|Liu Xiang (left), David Oliver...ones to watch in the 110m hurdles|
This morning, after the first proper sleep out here, I shoveled in some porridge and went off to the track. The weather was pretty miserable, overcast, raining, but half as humid as the tropical hell yesterday. The puddles on the track did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for a running session. I set about warming up, did some technical hurdles drills before settling into the rhythm of some flat running, something I find unusually unsatisfying unlike hurdling. There is little to think about: all you have to do is run, not think about technical know-how that will necessarily affect the outcome of the exercise to a degree that a technical cock-up can in hurdles.
As I finished my running almost the entire GB team turned up, everyone scattering their own ways in the stadium. The morale is positive, it gives you a real sense of being part of a team effort. Despite the fact that some are feeling the effects of the weather or the jet-lag more than others, the team seems to be adapting well to this alien environment.
The World University Games are on in Shenzhen in China at the moment and a lot of us have been following it closely as the time change is almost the same. Most of us have training partners or friends competing there, and perhaps, if we had not been selected to come to Daegu, would have been there ourselves. A lot of foreign countries, unlike Britain, are using those games as a preparation event for the World Championships. So it will be interesting to see how some of those athletes will do so close to Daegu’s events. One to watch is certainly the USA 400m hurdles Champion, Jeshua Anderson, who’s final is this evening.
Apparently, according to my coach, Malcolm Arnold (formerly coached John Akii-Bua (Olympic Champion 400m Hurdles, 1972) and Colin Jackson (two-time World Champion 110m hurdles)), the world student games used to be the second biggest event in the world after the Olympic Games as all the Eastern block countries would send athletes from their sporting institutions. It is strange to think how the priorities of so many countries have now changed. For example the Commonwealth Games lacks the influence and panache that it once had as a great sporting showcase. The biannual World Championships is the more consistent and commercial replacement of these various ‘area’ championships. Certainly the games in Daegu next week are going to be interesting to watch.
The events to watch in Daegu, in my opinion will be:
100m (Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell)
110m hurdles (Dayron Robles, Liu Xiang, David Oliver)
400m hurdles (Bershawn Jackson, Angelo Taylor, Dai Green)
800m (Abubaker Kaki, David Rudisha)
High Jump (the Russians)
100m (Veronica Campbell-Brown, Carmelita Jeter)
100m hurdles (Sally Pearson)
Heptathlon (Jessica Ennis)