Sports Outside the Beltway

Javelin kills German athletics official

From the BBC-

An official at an athletics event in the German city of Dusseldorf has died after being speared in the throat with a javelin.

The 74-year-old man was rushed to hospital after the accident on Sunday but died of his injuries.

The official, named locally as Dieter Strack, had gone to measure a throw but was hit by a javelin before it hit the ground, according to local media.

The competition was called off after the incident.

The 15-year-old competitor who threw the javelin is receiving psychological counselling, police spokesman Andre Hartwig told the Associated Press.

A statement on the website of the local athletics association identified the man as Mr Strack and said he was a “much-loved and experienced” sports judge.

Very sad and RIP Mr. Strack.

The article noted that the accidental death of sports officials is rare. Maybe the most famous case was what happened at the 1977 South African Grand Prix when two marshals tried to run across the racetrack to extinguish a fire. The following video is graphic.

The driver of the car that hit the race marshal, Tom Pryce, was also killed.


Rosie Ruiz lives- London Marathon runner DQd for shortcut

It was a close call too. Anthony Gaskell only won the 65 and over age group by 38 seconds. From AP-

A 69-year-old man who was credited with running the London Marathon in a record time for his age group has been disqualified for taking a 10-mile shortcut.

Questions were raised after Anthony Gaskell finished the April 25 race in 3 hours, 5 minutes, the fastest ever for the over-65 age group.

Gaskell said he dropped out in the middle of the race because of injury and walked to the finish, cutting out part of the course. He said he never claimed to have won the age-group race and didn’t check the results on the website.

London Marathon organizers confirmed Tuesday that Gaskell had been disqualified and 66-year-old Colin Rathbone declared the over-65 winner.

Either the London marathon doesn’t use transponders to make sure runners make every checkpoint, or Gaskell found a way around the system. I think it’s the former.


Former Olympic Medalist Wayne Collett dead at 60

He also won 3 consecutive NCAA relay championships while attending UCLA. RIP.

Wayne Collett, a silver medalist in the 400-meters at the 1972 Munich Olympics who starred in the hurdles, sprints and relays at UCLA, died Wednesday. He was 60.

He passed away at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer, the university says after being informed of his death by family friends and his former college coach Jim Bush.

At the 1972 U.S. Olympic trials, Collett ran the fastest 400 time in history at sea level before finishing second in Munich.

He competed for UCLA from 1968-71, winning Pac-8 titles in the 440-yard intermediate hurdles and the 440-yard dash. He anchored three consecutive NCAA championship mile relay teams.


1984 Olympic Bronze medalist shot putter Dave Laut dead at 52

He also won a gold medal at the 1979 Pan American Games. RIP.

Police say former Olympic shot putter Dave Laut has been shot to death outside his Southern California home.

Police officials said the 1984 Olympic bronze medalist and Hueneme High School athletic director was shot multiple times around midnight Thursday.

Sgt. Ron Whitney said the 52-year-old was at home when he and his wife heard noises in the backyard and he went outside to investigate. Shots were fired moments later, and Laut died at the scene.


Gender test to be conducted on South African runner

She won the 800 meters in Berlin by a large margin. From ESPN-

South Africa’s track and field federation has been asked to conduct a gender test on an 800-meter runner amid concerns she does not meet the requirements to compete as a woman.

Caster Semenya, 18, won the 800 meters at the world championships with a stunningly dominating run.

Semenya took the lead halfway through the race Wednesday and won in a world-leading 1 minute, 55.45 seconds, beating defending champion Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya by a massive 2.45 seconds. Jennifer Meadows of Britain took bronze.

The world track and field federation requested the gender test about three weeks ago, after Semenya burst onto the scene by improving her personal bests in the 800 and 1,500 by huge margins.

IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said the “extremely complex, difficult” test has been started but that the results were not expected for weeks.

Wouldn’t determining someone’s gender be as simple as checking what they have below the waist? No it is more complex.

The verification requires a physical medical evaluation, and includes reports from a gynecologist, endocrinologist, psychologist, an internal medicine specialist and an expert on gender.

“So we’re talking about reports that are very long, very time consuming,” Davies said.

It is actually quite complex, as are the possible reasons for people to be confused about Semenya’s correct gender.

Proving one’s gender isn’t always so easy. Aside from the obvious physical signs, chromosomes usually determine whether a person is male or female. Males are born with XY chromosomes while females have two X chromosomes.

A person can be born intersexed or have Turner Syndrome.

Maybe I’m naive, but I think the testing will show Semenya is a woman. The days where East German athletes made you wonder if they had a sex change are like some ago dream.


Usain Bolt sets new 100m record

The previous mark was set by Bolt at the 2008 Summer Olympics. From AP-

Usain Bolt has captured another world record, winning the 100-meter race in 9.58 seconds at the world championships.

Bolt shaved 0.11 seconds off the record he set at the Beijing Olympics, beating defending champion Tyson Gay on Sunday, who set a U.S. record of 9.71 seconds.

In the fastest 100 ever, Asafa Powell earned a bronze with a time of 9.84 in Berlin.

The race had been the most anticipated event of the world championships and lived up to its billing.

Bolt won the Olympic gold in Beijing last year with a world record performance of 9.69.

That big an improvement in these days of drug scandals in sports always makes fans suspicious.


Pole vaulter in need of sponsor, runs naked in Paris

And he posted a video of it to the internet. From AP-

A French pole vaulting champion ran naked with his pole through the streets of Paris and posted the video on the Internet, hoping to draw attention to his quest for a new sponsorship deal.

Romain Mesnil, who won a silver medal at the 2007 Athletics World Championships in Osaka, was sponsored by Nike but says his contract expired last year and was not renewed.

“It was probably for budgetary and strategic reasons. It’s the crisis,” he wrote on his Web site.

Many athletes have reported difficulties obtaining corporate sponsorship as companies cut costs because of the global economic downturn.

In his video, Mesnil runs with his pole as if preparing for a vault at tourist spots like Montmartre and the Pont des Arts across the River Seine. A black square has been added to the footage to cover his groin area.

I don’t think too many people would want to see this pole vaulter’s ‘pole’ but I could be wrong.

While Mesnil’s stunt drew him plenty of publicity, supporting a pole vaulter who runs naked in public may not be the image a potential sponsor would want to be presenting.


Tyson Gay Out of Olympic 200

America’s best sprinter will not run the 200 meters in the Beijing Olympics, another casualty of our stupid selection policy.

Tyson Gay falls during the first quarterfinal heat of the men\'s 200 meter race at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, July 5, 2008. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)Tyson Gay accelerated through the first curve. Then, he started flying. Not in the figurative sense, but in an all-too-real way — a shocking sprawl to the ground that cost America’s best sprinter an Olympic spot in the 200 meters and made him look like less than a sure thing, health-wise at least, with the Beijing Games five weeks away.

Had this been gymnastics, or a number of other sports, an injury at trials wouldn’t have ended Gay’s chance to make the Olympics in that specific event. But USA Track and Field plays it straight — top three finishers at trials make the Olympics, no exceptions.

It’s a black-and-white policy that most athletes accept, though it could end up costing the American team as much as Gay in Beijing. Gay is the defending world champion in the 100 and 200 meters.

“I don’t know any other way to do it, but it’s tough,” said Wallace Spearmon, now the favorite in Sunday’s finals. “Either you’re ready on this day or not. You can be the best athlete coming into it, and you could be sitting at home watching it from the house.”

How about a system that combines multiple events? Say, the Olympic Trials, the World Championships, and one or two other major competitions? That way, a poorly timed fall, injury, or illness would be less likely to cost an individual an opportunity for which they’ve spent a lifetime training. And Team USA would be represented by the best athletes.


Oscar Pistorius, Double Amputee Olympic Sprinter

As incredible as it sounds, a man with no legs will be able to compete as a sprinter in the 2008 Olympics.

Oscar Pistorius Photo Stu Forster/Getty Images In its ruling, the CAS said the IAAF failed to prove that Oscar Pistorius

Double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius won his appeal Friday and can compete for a place in the Beijing Olympics. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that the 21-year-old South African is eligible to race against able-bodied athletes, overturning a ban imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

More amazing: the opponents argue that he has an unfair advantage.

Pistorius appealed to CAS, world sport’s highest tribunal, to overturn a Jan. 14 ruling by the IAAF that banned him from competing. The IAAF said his carbon fiber blades give him a mechanical advantage.


“The panel was not persuaded that there was sufficient evidence of any metabolic advantage in favor of a double-amputee using the Cheetah Flex-Foot,” CAS said. “Furthermore, the CAS panel has considered that the IAAF did not prove that the biomechanical effects of using this particular prosthetic device gives Oscar Pistorius an advantage over other athletes not using the device.”

It’s hard not to admire Pistorius, who was born without fibulas and had his legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday, and wish him all the best.

At the same time, those of us who grew up watching “The Six Million Dollar Man” and its spinoffs can certainly envision a scenario where those with prosthetic limbs do have an advantage over the “able bodied.” And what’s the standard for assessing that? No better than the best human legs ever in existence? Knowing how obsessive competitive athletes can be — survey after survey shows they’re willing to risk losing years of their life if they can win now — we might see the day when someone decides it’s worth it to have perfectly healthy legs amputated.

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Women’s Sarasota marathon winner disqualified

Shadows of Rosie Ruiz. From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune-

SARASOTA — Cristina Noble, the first woman to cross the finish line at Sunday’s Sarasota Marathon, has been disqualified.

Race officials say she missed electronic checkpoints at mile 17 and 18 of the Sarasota race. Course monitors confirmed that she did not run a mile of the marathon on Ken Thompson Parkway.

The official women’s winner of the 2008 ABC-7 Sarasota Marathon is now Madeleine Zolfo, 43, of Treasure Island. She learned the news Monday night.

Madeleine Zolfo finished three minutes behind Sunday’s winner, but was named the winner Monday.

“It’s kind of a bittersweet phone call to get,” Zolfo said. “You know, to win because someone else got disqualified.”

Zolfo said the course was clearly marked on City Island, but she doesn’t know what happened with Noble.

Race officials didn’t elaborate. Noble is supposed to be a gifted runner with a similar time in last year’s Detroit marathon. Without her side of the story we can only guess what happened in Sarasota.


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