Seb Coe

Four more years for Coe, and first female VP in 107 years

Four more years for Coe, and first female VP in 107 years

DOHA, Qatar — So much to unpack from two hours of voting here Wednesday at the IAAF congress, so let’s get to it:

1. Seb Coe was unanimously re-elected as president. He gets four more years.

In 2015, Coe ran a tough race against Sergey Bubka of Ukraine. This time, Coe ran unopposed. 

He got 203 votes, out of 203.

This was a secret ballot. So for any of you who thought there might be even a single dissenter in a world body that over Coe’s first four-year term has seen multiple controversies — among them, the Russian doping matter and a legal dispute over differences of sexual development personified by the South African 800-meter champion Caster Semenya — think again.

The track and field calendar is a shambles, ugh

The track and field calendar is a shambles, ugh

Mike Rodgers ran the 100 meters in 9.89 seconds in the preliminary rounds of the U.S. track and field national championships Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa.

It was the fastest 100 meters, anywhere in the world, so far in 2018.

This raises several questions.

Why is Rodgers running that fast in — the prelims? 

Why, moreover, is a 33-year-old Mike Rodgers running in the 9.8s again after a 2017 that saw him run a best 10-flat and a 9.97 in 2016?

Rodgers ran 9.92 in Prague on June 4. And — here is the inexplicable thing about professional track and field — it has to be asked: why he is running that fast in 2018? For what reason?

Pride gets no one paid. Respect is awesome, and 9.89 is respectfully quick. But, again, track is a professional sport. 

And this is what in track circles is called an “off-year.” There’s no Olympics, no world championships. 

A wave of DQs: why does track and field insist on such self-inflicted buzzkill?

A wave of DQs: why does track and field insist on such self-inflicted buzzkill?

BIRMINGHAM, England — The men’s 400 meters here Saturday night at the 2018 world indoor track and field championships was awesome. Until, suddenly, it was not.

Spain’s Oscar Husillos crossed the line in a championship-record 44.92, followed by Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic, the London 2012 400 silver medalist. Husillos was instantly met with precisely the sort of joyous theater that track and field needs: a rooting section made up of dudes in costumes, a banana, a cow and (Batman sidekick) Robin, who dashed to the grandstand railing and threw him a Spanish flag.

Great stuff.

And then it was announced that both Husillos and Luguelin had been disqualified for lane violations — the latest victims in a tsunami of ticky-tack DQs that have swept over these championships. 

Why does track and field insist on such buzzkill? 

The joyful essence of track and field -- more, please

The joyful essence of track and field -- more, please

LONDON — If you don’t know the rules of steeplechase, here’s a quick crash course, and crash is the word because spills are not uncommon. The runners run 3000 meters. That’s 1.8 miles. There are 28 barriers — that’s the precise word — and seven water jumps.

If you know who Horace Ashenfelter is, call the producers at Jeopardy. You can win a lot of money.

If you don’t, which means you’re not one of Mr. Ashenfelter’s relatives or, otherwise, an all-consumed track and field geek, this: in the biggest surprise of the 2017 IAAF track and field world championships, which wound to a close Sunday, bigger than Justin Gatlin winning, bigger than Usain Bolt and Mo Farah losing, an American, Emma Coburn, won the women’s steeplechase, immediately followed across the line by another American, Courtney Frerichs.

On Isaac Makwala: why let facts spoil righteous outrage?

On Isaac Makwala: why let facts spoil righteous outrage?

LONDON — So this is what it has come to: a television personality and three former athletes in high dudgeon interrogating a learned medical doctor on the BBC in a segment of car crash-style TV that encapsulates so much of what passes in 2017 for dialogue in the public arena. On the one hand, rational, even scientific, thought begging to be heard. On the other, know-it-all counterpoint rooted in grievance and conflict.

The flashpoint at these 2017 IAAF world championships: an apparent outbreak of norovirus. Public Health England issued a statement late Thursday saying it had “been made aware of approximately 40 people reporting illness,” three confirmed by lab testing as norovirus.

The 2017 IAAF world championships disconnect

The 2017 IAAF world championships disconnect

LONDON — No matter if it’s sports or what journalists call hard news, all young reporters learn early on a truism. Whether it’s a big court case, a political race or a major sports event like these 2017 IAAF track and field world championships or an NFL Super Bowl, there are always — always — at least two storylines.

There’s the action itself.

And then there’s what’s happening around it.

With the 2017 worlds nearing the halfway mark, it’s entirely unclear whether they seem destined to be remembered for the track and field itself, which truly has been remarkable if not historic.

A lifetime ban for athletes for doping is a non-starter, and other cultural differences

A lifetime ban for athletes for doping is a non-starter, and other cultural differences

LONDON — The marathon course here at these 2017 IAAF world championships started and finished at Tower Bridge. Just a few steps away, of course, is Tower Hill, where the likes of Anne Boleyn met her fate.

It’s fascinating, those historical and cultural markers that, in turn, frame — consciously or otherwise — national identity.

In Britain, one might argue, right is right, wrong is wrong, rules are rules, black is black, white is white. When you make a mistake, it’s off with your head. You wonder why the Pilgrims wanted out? The United States, by definition, is a land of second chances. The American national narrative  — the founding national story, told over and again — is redemption.

To be clear: find fault all you want with these oversimplifications. Detail, if you please, the countless exceptions.

The truth: Justin Gatlin, from despair to destiny

The truth: Justin Gatlin, from despair to destiny

LONDON — They introduced Justin Gatlin to the Olympic Stadium crowd here Sunday evening, just before they put a gold medal around his neck, before The Star-Spangled Banner played in his honor, and along with some cheers a chorus of boos rang out.

The cheers — great. The boos — this fell somewhere between disappointing and reprehensible. Olympic-style sport is not the English Premier League, the NFL or NBA. It is supposed to be about promoting three key values: friendship, excellence and respect.

Saturday’s men’s 100-meter final immediately became arguably the biggest gold-medal victory in the history of the event. Gatlin defeated the sport’s biggest legend, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt. It’s how the race will forever be remembered: who beat Bolt, and in Bolt’s last individual 100? Gatlin. And who, before Saturday, was the last guy ever to beat Bolt? Gatlin, in Rome in 2013.

Farah. Mo Farah. Knight of the realm, for running fast

Farah. Mo Farah. Knight of the realm, for running fast

LONDON — Five years ago, the London Summer Olympics opened with a happy and glorious riff, Daniel Craig reprising his role as James Bond, escorting Her Majesty the Queen out to the royal helicopter, where it then wheeled above cheering crowds in the sun-splashed city below (hello!) and then under Tower Bridge to Olympic Stadium.

From the moment the “queen” and “007” jumped out of that copter, Mo Farah, the Somali-born British distance runner, has gone on to win the Olympic distance double-double thunderball, first in London and then in Rio, the men’s 5,000 and 10,000. For his efforts, the queen on January 1 of this year made Farah a Knight of the Realm. Pretty heady stuff.

The problem with encores, as 007 could readily tell you, is that it’s always tough to top the spectre of that last installment. So many critics. The world is not enough, as it were.

On the start line now: 11 years, big upside

On the start line now: 11 years, big upside

LONDON — Somewhere, some 8- or 9- or 10-year-old kid is in her or his backyard, throwing or running or jumping and dreaming big dreams about maybe someday being, say, Allyson Felix, lithe and elegant, or Tianna Bartoletta, fast and focused, or maybe Christian Taylor or Ryan Crouser, guys who produce when the spotlight is brightest.

Never, perhaps, has track and field found itself at such an intriguing intersection, indeed one suddenly filled with potential.

There are the kids, and their dreams. There is the sport, with its many documented woes. There is also, genuinely, because of the award of the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympics, opportunity, and particularly in the United States.