint in 1:08:56, one minute slower than in her debut last year.

But not only was Cheruiyot on course to run a big lifetime best, she was still within striking distance if either of the leaders faltered. They both did. She caught Dibaba in the 19th mile before reeling in Keitany four miles later.

This performance was Cheruiyot’s arrival into the big-time at the distance, moving to fourth on the world all-time list with 2:18:31. It was a masterclass in strategy and pace judgement (there was only a 13-second discrepancy in her four 10km segments: 32:53, 32:39, 32:51, 32:49) and a performance which was respectful of both the conditions and the distance.

Vivian Cheruiyot wins the London Marathon (Getty Images) © Copyright

“Based on her training, I had a good idea what she was capable of running,” said her coach and manager Ricky Simms. “I have coached Vivian for 14 years and we have a very good understanding.

“I didn’t know what the other girls could run but I knew that going out in 1:07:30 was too fast for her. We studied previous performances in the London Marathon over the past 15 years and, more often than not, even splits – or even negative splits – produced more success than a large differential.

“Last year Vivian went off very fast and paid the price in the final stages,” he added. “She did not want to repeat that again this year.”

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH THE DISTANCE

Last year’s debut was a tough baptism for Cheruiyot, although a fourth-place finish in 2:23:50 was by no means a poor showing for a newcomer to the distance.

She won her second attempt at the distance at the Frankfurt Marathon in October with a near identical time of 2:23:35 in cold and windy conditions which Cheruiyot expresses a distaste for. But as solid as her first two marathons were, they were not quite on a level with her fantastic times and performances over 5000m and 10,000m.

Vivian Cheruiyot in Frankfurt (Victah Sailer/organisers) © Copyright

“Vivian was one of the best track runners in the history of the sport but it took her some time to change her mentality from track training to marathon training,” said Simms. “She learned a lot in her first two marathons and this helped her to be successful in London.

“As someone who was at the top of the world on the track, it was hard for her to not be immediately successful in marathon. We expected her to run about 2:20 on her debut but her first half last year ruined her chances of doing so. She was running most of the race in Frankfurt at 2:19-2:20 pace but a strong wind blew away a fast time and she slowed a lot in the final 10 to 15 kilometres.

“Our aim for London this year was to be strong in the latter part of the race, unlike her two previous races,” he said.

Cheruiyot extolled the virtues of being patient and “running comfortably” at the winners’ press conference. While reluctant to discuss the prospect of challenging the world record any time soon, the consensus in the Cheruiyot camp is there is still room for improvement. Cheruiyot said she is “learning about the event” and while her preparations were better than they were for her two marathons in 2017, it was “still not close to perfect”, according to Simms.

Cheruiyot missed one week of training in early March due to a bout of flu and she was forced to miss another week after the New York Half Marathon on 18 March. She was taken to hospital after extreme breathing problems caused by the cold temperatures forced her to drop out. “This is not in the ‘how to prepare for a marathon’ textbook,” said Simms.

Cheruiyot increased her weekly mileage to an average of 100-110 miles at her base in Kaptagat where she is aided by a group of male pacemakers with her husband Moses overseeing her programme. Looking ahead, there is scope to further increase the volume as Cheruiyot gets stronger and more used to the rigours of marathon training.

“We had to very gradually increase her mileage to ensure her body could handle it,” said Simms. “Looking ahead, she can definitely add more volume – in line with what other top marathon runners are doing – but also run high mileage for a longer period.  She may not be an athlete that needs to run very high mileage compared to some others.”

KEEPING THE WINNING HABIT ON THE ROAD TO TOKYO

Having won two world titles at 5000m, two at 10,000m and the 2016 Olympic title at 5000m, Cheruiyot’s esteemed career on the track was defined by her excellent championship record. This is the approach they will assume over the marathon distance with race victories – not fast times – being the foremost goal.

Vivian Cheruiyot wins the 5000m at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Getty Images) © Copyright

“Vivian definitely has the potential to run faster but with the marathon you never know what you are going to do on the day and you don’t get that many attempts when you are fully healthy on a fast course with good weather,” says Simme. “For Vivian it will be about trying to win races and hopefully she will be able to improve her time if she gets to run on one of the fast courses.”

Cheruiyot confirmed at the press conference she has fully retired from the track but that is not to say she is altogether done with championship racing. There aren’t any races on the immediate itinerary but the Tokyo Olympics – which would be her fifth Games – very much feature in the long-term plans.

“I think we will take it step by step,” said Simms. “It is important for her to be consistent at the level she is at now, stay healthy and try to move forward. It would be great if she could have the option to run at the 2019 World Championships and 2020 Olympic Games but unfortunately the Kenyan selection system does not allow us to plan in this way.

“She has one gold, two silvers and one bronze from previous Olympic Games,” adds Simms. “I know she would like to add another gold in Tokyo.”