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 Monday, December 16, 2002 

A brief chat with Mark Tucker

by Peter Gambaccini

Mark Tucker of Butler University in Indianapolis placed fourth in the NCAA Cross Country Championships on November 25, capping an American collegiate career that lasted less than one year. Tucker is from Geelong, Australia and began studies at his home country's University of Ballarat in March of 1998, so his college running eligibility would end after this winter's indoor track season. He is foregoing indoor track to focus on races back in Australia. Tucker, 23, had placed third in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional behind Boaz Cheiboiywo and Gavin Thompson of Eastern Michigan. Tucker has run 8:42.5 in the steeplechase, 3:45.8 for 1500 meters, and 13:58 for 5000.

Complete article at Runners World online
Posted at 15:43     [Perma-Link]

Georgie hopes for personal best

ATHLETE Georgie Clarke is just one of thousands of Victorian teenagers hanging on the end of the telephone line today waiting for their VCE marks.

The national 1500m champion athlete completed her schooling at Loreto Mandeville Hall this year, after moving to Melbourne from Geelong College 12 months ago.
She checked out the VCE results service, which is available by SMS for the first time this year.

More than 1600 students have registered to get their VCE results and ENTER score by text message to their mobile phone.

Clarke is hoping for high enough marks to secure a place in the health sciences course at Deakin University's Burwood campus.

"I tried my best, it's all done now, so I'll just be happy with anything over 70," she said yesterday.

Clarke completed two VCE subjects in 2001 and this year tackled another four -- further maths, English, biology and PE. Balancing study and training timetables was often difficult, but the middle-distance runner is now back into full training and competition.

The 18-year-old managed a short Schoolies break -- three days in Byron Bay -- but the rest of the summer will be training and part-time work in time for races in February and university in March.

At Olympic Park on Saturday night Clarke won the under-20 3000m event.

Article from the Herald Sun
Posted at 11:30     [Perma-Link]

Fun run helps keep doctors in the air

by Kristy Sexton

TAKE a bow, all of the record 13,752 competitors who contested The Sunday Mail Suncorp Metway Bridge to Brisbane fun run.

The training, effort and sweat from runners, walkers and wheelies has paid big dividends for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

A cheque for $147,135 was presented to the RFDS this week by Queensland Newspapers managing director Jerry Harris and Suncorp Metway general manager of group marketing Jan Mohr.

RFDS chief executive Bruce McGuire said: ``There has been a significant increase in demand on our service over the past two years and we have been hit by some significant cost increases.

``We are very appreciative of what has been done and for the money raised and I thank everyone who was involved in this year's event.''

Mr Harris said Queensland Newspapers was proud to help the work of the RFDS through the fun run.

``It is a wonderful community event that we are proud and delighted to be involved with.

``From the point of view of Queensland Newspapers, we are committed to the event going on and getting bigger and bigger.''

Ms Mohr said the fun run had not only grown to be one of the most important events on the Brisbane calendar, but had also raised about $750,000 for Queensland charities since 1997.

Other beneficiaries were the Cerebral Palsy Association of Queensland, the State Emergency Service and the Lions Club.

Major beneficiary next year will be Brisbane's Princess Alexandra Hospital Research Team.

Article from the Sunday Mail
Posted at 10:24     [Perma-Link]

Troop back on top in Zatopek

By Len Johnson

Protege and mentor grabbed the Zatopek highlights last night as Lee Troop continued his path to athletic redemption with his first Zatopek 10,000 metres win and Steve Moneghetti finished within three seconds of breaking the world veterans' record.

Troop, who said that just over a year ago the only solace he was finding was in the bottle, dominated the race from gun to tape at Olympic Park. Nonetheless, his 28:03.01 was a personal best.

Complete article at The Age website

Posted at 10:14     [Perma-Link]

Throw Lee a lifeline, urges VIS head coach


VICTORIAN Institute of Sport head coach Eric Hollingsworth has called on the sport's leading body to get behind Lee Troop and renew the financial support it cut from the marathoner three months ago.

Troop was shattered when Athletics Australia cut his funding and left him out of the recent elite Olympic training camp in Sydney.

After two years of injuries, Troop showed he is the premier distance runner in the country in Saturday night's Zatopek Classic.

While the VIS has stuck by Troop throughout his personal troubles, Hollingsworth urged the AA panel, headed by team coach Keith Connor, to reconsider its stance and include the 29-year-old on the Olympic Athlete Preparation Plan.

The country's elite athletes on the OAPP receive funding and support through to the Athens 2004 Games.

``The thing against Troopy in terms of the selection was how far back his last performance was and that was Sydney where he obviously had a hard time of it,'' Hollingsworth said.

``There is a philosophical attitude that we should back athletes who have got talent. In my opinion it could have gone either way, if you looked at the talent of the guy.

``He's now run a PB and, hopefully, that emphasises that he's still got it.''

Troop's Zatopek time was a B-qualifier for next year's world championships but he will switch to the marathon next year with his next race planned for March 2 at Lake Biwa in Japan.

Hollingsworth said Troop was a potential championships medallist, given the nature of marathon running.

``A few times it doesn't come off but, essentially, he is going in the right direction, I'm pretty confident about that,'' he said.

Article from the Herald Sun
Posted at 10:01     [Perma-Link]

Power steps up the trip


SUSIE Power, perhaps Australia's most talented track distance runner, has entered the London marathon as an experiment she hopes will lead to an Olympic medal in Athens.

Power, 27, won the 10,000m bronze medal at the Manchester Commonwealth Games but then ran the world's second fastest time this year for a half-marathon in Britain's Great North Run at South Shields in October.

``My half-marathon was a fairly good time and I felt quite comfortable. I think that sort of pace suits me and I don't enjoy the speed training on the track,'' said Power, who showed she is still on track by winning the Zatopek 10,000m on Saturday night.

``Moving up to the marathon is a big move because it's the final move, but if my training over the next 12 weeks goes to plan I think I need to give it a shot.

``If I do well in London in April it might be a direction for me to go into the Olympics in 2004.''

Power, from the Mornington peninsula, said after her marathon debut she would drop down to run the 10,000m at the IAAF world championships in Paris in August.

``I've got to look at the best option for me to win a medal,'' added Power who missed the Sydney Olympics.

``Even in the 10,000m at the Olympics their last lap was just as quick as in the 1500m. You wonder if someone can run it out of them, but Paula Radcliffe tried that and finished fourth.''

Radcliffe, the 10,000m gold medallist in Manchester, ran her second marathon in Chicago in October and shattered the world record in 2hrs 17min 18sec ahead of Kenya's Catherine Ndereba.

The London marathon organisers named Power in their field along with former marathon world record-holder Ndereba and Sydney Olympic 10,000m champion Derartu Tulu of Ethiopia and Joyce Chepchumba, the Kenyan who won the New York marathon in November.

Based on her half-marathon time of 67min 56sec, Power's manager, Nic Bideau, projected a 2hrs 22min marathon.

Power took some big scalps in the half marathon, beating Chepchumba by 38sec and Tulu by exactly 2min.

Commonwealth marathon champion Kerryn McCann, who Power described as ``an inspiration'' was six minutes behind.

Power retained the Zatopek crown on the weekend in 31min 58.43sec, easily accounting for fellow Victorians Anna Thompson (32:48.27) and Serena Gibbs (34:06.64).

Article from the Posted at 09:59     [Perma-Link]

Troop wins battle


`I was finding solace in the bottom of a bottle'

SOMETHING had to give for Lee Troop. His body was falling apart and so was his mind.

Drinking binges, often three or four nights in a row, were leading to dangerous bouts of depression.

Australia's best distance runner took what he thought was his only option in October last year; he called it quits.

``The only place I was finding solace was in the bottom of a bottle,'' Troop recalled.

It had been all downhill for Troop since he broke Ron Clarke's long-standing 5000m record in 1999. The Geelong runner switched to the marathon for the Sydney Olympics and, after being in the lead group early, hit the wall after tearing his stomach muscle and faded to finish 65th.

``That is the hardest thing I have had to do, run 19km with a torn stomach muscle, coughing blood and wondering if I was ever going to finish,'' Troop said. ``A lot of people deserted me after that. This is one of the cruellest sports I know. When you're hot everyone loves you and they put you on a pedestal and treat you like a king. When you're down the gurgler you're treated like s---.''

His battles then became front-page news early last year when he was convicted of drink-driving. It wasn't until he returned from America in December and spoke in depth with his friend, physio Andrew Lambert, that he was convinced to give it one last shot.

``My first day of training was a one-minute run and a nine-minute walk,'' Troop said.

``The next day it was a two-minute run and eight-minute walk. He told me it would take 12 months to have me running well and he was right.''

On Saturday night at Olympic Park the Troop of old was back. He blitzed the field in the 10,000m Zatopek Classic, clocking a personal best 28min 3.01sec and, in the process, saving his Nike sponsorship.

``I had to run a PB or face a 25 per cent reduction in my Nike fees,'' he said. ``That's business. I haven't delivered in two years.''

The Zatopek was a cleansing of the soul for the 29-year-old who has recently split from long-time manager Nick Bideau, had his funding cut by Athletics Australia and was left out of the recent elite Olympic training camp.

``It has been a very humbling experience,'' Troop said. ``I now want my running to do the talking.

``I just want to be a great athlete and be remembered for that. In 2004 I hope to be standing here telling you guys that I just continued on a great journey that started here.''

Throughout his problems, Troop's coach and friend Steve Moneghetti has stood by him.

``He's unbelievable,'' Troop said. ``A lot of people have probably told him to dump me and get away from me.''

While Troop was smashing records, Moneghetti, 40, went within a whisker of breaking the world veterans' record, missing by three seconds.

The marathon legend stormed home behind his pupil, finishing third in 28:33.68. Canberra's Dean Cavuoto held on for second in 28:32.38.

Frankston mother Susie Power dominated the women's event to win her second successive Zatopek in 31:58.43. Like Troop, she is looking to switch to the marathon next year.

Article from the Herald Sun
Posted at 09:53     [Perma-Link]
 Friday, December 13, 2002 

Haile shows again he's the true champ

ETHIOPIAN runner Haile Gebrselassie has racked up another record at 10,000m.

The world's greatest distance runner clocked 27min 02sec yesterday in the Doha road race in Qatar, establishing a world best on a loop course for 10,000m.

The Olympic and world champion holds various world marks including the 10,000m world record on the track (26:22.75).

Fellow Ethiopian Hailu Mekonnen was second in 27:39, with Kenyan Francis Kiprop third in 27:49.

Deratu Tulu led an Ethiopian triefecta in the women's race, winning in 32:23. Gete Wami was second (32:27) with Kutre Dulecha (32:29) third.

Gebrselassie said he used the race to improve his speed for the 3000m at the World Indoors in March in Birmingham.

He also ruled out another marathon until after the world outdoor championships in August in Paris.

Gebrselassie finished third eight months ago in the London marathon, his debut at the distance.

``I know that I will eventually become completely a marathon runner and leave the track altogether,'' he said. ``And so, no, my marathon career is not over.''

* Susie Power came agonisingly short of beating Australia's 10,000m record at the Zatopek Classic last year -- this year she's already given up the chase.

At Olympic Park in Melbourne tomorrow, Power will start favourite to repeat her victory in Australia's premier distance meet, while Lee Troop, Dean Cavuoto, and Steve Moneghetti will battle it out with a smattering of internationals, including Tanzanian Patrick Nyangelo, for the men's title.

Last year Power was just 10sec short of Lisa Ondieki's 10,000m record, becoming the second fastest Australian of all time and putting in the fourth best performance in the world for 2001.

This time around Powers will be taking it easier.

``I've had a long season overseas this year -- I'm having a break,'' Power said yesterday.

``So I haven't been training as hard but the quality of the field probably isn't as high as it was last year. And I'm probably a month short of my fitness last year.''

Power pointed out the difficulty of peaking for a race in December when the rest of the athletics world was winding down ahead of the Christmas break.

``It is a tough time of the year -- we have just finished a big season and we do need a bit of a break and it's really hard to get back to top fitness in December, and try and hold that fitness to June, July next year.''

Article from the Courier Mail
Posted at 09:40     [Perma-Link]

Ethiopian has world at his feet

ETHIOPIAN runner Haile Gebrselassie has racked up another record in the 10,000m after clocking 27min 2sec in the QSI road race in Qatar.

The Sydney Olympic champion holds various world marks, including the 10,000m world record on the track (26:22.75).

Fellow Ethiopian Hailu Mekonnen was second in 27:39 with Kenyan Francis Kiprop third in 27:49.

Deratu Tulu led an Ethiopian sweep in the women's race, winning in 32:23.

Gebrselassie said he used the race to improve his speed for the 3000m at the World Indoors in March in Birmingham, England.

He also ruled out another marathon until after the World Outdoor Championships which will be held in Paris next August.

Gebrselassie finished third eight months ago in the London marathon, his debut at the distance.

``I know that I will eventually become completely a marathon runner and leave the track altogether,'' he said.

``And so, no, my marathon career is not over.''

* AUSTRALIA'S World Cup champion Craig Mottram last night predicted fellow Victorians Lee Troop and Susie Power would win the Zatopek Classic 10,000m track races in Melbourne tomorrow night.

``Troop ran 13min 36sec for 5000m at Geelong a couple of weeks ago. He's going to be hard to beat at 10,000m although Simon Field, in his first race at the distance, could do all right,'' said Mottram, who will not defend his Zatopek title.

He also defended the decision by Sydney's Commonwealth Games 1500m medallist Youcef Abdi to withdraw from tomorrow's 5000m.

``Youcef probably hasn't done it the best way, but I think it's the right decision. He's had a really long European season like me and if he's still as tired as I am then he's wise not to race at the moment.''

Article from the Daily Telegraph
Posted at 09:37     [Perma-Link]

Troop's on march


FOR Lee Troop tomorrow night's Zatopek Classic at Olympic Park is personal.

After three years of injuries, the Geelong marathon runner is fit and searching for the respect he feels he's been denied by Australian athletics.

The flamboyant Troop is even refusing to talk until he produces on the track, preferring coach and mentor Steve Moneghetti to explain his return.

A funding snub and change of management, plus the emergence of Craig Mottram, are some of the factors fuelling the fire of the former star of Australia's distance ranks.

``I think he would like to stick it to a few people who are maybe saying that he is gone,'' Moneghetti said.

Since smashing Ron Clarke's 5000m record in 1998, Troop has been plagued by injury, despite making it to the start line in the Sydney 2000 marathon and this year's Commonwealth Games marathon.

Moneghetti knows his charge is really back this time. He was convinced of that after watching Troop clock his second fastest 5km time on a wet and windy day at a low-key state league meeting in Geelong two weeks ago.

``His run in Geelong was outstanding,'' Moneghetti said.

``It was phenomenal, you had to be there to appreciate it. I was really impressed that his strength and rhythm is back.

``It reminded me of the Troopy who dominated Australia's distance running in 1997-98.''

Moneghetti believes Troop has matured and put the ``party boy'' image behind him.

``I think as a person he has learnt a lot over the last couple of years and it is testament to his courage and dedication. It would have been a lot easier for him to chuck it in.

``I think people underestimate him. The public know him more for his antics, but if you look back and check his competitive record and temperament in races, it's actually really consistent and very good.''

With no Kenyans in the field this year and Mottram unavailable, Troop gets a chance to win his first Zatopek outright. He has been the first local home twice.

Four-time winner Moneghetti, 40, will also run, but Troop's biggest threat may come from 23-year-old Mark Tucker, another Geelong boy, who has returned from a year in the American college system, where he broke the Australian 5000m indoor record.

Melbourne's Susie Power appears to have a stranglehold on the women's 10,000m event.

Article from the Herald Sun
Posted at 09:31     [Perma-Link]
 Thursday, December 12, 2002 

Zatopek - 2 Days To Go

In less than one week, Australia's best distance running talent comes to Melbourne, for the 2002 Telstra Zatopek Classic.

Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Susie Power will return to defend her title over 10 000 metres, with main competition coming from fellow Victorian's Haley McGregor, Anna Thompson and Clair Fearnley. In the under 20 year old women's 3000 metres, Georgie Clarke will be back in action.

Complete article at the Athletics Australia website
Posted at 09:00     [Perma-Link]
 Tuesday, December 10, 2002 

Johnson goal lengthens to marathon

By John-Paul Moloney

From playing top-level hockey to punishing her body in marathons is a change beyond most athletes, but 23-year-old runner Benita Johnson can't wait to complete her sporting transition.

Currently one of Australia's best long-distance runners, Johnson said yesterday her long-term goal was to run the marathon at the 2008 Olympics.

'I think athletics is a lot about motivation and if I'm still motivated to do all the hard training I'd love to run the marathon,' Johnson said.

Her determination was critical in making the Sydney Olympics after she missed out on qualifying for her pet event, the 1500m.

Despite the disappointment she returned to the track two days later in the relatively unfamiliar 5000m trials and achieved her dream of running in Sydney.

Yesterday she spoke to students at Radford College, Marist College, St Edmund's College and Lyneham High about her elite sporting career which began as a hockey player and then progressed to the running track.

'I'd never really run seriously before, but I was awarded the AIS scholarship and found I really enjoyed running and the challenges of an individual sport.'

Her natural athleticism has helped her with the late bursts of speed needed to win events and she hopes as she matures she'll improve her race tactics and ability to recover. 'It takes quite a few years to build up that strength to recover and after a really tough 5000 race it'll probably take me four days.'

To help prolong her career she's taking training relatively easy at the moment, but will begin hard training soon for the Telstra A Series meet in Perth in February and the indoor, outdoor and cross-country world championships next year.

'A lot of long-distance runners burn out really young, so I'm taking training pretty easy so I can prolong my career and hopefully be running long distances when I'm 28 or so,' she said.

Meanwhile the opening ceremony for the 2002 Australian schools track and field exchange was held at the AIS. The School Sport Australia exchange is a four-day event involving athletes from all over the country.

Article from the Canberra Times
Posted at 12:32     [Perma-Link]

After a bad run, Bideau is back on track

by Jenny McAsey

NIC BIDEAU has risen from the ashes of a controversial and damaging battle with Cathy Freeman.

Two and a half years after he split with his old flame in the lead-up to the Sydney Olympics, Bideau once again occupies a powerful position in Australian athletics.

Straight-talking, charismatic and shrewd, 42-year-old Bideau has been touted as a wonder coach since taking total control of four of the country's top distance runners -- World Cup 3000m champion Craig Mottram; national 5000m record-holder Benita Johnson; Commonwealth Games 10000m bronze medallist Susie Power and 1500m prodigy Georgie Clarke.

Bideau knows talent when he sees it. He spotted Mottram at a school carnival in 1998 and has been a manager and adviser to the athlete for several years.

And over the past five months first Clarke, then Mottram, Johnson and Power have split with their long-time coaches, convinced Bideau has the knowledge and international perspective they need to win on the world stage.

``I've had a coaching role with a lot of athletes in the past but somewhere along the line it goes wrong,'' Bideau said from Melbourne where he spends the summer with partner, Irish distance champion Sonia O'Sullivan, and their two young daughters.

``I'm no longer prepared to put a lot of effort into these people's careers and have someone else undo it. Either things are going to be done my way or I'll just leave it to someone else.

``Now I've got total control and I assume total responsibility for how they are going.''

Things came undone with Freeman in May, 2000, when she sacked him as her manager after a 10-year partnership.

He bit back by suing for breach of contract as she prepared for the race of her life. He also bad-mouthed her publicly and suggested she might self-destruct without him in charge during her Olympic campaign.

The swarthy Bideau made the perfect scoundrel as Australia barracked for Freeman on and off the track. He was briefly public enemy No.1 and admits there were testing moments in the wake of the dramatic rift.

``There were things that were difficult but I just kept on doing what I always do. Georgie (Clarke) won the world youth championship, Sandie Richards (from Jamaica) won the world indoors 400m, nothing much changed. I was still helping people get results.''

And he still enjoyed the Olympics, as O'Sullivan came second in the 5000m on the same night Freeman won gold.

``People talk about the stuff that happened in 2000, well Sonia won a silver medal in 2000. It was a great moment for us and it didn't bother me that Cathy won a medal,'' he said.

Bideau won't comment on whether Freeman can return to her best form after her long break from world-class competition. They have little to do with each other now though on speaking terms.

That rapprochement was reflected last week when they reached a settlement in the long-running court saga over the assets accumulated during the alliance that transformed Freeman from a gangly teenage sprinter to a world champion and one of Australia's highest-earning athletes.

However, there are still a number of people in Australian athletics who don't trust Bideau and question his motives and coaching credentials.

The self-assured Bideau is aware of it but doesn't care. ``Some people in Australian athletics are strange. They stand around gossiping but I'm not into that. I just want to help people run well,'' he said.

``Other people are trying to work out how they can get on the team, how they can get a tracksuit, how they can get government support to travel to track meets. No-one pays my way.

``Whether they like me or not, I get results. When the athletes do the things I want them to do, they run well and no-one can deny that.''

Australia's head athletics coach, Keith Connor, said Bideau's success with Freeman speaks for itself and it was no accident he had assembled a stable of rising stars.

``Nic has shown he is a very good motivator and organiser of athletes and now he is ready to take the responsibility of being their coach and not just the guy on the side,'' Connor said.

``Nic is in it to win. Other people want to appease or please individuals they are working with, he wants to win. He knows what's needed to perform at the elite end and he doesn't make excuses or accept excuses from the athletes.

``He has found a niche. He is one of those guys, like a good college recruiter, who has found his next champion and it doesn't have to be a female 400m runner, he is quite willing to adapt and be reborn as a distance coach.''

Article from The Australian

Posted at 12:24     [Perma-Link]

Mottram headed to Devonport

AUSTRALIA'S top middle-distance runner, Craig Mottram, is out for history when he competes in the Devonport leg of this year's Christmas carnival series.

Mottram, who won the 1600m last year, wants to be the first runner to go under four minutes for a mile [1.6km] on grass in Tasmania.

John Denholm holds the grass record of 4m1.0s, set at North Hobart in 1971; the state record is 3m56.7s on a synthetic track, by New Zealander John Walker in 1983.

Mottram headlines a bevy of stars competing on December 29 and 30, dual Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jana Pittman and top sprinter Lauren Hewitt again returning.

Pittman, ranked number two in the world in the 400m hurdles, will tackle the 400m and the Devonport Gift. Hewitt, also entered in the Gift, is keen to claim the 200m title after being runner-up for the past two years.

Other starters include national 5000m champion Haley McGregor, Simon Field and former top junior Eloise Poppett, entrants in their respective 1600m events.

Article from The Mercury
Posted at 12:13     [Perma-Link]

UQ Athletes Star In Zatopek

Queensland's premier athletics stable is eyeing a hit and run mission at Australia's most prestigious distance meet this weekend.

The University of Queensland Athletics Club will boast half the Queensland contingent vying for honours at the Telstra Zatopek Classic in Melbourne on Saturday 14 December.

Complete article at the Athletics Australia website
Posted at 09:12     [Perma-Link]

Domestic season key to Clarke's progress

By Len Johnson

Georgie Clarke does not feel so weird addressing a group of schoolkids these days, now that she is no longer one of them.

At all of 18, though, some misgivings remain about addressing girls who could have been classmates a year or two ago.

Complete article at The Age website

Posted at 09:01     [Perma-Link]
 Monday, December 09, 2002 

McCann Launches Cadbury Marathon

Commonwealth Games Marathon Champion Kerryn McCann will be in Hobart on Thursday December 12th, 2002 to launch the Cadbury Glass and a Half Marathon for 2003. The launch will be held at the Cadbury Factory at 11.00am on this date.

Complete article at the Athletics Australia website
Posted at 13:15     [Perma-Link]

Sam is running hard

MARATHON athlete Sam Hughes will soon be working even harder for the Gold Coast Marathon.

The popular young Gold Coaster will not just be running in and promoting the major Coast sporting event.

Sam will now be designing the web site, with the development team working on the Gold Coast Airport's marathon site.

A previous winner of the event, Sam, the general manager of web development group Tailored Consulting, will be involved in all aspects of the site, from design to research to ongoing management.

Tailored Consulting executive director Brendon Sinclair has welcomed Sam's appointment, which he believes should ensure the web site's reputation as one of the best sporting sites in the world. Brendon told CC: "As one of the rising stars of Australian distance running, with a degree in Health Science, including a double major in Sport Management and Exercise Physiology, there are probably few people in Australia who can talk about running with as much authority as Samantha Hughes.

"And certainly few with as much passion!"

The site contains training diaries and forums where athletes can 'talk' with running stars Pat Carroll and Sam, along with a sophisticated online entry system which attracts more than two million hits per year from more than 50 countries.

The race, which is due to celebrate its 25th anniversary next July, is rumoured to be bigger than ever.

Article from The Gold Coast Bulletin

Posted at 12:22     [Perma-Link]

Altitude and attitude the new buzz words

ELKE Graham, Scott Miller and Lori Munz are highly optimistic about their prospects in the FINA World Cup this weekend.

The trio flew into Melbourne only on Thursday after training for the previous three weeks at high altitude in Arizona, the first of many camps in the clouds planned by Olympic swimming coach Brian Sutton coming up to the Athens Games in 2004.

Although the flight from Flagstaff was tiring, Miller (50m Fly and 100m Fly), Munz (100IM, 200IM) and Graham (100m, 200m and 400m freestyle) are confident of performing well even though they are training through the World Cup meet.

The imperative to perform will be far greater at the Olympics and, the search is on again for a legal and proven performance booster and their priority remains Athens.

Altitude and attitude.

They are buzz words in Australian sport as coaches consider pathways to the podium less than two years out from the next Games.

For many Australians a cocktail of high altitude and sport raises the spectre of our world record-holding distance runner Ron Clarke laying unconscious at the end of his race, receiving oxygen from a mask held by a tear-stricken Dr Brian Corrigan at the 1968 Olympic Games.

Those Games were held at Mexico City at an altitude of 2248m above sea level.

Clarke was far and away the best distance runner of that era.

But he ran 2min slower than his sea level best of that year and placed sixth in the 10,000m, the first lowlander to finish.

No major Games has since been held at ``altitude'' but in sea level races so many champions have subsequently emerged who were born or raised on top of a mountain that coaches, competitors and sports scientists involved with endurance events need to consider including high altitude training as part of their program.

With that in mind, Kenneth Graham, sports sciences manager at the NSW Institute of Sport, recently conducted a meeting of NSWIS coaches at Homebush to discuss the issue.

In attendance were Said Aouita, Morocco's multiple world record-breaking distance runner turned coach, Harald Jahrling, the national women's rowing coach, Gary Sutton, the NSWIS head cycling coach and national junior track coach, and Brian Sutton (no relation), the head Olympic men's swimming coach.

Brian Sutton left on November 15 with a dozen prospective Athens Olympic swimmers for a three week training camp in Flagstaff (alt. 2107m).

``I firmly believe every athlete can benefit from altitude training. It's a case of getting the recipe right,'' Sutton said.

``The biggest thing in swimming is convincing people there's another avenue to explore. I've been trying to sell it to swimming for 15 years.''

Obviously he is a believer, but there are plenty of doubters, understandably including some in Australian cycling.

Gary Sutton raised the poser: ``Our cyclists have done altitude training for 10 years, spent a lot of Australian Institute of Sport dollars and our times have been quicker than ever this year even though we didn't do altitude this year.

``We didn't do it and we had our most successful year ever.''

In fact Australia topped the medal count in Denmark at the world track championships for the first time.

However Sutton acknowledged that under new Olympic head coach Martin Barras training has also been completely restructured.

``In fairness, we used to do altitude training only twice a year. Maybe also it was because of the intensity they trained at. Maybe our cyclists were still buggered when they got to the championships.

``This time they weren't living together for eight months of the year. They weren't on each other's nerves. They came together three to four weeks before the Commonwealth Games and the world championships and had a great time.''

Jahrling, who has had 32 years experience with altitude training as a rower and as a coach, observed: ``The danger is when you don't train at altitude too often and then train too hard when you are up there you push the athlete over the top and they don't come back.

``I think it's extremely mental too. If the athletes like it, if they have a positive experience, they'll perform well.

``It's an attitude thing. If you believe in it and like it, you'll go well.''

Jahrling, who was voted 2002 coach of the year at the NSWIS annual awards on Wednesday night, said Germany started systematically using altitude training in 1969 and did from three to five camps annually.

Aouita, one of history's greatest distance runners, started training at altitude from Mexico City to St Moritz in 1983.

``I set six world records, always after coming down from altitude,'' said Aouita, Australia's new national distance running coach.

``I believe all sports people must go to altitude. It has lots of benefits.

``During the race you don't feel anything, you're just flowing and, if you have a good pacemaker, maybe you can do something fantastic. If you ask me, I didn't feel anything.''

The problem for Australians is that there are no facilities here at altitudes high enough to get a significantly enhanced training effect.

Article from The Daily Telegraph
Posted at 12:18     [Perma-Link]

Change of scene sees a Bourne again zest

Mark Bourne is probably not as silly as most long distance runners. A bit tired of pounding around the track for kilometre after kilometre he turned his hand, or his feet at least, to cross country running.

'I decided if I was going running I may as well have something to look at,' Bourne said.

'I got a bit sick of running around the track, I still enjoy it but I prefer the hills.'

Well, perhaps he is still a little silly. His mental mind games aside, Bourne has had a successful season, winning the Australian junior title at the national championships at Nowra in August and he also won the ACT title in August.

In the past 12 months he has represented Australia at the world schools cross country in Morocco and won the national schools title in Perth.

He puts his success down to a new training regime with coach, former Australian Institute of Sport long distance runner, Gerard Ryan. 'We've been working on strength exercises and recovery,' he said.

'It's made a huge difference not carrying any little injury and being fit for most of the season.'

So much so that Bourne has knocked an incredible 30 seconds off his personal best for the 3km track race, running 8min 33sec at the ACT interclub meet last weekend.

His timing couldn't have been better, he heads to Melbourne next week for the Zatopek Classic to be held on Saturday, December 14, where he'll line up against a strong field in the under-20 3km event.

'I don't really expect to win it,' he said. 'But if could knock a few more seconds off my PB that would be great.'

Bourne will be joined in Melbourne by Joy Terry, one of Canberra's elite female runners. Terry has just returned from the Ekiden relay in Japan where she ran 34min 30sec for her 10km leg of the relay for Australia to finish seventh.

Terry will be running the women's 10km at the Zatopek meet, hopefully under 34 minutes. Terry, who came second at the national cross country titles in Nowra, is also preparing for the World Cross Country trials in Melbourne in January.

Article from the Canberra Times.
Posted at 12:09     [Perma-Link]

Clarke rates Zatopek for long run

By Len Johnson

'I like traditions, I have to say." Ron Clarke is talking about Melbourne's annual Emil Zatopek 10,000 metres, a race with which he is more closely identified than even four-times Olympic gold medallist Zatopek, the man after whom it is named.

Clarke won the Zatopek five times, including in 1963 when he set world records for six miles and 10,000 metres.

More at The Age website
Posted at 08:54     [Perma-Link]
 Saturday, December 07, 2002 

Annual Falls Creek Training Camp

Since time immemorial (or at least since before most of the current runners were born), Australia's best distance runners have been heading to Falls Creek over the Christmas - New Year period to hit the high country trails. In years gone past this has included such great runners as "Deek" and Steve Monaghetti.

This year VIS Distance Coordinator Peter Schuwalow will be coordinating the "official" part of the camp, when individuals and small groups are encouraged to attend to train alongside the best runners in the world. This will be for the week 28th December to 5th Janaury 2003. Accommodation is available to athletes, 20 years of age and older (if travelling alone) or younger athletes travelling with an adult at Koki Lodge, $30 per night. There are only 70 beds so first come first served. A program of educational sessions will be staged each afternoon, featuring athletes and coaches who are on the mountain.

Some years a few runners kick-on and run first part of the Bogong to Hotham Mountain Race, this year to be held the 5th January.

For further information and accommodation bookings please contact Peter Schuwalow, either on 0413 100 787 or by email at

Posted at 08:41     [Perma-Link]

Aths Aust Promoting A Healthier Australia

Athletics Australia, the national governing body for the sport of athletics, supports the offering of financial incentives by the health funds which encourage Australians to lead active and healthy lifestyles, and questions the logic of those who believe it is inappropriate for the health funds to do so.

"The Federal Health Minister, Kay Patterson, has indicated she is monitoring the appropriateness of some of the benefits", Athletics Australia's CEO, Simon Allatson said, "and while CD's and lifestyle items probably shouldn't be claimable, clearly running shoes and gym memberships should."

More at the Athletics Australia Website
Posted at 08:27     [Perma-Link]
 Thursday, December 05, 2002 

Zatopek Is Coming

In less than two weeks, Australia's best distance running talent comes to Melbourne, for the 2002 Telstra Zatopek Classic.

Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Susie Power will return to defend her title over 10 000 metres and Georgie Clarke will be back in action in the under 20 year old, 3000 metres. In the men's events, Lee Troop, Dean Cavuoto, Simon Field, Steve Monaghetti, Rod De Highden and Magnus Michelsson will battle it out for distance supremacy in the 10,000 metres. And in the Men's 5000 metres, Youef Abdi should be the one to beat. Also,a host of excellent New Zealand athletes will compete, giving Australia yet another clash of traditional rivals.

More at the Athletics Australia website
Posted at 09:16     [Perma-Link]
 Tuesday, December 03, 2002 

Key Selection Criteria Finalised

Athletics Australia has finalised three key selection criteria for 2003 Teams, the World Championships, the World Indoors and the World Youth, available from late Tuesday afternoon, 3rd December 2002, @ the AA webpage.

The IAAF have again raised the standards in many events for the World Championships and World Indoor Championships. These standards are tough, but Australian athletes have previously demonstrated they are more than capable of rising to the challenge.

More at the Athletics Australia website

Posted at 13:02     [Perma-Link]

Star Athletes Tour Australian Schools

The word is spreading... in just over two months Australians will witness some super athletics action when the Telstra A - Series kicks off, and for 15 schools across Australia, the experience will begin a whole lot sooner.

From 27th November to 9th December 2000, some of Australia's best athletes will visit secondary schools and local communities spreading the word about athletics, the 2003 Telstra A-series and a fantastic fundraising opportunity related to the Telstra A-series.

More at the Athletics Australia website
Posted at 12:57     [Perma-Link]
 Monday, December 02, 2002 

Right time, right place Letherby heeds advice, outduels Kosgei

MANCHESTER - Andrew Letherby of Australia didn't have to take any real estate courses to know what's important when it comes to finding the right house.
Location is everything.

Wednesday night, Letherby was able to eat, drink and sleep the Manchester Road Race. That's because when he looked out the living room window of Peter Boucher's home on Porter Street, he could see the 3Ĺ-mile mark of the race course. With that and Boucher's knowledge of the course, Letherby had a lot to soak up.

"I told Andrew that there were two things to remember,'' Boucher began. "Stay with the lead pack at the beginning of the race. And when you're coming down Main Street, don't be fooled by the illusion that the finish line looks closer than it is. There's a little incline that you come upon just when you think it's all downhill.''

Being that it was his first time running in Manchester, Letherby was grateful for the advice. He put it to good use.

Letherby, 29, survived a stirring stretch duel with Kenyan Shadrack Kosgei to win the 66th running of the Manchester Road Race in frigid temperatures Thursday. Letherby's time was 22:03, two seconds ahead of Kosgei.

"Andrew said to me after the race that he followed my two rules and he guessed it worked,'' said Boucher, who has hosted runners for several years.

Letherby came into the race a bit below the radar screen, even though had had won a bronze medal in the marathon at the Commonwealth Games in July. Now living in Boulder, Colo., Letherby spent last Thanksgiving Day running a race in Fort Collins, Colo.

This year, he wanted to run in what he regards as the most prestigious of the Thanksgiving Day races.

"This is what I've had my focus on since July,'' Letherby said. "I've been training in crisp, cold and clean conditions like this in Boulder. You get used to the cold and it's not a factor.''

It was a factor for Kosgei. The 19-year-old Kenyan had never run in anything resembling 17-degree temperatures and snow-lined streets.

"I was so cold, I couldn't stay with (Letherby) him the last 500 meters,'' Kosgei said. "I tried to sprint, but he was going faster than me. I wanted to start the race fast, but it was so cold that I just stayed with a pack of runners.

"I dropped my gloves after two miles. That was a mistake. My hands got very cold.''

Kosgei spent most of the last three miles of the race battling Letherby, Nolan Swanson and the elements. He shook Swanson midway through the fourth mile, but could never shake Letherby or the elements.

With about 100 yards to go, Letherby looked at Kosgei, then sprinted off as if he was anxious to get back to the Boucher home and start feasting on turkey.

"I actually don't have a lot of speed, but I have strength,'' Letherby said of his explosive finish. "I've been running a lot of hills.''

Kenyan runners have the reputation of trying to lead a race wire-to-wire. Letherby knew he couldn't let Kosgei get an uncontested lead.

"Sometimes when Kenyans get going, they get away,'' Letherby said.

Swanson, who finished third (22:09), and Nick Rogers of Oregon, who set the pace and ended up fourth (22:16), looked strong early. Swanson, an Oregon native who was a standout runner at Wake Forest, felt he could still make a run at Letherby and Kosgei when he rounded East Center Street onto Main Street for the home stretch.

"I thought I had one more shot to try to get them,'' said Swanson, who was seventh last year. "But I couldn't seem to make up any ground.

"Before the race I thought I had a good chance to win. I grew up near Buffalo, and the cold and snow didn't bother me. But at one point in the race Andrew surged on me and that's why I got gapped. When a guy surges like that, you know he's feeling good.''

Rogers was feeling good at the start of the race when he ran a 4:28 mile and had the lead.

"I had it in my mind that I could win, but my legs told me a different story,'' said Rogers, who was 14th a year ago. "I'm just glad that I was able to come back and prove myself after last year. One of these days I'm going to come back here and win this thing.''

Another American, Chad Johnson, was fifth (22:25). Two-time Manchester champion Mark Carroll was sixth (22:32).

Carroll was with the pack for the first mile, but then decided against going all out. He finished sixth in the grueling New York Marathon on Nov. 6.

Even though the way Letherby won was impressive, the overall field was not. Carroll was not at his best. Four of the top five finishers from 2001 did not return. The top five finishers from a year ago all had times that would have beaten Letherby. All five also broke 22 minutes.

Swanson ran three seconds slower this year and finished four spots higher.

Nobody expected any record performances in the chilly weather, but the Manchester Road Race winner usually breaks the 22.00 mark. Perhaps if highly touted Irishman Keith Kelly had run, the race might have turned out differently.

Kelly was a strong candidate to win until a stress fracture was discovered in his left leg. He made a decision Thursday morning not to run.

"I was absolutely devastated,'' Kelly said. "I haven't been able to complete my training runs the last couple of days. My coach and my therapist told me not to race. I'm going to withdraw from the European cross country championships as well.

"I think I'm jinxed here. This is two years in a row I was planning to race in Manchester and got stopped by injuries. I'm pretty upset. At the spaghetti dinner the night before the race I could feel my leg throbbing. I tried to run on it in the morning and it was not happening.''

Amy Rudolph became the first five-time winner in the history of the women's division. Rudolph's time was 24:25, good enough for 22nd overall. Rudolph is the only female to ever crack the top 25, and she has done it twice. Now living in Providence, Rudolph didn't mind the cold weather one bit.

Kosgei did mind it, but he showed his competitiveness when asked if he would return to Manchester.

"I would like to run here in this weather again,'' Kosgei said. "I have the experience now.''

Letherby had the experience Thursday.

"The last race I won before this one was in Manchester, England,'' Letherby said. "So I thought before the race that maybe I just need to be in Manchester.''

If Letherby returns, he'd like the Bouchers to be his host family again.

After all, there's no place like a home on the race course.

Article from the Journal Inquirer website.
Posted at 22:16     [Perma-Link]

A Minute with Max - Athletics Victoria President

The most obvious conclusion any observer of our sport must come to is that AV and its member Clubs must change the way in which we do business. In the seventies there were over 10,000 registered athletes in Victoria. In 2001/02 there were less than 4,000. But there are more people running for pleasure and fitness now than ever before. Why donít they run with AV?

More at the Athletics Victoria website
Posted at 12:36     [Perma-Link]

Bezabeh In Top Ten

Australia's Sisay Bezabeh ran ninth in the Fukuoka international men's marathon on Sunday 1st December 2002.

Ethopian born Bezabeh , ran 2 hours 16 minutes 34 seconds to finish behind Ethiopian winner and Sydney Olympic Champion Gezahegne Abera (2:09:13), second place getter Japan's Tsuyoshi Ogata (2:09:15) and in third home, Kenya's Eric Wainaina (2:10:08).

More at the Athletics Australia website

Posted at 12:14     [Perma-Link]

Melbourne Women Set the Pace in Sussan Women's Fun Run

This morning, Sunday 1 December over 2,500 Melbourne women gathered at Catani Gardens, St Kilda eager to commence the 5km or 10km run/walk in the 2002 Melbourne Sussan Women's Fun Run.

From elite athlete to social stroller, women in the Sussan Women's Fun Run enjoyed perfect conditions and the beautiful Port Phillip Bay scenery as they set their own pace around the course. Individually or in teams with friends, sisters or mothers, the field attracted women of all ages and motivations.

More at the Athletics Australia website
Posted at 12:11     [Perma-Link]

Susie Power Wins Sussan Fun Fun

Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Susie Power continues her good form, taking top honours in the 10km Sussan Women's Fun Run, held at Catani Gardens, St Kilda, Sunday 1st Decmber 2002.

Thousands of women of all ages and athletic abilities turned out for the event, but it was Power leading the way, crossing the line first in 33minutes 40 seconds.

Power's win was impressive, yet the champion still felt the pinch "It was an enjoyable run, but a pretty tough course, the wind was really pushing.. I might run alot, but I still find it just as hard as everyone else!"

For more details - see Athletics Australia

Posted at 00:43     [Perma-Link]

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