Report: World Athletics Championships 2013

Five lessons learned ahead of 14th World Athletics Championships

Former pole vaulter Sergey Bubka, Moscow on 8 August, 2013
Former pole vaulter Sergey Bubka, Moscow on 8 August, 2013 Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

There are five things we learned before the white heat of competition at the World Athletics Championships, which kick off in Moscow on Saturday and go through to 18 August.

  • Practice really does make perfect. Britney Reese comes into the World Championships as the undisputed long jump queen. Back in Berlin in 2009 as a callow 21-year-old, she won the world title by toppling the reigning champion Tatyana Lebedeva. She retained her world title two years ago in Daegu in South Korea and is bidding to hold on to the crown a year after winning gold at the Olympics in London. Ms Reese isn’t bad indoors either. She’s won gold in those championships in Doha in 2010 and in Istanbul last year. “I just love to win,” she said on the eve of the Moscow championships. “And in order for me to keep a winning streak, I just practice real hard and wait for moments like the World Championships for me to break out and show the world what I can do.”
  • Jamaica has a new distance runner: team manager Trevor Campbell. On the negative dope tests that claimed Jamaican athletes Veronica Campbell-Brown, Sherone Simpson and Asafa Powell, Campbell said: “Veronica’s drug finding was before the [Jamaican] trials – she was not on the team. Asafa came seventh in the 100 metres, so technically he was not on the team either. So the only person we lost was Simpson. We want to make that distinction because I think it’s important.”
Dossier: IAAF World Championships
  • Jamaica has a new high hurdler: team manager Trevor Campbell. “I’m not saying they [Powell, Simpson, Campbell-Brown] are not important. They’re people that we miss. I don’t want it to seem as if I’m just casting them under a bus and forgetting them – no such thing – but I want to make the distinction as far as the team is concerned – one person was left off the team coming out of the trials.”

  • Former pole vaulter Sergey Bubka is a munificent soul. The Ukrainian, who competed for the Soviet Union, won consecutive world championships between 1983 and 1997 and an Olympics gold in 1988. He broke the world record 35 times, was the first to clear 6.0 metres and still holds the outdoor world record of 6.14 metres. While campaigning to become president of the IAAF – which organises such extravaganzas as the world championships – he still has time to meet the athletes here in Moscow. “I had the opportunity to have a chat and some discussions with Usain Bolt in Gorky Park,” he said. “He looks very relaxed. He says he’s in good shape and is confident about performing well. I told him people are waiting for his races and good performances.” Bubka has also been hanging with the current pole vault king Renaud Lavillenie. “He knows the value of victory,” opined Bubka. “He got a fantastic victory at the Olympics last year and had a good win last week in London at the Anniversary Games. He’s in excellent shape. He’s looking for victory and to break the world record. I think he’s capable of doing it.” And who’s all this down to? Why, one Sergey Bubka of course. They have a statue of Bubka in Donetsk and you can see why. After Lavillenie came third at the Daegu World Championships two years ago, Bubka told the disappointed Frenchman to learn from the defeat and to never make the same mistakes. Result? One Olympic gold a year later.
  • We’ve come a long way since the Luzhniki Stadium was the venue for the 1980 Olympics. That event was boycotted by the United States and around 60 other nations because of the Soviet war in Afghanistan.


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