Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Daegu 2011 – U.S. Report Card

Daegu 2011 – U.S. Report Card

So just how did the United States do in Daegu? By the numbers we brought home 25 medals – 12 gold, 8 silver, and 5 bronze – a definite improvement over Beijing and Berlin. But how does that compare to the rest of the world? The top 5 medal winning countries were:


  Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1. United States 12 8 5 25
2. Russia 9 4 6 19
3. Kenya 7 6 4 17
4. Jamaica 4 4 1 9
5. Germany 3 3 1 7
5. Great Britain 2 4 1 7


Considering the size of the United States compared to the other countries and our resources - human, financial and physical – one might think we should have an even more dominating set of performances. And for my money we should have. After all, once again we didn’t finish the men’s 4x1. We had no points at all in the men’s shot put, men’s 400 hurdles, or men’s pole vault – all typically big medal winners for us in Majors. We also only scored multiple medals in two events under 800 meters – the women’s 400 meters and 100 meter hurdles.

So while some may see 25 medals as a major showing, I see it as we still have a long way to go to actualize our true potential as a national team! So following are my grades for the U.S. team in Daegu.


Sprints – Men


How do you show up to a major with only two world class sprinters – LaShawn Merritt & Walter Dix – capable of getting to the finals? We only had one finalist in each sprint while Jamaica, who had problems of their own, landed 3 men in the 100 final, France had 2 in the 100 and Grenada and Belgium each had two in the 400 final. Three Silver medals from two sprinters, is nowhere near our potential. Let alone having only two sprinters in the sprint finals out of a total of 24 possible slots!


Sprints – Women


Gold in the 100, Silver and Bronze in the 200 (and 4th place) and Silver in the 400. With multiple finalists in each event. An absolutely solid performance by the women



Hurdles – Men


It took a DQ to get gold in the 110 hurdles (and frankly Liu was running by both Robles and Richardson).Without the contact we’re looking at Bronze. Our long hurdlers went into reverse when they hit the straight in the final – and defending champion Kerron Clement showed up looking like he would have had trouble in the California or Texas State Championships. 48.26 took Gold and 48.80 medaled!


Hurdles – Women


Silver and Bronze in the 100 hurdles – both under 12.50. Gold in the 400 hurdles in a new AR and the third fastest time ever. I would like to have seen another finalist in the 400’s, but hey, you can’t have everything. Once again the women got it done!



Mid Distance – Men


One finalist in the 800 and a mid-pack finish in a slow race. Just not acceptable to continue to get beat by poor tactics. Hopefully Charles Jock got some valuable experience. Centrowitz’ bronze medal in the 1500 was a pleasant surprise, but what happened to Wheating & Manzano? It’s almost as if they weren’t there.


Mid Distance – Women


Two finalists in the 800 and hundredths away from the podium. Two finalists in the 1500 and Gold with our best performer on the season going down to an in race accident. With Uceny finishing the race we could have been looking at a U.S. 1-2. Again the women performed.



Jumps – Men


Gold in the long jump and a rookie making the final. Gold and Bronze in the triple jump. Gold in the high jump. The one area of the meet where the men actually did BETTER than anticipated going into the meet and exceeded expectations on a grand scale.


Jumps – Women


Brittney Reese came through with a repeat of her long jump Gold. With Chaunte Howard Lowe out for the year we had no one else ready to step into the void – not good. And we couldn’t get a single woman into the triple jump final – not even close.



Throws – Men


Out of the medals in the men’s shot put – almost unheard of! And only one finalist between the Javelin, Hammer, & Discus. These were once among our staple events – now no one knows whose competing in them outside of the shot putters. Perhaps the most disappointing of all the competition sectors.


Throws – Women


Two finalists in the shot put and the Bronze medal. That’s a major move forward. But the AR holder in the javelin couldn’t make the final, our former Olympic discus champ (Trafton) was only middle of the pack, and we had only one legal throw in the Hammer final. That medal is the only thing keeping me from giving this group a “D”.



Multis – Men


The only thing better than Gold & Silver in the decathlon would be a clean sweep – and what are the odds of that. The last time there was a 1-2 in a global meet was way back in 1956 at the Olympic Games in Helsinki when Milt Campbell and Rafer Johnson turned the trick. A very rare occurrence indeed.


Multis – Women


Granted the AR/WR is way out there at 7291. But while a JJK only comes along every once in a while, barely scoring above 6000 points in a Major – 6043 to be precise – is just not acceptable. We need to at least be competitive.



Relays – Women


Two events, two Gold medals. Only challenging American or World Records could be better.


Relays – Men


Yes we won Gold in the 4x4, but there are collegiate squads capable of challenging the 2:59.31 that our “elite” sprinters left out there. And if not for a Herculean anchor by LaShawn Merritt, this team may not have broken 3:00. Can someone tell me why Mike Berry after his storming leg in the semis, was not in that final? And must I relive that 4x1 again? Once again we didn’t even finish the race.

So, yes, we were once again ahead of the rest of the world on medal count. But as I’ve said before we should be talking about challenging 40 medals instead of struggling to find a way to get to 30 medals! Perhaps our problem is that we have become satisfied with mediocrity – satisfied that as long as we get more medals than everyone else, then everything is alright. But the father in me would love to see us reach our potential. And while our medal count may be the best in class, it is NOT the best we can do. And for me that is disappointing.

We’re successful because we are bigger and have more resources in terms of people than everyone else in the world. We’re successful in spite of ourselves. Imagine what we could do with leadership, organization and structure. I read recently where someone said perhaps we do not need a CEO – and if 25 medals per Major is sufficient then perhaps we do not.

Personally, however, I see too much left on the cutting room floor. I see far more potential than we are developing. I see where our coaches and athletes need more help from their federation. I see where 40 medals is a possibility if we get all our competitive sectors working together at the same time instead of depending on the randomness of which individuals across the country are “feeling it” at any given point in time. I see where, in spite of 25 medals, there is still a LOT of work to be done. That’s why I give our 25 medals a “C” – it’s just average for US!

Next up I’m going to take a look at Allyson Felix’ attempt at the 200/400 double.


  1. Much as I would hate to lose Vin Lananna at Oregon or Pat Henry at TAMU, it's guys like them we need to get into USA track leadership, in some capacity.

    Granted, dealing with pros is a whole different animal than dealing with college athletes, but their love of the sport, knowledge of public relations affairs and record of success is too impressive to not be utilized beyond the collegiate level.

    I know...Lananna was coach of Team USA at Worlds but how much can a guy do in a few short weeks? And I know he was approached by USATF for that CEO job - and he refused. Really...who would want to inherit that mess?

    Maybe an advisory board made up of the top five or six collegiate track program directors? There are a consistent few who always seem to rise to the top - who know how to get the best out of their athletes.

    It's scary to think a general mind-set of settling for mediocrity has set in, as you suggest. I hope that's not the case. That's a problem which could take a generation (worst case scenario) to fix.

  2. NOTHING would be better for USA Track than for YOU to be named CEO.

    Your recommendations are, as always, the most intelligent that any of us will ever read.

    You're obviously passionate about the sport and more knowledgeable than anyone that I'll ever know.

    You're too modest to say it, so I just said it for you.


    John Nehmer

  3. Yes Skydance I think a solid CEO would help, along with some input from the top minds here in the US .. I don't see why the CEO of USATF couldn't use the advice of those in the field ..

    And John I do appreciate the kind words ... Thank you ...