Welcome to the Science of Sport, where we bring you the second, third, and fourth level of analysis you will not find anywhere else.

Be it doping in sport, hot topics like Caster Semenya or Oscar Pistorius, or the dehydration myth, we try to translate the science behind sports and sports performance.

Consider a donation if you like what you see here!

Did you know?
We published The Runner's Body in May 2009. With an average 4.4/5 stars on Amazon.com, it has been receiving positive reviews from runners and non-runners alike.

Available for the Kindle and also in the traditional paper back. It will make a great gift for the runners you know, and helps support our work here on The Science of Sport.

Monday, August 27, 2007

IAAF World Champs - Day 3 insights and analysis

In another post, we looked extensively at the Men's 10000m final, because it was such a good race, from a spectator point of view, but also because it was so intruiging for physiological reasons.

here, we look at the rest of Day 3's action:

Women's 3000m Steeplechase - the expected Russian Dominance

As predicted, the Russians dominated the 3000m Steeplechase, winning gold and silver. It was Yeketerina Volkova who won, in an impressive time of 9:06, given the conditions in Osaka. Her compatriot, Tatyana Petrova was 3 seconds back. The biggest surprise was that the world record holder, Gulnara Samitova-Galkina, failed to win a medal, finishing some 24 seconds behind. She took the race out hard, running the first 1km in world record tempo, but then fell away badly, perhaps a victim of heat and over-enthusiasm.

The third medal was taken by a Kenyan, Eunice Jepkorir. The race was quite uneventful, more of a mass 'time-trial' than anything else. It is clearly a new event, because the relatively basic level of racing is characteristic of an event that is constantly evolving. We watch the pioneers of the event, but the massive time-gaps between runners will eventually come down - time acts as a filter for elite athletes, and the 3000m SC for women has not yet had the time to be 'filtered'. It will be interesting to see how the race differs in two years, and at the Olympics next year.

Women's 100m - the eternal wait and the photo-finish

The Women's 100m final was won by Veronica Campbell of Jamaica, but only after what seemed at eternity as officials examined the photofinish of what must be one of the closest 100m races in history. It was not super fast, the winning time was 'only' 11.01 seconds, but the top 6 were separated by only 0.07 seconds! The examination was between Campbell and Lauryn Williams, defending champion, but who was not given too much chance coming in. The bronze was won by another American, Carmelia Jeter, with the third American, and perhaps the most favoured, Torri Edwards, in fourth.

So the 100m finals ended up one apiece for the USA and Jamaica, with USA winning the men's, but Campbell exacting revenge for Jamaica today. The relays should be awesome!

1500m semi-finals - some drama and excitement

The final races to comment on are the 1500m semi-finals, which were nothing if not exciting. IN particular, the first one was dramatic, with a pre-race favourite, Medhi Baala of France being disqualified for his part in a high speed scuffle in the final 50m that saw two men hit the tartan hard. Youssef Baba of Morocco was one of the athletes who ended up on the ground, but he was put through to the final after Baala's DQ. It developed this way because Baala got himself horribly boxed in during the final 400m and coming off the final bend, he had a wall of about 7 runners in front of him, with only 5 qualifying. So he did what anyone would do, and ran straight through the wall! All this, in turn, happened because the pace was so incredibly slow over the first two laps - 2:08 after 800m, which, to put into context, is slower than the world record in the 10 000m event! This meant that the final 600m were a free for all, and it was Baala who was caught out.

In the other semi, which was far less dramatic, Alan Webb, the number 1 this year, ran what can only be described as an interesting race. He sat right at the back, about 2m behind the next guy for about 1200m, and only in the final 300m did he move forward. And that was far from convincing, he seemed to struggle to come through, eventually claiming fifth. It was either a very professional performance, planned to perfection, or he is not feeling all that good. Wednesday's final will reveal all!

R & J