IAAF World Junior Championships

Oregon’s Cole Walsh fails to advance past qualifying round in pole vault

Oregon pole vaulter Cole Walsh was eliminated from semi-final contention at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships after failing to clear the 5.10 meter mark.

On his first attempt at 5-meters, Walsh was out of sync.

“My first jumps aren’t always the best,” Walsh said after the event. “I usually take a little bit longer to get the right pole, to get my run locked in. I would say the first jump kind of sets the tone.”

Walsh couldn’t get over the bar on his first two attempts, but easily cleared it on his third and final chance. He hoped that his successful third attempt would be a momentum shift.

“The 5-meter jump, when I cleared it, I blew thorough the pole I was on and I felt like everything was ready to go,” Walsh said.

“I felt like I was ready to go, and I wasn’t.”

Walsh never reclaimed the same feeling he had when he set a personal best of 5.35 meters at the USA Junior Championships earlier this month at Hayward Field. He missed on all three of his attempts at 5.10 meters.

“I never got a rhythm,” Walsh said. “I don’t feel like I was locked in the same way that I was at Junior Nationals.”

Walsh, who redshirted for the Ducks last year, is taking his performance at the World Junior Championships as a learning experience that he can utilize heading into next season.

“Every bad jump day has something that you can take out of it,” Walsh said. “I feel like I know what I need to improve on. I feel like this experience gave me a lot to improve on.”

Follow Joseph Hoyt on Twitter @jhoyt42

Ariana Washington places seventh in women’s 100 meter final despite toothaches

Three days before reaching the women’s 100 meter final at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships, Ariana Washington dealt with pain from her wisdom teeth to the point where she was thinking about going to the emergency room. Washington even went as far as saying she hadn’t eaten in three days.

“I’ve had a hard week with toothaches and other things, so I was just trying to push through and try to be a champion,” Washington said. “My wisdom teeth are coming in, so I haven’t eaten in like three days. I almost had to go to the ER about three nights ago, so just trying to hang in there.”

On her final day of competition though, she fought through and placed seventh overall in the women’s 100 meter final with a 11.64 time. Her personal best heading into competition was 11.22.

In the semifinals, Washington placed second in her group with a qualifying time of 11.73. Holding the third best personal best time in the final group, Washington was an intriguing possibility at making the podium.

She eventually lost out to her high-level competitors in the final; something she was prepared for.

“It was a little bit lower,” Washington said about her adjusted expectations. “I knew I wasn’t my best. I don’t eat like a regular athlete. My goal was to make the finals and I did.”

Making the podium were Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith (11.23), Ecuador’s Ángela Tenorio (11.39) and Washington’s teammate Kaylin Whitney (11.45).

Even under the circumstances, Washington wasn’t pleased with her results. With her nagging mouth pain and the pressure of finishing out her career at the junior level, Washington simply looked tired and ready to be done.

She now has her career at Oregon to look forward to.

“It’s a work in progress,” Washington said. “I have four more years to work on it and succeed there (Oregon), so we’re (Washington and her coach) going for it.”

Follow Hayden Kim on Twitter @HayDayKim

Ashlee Moore jumps up the leaderboards after winning heptathlon long jump

Ashlee Moore didn’t finish out day one in strong fashion. Ranking 11th heading into the heptathlon long jump, Moore faced an uphill battle to get back into the mix.

She conquered that challenge however, in her first event on day two.

Moore not only won the heptathlon long jump against strong head winds, but she also recorded a new personal best distance of 5.86 meters, up 0.06 meters from her previous record. Since placing second in the women’s 100 meter hurdles to begin the competition, Moore has revived her medal hopes after struggling in the shot put and 200 meters.

With 4138 points through four events, Moore now ranks in sixth place. Currently atop of the rankings are Great Britain’s Morgan Lake (4640), Netherlands’ Nadine Vesser (4498) and Cuba’s Yorgelis Rodríguez (4469).

Moore will continue this afternoon with Group B in the javelin throw heptathlon at 2:50 p.m. PST. The heptathlon will conclude with the 800 meters at 7:10 p.m. PST.

Follow Hayden Kim on Twitter @HayDayKim

Christian Brennan qualifies for women’s 400 meter semi-finals

Representing Canada in a downpour morning at Historic Hayward Field, incoming freshman Christian Brennan placed third in the women’s 400 meter qualifier.

“It was really raining, but I’m used to it because I train here,” Brennan said. “It didn’t phase me that much.”

UO ambassadors guide global athletes around Eugene for World Junior Track and Field Championships

There’s a maroon flag hanging from a third-story window at the Walton-Clark residence hall. The slinking fabric is the only indication Nagina Pirzad needs to locate her assignment: the Moroccan junior national track and field team. She, alongside two other women are one of 116 ambassadors from the University of Oregon who will guide the far-flung athletes around the campus and the city in the days leading up to the World Junior track and field championships.

The athletes began descending on the Pacific Northwest last week. One look around campus over the weekend harkens somewhat to Copacabana Beach in Brazil last month, with flags, representing the 176 countries participating that are draped over Oregon Hall or waving next to the Hayward Field track. Campus has been covered in camera-equipped people speaking a variety of languages while posing in front of Hayward’s gates and athletes wheeling luggage from team buses to the residence halls.

Pirzad, a junior in journalism and international studies, finally catches the attention of Rhizlane Siba, an 18-year-old high jumper and the first to arrive from the Moroccan squad. Locked out of the residence hall, Pirzad beckons in French for her to come downstairs and get introduced to the ambassadors.

“It’s our job to know when our team athletes are competing and stuff. We’re supposed to be there for the team whenever they need anything,” Pirzad said later. “Not really an errand boy, not entirely an interpreter. We’re the middle men between them and TrackTown [USA] or them and the university.”

Pirzad and her partners, Judy Alrasheed, who just graduated with an economics degree, and Megan Kupres, a human physiology and chemistry major, offer themselves as what they call “attachés.” There will be more than 1,700 athletes making their way into town, all under the age of 20. The three of them have charge over athletes from Morocco, Tunisia and Djibouti.

Though the athlete-to-ambassador ratio can seem overwhelming, the women talk excitedly about the upcoming meet.

“I feel like this is a learning experience for everyone. For TrackTown, for the U of O, for everyone,” Pirzad said. “Even the global ambassador program was kind of made up through the Office of International Affairs because they said ‘Wait, we have a lot of students with international experience and speak a bunch of languages we should get them to work closely with these athletes.’”

The students are part of the first ambassador program for the World Juniors. Eugene is the first city in the United States to host the six-day meet, something TrackTown USA has been working toward for two years. For both the international athletes and the sport’s governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federation, Eugene needs to be a great experience.

“The idea was to develop the global ambassador program as the first of its kind to help bridge the linguistic and cultural barriers,” said Sheila Bong, program director of the global studies institute in the office of international affairs.

Eugene’s track pedigree has made it an ideal destination for the IAAF’s foray into the United States. Hayward Field, the birthplace of Nike and host to a couple Olympic track trials.

The city could complement the event itself as a prestigious showcase of up-and-coming talent. One example, Usain Bolt, before he became the face of track and field, blew up on the scene when he became the youngest person to win gold at the meet back in 2002.

Though the climate around the track remains, the World Juniors could be an audition for the city and the region. Eventually, they could host the World Outdoor Championships, according to TrackTown officials. The ambassadors themselves are a major component of that — to help ensure everything goes smoothly.

The ambassadors will essentially be the eyes and ears for both the university and TrackTown USA, though there’s not a perfect job description for them yet.

“They’re already fielding questions and providing answers to random types of questions,” Bong said. “They’ll be acting as guides and cross-cultural interpreters. They can provide logistical aid and support throughout the university.”

In order to get a better grasp on the countries they will be working with the ambassadors who were in class for the spring and for one week in the summer. They’re volunteers, though they did receive class credit, Pirzad said the skills that the ambassadors learn is payment enough.

“I think there’s skills not just for sporting events. There’s conflict-resolution, you always need conflict-resolution,” she said. “And neutral observing so you don’t start fights with people and not assuming things about people. Especially if you’re involved in international affairs they’re good skills to have.”

Being around world-class athletes appeals to the women, but they said the chance to experience another country first-hand and watch the athletes do the same with the United States, is the best part.

“I’ll get to interact and experience something new with them,” says Alrasheed. “We’re from the same continent but a different environment, like [states] here in America.”

IAAF General Secretary Essar Gabriel and council member Abby Hoffman visit Hayward Field prior to IAAF World Junior Championships

A warm and sunny day greeted International Association of Athletics Federations General Secretary Essar Gabriel and IAAF Council member Abby Hoffman on their visit to Hayward Field on Thursday in advance of the IAAF World Junior Championships, which will be held at Eugene’s prestigious track and field venue from July 22-27. TrackTown USA president Vin Lananna and Eugene mayor Kitty Piercy hosted Gabriel and Hoffman, and all four spoke at The Powell Plaza entrance to Hayward Field in addition to Springfield mayor Christine Lundberg.

“This summer is going to be really an exciting time, some might say the best year ever for track and field at Hayward Field,” Lananna said in his opening statement. “As you’re standing below these gates here, you might kind of unceremoniously walk through, but this is actually really a great place. So many great things have happened here and this summer is going to be no exception.”

July’s IAAF Junior World Championships will be the first time that the event has ever been held in the United States and Piercy was extremely excited for Eugene to be the host of such a momentous occasion.

“I am very proud to call myself mayor of TrackTown USA,” Piercy said. “We’re looking forward to welcoming the world to our friendly community. I’ve already been boasting to them that not only do we have a lot of talent here, but we’re a very friendly community that will embrace them and make everyone feel welcome in our area.”

Approximately 170 countries from around the globe will be represented at the six-day competition, which will feature the world’s best track and field athletes, age 19 and under. Since its inception in 1986, 17 world record-holders have participated at the IAAF World Junior Championships, including Usain Bolt, David Rudisha and Allyson Felix.

“These are the athletes who will be the stars of tomorrow,” Hoffman said. “Many of them — and you’ll see this when they are performing here this summer — are already very, very outstanding athletes in their own right. So it’s very critical for us that this event be staged in a place that acknowledges the level of performance of these junior athletes and also provides them with the conditions to perform at their best. As I stand here at the gates to Hayward Field, I think it’s fair to say that the iconic and inspiring nature of this venue is going to add a real flavor and extra significance to this particular edition of the World Junior Championships and Athletics.”

Hoffman indicated after opening statements that one of the benefits of Eugene hosting the event was that the athletes would have minimal transportation issues given that they will be housed on the University of Oregon campus.

“Everybody can basically walk from their dorm room to the facility for both training and competition,” Hoffman said. “From that standpoint, it’s really ideal in terms of athletes being able to focus on their competition and not having to worry about logistical impediments like taking buses to travel across the big city.”

“This is history in the making,” Gabriel said. “TrackTown is going to meet the IAAF and I think it’s a proud moment of which we —the representatives of the IAAF— are looking forward to. With 180 nations competing here in the good spirit and taking the baton from Barcelona, Spain of the previous edition. We will be seeing 2,500 team officials and athletes gracing this place and looking to indeed add a page in the history of this great city of Eugene and Springfield. So TrackTown, here we come!”

Follow Chris Mosch on Twitter @chris_mosch

Eugene Marathon Moving to Late July for 2014

Eugene Marathon
Eugene Marathon

The 2014 Eugene Marathon will look a little bit different than in years past. Next year’s Eugene Marathon will be held in July, not in April.

The new date will be July 27th in response to the IAAF World Junior Championships, which will finish its six-day meet on the same day. The Eugene Marathon/half-marathon is intended to be a celebration of the running community and inspire more to compete.

“As people come in for the track meet, they’ll get to watch people finish the marathon,” Eugene Marathon founder Andy Heily said to the Register Guard. “The whole idea is create that overlap between track and field and road racing, and really celebrate running.”

And it’s all about creating more of a track connection into the already strong TrackTown community.

“From the inception, our mission has been to reinforce TrackTown USA as a mecca for running,” Heily said. “I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that.

“We have one of the fastest and most scenic marathon courses in the country. Twenty percent of our participants qualify for Boston. The community is absolutely amazing and the fan support is incredible. Participants always talk about that.”

Of course the major question will be how the change in date will impact the runners weather-wise. It’s pretty common knowledge that the weather in July is much warmer than April, but Heily says he and the Eugene Marathon team is well aware of this and don’t think it will impact the race.

“The average morning temperature in July in Eugene is 56 degrees,” race director Richard Maher said. “By 10 a.m., it’s still in the low 60s.”

“The demand is there,” Heily added. “A lot of fit people have been running all spring and early summer, and they’re ready to run a fast marathon. What an amazing opportunity if I’m living in Atlanta, Georgia, and I come out to Eugene, Oregon, to be a part of this incredible community event. Watch a track meet and run on one of the fastest courses in the country.”

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IAAF World Junior Championships Coming to Eugene in 2014 (VIDEO)

IAAF World Junior Championships
IAAF World Junior Championships

Things just are better in TrackTown USA. We’re less than a year away from the IAAF World Junior Championships, which will take place at Hayward Field beginning July 22, 2014.

“With exactly one year to go, we are extremely delighted that an IAAF World Championship is returning to the USA next year for the first time since 1992,” said IAAF President Lamine Diack. “This is a major step forward in the promotion of our sport in the country as it is only the third time in history that an IAAF World Athletics Series competition has been staged in the USA, following the 1987 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Indianapolis and the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Boston five years later.”

The 15th Annual IAAF World Junior Championships will play host to the greatest track and field athletes in the world under the age of 20. This event has never been done in the United States and it has been an whopping 22 years since any IAAF has taken place on US soil. So of course they chose Eugene.

“In just one year, the best young athletes in the world will be representing their countries in an electrifying competition at Hayward Field,” said president of TrackTown USA Vin Lananna. “We are excited about this fantastic opportunity to host an international meet that will be unlike any other event we’ve ever held in TrackTown USA.”

It will be a six-day event covering the biggest events in track and field. While it might not be the Olympic Trials, it’s pretty incredible to have another event of this magnitude here locally.

Let the countdown begin!

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