Overhyped Colorful Daegu kind of a washout

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Overhyped Colorful Daegu kind of a washout

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Usain Bolt, center, leads the pack in the men’s 100-meter sprint at the 2010 Colorful Daegu Pre-Championships Meeting. [YONHAP]

Talk about not living up to the hype.

The 2010 Colorful Daegu Pre-Championships Meeting on Wednesday night proved considerably less than advertised, and showed that the organizers still have a long road ahead of them before they can successfully host an international track and field event next year.

Organizers boasted on Tuesday that the meet, with Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt as a draw, had sold out. And they spread a false press report that Bolt would wear a red top as a way to wish Korea’s national football team good luck at the 2010 South Africa World Cup.

Bolt wore blue. And there were a lot of seats going at the 66,422-capacity stadium: The entire west section of the stadium was empty.

About 40 minutes before the start of the meet, organizers announced that only about 45,000 people were in attendance, but even that was exaggerated. The actual turnout was estimated to be closer to 30,000.

Not all of them were paying fans, either. While organizers claimed that they did not give out any free tickets, many in attendance said they’d come with groups that had been given free passes to the meet. The crowd also would have looked significantly smaller had it not been for the group of fans clad in blue and using their Thunderstix to encourage the athletes.

It’s not just communication skills that organizers need to work on. The lack of an up-to-date automatic timing system is another shortcoming that needs to be addressed before the IAAF World Championships Daegu 2011.

Most international track events use a timing device that clocks the sprinters’ reaction time off the blocks, at various sections of the race, peak time and other data. Those statistics are then released to the press.

However, the organizers of the pre-championships provided just the reaction times off the blocks and images of the sprinters as they crossed the finish line.

“The automatic timing device in question costs around 700 million won [$591,000]. But due to our budget, we couldn’t purchase it,” said Sohn Sang-jin, the director of the media relations team of the Organizing Committee for the IAAF World Championships Daegu 2011.

But the missing data isn’t just a blow to press and fans. In a race in which three Korean sprinters got an opportunity to race against world-class athletes, Korean track officials missed an opportunity to scientifically compare data on their athletes to other countries’.

The Koreans’ performance in the race itself was a letdown, too. To no one’s surprise, Bolt cruised past his competition in the 100-meter dash, crossing the finish line first with a time of 9.86 seconds. But despite the impetus of going up against a world-class opponent, the Korean sprinters didn’t even break the domestic record of 10.34 seconds, which was set by Seo Mal-goo at the 1979 Universiade in Mexico. Yeo Ho-suah came close, finishing seventh with a time of 10.48 seconds, but he and Lim Hee-nam and Kim Gook-young placed in the bottom three in the field of nine.


By Jung Young-jae, Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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