Weekend reading (Christel Saneh) © Copyright

Weekend reads: the best athletics stories from the past seven days

Start your weekend here, with a round-up of some of the best athletics, running and fitness-related stories from the past seven days.


Running past an Olympic dream

Kyle Merber

When Kyle Merber’s plans to reach the Tokyo Games were derailed by the pandemic, he realised how much the singular pursuit had been holding him back.

Since 2012, Merber had been chasing the singular goal of qualifying for the Olympics in the 1500m. Now, as he wrestled with questions about whether he had the psychological stamina and financial resources to continue training full time for another year, perhaps, he thought, it was time to retire.

"For the health of the world, it’s obviously the necessary move," he said of the Olympic postponement. "But that doesn’t mean it hurts any less.

"I think part of it’s therapy right now," he said. "It’s what distance runners do: We run."

Full article (New York Times)


The Irish brother who became the Godfather of Kenyan running

Brother Colm O'Connell

Impossible as it is to pinpoint the moment when Kenya converted into a properly global powerhouse in distance running, the first World Junior Athletics Championships, staged in Athens in July of 1986, still stands proudly along the timeline.

Kenya was already mapped with select Olympic champions and world record holders, namely Kip Keino and Henry Rono, only without any system or structure in underage athletics. The Kenyan team was entrusted to Colm O’Connell, the Irish Patrician Brother who had already begun to nurture some success among the distance runners at St Patrick’s High School in Iten, deep in the heart of the Great Rift Valley, where he’d first arrived a decade earlier at the age of 28, originally from Caherduggan, near Mallow, in Cork.

Full article (Irish Times)


The Big Friendly

The gun cracked and echoed against the wall of trees. Runners in green and blue singlets fell into position single file down the back straight, settling into the early pace and readying themselves for what smoke the others might throw at them in the final laps.

On a locked-down track that could have been in West Texas, Area 51, the Moon or Alabama, the sport of track returned in earnest on July 3rd as Mark Rowland’s Oregon Track Club took on Pete Julian’s squad of Nike elites in Portland Track’s tidy little dust up now known as ‘The Big Friendly’.

Every competitor and member of the skeleton staff was sworn to secrecy in order to keep numbers low in the midst of the global pandemic. Mask-wearing officials and coaches walked the infield amongst the world’s best set against empty stands giving the environment the feeling of a Kubrick film being shot on a soundstage in a Hollywood studio. But the athletes were real, the racing was hot and the game is back.

Full article (tempojournal.com)


Bernardo Baloyes adds flavour to the 200 metres

When Bernardo Baloyes is not on the track or training to be faster and faster in the 200m, he is still on the move.

In addition to being an athlete, the first Colombian man to win the 200m at the Central American and Caribbean Games is also a chef.

"I have a degree in gastronomy and in my spare time I like to try many dishes, experiment and cook delicious things," said the sprinter, who holds the Colombian record at 20.00.

Full article (runningcolombia.com)


Meet Zoe Hughes, Harvard heptathlete

Zoe Hughes, a combined-eventer for Great Britain, recently graduated from Harvard University with a BA in neuroscience, a minor in global health and health policy, plus a language citation in Spanish. For her minor, she conducted independent research on the effect of racial discrimination on health outcomes for the black British population.

“I was able to conclude that in the UK there is the same link between racism and health as there is in America," she says.

“Some people in Britain live in denial of the fact that racism does exist and the fact that there is very little research in the UK is linked to this. Researchers are reluctant to grapple with racism and delve into the consequences it has for black Britons.”

Full article (threepointstart.com)

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Olympic champion Eaton forges new career with Intel

It would be easy to describe Ashton Eaton as a high achiever. The US decathlete retired from competition in 2017 with two Olympic titles, two world titles, three world indoor titles and the two best decathlon scores in history to his name. In the early stages of his career, he also found the time to earn a degree in psychology from the University of Oregon.

Ashton Eaton

But even with such an impressive résumé, Eaton was still faced with a dilemma when he stepped off the carousel of professional athletics after more than eight years of competing on the international stage: what to do in this new stage of his life?

“The amount of thought and planning I put into the next phase was not a lot while I was an athlete, but it wasn't zero; I would say it was about 10 or 20 per cent of my time,” he explains.

Full article (Olympic.org)