Hello and welcome to a new series for this blog called ‘This Week In Athletics’ where I discuss some of the news stories for the week just gone. We are only days into 2017 but there has already been some big news. This first edition concerns a couple of surprise retirements and an indoor British record.
THE EATON’S RETIRE
It came as a bit of a surprise at first but Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton both announced their retirement on the 4th January which saw them win multiple Olympic and world medals. Ashton of course also retires as the current record holder and may well hold it for quite some time to come.
While a bit surprised as neither are that old, both have already achieved a lot and if both feel that they haven’t got any further level to get to or goals to aim for then it is probably the right decision. Ashton finishes his career as a double Olympic Champion, a double world champion, a triple world indoor champion and world record holder for both the decathlon as well as the indoor heptathlon. He retires as the greatest ever male multi-eventer with no real obvious to go for with the possible exception of trying to win 3 Olympic golds but to go another 4 years just for that is tough.
Brianne Theisen-Eaton finishes her career as the reigning World Indoor pentathlon champion as well as possessing two world championship silver medals and a bronze medal from the Rio Olympics. In a way her decision surprised me more as the opportunity to be a world champion was greater after Jessica Ennis-Hill’s retirement but it seems not having the required motivation and being happy with what she achieved led to her decision.
One thing is for sure which is we are entering new eras for both male and female multi-eventers especially on the women’s side with the emergence of Nafi Thiam, Akela Jones and Katarina Johnson-Thompson all set to challenge for the next several years while there is a huge opportunity for the men for someone to take over.
LAURA MUIR BREAKS ANOTHER BRITISH RECORD
In her first race of 2017 Laura Muir broke a 25 year old British record when she ran an indoor 5000 metre race (effectively a solo time trial) in 14:49:12 surpassing the lime of Liz McColgan’s previous mark set in 1992. An event not run very often so all-time lists aren’t necessarily the best barometer (although the current world record was set by Genzebe Dibaba a couple of years ago) but it puts her 9th on the all-time global lists and was less than 2 seconds off the European record. In terms of the all-time British list only 3 have ever run quicker outdoors which are Paula Radcliffe, Jo Pavey and Zola Budd which is very good company indeed. It’s just another sign of her rapid improvement over the last couple of years which includes an 800 metre PB of 2:00:42, an incredible 1500 metre PB of 3:55:22 and a 3000 metre PB of 8:38:47 (which one would think could be improved upon even further). An old coach one described her as having the endurance of Paula Radcliffe and the speed of Kelly Holmes and you can see that is starting to look very true indeed! Can she can keep the momentum going to August though?!
IN OTHER NEWS
With it being VERY early into the new year there aren’t too many results and performances to analyse but Christophe Lemaitre finds himself the very early world leader after running 6.58 to replace Dwain Chambers (now 38!) 6.64. Still early days but interestingly it’s also only 22 days until the first leg of the IAAF World Indoor Tour which starts with New Balance Indoor GP in Boston.
So that was this week in Athletics! The Great Edinburgh International XCountry is taking place January 7th which will see Mo Farah (sorry now Sir Mo Farah!) race against Garett Heath after the American’s impressive win last year. I will also be keeping an eye out for the England Athletics Senior and U20 Combined Events Indoor Champs and Walks which is happening in Sheffield over the coming weekend (remember the name of Sam Talbot by the way) and then not long after the year really gets going again!
Thank you for taking the time to check this out and you can follow me on twitter using the link at the bottom of the page. Until next time!