Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Can Sport Still Awe & Amaze Us?

Long Jumper Bob Beamon at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games

One of my first distinct memories of the Olympic Games was watching the Long Jump competition at the 1968 Mexico Summer Olympic Games as a 7-year old live on TV - back when NBC actually showed stuff live! That was where American Bob Beamon broke the then world record of by an almost preposterous amount of nearly 2 ft( about 50cm), to push the new record to 29ft. 2 1/2 in.(8.90m)! That record stood for 22 years, until another American, Mike Powell broke it in 1991.

A short video of Beamon's jump can be seen here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEt_Xgg8dzc

I looked on, watching on TV, in true awe and amazement. Even Beamon was completely overcome with emotion, not by the win, by by the magnitude of what he had done - ounce it sunk in. He fell to the ground and was unable to get up or walk for a good long time after the distance was announced. He had jumped so far, it was almost beyond the measuring system they had in place! It was beyond what many thought a human could jump! But it was all real!

Later that day I was out in our back-yard with my Dad. He got out a tape measure and we measured off 29 feet. I stood at one end and my Dad stood at the other and I had my second moment of awe and amazement looking at my now distant Father and wondering, "How could someone jump THAT far"?

Do we still feel that sense of awe and amazement today, when new records or sport performance reach new heights that seem, exceptional? I wonder.

The first final of the Rio Olympic Games in Athletics was the women's 10,000m race. In that race, running only her 2nd 10,000m on the track Ethiopian Almaz Ayana crushed the standing 10,000m record for women, running an astonishing time of 29:17.45 - completely solo! She left a field of world class runners WELL behind breaking the previous record by 14 seconds! It was one of those extraordinary Beamon-like performances, that has announcers running out of superlatives.

However, no sooner than the diminutive Ayana was across the line and social media started to light up with talk of how, the record could NOT be "clean"! After all, the the record being broken, set by the Chinese runner,  Wang Junxia     was, almost for certain set by a runner using some form of Performance Enhancing Drug (PED). A number of the Chinese women who were part of that training group, called "Ma's Army", after their coach, Ma Junren, have admitted they were all using PEDs of one form or another at the time!

Consequently with controversy and questions swirling around it's hard to be in awe and to be amazed any more.

The true believers, the really naive, and many sport officials, will say - "Look, there are no positive tests". We have to conclude they are clean". But we know now, that athletes can be tested over the course of their careers hundreds of times, and never turn in a positive test. Exhibit-A in this regard would be Lance Armstrong - tested hundreds of times, never positive (one suspicious), and 7-Tour de France wins! Of course, as we know Armstrong admitted after-the-fact that he was using various PEDs all along and stripped of all of those Tour de France wins.

Who can we believe? What are we to make of exceptional and extraordinary sports performances now? Are we to be immediately skeptical, or can we to look on in a state of awe and amazement?

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

What A Week!

So busy this week/weekend, they had me working two microphones at the Welland Triathlon! Photo - Irina Souiki

My Race/Event Announcing work this year reached some form of a huge peak in the last week!

On Wednesday, I flew to Halifax to work with the RunnerSpace crew on the live stream broadcast of the Aileen Meagher Track Classic at St Mary's University - part of Athletics Canada's National Track League Series (NTL) in the run-up to the National Championships and Olympic Trials in Edmonton, that start next week. It's always a pleasure to work with Bob Akamian on the commentary.

The Halifax meet was extremely well organized. The high-light being hurdler Nikkita Holder achieving the Olympic Games qualifying standard - something she was hoping and needing to do before the actual Olympic Trials.

I flew home Thursday. Friday night it was time for the New Balance Guelph Inferno Road Mile - right in downtown Guelph. This is always a fun event to work at. More communities should look into holding Street Mile runs like this!

Then it was on to Welland, for the Day-1 of the Rose City Triathlon on Saturday Morning - Race #2 in Multisport Canada's season lone ReCharge With Milk Triathlon Series. This was the 10th year for this awesome race, but in a new home, at the Welland International Flat-Water Center in Welland, ON - home of Canoe/Kayak Competition at the PanAm Games last summer. This may be the perfect triathlon event location in all of Ontario, and perhaps all of Canada!

The Welland International Flatwater Center, may be the BEST triathlon race venue in Canada!

After I wrapped up at the triathlon for the day, Multisport Canada Founder, John Salt and I appeared via video link at an important conference in Ottawa organized by The Tandem Project on Para-Sport!

After that it was time to drive back to Guelph to work ounce again with the RunnerSpace team on the live stream of the New Balance Guelph Inferno Track Meet at Alumni Stadium on the campus of the University of Guelph on Saturday night - another of the Athletics Canada NTL Meets. Bob Akamian and I were joined on the show by two-time World Champion Hurdler Perdita Felcien. It was an honor and a pleasure to work with Perdita. My role, on the commentary was to provide track-side analysis, and post race interviews with race winners when we could fit them in. The meet concluded with the Canadian 10,000m Championships on the track for men and women. Olympic Marathoner Eric Gillis won the men's race and PanAm Games Marathon Bronze Medalist, Rachel Hannah won the women's race. Other highlights included, Taylor Milne getting the Olympic Standard in the 3000m S/C and breaking the track record in the process!

At the conclusion of the meet in Guelph, it was time to drive back to Welland for Day-2 of the triathlon there on Sunday - the featured long-course race being run over some new distances -  2k swim/56k bike/15k run. Conditions were hot and windy, but nearly 400 triathletes competed had a great, time and marveled at, again what an awesome triathlon race location the International Flatwater Center is!

I'm taking it easy this week and weekend!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

My 2016 Race/Event Announcing Schedule

Bringing in the last finisher at the Toronto Island Triathlon! Photo - My Sports Shooter

I have a busy schedule of race/events that I will be working at this year as Race/Event Announcer. Below you will find my schedule.

I love doing this. It's a great privilege and honor to be involved in so many amazing race/events over the course of a year.

Safe and happy training to you all. I look forward to seeing you on many start lines and being a small part of your dreams and ambitions at the finish line.

Let's DO this!

My 2016 Race & Event Announcing Schedule is as Follows:

Feb 19 - 21 Athletics Canada National Indoor Championships for ACTV & RunnerSpace http://www.athleticscanada.tv/

Mar 4/5 - Athletics Ontario, Indoor Track Championships - http://athleticsontario.ca/

April 3 - Toronto Triathlon Festival VIP Event - http://www.torontotriathlonfestival.com/

Apr 24 - Paris-to-Ancaster http://www.parisancaster.com/

May 1 - Goodlife Toronto Marathon http://www.torontomarathon.com/

May 8 - Ottawa SportingLife 10K http://www.sportinglife10k.ca/Ottawa/

May 15 - Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York https://gfny.com/

May 27 & 29 - Grey County Road Race & ITT http://greycountyroadrace.com/

May 28 Spin-The-Lakes Tour - http://www.bikemuskoka.ca/

June 4 - Destination Races Leesburg, VA Wine 1/2 Marathon http://destinationraces.com/runvirginia/

June 5 -  Becel Ride for Heart http://www.heartandstroke.com/

June 10 - Cambridge Mile http://www.runforlife.ca/classic-mile/

June 11-  Recharge with Milk Woodstock Triathlon http://www.multisportcanada.com/woodstock/

June 22  - Halifax NTL Meet for ACTV & RunnerSpace http://www.athleticscanada.tv/

June 24 - Guelph Inferno Road Mile http://www.speedriverinferno.com/

June 25/26 - Recharge with Milk Welland Triathlon http://www.multisportcanada.com/welland/

June 25(night) - Guelph NTL Meet for ACTV & RunnerSpace http://www.athleticscanada.tv/

July 9 - Recharge with Milk Belwood Triathlon http://www.multisportcanada.com/belwood/

July 10 - Toronto Triathlon Festival http://www.torontotriathlonfestival.com/

July 16/17 -  Recharge with Milk Gravenhurst Triathlon http://www.multisportcanada.com/gravenhurst/

July 24 - TriFun Kids Triathlon http://www.trifunkids.com/

July 31 - Recharge with Milk Kingston Triathlon http://www.multisportcanada.com/kingston/

Aug 6/7 - Recharge with Milk Bracebridge Triathlon http://www.multisportcanada.com/bracebridge/

Aug 20/21 - Recharge with Milk Toronto Island Triathlon http://www.multisportcanada.com/torontoisland/

Aug 27/28 - Recharge with Milk Wasaga Beach Triathlon http://www.multisportcanada.com/wasagabeach/

Sept 1 - 5  Tour of Alberta - http://tourofalberta.ca/

Sept 10/11 - Recharge with Milk Georgina Triathlon http://www.multisportcanada.com/georgina/

Sept 16/17 - Centurion Canada http://www.multisportcanada.com/georgina/

Sept 18 - Barrelman Triathlon http://niagarafallstriathlon.com/

Sept 24/25 - The Canadian Track Cycling Championships for Cycling Canada - http://www.cyclingcanada.ca/

Sept 29 - Oct 1 Milton International Classic for Cycling Canada - http://www.cyclingcanada.ca/

Oct 2 - Cycle For St Joes http://www.foundation.stjoe.on.ca/

Oct 17 - Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon for 680 News/Traffic http://www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com/en/index.htm

Oct 29 - CXTO  - http://www.cxto.ca/

Nov 5 - OFSAA XC for ACTV & RunnerSpace http://www.athleticscanada.tv/

Nov 28 - Canadian Cross-Country Championships for ACTV & RunnerSpace http://www.athleticscanada.tv/

If you are looking for a Race/Event Announcer to add an entertaining, and engaging presence to your race/event, and take it to the next level, please contact me - stevefleck61@gmail.com or 416.888.7324