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 Vanderlei Lima
Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Vanderlei Lima Posted: Thu Dec 30, 2004 10:16 am 

I was thinking a little more about Vanderlei Lima, the Brizilian runner who was leading the men's Olympic marathon when he was attacked by a spectator and forced off-course. He escaped and continued on, probably only losing a few seconds from the incident directly, but it's hard to guess how it probably threw off his rhythm and concentration after all.

What do you think is the right way to handle this kind of event as far as the results go? It doesn't seem fair that Lima should be penalized for something that wasn't his fault, but declaring a "do over" isn't very realistic either. Nor is affording him some arbitrary number of bonus seconds to make up for the attack.


BGibbsLMT

Southington, CT
Joined: 12 Dec 2004
Posts: 68

Re: Vanderlei Lima Posted: Thu Dec 30, 2004 8:34 pm 

I think the attack may have affected his time, but not his place in the race. He was losing ground pretty fast when it happened. I think they made the right choice in letting the results stand.

Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Vanderlei Lima Posted: Thu Dec 30, 2004 9:08 pm 

In this particular case, I agree. But I'm wondering more generally how this kind of thing should be handled. Let's say Lima had a big lead before he was attacked, and had a good chance at winning. Should the IOC have awarded him the gold medal anyway, even though he finished 3rd? Or should the finish order be sacred, and never overruled regardless of the circumstances?

mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Vanderlei Lima Posted: Thu Dec 30, 2004 11:27 pm 

I don't know that you could ever come up with a definite rule about this sort of situation. But they need to be prepared to handle it case by case.

For example, If at the time of the incident the leader is ahead by such a margin and his pace in comparison to the other was such that it would be diffficult for others to beat him then you it seems only fair to deduct time from his official finish time. How you figure that out could be difficult. In the case of the Olympics there were cameras recording it live and it would be easy to review the footage and determine how much time elapsed from the time he was stopped to the time he was back on the course.

But as anyone who has run a marathon knows...once you stop near the end it is very difficult to get going again let alone get back to the pace you were running before you slowed or stopped. Even if you can get back to your previous pace it takes time. So the leader would have to have additional time deducted to take this into account.

Perhaps for important races like the Olympics the officials need to have spectators securely isolated from the course/runners near the finish. I recall how narrow some of the streets were when I ran Boston in '03 because the spectators keep creeping out to see the runners that they begin to cause a bottleneck.

I doubt the IOC will do anything about this since they have more serious problems to deal with in the judged events (i.e. the fiasco in the men's gymnastics event) and don't seem to appreciate what a big problem it is.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Vanderlei Lima Posted: Fri Dec 31, 2004 9:42 am 

I don't know... I think I would say that you should always go with the actual finish order, no matter what. If somebody loses time due to a crazy fan or other issue, it's a terrible shame, but to engage in "what if?" adjustments of the actual finish times turns an objectively measured race into a subjectively judged event. In such a case, I could easily see the outcome being swayed by how famous the runner is, or their previous times, or how powerful their country is. For example, if USA's Meb had been leading the race and were attacked instead of an obscure Brazilian, I think the outcry to alter the results would have been much greater. Which is why I think have a clear policy of not altering them is best.

I think there was an incident during the women's hurdles finals where one runner stumbled and fell into the neighboring lane, tripping another runner. The other runner was in tears, but unfortunately there's no realistic recourse, and the results stood as the actual finish order.


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Vanderlei Lima Posted: Fri Dec 31, 2004 10:38 am 

Yeh, I doubt there's a good answer to this question. As for other athletes "getting in the way," I think that's part of the sport. It's one thing to have a spectator (non-participant) interfer, it's a bit different when another athlete inadvertently causes problems for another runner. Talk to runners who run the shorter distance events (400M to Mile) and they'll tell you it can get pretty physical out there when everyone is jocking for the right position. I recall from this years NYC Marathon there were a handful of falls as elite runners bumped each other. Some of those who fell ended up dropping out of the race later on.

I'd hate to suggest that the best solution is better security to keep people from interfering with the runners. I really enjoy being right there on the road at some of these races to watch the elite runners go by.


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