Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Thirty Watch List

Track and Field: IAAF World Indoor Championships

USATF CEO Doug Logan has set a goal of 30 medals at the London Olympic Games. A mark we have yet to achieve in any Games or World Championships to date. Most recently we won 23 medals in track and field at the Beijing Games and 22 medals at last year’s World Championships in Berlin. So in the past two global championships we have been at about three quarters of goal.

The question is where do we pick up the other seven or eight medals? Not as easy as it might sound when you consider that there are approximately 200 other countries with the same thought in mind – to improve their medal counts! When you look at recent championships there are several “gaps” where we are missing medals. A good start would be in the running events above 400 meters. There is also much improvement to be made on the field in areas such as the triple jump, high jump, hammer, javelin and discus. These are all areas where we could pick up additional medals with improvement.

As a matter of fact most are events that, not too long ago, we earned medals and were among the best in the world with athletes like Charles Austin (HJ), Kenny Harrison (TJ), Johnny Gray (800), Regina Jacobs (1500), and Louise Ritter (HJ) just to name a few. But over the past couple of decades the world has become a lot more competitive and we’ve lost ground in several events. The African nations have grown to dominate the distances. The Caribbean nations have grown stronger in the short sprints. And the European nations have gotten stronger in the field. So we have a lot of work to do to regain our “mojo” in several areas.

THAT is the task at hand. Maintaining excellence where we currently earn medals, while improving in events where we know we have the ability to be competitive. To that end we need a plan, a road map if you will, of how we are going to get there. Putting that road map together is the role of USATF. I would hope any such plan might include putting our most promising athletes together with our best coaches by area of expertise. At least I think that would be the place to start. Luckily we have another year before the next championship (Daegu, 2011) and two years until the next Olympics (London, 2012). So there is plenty of time to put something workable in place.

While we are waiting to see the results of our labors in Daegu and London however, I am going to start a list of those athletes that I feel are in the best position to medal. Looking at factors such as performance marks, competitive results, health and age I will try and gauge where we are with respect to reaching the elusive thirty medals. Hence I will call it my “Thirty Watch List”. As we head into Penn and what is traditionally the time of year where athletes begin to blossom I decided to start the list now, so the first version will appear below and I will update it periodically during the season. I’m hoping that by season’s end we are above the 22/23 medals that we have earned in the past two championships. I would love to see athletes like Jenny Barringer (1500), Galen Rupp (5000/10000), Matt Tegenkamp (5000/10000), Dathan Ritzenhein (5000/10000), Andra Manson (HJ), Anna Pierce (800/15000), et al can begin to move into medaling position.

Of course this list is simply one of opinion, mine, and the real proof of our improvement will be gauged by the results we achieve in the championships themselves – starting with Daegu. But every goal needs a plan, and every plan needs a method of evaluation – this will be my evaluation tool. I have started by taking a look at our results the past couple of seasons and those athletes that have had the most success – along with such factors as age, health and the status of our global competition. I will add and delete as athletes rise and fall in performance, retire, or get injured – and as athletes around the world do the same. Athletes will be listed with the event that I think they will be able to medal in in Daegu.

There are a couple of spots taken up by athletes that didn’t medal recently due to injury or other mishaps, but who otherwise are clearly in medal position. There are also a couple of spots where I did not place athletes based on age and I am waiting to see if they can bypass Father Time and continue at their recent levels.

It should be a lot of fun. So without further delay here is my first “Thirty Watch List”.


The Thirty Watch List

  Athlete Event
1. Tyson Gay 100 Meters
2. Carmelita Jeter 100 Meters
3. Tyson Gay 200 Meters
4. Wallace Spearmon 200 Meters
5. Allyson Felix 200 Meters
6. Lashawn Merritt 400 Meters
7. Jeremy Wariner 400 Meters
8. Sanya Richards 400 Meters
9. Terrence Trammell 110 Hurdles
10. Kerron Clement 400 Hurdles
11. Bershawn Jackson 400 Hurdles
12. Lashinda Demus 400 Hurdles
13. Lolo Jones 100 Hurdles
14. 4x1 Men Relay
15. 4x1 Women Relay
16. 4x4 Men Relay
17. 4x4 Women Relay
18. Brittney Reese Long Jump
19. Jennifer Suhr (nee Stuczynski) Pole Vault
20. Christian Cantwell Shot Put
21. Brian Clay Decathlon
22. Trey Hardee Decathlon

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