Rojo's Roundup: 2010 Track and Field Season Underway

Red Shannon@@rojosportsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 30, 2010

Protected from the harsh elements of the northern hemisphere, track and field athletes have gone undercover in their yearly "indoor season" ritual. It provides an ideal environment to shake off the cobwebs and rust accumulated in the off-season and to test one's conditioning and training against the best athletes in the world.

With the shortened track and its tight, banked curves and the constant re-configuration of the track's features, the indoor season is not unlike a traveling circus. It's almost comical to watch the sprints, for example.

At the sound of the gun, runners emerge from the dark recesses beneath the stands and in fewer than eight seconds, they are slamming into a padded wall on the opposite end of the arena. Can drag race-style parachutes be far behind?

Similarly humorous is the "walking-on-ice" trepidation of 400 meter runners; wanting so badly to sprint all-out, yet holding back to negotiate the tight turns.

Thankfully, its a short season. Cabin fever eventually sets in and athletes and fans alike become antsy to move to the great outdoors. The indoor season culminates in Doha, Qatar on March 12-14 at the World Indoor Championships.

Rojo is pleased to continue his own ritual of bringing you (through this column) headlines and updates of important happenings in the world of Track and Field. There have been some pertinent developments during the off-season and some excellent athletic efforts already in this young season.

If you're a Track and Field buff, you are encouraged to join the community here on the T&F page and to read, comment, or better yet, contribute your own stories. We can all play a part in helping this worthy sport regain some of its former glory.

Millrose Games Results - Five world-leading marks were established in this prestigious meet yesterday. The highlight however, was Bernard Lagat's record eighth win in the Wanamaker Mile. He now stands alone as the "President of the Boards," in reference to Millrose's famous wooden track of yesteryear.

The legendary Irishman Eamonn Coghlan, who shared the former record with Lagat was on hand, and was first to congratulate Lagat.  See results here .

Caster Semenya still in limbo - Let's put the obvious invasion of privacy, the embarrassment, humiliation and indignity aside for a moment. The IAAF, the IOC and the South African Federation have Semenya playing a waiting game which has to be excruciating for someone who was born to run. There is still no decision as to whether she can ever compete again as a female. the void - Jenny Meadows and others are suddenly getting notice.

New 'False Start' Rule - The IAAF has adopted a controversial new rule . A runner will now be disqualified after a single false start. Previously, the first false start was charged to the entire field of runners and anyone subsequently false-starting was then eliminated. Are you pro or con?

I feel an editorial piece beginning to vibrate in my bones...

Diamond League Series - Once the outdoor season starts, look for the new Diamond League Series , which is basically a professional tour (or circuit) with monetary incentives. It is a 12-event schedule designed to draw the top athletes to several big meets expanding outside Europe. In addition to the regular European stops, the Diamond League will have meets in Africa, the Middle East and two in the U.S. (Eugene, Oregon and New York City). Is it possible we might have Usain Bolt meeting Tyson Gay at Eugene's Hayward Field?

Breaking News - This just in : University of Oregon's Ashton Eaton has just set a new collegiate record in the men's heptathlon. The heptathlon is an indoor seven-event discipline which includes the 60 meter run, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60 meter hurdles, pole vault, and 1000 meter run. Eaton garnered 6256 points, eclipsing Trey Hardee's old mark of 6208.

More Breaking News - Jessica Ennis, reigning World Champion in the women's heptathlon, set a new British record in the 60 meter hurdles. The petite fireball edged American Lolo Jones in a superb time of 7.95 (current world best). She also leaped to a height of 1.94 meters (6 ft, 3.5 in.) in the high jump. Great Britain narrowly beat the US in the Aviva International meet in Glasgow, Scotland.

The year 2010 is considered an "off" year in Track and Field, as there will be no Olympics or World Championships. Do not be fooled into thinking the athletes will be slacking. To the contrary, with no major championships to "save" themselves for, the athletes will be looking to establish their places in the world rankings.

This is confirmed by the exceptional performances we have already seen, so early in the season. Look for a great year as we soon head into the outdoor season. A couple world records this summer (or earlier) would do wonders for this most ancient of sports.

Rojo will be here to write about it.