The Day Before

by Joy Kamani
By Jim Spier Press Conference The IAAF held its usual press conference the day before competition. The first panel included Pierre Weiss, General Secretary of the IAAF, Lamine Diack, President of the IAAF, the Mayor of Bressanone, the head of the LOC (Local Organizing Committee) and the head of the Italian Federation. They welcomed everyone and commented about an exciting competition to come. The next group were the retired elite athletes who had, the day before, participated in a Master Class for local athletes. They included Mike Powell of the US (world record-holder in the long jump), Sergey Bubka, VP of the IAAF and world record-holder in the pole vault, Kelly Holmes, the 800m champion from Great Britain and two others. They entertained questions and stressed the mental aspect of competition, especially in major competitions. Final, four athletes from the competition took the stage. They were from Jamaica, Germany, Italy and, from the US, Prezel Hardy (the world youth leader in the 100m). There could have been no better spokesperson for the US team than Prezel. He noted that he was born in Italy (his parents serve in the US Army) but left when he was an infant so does not know how to speak Italian. He also said that he admired Tyson Gay because of the way he handled his injury and his recovery from that, having to work "extra hard" to retain his high level of competition. Opening Ceremonies Unlike the past, it was held in the main square of Bressanone. All past Opening Ceremonies for the World Youth and World Junior meets have been held in the stadium. The US team was there, of course. I spoke with Cory Mc Gee, the 1500m runner. She said that she was excited to be on the team and especially to be in Bressanone. She was "taking it all in" and mentioned that her experience thus far was very exciting. Surprisingly we ran into two athletes with whom we are extremely familiar. They are Emmy Fraenk of Bethel HS (Hampton, VA) and Afia Charles of Eleanor Roosevelt HS (Greenbelt, MD). They represent Netherlands Antilles and Antigua, respectively. They were as surprised to see us as we were to see them. Seeing them reminded us of their participation in the Caribbean Scholastic Invitational, a meet that the NSSF sponsors. Both competed in the CSI (Fraenk this year, and Charles in 2008). It was their first taste of international competition. That reminded us of those athletes who competed in the CSI who are also on the US team: Mc Kinzie Schulz Bridgette Owens-Mitchell Michelle Brown A'Lexus Brannon (2008) Carlton Lavong Alec Faldermeyer Emmy Fraenk (Netherlands Antilles) Afia Charles (2008, Antigua) We also ran into Tatiana Bell, the Russian native who is married to the brother of former world-class pole vaulter Earl Bell. She had coached Russian transfer student Katya Kostetskaya (who represented Jonesboro (AR) high school at the time. She beat a formidable group at the 2003 adidas Outdoor Championships (now NON) in the 800 meters as a sophomore. Here are the results of that event. 1 Katya Kostetskaya 05 Jonesboro, AR 2:05.95 2 Heidi Magill 04 Orem, UT 2:06.74 3 Trisa Nickoley 04 Tecumseh, KS 2:08.40 4 Leslie Treherne 03 Chesapeake, VA 2:09.28 5 Latavia Thomas 06 West Catholic-PA 2:09.40 6 Devon Williams 07 Parkville, MD 2:09.72 7 Shannon Leinert 05 Wildwood, MO 2:09.95 8 Andria Smallwood 04 FW Ballou-DC 2:12.16 9 Georgie Kloss 03 Atlanta, GA 2:12.19 10 Caitlin Klaas 05 Ambler, PA 2:12.38 11 Janine Davis 05 Elizabeth, NJ 2:12.49 Since then, Katya has returned to Russia and is training with her mother, a former sub-4:00 1500m runner. Katya made the 2008 Russian Olympic team, running in the 1:56 range. This year she has run 1:59 and hopes to make the Russian World Championship team. Their trials are at the end July. Tatiana Bell has a new protégé, Vera Rudakova. Rudakova has a best of 58.62 in the 400m hurdles, and is a medal hope. Tongue in Cheek Not tongue in cheek, but tongue and cheek. That's what I had for dinner last night in an exceptional restaurant called Kapitalschenke. The entrée was actually called "Tongue and Cheek of Calf's Head" (with red cabbage and cole slaw). I took a chance and won. I have had tongue sandwiches in the past. It is a not uncommon selection in many New York delis. The tongue was tender and succulent. The cheek was a bit fatty, but the overall experience was excellent. Joy Kamani had a soup called cream of grape vine with cinnamon crutons. Hardly a common selection, but it was outstanding. Our waitress appeared to be about 16 years old and was precious. We wanted to adopt her and bring her home. We were sitting in the courtyard of the restaurant in one of the tables under a grape arbor. About midway through the meal the thunder and lightning started. Not your normal thunder and lightning, but Italian Alps thunder and lightning. Loud and echoing. And then the rain came — in torrents. We wisely moved inside. We were thinking of dessert and asked again for the English menu (the only one in the restaurant). Our waitress (fluent in several languages, but speaking tentative English) could not remember the word "wet". She said, with a cute accent, "it is …. in the rain". So she translated for us and we enjoyed some special desserts. Now it's time to get down to business. On to the meet.

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