Day 177: 31 August

In many ways, Jan Swinhoe is a trailblazer.

Athletics Australia’s first female President in its 124-year history should be celebrated for being just that, but her pioneering prowess long outdates its acknowledgement.

Raised in New South Wales while attending a state school, Swinhoe had not exactly shot out of the blocks en route to becoming a high-achieving director. A flat-footed standing start had to suffice, but the savvy Swinhoe was quick to muster momentum.

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Day 176: 30 August

“Let’s go!” screamed the Colombian crowd, in Spanish, as they watched Natalia Linares do her first jump in the qualification round at the World Athletics U20 Championships Cali 22 on Wednesday (3).

Linares didn't hear them.

“I enter a bubble, I only listen to my coach and myself,” said Linares, who advanced to the long jump final with the third best mark of the competition.

Before she jumps her routine is always the same: she closes her eyes, takes some deep breaths and puts her faith in a higher power.

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Day 175: 29 August

There was perhaps no better indication of Marybeth Sant-Price’s inexperience on the global stage than when she took to the podium at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22.

Marybeth Sant-Price at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22


The US sprinter’s name was announced, but she hesitated before stepping on to the platform, looking around for some sort of confirmation that that’s what she was supposed to do. After a brief nod and smile from her fellow medallists, Sant-Price took her place on the podium and received her bronze medal.

Those hesitant and uncertain few steps on to the podium were somewhat symbolic of the journey she had been on to reach that point.

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Day 174: 28 August

With a heavy heart, we share the sad news that one of our most dedicated Technical Officials, Gayle Anderson, passed away during this past week. Many of you will recognise Gayle from the many Oceania Championships and Pacific Games events that she attended as one of our leading technical officials, others will remember Gayle’s time on the Cook Islands when she worked with the Federation as a Development Officer.

Gayle officiated at numerous national and international competitions and was a regular technical official at Oceania events from the early 2000s until the most recent Area Championships in 2019. She was appointed to Oceania Championships and Regional Championships in Cairns, Townsville, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Northern Mariana Islands and Tahiti. Gayle was also a regular at Pacific Games, Mini-Games, and Micronesian Games and was appointed to the Cook Islands, Palau, Samoa, and Wallis and Futuna Games.

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Day 173: 27 August

The first episode in a new podcast series focusing on athletics officials features Helen Roberts, an international technical official from Australia with almost 30 years of experience.

As a former athlete, a coach and an official, Roberts’ journey has taken her from the club scene all the way to the Olympic Games.

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Day 172: 26 August

Two weeks can be a lifetime.

Just 14 days ago, young Ukrainian coach Olena Borysiuk and her 17-year-old star athlete Valeriya Sholomitska had a simple dream. They wanted to win a medal in the U20 women’s 10km race walk at the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships, held in Muscat last week.

Olena Borysiuk and Valeriya Sholomitska in Muscat


At their winter training camp in the Turkish resort city of Antalya, Sholomitska was training well and they were increasingly confident. Everything seemed to be on track for a good performance.

"We trained well and we felt good, but on the morning of February 24 it all changed,” Borysiuk recalls. “It changed her life and it changed my life.”

That was the morning when Russia invaded Ukraine, and they were left stranded in a foreign land, far from home and family, separated by a war they never expected. Borysiuk, 31, became the temporary guardian of a teenager in a frighteningly uncertain situation. They could not go home but they belonged nowhere else.

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Day 171: 25 August

While there is a long road still to be travelled, Fanny Blankers-Koen demolished many barriers for women on the path to gender equality. 

On 26 April 1918, the sporting world celebrated 100 years since the birth of Blankers-Koen. The quadruple gold medallist at the 1948 Olympic Games was in 1999 deservedly announced as the Woman Athlete of the Century, a reflection of her outstanding career in the sport.

Blankers-Koen was a pioneer of women’s athletics. Only 20 years before her Olympic triumphs, female athletes had for the first time been allowed to compete at the Games. As a 30-year-old mother of two children, Blankers-Koen battled against not only sexism but ageism. 

On her return home to Amsterdam, Blankers-Koen was lauded as a national heroine in the Netherlands. Yet, even in that moment of triumph, a sizeable number of the letters, postcards, and telegrams which she received were negative. 

Read more via the Empowering Women in Athletics group on Facebook

Day 170: 24 August

Despite all she has already achieved in the sport, Nia Ali feels that in a way, she is just getting started.

Nia Ali on her way to winning the 100m hurdles at the World Athletics Championships Doha 2019


“It sounds crazy, but I feel like I am having a late development, if that makes sense,” says the three-time world sprint hurdles gold medallist.

“I was NCAA champion back in 2011, but I have learned so much since then. I’m still learning a lot now.

“It has been my best year so far in terms of how I’ve approached training and how I have been able to stay the course with everything. It’s been falling into place.”

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Day 169: 23 August

The local organising committee (LOC) for the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 has pledged to honour women in sport as part of a 'Women in the Spotlight' initiative centered on 18 July.

The fourth day of competition will showcase key moments for a range of women's events, including the women's marathon, heptathlon, triple jump final and 1500m final. The in-stadium event presentation will be devoted to honouring women in track and field and will also include specific programming highlighting historic moments and heroes as well as the accomplishments of current superstars.

As a result of World Athletics' pledges last year, a review of World Athletics Series events scheduling will see WCH Oregon22 end with the women’s 4x400m relay for the first time in event history.

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Day 168: 22 August

Nikki Merrill (undergraduate at Villanova University USA) shares with World Athletics what she wants and looks for in a mentor.

"I have had several mentors throughout my life who have helped me grow academically, athletically, professionally, and as an overall person. When looking for a mentor, there are specific qualities that I want in them. 

"I want a mentor who is further along on a similar path as me. However, I also want a mentor who is respectful and encouraging of the ways in which our paths may diverge.
I want a mentor who doesn’t just encourage me to follow the path they have already blazed themselves, but who also encourages me to blaze my own."

Read more via the Empowering Women in Athletics group on Facebook

Day 167: 21 August

For Eleanor Patterson, it has never been a question of if she can do it.

Seldom are athletes better to watch than the high-flying Australian at her best. From a state of tranquility to maximum velocity in a matter of seconds, with a steely-eyed stare at the bar almost daring it to fall off – the act is mesmerising in its entirety.

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Day 166: 20 August

It all started with the vortex – a small, American football-shaped foam missile with an aerodynamic tail. Adriana Vilagos was eight years old and, in her home village of Mali Idos in the north of Serbia, she started laying the foundations for an eventual career in the javelin.

She was playing handball at the time, but her gym teacher noticed something: Vilagos had a faster hand, a stronger throw, than other children, and so she sent her to participate in a children’s throwing competition. 

“I didn’t even know what this was,” she says.

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Day 165: 19 August

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Day 164: 18 August

A new programme at Stanford University has been launched to address the gender gap in sports science research, with an aim to inform and empower.

The Stanford Female Athlete Science and Translational Research (FASTR) programme's pilot study, Erin Strout of Women's Running explains, is focused on educating high school distance runners about the female athlete triad and bone stress injuries. Based on the research, five educational videos will be created by FASTR, and they will be delivered by athletes sharing their own experiences.

"If we talk about this as researchers, it might not have as much impact as it would have coming from role models," US trail running champion and lead researcher Megan Roche told Women's Running. "We want to make sure it’s scientifically backed information and have top athletes translate what that means to them. It’s a good combination to hear from athletes who have gone through some of these trials and tribulations."

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Day 163: 17 August

Chiara Montesano talks about her role as a volunteer at the European U20 Championships in Rieti.

"Athletics – but I’d say sport in general – would be nothing without volunteers," she says. "We are paramount for event organisation, club management and athlete support. 

"I’ll be forever thankful to volunteering, which has been a great stepping stone for my personal development and professional career."

Read more via the Empowering Women in Athletics group on Facebook

Day 162: 16 August

“I never really wanted to go into sports journalism” isn’t exactly a phrase you’d expect from an ex-international-level athlete who had always dreamt of becoming a journalist.

However, such was the case for Germany’s former 400m hurdler Christiane Schwalm (née Klopsch). She has, thankfully, since revised her career path and has made gender parity in sports media – in front of and behind the lens – her mission.

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Day 161: 15 August

With each landmark achievement this season – and there have been many – Kara Winger was met with the same question from journalists and fans.

“Are you sure you want to retire?”

Kara Winger at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22


The US javelin thrower decided some time ago that 2022 would be her final year in the sport. It also ended up being her best season by quite some margin.

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Day 160: 14 August

Allyson Felix was already a nine-time Olympic medallist. In 2021 the US sprinter added to her legend, winning two more medals in Tokyo to become the most decorated woman in Olympic track and field history. She did so wearing shoes by Saysh, her own lifestyle brand 'for, and by, women'.

It was motherhood that helped Felix to find her voice and, recognised as one of TIME magazine's Women of the Year, she continues to blaze a trail.

“When you speak your truth, things happen,” Felix told TIME. “You draw power from one another.”

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Day 159: 13 August

"I started officiating as a referee through my husband's referee work for our home club TSV Friedberg-Fauerbach. I was never an active athlete myself," says Hedi Ditthardt.

"After the acquisition of a timing system in 1993, technically experienced operators were needed. With my background as a graduate engineer in electrical engineering and computer science, this opportunity to work as a timekeeper at club championships came in very handy. I then took the next opportunity in 1995 to take part in a basic training course to become a referee. In the following years, I gained so much experience in competitions at club and regional levels or at Hesse Athletics Association (HLV) level that I was trained as an umpire in 2005. Since 2006, I have been an official HLV instructor (and currently the only woman) and since 2008, I have been a referee in the HLV. 

"Since then, together with my husband, I have been training new referees in our district. Furthermore, in my capacity of referee supervisor for the district, I try to support them so that they are also appointed to Hessian and German championships on the basis of their competence."

Read more via the Empowering Women in Athletics group on Facebook

Day 158: 12 August

Chase Ealey has been unstoppable this season.

The 2022 World Indoor Championships shot put silver medallist is undefeated. She hit three personal bests in consecutive competitions in June and has the world leading distance this year after throwing 20.51m at the US national championships at Hayward Field just two weeks ago.

Women from the US are dominating throwing events this year, entering the world championships with the world-leading distances in the shot put, javelin, discus and hammer throws. Ealey leads the host team’s women’s shot put squad, which also includes Maggie Ewen, Adelaide Aquilla and Jessica Woodard, eager to add to the host nation’s modest World Championships shot put medal haul. Women shot putters from the US have won just three medals in world championship competition: one silver and a pair of bronze.

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Day 157: 11 August

Eilish McColgan was crowned BT Sport Action Woman of the Year at the broadcaster’s annual awards ceremony in London on Wednesday evening.

After a superb 2022 season which saw her come away with four medals from the major Championships and Games this summer, the Scottish athlete was deserving of the accolade. She also revised the UK all-time record books along the way during a truly remarkable year.

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Day 156: 10 August

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Day 155: 9 August

Czech Republic’s Zuzana Hejnova, the two-time world 400m hurdles champion and Olympic bronze medallist, has confirmed her retirement from competitive athletics.

The 35-year-old, who has announced that she is expecting a baby, is to bid an official farewell to her successful career at the Ostrava Golden Spike – a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting – on 31 May.

“I wanted to say goodbye in front of Czech spectators,” she said. “I have had a great career and from the bottom of my heart I thank everyone who supported me. I'm looking forward to a new role now.”

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Day 154: 8 August

Four female leaders in athletics from across the world shared their stories of success and growth in their careers as athletes and figures for the sport at ‘Out of the Blocks’, an inspirational leadership conference held on Tuesday (19) at the University of Oregon.

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Day 153: 7 August

The Jamaica Gleaner marked International Women’s Day by sharing the stories of eight inspiring Jamaican sportswomen, with four of those from the sport of athletics.

Five-time Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah, nine-time world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, multiple Olympic and world medallist Shericka Jackson and double 2018 world U20 champion Briana Williams all star in the series, with their sprint successes in the spotlight.

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Day 152: 6 August

When an injury ended her years in competition, it put Lisa Ferdinand on a different path to the pinnacle of athletics.

Lisa Ferdinand

Ferdinand, who will serve as the international starter at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade next week, began competing in athletics in 1974.

As a young athlete growing up in Montreal, Canada, there was no shortage of inspiration for her to draw upon. With her hometown hosting the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, she was exposed to high performance athletes and international competitions from an early age.

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Day 151: 5 August

For Malaika Mihambo, it’s never over, it would seem.

It was put to the German long jump queen on the eve of her fourth competition of this crowded 2022 outdoor season, the FBK Games in Hengelo (6 June), that she was the “Chef der letzten Runde” - the chief of the last round.

The suggestion drew a wry smile from Mihambo, an engagingly erudite individual who likes to spend her off-seasons meditating and absorbing the culture in India and Thailand.

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Day 150: 4 August

El deporte venezolano está de luto por la desaparición física de Gisela Vidal, quien  formó parte de la generación del atletismo llamada “Los Superdotados” en la década de los años 60 y 70.

La oriunda del estado Bolívar, falleció a los 82 años, en la Isla de Margarita,  Nueva Esparta, donde residía hace algunas décadas.  

Vidal participó en pruebas de velocidad y en salto largo, siempre obteniendo sobresalientes resultados dentro y fuera del país, actuaciones que la llevaron al Salón de la Fama del Deporte Venezolano en 1983, y a obtener en tres oportunidades  los premios “Atleta del Año”  y del Buen Deportista YMCA.

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Day 149: 3 August

A few hours after taking her last throw at the Wanda Diamond League Final in Zurich on Thursday (8), javelin thrower Barbora Spotakova announced her retirement from the sport.

Barbora Spotakova at the 2017 World Championships in London

During an international career that spanned 23 years, the Czech legend earned two Olympic gold medals, three world titles and a full set of European medals. She also set the existing world record of 72.28m back in 2008, making it the longest-standing world record in the women’s javelin.

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Day 148: 2 August

For Tuesdays with Toyota, we are spotlighting some of USATF's most dedicated members with a short feature on and our social media channels.

Here is our feature with USATF athlete Kristin Bernaeyge, member of the USATF Illinois Association from Chicago, Illinois.

Tell us about your journey with USATF and how it has impacted you: "The question I get asked most is, ‘Why do you run?’ and with an answer so simple as “because I can” — which has so much meaning behind it, came about with the support of a ‘village’ — the running community."

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Day 147: 1 August

After identifying some of the barriers stopping young women from participating in sport, Australia's Oceanian 20km race walk record-holder Jemima Montag decided to do something about it. As part of the IOC Young Leaders programme, the 24-year-old has launched the Play On project.

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