Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Only West Indians Can Run

Leroy Burrell: The nearly man of the 100m

Watching the men’s 100m final in Berlin made me think about another final that really stuck in my head.

It was Tokyo 1991. This was the peak of US dominance in the 100m.

The world record stood at 9.90s held by Leroy Burrell, but Carl Lewis was the favourite for the gold. The buildup was all about Lewis Vs Burrell. Leroy Burrell ran 9.94s in his semi final heat, Lewis ran 9.93s, ratcheting up the tension for the final.

Lewis winning gold in a new WR

The final was an epic, and closely fought battle with records being smashed left, right and centre. Carl Lewis won, with a world record time of 9.86s, Burrell was second in 9.88s and Dennis Mitchell completed the US one, two, three in 9.91s. The USA’s position as the world’s pre-eminent sprint nation seemed unassailable.

Just out of the medals was Linford Christie in a British and European record of 9.92s, behind him was Frankie Fredericks in 9.95s, an African record. Next was Ray Stewart in 9.96s, a Jamaican record. A record that stood for 13 years.

End of an Era

Things went downhill from there. Lewis didn’t make the Olympic team in 1992, due to a dodgy start at the US trials, but Burrell, Witherspoon and Mitchell would be flying the flag and virtually assuring a US one, two and three. In the end however, Christie won, Fredericks was second and Mitchell picked up the bronze. Burrell was fifth, Ray Stewart was seventh, between the two Nigerians.

In the 1993 world final Linford Christie won, beating the Americans into second, third and fourth. Ray Stewart finished last. Stewart was last again in 1995 but it was a Canadian one and two (Donovan Bailey and Bruny Surin – Surin had finished last in 1991 and fifth in 1993) and Ato Boldon of Trinidad in third. 

Christie takes Gold in Barcelona and ends US dominance

Linford Christie finished sixth, just behind the only American, Mike Marsh. It wasn’t much better at the Olympics in Atlanta the following year; Mitchell fourth, Marsh fifth, with Bailey, Fredericks and Boldon getting the medals.

Maurice Greene papered over the cracks in 1997 (with Tim Montgomery), 1999 and 2001 (with Bernard Williams), all three later involved in drugs scandals.

The Olympics in 2000 saw another US champion, Greene, but a Caribbean silver and bronze (Boldon and Obadele Thompson).

2003 saw a Caribbean one and two (Collins and Brown) with Darren Campbell third and then a US world champion in Justin Gatlin in 2005 (but a Caribbean silver and bronze), but Gatlin was caught doping the following year, banned and stripped of his joint world record.

The 2005 final saw two Americans in the final, four from the Caribbean Islands and two Africans (counting Obikwelu). When Olapade Adeniken, David Ezinwa and Frankie Fredericks reached the Olympic final in 1992, there was much talk of being on the cusp of an era of African 100m dominance. Thirteen years later, whilst the shift in dominance was correct, it wasn’t Africa, but the Caribbean Islands that would become pre-eminent.

The Windies

Tyson Gay won the 100m in 2007 and I am sure that many Americans saw this as a return to sprint supremacy, but it wasn’t. Gay was the only American in the final, but once again there were four from the Caribbean.

In Beijing Usain Bolt won, Richard Thompson was second, Walter Dix third. There were six West Indians in the final, two Americans.

In yesterdays final there were five from the Caribbean, two Americans and just one European. Tyson Gay’s run was incredible, but take Gay away from the team and there would have been no US medal, Darvis Patton the only other American finished last.

Bolt in Berlin: 100m races just aren’t as close as they were in Tokyo anymore

Aside from dopers, the last US world record holder was Maurice Greene, in 1999. This is the end of US sprint dominance, at least at the 100m. Winning the US trials no longer even guarantees a place in the final, let alone a medal or the gold, like it once did.

In 1993 I thought that it was a great thing that the US was no longer winning all the medals, now I am not so sure. 

Whilst Usain Bolt’s 9.58s is unbelievable, take Bolt away and the West Indies still have four of the five fastest sprinters in the world, they now truly dominate the sport.

I am not even sure whether to watch the women’s 100m final today, after all a Jamaican one, two, three and four is pretty much a foregone conclusion. Are the Americans, and the rest of the world to follow white men and disappear from top level sprinting altogether?


However this dominance, at least in the men’s 100m, isn’t as recent as we might believe.

Olympic 100m Champions Since 1992

  1. Linford Christie
  2. Donovan Bailey
  3. Maurice Greene
  4. Justin Gatlin
  5. Usain Bolt

World 100m Champions Since 1993

  1. Linford Christie
  2. Donovan Bailey
  3. Maurice Greene
  4. Kim Collins
  5. Justin Gatlin
  6. Tyson Gay

Of all the champions, three were from the Caribbean. Linford Christie was born in Jamaica and moved to London aged 7, Bailey was also born and raised in Jamaica, moving to Canada aged 13. Collins of course was born and raised in Saint Kitts Nevis and Usain Bolt in Jamaica. Silver medallist and former world record holder Bruny Surin was also born and raised in the Caribbean (Haiti).

It is also worth noting that Ben Johnson, the last man before Bolt to stagger the world with an amazing time, was also born in Jamaica. Those that believed that Asafa Powell and Usain Bolt, like the Canadian duo of Donovan Bailey and Bruny Surin, were just a one off and that normal services would resume when they retire, are mistaken.

Michael Frater’s best days may be behind him, but 20 year old training partner of Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake has already run 9.93s. At that age Bolt was running 10.03s. Add to that the likes of Richard Thompson, Daniel Bailey, Marc Burns and many others and it looks as though Jamaican/West Indian supremacy in the 100m is set to continue for quite a while. 

Hope Rests With The Master

Lemaitre – The Great White Hope.

As of today, the second most popular post on this blog is Fastest White Man. Yes second, it still has some way to go before it surpasses the top post, Bear Grylls A Fraud!

Because of this, and because I haven’t posted anything for a while I’d thought that I would take another look at the Fastest White Man issue as there has been a recent change in the prospects of a sub 10 white sprinter.

Matt Shirvington

Not since Matthew Shirvington ran his 10.03s (which for me is the fastest a white man has ever run) has there been such a resurgence in interest a white man breaking the 10s barrier. The reason? A 19 year old Frenchman by the name of Christophe Lemaitre recently won the 100m at the European Athletics Junior Championships with a new European Junior record of 10.04s.

Only two men under 20 years old have ever run faster – Darrel Brown and Yohan Blake. Darrel Brown ran 10.01s aged 19, today aged 24, his PB is 9.99s. Making a Lemaitre sub 10s seem possible.

But when you consider that a 19 year old Brown (and Lemaitre) ran faster than Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell, Maurice Greene and Usain Bolt at the same age, yet his PB is only 9.99s (compared to 9.77s, 9.72s, 9.79s and 9.69s respectively), you realise that being fast at a certain age is not a reliable indicator of future ability.

For example, Tyson Gay is the fastest man of the year so far, with a time of 9.77s. Aged 19 the best he could run was 10.28s, but he has improved quite a bit since then.

The fastest 19 year old in the world is currently Yohan Blake of Jamaica. He’s a training partner of Usain Bolt and his PB is 9.93, which he ran last month.

The White Master

Perhaps this explains Collio’s sudden rise in form?

Even so all eyes will be on the ungainly runner come Berlin as he is the closest white man for over a decade to the magic 10s barrier. Like Bolt, who is 6’4″, Lemaitre is tall for a sprinter, standing 6’3″ and much was made of Bolt’s height at the Olympics last year as being the basis for his amazing speed. Lemaitre’s fans are hoping that he can use his height in a similar way to Bolt.

As a comparison, Gay is 5’11”, Powell is also 6’3″, Greene 5″9′, Bailey 6′, Lewis 6’3″ and Linford Christie was 6’2″, clearly there aren’t many short, top class sprinters.

Lemaitre is already No.5 on the white all time list, at least technically, but if you remove Woronin’s dubious time and those run at altitude, Lemaitre (whose nickname is Lemaitre blanc – The White Master) is the second fastest white man ever.

This wave of expectation is further aided by the fact that the white all time top ten has had another two entrants this summer. The apparently ageless Simone Collio, who ran a new PB of 10.06s, despite being in his 30th year, placing him 7th (or 3rd) on the all time list, and Ramil Guliyev who ran 10.08s to enter the list at 10 (or 6th).

The White Top 10 6

  1. 10.00 (+2.0) Marian Woronin (POL) 09.06.1984 – Dubious
  2. 10.01A (0.0) Pietro Mennea (ITA) 04.09.1979 – Altitude
  3. 10.03A (0.0) Nicolas Macrozonaris (CAN) 03.05.2003 – Altitude
  4. 10.03 (-0.1) Matthew Shirvington (AUS) 17.09.1998
  5. 10.04 (0.20) Christophe Lemaitre (FRA) 24.07.2009
  6. 10.06A (+2.0) Johan Rossouw (RSA) 23.04.1988 – Altitude
  7. 10.06 (+1.2) Simone Collio (ITA) 27.012009
  8. 10.06 (+1.9) Frank Emmelmann (GDR) 22.09.1985
  9. 10.07 (±0.0) Valeriy Borzov (UKR) 31.08.1972
  10. 10.08 (+1.3) Ramil Guliyev (AZE) 13.06.2009

Many see this as the summer a white man will belatedly break 10.00s. Although in reality any such feat is likely to be overshadowed by Gay Vs Bolt and most likely a new World Record. A white man breaking the 10.00s barrier and still not making it past the Semi’s isn’t likely to get much press.

EJCH Novi Sad 2009 – M-100m Final Christophe Lemaître 10.04 EJR

In all likelihood, Berlin, like Beijing last year, is not going to be anything special for white sprinters, but the prospects of  a white sub 10.00s look better for Berlin next week than they have for a long time, add to that the Bolt Vs Gay showdown, possible new world records etc and it should be an interesting World Championships.

Fastest White Man

One of the most viewed posts on this blog, especially over the past few days – no doubt due to the Olympics, is White Men Can’t Run. Anyone hoping for a white man to reach the Olympic final, let alone to run under 10s or even grab a medal, was sorely disappointed.


Marian Woronin

Marian Woronin’s 1984 ‘record’ remains unmatched, let alone beaten, but I thought I would take a look and see just how far the fastest white man got in the 100m and what the fastest time was.

The only non black athlete (or athlete not of African descent) who reached the semi finals was Naoki Tsukahara of Japan who ran 10.16s (he has a PB of 10.15s). No white athlete made it past the second round and the fastest in that round was Craig Pickering of Britain at 10.18s (he has a PB of 10.14s).

Pickering is Britain’s No.2 sprinter (3 if you count Dwain Chambers, but no one does), but is only ranked 13th on Britain’s all time list. The top British white sprinter is Allan ‘Wipper’ Wells, ranked tenth with 10.11s, which he ran 28 years ago.

This makes me wonder all the more about Woronin, he only ever ran that fast once, he never ran under 10.20s again, rarely under 10.30s, yet in nearly 25 years, only one man has really even come close.

The ‘official’ list of top white sprint times is:

  1. 10.00 (+2.0) Marian Woronin (POL) 09.06.1984
  2. 10.01A (0.0) Pietro Mennea (ITA) 04.09.1979
  3. 10.03A (0.0) Nicolas Macrozonaris (CAN) 03.05.2003
  4. 10.03 (-0.1) Matthew Shirvington (AUS) 17.09.1998
  5. 10.06A (+2.0) Johan Rossouw (RSA) 23.04.1988

Nicolas Macrozonaris of Canada ran 10.03s in 2003, but that was at altitude. If you’re wondering what difference that would have made, it was the same place that Pietro Mennea ran his 10.01s at the 100m and his amazing 19.72s at 200m. Macrozonaris next best after that was 10.19s ran in 2000.

Matt Shirvington ran his way back in 1998, it wasn’t at altitude, there was no wind (in fact there was a slight headwind) and more importantly for me, it wasn’t a one off. In 1999 he ran 10.07s, he has also run 10.09s. He is still running today aged 29, his best this year is 10.35s.


Matt Shirvington

Next is Johan Rossouw of South Africa, his time is also impressive, but when you consider that it was run at altitude with the maximum allowed headwind, and it was a feat that he never repeated, it isn’t so impressive.

In fact if it wasn’t for Matt Shirvington’s time, I wouldn’t believe Woronin’s mark at all unless he ran it at altitude with +4.5ms wind at his back, but he ran it in Warsaw, with the maximun +2.0 wind.

A white man running under 10.00s seems to be a physical impossibility, even today with the advances in training and legal supplements and so on it is proving to be an unattainable goal for white sprinters.

Shirvington is something of an enigma, other than Woronin’s dubious time, no one else has got that close to the magic ten second barrier other than at altitude. Linford Christie ran his best time aged 33, so at 29 Shirvington isn’t quite over the hill yet. That said he hasn’t run under 10.20s for five years, so the magic 10s barrier is likely to elude him.

But what about those who aren’t white, but aren’t of African descent? Surprisingly, the elusive ten second barrier has been reached by an athlete of non African origin (I believe the correct term is non sub-Saharan African origin).

Koji Ito of Japan ran 10.00 dead in Bangok in 1998, there was a +1.9 m/s wind but still an acheivement. The Japanese have some good sprinter, with Naoki Tsukahara reaching the semi finals of the 100m in Beijing and Japan claiming a bronze in the 4x100m relays, but they still have never had an athlete under 10s.

In fact only one athlete not of sub-Saharan African descent has ever broken the 10s barrier – Patrick Johnson. The Australian record holder has an aborginal mother and an Irish father and in Mito Japan in 2003 he clocked an amazing time of 9.93s in the 100m, aged 30 years old. Sadly that was his best time by quite some way, his second best being 10.10s, set in 2000.

Whilst this does show that it is possible for non black athlete’s to break the 10s barrier, I still think it is an impossibility for white athletes. In 1984 when Woronin ran his time the world record time was 9.93s, (the ten second barrier having been broken in 1968 by Jim Hines), so he really wasn’t far away from it. 24 years on it has been broken ten times and is currently 9.69s set by Usain Bolt, whilst Woronin’s time still stands and is now 0.31s away from the world record.

Surely if it were possible a white man would have made a sub 10s 100m by now? Personallly I think that in 100 years people will still be waiting for a white man to break the ten second barrier.

On the 9th July 2010, 20 year old Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre broke the 10s barrier with a time of 9.98s. You can read the update to this topic here. Or you can read another post, covering this topic from a slightly different angle.

Compensation Britain

Tesco delivery driver sues customer after twisting his ankle on driveway | Mail Online

A Tesco delivery driver is suing one of the supermarket’s customers after injuring an ankle while dropping off groceries at his home.

Mind the step, dozy

Years ago I use to watch American TV and the news from the US aghast at the stories of people suing one company after another for trivial reasons, such as falling, tripping or generally just being a clumsy oaf.

I’d chuckle at these stories, safe in the knowledge that we are far too sensible in Britain to ever have anything like that happen here; how wrong I was!

Any excuse for the lazy good for nothing idiots in this country to make a few quid with no effort.

Oops a daisy

I’m amazed that this idiot of a van driver (what kind of a buffoon gets out of a vehicle without looking where he is placing his feet?) even has the right to sue, I have always thought that if someone tripped, fell, or somehow injured himself on my property it would be his own fault for entering my property and not taking due care; but it seems not.

Does this mean that I should beware of lawsuits from the young man that delivers that stupid free paper everyweek that I throw straight into the bin, should he ever have the misfortune to take a tumble walking down my drive? What about the milkman, postman or even those annoying charity collectors?

Will home owners now have to display signs such as:


Just to be sure that they are not leaving themselves open to court cases?

I hope that this case will just be thrown out and the driver shown up for the malingering layabout that he is. He’ll probably be caught out refereeing some football match at some point like the other fakers.

In any event there is one thing that is certain occur because of this case, my insurance premiums will go up.

Bear mauled by wildman Mears

It was only a matter of time, there can, after all, only be one. The true survivial King has stepped up and laid into the pretender to his throne.

Ray Mears pulled no punches as he ripped into Bear Grylls saying:

“Do I look for tips from Bear Grylls? Yes – on how not to make television programmes! As far as I’m concerned, these people are just showmen. I think the viewer knows that if you want to really know how to take care of yourself in the wild, I’m the person to talk to. I welcome competition, but I want to see real experts, not boy scouts pretending to be.”

Harsh words from Mears but he has got a point, Mears has been on TV for years and has never really had any competition. Even Grylls was quickly exposed as a fraud. A word that Mears avoided using but his point was well made. Mears is the expert in his field, and watching someone like Grylls just confirms that.

I really can’t see there being another series of Born Survivor, the whole programme becomes pointless when the voice over informs you that although he spent time building the shelter, Grylls actually spent the night with the crew, i.e. in a hotel.

Grylls may very well still have a decent career, just not as a TV survival expert.