Brendan Reilly in Kenya with two-time World Marathon champion Edna Kiplagat
In this talk we chat about last weekend’s USATF National Cross Country Championships in Boulder, the loss of focus on the World Championships, 1965 & `66 Japanese men’s champions at Boston, and the link between American star Shalane Flanagan and 2008 Olympic champion Constantina Dita of Romania, one of Brendan’s clients.
In a recent keynote address at the Andrus Center for Public Policy in Boise, Idaho, retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor lamented what she called America’s ‘alarming degree of public ignorance’.
“Less than one-third of eighth-graders can identify the historical purpose of the Declaration of Independence,” she said, “and it’s right there in the name!”
Where former Justice O’Connor sees a dumbing down of America’s educational standards — the country reached its highest percentage of high school graduates in 1969 at 77% — one can also see a corresponding slowing down in America’s basic drive to compete. Not at the higher end of business where we remain affixed as World No. 1. Rather it is at our foundations that we find a softening.
First, no dodge ball (if you can believe that!), then “everyone’s a winner”, not keeping score in some youth soccer leagues, social advancement and grade inflation, and now a sudden reduction in the support of elite foot racing competition from a company that was originally named Elite Racing and still carries the now rather ironic moniker, Competitor Group.
And yet, at least for the time being, the owners of the Rock `n` Roll series of marathons and half marathons is maintaining the elite component at its European-based events. I suggest this is emblematic of the state of America’s competitiveness in general, and should be of concern to us all.
And so, just as Justice O’Connor reflects on what can be done about the dumbing-down of America, we wonder what can be done about the slowing down of America, and the role top echelon runners might play in that turnaround. Continue reading
Brendan Reilly with Bix 7 contender Diane Nukuri-Johnson (courtesy Daily Camera)
Davenport, Iowa – The 39th Quad City Times Bix 7 Road Race goes off tomorrow, one of the summer’s top races on the U.S. road tour. Preparing for KWQC-TVs live broadcast (coverage begins at 7 a.m. central time, the race starts at 8 a.m.), I called agent Brendan Reilly (Boulder Wave, Inc.) for an update on his athlete Diane Nukuri-Johnson, winner of the Bay to Breakers 12K in San Francisco and one of the favorites in the Bix7 women’s race. Soon, however, our talk turned to this week’s news that Athletics Kenya has once again taken a hard line with its athletes in preparation for the upcoming IAAF World Championships in Moscow where Reilly’s client Edna Kiplagat of Kenya will be defending her 2011 world title in the women’s marathon.
As has been reported, Kenyan athletes originally scheduled to compete in today and tomorrow’s Diamond League meeting in London have been withheld by order of their federation — “London is too close to Moscow and this may burn out our athletes,” Athletics Kenya president Isaiah Kiplagat told Reuters.
This decision comes in the wake of Kenya’s poor showing at last year’s London Olympic Games — they aimed for 12 gold medals, but returned home with only two – David Rudisha in the 800m, and Ezikiel Kemboi in the 3000m steeplechase. AK came away feeling their athletes had over-raced ahead of time. Immediately following the Games the federation decreed that any Kenyan marathoner eligible for a position on the 2016 Rio Olympic Marathon squad will not be allowed to participate in a spring marathon before the Rio Games. These decisions have not been well received within the agent fraternity, and Brendan Reilly, for one, feels his profession is getting something of a bum rap. Continue reading