Back to school. Back to work. Can this go on forever?

By September 9, 2011News

The IAAF World Track & Field Championships have come and gone. Monday was a sad day for me when I realized I wasn’t going to get to spend 3 hrs of my day in front of the computer screen watching the worlds best get after it. A lot of distance runners are only interested in distance running events. But the past few years I’ve taken an interest in the sport as a whole and found myself captivated by a range of events. If the field event coverage didn’t happen in the middle of the crucial stages of many distance races I probably would’ve enjoyed them even more. Though the real Highlights for me did come from the distance events. Abel Kirui put on a clinic in the men’s marathon and Mo Farah was very impressive in the 5,000m and 10,000m. And of course it was great to see Dylan Armstrong win a Silver medal in the shot put. Biggest disappointments for me were Bolt being Dq’d in the 100m (totally messed up my IAAF fantasy league) and Medhi Baala not head butting anyone in the men’s 1500m. I was disappointed in Ivan Ukhov in the mens high jump. Neither the great Ivan Ukhov ( 2.38m in a gym/barn), nor the not so great Ivan Ukhov ( sure this can be categorized as jumping) showed up in Daegu. Our Relay teams were a disappointed as well. I can’t believe we card 6-7 guys for the relay every year, get them together to train for big chunks of the year, and yet they can’t manage 3 clean exchanges. I know anything can happen in that final (as it did again this year), but you gotta be there to have a shot at that medal.

Anyways enough negativity from me, I’ll leave that up to Paul Gains, who wrote this article about the Canadian team in Daegu. It’s getting some traction now (check out the comments section below the article), and I was really pleased to see this blog by one of Canadas top swimmers, Julia Wilkinson in response to Gains’ article. All of what Julia said resonates with me. So I’m not going to say much. But, one thing I found interesting is that Gains used Kirani James (of Grenada) and the Borelee brothers (of Belgium) as examples of athletes succeeding despite not having great support systems or facilities in their countries. But what Paul either doesn’t know or failed to mention is that all three athletes developed at (or still attend in James’ case) powerhouse NCAA universities. This isn’t a pro NCAA plug, I’m simply trying to point out that these athletes didn’t get to where they are purely because they are more determined, focused, etc than Canadian athletes, they have had a lot of help and from University programs that likely have more resources than many countries that send teams to the World Champs.

In other news there we some good performances turned in by the Speed River boys this past weekend at the Virginia Beach half marathon: 63:15 for Reid and 63:34 for Gillis. Impressive stuff. We all know they’ll be ready to rock come October 16th. I thought the Brooks marathon guys were going to be racing there as well, but I couldn’t find them in the results, so I guess they didn’t bother.

Things on this side of the country are going well. We are on an easy week, after 4 weeks of high mileage and big workouts. Everyone is getting fit and gaining confidence (at least they should be). A group of us are racing a half marathon in Victoria on Sunday – McNeill Bay Half Marathon. This will be the first time I’ve raced on the island since 2006 (or maybe it was 2007?) when I ran a 5000m at the Victoria track classic. So, my first road race on the island. I’m looking forward to it. I don’t think I’m in a position to run a PB, but I’m still hoping to get out there and race.

3 Comments

  • Paul Gains says:

    Hey Dylan, I stand by my comments and could go a lot further in my criticism of the Canadian performances in Daegu – one of the worst ever showings by a Canadian team in world championship history!

    I do wish to point out that Kirani James had run 45.24 for 400m in 2009 – while he was in a Grenada high school. So he was hardly developed by an American university. Harvey Glance brought him to the states because he was already world class.

    As for the Borlees; Kevin ran 44.88 and Jonathan ran 45.11 at the Beijing Olympics – before they moved to the United States. Again they weren’t developed by the NCAA system.

    The twins didn’t last long at FSU either because of injuries and poor training. Their dad brought them back to Belgium to train with their younger brother – a member of the Belgian Jr 4 x 400m relay team, and their sister a decent sprinter.

    Cheers!

  • coach sensei says:

    Great Paul that you “could go a lot further….” and that(& your orginal article) would accomplish what exactly. The thing you fail to grasp is your article did not stay within the boundaries of “criticism of Canadian performances in Daegu” but went well beyond that to paint ALL Canadian track athletes as lazy, undedicated, underacheivers with low expectations. Brillant work. Thanks for the support!

  • Paul Gains says:

    Journalists aren’t supposed to be cheerleaders, coach sensei, whoever you are!

    We are falling further and further behind the rest of the world and something must be done. The status quo isn’t working. Hence my piece.

    Alex Baumann, at Own the Podium, told me a year ago he was in the business of getting Canada medals. I pointed out there is a vast difference between an Olympic 100m gold medal and a half pipe snowboarding gold, an event contested by a couple of dozen countries. Coach sensei, the government doesn’t care!

    If you think track and field will continue to be supported to the extent it is now, then you are delusional.

    The US government doesn’t put money into the US program. Many of the third world countries that won medals in Daegu don’t have facilities anywhere close to what we have in Canada. Some of Kenya’s top runners use ploughed farmland as a makeshift track.

    I know Dylan Wykes has made sacrifices to pursue his Olympic dream. That’s what it takes. But our marathoners are chasing a Canadian record that has stood for 36 years! The 50th best Kenyan in 2010 ran 2:09:23!!!!!!

    Gary Reed slept on a couch in a rent subsidised apartment during his developmental years always believing his situation would improve. Tyler Christopher, when I asked him if the government could have done more in his development, thought for a minute and said “No, If I had been given $30,000 a year I would have thought I had it made and maybe wouldn’t have worked as hard.”

    Bruny Surin told me early on in his career he invested his money in training camps with the world’s best sprinters so he could learn.

    They all won medals at world championships which is a phenomenal achievement. A top 8 finish in the world championships is terrific. But we had only three out of 32 athletes who made the finals in Daegu. So if you want to pretend all is well then you are contributing to the decline of track and field.

    Canadian athletes, for the most part, think they are working hard. Mo Farah who won the 5000m gold and 10000m silver in Daegu thought he was working hard too until his manager Ricky Simms told him he should live with the Kenyans for a while, He told me recently he saw they do nothing but eat, sleep and train. They don’t twitter and facebook and write blogs. They certainly don’t text during training sessions like one Canadian ‘superstar’ does!

    As for support………as a freelancer I pay my way to world championships because if I didn’t go there would be no other Canadian journalists there. Not even Canadian Press sent anyone to Daegu or Berlin 2009. My colleagues at the Canadian newspapers are only interested in medals.

    So, coach sensei, I won’t be apologising to you and anyone else for stating the truth.