Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Goodbye 2010 – The Year of David

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - JANUARY 01:  New Year's Eve fireworks display illuminates the sky over the Erasmus Bridge crossing the Nieuwe Maas river on January 1, 2010 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

Most track seasons are defined by a championship. Every four years it’s the Olympic Games. For the years directly before and after the Olympics it’s the World Championships. Everyone’s focus is on those meets, and it is typically the performances produced in the Major that create the most lasting impressions – and define a season.

2010 was an “off season” however – a season without a major. And off seasons tend to define themselves differently. 2006 saw the rebirth of the 200 meters. 2002 opened the floodgates on BALCO. 1998 saw the World Cup in Johannesburg’s high altitude produce Mexico City like results.

2010 was a very busy year. We saw the end of the two year tenure of Doug Logan as CEO of USA Track and Field. The IAAF rolled out the Diamond League as its signature set of meets. Allyson Felix gave notice that she may be the best 200/400 woman on the planet; Chris Solinsky became America’s first sub 27 / sub13 distance runner; and the U.S. appeared ready to get back in the game over the middle distances with Andrew Wheating, Leo Manzano, Alicia Johnson, Phoebe Wright, Morgan Uceny, and Christin Wurth Thomas all starting to come of age.

But I will remember 2010 as the Year of David – both literally and figuratively. As three “David’s” made huge noise in 2010.

David Rudisha started the year hot with a PR 45.50 over 400 in late March. He opened at 1:43.15 in his specialty on April 4th, He set his second WR at 1:41.01 on August 29th, and during the course of the year ran under 1:43.00 seven times on his way to an undefeated season – including three times under 1:42.00! His first WR run of 1:41.09 took down Wilson Kipketer’s 12 year old WR – one of the sports’ most hallowed marks. His outstanding set of performances made him the 2010 Athlete of the Year.

But as good as Rudisha was his status as Athlete of the Year was not secure until he crossed the line in 1:41.09. Because another David was also having an AOY type season.

David Oliver also started his season off quickly running 13.24 in April. A 13.11 victory over WR holder Dayron Robles (13.26) in Daegu on May 19th served notice that Oliver was in form and ready to compete – and compete he did. Oliver was also undefeated; had eight marks under 13.10; and five times ran under 13.00 – twice setting American records in the process (12.90 & 12.89). For most of the year it was clear that David was going to be AOY. And though Rudisha’s two WR’s trumped Oliver for World AOY, his two AR’s and undefeated season easily made him the U.S. Athlete of the Year.

The third David was the embodiment of the “biblical” David – he that slew Goliath. As Tyson Gay gave life to singer Gil Scott-Heron’s lyrics “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Superman”, when he defeated Usain Bolt in Stockholm on August 6th. The highlight of Gay’s season in which he was undefeated over 100 meters – co-leading the world at 9.78. He suffered only 1 loss over 200 and set a WR 19.41 for a straight 200. And ran a PR 44.89 over 400 meters – making him the first sprinter to run sub 10, sub 20 and sub 45 with automatic timing (Steve Williams turned the trick in the ‘70’s with hand timing). In any other season this would have been enough to make this “David” AOY. But in 2010 he simply becomes the third David – The Giant Killer.

So goodbye to 2010. I’m looking forward to seeing how all of our young middle distance performers do in 2011. And I’m certain there is more to come from the David’s. Here is a final look at the Year of David.

Rudisha sets first WR


Oliver dominates


No such thing as a Superman

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