IAAF World Championships Day 4- A trip to the “Willage”

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This morning I went to the athlete’s village (willage is how the Finns say it). It was about 15 minute bus ride from downtown here, with the main bus station just around the corner. The village is in Espoo, just outside of Helsinki at a university. Turena met me at the gate and I was ‘credentialed in’.

It’s a smaller university campus, set on a lake surrounded by some wood. A fence and guards surround the facility with several police boats in the water. There is a track right in the middle, weight room facilities, and a union type building with dining facilities. When I got there this morning, I was amazed at watching theAfricans doing their runs on the path along the lake, just easily running at what seemed like such a fast pace. In the union building,there were computers for internet access, with most athletes checkingIAAF and hometown newspapers to see the coverage. Nobody had ELITETRACK.com or LETSRUN.com pulled up.

The U.S. athletes stay in a small Radisson hotel on campus. Spain and Japan are there also. There are also dormitories all around, which I guess aren’t as nice. It is like a dormitory, the rooms small. What an operation though, there is a U.S.room where athletes sign up for massages with two massage people who are there all day and a chiropractor who is there at specific times; a hospitality sweet with snacks; a ‘operations’ room which the coaches and managers operate out of and a uniform room stacked with endless amounts of Nike U.S. gear.Start lists and good luck signs adorn the walls of the U.S. floor.Athletes have to sign out when they leave the village in case a drug test comes up (three of the women marathoners have had blood drug tests already). It is a college atmosphere with athletes hanging around in the lobbies, congratulations being passed around to the medal winners. Turena said during the high jump you could hear people up and down the hall cheering with each make of Chaunte Howard’s in the high jump last night.

When I was there, the Spanish athletes were in the lobby taking in a soccer game on television. Being the U.S. Coach is ajob that would be a nice honor, but a ton of workespecially if you were the head coach. Four hours of sleep, fires to put out, meetings,and being at the track. They’ve been here for several weeks and the HeadWomen’s Coach Sandy Fowler, will return from Helsinki and turn around to meet the startof school when she returns to U of Alabama.

I went and sat at the practice track for about 45 minutes just watching different athletes go through their routines, trying to pick out who did what events. The U.S. women had their first 4 x 100 practice. Race walkers,travel in threes, with several countries doing workouts in the walks,but always in threes. Walter Davis was going through a morning shakeout. Coach Shaver from LSU was there and was putting a Jamaican athlete through a light workout.

We headed back to my hotel which is notfar from the marathon course and three of the U.S. women went and did alight workout on part of the course. Tonight I’ll take in the meetagain, with the highlight being the 400 hurdles. Eurosport’s five hoursof the morning session just ended, I see that Upshaw and Madisonqualified for the LJ final, with Madison being one of two auto qualifiers. Oh andnow they are re-showing the results from last night.

More tonight after the meet.

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