Saturday, December 29, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Melissa Breen

Melissa Breen is this week's Track Beauty! 

Photo from Trailpilot/Wikimedia
The 22-year old is a top-ranked Australian elite sprinter. Breen had won national titles in both the 100m and the 200m since 2009.[1] To date, her major championship curriculum vitae include stints at the Commonwealth Games, the World Championships, and most recently, the 2012 London Olympic Games.[2]

Her progression from 2007 to 2008 was particularly impressive, where the then 17-18 year old Breen shaved off 0.41s from her 100m time best (11.74s to 11.33s).[3] To date, she has personal bests of 11.27s and 23.30s in the 100m and 200m, which she both set in 2012.[4]

Breen finished 6th place in her 100m dash heat, registering a time of 11.34s in her Olympic debut.[5]

  1. "Athlete Bio - Melissa Breen." Retrieved 12-29-2012.
  2. "Melissa Breen." Retrieved 12-29-2012.
  3. "Athlete Bio - Melissa Breen."
  4. "Melissa Breen."
  5. Ibid.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Vira Rebryk Віра Вікторівна Ребрик

Vira Rebryk is this week's Track Beauty!

The 23-year old Ukrainian is the reigning World Junior record holder for the javelin throw. She set the U20 standard of 63.01m at the World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz back in 2008.[1] Naturally, her track record as an age-group athlete was immaculate, having won World Youth and World Junior silvers and the European Junior title on top of her World Junior gold medal.[2]

Photo from TrailPilot/Wikimedia
Despite runner-up finishes at the Universiade and the European U23 Championships and a finals appearance at the Berlin World Championships, the Ukrainian javelin prodigy had struggled in her transition to the senior ranks.[3] Rebryk failed to progress beyond the qualifying rounds of the 2010 European Championships and the 2011 World Championships. 

Vira finally made her breakthrough at the Helsinki European Championships this year, where she threw the javelin to a new personal best 66.86m.[4] Her monster throw propelled the Ukrainian to joint fourth place in the 2012 top list. Unfortunately, she failed to replicate her stellar form at the London Olympic Games a month later.

But then again, her performance in Helsinki has emphasized the point that Rebryk will be a major contender in the event in the years to come.

  1. "Vira Rebryk." Retrieved 12-29-2012.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.

Monday, December 17, 2012

“Forever Alone Guy Meets His Dream Athlete”

Check out this  cool clip from LMAOfy! Featuring our favorite hurdler, Michelle Jenneke, and the Forever Alone guy.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Elizaveta Savlinis Елизавета Савлинис

Elizaveta Savlinis Елизавета Савлинис is this week's Track Beauty!

Photo from Rifat Junisov/Рифат Юнисов
Savlinis specializes in the 200m dash. Her breakout year in the half-lap came in 2012, when she went under the 23-second barrier for the first time in her career. Elizaveta has a personal best of 22.62s, which she set in 2011 and 2012.[1]

The 25-year old is a fixture in the formidable Russian relay squad. She was part of the 4x100m relay team that finished in fifth place at the Daegu World Championships.[2] Although the Russian women were surely capable of bigger things in light of their stories pedigree in the team events, they did set a season's best of 42.78s in the qualifying round. 

Her best finish in her specialist event is sixth place in the Daegu World Championships. She made her Olympic debut in London this year, but her qualifying time of 23.23s was good enough for only fifth in her heat.[2]

  1. "Elizabeta Savlinis." Retrieved 12-16-2012. 
  2. "2011 World Championships in Athletics – Women's 4 × 100 metres relay." Retrieved 12-16-2012.
  3. "Elizabeta Savlinis." 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Marika Popowicz

Marika Popowicz is this week's Track Beauty!
Photo from Erik Van Leeuwen
Popowicz is a Polish sprinter who specializes in the 100m and 200m. Marika has a personal best of 11.38s and 23.15s in the aforesaid events, set during her breakout season in 2009.[1]

The young Polish speedster racked brought home multiple individual medals as well as a relay medal from the World Military Games and the World University Games.[2] That same year, she finished third place in both the 100m and the 200m at the European U23 Championships.[3] Marika was also part of the silver medal-winning Polish 4x100m quarter.[4]

Popowicz is a mainstay of Poland's formidable 4x100m relay teams the past few years. She made a smooth transition from the junior and U23 ranks to the seniors, having been part back-to-back bronze medal relay performances at the European Championships in 2010 and 2012. 

  1. "Marika Popowicz." Retrieved 12-11-2012.
  2. "Marika Popowicz." Retrieved 12-11-2012.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"The Fighting Filipinas: Toni Rivero and Annie Albania" by Joboy Quintos

As an athlete and a patriotic Filipino, it kills me to think that the Philippines has yet to win its first Olympic gold medal. The Philippines has a proud albeit forgotten sports tradition. Mediocrity has been the rule, not the exception. Back in the pre-World War II years, the Philippines - then a Commonwealth of the United States - had won bronze medals in swimming (Teofilo Yldefonso), athletics (Simeon Toribio and Miguel White) and boxing (Jose Villanueva). In the last half century, however, the Philippines had won only 4 Olympic medals, all from amateur boxing.

Read hurdler49's "World Beaters"

We had a couple of close shaves with the gold, with Anthony Villanueva (Jose Villanueva's son) and Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco yielding to their respective opponents at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the 1996 Atlanta Games, respectively.

Despite the dearth in Olympic-level talent, our best hopes for a landmark Olympic Gold are none other than our very own version of Superb Señoras. It's ironic to think that for a patriarchal society like the Philippines, the country's front liners in Olympic competition are its women.

Antoinette Rivero made her Olympic debut in Athens 2004. Even though she was just 16-years old at that time, her experience belied her competitive fire. In Athens, she narrowly lost to Greek fighter in the quarterfinals and to a South Korean in the repechage, missing out on a chance for an Olympic podium finish. 4 years later in Beijing, Rivero faltered in the opening round.

The inclusion of Women's Amateur Boxing at the 2012 London Olympics is a big boost to the Philippines' quest for a gold medal. The Filipina amateur boxers are bright hopes, with Annie Albania shining the brightest. Albania, fighting in the 51-kg category, is a three-time Southeast Asian Games medalist. In 2010, she beat hometown bet Ren Cancan to wrest the gold medal at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.

Let's just hope that Albania doesn't push through with her planned retirement.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Monday, December 3, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Tiffany Porter

Tiffany Porter is this week's Track Beauty!
Photo from SuperSport
Porter is an American-born sprint hurdler who competes for Great Britain. Before carrying Team GB's colors, Tiffany had won bronze for her country of birth at the 2006 World Junior Championships. [1] She started representing her mother's country in 2011, to some degree of controversy. 

Her impact on the British record books has been instantaneous, as she rewrote national sprint hurdling records many times over. Porter's personal best of 7.80s in the 60m hurdles is the standing British national record. [2] However, Tiffany's national benchmark of 12.56s in the 100m hurdles was bettered by the prolific Jess Ennis at the London Olympic Games. [3]

To date, Porter had won silver medals at the 2011 European Indoors and the 2012 World Indoors, on top of her 4th place finish at the Daegu World Championships.[4] With her appointment as British team captain for the 2012 World Indoors team, and the warm reception she received from British fans at her home Olympics, the so-called "plastic Brit" controversy seemed to have taken a back seat.

  1. "Tiffany Porter." Retrieved 12-2-2012.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Olha Saladukha Ольга Саладуха

Olha Saladukha Ольга Саладуха is this week's Track Beauty!

Saladukha is one of the world's best triple jumpers. her first high caliber competition in the triple jump came in 1999, during the World Youth Championships, where Olha finished in 9th place with a 12.76m best mark. [1] She fared much better in the World Juniors three years later, improving four places to 5th in the final. 

Saladukha at the 2010 Barcelona European Championships. (Photo from Erik van Leeuwen)
The Ukrainian almost barged into the podium during her debut in the European Championships in Goteborg back in 2006, but her best leap of 14.38m fell behind the top three. Despite finals appearances in the 2007 World Championships, 2008 World Indoor Championships and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Olha seemed unable to nail a spot on the coveted podium - until the past two years.

As Olha matured as an athlete, her performance in major events became more impressive. She finally won her first senior title at the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona, thanks a classy 14.81m leap in the final, the best mark by a European athlete that year. [2] Saladukha came tatntalizingly close to the 15 meter barrier at the 2012 European Championships (14.99m) and the 2011 World Championships (14.94m), where she again topped the rest of the field.

Coming into the London Olympic Games, the reigning World and European Champion was the favorite to win gold. However, an in-form Olga Rypakova Ольга Рыпакова and an injury-free Caterine Ibarguen thwarted Olha's hopes for an Olympic gold. Saladukha's 14.79m was 0.20m short of her world-leading mark of 14.99m - good enough for a bronze medal.[3]

  1. "Olha Saladukha." Retrieved 11-30-2012.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Linda Züblin

Linda Züblin is this week's Track Beauty!
Photo from akiwitz
Züblin has been Switzerland's best multi-eventer the past few years. She has a personal best of 6,018 points, around 200 points short of Corinne Schneider's 27-year old Swiss record.[1] [2] Linda particularly excels in the hurdles, long jump and the javelin, having best marks of 13.55s, 6.24m and 53.01m, respectively.[3]

Her best season came in 2008, when she placed 46th in the world heptathlon rankings.[4] She made her Olympic debut the same year, notching a 30th place in Beijing with a score of 5,743 points.[5] Throughout her athletics career, the 26-year old has taken part in two editions of the World Championships (Osaka and Berlin) and at the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona.[6]

Züblin seems to have the knack of performing big-time in Götzis. Since setting her personal best in the Austrian multi-events mecca in 2008, Linda has set has come tantalizingly close to bettering her benchmark in the subsequent years in that very town. 

Unfortunately, a return to the 6,000-point territory has eluded the Swiss athlete. Nevertheless, she is just nearing the prime of her career. Götzis 2013, after all, is just around the corner!

  1. "Swiss Records in Athletics." Retrieved 11-25-2012.
  2. "Linda Züblin." Retrieved 11-25-2012.
  3. Ibid.
  4. "International Association of Athletics Federations - Records and Top Lists." Retrieved 11-25-2012.
  5. "Linda Züblin."
  6. Ibid.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Ingvill Måkestad Bovim

Ingvill Måkestad Bovim is this week's Track Beauty!

Photo from Chell Hill
Måkestad Bovim is Norway's best middle distance runner. She holds the Norwegian records in both the 800m (1:59.82, 2010) and the rarely run 1000m (2:36.7, 2011). [1] Ingvill's 1500m run personal best is 4:02.20, only two seconds from the legendary Grete Waitz's national record. As a junior, she specialized in the two-lap event before shifting to the longer distance as she grew older.

Despite notching respectably competitive times in her mid-twenties, Ingvill made the most impact as a 29-year old in 2011. The Norwegian barged into the Daegu World Championships 1500m final, finishing 6th overall with a time of 4:13.32. [2] Remarkably, this was her debut in the world stage. 

Måkestad Bovim was having a superb season prior to the London Olympic Games. She had been in the toughest of races last season, having been a fixture in the Samsung Diamond League legs. In fact, she had run an impressive 4:03.71 in July, [3] highlighting her great form ahead of London. However, an unfortunate injury forced the Norwegian to withdraw from the quadrennial event. 

  1. "Ingvill Måkestad Bovim." Retrieved 11-11-2012.
  2. "Ingvill Måkestad Bovim." Retrieved 11-11-2012.
  3. Ibid. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cathrine Larsåsen in "God Morgen Norge"

Our favorite pole vaulter Cathrine Larsåsen appears on the show, "God Morgen Norge."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Ayako Kimura 木村 文子

Ayako Kimura 木村 文子 is this week's Track Beauty!

Photo from
Kimura is an elite-level Japanese hurdler. She has a personal best of 13.04s in the 100m hurdles, [1] set in April 2012. Ayako was just four-hundredths of a second from Yvonne Kanazawa's 金沢 イボンヌ 12-year old national senior record and one-hundredth of a second faster than Asuka Terada's 寺田 明日香 career best performance in 2009. 

Ayako's breakout year came in 2010, when she lowered her 2009 best of 13.74s to 13.28s. [2] Her improvement has been gradual in the subsequent years, running 13.19s in 2011 before her impressive performance in Hiroshima last April.

However, the Japanese champion failed to replicate her form at the London Olympic Games. Kimura crashed out of the heats with a below-par clocking of 13.75s. Nevertheless, the future looks bright for the promising Kimura. She has a relatively clean and straighforward hurdling technique, with none of the glaring technical deficiencies common amongst her peers. The London Olympics, after all, was just her first appearance in the world stage.

Ayako Kimura could be the next big thing in Asian hurdling.

  1. "Ayako Kimura." Retrieved 11-3-2012.
  2. "木村 文 子 Ayako Kimura." Retrieved 11-3-2012.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Kajsa Bergqvist

Kajsa Bergqvist is this week's Track Beauty!

Photo from Wikimedia
The retired Swedish high jumper is an athletics legend. Throughout her illustrious career, Kajsa had won gold medals in the European Indoors, European Championships, World Indoors, and the World Championships. Only the Olympic title was missing from her medal cabinet. All in all, Bergqvist had won a total of five golds, one silver, and four bronzes from the various major championships of the sport. [1]

Coming from the frigid Scandinavian north, it is unsurprising that Bergqvist excelled in indoor competition. In 2001 and 2003, she topped two consecutive editions of the World Indoors.The Swede had personal bests of 2.06m outdoors and 2.08m, the standing world indoor record. [2]

However, injury had somewhat clipped the wings of the Swedish high jumping talent. She missed the Athens Olympics after tearing her Achilles' tendon. [3] Had Kajsa been in sterling form in 2004, perhaps the golden Swedish athletics haul of 2004 could have added another gold medal. Amazingly, Bergqvist won the World Championships gold a year later in Helsinki despite the potentially career-threatening setback she sustained. [

Kajsa Bergvist hung up her spikes in 2008, retiring as one of the greatest high jumpers in history. 

  1. "Kajsa Bergqvist." Retrieved 11-1-2012.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Yuliya Gushchina Ю́лия Гу́щина

Yuliya Gushchina Ю́лия Гу́щина is this week's Track Beauty!
Photo from Erik van Leeuwen
The sprinter has been a fixture in Russia's crack relay squads for the past years. As a junior, Gushchina won a hard fought 4x400m relay bronze at the World Junior Championships in Kingston. [1] The Russian women, a proven power in the long relays, followed this up with European Junior title the next year. [2] Ever since 2005, Yuliya has been part of almost all of Russia's major senior championship relay teams. 

To date, Gushchina had won 4x400m relay golds at the European Championships (2006) and the World Indoors (2008). Her campaign at the 2008 Beijing Olympics was remarkably fruitful, having been part of the gold medal-winning Russian 4x100m relay quartet. [3] Yuliya also had a 4x400m relay silver and a fourth place finish in the individual 400m dash. [4]

Yuliya is well-known for her versatility. She has personal bests of 11.13s, 22.53s, and 49.28s in the 100m, 200m, and the 400m, respectively. [5] Since her 200m dash silver at the 2006 European Championships, Gushchina have not managed a return to the medal podium in an individual event.

  1. "Yuliya Gushchina." Retrieved 10-24-2012.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. "Yuliya Gushchina." Retrieved 10-24-2012.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Brigitte Foster-Hylton

Brigitte Foster-Hylton is this week's Track Beauty!

Photo from the Jamaica Gleaner
In the run-up to the London Olympic Games, Foster-Hylton was having a stellar string of performances. Her 12.51s clocking in Kingston (5/5/2012) was inferior only to Sally Pearson's 12.40, 12.49s, and 12.49s in the season top list. At 37-years of age, with a complete collection of World Championship medals in her curriculum vitae, London was Foster-Hylton's last shot at Olympic glory. 

But then again, the sprint hurdles is an unpredictable event. The Jamaican crashed out of the qualifying rounds after clipping a hurdle badly. Although she managed to finish the race, her substandard time was not enough for her to progress to the semifinals. Foster-Hylton was inconsolable.

Ever since placing second at the Central American and Carribean Championships in 1999, [1] the Jamaican sprint hurdler has been on the fast track to success. In her Olympic debut in Sydney, Foster-Hylton made it as far to the final. She made up for a semifinals exit in Athens with her sixth place finish in Beijing. [2]

Read: "Brigitte To Bid Farewell"

The highlight of Foster-Hylton's career was winning the World Championship gold in Berlin back in 2009, where she ran 12.51s to egde out  Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (12.54s) and compatriot Delloreen Ennis-London (12.55s).

  1. "Brigitte Foster-Hylton." Retrieved 10-14-2012.
  2. Ibid.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Goldie Sayers

Goldie Sayers is this week's Track Beauty!

Amidst the pouring British rain, Goldie stamped her class on a loaded javelin field a month before the London Olympic Games. Sayers threw a new personal best of 66.17m in Crystal Palace to snatch the win at that particular leg of the Diamond League. But her emphatic victory came at a huge cost, as Goldie injured her right arm in the process.

Sayers at the Crystal Palace. (Photo from Robbie Dale)
She still managed to compete at her home Olympic Games, albeit at a sub-par quality. Sayers crashed out of her third Olympics without reaching the final.

For the better part of the past decade, Sayers has been the poster girl of British javelin throwing. As a junior, she placed sixth at the World Junior Championships in Chile. [1] She did even better at the European Junior Championships in Grosetto a year later, winning the silver medal with a throw of 55.40m. [2]

Her first senior final came at the Helsinki World Championships in 2005, where she came in  at 12th place. Although she threw three centimeters shorter than at the Athens Olympics,  Goldie fared much better in Helsinki in terms of overall placing. Sayers almost barged into the medals in Beijing, but her impressive 65.75m throw was only good enough for fourth place.

Judging by her sterling performance in Crystal Palace, 2012 should have been Goldie's year had she not succumbed to injury.

  1. "Goldie Sayers." Retrieved 10-7-2012.
  2. Ibid.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Tatiana Grigorieva Татьяна Григорьев

Tatiana Grigorieva Татьяна Григорьев is this week's Track Beauty!

As a 15-year old kid back in 2000, one of the very first athletics articles I've read was about the glamor couple of Grigorieva and Viktor Chistiakov Виктор Чистяков. Grigorieva was one of the most stunning female athletes ever to grace the sport. Hence, it is about time that she gets some air time in Track Beauty of the Week. More importantly, the Russian-born Australian was an early pole vault pioneer.

Prior to making the big shift to vaulting, Grigorieva was a talented intermediate hurdler [1]. She took up pole vaulting when the couple migrated to Australia in 1997. [2] In light of her hurdling background and natural athleticism, her improvement in the relatively new discipline took dramatic turns in her first few years. From clearing 3.90m in 1997, Grigorieva attained a new personal best of 4.50m in 1999, two years after taking up vaulting. [3]

Grigorieva won the silver medal for her adopted country at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, the first time the event was held for female athletes. Tatiana soared over 4.55m to clinch silver behind American Stacey Dragila (4.60m). In a pole vault career spanning almost 10 years, Tatiana had amassed two Australian titles (1999 and 2001), a Commonwealth Games silver (2006), and a Commonwealth Games title (2002). [4] 

  1. "Tatiana Grigorieva." Retrieved 10-3-2012.
  2. Ibid. 
  3. " - Athletes - Tatiana Grigorieva." Retrieved 10-3-2012.
  4. "Tatiana Grigorieva."

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


In a country that supposedly takes pride in its bloodless People Power Revolt of 1986, a draconian law has been passed curbing freedom of expression.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Jenny Elbe

Jenny Elbe is this week's Track Beauty!

Photo from Frank/Wikimedia Commons
The 22-year is an up and coming German triple jumper. Although she missed the "B" standard by four centimeters, Elbe had a fruitful 2012 season. The Technical University of Dresden student made her first major senior team in the European Championships in Helsinki. Elbe registered a best mark of 13.98m, missing out on a finals appearance by three places. 

She has a personal best of 14.06m outdoors and 14.02m indoors which she both set this season. These are her first ever forays into fourteen-meter jumps. 

Jenny has won numerous German national titles in age-group competition. As an 18-year old, she finished in 10th place at the World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, notching 13.01m in the final. Elbe performed much better at the 2009 European Junior Championships in Novi Sad. Her 13.55m effort propelled the German to third place behind Liane Pintsaar (13.89m) of Estonia and Cristina Sandu (13.61m) of Romania.

Elbe's improvement has been gradual the past few years. Expect the talented German to be a legitimate contender in the near future.


Additional Links:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Yargelis Savigne

Yargelis Savigne is this week's Track Beauty!
Savigne competing at the 2010 Memorial Van Damme. (Photo from Erik van Leeuwen)
The Cuban has been a fixture of elite-level women's triple jumping for the past decade. To say that Savigne's achievements are impressive is an understatement. With three World Championships medals to her name, two of these back-to-back golds, Savigne is undoubtedly one of the big guns in the contemporary athletics circuit.

The 27-year old has a personal best of 15.28m from the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, the sixth-best triple jump outdoors. 

An Olympic medal is the only thing missing from the Cuban's display cabinet. The 2008 Beijing Olympics could have been her time for Olympic glory, having won the World title in stellar fashion a year earlier. Six women went beyond the 15 meter mark in the final. Savigne finished in a distant fifth place with a best mark of 15.05m. Her performance seemed to have dipped since then, as she failed to barge into the top three of the subsequent major internationals. She has not flown beyond 15 meters for the past two years, although she came tantalizingly close in 2011 (14.99m SB)..

Nevertheless, Savigne has been consistent in reaching the finals. In light of her considerable experience - and an obvious desire for an Olympic title - expect the Cuban to stage a comeback of Felix Sanchez proportions in the coming years.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Ásdís Hjálmsdóttir

Ásdís Hjálmsdóttir is this week's Track Beauty!
Ásdís Hjálmsdóttir competing in Switzerland. (Photo from Trailpilot)
Hjálmsdóttir is Iceland's best female javelin thrower. The 26-year old has a personal best of 62.77m from the qualifying rounds at the London Olympic Games. Thanks to Ásdís' classy throw, she barged into the final of the highly comeptitive event. She eventually finished in a respectable 11th place, notching a best throw of 59.08m in the final. 

The javelin thrower has been competing in high level meets since 2001, when she made her international debut at the World Youth Champiomships in Debrecen. Ásdís' record in age group competitions has been solid, with finals appearances at the 2004 World Junior Championships and the 2005 European U23 Championships.

She made her Olympic debut in Beijing. A year later, the Berlin World Championships-bound Hjálmsdóttir bettered the 60m mark for the first time in her career. Her curriculum vitae speaks volumes about her experience.

Prior to the London Olympics, Hjálmsdóttir actually had a forgettable campaign at the Helsinki European Championships, as she crashed out in the qualifying rounds with a sub-par 55.29m. Surely, her superb performance in London more than made up for the disappoint in Helsinki!


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Libania Grenot

Libania Grenot is this week's Track Beauty!

Grenot is Italy's best quarter-miler. The Cuban-born Italian sprinter has a personal best of 50.30s, the standing Italian record in the 400m dash. The 29-year old is a grizzled veteran of the athletics scene. She made her international debut at the World Youth Championships in Bydgoszcz in 1999 for her native Cuba, where she finished fifth in the final. 

To date, she has taken part in two editions of the World Championships (2005 and 2009) and at the Beijing and London Olympic Games. She has reached the semifinals in Beijing, Berlin, and London, underlying her stature as a world-class 400m sprinter. 

She switched allegiance to Italy in 2008, having been married to an Italian for the past two years. Libania is a two-time finalist in the European Championships. She almost made it to the podium in Barcelona, but finished in fourth, stopping the clock at 50.43s.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Marije Smits

Marije Smits is this week's Track Beauty!

In honor of the ongoing Paralympic Games in London, it is apt to select a talented, differently-abled athlete as Track Beauty.

Marije Smits. (Photo from Helene Wiesenhaan)

Smits is a long jumper and sprinter from the Netherlands. The 25-year old has extensive experience in international-level events. She made her debut in the Paralympics in 2004. [1] Since then she has competed in two editions of the European Championships (2005 and 2012), the World Championships (2006), and the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. [2] 

London is her third appearance at the prestigious quadrennial event.

The 2003 European U20 long jump champion notched a significant victory last year, when she won the World Cup long jump silver medal in Christchurch, New Zealand. [3] She currently has personal bests of 3.73m in the long jump and 17.71s in the 100m dash.

Fourteen years ago, Marije's right leg was amputated above the knee because of cancer. [4] Four years later, Smits won her first gold medal at a regional-level competition in Lille, France. [5]

  1. "Marije Smits." Wikipedia, 21 August 2012. (25 August 2012).
  2. Ibid.
  3. "Dutch Parathletics Team A-selectie Marije Smit." Topatletiek, 25 June 2012. (25 August 2012).
  4. "Marije Smits."
  5. Ibid.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Emma Coburn

Emma Coburn is this week's Track Beauty!

The United States has the best athletics team in the planet, as shown by the results of the London Olympics. It is remarkable to note the credible American presence in a wide variety of track & field events, not just in the major crowd drawers. Up and coming athletes like Emma Coburn signify this formidable U.S. representation. 

Photo from
Coburn is an American middle distance runner who specializes in the 3,000m steeplechase. Still only 21-years old, Emma has competed at the Daegu World Championships and the London Olympic Games, making the final in both ocassions. Coburn finished in 12th place in Daegu, notching a time of 9:51.40. She fared much better in the Olympics, setting a new personal best of 9:23.54 in the final, good enough for a respectable 9th place. The University of Colorado student-athlete also won the 2011 Pan-American title in Guadalajara, Mexico.

As the 2012 outdoor season draws to a close, the American is the 12th fastest in her event this season, according to the IAAF Top List.

Emma has a sterling record in American competitions. After a second place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2010, Coburn wrested the U.S. collegiate title in 2011. She also holds the American junior steeplechase record (10:06.54), which the Colorado-based athlete set back in 2009. 


Friday, August 17, 2012

The Netherlands Olympic Hockey Team

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word hockey is the movie "The Mighty Ducks." Ice hockey, thanks to pop culture, is a more familiar subject. I must admit that the first time I saw its summer sport variant played on TV, I felt indifferent. 

Then the Dutch Women's Olympic Hockey Team took center stage in London.

They are more than just eye-candies, mind you. Women from the Netherlands have won eight out of the ten European Championship titles since 1984. Since the sport was introduced in the Olympics in 1984, the Netherlands topped the coveted podium thrice (1984, 2008, and 2012), on top of its lone silver medal (2004) and three bronzes (1988, 1996, and 2000),

The ladies' performance on the field more than measured up to their popularity in London, as they successfully defended their Olympic golds, blanking their Argentine opponents 2-0. 

The London Olympics Netherlands Hockey Team:
Kitty van Male
Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel
Kelly Jonker
Maartje Goderie
Lidewij Welten
Maartje Paumen
Naomi van As
Ellen Hoog
Sophie Polkamp
Joyce Sombroek
Kim Lammers
Eva de Goede
Marilyn Agliotti
Merel de Blaeij
Margot van Geffen
Caia van Maasakker

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Kai Selvon

Kai Selvon is this week's Track Beauty!

The sprinter is an up and coming athlete from Trinidad and Tobago. She competes in both the 100m and 200m, as well as in the 4x100m relay for the Trinidadian national team. To date, Selvon has personal bests of 11.21s and 22.85s.

Selvon is a student-athlete for Auburn University in the United States, following the path of a many a Carribean sprinter. She has distinguished herself in the tough American collegiate leagues, winning the 60m indoor title and 200m dash runner-up honors in 2012.

The 20-year old is a veteran of many major age-group championships, having competed in the 2009 World Youth Championships, as well as the 2008 and 2010 editions of the World Junior Championships. She narrowly missed the 200m dash podium in Moncton back in 2010, as she placed fourth in the final.

Kai made her senior debut at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, where she reached as far as the 200m semifinals. However, a failed drugs test by one of her 4x100m relay teammates resulted in the disqualification of the Trinidad and Tobago quartet.

She clocked 23.04s in the 200m semifinals at the London Olympics. 


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Yuliya Zaripova Юлия Зарипова

Yuliya Zaripova (Yuliya Zarudneva Юлия Михайловна Зарипова) is this week's Track Beauty!

The women's 3000m steeplechase is one of the newest events in athletics. It made its first appearance in the World Championships in Helsinki back in 2005. Since then, the Russians have dominated the event, with Gulnara Galkina (Гульнара Самитова-Галкина) holding the world record of 8:58.81 set at the Beijing Olympics.
Yuliya Zaripova at the 2010 European Championships. (Photo from Erik van Leeuwen)
Zaripova is Galkina's heir apparent. She is the third fastest in the event, having a personal best of 9:07.03, which she set en route to bagging gold at the 2011 World Championships. Zaripova trails only Galkina and compatriot Ekaterina Volkova in the all-time list.

She made her major championship debut at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, snaring a silver medal behind Marta Domínguez of Spain. Galkina won bronze behind Zaripova. A year later, Yuliya topped the European Championships in Barcelona.

Coming into the London Olympics, the prolific Ethiopians and Kenyans have run faster times this season than Zaripova. Amidst the African challenge, Yuliya will be Russia's strongest bet for the Olympic title. 

Yuliya' Wikipedia Profile

Monday, July 30, 2012

An Iraqi Olympian: Dana Hussein Abdul Razzaq دانة حسين عبد الرزاق (Abdulrazaq Danah)

My blogs have been getting quite a lot of hits thanks to Iraqi sprinter Dana Hussein Abdul-Razzaq دانة حسين عبد الرزاق  (Abdulrazaq Danah). Dana had the honor of carrying the Iraqi flag at the London Olympics Opening Ceremonies.

Read: "Track Beauty of the Week - Dana Abdul Razzaq"

Dana definitely has the talent to excel in the world stage, having personal bests of 11.76s and 24.49s in the 100m and 200m. Remarkably, Dana trains in Iraq despite the security situation.

At the 2011 Arab Games, Dana came second to Lebanon's Gretta Taslakian

The Iraqi sprinter's hopes of an Olympic medal might be dim at the moment, but in light of the circumstances of her home country, her mere presence in London is an achievement in itself.

Godspeed, Dana!