Track & Field

Winners, Losers, PED Abusers: Beijing Look Back Part 1

The Winners

Aries Merritt

I’m sure you’ve heard his story by now but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. With just 20% kidney function since 2013 it’s amazing that the 110m hurdler world record holder made it to Beijing never mind picking up a medal along the way. Many wondered how his form had slipped so far below his 12.80 best of 2012, but with his story finally made public prior to championships he ran like a man with a weight lifted off his shoulders. “This bronze medal means more to me than my Olympic gold. In 2013 when they told me I’d never run again, it pretty much ended my life”. Merritt underwent a successful kidney transplant (his sister the donor) on Tuesday.

Christian Taylor

Touted as the year of the jumps it was the triple jump which took over where 2014’s high jump left off. Pablo Pedro Pichardo set the ball rolling by breaching the 18 metre barrier early season, before both Pichardo and Taylor did so in the same competition, a first in the history of the event. It left us with a mouth-watering head to head for Beijing but it was Taylor who blew PPP away. 18.21m his winning mark to give world record holder Jonathon Edwards (18.29m) a nervous few moments in the commentary box. A very humble and thankful athlete, he spent much of his time since the event replying to individual messages of congratulations on social media.

Wayde Van Niekerk

At the Weltklasse in Zurich this evening (Thursday) Olympic Champion Kirani James will line up as the fourth fastest man in the field. Who would have thought that possible as he romped home in London’s Olympic stadium in 2012. One of those men will be Wayde Van Niekerk, the South African sensation of one-lap running this season. Having marked his card as one to watch early this season – breaking 44 for 400m and 20 seconds 200m – many still thought the world title would go the way of the more experienced international competitors, i.e. James or Lashawn Merritt. But those two seasoned pros (James a seasoned 23 years old) had to settle for the minor medals as all three men ran sub 43.80 in the final. Van Niekerk, coached by 73 year old Anna Botha, clocked the fourth fastest time in history, 43.48 seconds, to take the title.

united-states-ashton-eaton-reacts-as-he-celebrates-after-winning-the-gold-medal-in-the-mens-decathlon-in-a-world-record-points-tally-of-9045-at-the-world-athletics-championships-at-the-birds-nest-stadium-inTeam Eaton

A new world record for Ashton Eaton, the world’s best all-round athlete, in the decathlon while his wife Brianne claimed silver in the women’s heptathlon behind Jessica Ennis-Hill. One of the most impressive performances of the championships was the decathlete’s 400m race at the end of day two where the clock stopped at 45.00 – almost half a second inside the qualifying standard for the individual event. The most talented sporting couple on the planet? That’s a matter of opinion, but certainly the best all-rounders out there.

Greg Rutherford

When Greg Rutherford took the Olympic Games long jump title in London, on Team GB’s ‘Super Saturday’, it was deemed by some members of the media (and public) as a fluke. He then went on to take the European and Commonwealth games titles in 2014…even flukier. And now he has completed the set by taking home the world championship gold. How much luck can one man get? After that Olympic title Rutherford ended up without a kit sponsor after falling foul of NIKE. Michael Johnson stated recently that if Rutherford did less talking and more jumping he’d be looked upon more favourably. In a commercial maybe, but once he steps onto a major long jump runway he can do no wrong.

Parts 2 here and 3 to follow.

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Gerard O'Donnell

Gerard O'Donnell

Gerard O'Donnell is an athlete, a coach, and a business management graduate. A former youth international, he represented Ireland in sprint hurdles, 400m hurdles, high jump and relays. He is current senior 60m & former 110m hurdles champion and ranks 3rd & 5th on the Irish all-time list for the events. Years of battling and finally overcoming injuries have led to his keen interest in strength and conditioning for athletes, as well as his current course of study: Neuromuscular Physical Therapy. He is occasionally referred to as GOD, not due to his initials, but because of his heavenly beard, which he has sported since the age of 5.

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