- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 6, 2008

In this Olympic year, many of the world’s top athletes will bypass the indoor track season to rest for the Summer Games. Not so for some of the sport’s most exciting athletes.

Fans will be able to watch Australian sensation Craig Mottram in at least two major East Coast meets, the Boston Indoor Games on Jan. 26 and the Millrose Games in New York just six days later.

If P.T. Barnum had promoted track meets, he would have loved Mottram.

The bronze medalist at the 2005 world championships won the 3,000 meters last year in Boston. Then he pressed American Bernard Lagat to the final lap in the Wanamaker Mile at Millrose before Lagat sprinted away for a victory in 3:54.81.

Third and fourth in that race were training partners Chris Lukezic (4:01.48) and Alan Webb (4:04.86). Webb will sit out the indoor season.

Barnum would have loved Lagat, too.

Last summer, the Kenyan with American citizenship became the first man in history to capture both the 1,500 and 5,000 meters in the world championships.

Asked minutes after beating Mottram at Millrose last year for his fifth victory at the nation’s most prestigious indoor meet, Lagat said: “I love New York, and I love running in this competition. So why not come again and try for a sixth one? Hopefully, my friend Mottram will be there.”

With his impressive wins in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007, Lagat moved into a tie for the third-most Wanamaker titles. A win next month would put him one short of tying the legendary Eamonn Coghlan’s record of seven. In 2005, Lagat eclipsed Coghlan’s 24-year-old meet record.

Locally, track fans can be participants or fans at two area track meet series.

Today, it’s the 2008 indoor track meets organized by the Potomac Valley Track Club at Thomas Jefferson Community Center in Arlington.

The meets, also on Jan. 20 and Feb. 3, include only track events, no field events.

Next Sunday, the Sportsplex Track Showcase has its second meet at Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex in Landover with the rest of the series Jan. 27 and Feb. 24.

At this meet, there will be field events: the long jump, high jump, pole vault, shot put and triple jump.

Getting old There was a time when the moment I received the latest Track & Field News, I read it cover to cover.

But now with the Internet and its instant news and results, there is less urgency to pounce on the self-described “Bible of the Sport since 1948.”

Case in point: The January issue, which arrived yesterday, included stories from the high school and college cross country national championships in November and December.

That was so long ago that I almost had forgotten who won those races.

Track & Field News is not to blame for this. It is what it is. Production and mailing for glossy magazines and newsletters take time. The Internet often is nearly instantaneous.

The challenge for publications like Track & Field News is to write insightful stories of future stars and events while providing behind-the-scenes coverage that isn’t usually part of normal race-day coverage.

Most of the current issue was rankings from 2007, which are boring.

The criteria for the top-ranked athletes is always debatable: whether the best athlete in an event had the best mark — especially at the world championships — or the most wins.

I would rather see the athletes ranked by their height and weight.

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