The weather at the Qatar Super Grand Prix - IAAF World Athletics Tour - meeting in Doha on Friday was predictably good. Sunny and warm with a breeze. A track that is soft but yet firm.
A place to go fast.
David Oliver led the assault on the world leader board in a meet that saw over a dozen world leads and a meet record. Oliver flew over the hurdles in 13.19 over Antwon Hicks (13.24) and Andrew Turner (13.31).
How fast can Travis Padgett go this season? Today the former Clemson standout made his move early, getting out the blocks quickly as he ran 10.00 equaling the world fastest time. With Padgett coming out gunning at 10.00, it easily be said that his personal record of 9.89 is in jeopardy.
Is Allyson Felix signaling an unofficial career shift to the 400? Felix put down 50.75, with a field including Shericka Williams (51.08) and Natasha Hastings (52.39). Last year Felix won the meet in 10.93, a world leading time at the time. This year the Beijing silver medalist at 200 meters set the world leading time in the 400 meters. A monumental shift in the women’s 400 would occur if Felix competes at major championships in the one lap race.
It was the hottest race of the evening. Abubaker Kaki Khamis of Sudan ran a dizzying second lap on the way to running 1:43.09 in the 800 meters that saw three runners peel off sub 1:44 seconds. Abubaker fought off Asbel Kipruto Kiprop and Mohammed Al-Salhi to retain victory.
Jamaica’s Kerron Stewart is going to be a force to reckon with this season in the 100. She easily ran 10.93, against a field featuring Stephanie Durst (11.15) of the U.S. and Jamaica’s Sherri Ann-Brooke (11.20).
Getting back to business as usual, Croatia’s Blanka Vlasic cleared 2.05 meters, before making a ran at a World record 2.10 meter jump. Reese Hoffa got off early heaving 21.64 to win the shot put.
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Will Lagat seal the Wanamaker Mile deal?
The wait is finally over. Traditionally the Millrose Games is the indoor season opener, marking the official start of the pro season and the end of the slow run of events in professional track and field. And that alone is a reason to celebrate.
Every race on the 2009 Indoor Visa Championship Series is unique, but there are more nuances to consider at the Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It’s a 160-yard banked track for starters. And it’s New York City, don’t underestimate the effect the Big Apple plays in running this event; to win this event is bragging rights.
And then there’s the travel element - most pros will be competing for the first time this indoor season, while most will enter the meet more rested.
History in the making: Bernard Lagat is shooting for a record seven straight victories. If he wins the Wanamaker Mile at the 102nd Millrose Games at Madison Garden on Friday night, Lagat will tie Irishman Eamonn Coghlan. Last year, Nick Willis of New Zealand ran third in the foot race and again this year Willis poses a challenge to Lagat.
First timer: Travis Padgett formerly of Clemson University jumps into the 60 meters, competing in his rookie season on the professional track and field circuit. Not the biggest guy at 5 foot 8 inch, but with a personal best of 9.89 seconds in the 100 meters, Padgett is seeking to make a splash on the professional level this season.
Time for Michael Rodgers to break through?
Little known going into last season, Rodgers made a name for himself in winning the 60-meters U.S. indoor national title last year. Rodgers will contend with veterans Terrence Trammell and Shawn Crawford, but look for Rodgers to come blasting out the blocks.
A loaded field is scheduled for the women’s 60 meters. Second year pro Bianca Knight takes the track along side Carmelita Jeter, Muna Lee Lisa Barber, and Sheri-Ann Brooks of Jamaica. Muna Lee is coming off a break through season after winning her first national title in impressive style at the winning the women’s 100m in a personal best 10.85. She then came back to finish runner-up in the women’s 200m in a windy 21.99.
A veteran group including Terrence Trammell, Antwon Hicks, and Aries Merritt round out the 60-meter hurdles. Rob Bramlett a former two-time NCAA champion is back on the scene after retiring.
Well, Amy Acuff is nearly 34, and all of a sudden is making concessions to father time. Really. Amy Acuff is performing in her last Millrose Games with plans possibly to retire at seasons end. Acuff takes on fellow 2008 U.S. Olympians Chaunte Howard, Amy Acuff and Sharon Day.
Acuff said. “I’ve learned over the years how to take care of my body better and better. Chinese medicine helps preserve me, and being smarter about how I train. But this will probably be the last year. I’d like to have a family. It’s going to at least take a year since you can’t be jumping with a baby. So, I think this is going to be it for me.”
Kara Goucher has a history of running well in New York City. The defending champion at this weeks event, Goucher is making a run in the women’s mile run.
Notes on field events:
The shot put is loaded with big names that always catch your eye. Reese Hoffa, Christian Cantwell, and Adam will put a show that you can’t miss. Last year, Nelson brought down the roof 2008 with his 22.07m/72-5 throw. This year Cantwell comes in riding the hot hand. On Saturday in Nordhausen, Germany, Cantwell fired off a throw of 21.47m/70-5 1/4 on his final attempt.
Also in field event match ups, 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials pole vault champion Derek Miles, who was fourth at the 2008 Olympic Games, has been added to a field that includes gold medalist Steven Hooker of Australia.
Jenn Stuczynski and Stacey Dragila: These two have been inextricably tied in history, so why buck the trend in 2009? Dragila, 34, returned last season to the sport after two years plauqed with injuries. Here’s a question to mull. With an Olympic gold, nine national outdoor titles, two Olympic teams, and two world titles is Dragila a future first time hall of fame pick? What about Stuczynski, with a Olympic silver, U.S outdoor record, and a half dozen national titles. In a relatively short period of time, Stuczynski has become the second best vaulter in history.
The Millrose Games in New York is the first event of USA Track & Field’s 2009 Indoor Visa Championship Series. The event will be televised live on ESPN2 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and on Jan. 31 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on NBC (all times Eastern).