Some Olympic Games News Headlines are here.
World Mountain Running Entries Exceeding ExpectationOrganisers of the World Mountain Running Trophy in Wellington next year have been blown away by the response from the world scene.
New Zealanders are the dominant force on the world mountain running scene, with Wellingtonians Jonathan Wyatt and Melissa Moon both being multi-world title holders. But in September next year the world's best mountain runners come to Wellington.
Wellington event promoter Arthur Klap has been successful in bringing the World Mountain Running Trophy event to Wellington, to be run on Mt Victoria on 25th September 2005. Klap, who has twice staged world triathlon championships and is also behind Rotorua's world mountain biking championship in 2006, sees the world trophy event as a great chance for Wellingtonians to see their own world champions compete in their own back yard.
Wellingtonians Jonathan Wyatt and Melissa Moon have dominated the World Trophy event in recent years, with Moon winning it twice (2003 and 2001) and Wyatt this year winning his fourth world title in Italy just a week after competing in the Olympic marathon. And both are very keen to face the world's best mountain runners on a course that they know only too well.
Wyatt and Moon train on Wellington's Mt Victoria almost every day. The World Mountain Running Trophy will be held on those same steep slopes, which while giving runners a suitable challenge will also make for the most spectator friendly course in the history of the event.
However, international interest in the Wellington world title event has caught Klap and his organisational team on the hop. Wellington will be only the second time the event has been held out of the mountain running hotbed of Europe and Klap was expecting a decline in usual entries.
"Based on past World Trophy events, and the fact that this is the first time the championships have been held so far out of Europe, we had budgeted for 320 athletes from 30 countries" says Klap. "But preliminary entries are up to 389 competitors from 33 countries and we still haven't heard from Asian countries like Japan, Malaysia, Singapore etc."
Klap has just returned from the 2004 World Trophy event in Italy, where he watched Jonathan Wyatt decimate the field for the fourth time. But where he also fielded huge enthusiasm surrounding next years Wellington World Trophy from mountain running heavy weights such as Italy, Austria, England, Ireland, Slovenia, Turkey, Wales and USA.
"New Zealand really has always been seen as a great place to travel to," says Klap. "But we have this reputation among mountain runners too. I think New Zealanders are going to be surprised with just how much Jonathan Wyatt is revered in Europe. Overseas countries want to come down here and see how we do it."
Klap is pleased that Italy, who have been the traditionally dominant nation in mountain running prior to New Zealand, have indicated their enthusiasm, saying, "It's important that we have the best runners in the world here." But he is also just as excited with entries from mountain running minnows such as the Czech Republic, who have not been a major player in mountain running.
But as pleased as he is, Klap says, "As organisers we now have to work through the headache of accommodating them all."
Team sizes are limited to 17 athletes, made up of six men, four women, four junior men and three junior women. But with support staff from each country also totalling more than 200 people, organisers must find inner city group accommodation for almost 600 people.
But as Klap says: "If accommodation is our major worry then Wellington's World Trophy is shaping up to be hugely successful."
For further details: Phone: Arthur Klap +64-4-386-4992. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: www.mountainrunning.org.nz
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Mottram plans a season of successCraig Mottram is satisfied with what he achieved in 2004. Why wouldn't he be? Mottram made the final of the Olympic 5000 metres, finishing eighth. He broke the national record three times, culminating in a sub-13-minute race in London in which he almost defeated the man widely considered the greatest distance runner yet, Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia.
Mottram is right in the mix to get a top-10 world ranking in the 5000 metres, which would make him the first Australian to do so since Dave Fitzsimons in 1977.
It's a significant body of work and Mottram is pleased. "I impressed myself," he said.
Not to the point of smugness though; Mottram wants to use 2004 as a springboard to go even higher in 2005, starting with a medal at the world cross-country championships in March.
He is also aware that 2004 would have been even better had he not dropped from medal contender to eighth place over the last two laps of the Olympic 5000 final in Athens.
"I was in great shape," Mottram said recently. Then, as if mild disappointment at a performance that would have delighted any Australian distance runner of the past 20 years demanded explanation, he added: "We thought there was something special there and it didn't quite go like we'd hoped."
Complete article at The Age
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Max Binnington Named New National Performance DirectorProminent administrator and former Olympian Max Binnington was today appointed Athletics Australia’s new National Performance Director.
The search to fill the newly created position was in direct response to one of the major recommendations from the joint Athletics Australia and Australian Sports Commission review into the governance of athletics in Australia released in September and incorporated applications from across Australia and overseas. The new role will replace the existing position of Head Coach.
Mr Binnington competed for Australia in athletics at both a national and international level for many years, highlighted by his performances in the 110m hurdles and the 4 x 400m relay at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Mr Binnington also competed at three Commonwealth Games (1974, 1978 and 1982).
Mr Binnington has held numerous senior management positions in local government focusing on the areas of sport and education. He is currently a director and principal consultant of his own company, specialising in human resources and recruitment.
Athletics Australia Acting Chairman Ken Roche said today that he was excited by the wide range of expertise Mr Binnington will bring to the position.
"This new role is one of great importance for our sport as we seek to build on the depth of talent we have here in Australia and strive to assure further performance excellence from our elite athletes at both a national and international level - a result I think Max definitely has the skills and knowledge base to achieve", Mr Roche said.
Complete article at Athletics Australia
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Commonwealth Games defends price gouging on TV rightsNegotiations to have the 2006 Commonwealth Games broadcast in Asia are on track, organisers said yesterday, despite some networks rejecting high prices for television rights.
Commonwealth Games Minister Justin Madden defended the mark-ups of up to 700 per cent on the Manchester 2002 Games, describing them as part of the "hard-nosed negotiating process". A television boycott was not on the cards, he said.
"We are very confident that we will have worldwide coverage of the Commonwealth Games," he said. "These are the early stages of negotiations and we would expect, given that Delhi is hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2010, that the Asian market . . . (will) take up the opportunity."
He said agreements with markets, including India and Malaysia, should be completed by the middle of next year.
Games Corporation chairman Ron Walker and chief executive John Harnden are also confident agreements will be reached. Exposure of the city, and sponsors, to a potential Asian TV audience of more than one billion is at stake.
Mr Walker said: "If I'm not concerned about it, and our board is not concerned about it, and the State Government is not concerned about it, then nobody else should be concerned about it. We have put out a price and they're all considering it.
Complete article at The Age
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Deek to lend a handMarathon great Robert de Castella has returned to the sport he loves to help Athletics Australia search for a national performance director.
De Castella is on the four-member panel that will interview contenders next week. It is hoped an appointment will be announced before Christmas.
"I was only too happy to help when asked," de Castella said. De Castella, who still holds the Australian marathon record, was director of the Australian Institute of Sport from 1990 to 1995.
Joining "Deek" on the panel will be acting Athletics Australia chairman Ken Roche, chief executive Danny Corcoran and current AIS director Michael Scott, who recently resigned to move back to Melbourne as chief executive of the 2007 world swimming championships.
The role of national performance director was created at the recommendation of this year's athletics review, set up by the sport and the Australian Sports Commission. It replaces the position of head coach, held to the end of the year by Keith Connor.
De Castella said he viewed the performance director's as "a critical role" and "very difficult, in terms of providing the direction and leadership".
Complete article at The Age
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Adventure racing is not for mere mortalsAdventure racing is not for mere mortals. Competitors spend days in rough country, punishing their bodies. As John Huxley reports, it proved fatal for Melburnian Nigel Aylott.
It was shortly after 4pm on the third day of a week-long, 600- kilometre race that the tragedy occurred. It left one man dead, several fellow competitors in trauma and one of the world’s fastest-growing sports fighting to restore its international credibility.
The four members of the Australian Team AROC had tagged the checkpoint on top of Mount Illabot. They had paused to admire the views clear across the North Cascade Mountains, in the American Pacific north-west state of Washington. And they had posed briefly alongside a crude, wooden cross for a team photograph. Now, they prepared to make the descent.
Despite having had only a few hours of sleep in the previous twoand- a-half days, which had been mostly spent paddling, hiking and orienteering, they should have been in high spirits. The Australians had reached the peak — the second of five orienteering points — leading 50 teams. They strongly fancied their chances of taking the $US100,000 (about $A125,000) first prize in the Subaru Primal Quest (SPQ) expedition race.
It was a thrilling start for an unheralded team competing in the ultimate adventure endurance sport, which combines cycling, paddling, climbing and running, its competitors sacrificing sleep as they push their bodies for days on end. But instead of feeling exhilarated, Team AROC’s captain, Alina McMaster, her husband, Tom Landon-Smith, and competitors Matt Dalziel and Nigel Aylott were worried.
Frightened, even. For if the ascent, across steeply slooped scree fields — patched with snow and slippery grass, narrow ridges and rocky ledges — was tough, the descent looked even more perilous. In fact, it looked downright dangerous.
Complete article at The Age
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Australian Youth Olympic Athletics Team announcedThe Australian Olympic Committee and Athletics Australia are pleased to announce the Australian Athletics Team, to compete at the third Australian Youth Olympic Festival (for athletes under 18) in Sydney from 18-23 January 2005.
A majority of the 120 Australian athletes selected are aged between 14 and 16, but despite their youth, many have already represented Australia on numerous occasions at the World Junior Championships, World Youth Championships, World Walk Cup and Commonwealth Youth Games.
Standout athletes include 16-year-old Sunshine Coast long jumper, Chris Noffke, who leads the world in his event with his best leap of 7.74m. He placed fourth at the World Junior Championships (U20) and recently won gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Bendigo.
Complete article at Athletics Australia
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Commonwealth Games ticket rethink likelyThe organisers of the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne may alter the Games ticket structure before next year's ballot amid criticism that the family ticket is discriminatory and outdated.
A Games spokesman confirmed that a new price category could be established for "add on" children, to eliminate the situation where adults taking large groups of children to events would be forced to pay full adult prices for children not covered by family ticket terms.
"We are currently working through the issues with add-on family tickets... along with a whole range of issues for ticketing," he said.
The family ticket option was hailed by organisers for making the Games "affordable and accessible" for average Victorians.
It allows either two adults and two children, or one adult and three children to attend the Games at a discounted price, as long as the children are aged from two to 12.
But under the ticket system released last month, there was no separate price for children, meaning families wanting to take extra children would be forced to pay the full adult price.
Complete article at The Age
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Another AFL for top Aths Aust coaching job ?Athletics Australia's search for a national high performance manager is down to four men, including a Collingwood premiership player.
The four will be interviewed this week, with the new man at the top of the athletics coaching heap expected to be appointed this month.
Craig Starcevich, 37, who played centre half-forward in Collingwood's 1990 premiership team before playing for the Brisbane Bears from 1994-96, is the one candidate from left field.
After playing 20 games for Brisbane, he returned to take on the role of strength and conditioning coach and runner throughout the club's golden run of the past four years during which it has won the premiership three times.
The other three contenders are Ric Mitchell, the 1980 Olympic 400m silver medallist and two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Max Binnington, an Olympic hurdler and former national team captain, and Welshman Tudor Bidder, a successful track and field coach who played a significant role in designing the job specifications and implementation strategy for the job.
Bidder would appear the best fit because he knows the sport in Australia and overseas.
Complete article at Fox Sports
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Christmas Run in MelbourneAs many Victorians prepare to celebrate the festive season by attending the usual workplace parties and others start getting nervous about all the presents they still have to buy, a large group of active people will celebrate in their own way by taking part in the Christmas Run on Wednesday 15 December.
This twilight annual event begins at 6:30 pm from Palms Lawn at Albert Park and for some it will be a good social get together with colleagues after work or a great night out with the family for others.
Entrants will have a choice of running or walking a 5 or 10km circuit around the lakeside track and will all receive a free showbag after the race.
Complete article at the Athletics Australia website
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Athletics coach Arthur Lydiard diesAcclaimed athletics coach Arthur Lydiard, who produced two Olympic champions and was credited with inspiring the worldwide jogging craze, has collapsed and died while on a lecture tour in the US, relatives said today.
The New Zealand-born Lydiard, 87, died of a suspected heart attack in a Texas hotel, his mother-in-law Gloria Vanvertogt said. "He was watching TV in his hotel room and took a bit of a gasp," she said. He was satying at the Houston Sheraton and was keynote speaker at one of the largest Ultra-marathon races in the USA, the Sunmart Texas Enduranxce run.
Lydiard, who had been in the US since mid-October, trained 1960s Olympic champions Peter Snell and Sir Murray Halberg and inspired a generation of top New Zealand runners including former 5000m world record holder Dick Quax and 1976 Olympic 1500m champion John Walker.
In 1967 he moved to Finland, laying the foundations for that nation's running successes of the 1970s.
But his greatest legacy was in rewriting coaching theories when he advocated stamina as the answer for athletes who could run at certain rate over a short distance and wanted to continue that pace over a greater distance.
The theory flew in the face of coaching practices at the time, which concentrated on interval training and repetitions as a means of increasing basic speed.
Lydiard used his own stocky physique to test his theory and at one point was running up to 320 kilometres a week. However, this proved exhausting, both mentally and physically, and he eventually settled on half that as the optimum distance.
Under Lydiard's guidance, Halberg became the first New Zealander to run a sub-four minute mile and went on to win the 5000m at the Rome Olympics where Snell took the 800m title.
When Snell achieved the rare 800m and 1500m double at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, with another Lydiard athlete, John Davies, taking bronze in the 1500m, his successes caught global attention.
He took up a coaching position in Mexico in 1965 before moving to Finland.
Lydiard is also credited with sparking the worldwide spread of jogging from the mid-1960s which he suggested it as a rehabilitation from cardiac surgery.
His influence spread beyond athletics, with coaches in sports ranging from rugby to rowing, canoeing and swimming adopting many of his training methods.
Over the next few days expect a lot more news reports and articles here - and add your comments here
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What price to pay for the 2006 Commonwealth Games?The real cost of staging the Commonwealth Games should not be a secret.
In The Age last week, columnist Kenneth Davidson speculated about the real cost of the Commonwealth Games to the people of Victoria. Using figures derived from the Victorian Auditor-General's report on state finances for 2003-04, released last month, he estimated the state's taxpayers will provide a cash subsidy of $474, on average, for each Games ticket sold. Davidson arrived at the figures by means of simple arithmetic. The Victorian Government has allocated $474 million to hosting the event, $225 million for capital works, and will receive a further $272.5 million from the Federal Government. Last month the Commonwealth Games Corporation estimated "up to 1 million tickets" will be sold to the Games. Davidson simply divided 1 million into the funding figures to arrive at his subsidy estimates. (The budget for the Commonwealth Games is $1.1 billion. The State Government has capped its contribution at $697 million, with remaining funds coming from the Federal Government, and expected ticket sales, television rights and sponsorship.)
Yesterday, The Age published a reply to Davidson's column from the Minister for the Commonwealth Games, Justin Madden. Mr Madden argued that concentrating on the costs associated with staging the 11 days of competition was to take a narrow view of "the single largest sporting and cultural event in the history of Victoria". He wrote: "The Bracks Government's solid financial commitment recognises that the 2006 Games are an extraordinary opportunity to generate investment in jobs and community infrastructure for Victoria's future. The benefits will be social, environmental and economic - a legacy that will reaffirm Victoria as the place to be and Melbourne's reputation as the world's most liveable city." Mr Madden wrote about the thousands of athletes and journalists expected to attend the Games from 71 nations and territories; of the 1 million trees being planted; and of the boost expected to flow to regional centres. But the minister did not see fit to confirm or deny Davidson's estimates. His response did not mention costs at all.
Complete article at The Age
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Athletics Australia chief makes a plea for supportAthletics Australia chief Danny Corcoran has many more hurdles to clear before the sport returns to a healthy state.
Danny Corcoran delivers a pretty good talk. Since taking over as chief executive of Athletics Australia two months ago, Corcoran has been talking pretty well non-stop.
In fact, the former general manager of football operations at Melbourne Football Club started consulting even before he took up the appointment. When the Demons played in Perth in the last round of the AFL season, Corcoran met the chief executive and president of the state athletics association.
Smooth it may be, but Corcoran's message is also frank. Corcoran tells his audiences that the sport is not in good shape financially, nor in the areas of high-performance. They - whether "they" be state member associations, former athletes, state institutes, coaches or athletes - are the sport's best assets.
For those within the athletics community, the message evokes former US President John Kennedy's inaugural address. "Ask not what your sport can do for you, but what you can do for your sport."
And you will be doing it for a while. Corcoran admits: "We are facing a substantial period of hard work."
For those outside the sport - sponsors: real or potential, governments, the Sports Commission - the message is an unabashed plea for support. We want to move the sport forward, but we need your backing to do it.
To the Victorian Government and Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games organisers, Corcoran bluntly suggests it is in their interests to do all they can to help a sport they expect to fill the MCG for seven days.
The surprise is that, particularly in track and field circles, Corcoran's message is playing relatively well. The downward spiral in the sport's finances was obvious long before the previous board and chief executive announced late in 2003 a loss of $1.3 million for the previous year, but the announcement was a shock.
Complete article at The Age
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Olympic relay pair to run in DevonportPatrick Dwyer and Mark Ormrod, half of Australia's record-breaking relay team from Athens, will run at the Devonport's Christmas carnival later this month.
They were members of the 4x400m relay team which won the silver medal behind the US at the Athens Olympics giving Australia its first men's relay medal in 48 years.
With its promise of "giving you more in 2004" the Devonport Athletic Club has also signed 17-year-old South Australian runner Todd Bateman who won last year's Bay Sheffield Gift and Australian junior 800m runner Brooke Simpson.
Dwyer and Ormrod will both run in the Devonport Gift over 400m and the 200m handicap.
Athletes coordinator Rod Walker said that the club was also hopeful of announcing within the next few days an international 1600m runner who has run times similar to Craig Mottram.
"We've been able to get three track and field Olympians from Athens as well as look to the future with young athletes like Todd Bateman and Brooke Simpson," he said.
The signing of Bateman is a bonus for Devonport as he and Ormrod are both trained by Steve Butler who previously competed at the Tasmanian carnivals.
Complete article at The Examiner
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Tragedy still haunts tight teamStill grieving after the death of a teammate in a racing accident in September, adventure racing team AROC comfortably won yesterday's Teva Oceania Championships in Canberra.
Nigel Aylott was killed by a falling rock at the Primal Quest challenge in the US.
His surviving teammates Alina McMaster, Tom Landon-Smith and Matt Dalziel finished yesterday's "sprint" event in 4hrs 9mins, claiming the $3000 winner's cheque.
Canberran McMaster said the team was still struggling to deal with the loss of Aylott.
"We're still having a pretty hard time. Doing these sprint races are fun, but I'm not ready yet to do the big expedition-type races," McMaster said. "It was very traumatic and it takes time to get over something like that."
Aylott's sudden death in one of adventure racing's biggest events shocked the sport's close community. AROC had been leading the $250,000 race when a boulder fell among a group of competitors, hitting Aylott in the head.
The much-loved Victorian was honoured shortly after his death with a memorial paddle staged by fellow competitors. McMaster said the AROC team was gradually getting back on its feet. But she would would never return to the Primal Quest event because of her safety concerns.
"I would never go back to Primal Quest...I don't believe that adventure racing is dangerous and I believe there's a real difference between difficult and dangerous," she said. "I don't think the race director understands that and I'm not prepared to put myself at risk."
Complete article at The Canberra Times
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Canberra Parliament House Relays Re-scheduledBad weather forced the ACTCCC to postpone last nights relays until 6pm Tuesday 14th Dec. At 5.30pm the weather conditions were such that it was decided to not continue with the planned events - it was still raining and there were frequent flashes of lightning making it unsafe on such an exposed course - especially as further electrical storms were forecast for the ACT Region.
For the safety of all concerned it was decided to postponed them at that time. A short time later the conditions cleared, but by then a decision had already been taken and peope had left.
This is the first time in 40 plus years that a ACTCCC event has not been held as scheduled.
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Award for jogger who helped find baby MontanaOn a cold August morning when Lesley Crommelin left home to go for her usual morning jog, she didn't set out to be a hero.
But the Melbourne woman prevented a tragedy, when her quick thinking led to the recovery of three-week-old baby Montana Barbaro who had been snatched from her mother's arms two days earlier.
Mrs Crommelin was today one of eight people to be given a Crime Stoppers Community Award for her extraordinary actions.
She heard the baby girl's whimpering from a derelict house in North Melbourne on August 9 this year, and quickly notified police.
The child dressed only in a jumpsuit, was distressed and in need of medical care after she was abandoned for up to eight hours during a near freezing night.
The baby was rescued and reunited with her distraught mother and two people were later charged.
"I was just very pleased for the parents, for the mother in particular," Mrs Crommelin today said of her actions.
Complete article at The SMH
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Aussie runners disappointed at Marion Jones drugs allegationsAustralian runners Lauren Hewitt and Tamsyn Lewis, who raced against Marion Jones at the Sydney Olympics, yesterday expressed disappointment after hearing allegations that the American was on performance-enhancing drugs during the 2000 Games.
"I'm just disappointed - she's always been a role model," said Hewitt, who ran in the 100 and 200 metres against the US sprinter. "She had the body of a 21-year-old male and was running times equivalent to that."
"You feel cheated," said Lewis, who had watched parts of an interview on US television with accused steroid distributor Victor Conte.
Conte, founder and president of BALCO Laboratories, alleged in the interview that he had supplied and helped Jones inject several banned drugs before she won three gold and two bronze medals at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Yesterday, Melbourne time, in a US broadcast of the interview, Conte said he had also supplied the drugs to track stars Tim Montgomery and Kelli White, but stopped short of saying baseball star Barry Bonds was a steroids user.
"They've forgotten it's just meant to be a sport or a hobby; instead, they take it to the next level and put their lives at risk," Lewis said.
Lewis came up against Jones in the 4 x 400 metres relay in 2000, Jones putting her team way out in the lead during her leg. Lewis was unconvinced that the other US team members should have their gold medals declared void.
"In a relay, there's three other girls, and to take the medal off them, that's really quite sad," she said. "But her individual events and world records? Yeah, they should be taken off her if she's proven guilty.
Complete article at The Age
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Zatopek Race ReportsA training diary with more holes than a Swiss cheese is not normally a good preparation for such a race, but Haley McGregor rose above a less-than-perfect lead-up to win her second Zatopek 10,000 metres race in succession at Box Hill last night.
McGregor trailed Anna Thompson for 20 of the 25 laps before bursting clear over the final 2000 metres to win in 32 minutes 41.10 seconds. The race was also the national championships, which McGregor said was an important factor in deciding to run.
"On Tuesday I was pulling out," McGregor said, "but I spoke to my coach Nic Bideau in London and he told me it's the national title and you've got to get out there and have a crack."
McGregor ran with caution, letting Thompson lead unchallenged for 20 laps and even declining a fairly pointed invitation to take the lead when Thompson deliberately ran more than a lap wide enough out to let her through.
Thompson finished a disappointed second in 32:48.07. At least she took away a personal best, albeit by the slender margin of 0.20 seconds. Tiffany Levette of NSW continued to improve with a 33:39.87 for third place.
There have been faster Zatopek men's races - indeed, you have to go back to 1974 to find a slower winning time than the 28:59.55 it took David Ruschena to win last night - but few as exciting.
Five runners - Scott Westcott, Ruschena, Mark Tucker, Shane Nankervis and Michael Chettle - were in contention coming up the straight with a lap to go.
Ruschena, trailed immediately by Tucker, made his move coming up to the bell. Coming onto the final bend, Tucker seemed to make a little ground but a further move by Ruschena at the apex of the bend finished him off for good and he finished second in 29:01.79. Westcott was third in 29:05.78.
Complete article at The Age
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Brain drain hits athleticsMichael Khmel, one of Australia's most successful athletics coaches with seven of his squad selected for the Athens Olympics, is disillusioned and looking overseas for employment.
Sydney-based Khmel admits he is worried about his future coaching prospects here due to the restructuring of the sport by Athletics Australia which has totally destablised the professional coaches, some of the best of whom have already jumped ship.
"In the coaching community it's a panic," Khmel told The Daily Telegraph yesterday.
Khmel is best known for coaching pin-up sprinter Matt Shirvington and four members of the six-man squad which won the Olympic 4x400m relay silver medal in Athens.
"The heads of the coaches are not into coaching," Khmel admitted. "They're mostly over 50 with kids and families. They're thinking how they can pay their mortgage. Five times in letters from the NSW Institute of Sport - which has discussed things with Athletics Australia - it is written there is no guarantee of a job after March 31 next year."
Complete article at The Australian
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Zatopek no longer ClassicWhen Australia's premier 10,000metres race is held in Melbourne today, the country's two best distance runners will be pounding the hills far away at Falls Creek.
Benita Johnson, who holds the national 10,000m record, and her training partner Craig Mottram, the record holder over 5000m, are starting a stint of heavy base training in the Victorian alpine region and are not ripe to race around a track.
Weary from taking on the world's best this year, there are sound reasons for their absence from today's Zatopek Classic.
However, it is also a sign the meet no longer holds an exalted place on the domestic calendar.
The Zatopek race has traditionally marked the start of the summer season but this year's event has arrived almost unnoticed as the financially troubled sport tries to regain its feet under new management.
The event has long been held at Olympic Park, the home of distance running in Australia, but it is being renovated and today's venue will be a track in suburban Box Hill.
Ron Clarke, the legendary Australian distance runner who won the Zatopek five times, including in 1963 when he set a 10,000m world record, would surely lament its present standing.
"Whatever may be on the agenda, I hope they maintain the Zatopek as the true test of 10,000m running," Clarke said two years ago.
In the women's race, the main contenders will be 2003 winner Haley McGregor and fellow Victorian Anna Thompson, who has been in good recent form, running personal bests over 1500m and 5000m.
Among the men, the absence of 2003 winner Mottram as well as Olympic marathoner Lee Troop, who ran second last year, will open the door for athletes such as Mark Tucker, who was fourth in 2003, and Nick Harrison.
Complete article at The Australian
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