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Ken Borland

Archive for the ‘Athletics’

Bolt pushing the boundaries of human ability 0

Posted on January 16, 2013 by Ken

While South Africans can rightly feel proud of Oscar Pistorius for redefining what is possible for the disabled, Usain St Leo Bolt is undoubtedly the athlete who has pushed the boundaries of human ability to new levels.

Although the Jamaican did not set any new world records in 2012, his achievement in defending both the 100 and 200m titles at the Olympic Games was unprecedented and he added consecutive gold medals in the 4x100m just for good measure.

As a wonderful graphic comparison of all the 100m Olympic medallists in the New York Times [] pointed out, Bolt is so far ahead of all the other great sprinters that he would have beaten the legendary Carl Lewis by 10 feet if they had run together in London this year.

In an event where the margins are so small, Bolt not only dominates, he destroys his opposition. The only time he has been beaten in a major race in recent years came after a false start in the 2011 World Championships 100m. Bolt owns the three fastest times ever in the 100m and is also the world record-holder in the 200m.

And in London this year he was visibly slowing down at the finish, but still clocked 9.63 seconds, second only to the 9.58 he ran at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, when he also took time to celebrate before reaching the finishing line.

There is no doubt the 26-year-old is one of sport’s greatest entertainers, someone people want to see perform, much like Pele, Muhammad Ali or Michael Jordan. Not only are his athletic exploits extraordinary to behold, the crowds also eat up his showboating and clowning around before and after races.

Before Bolt, the 100m used to be a deadly-serious affair, full of macho posturing and muscle-clenching, but the 6ft5, wonderfully proportioned Jamaican pulled the mickey out of that and then went on to leave his competitors as also-rans.

It is clear that Bolt combines freakish physical attributes (the perfect combination of height, stride length, twitch fibre speed, power and pace) with mental strength and efficient training. Having said in Tokyo earlier this year that he was keen to try the 400m and long jump at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Bolt backtracked last month and said he felt he could still get faster in the sprint events with different training methods.

What a scary thought for his rivals! Perhaps their only hope is to allow them to have Alsatians chasing them from behind because it seems only a superhuman effort is going to beat Bolt, the Super Human.

‘I tried my best’ – Semenya 0

Posted on August 15, 2012 by Ken

Caster Semenya, the 800m Olympic silver medallist, on Tuesday defended herself against allegations that she had not tried to win the two-lap race in London at the weekend.

Semenya, the South African who was forced to undergo gender testing after her 2009 world championships triumph, started poorly in the final, sitting at the back of the field until she produced a late burst to finish second to Mariya Savinova, 1.04 seconds behind the Russian.

Her performance led to speculation by television pundit Colin Jackson, the three-time 110m hurdles world champion, that Semenya had deliberately avoided winning so as not to stir up fresh controversy like that in 2009.

“I tried my best, whatever people say. There is always talk, but these people know nothing about athletics,” Semenya said at Johannesburg International Airport on Tuesday, where she received a heroine’s welcome.

South Africa’s sports minister, Fikile Mbalula, praised Semenya, a shy girl from an obscure rural village in South Africa’s northern-most province of Limpopo, as an inspiration to all those coming from similarly modest upbringings.

“I don’t know about her strategy in the race, but she has made us very proud. Nobody gave her a chance, but she showed the greatest guts of a young African woman,” Mbalula said while choking back tears.

“She has toiled out of difficulty to become a symbol of greatness and has shown that it doesn’t matter where you come from. From her small village in Limpopo, where the people are full of poverty, she has become the symbol of a courageous young woman.”

Semenya’s time of 1:57.23 was top-class and she said she was satisfied with a silver medal, but would be looking to go one better in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“I am happy with silver, but it was hard work. I said to myself that I must get something from the race and I saw that the other ladies were tired. I had to pull out my turbo-boost,” she smiled.

“I’m concentrating now on next year, the world championships in Moscow, that is my main focus. The Olympics are still four years away and we learn by mistakes so hopefully I can do better next time and win the Olympics,” Semenya said.


IAAF won’t dictate where Oscar runs – Team SA 0

Posted on July 11, 2012 by Ken

Team South Africa will not be seeking any ruling from the International Amateur Athletics Federation over which legs of the 4x400m relay double-amputee Oscar Pistorius may run at the London Olympics, South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Gideon Sam said on Wednesday.
Pistorius, who wears carbon fibre blades and was cleared to compete against able-bodied athletes by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2008, was named in South Africa’s 4x400m relay team last week. There were subsequent reports that the IAAF would not allow Pistorius to run in anything but the first leg of the relay due to concerns over the safety of the other athletes because of his prosthetics.
Sam told Reuters on Wednesday that it would be up to the relay team and coaching staff to decide where Pistorius runs.
“We won’t give in to any outside interference over where Oscar is allowed to run, that would amout to discrimination. The debate over whether he gets an advantage from his blades is over and, like any relay team, be it athletics or swimming, it is now up to the team to decide where he runs,” Sam said.
Pistorius, who failed to meet Sascoc’s stringent qualification criteria for the individual 400m, was named in the 4x400m relay team because he was a member of the team that won silver in the 2011 World Championships and is South Africa’s fastest runner over that distance this year.
“The team ran the qualifying time twice when they won silver in Daegu and Oscar was a part of that team. They are ranked second in the world at the moment, so we are very confident that Oscar must be there at the Olympics.
“Oscar ran a qualifying time in South Africa and has worked very hard in running all over the world, so there’s no reason not to include him,” Sam said.
Sascoc’s qualifying criteria stated that an athlete must run a qualifying time both locally and abroad this year, but Pistorius only reached the 45.30 second threshold once on South African soil. But because he is going to the Olympics anyway as a member of the relay team, he will be allowed to participate in the individual 400m as well.
While Sam denied there had been any pressure from the International Olympic Committee for Pistorius’s historic inclusion in the South African team, the deputy minister of sport, Gert Oosthuizen, confirmed that government had backed the 25-year-old’s selection.
“As part of our drive to normalise society, we want to mainstream disabled people, that is the declared policy of government. We always want them to be able to showcase what they can do and to destigmatise them,” Oosthuizen told Reuters on Wednesday.
Sam also announced on Wednesday that Sascoc would pay incentives to all South African medal-winners at the Olympics.
Gold medals will bring a reward of R400 000 [40 000 euro], silver R200 000 [20 000 euro] and bronze R80 000 [8000 euro].

Semenya lifts weight from her shoulders 0

Posted on April 24, 2012 by Ken

Former 800m world champion Caster Semenya said a weight had been lifted from her shoulders after she qualified for the Olympic Games in a Yellow Pages Series meet at the Tukkies University Stadium in Pretoria on Friday.

Semenya eased to victory in the women’s 800m in a time of one minute, 59.58 seconds, well inside the Olympic qualifying standard of 1:59.90.

South African Olympic organisers require athletes to meet the qualifying standard twice, once in a local meet and the other internationally, and the 21-year-old Semenya gained her first qualifying time from her second-placed finish in last year’s World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

“It’s a weight off my shoulders and I’m very happy with my time,” Semenya told reporters after the race. “I just ran my own race and it went okay, it’s best that way and I enjoyed it, that’s why I qualified.”

Semenya failed to reach the qualifying standard in last weekend’s national championships in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, clocking 2:02.68 in windy conditions, but she became the first woman to run under two minutes on South African soil in 21 years on Friday, after running the first 400 metres in 57 seconds.

“The start was good and we had trained hard and planned to qualify in South Africa. There’s now no need for me to go to the African Championships and I know my plans for the European season, I must just be patient,” Semenya said.

The 2009 world champion, who had to undergo controversial gender tests until July 2010, seemed to make the qualifying time with ease on Friday and she said she hoped to run even faster in Europe.

“I possibly can go quicker, tonight was just my third race of the season, and I hope to go below 1:57 in Europe, but it depends on my training, which needs to strengthen me up for the Olympics. I need to last and one race does not mean anything,” Semenya said.

“In 2009 I was a little kid, I now have more experience, plus I now have Maria Mutola as my coach, who has even more experience having run for more than 10 years in Europe. We have a good relationship, we’re like best friends.

“But I’m still young and fresh, I have no pressure on me and I have to take advantage of that,” Semenya said.

The Tukkies University student said she will compete at the World Challenge in Ostrava on May 25 and in Rome on June 1, before temporarily switching to 400-metre races to work on her speed.

The evening meet brought just one more Olympic qualifying performance, with Khotso Mokoena leaping 8.29 metres to win the long jump.

The 2008 Olympic silver medallist – South Africa’s only medallist at the Beijing Games – still needs to reach the qualifying standard in an international event in order to qualify for the Olympics.

Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, the 2009 men’s 800 metres world champion, continued a winning comeback to the track after an achilles injury kept him out of action for most of the previous year, by winning Friday night’s 800 metres in a time of 1:46.12, outside the Olympic qualifying standard of 1:45.60.

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    Mark 7:8 – “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”

    Our foundation must be absolute surrender, devotion and obedience to God, rising from pure love for him. Jesus Christ must be central in all things and his will must take precedence over the will of people, regardless of how well-meaning they may be.

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