Weekend reading (Christel Saneh) © Copyright

Weekend reads: the best athletics stories from the past seven days

Start your weekend here, with a round-up of some of the best athletics, running and fitness-related stories from the past seven days.


Two trillion roads diverged in a yellow wood

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

In another world, today would have been the day of the 2020 Olympic 50km race walk in Sapporo.

Full post (by New Zealand race walker Quentin Rew)

Usain Bolt's talent for speed becomes more apparent now it is denied to us

Bolt had a gift for making the impossible seem easy but his success was based on mental resolve as well as electric pace

Usain Bolt

Perhaps you have your own favourite Bolt race. Perhaps it’s the first time he truly astonished us: the 100m at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, where he smashed the world record despite basically doing jazz hands from about 70 metres, like a Victorian street magician. Perhaps it’s the 9.58sec in Berlin the following summer, a truly ridiculous effort, one best remembered for the collective and involuntary noise the crowd makes when it sees the clock: a sort of aaaawwweuuurrrrgh. This was sport as testimony: after all, you didn’t simply watch Bolt breaking a world record. You witnessed it. You shared it. You shook people by the shoulders and asked – a little superfluously – did you see that?

Full article (The Guardian)


3D whole-body scanner can identify sporting talent, improve performance and health

Body scan

How hard is it to pick the next Usain Bolt, Ian Thorpe, or Anna Meares? Finding a world champion often falls to talent scouts and involves years of hard work, but could it be as simple as a 35-second body scan?

A new paper by the University of South Australia and the University of North Dakota sports scientist Professor Grant Tomkinson analyses how a $7500 3D portable whole-body scanner can identify sporting talent for particular codes and monitor body changes in athletes to ensure they are performing at their peak.

Full article (News Medical Life Sciences)


An ultrarunner describes her Covid-19 recovery struggle

Lauren Wilke contracted the new coronavirus early in March. Almost five months later, she still can’t run.

She noticed something wasn’t right while on a run during a business trip in Utah. It was early March, and although the COVID-19 chatter was getting louder in the United States, most people hadn’t yet considered it a real threat.

But Lauren Wilke, 36, knew she was at risk. She travels extensively for her job as an engineer and often enters nursing homes to conduct building inspections. It was difficult to tell if the altitude or jetlag or general fatigue was slowing her down on that run, but by the next morning Wilke also had a dry cough.

Full article (Women's Running)


Don’t get carried away with your virtual PBs

The real racing is beginning to return and this is a public service announcement for our virtual stars.

Like the furlough pro Zak Hanna, many have found new strength training through the UK and Irish versions of a lockdown. The virtual race season, at first held at arms length by many including myself, has been embraced. Virtual PBs are a thing. Well, kind of.

Now those who have been training hard and seeing improvements all though 2020 are looking to get themselves some real PBs and we’re worried there could be some carnage. It’s important to remember that there is a slight possibility your watch has been lying to you.

Full article (Fast Running)


Dalilah Muhammad on history in 2019: ‘I put it out of mind I was the world-record holder’

Dalilah Muhammad

After arriving in Doha last September, Dalilah Muhammad told her coach that the world track and field championships would produce fast times. Even if she wasn’t necessarily thinking of herself.

“I had to just put it out of my mind that I was the world-record holder,” Muhammad said. She just wanted to win. Time didn’t matter.

Full article (NBC Sports)


Kipruto digs in to refurbish track

Conseslus Kipruto

In Kapsabet, regarded as the 'home of champions', the state of the Kipchoge Stadium has forced athletes to train along roads or travel to the University of Eastern Africa to use the campus track. Then there are athletes who have been training in Mosoriot in Nandi County who have also been using the Mosoriot Teachers Training College for their work-outs.

World and Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto is one of the Kapsabet-based athletes. Tired of too much reliance on national and county government action, the steeplechase star this week took up the initiative to hire a grader and level the running track at St Francis Cheptarit High School in Mosoriot which he has been using for training.

Full article (Daily Nation)


The day Alice Coachman became the first black woman to win Olympic gold

Alice Coachman

Rain was starting to come down as the closing women’s track and field event of the 1948 Summer Olympics was coming to an end. To that point, no American woman had taken the gold medal in any of the competitions.

Alice Coachman changed that by soaring an unprecedented 5 feet, 6 1/8 inches in the high jump at the London Games. She also jumped into the history books as the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal.

Full article (The Undefeated)


At the Olympics in bombed-out London, she forever changed women's sports

The 1948 Summer Games, the first held after the war, were a celebration of improvisation, renewal and change, embodied in a Dutch track star named Fanny Blankers-Koen.

Fanny Blankers-Koen

When the Dutch track star Fanny Blankers-Koen appeared at the 1948 London Olympics, soon to become the first woman to win four gold medals at a single Games, she was not the only welcomed and urgent arrival from the Netherlands.

A hundred tons of fruit and vegetables were also sent from the Low Countries to help feed Dutch and other athletes in a still-battered city during the first Summer Olympics held after World War II. Finland provided timber for the basketball court. Switzerland donated gymnastics equipment. Canada felled two Douglas firs to make diving boards.

Full article (New York Times)


Boycott Games: Fields harbors no anger despite missing 1980

1980 Olympics opening ceremony

In the grand scheme of things, Benn Fields knows he’s lucky. His career as an elite high jumper has taken him around the globe more than once — to Nigeria, Mexico, Guatemala, the Middle East, even Russia.

Many of those trips came while selling track and field equipment, a product he became very familiar with decades before while becoming one of the best in the world at his sport.

The trip that never happened was the one to the Moscow Olympics, and though Fields will forever be known as a US Olympian, he also will always wonder about what might have been had the US government not spearheaded a boycott of those games 40 years ago.

Full article (Times Leader)


Jonathan Edwards reflects on triple jump world record, 25 years on

Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards hadn't yet touched the sand, but he already knew.

"There was a moment during my step phase when I just had to wait to put my foot down and take the next landing - in that instant I knew it was better," he tells BBC Sport.

That millisecond of certainty has now stretched into a quarter of a century of supremacy.

Full article (BBC Sport)