IAAF imposes relay conditions on Pistorius
Published : Aug 26, 2011 - 18:52
Updated : Aug 26, 2011 - 18:52
DAEGU, South Korea (AFP) -- South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius will have to run the first leg for his country should he wish to take part in the 4x400 meters relay at the world championships, the IAAF said on Friday.

The athletics world governing body said that to “avoid danger” to other runners, Pistorius would run the first leg in his lane before handing over the baton to the second runner, who then breaks the lane order.

“This person is a particular case,” IAAF head Lamine Diack said of Pistorius, who runs with carbon fibre prosthetic running blades in place of his lower legs, which were amputated at the age of 11 months.

“It is very rare that a person like him runs and he has taken part in several sports.

”We decided to let him take part in the world championships and we will see what the result will be.

“The only thing we said to the South African federation is that if he wants to run in the relay, he must run the first leg to avoid danger to other athletes.”

Pistorius, known as ‘Blade Runner’, will make history in Daegu when he becomes the first amputee athlete to compete at the World Athletics Championships, one step towards running at the 2012 London Olympics.

Cleared three years ago to run against able-bodied athletes, the 24-year-old four-time Paralympic gold medallist left it late to qualify for the team, going under the requisite time at his final chance with a personal best of 45.07 seconds which also gives him the green light for the London Games.

Johannesburg-born Pistorius had both legs amputated below the knee when he was a baby because of a congenital condition that meant he was born without fibulae - lower leg bones.

Pistorius failed to qualify for the 400m at the 2008 Beijing Olympics having been given the green light to attempt to qualify after the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a ruling by the IAAF that his blades gave him an unfair advantage.

Lagat tips Farah for 5,000m glory

Former double world champion Bernard Lagat said Friday that Mo Farah is the man to beat in the 5,000m at the world championships after the British runner‘s spectacular rise.

Farah, who has the fastest time in the world this year (12 min 53.11 seconds) over the distance, has had a strong season, also breaking the European 10,000 meters record.

Lagat said Farah, 28, had been on the radar for a number of years and surprised people by reaching the 5,000m final at the 2007 world championships but in the past he could be discounted as a major rival for the podium.

“What I used to know about Mo Farah, he’s strong but you know what, he has long strides and cannot close fast enough. He‘s one of those guys that two years ago you would just rule them outside,” said Lagat.

The Kenyan-born veteran said Farah, running the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters in South Korea, was “one of those up and coming athletes but then he has definitely found his position in track and field”.

“He is a different runner right now,” added Lagat, a three-time Olympian - for Kenya in 2000 and 2004 and the United States in 2008.

“He’s in good shape and suddenly that‘s the guy that everybody thinks Mo Farah, rightly so, he’s the favourite so we will do the best we can.

Lagat, who took gold in both the 1,500 meters and 5,000 meters at the Osaka worlds in 2007, is focusing on just the 5,000m in Daegu and he said he was expecting a tough field with the Kenyans and Ethiopians also challenging.

”I‘m going to try my best and of course if all goes well and I run smart, use my tactics that I always use, run strong the entire race then I would really like to be the one that wins it but there are a lot of athletes who are really strong out there, who can win a medal,“ he said. (AFP)

Robles predicts ‘spectacular’ hurdles

Olympic champion Dayron Robles Friday predicted a “spectacular” 110 meters hurdles at the world championships as the three quickest men in history prepare to face off in a mouthwatering race.

The Cuban will be in a three-way fight with fierce rival David Oliver and Chinese superstar Liu Xiang for the title in one of the most keenly anticipated events in Daegu, South Korea.

“There are many athletes of a great level in my event. There are David Oliver and Liu Xiang. I‘m also there. I think it’ll be spectacular,” said Robles, who holds the world record of 12.87 seconds.

“When you have a number of high-class athletes you can force it more, run faster and prepare more. Everyone wants to win,” added Robles, who said he dreamed “each day” of breaking his own record.

US star Oliver said the 110m deserved its top billing at the world championships, adding: “We‘ve got the three fastest people ever in the event timewise.

”It’s cool that we‘re in the spotlight. We’ll just go out there and perform like we normally do and give the fans a great show,“ he said.

The US star said he was unsure whether the South Korean fans would witness a new world record but predicted a fast race with the stellar field on show.

”I just want to make sure I go out there and try to win the gold medal.

Nobody ever remembers times.

“If that happens the world record is broken, that‘s great. With that field out there there’s a lot of capable people,” Oliver added.

“I feel pretty good, you know. Ready to go out there on Sunday and have a couple of good races. I‘ve been looking forward to this, gearing everything towards this championship since we finished the USA trials,” Oliver said.

The only hurdler to clock a sub-13sec time this season is Oliver, timing 12.94sec in beating Liu (13.00) in an early-season Diamond League meet in Eugene, Oregon.

But the solidly built 29-year-old American has otherwise had a patchy season, losing in his four other Diamond League races to Robles, Liu and US teammate Jason Richardson.

Oliver, who went through the 2010 season unbeaten, denied he was nervous ahead of Sunday’s 110m heats, saying he was used to taking on his two main rivals and knew them well.

China‘s Liu, the 2004 Olympic champion and former world record holder, is once again eyeing the record as he continues his comeback from the Achilles injury that caused him to limp out of the 2008 Olympics.

“Perfecting and meticulously handling the details, making the right adjustments to my rhythm and smoothly running the race are all the things that top world competitors must do,” Liu told Shanghai’s Xinmin Evening News this week. (AFP)

Felix opens bid for world double

American sprinter Allyson Felix opens her campaign for a tough world 200-400m double when she takes to the track in the one-lap event on Saturday.

Felix, the three-time defending world 200m champion, has taken on what she herself has dubbed the “gruelling challenge” of attempting to snag two golds in what would be a major coup.

“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way,” read a quote from Babe Ruth posted by Felix on her Twitter page on Friday.

The 25-year-old told reporters: “It‘s going to be pretty gruelling, but I’m excited about it.”

But Felix acknowledged that the 400m would be the hardest event, notably up against compatriot Sanya Richards-Ross.

The reigning 400m world champion put months of strife aside in storming to victory at the London Diamond League earlier this month in an impressive 49.66sec.

The Jamaican trio of Rosemarie Whyte, Novlene Williams-Mills and 2009 Berlin worlds silver medallist Shericka Williams will also be in the running for the 400m podium along with Botswana‘s Amantle Montsho.

After Saturday’s heats, the semi-finals of the women‘s 400m are run on Sunday, with the final scheduled for 1205 GMT a day later.

“Everyone wants to win, that’s what championships are all about, it‘s about putting out your best on the day,” said Felix.

“Everyone is anxious, they want to get out there and lay it all down.”

She added: “It will be an extremely difficult task. It’s a challenging schedule, I‘m not the world lead in the events, it’s going to be tough. But it‘s a learning experience, and no matter what happens, I’ll take away something for next year.”

Felix also admitted to feeling nervous, with her training having been tapered off after some intense sessions under coach Bob Kersee back in the United States following a short Diamond League season.

“I‘m in territory I’m not too familiar with, so I‘m definitely a little nervous, but that’s what happens when you step up to a new challenge,” she said.

“It (the 400m) hurts, it‘s not the most pleasant event, but the more I run it the more used to it you become.

”It’s all about executing and doing the exact things I need to, that‘s what I visualise.

“Executing all the way through the first 200m and coming home strong.

That’s my goal and now I‘ve got to put it together. (AFP)

It‘s all about the win, says Rudisha

David Rudisha has put any thoughts of further bettering his men‘s 800m world record to one side, saying the world championships are all about bagging a gold medal ahead of the London Olympics.

Inexperience and bad weather contributed to his semi-final elimination at the 2009 worlds in Berlin but the two-lap star hopes his return to East Asia, where he won the world title as a junior in Beijing in 2006, will lead to further success.

Following his Rome disappointment the 22-year-old began working on a strategy to break the long-standing world mark held by Kenyan-born Dane Wilson Kipketer with his pacemaker Sammy Tangui.

Last summer, he broke the record at the Berlin Olympic stadium, the same arena where he had flopped a year earlier.

Rudisha then bettered that mark of 1:41.09 a week later to 1:41.01 in Rieti, Italy and he went on to become the youngest runner in history to win the prestigious IAAF World Athlete of the Year award.

His accomplishments earned him national hero status at home, rallying country-wide support from a nation emerging from the devastation of ethnically driven election violence.

But his thoughts are now focused on winning the world title.

“Last year I was at a peak for the world records,” he said. “This year I’ve trained well but I didn‘t want to run very fast times before I came here because I didn’t want to take a risk.

”I‘m in similar shape (to last year), but this is a championship. It’s about winning, not a world record. It‘s going to be a tactical race.“

The 800m can be a rough and tough battle, with spikes flying and runners often bumped off course towards elimination.

Rudisha, whose father Daniel was a Mexico Olympics relay silver medallist, now likes running from the front, insisting he would not have the same gameplan as in Berlin.

”I am a bit more experienced. Then, I was running from behind and some problems with the weather,“ he said.

”So I have prepared since for a different way of running, running from the front.

“When you run from behind, that is when you can get problems fighting for position.”

Rudisha, coached since 2005 by Colm O’Connell, an Irish priest who has coached the majority of Kenya‘s young athletes, added that he was also targeting gold at the London Olympics in 2012, saying he was “really working hard to get those two titles”.