Tuesday, September 2, 2008

An Olympic Reflection Finale

There has been more than enough time since I last gave any review of any kind regarding the 2008 Summer Olympics. For those few that have been keeping up with my rants about the outcomes in track and field both successful and horrific, I apologize. My intentions were to give as much detail about the track and field competition, provide highlights, some spin where needed and most importantly information where NBC dropped the ball. Did anyone see the Women's Long Jump?

By day twelve of the Games and after the 4th day of Track and Field competition, I was pretty well spent from the long nights ending til 2AM. I had been neglecting my responsibilities at work long enough and the motivation from "but these are the games...they only come around every four years" just wasn't cutting it. However, I do have my last reflections on what I think was the most entertaining Olympics that I can remember. London 2012 has a hard act to follow.

Lolo Jones. Has a nice ring to it. I like saying it. But...could you end a race any badly? My heart went out to her. I was as devastated as she. So close, so effortless over the first eight hurdles, and number nine stands in her way of Olympic glory. That's how it goes. You win some and you lose the big one. However, anyone might have felt about Lolo Jones' disastrous end to what seemed to be a record breaking performance, she, being the outstanding class athlete she is, was very gracious in defeat and handled herself like a true sportsman. NEVER LET THEM SEE IT GET TO YOU. As she made her way into the tunnel, by herself and alone with her thoughts, the thought of having it then losing it seem to overcome her. She wept Olympian tears.

One huge positive that came out of Lolo's low point was Illinois' very own Dawn Harper winning the gold. Good for her!!!

When discussions of the worst 4x100m relay begin the 2008 US men's and women's will rank rather high. If both men's and women's team dropping the baton is a consequence for lack of practicing together, or athlete's agents getting in the way, or just plain old foolish arrogance, then I say we flip the script on how the 4x100m relay is decided for the US teams. It was a shame. I've seen twelve year olds with more finesse getting the stick around the track.

I sensed that the major corporate red carpet was going to be laid out for either Alyson Felix or Sandra Richards at the end of the Olympics. Seeing both get their just due? Forget it. Only one could be the queen. They both stood to make quite a bit of money for themselves if they brought home gold in their individual events. After having superb seasons last year and leading into the Olympics, it was on every one's lips that each of them could leave Beijing double golden girls. So who would be the queen? We'll never find out because with Richards choking in the women's 400m and Felix coming up short once again in the 200m, both were left short-handed. They both saved face by running exceptional legs on the 4x400m relay winning gold, but finding out who really is the face of US track and field was as interesting a story as was coming out of China.

More later....

Monday, August 18, 2008

NBC Made Me Do It

A coworker of mine that was born and raised in Jamaica wore her country's colors today.   Although she's been in the States for quite a while, she still speaks with a heavy accent.  I love her accent.  She was excited like anyone might be if someone you know did something that made you proud.  I doubt if she knows any of the the Jamaican Olympians.  She might.  An island that small, I'm sure there is like 3 degrees of separation amongst people.  It really doesn't matter if she knows them or not.  They represent her and where she comes from.  And today, anyone from Jamaica should be proud of the women that historically swept the 100 meters lead by the young Kelli Ann Frazier and the "world's fastest man" Usain Bolt.  ONE LOVE 

Before I apologize once again for passing bad information, let me first use NBC  as a scapegoat. If their Olympic scheduling were more conducive to the average person in America that works for a living instead of those of can operate on 3 hours of sleep per night, I may have not made the mistake that US hopeful Bernard Lagat qualified for the 1500.  That race was run 17 hours before NBC decided to broadcast it at 1:30AM.  And I had a 5:30AM wake up call.  I'm hurting right now from sleep deprivation. 

I admit I was tired.  And because of that I left believing that Lagat barely made it in.  In fact, he barely missed making that final by a hundredth of a second.  That hurts.  Lagat said with such confidence that he'd make it in, so I believed him.  Alas, the hope for an American getting a medal in the 1500m has fallen.

Cameroon's Etone wins the women's Triple Jump in record fashion, while Great Britain's Idowu leads the TJ for the men with a 57' 3 ".  Kenya is doing well with gold medals in the women's 800m for Pam Jelimo and Brimin Kipruto in the men's 3000m Steeplechase. American Sheena Johnson leads the way in the 400m hurdles.  All the American men make it through to the next rounds of the 200 meters.  Dix, Spearman and Crawford have a chance to redeem the American sprint core as they head to a final with Jamaica's Usain Bolt.  The drama continues...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica!!!

Before I disclose any results from last nights festivities of the track & field Olympic games, let me first apologize for announcing that heptathlete Hyleas Fountain got the gold in her event.  I was wrong.   Fountain was leading after the first day of the two day event by a substantial margin, but failed to equal her previous performances in her favorite event, the long jump.  She finished with the bronze medal instead.  

As excited as I was about Fountain leading the hep, and the fact that the track and field events finally started, I was a little confused with the NBC broadcasting schedule.  I don't solely rely on NBC to feed me my information---heaven forbid, but I do like to see the special features, if any, that they might have on the athletes.  I must say as  much as I respect other sports like gymnastics and swimming, it seems the coverage is a little lopsided.  In fact, my hope is that there is a plan inside NBC to cover as much track and field as swimming was covered.  I'm not hold my breath.  Instead I'll do what I started doing and surf the net to get you the 411 on most, of not all, track and field news.

GETTING BACK...Jamaica...Jamaica....Jamaica!!!!  Is anyone really surprised that Jamaica is doing as well as they are?  I'm not.  Oh, how well is Jamaica doing?  Well, for starters, Usain Bolt is the "World Fastest Human" not just for this year, but until someone breaks his world record of 9.69.  And the ladies sweep the 100 meters, finishing naturally 1-2-3.  Except in this case, 1-2-and 2.  Former Auburn standout Kerron Stewart tied with her countrywoman for 2nd place with a 10.96.  The US ladies were a little disappointing.  Williams lead the US women with a 4th place finish.  It would seem that Sandra Richardson in the 400m and Alyson Felix in the 200m are the strongest hopefuls for gold, but we will see.

Lagat qualifies to the finals of the 1500m finishing 7th in his semi round heat.  

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Olympic Track & Field Day 2: THUNDER BOLT takes the GOLD and NEW WORLD RECORD

I think we all sort of thought this could happen. As much as we hate to admit this, Jamaica looks really strong this Olympic year and could possibly remove the US off the medal stand in many events that we are accustomed to winning.

Usain Bolt wins the 100m dash and breaks his own record in 9.69 seconds. Richard Thompson of Trinidad takes the silver, and Walter Dix gets the bronze. Tyson Gay does not make the finals and watches his nemesis, Assafa Powell falter to a fifth place finish. More great event results to come.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Olympic Track and Field Day 1

Here's something for those of you who just can't get enough of knowing what's going on in Olympic track and field, but can't seem to find out because you have a job like most of us.

Despite his absence in Europe just before the Olympics, Tyson Gay shows that he is at least as fast as the 100 meter field which includes current world record holder Usain Bolt and Assafa Powell of Jamaica. No blistering times were recorded in the first rounds of the event that determines the "world's fastest man." However, it does not look easy for the reigning 100 meter championThe last time anyone saw Tyson Gay was at the US Olympic Trials in mid June where he stumbled a few meters out of the blocks in the 200m finals due to a presumed hamstring strain.

American Hyleas Fountain wins the Heptathlon. (Are you watching Kawanna?)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

An Olympic Moment

If you ever get a chance to witness Chicago's Bud Billiken Parade, I encourage anyone to enjoy one of the great parades in America. Signifying the end of the summer and back to school preparations, the Bud Billiken Parade gives an opportunity to reflect as well as look at the future. For me this year, the parade meant something a little more. This being an Olympic year, the Chicago Striders were asked to take part in this historic parade with CHICAGO 2016, an organization behind the move to bring the Olympics to Chicago in 2016, obviously.
With no hesitation, but completely honored to be asked, I agreed and witnessed what I believe the Olympics are at least partly about. POSSIBILITIES and HOPE.

After what seemed like thousands of floats, cars, bands, politicians and dance teams it all seemed worth while when I saw the Striders standing, waving and proud to be part of this historic event. Kawanna Brooks, our 3rd place finisher in the hep at this year's JO USATF Nationals, represented along with some of our college bounds Maris Smith and Icy Snoddy. Even my son Cameron, who at 9 years old at times displayed this season acute athletic potenti
al and other times not really a fan of the rigor involved in track and field, showed the type of emotion an Olympian might feel, a hero might feel after returning home triumphant from the Olympic Games. Hmm 2016.

Now agreeing to do the parade meant squeezing this between the Chicago Striders Olympic Spirit Invitational on Friday the day before and the Pot-Luck @ the Point right after on Saturday....irregardless of the 60% chance of on and off showers throughout the day because this season is officially over.

So we did get a little wet, but I think those of us that gathered to signify the end of this great season did not feel dampened by the rain. We were happy to celebrate, reflect and prepare for another great season next year.

"When is the javelin and the pole vault coming on, Dad?" Cameron asked from the back seat of the truck as we head home.
"Track and Field starts next Friday." I replied.
"See me on top of the float?
"I did."
"I'll be 17 in 2016.
"I know."
The hope and the possibilities: The Olympics.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Friday, August 8th in Jackson Park @ 3PM, the Chicago Striders will host an OLYMPIC SPIRIT INVITATIONAL to celebrate the achievements of all athletes young and old and to capture the essence of the olympics. Anyone interested in getting involved, please call Craig Collins, Head Coach of the Chicago Striders. Volunteers and/or donations are welcome. Please see the website for more details: chicagostriders.com or call 773/480-0106.

JOs in Nebraska a Success in Many Ways

There is nothing like a road trip to bring a team together in my opinion.  And to travel 9+ hours to the "heartland of America" will bring the most disconnected of teams together.  Not that we were a disfunctional unit, but we had our issues.  For instance, there were still some Striders who needed an introduction to other members of the team.  Needless to say, we left Omaha one unified group with a positive outlook on the future of the Chicago Striders.

I would be remissed if I did not acknowledge the many people who helped make the Jr. Olympic Nat'l trip a worthy cause.  I got to know and appreciate one of our "TrackMoms," Ms. Beverly on our journey.  Her tireless efforts to involve her children in worthwhile activities is a credit to the many parents who make sacrifices above and beyond for their children and I really appreciate her for believing the Chicago Striders is a worthwhile endevour for her daughter. Also, Coach Phil Wallace, whose concentration on making each athlete believe in his or herself is a constant reminder why I do what I do-----I thank you Brother Phil.  And of course, my true brother in the struggle to make the Striders what they are today---Coach Patrick Simon.  We've worked together since 2002 trying to make Chicago a more viable track and field entity, but alas, Coach Simon has gotten another calling and will no longer be with us on a permanent basis.  So, this trip to JOs was really special, because this could be our last with him as a member of our nuclear family.  Best of Luck Coach Simon and Thank You---Thank You All! Once a Strider Always a Strider

As for my thoughts on how the team did in Omaha...We did just fine!  Yes, we wanted to do better.  After all, we took more Striders to Nationals than we ever have in the history of the club. However, out of the 19 athletes that qualified, only three had been to a meet of that magnitude before.  I mean we are talking about USATF's National Jr. Olympics.  The same JO's that can make the claim that 89% of the members of the 2008 Olympic Team came through the same type of meet before their Olympic dreams came true.  So, I am proud of what we were able to accomplish.  

I am especially happy for and proud of Kawanna Brooks, who at this point must be recognized as a serious asset for a major track and field program in college next year.  Finishing 3rd with one more year to go in the young women's Heptathlon is a major achievement and puts her up there with one of the best athletes in Illinois hands down.  

Although Kawanna was the only Strider to leave Nebraska with a medal, the experience and the comraderie will last a lifetime for all of us.  I am so hyped about our potential, I making plans for JO's next year in Greensboro, NC.  I suppose I need to pay the bills from this latest trip first.  See the donation button on your way out...Please!!!

----Coach Collins

Don't forget!!!  Chicago Striders host their 1st Invitation August 8th @ 3PM @ Jackson Park. MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND SUPPORT TRACK & FIELD

Monday, July 14, 2008


The 2008 Chicago Striders have exceeded all expectations with 19, that's right nineteen athletes qualifying for USATF Jr. Olympic Nationals this past weekend.  19 is the most qualifiers we have ever had qualify for nationals and its a tribute to the commitment, dedication and talent of everyone involved including the coaches, parents and of course the athletes.  Great job Striders!!!
Here's a list of all the 2008 Qualifiers:
Jepheth Cato - Long Jump 2nd place
Jaiyvohn Davis, Marselis Barber, Maris Smith & Chris Redford - 4x800m Relay 3rd place
Kawanna Brooks - Heptathlon, 100m, 200m, Long Jump, & Triple Jump (national standard advancement)
Monet Washington, Porshia Gatewood, Icy Snoddy & Keteva Mosley - 4x800m Relay
Caja Calhoun, Nia Munson, Kora Johnson & Sharee Hassan - 4x400m Relay
Kora Johnson - Triple Jump
Mike Jones, Chris Adams, Nick Anderson & Michael Taylor - 4x100m Relay
Stephan Devroe - High Jump
Good Luck in Omaha, Nebraska!  Stride On!

Coach Collins

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Hello All!

We are having a very important Parent Meeting at Eckersall Stadium (81st & Yates) this coming Tuesday July 15th at 5:30pm. It is imperative that we get as many parents out to this meeting as possible. Our athletes need the support of parents and guardians!

  • Information about the USATF Nationals in Omaha, Nebraska
  • The Chicago Striders August Track Meet
  • The Striders Annual 'Season-End' Pot-Luck (Bring your favorite dish)
I am looking forward to seeing and meeting all of my Strider parents at this meeting!

Coach Collins

"If you build it, they will come."

Perhaps the best female athlete in Chicago, Kawanna Brooks prepares to qualify for the 2008 USATF National Junior Olympic heptathlon this weekend in North Chicago. Having qualified through to the nationals in Omaha, NE because of meeting the qualifying standards at the Age Group Championships a few weeks ago, Kawanna will be doing 5 events including the hep. We wish her all the luck in the world. She is truly a remarkable young lady. Although I am always excited about the athletes that we have participating in these meets, it never ceases to amaze me how much potential these talented athletes have.

My 9 year old son Cameron will also be trying to qualify for the USATF National Junior Olympics. This is his first year with the Striders and I am very proud of how well he has taken to the javelin. I have seen him progress mentally, socially and physically. Chip off the old block, if I do say so myself.

am also proud of the diverse group of athletes we have this year. Last year, the Striders set a precedent with 12 different high schools and 6 different elementary schools representing the over 70 student/athletes. This year though, we have twice as many elementary athletes competing, and our high school athletes are setting not just team records, but great examples of outstanding sportsmanship. "If you build it, they will come."

Coach Collins

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Chicago Striders take the 2007 Junior Olympics by Storm!

(Upper L to R) Alex Lee (Kenwood Academy H.S.), Maris Smith (Kenwood Academy H.S.)

(Lower L to R) Lewis Willard (Julian H.S.), Eric Hermagino (Kenwood Academy H.S.)

Striders 4x800m Take Home Medals!