Saturday, August 25, 2007

Webb Advances

The Post finally went bandwagon jumping with this article on Alan Webb, front page nonetheless!
Webb got rolling in Osaka today, as the World Championships started in the buchii mushii atsui weather of August on the Kansai plain (Loosen Up is the only blog delivering sports weather reports in authentic Osaka slang). 3 rounds in 6 days means the opening race is a balancing act, the purpose of which is to make sure you finish high enough/fast enough to either pass through to the next round on place (top-6 per race) or time (the next fastest 6 runners), while at the same time, if possible, conserving energy and effort for the next rounds, which will be progressively harder.

Webb brought his lunch pail, riding in a comfortable second for the first three slow laps in a workmanlike 3:40 (3:56 mile), guaranteeing a spot in the 2nd round. While Kenyan Asbel Kiprop did a nice bit of finger waving as he crossed the line to get a meaningless win, Webb took a page from Art Monk's book, acting like he had been there before. His countenance serious and focused, he ducked press requests as he headed straight into the stadium. A photo of the finish is at top.

Webb's real competition is still laying in wait in the tall grass, having been placed in other heats. The first time represents their seasonal best at 1500 meters, the second their alltime best:
Ivan Heshko UKR 3:35.03 3:30.33
Youssef Baba MAR 3:32.13 3:32.13
Mehdi Baala FRA 3:31.01 3:28.98
Rashid Ramzi BRN 3:29.14
Mohamed Moustaoui MAR 3:32.67 3:32.51
Daniel Kipchirchir Komen KEN 3:32.44 3:29.02
Tarek Boukensa ALG 3:30.92 3:30.92
Belal Mansoor Ali BRN 3:31.49 3:31.49

Compared to Webb: Alan Webb USA 3:30.54 3:30.54

In his second round heat Webb gets Ramzi, Baala (who was upset by Webb on his home turf at the Paris Grand Prix this year), Komen, Boukensa, Moustaoui, the finger-waving Kenyan Kiprop, and fellow American Bernard Lagat. On Monday night the top-5 finishers qualify for the final, along with the two fastest times not qualifying automatically on place from the two heats.
Do the math.
Somebody's going home.


Lil Bro said...

Finally! The Post is on the Webb train. I mean, he's not just a good sports story, but he's a local, who lives in Reston, Va.

Minor Thread said...

The valid criticism of the way the mainstream sports media cover the events they don't know that much about (non-ball sports) is that they play up the 'human interest' side of the story. Unfortunately, this reduces our knowledge of the events and athletes to the obstacles they have overcome -- and really every athlete had some struggles or hardships on the way to the top. What is left out is any analysis of the strategy, the competitive situation, the significance of past performances. The Post front page story on Webb was an example of this. Did it name anyone he is actually going to have to compete against? What are his strengths and weaknesses as a miler? What kind of race would be to his advantage?
The comparison would be the lead-up to a big Monday night football match up to be entirely composed of history of the teams and players in past seasons, but no scrutinization of how the teams will play against each other.
I'd just like a few more "keys to the game," instead of so much humanizing backstory. What is really galling is when they cut away from a longer race, the 5000, 10,000 or marathon WHILE IT IS HAPPENING, to profile how a runner was raised by asthmatic wolves on the poor side of Beverly Hills. If the announcers can't make athletes trying to run three consecutive 4:20 miles (in the 5000) exciting, time to get new announcers. BBC does an excellent job, commensurate with the greater European interest in track. In print, only SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's Kenny Moore, who ran for Bill Bowerman at Oregon, brings the requisite knowledge to bring track to life for the readers.