It seems like over the past several years the depth of young distance runners posting fast times has increased to levels that haven't been seen for more than 20 years. Of course, Webb, Hall and Ritz a couple years ago helped the sport on the high school level tremendously. But, I think it must be attributed to more than just one good year.
My personal view is that the participation of kids in youth sports other than track (soccer, basketball and swimming)is beginning to filter down into track. Kids are raised with competitive sports and exercise. Those who find that they excel at running in other sports (soccer imparticular) are likely to pursue track when they enter high school. They are also more disciplined and already have a "running base" of sorts from the other sports.
I hope that the our system now does these kids justice and doesn't burn them from both ends - making them earn points for "the team" while sacrificing their personal future development. If these kids are treated right maybe we will begin seeing a new age in American distance running within the next decade.
Some of it may be due a bump in the birthrate 15 - 20 years ago. One outstanding runner can inspire others. Look what happened in the 60's, look at the depth of the mid 70's. The current depth we are seeing may be traceable to Michael Stember. His 4:04 as a jr. at the state meet in CA was done with a 1:58 last 800. All of a sudden, the talk of sub 4 etc. was the heaviest and most enthusiastic in years. Too bad he was hurt during his sr. season. He MIGHT have dipped under the barrier. Anyway, it's a combination of the above factors. Hopefully it will carry over to all events.
The increased young population may be a factor. I doubt whether Stember had a major impact. Though I do think he is a great athlete and saw him compete many times when he was in H.S. His last 300 was awesome. Its nice to see him doing so well on the national scene. But, it is likely a combination of all the factors - more youth sports participation, greater population and athlete's now pushing each other year to year.
I hope it carries over to better results on the international scene. The futue does look bright - I hope the US college coaches don't blow it.
I wouldn't get too excited. Yes, perhaps there is now more depth in American distance running than in the last 10 (or even 20 years), but the US is still hardly a major force in world terms in any age category.
Alan Webb's HS record was received as if it was the second coming, but he was still well behind the best Kenyan juniors on times. Other Americans are well behind Webb, which gives you an idea... I still don't understand what the big fuss is about - you have scores of sprint talents in the US whose results are much more impressive in relative terms than Webb's ever were, yet most everyone is ignoring them and going apes__t over useless distance runners.
Maybe one reason why American distance runners are mediocre in international terms is that distance running fans in the US are satisfied with mediocrity... Y'all seem stuck in the era of Jim Ryun. It's time to notice the world has moved on since then. You need to run 3:38-3:39 for 1500 (equivalent to around 3:56 in the mile) to even be in the world's TOP 100. Yet everyone here is talking about these kinds of times (or even about 4:00 miles) as if they were some momentous achievement.
Sorry Powell, but 3:53 by a high school kid is worth going "apes$$t" over. I disagree that Webb's times was well behind other Jr. times - 3:53 18 year olds aren't a dime a dozen. As for U.S. sprinters, relative to the world our Juniors are competitive, but not dominate.
I also disagree that the improved performances are not significant. The bar has been raised at the high school level, and those same athletes will have higher expectations at the college level (i.e. Ritzenhein at 13:39 calling his season off rather than risk further injury - 13:39 and not happy is a good thing - also Sylvester in the 800m). The rash of improving milers have raised the expectations of top U.S. High Schoolers, and that is a good reason the get excited. Kennedy ran 4:05 in High School for 1600m, and became competitive on the world scene. In Kennedy's home state of Ohio a soph. ran 4:06 this year - and will not even be close to being the list leader - times are improving and Webb/Ritzenhein are to be credited.
>Sorry Powell, but 3:53 by a high school kid is
>worth going "apes$$t" over. I disagree that
>Webb's times was well behind other Jr. times -
>3:53 18 year olds aren't a dime a dozen. As for
>U.S. sprinters, relative to the world our Juniors
>are competitive, but not dominate.
Fact: If we're talking 1500 meter equivalent times, Webb was the 4th fastest junior in the world in 2001. With the same time, he would have been no. 5 in 2002.
In 2002, US juniors were 1st and 3rd fastest in the world at 200; 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th at 400; 5th at 100; 3rd at 110 hurdles; 2nd and 4th at 400 hurdles.
On the women's side: 2nd, 3rd and 4th at 100; 1st, 4th and 5th at 200; 1st, 2nd and 3rd at 400 :-O; 1st and 2nd at 400 hurdles.
The US juniors also won 7 gold medals at World Juniors, setting 2 world junior medals in the process. Meanwhile, the best that any US athlete achieved in a distance race in those championships was an 11th place. Let me reiterate my point: you are celebrating the wrong people here. By considering the 4th best junior in the world a superstar, only because he's a miler, by considering 3:57 college runners major international players, you are actually promoting mediocrity in American distance running.
>I wouldn't get too excited. Yes, perhaps there is
>now more depth in American distance running than
>in the last 10 (or even 20 years), but the US is
>still hardly a major force in world terms in any
Alan Webb's HS record was
>received as if it was the second coming, but he
>was still well behind the best Kenyan juniors on
>times. Other Americans are well behind Webb,
>which gives you an idea... I still don't
>understand what the big fuss is about - you have
>scores of sprint talents in the US whose results
>are much more impressive in relative terms than
>Webb's ever were, yet most everyone is ignoring
>them and going apes__t over useless distance
Maybe one reason why American
>distance runners are mediocre in international
>terms is that distance running fans in the US are
>satisfied with mediocrity... Y'all seem stuck in
>the era of Jim Ryun. It's time to notice the
>world has moved on since then. You need to run
>3:38-3:39 for 1500 (equivalent to around 3:56 in
>the mile) to even be in the world's TOP 100. Yet
>everyone here is talking about these kinds of
>times (or even about 4:00 miles) as if they were
>some momentous achievement.
I wholeheartedly agree! Webb is/was a talent, but Kenyan juniors were still ahead of him.
El Supremo claims U.S. junior sprinters "are competitive, but not dominant." Let's see. 2002 Top 10 world junior times, from the IAAF 2002 junior performance lists:
Hmmmm...Contrary to El Supreme's assertions, looks like USA junior sprinters dominate to me. Even people abroad agree. Not even counting the sprint hurdles or relays either. Not to mention the medal tally at 2002 World Juniors, where distance hardly pulled its own weight.
Felix is the 200 world junior recordholder, U.S. junior recordholder, AND is the season world leader regardless of age! Yet while she is getting media attention, it's about 1/10 of what Webb got in 2001. But then again, it helps that Webb is white & Felix is just another black girl. Who cares, right?
How is getting excited about Webb's achievements "promoting mediocrisy" among American distance runners. I don't understand. No track savy fan considers a 3:57 college kid an "international player" either. The fact is that the U.S. has had 1 miler (Holman) of international significance since 1990 - and he wasn't a very effective racer - to put it kindly. In the 5000m it was Kennedy and then ???. I won't even mention the 10,000m, and other than Spence's medal in the Marathon, well.......
The point is, why can't we get a little excited at finally having a pipeline of talent in the distances? Maybe we should put Magness, Solinsky etc. in a room with you so you can tell them how bad they suck - that'll get em' motivated!!
I'm not on to give advice, but on the off chance you might take it...you had a good post/reply with some good research/facts, and until the last sentence I was with you - then you lost it by bringing up race. I'll assume your young, and therefore cannot remember our "heros" of the past 20 years - Carl Lewis, Mike Powell, Michael Johnson, Marion Jones, Cathy Freeman, M. Mutola, and my favorite of all-time - JJK.
Ms. Felix is anything but "another black girl" and you offend many with such remarks (including, likely, Ms. Felix should she read your post).
I'm not on to give advice, but
>on the off chance you might take it...you had a
>good post/reply with some good research/facts,
>and until the last sentence I was with you - then
>you lost it by bringing up race. I'll assume
>your young, and therefore cannot remember our
>"heros" of the past 20 years - Carl Lewis, Mike
>Powell, Michael Johnson, Marion Jones, Cathy
>Freeman, M. Mutola, and my favorite of all-time -
Ms. Felix is anything but "another
>black girl" and you offend many with such
>remarks (including, likely, Ms. Felix should she
>read your post).
Some people couldn't recognize sarcasm if it hit you on the head with a hammer...
I may be too presumptuous, but this Anonymous sounds a lot like someone I know from another board... which would mean she's black herself.
As for Webb - I'm not saying he was mediocre. For his age, he was world class, but still not a superstar the media made out of him. The hype surrounding him was so grotesquely out of proportion with his actual achievements that I'm not surprised he's failed to deliver since... When talking about promoting mediocrity, I meant treating those 3:57 types as if they were major players. They may end up thinking that winning the NCAAs (or just making the US Olympic team, or achieving other goals of this sort) really is the pinnacle of all achievements, if the fans tell them it is. They just don't set their sight high enough.
I thought I was automatically logged in when I wrote my last post. Yes, I was being sarcastic! El Supremo, you brought up good heroes. However, that doesn't negate the fact that everyone here goes apes__t over Webb. Meanwhile, we have Allyson Felix producing world-class times at age 17 & what support does she get? Do a search on this very website's message board, & you'll find 175 results for Webb, only 76 for Felix. Hence my sarcastic comment. Webb's performances just doesn't match the media hype. What's offensive is that others whose achievements are way better get way less media attention -- when they GET media attention. Why aren't the people, especially those abroad, who are running faster times getting their due? Especially since Track & Field News is the self-proclaimed "bible of the sport" (& I understand TFN has little control over what topics people wish to discuss, but hopefully you understand my point).
<< Do a search on
>this very website's message board, & you'll find
>175 results for Webb, only 76 for Felix. Hence my
>sarcastic comment. Webb's performances just
>doesn't match the media hype. >>
While I agree with you that Felix's sex and color certainly play some part in it, the most important component is EVENT. Milers/distance runners (see Gabe) are always going to generate more chatter.
But the real key here, actually, is a critical analysis of your stats. You're ignoring the fact that Webb (like Gabe) has drawn an inordinate amount of NEGATIVE commentary. So in terms of having nice things to say, I suspect Felix is a perfect 76 for 76, whereas Webb might be something like 100 positive, 75 negative. They may not be all that far apart when it comes to "fan mail"
>since... When talking about promoting
>mediocrity, I meant treating those 3:57 types as
>if they were major players. They may end up
>thinking that winning the NCAAs (or just making
>the US Olympic team, or achieving other goals of
>this sort) really is the pinnacle of all
>achievements, if the fans tell them it is. They
>just don't set their sight high enough.
I agree. El Supremo brought up Magness, Solinksy. I'll add McGrath. Do these juniors have some skill? Yes! Should the U.S. track the progress of our distance athletes, celebrate any progress? Yes. However, it must be put into perspective.
From what I can tell: Magness' PBs are 4:01.02 mile & 3:43.87 (1500m en route). Solinsky's are 4:06.75+ mile & 8:47.24+ two mile. McGrath's is 3:47.5 (1500m en route). Correct me if I'm wrong here, as I don't religiously follow distance.
Looking at the IAAF 2002 world junior performance list, Alan Webb shows up 9th on the 1500m list (there is no junior mile list), 3:41.46. He is the top American on the list. Certainly a credible rank. Yet five guys above him are a year, even two years, younger than he was. In terms of sheer marks, he gets slapped silly. Comparing their 2003 marks to the 2002 list, McGrath wouldn't even make the ranked junior list & Magness would be almost at the bottom. Yet I don't hear people here discussing Cornelius Chirchir (3:30.24), who tops the list, as a superstar.
U.S. distance athletes & fans must set their sights higher, buckle down & get serious if we are to significantly achieve in this area. Stop glorifying so many athletes who aren't producing by global standards. Dreaming about the days of Ryun & Pre -- before much of the world made its mark in distance -- just won't cut it anymore. I doubt it will happen, but more Americans should head over to Kenya's training camps (like the one Lornah Kiplagat has). Or training more with the Kenyans who live in the States. Why not train with the best?
Of course the US HSers aren't comparable to the best in the world yet, but hey we're making progress. You can't just go from being no where close to the Kenyans of comparable age to competing with them. It's a gradual step in the right direction. Look at all this year's depth in the mile in HS! Compare it to the past 10 years and you'll see that we are making progress. Once someone runs fast, other guys start thinking they can run that fast. It opens up doors, like a domino effect. I believe if we keep the momentum going 4min might not be as big a barrier in HS, then we can start comparing ourselves to the rest of the world.
The difference between celebrating the accomplishments of distance runners and sprinters is that we have always had excellent sprinters. There has never been the drought we have seen in the distances. So, even though Felix's marks are incredible in this country we are not suprised by another sprint prodigy. We are surprised when we see a distance runner elevate himself.
Over the past ten years we have had a handful of internationally competive distance runners (Corghan, Kennedy, Holman, Williams) but our sprint talent has always been busting at the seems. So it is interesting that we now seem to have more potentially international competitors (Lunn, Goucher, Stember, Krummenacker etc.) and more talent than in 20+ years on the high school scene.
So while I "expect" our sprinters to be there in the Olympics and WCs I am "hopeful" that we will soon see some of the young distance talent succeeding as well. It appears to me that this may be happening - Kennedy (and to a lesser degree Todd Williams and Mark Croghan) probably had a lot to do with it - showing it can be done by US athletes.
While I agree with you that
>Felix's sex and color certainly play some part in
>it, the most important component is EVENT.
>Milers/distance runners (see Gabe) are always
>going to generate more chatter.
But the real
>key here, actually, is a critical analysis of
>your stats. You're ignoring the fact that Webb
>(like Gabe) has drawn an inordinate amount of
>NEGATIVE commentary. So in terms of having nice
>things to say, I suspect Felix is a perfect 76
>for 76, whereas Webb might be something like 100
>positive, 75 negative. They may not be all that
>far apart when it comes to "fan mail"
So not-so-hot distance runners get discussed over top-notch sprinters or field athletes? Even top-notch distance stars!!! I'd agree with your argument if that was the case throughout. However, only CERTAIN distance athletes get discussed here.
Webb -- who hasn't done jack squat -- has 175 results. Gabe Jennings, 117?
Meanwhile, El G has only 89 results. Geb, the best long distance guy ever, 55. 800 world indoor champ David Krummenacker, 70 results. Suzy Favor Hamilton has 70, while Regina Jacobs -- far more decorated -- has only 20. Maria Mutola, 9! Paul Tergat, with all his feats, 29! LOL Slovenia's Jolanda Ceplak 1?! Khallid Khannouchi, 17! Junior Cornelius Chirchir, last year's 1500 world junior season leader who would spank every American teen silly, 3! Paula Radcliffe, whose back at least 90% of U.S. male marathoners would see, 53!
People who've ACTUALLY put down stellar times, get discussed far less on this board because they're either (a) not American; or (b) they're not the "right" type of American. U.S. distance fans should discuss upcoming U.S. talent -- it makes sense to discuss the pipeline -- BUT ALSO hype the people who excel at the global standard! This is what some of us mean when we say too many U.S. distance fans hype distance mediocrity, when the person isn't of the "right" background. Expand your horizons a bit.
>While I agree with you that
>Felix's sex and
>color certainly play some part in
>it, the most
>important component is EVENT.
>runners (see Gabe) are always
>going to generate
But the real
>actually, is a critical analysis of
>You're ignoring the fact that Webb
>has drawn an inordinate amount of
>commentary. So in terms of having nice
>to say, I suspect Felix is a perfect 76
>whereas Webb might be something like
>positive, 75 negative. They may not be all
>far apart when it comes to "fan
So not-so-hot distance runners get
>discussed over top-notch sprinters or field
>athletes? Even top-notch distance stars!!! I'd
>agree with your argument if that was the case
>throughout. However, only CERTAIN distance
>athletes get discussed here.
Webb -- who
>hasn't done jack squat -- has 175 results. Gabe
Meanwhile, El G has only 89
>results. Geb, the best long distance guy ever,
>55. 800 world indoor champ David Krummenacker, 70
>results. Suzy Favor Hamilton has 70, while Regina
>Jacobs -- far more decorated -- has only 20.
>Maria Mutola, 9! Paul Tergat, with all his feats,
>29! LOL Slovenia's Jolanda Ceplak 1?! Khallid
>Khannouchi, 17! Junior Cornelius Chirchir, last
>year's 1500 world junior season leader who would
>spank every American teen silly, 3! Paula
>Radcliffe, whose back at least 90% of U.S. male
>marathoners would see, 53!
>ACTUALLY put down stellar times, get discussed
>far less on this board because they're either (a)
>not American; or (b) they're not the "right"
>type of American. U.S. distance fans should
>discuss upcoming U.S. talent -- it makes sense to
>discuss the pipeline -- BUT ALSO hype the people
>who excel at the global standard! This is what
>some of us mean when we say too many U.S.
>distance fans hype distance mediocrity, when the
>person isn't of the "right" background. Expand
>your horizons a bit.
Couldn't have put it better myself.
BTW, the Goucher thread which just appeared here is a typical case of the phenomenon I'm talking about. Does a mark which makes an athlete something like no. 100 in the world really deserve a new thread with an exclamation mark in the title?
BTW, the Goucher thread which just
>appeared here is a typical case of the
>phenomenon I'm talking about. Does a mark which
>makes an athlete something like no. 100 in the
>world really deserve a new thread with an
>exclamation mark in the title? >>
Note the handle of the poster: Buff. The guy (or guyette) is obviously a huge Colorado fan and is excited for his main man. How can you fault him for being excited? The sport needs more of that, not less.
The poster before you also cited figures on numbers of posts on various people and tried to link it to how good they are. That flies in the face of all fandom (which is what this board is all about). Go to a professional game like hockey, hoops, football and you'll find all kinds of people wearing jerseys with their hero's name on it. Is it the the guy who led the team in scoring? Perhaps. But you'll find all kinds of cult heroes who sell jerseys far beyond their talent. That's what's being a fan is all about. Finding somebody/something you like and attaching yourself to it. If a lot of people on this board (and others) are mesmerized by Webb so be it. They're the kind of hard-core people we need. Live with it.
Apparently there are more distance running fans on this web site - it that simple.
Usually people relate more to the events and sports in which they participate or participated. If the majority of posts relating to distance runners is much highet than those relating to sprinters it shows that the fan base for distance runners is higher than that for sprinters. Therefore, it also shows that T&F News is on the right track devoting more print to distance runners.
Sorry sprinters your fan base isn't as strong as those of the distance runners. That's why Webb is making the $$$!
I disagree. The causality goes the other way here - because TFN focuses on distances, it attracts readers who are interested in those events. The sprints do have a good fan base - but they're not necessarily TFN subscribers, nor do they visit this board. Just look at all the activity on the sub10 board... Or even the IAAF Forum - it's much more balanced there, but a lot of the posters are Americans, and they seem mostly interested in sprints.
Re Gary Hill's post: sure, everyone can support whomever they like. But the fact that this particular fan gets as excited as this over a mediocre time and a finishing position well down the field is symptomatic of how distance running fans in the US don't expect their idols to ever do much internationally. If I support an athlete, I want him/her to succeed big time. A 6th place (or whatever it was) with a time like that would make me furious at the athlete I support, not ecstatic.
Another point: while the fans may be interested in whomever they want, I would have expected the media to recognize the relative significance of achievements a bit better than they do. If only the marks of Alan Webb and Allyson Felix were put into perspective, the general public would know the latter's achievements were by far the more impressive. As it is, since Webb was way more hyped, the man in the street will think he is objectively 'better'. Only those with more than a passing interest in T&F will know the truth...
>I disagree. The causality goes the other way here
>- because TFN focuses on distances, it attracts
>readers who are interested in those events. The
>sprints do have a good fan base - but they're not
>necessarily TFN subscribers, nor do they visit
>this board. Just look at all the activity on the
>sub10 board... Or even the IAAF Forum - it's much
>more balanced there, but a lot of the posters are
>Americans, and they seem mostly interested in
Trust me, we've researched this, and there are far more distance fans than any other kind. One need only look at the fact that there are multiple magazines dedicated solely to that side of the sport and basically none dedicated to the sprints, jumps, throws or decathlon. Nonetheless, if you want to read about things that aren't the distances in a magazine, you'll have trouble finding anybody who covers the other events better than we do.
Go to the home page and look at the list of articles in the latest issue and tell me that we "focus on distances." Cover is of a 4x4 relay, opening feature is about women's sprinting, the large feature in the back of the issue is about pole vaulting.
Yes, you will find more covers dedicated to distance running than might be logical with an "even distribution" but you also have to remember that tehre are large periods of the year when the only activity in the sport is distance running (marathons and XC when field eventers and sprinters are all not competing), so if we're to stay on top of current action, what else can we do?
I don't think anyone would complain about the press attention given to Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson or Marion Jones. The media in general and TFN in particular always gave plenty of attention to these superstars. They transcended the sport. They likely recieved more attention when they were competing than any American distance runner except possibly Ryun (Pre has recieved alot of attention in recent years but when he was competing he wasn't in "Superstar" status).
However, when you move down the notch from world records the general public becomes lost. The accomplishments of Felix are not as easily grasped by joe jogger as those of Webb. Everyday joggers can relate to the mile. It is one of the attractions of the event. That doesn't diminish the accomplishments of the other events but that is one reason the mile is more popular than the triple jump.
This board is for the general public to post anything regarding T&F and its very interesting to see what gets the most attention. Distance runners tend to get very obsessive with their sport and this obsessiveness often carries over to after their competitive days.
i am unsure if being an age group star necessarily equates to a future as a world class performer, i think mentally it is hard for a distance runner, to run basically 12 times a week when seasons will be lost due to illness or injury, some of the top runners of all time had mediocre times at a young age according to a book by jess jarver, ivo van damme, olaf beyer, lasse viren had very mediocre times as juniors, alberto quantorena played basketball until he was 20, i also read bill rodgers was a 9;40 2 miler in high school, and he said his greatest accomplishment in college was running an 8;58 2 mile a time many high schoolers run, i believe 11 at arcadia this year, time will tell, but i doubt any of them will ever win new york or boston, some juniors are already world class, but they tend not to have long careers.