In another thread several weeks ago I suggested that the 800 was a weak event (in terms of times) and that what was needed was a 45 second 400 runner (someone who can run fast, not a distance runner) to take that 800 record below 1:50. Long-legged Tommy Smith would have been a perfect candidate. I saw him run many times in the sixties, and it seemed he could outrun anyone at practically any distance. I think he would have had to alter his training, significantly, to run the 800 well, and that might have affected his sprinting. In other words, he would have had to make a real commitment to the 800, not just run a few races at the distance. But with such a commitment and the training it implies, I think a runner like Tommy Smith could have been the fastest 800 runner we've ever seen.
I know Lee Evans ran an 800 or two and Smith was better in the 400 than he was. I can see your point and can't disagree, I just don't have anything to go by other than knowing he was a fantastic runner.
I work with a guy who ran on the same 4x1 team as Smith in high school in Lemoore a little town about 40 miles from here.
The aerobic element of the 800 is constantly underestimated. Tommie Smith was fantastic, but that doesn't mean he possessed the potential to develop the VO2Max, lactate tolerance, circulatory system or many other factors that go into making a top 800 runner. He might have, but we'll never know. Some of it boils down to muscle fiber, and if a guy is overloaded in the fast twitch area (the fast twitch fibers dedicated to speed rather than strength, obviously), they are probably "underfunded" in the slow twitch area. Juantorena is a big exception, but many runners slower at the 400 have run faster in the 800. Borzakovskiy looks a good bet to lower the record to a more "acceptable level" if he or his coach can their head on straight. He has speed, and good strength, apparently.
Then again, maybe the record is right where it's supposed to be. It's a tough event to call, you have 400/800 types, 800/1500 types, freaks like Aouita have scored ...
>The aerobic element of the 800 is constantly
I mentioned this factor in my old post on this subject (weeks ago), and made it clear there that my complaints about "slow" 800 times was (at least partly) tongue-in-cheek. Still there's a point to be made...
>Some of it boils down to
>muscle fiber, and if a guy is overloaded in the
>fast twitch area (the fast twitch fibers
>dedicated to speed rather than strength,
>obviously), they are probably "underfunded" in
>the slow twitch area.
Hard to know how much this factor plays into the equation until some fast 400 guys really take on 800 training -- seriously and over an extended period of time. That's what I think has been missing and therefore keeps us speculating...
>Juantorena is a big
That's just what the 800 needs, an exception! The 800 has been approached as a distance run, and while the above-mentioned aerobic factor is no doubt the reason for this, I'm still itching to see some faster runners take up the challenge of the 800.
>Borzakovskiy looks a
>good bet to lower the record to a more
>"acceptable level" if he or his coach can their
>head on straight. He has speed, and good
He may break the WR, but I see him as a very good runner in the traditional mold (despite his unusually approach to splitting the 800). He runs 400s for speed training, but he's not really a 400 guy.
>Then again, maybe the
>record is right where it's supposed to be. It's
>a tough event to call, you have 400/800 types,
>800/1500 types, freaks like Aouita have scored
It IS a tough event to call -- and even tougher to run. But we've seen a lot of 800/1500 types, not so many 400/800 types. In fact, though the 800 doesn't take much over 100 seconds to run (and should be under 100 seconds), most 800 guys would be a lot more at home running a 10K than 200m.
Due to aerobic issues which arise somewhere between 50 seconds and 100 seconds, the 800 will probably never be considered a "long sprint". But until proved otherwise, I think that bringing more speed to the event, while still maintaining the focus on the necessary aerobic training, could be the breakthrough this event is begging for.
Everett ran 44 for the 400, and couldn't crack 1:43 in the 800. Borzo the bozo runs 45 out of the blocks, and looks like he can run 1:40. Maybe we need some distance runners with 45/46 speed like Coe, rather than 44 sec. 400 guys. Most sprinter types don't have the physical make up to run farther than 400 or 600 really, really fast. The guy mentioned Juantorena. 44.2 in the 1 lapper, mid 1:43's at his best in the 800. Best of his time, but no Coe or Kipketer.
Here is a factor to consider: Tommie had very quick turn-over combined with very long legs and a huge stride length and, for his ht., he weighed very little. He was flat out skinny and would have had less wt. to haul around a two lapper than any other comparable sprinter. For example, it is impossible to imagine MJ running a very fast 800. Was Tommie Smith the fastest, skinniest sprinter ever?
I'll jump in for the heck of it. Interesting topic. Carl Lewis always looked very skinny to me. I never saw Tommie Smith in person when he was competing, so I can't say. I did see Juanto in person when he was in LA at the Pepsi meet in 79. He was skinny. There's no way he was as heavy as he was listed. I think it was claimed he weighed 185 - 190. He looked about 165 in person, and his stride looked to be over 9 feet. Even though he lost the 400 that day, I was amazed at how fast his turnover was in relation to his stride length. I had never seen anything like it. Is that how Smith looked in a 400?
Something like Brutal's post would be neat in T&FN on a monthly basis. Reminds of Larry King's old column in USA Today. (He may still do it -- not sure.) Great stuff.
BTW, not sure if Richmond Flowers qualifies as a true speedster, but he was very fast and beat gold medalist Willie Davenport in the high hurdles twice in two consecutive days -- once at Davenport's home track in Louisiana and the next day at Tom Black Track in Knoxville. That's the story I've heard anyhow. I guess an injury kept him out of the Olympics in '68.
Yeah, skinny might be the wrong word. T.Smith in top form had a long, wide frame and certainly did not look weak, but he didn't carry a lot of poundage. He would have looked very tall and thin standing next to M.J. or even Juantorena. I saw Tommie compete many times and I also watched Juantorena in Montreal. No doubt the Cubano would have won at arm wrestling. T.S. was built a lot more like Johnny Gray than either Johnson or Juanto. I remember vividly a relay leg that Tommie Smith ran at the LA Coliseum in an international meet in 1967. He gobbled up gigantic amounts of real estate with each stride on route to a smooth, effortless looking lap that was reported to be in the mid 43 second range. That day, anyway, he appeared to have been capable of moving up in distance.
Monty is rather light, as is Bershawn Jackson. I always thought Calvin Davis could be good in the 800; he's not too thick and 800 training would slim him further.
But I'll always think that Jose "Tony" Parilla was the ideal 800 runner. 45 speed, decent endurance (hs mile and cross), light, and the most beautiful stride.
I think the fact Tommie Smith was skinny or slender says much . . . it means he probably ran "clean" or at least relative to the gorged-out, yellow-eyed monsters of today. . . maybe Smith was the last great one to do so.
Today (June 7) I happened to be standing in south endzone of the Stanford track, watching the Oracle meet.
Watching the 200-meter runners walk by after the race -- comic book muscles -- what I can say is, too bad for track. Those kind of bodies didn't exist in the days of "skinny" sprinters. The whole thing stinks. Track can't police itself.
Thirty years from now, be sure to check the premature deaths of top-ranked 2000-era sprinters and throwers from funny causes . . . heart arhythmias, pancreatic cancers.
I read somewhere that the average NFL player lives to be 59. My prediction is that this will hold true for certain track athletes. Aren't steroids great?
<Is Kedaris not the weirdest champion sprinter ever?<
i am originally greek as my first name shows and i can not agree with you more. i think capel was much better and should have won in sydney, but he made a big rookie mistake that cost him dearly. in edmonton kederis he won clearly, but against a mediocre field that was bunched at 20.15 - 20.25, a full second slower than mj's record. i personally do not respect sprinters or field event athletes that compete in 3 meets every year, to me they are suspect big time. he has run sub 20 once in his career last year and hasn't done anything since. plus he will be 30 this summer so i think he peaked in 2000, 2001 and 2002. i hope that one the many talented americans (greene, jj johnson, crawford, capel, miller, patton or gatlin) will be in top shape this summer and give him a whooping...