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