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Posts Tagged ‘Track and Field’

The Final Sprint, a site dedicated to news and information on track and field as well as and healthy, active lifestyles has a theme this month for its podcasts… women.

I’d like to congratulate The Final Sprint’s CEO/President Adam Jacobs on a job well done in covering women’s track and field. I used to write for Adam, and as long as I’ve known him, he’s always been an advocate for female athletes and a true fan of the sport of track and field.

I highly encourage you to check out the TFS podcasts… they’re great! So far, they’ve interviewed Steeplechaser Lindsey Anderson and Olympic Gold Medalist Sanya Richards. Keep checking The Final Sprint to see when new podcasts are posted.

Note: These posts are sponsored by Secretsport.com, a who has deemed women’s track and field important enough to invest in. I cannot thank Secret enough for their support of great sports information.

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Yesterday morning, Erin Donohue ran in a big, BIG race: the 1500m qualifier. Maybe it was all the hype, maybe it was all the attention, or maybe she just wanted it too much. Regardless, her Olympic performance ended on the track in Beijing yesterday, as she finished eighth. She needed to be in the top three to advance.

After the race, it was clear that she was disappointed. As reported in the Baxter Bulletin,

“I really wanted to perform well here. Maybe that was part of the problem,” she said. “I really wanted it bad.”

She was in the top four, on the rail, but didn’t close as planned. She collided with Kenya’s Viola Kibiwott in the home straightaway. However, these type of things are to be expected.

At 5-foot-7 and 143 punds, Donohue is bigger than most other milers, so she said she doesn’t mind physical races.

She said,

“You can’t be surprised when all these girls come up on you,” Donohue said. “You’ve got to be ready to get out and go. I didn’t have it to go. Maybe I’m not as fit as I thought I was.“

Donohue will stay in Beijing until Sunday, but only for closing ceremonies. I think it’s important for Erin (and the rest of NJ) to focus on what’s important –  not winning. but taking part.

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Below is an article that my mom sent me from Haddonfield Online, a Web site dedicated to what’s going on in Haddonfield, NJ (I know, exciitng, right?)

If you didn’t already see from my previous post, Erin Donohue is from my hometown, and she competing in the women’s 1500-m race this week. You can see her Olympic profile here.

Anyway, I thought this was actually well-written. Not surprisingly, there is a Rocky Balboa reference (so typical for South Jersey). I think maybe the townies are going a little bit overboard with singing her praises (I was told that they practically threw her a parade), but still, it is exciting to see someone from a small town achieve something so great.

Take a look at this article (written by Christian Giudice of Haddonfield Online)

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place. It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! ” Rocky Balboa

Hyperbole, overstatement, guilty as charged. But the analogy is so inviting.

As Haddonfield Memorial High School product Erin Donohue takes the track on Thursday (August 21) between 7am and 7:20am (EDT time)* in a heat of the Women’s 1500M, the Rocky storyline presents itself: gutty local hero and underdog fighting her way up the ranks (insert Donohue), running the cold, lonely streets of Philly when no one’s around (C’mon Rock), a crafty trainer who taught her the ropes and changed her style (John Cook as Mickey), and the controversy surrounding the Russian super power (Yelena Soboleva as Ivan Drago suspended for drug tampering).

It’s all there.

You see where I am headed with the underdog theme. Unfortunately in Beijing, there’s not just one Drago, but add a couple Apollo Creeds, Clubber Langs and very few Spider Rekos.

Judging by times alone (4:05:55 her personal best), conventional wisdom suggests that Donohue, the runner, isn’t worthy of medal contention; yet, times have nothing to do with Donohue, the competitor. By the time the field is whittled down and the final comes around in less than a week (Aug. 23), something tells me that despite the punishment, Donohue will still be standing.

Getting ahead of myself, probably. I won’t take in to account that Bahrain’s Myriam Yusuf Jamal ran a 3:59 in Europe this year already or that Donohue’s college rival, Duke’s Shannon Rowbury nearly matched that time in the same race. University of Arkansas product Christin Wurth-Thomas also eclipsed Donohue’s personal best with a 4:05:00.

Please don’t remind me that oddsmakers believe Donohue to be little more than a burgeoning pimple on the face of the 1500 women’s field. There’s no chance I’ll even mention the lack of experience or the nerves that deter any young athlete on such a grand stage.

I know little about the fierce Bahrain champ or the capability of Rowbury, and I have never heard of the three Russian girls who were banned from the Olympics before it began. What I do know is that since 2005, Donohue has cut nearly 30 seconds off her 1,500 time.

What I do know is that Donohue will casually pat you on the back before the race, wish you well, wait patiently for the race to develop, and she will fight, scrap and claw her way to position, using every trick in her running repertoire to mentally and physically ravage you. Those athletes, like Donohue, with nothing to lose are often the most dangerous. She doesn’t have significant weight pulling her down, or media members following every step; unlike others she can just focus on the race.

If I were only leading with my heart on this one, Donohue is headed to the final round. But it’s more than that, because everything I’ve witnessed about her as a competitor tells me to disregard times and previous matchups.

Maybe I’m being a naïve outsider looking in on a sport that determines its winners solely by times and favorites, but Donohue doesn’t discourage easily. As a sports journalist, I have fallen prey to that miracle curse that we all suffer from. I believe in Erin Donohue, and that among the world’s monstrous athletes, she is merely a small-town fighter struggling to, and will be heard.

She’s Rocky Balboa in running shoes swinging haymakers and hooks. When no one expects anything out of an athlete like Donohue, that’s when she counters.

By the final – 7:50am on Saturday (EDT) – the world will finally see what she’s made of.

—– Please note that the date/time of her race in this article are wrong. On Thursday, August 21 at 7am (Haddonfield time), the first of two heats will be run. The second heat will start 7:10am. Each heat will have up to 18 runners. The Start List has not been posted, so it is not yet known officially which heat Erin will run in. It is also not known how many runners from each heat will advance to the final, but it is believed that several other runners with the next fastest times will advance also. The final will take place on Saturday, August 23 at 7:50am (Haddonfield time).

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It’s extroadinarily exciting to see that someone from your hometown has qualified for the Olympics. On Monday, it was announced that Erin Donahue from Haddonfield, NJ finished second in the U.S. Olympic track and field trials to earn a trip to Beijing.

Erin is living proof that hard work can pay off in the end, and that someone from rural south Jersey can actually make their way to the Olympics.

(From the Philadelphia Inquirer) “I wasn’t one of those runners who sticks out, who you say, ’Oh, she’s going to be an Olympian,’ “Donohue said. “When I graduated (in 2005), I didn’t get a whole lot of attention from shoe companies or agents. I had to work for it. I’ve improved a little each year and it’s got me to where I am now.”

I have known about Erin for about eight or so years now. Erin is from Haddonfield, NJ, the town near where I grew up. I actually played against her in basketball a few times, and was friendly with many of her teammates, who were a part of my AAU basketball program, the Penn Jersey Panthers.

Erin was a GREAT basketball player. But she was always a better runner, a true stand-out athlete. In fact, I frequently saw her run by my house and through the neighboring park on her daily runs. In the end, running is what she pursued. That said, if she wanted to, she could have easily played for a small Division I basketball program.

But I’m sure she’s glad she didn’t do that. Erin went on from high school to run at North Carolina, and now she finds herself headed to Beijing, to run on the world’s greatest stage.

“It feels so good to go out there and execute your plan,” Donohue said. “It’s not like the NCAA or the NFL, where there’s always another season. In track, your focus for four years is the Olympic trials and the Olympics.”

And now she’s got her chance. It’s truly exciting to see this, and you can bet, everyone from south Jersey will be watching the women’s 1,500.

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