Tag: Mo Farah

RUNNING VS BOXING: CONNECTING WITH THE SPORTING PUBLIC

Foot racing and boxing are two of the world’s most ancient and primal forms of athletic competition. Over the last 24 hours we have witnessed two great sporting contests, one in each of those sports, both pitting titans of their respective disciplines against one another. But only one registered outside its own arena and industry.

Mayweather remains undefeated, whips Alvarez
Mayweather remains undefeated, whips Alvarez

Last night boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather lived up to that moniker as he took home a guaranteed $41.5 million — with the potential payoff of $100m – winning a majority 12-round decision over 23 year-old Mexican superstar Saul Canello Alvarez at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.  Though one judge inexplicably saw the bout as a draw, the other two judges — and the viewing public — saw a clear win for the 36 year-old Mayweather.  The fight was the pinnacle of a lavish three –month long build-up that developed the bout into one of, if not THE, richest fights in history.

2013 Great North podium, Mo Farah, Keninise Bekele, Haile G.
2013 Great North podium,, (l-r) Mo Farah, Kenenise Bekele, Haile G.

The foot race, the Bupa Great North Run, was staged in Newcastle, England where veteran Ethiopian track and cross country superstar Kenenise Bekele halted England’s favorite son Mo Farah from wresting the title ‘undisputed greatest runner in the world’ by holding off the reigning double Olympic and World Champion over the final 800 meters of the half-marathon distance.  For spice, the man renown as the Greatest Runner of All Time, 40 year-old master Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia more than held his head high, finishing a respectable third after leading the contest for much of the way while establishing a new master’s world best for the distance (60:41).

But while Mayweather vs Alvarez was watched by millions on pay-per-view TV at $65 (standard definition) and $75 (high def), the contest between three of the world’s greatest runners was seen on BBC domestically in England, but was unavailable for viewing in the USA other than through a hacker website.  (more…)

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TIME FOR RUNNING TO GET MEDIA WISE

Mo - Center of Attention in London
Mo Farah – Center of Attention in London

The focus of the British press before, during and after last Sunday’s 33rd Virgin London Marathon was on local Olympic champion Mo Farah’s  half-way-only test run for next year’s full distance debut. Even Tsegay Kebede’s final kilometer win over a faltering Emmanuel Mutai was couched in the context Farah ’s first half presence.

Was this what race officials hoped when they signed Farah after recruiting “the greatest marathon field in history”? Or was it simply an indication that today’s version of such a field is incapable of holding public attention on its own?

Whichever, when a local show pony like Mo Farah who had no intention of completing the race dominates race news coverage, which he did, it’s a clear indication that running has a problem that fast times alone cannot solve. What London 2013 revealed was the continuing lack of connection between an audience and the current crop of the world’s top distance runners. And one wonders whether the sport either notices or cares.

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WORLD CROSS COUNTRY – NO MARCH MADNESS

Competition is an examining tool, a measuring stick.  It is an auger to uncover the known from the proposed.  Unfortunately, in the world of distance running the answers are no longer in question; which is one reason why the public has lost interest in the outcome of the sport’s competitions.  What’s to uncover, which anonymous individual from East Africa will be today’s champion?  We already know who is going to win before the starter’s pistol is ever fired.  Which is why if running ever hopes to reengage the public at large, it must find a way to reframe its competitions.

While the U.S. senior men’s team won a hard-earned silver medal at yesterday’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland behind Ethiopia’s gold and in front of Kenya’s bronze, given that the Kenyan team was “the weakest in 20 years” according to BBC commentators, the results only underscored their dominance.

World Cross Champion Japhet Korir
World Cross Champion Japhet Korir

Not only did unknown Japhet Korir become the youngest man ever to take the individual men’s gold medal for Kenya, even as the top five places all went to fellow East Africans, the fact that the Kenyan squads — junior and senior, men and women — still won the majority of the day’s other medals over a course which was decidedly not African friendly, testified to the lack of competition offered by the rest of the world.

In fact, many of the old-world cross country powers no longer even sent teams to compete. Germany, Norway, Russia, and France all remained at home rather than make the short trip to neighboring Poland.  When its own member federations lose interest, how exactly does the IAAF propose to woo sponsors and attract sports fans? (more…)

MO FARAH TO RUN HALF OF LONDON’S MARATHON: GOOD IDEA?

Mo Farah
Mo Farah

Britain’s double Olympic track champion Mo Farah begins the re-landscaping of his career toward the marathon this weekend when he competes in New Orleans at the Rock `n` Roll Half Marathon.  It will be the second competitive half-marathon of Farah’s career. The 2012 Olympic 5000 & 10,000 champion won the 2011 New York City Half Marathon in his debut in 60:23.

While the half in New Orleans will serve as an intermediate step toward Farah’s full marathon debut in London 2014, he will concentrate his 2013 efforts on the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Moscow this summer. But there will be another, more significant step toward the marathon this April when Mo will start this year’s Virgin London Marathon.  Yes, he will start, but he will not finish.  How do we know?  Because that is the deal that Mo’s people worked out with London, start this year, run till half-way then drop off. Then go the full distance in 2014.

From an athletic and PR standpoint this makes perfect sense.  From Mo’s vantage point getting the chance to take part in the event without actually being a competitor should serve him well, even if to a small degree, in 2014.  And financially it’s a certainly a win fall. According to the U.K’s Daily Mail, Mo Farah will receive an impressive (by running’s standards) £750,000 for his two London starts ($1,160,000US).  That fee, which was not confirmed by first-year race director Hugh Brasher (son of event founder Chris Brasher), would dwarf even the £500,000 it is believed Paula Radcliffe received in her prime a decade ago.

The Daily Mail story also underscores the point  made by Ben Rosario in a recent submission about the need to make such appearance fees public to hype the sport as being truly professional. BEN ROSARIO: WHAT ARE WE AFRAID OF?

“He’ll be rightfully well rewarded as an Olympic champion,” was all Hugh Brasher would reveal to the Daily Mail.

But while it all works well for Mo and the event to go just half-way in London 2013, how fair is it to the actual race contenders?  And what does it do for the focus of race coverage? (more…)

DAEGU MEN’S 10,000M – THE SAGA OF MO FARAH

     And so the 2011 men’s World Championships 10,000 meters is  complete.  And poor Mo Farah.  England’s pride came up agonizingly short in  his bid to win his nation’s first ever World Championships 10,000 final.  Instead unheralded  Ethiopian Ibrahim Jeilan rallied in the final 200 meters to run down the  Somali-born runner, winning in 27:13.82 to Mo’s 27:14.07.  Another Ethiopian Imane Merga came third in  27:19.14 to mine the bronze.  America’s  top hope – and Mo’s training mate at the Oregon Project – Galen Rupp finished  in seventh position in 27:26.84.

The look of utter despair that moved across Mo’s face as the  Ethiopian assassin blazed by with but 20 meters remaining was a testament to  the value accorded the potential win.  Farah had grown immensely over the course of the last year, especially after moving to Portland to join Alberto Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project.  His 26:46.57 win at the Prefontaine Classic in  June remains the leading time in the world this year, and pegged him as race  favorite in Daegu. And he ran like a champion, too, except – and it’s a big  except – for the final 650 meters.

Based on the results, you’d have to say Mo got just a little too anxious. Rather than waiting for the final 500 meters to strike, as had been his tactic throughout his breakout season, he went to the front on the backstretch of the penultimate lap, maybe 50-75 meters too soon, because he ran out of fuel before he ran out of territory, which allowed Jeilan time to rally down the stretch to snatch the gold.  But that’s an easy assessment sitting in front of a computer screen.  It’s a whole  different matter when your spikes are flinging mondo track beneath you in a blur, the crowd is baying like a hungry animal in your ears, and your lungs are a bellows breathing fire to the soul. (more…)

DIAMOND LEAGUE, BIRMINGHAM

It’s an interesting time on the Samsung Diamond League track & field circuit these days as the ninth in the fourteen-meet tour was staged in rainy Birmingham, England today before a sell-out crowd of 12,700 in refurbished Alexander Stadium.  With Brits taking four wins – Dai Green in men’s 400m hurdles (48.20), Jenny Meadows in women’s 800 meters (2:02.06), Philip Idowu in the men’s triple jump (17.54 meters), and Mo Farah in the men’s 5000 meters (13:06.15) – the crowd certainly went home with a sunny disposition. But with the World Championships looming in South Korea at the end of August, everything must be judged through a Daegu filter.  So what to take from today’s results? (more…)

WEEKEND THOUGHTS

Proud Father

     Everyone was happy for Meb Keflezighi’s 62:46 win at Sunday’s Dodge Rock `n` Roll Half-Marathon in his hometown of San Diego. Though he’d run the nearby Carlsbad 5000 before, technically, it was Meb’s first race at home as a pro, and first since competing in the Aztec Invitational as a UCLA student 15 years ago – at least as best coach Bob Larsen could recall. And though matters turned into more of an exhibition run than competition for the hometown hero after Kenya’s Martin Lel dropped out after 10K, with so many old friends cheering him through the picturesque bayside course, and his proud dad Russom holding him aloft at the finish, it was a priceless day, nonetheless.  (more…)