Landscape

As a coincidence, I was test reading Stephan Wiesner’s forthcoming book on landscape photography while on vacation in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

The key message of the book is “get off the couch”! So what should I do? Just the theory? No way! We invested in bear bells & bear spray and went out. The earlier in the morning, the better.

By the way: the investment paid off as we almost stumbled across a bear family during one of our hikes. However, one cub ran up a tree, curious because of our bells. So we saw it early, and had time to retreat before mom got nervous. Better no picture.

Back to the book. No kidding, this is the best photography book that I ever read. Beginners will profit as much as more advanced photographers, because the book not only explains the roles of shutter speed and aperture, but also tells tons of little tricks – a few of which were new to me.

The book will be soon available on Amazon. Just visit Stephan’s Amazon Profile from time to time. Meanwhile, you may want to enjoy my pictures.

Who will start on the last day in Amsterdam

So the European Championships are on the finish straight. Day 5. Let us quickly look back on the Swiss performers in today’s finals. Again 4.45, PB, and a very good 7th rank for Angelica Moser in the pole vault final. Heptathlete Michelle Zeltner delivered another PB in the long jump (6.10), but lost many points in the javelin throw. Nevertheless, 6010 point are a new PB and first time above the magic 6000 barrier. Rank 11 at the Europeans. Finally, Selina Büchel ran a very good race. A very good fourth rank, but as always, rank four is bitter-sweet.

And now to the preview. What will happen tomorrow?

Half Marathon Women. Four Swiss will be at the start. Martina Strähl the mountain running world champion, Martina Tresch, Maja Neuenschwander, and Laura Hrebec will be the Swiss starters.

Half Marathon Men. A group of 6 runners will represent Switzerland. Marcel Berni, Adrian Lehmann, Julien Lyon, Abraham Tadesse, Christian Kreienbühl, and Andreas Kempf. (I apologise: I don’t shoot street races that often, some runners are missing in my personal photo “collection”.

 

400m Hurdles Women. Lea Sprunger won her semifinal today. She ran 15 strides until the 8th hurdle and then switched to 16 strides. All under control. Her potential makes her a natural podium candidate. Same situation as for Kariem Hussein: Everything between gold and wood is possible. Her main opponents are: Sara Slott Petersen (DEN) and Joanna Linkiewicz (POL).

Lea Sprunger

Lea Sprunger

3000m Steeplechase Women. Fabienne Schlumpf made it to the final and now it counts. She won in Luzern, but the European Championships will be a more difficult task. On paper, the field is quite homogenous, except for Germany’s Gesa Felicitas Krause who is the gold candidate number one.

4x100m Women. New Swiss record (42.87secs) for Ajla Del Ponte, Sarah Atcho, Ellen Sprunger, and Salome Kora in the semifinal. As second they qualified directly for the final. This is a big success for the three U23 runners and Ellen. More tomorrow.

4x100m Men. The Swiss men’s relay made it to the final. 38.88secs are really good. This is a big success after a lot of trouble in the last year. Pascal Mancini, Amaru Schenkel, Sugi Somasundaram, and Alex Wilson will have more than a super fast honorary lap because they want to improve their time.

Well, and when everything is over, we might want to have a look at the other Euro in France.

 

 

Who will start on Day 4 in Amsterdam?

Today was a great day for Kariem HusseinAlex Wilson and Mujinga Kambundji! Bronze medal for Kariem over the 400m hurdles – a great performance. This medal confirms his exceptional position in Europe. And Bronze for Mujinga too! She had such a difficult season. Today she performed best when the pressure was highest. Moreover, Alex made it to the 200m final (7th). He had a similarly difficult season so far, but always emphasised that his form is good.

But let’s turn to the topic of the blog – what will happen on day 4?

 

Heptathlon Day 2. So far, everything went extremely well for Michelle Zeltner. PB over the hurdles (13.93), SB in the high jump (1.77), PB in the shot put (14.49), and very good 24.80 over 200m. With 3661 points she is fifth after day 1. Tomorrow, the last three disciplines will follow. Long jump and javelin are two difficult disciplines for her. Tomorrow might be the most important morning of her career.

Linda Züblin (3341 points) and Valérie Reggel (3365 points) had difficulties in the high jump, but will try to perform well on day 2.

Three out of the four athletes ahead of Michelle are the top candidates for the podium: Dutch hopes are with Anouk Vetter who leads after day 1 with 3882 points and is a very good javelin thrower. Antoinette Nana Djimou (FRA, 3786 pts) is second. Hanna Kasyanova (UKR) who is fourth after day 1 (3701 pts) has a very strong second day.

4x400m Men Quali. The Swiss relay qualified in Luzern in an exciting race. The team around the Swiss semifinalist Joel Burgunder will run full gas in the qualification and has a slight chance to make it to the final.

 

4x100m Men. The Swiss men’s relay had a difficult year. Two important members are injured (Bastien Mouton and Rolf Fongue). So the team had to be re-built around the 200m finalist Alex Wilson.

4 x 100m Women. Maybe the Swiss 4x100m relay was the most frequently discussed topic this year. Early in the year, Mujinga Kambundji declared that she will not run for the relay this year. The differences between her plan to prepare for the season and national coach Laurent Meuwly‘s were incompatible. Heptathlete Ellen Sprunger had a similar problem. She waived her last chance to qualify for the Olympics in the heptathlon. Her abilities in the curve will be important to help her three young teammates Ajla Del Ponte, Sarah Atcho, and Salome Kora.

Pole Vault Women. 18 year old Angelica Moser qualified with 4.45m in her first attempt for the final. This is an outdoor PB (indoor 4.50). Her aim is to master the 4.50 outdoor. Conditions might be difficult, though. This will make the competition a lottery. The top jumpers should be warned by Renaud Lavillenie’s mishap (3 faults at 5.75) yesterday. Otherwise, a big surprise might happen. Who could profit?

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800m Women Final. For the first time in her career Selina Büchel has qualified for a final at a major outdoor championship. Like in the previous years, there are no doubts about her potential in the final. In theory, Renelle Lamote (FRA) will be ahead of the pack. Behind her, everything is possible.

 

 

Who will start on Day 3 in Amsterdam?

So two days of the championships are over. Each nation has its own highlights and so do I. The 4th place by Clélia Rard-Reuse of the 100m Hurdles belongs to it, but I was also happy for Cindy Roleder who snatched gold. My favourite picture of Clélia is from last year – let me re-post it.

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From an international point of view, the miracles didn’t happen. After Russian whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova had to give up her qualification race yesterday, today Susana Kallur‘s hurdle comeback came to a halt today in the semifinal.

Heptathlon Women: Last second qualifier Michelle Zeltner, Valérie Reggel, and Linda Züblin will be the three Swiss starters, after Ellen Sprunger decided to waive the last opportunity to qualify for the Olympics in the heptathlon. She will concentrate on the 4x100m relay.

The road to the championships were different. Michelle did two heptathlons in Götzis and Ratingen. She missed the Standard by 29 points, but was invited by European Athletics, because less than 30 athletes made it. Valérie had a slower start into the season after a knee surgery. Linda did only a few local competitions, then did a heptathlon attempt in Ratingen where she didn’t  finish.

The favourites for the title are from the Netherlands. Nadine Broersen and Anouk Vetter both want to be on the podium before their home crowd. Antoinette Nana Djimou (FRA), Karolina Tyminska (POL), Hanna Kasyanova (UKR), Austra Skuyte (LTU) have PBs over 6500 points, but the two Dutch have better performances in 2016.

110m Hurdles Men: The two best Swiss hurdlers are Tobias Furer (13.66secs) and Brahian Peña (13.86secs). Tobias, the best of the 2015 season has now been challenged by Brahian. Competition is good, so both qualified for the Euros.

Both will be happy with performances that improve their PBs. Gold candidates on paper are Dimitri Bascou (FRA, 13.16), Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (FRA, 12.95), or William Sharman (GBR 13.16).

3000m Steeple Women: Fabienne Schlumpf (9:37.81) will be the Swiss starter in the steeple race. She had a nice victory at the international meeting in Luzern earlier this year. The best on paper in this race is Germany’s Gesa Feliciatas Krause (9:19).

400m Hurdles Women: Lea Sprunger made a big leap forward in her second season over the hurdles. In Geneva she ran her first sub 55 race and suddenly is one of the top European runners. Will she challenge the favourites Zuzana Hejnova (CZE), Denisa Roslova (CZE), and  Sara Slott Petersen (DEN)?

This question will be answered on Sunday. In tomorrows qualifying rounds, the top starters will still rest and enter the competition only in the semifinal. In the qualifying round pressure will be on the other two Swiss starters are Petra Fontanive, and Robine Schürmann. Whereas Petra has already clocked under 57 in 2016, Petra was constantly struggling to get to the level of 2015. However, after the last test race in ugly conditions she will be optimistic.

200m Men Semifinals: Alex Wilson ran 20.80 and made it into the semifinal, like over the 100m. With two semifinals, the Europeans are are a big success for him. Now the favourites, Christophe Lemaitre (FRA), Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (GBR), and Jaisuma Naidi Ndure (NOR), and Churandy Martina (NED) have to play their cards.

400m Hurdles Men Final: In the semifinal, the defending champion Kariem Hussein improved his season best to 48.87 secs. However, he will have strong opponents in the final. Yasmani Copello Escobar (TUR) leads the result list with 48.42. Norway’s Karsten Warholm (48.84) and Jack Green (GBR, 48.98) also clocked under 49 secs. It will be an exciting race. Everything between Gold and Wood is possible.

100m Women Final: The out in the semifinal over 200m was very disappointing for Mujinga Kambundji. Tomorrow, she will be under pressure in the semifinal over 100m. For the second Swiss, Salome Kora, the semifinal should be fun. She ran a new PB in the qualifying round and advanced one round. Expectations more than met.

The hosts are waiting for the first race of the superstar, Dafne Schippers. Will she make a Gold medal in the last race of the day?

 

It counts in Amsterdam (II)

Who will start on day 2?

Decathlon Men: OK, as I wrote before, I “sucessfully ” ignored some favourites:-/. After day one, Oleksiy Kasyanov (URK) is in the lead with 4234 points with Mihail Dudaš (SRB) and Jorge Ureña (ESP) second and third. Dominik Disteberger had to give up due to an injury.

Jonas Fringeli had a mixed first day. 11.20 over the 100, only 6.80 in the long jump, 12.81m in the shot put, 1.98m in the high jump, and 49.95secs over 400m mean that he lost points in every discipline relative to Götzis.

Pole Vault Women: Unfortunately one of the hottest Swiss medal candidates, Nicole Büchler won’t start. An injury in the thigh didn’t heal. The remaining Swiss competitor is Angelica Moser. Angelica’s focus will be on the qualification. 4.55m are required to enter the final. This seems possible – during the season she jumped many times between 4.40 and 4.42m and had equally many very close fails over 4.50 (her indoor PB) or higher. It’s time that she get to a new level. Tomorrow would be the perfect day for that.

After Nicole’s dropping out, the main favourites for the victory are the two Greeks, Nikoléta Kiriakopoúlou and Ekateríni Stefanídi, but some more vaulters are capable jumping over 4.70 and snatch a medal.

200m Men: After Alex Wilson‘s 100m qualifying performance in 10.30secs the focus will be on the 200m. The Olympic Standard is 20.50 – this is possible for Alex. The situation is similar to 100m. If Alex makes it he will make it to the final most likely. If not, then not.

For the second Swiss, Silvan Wicki, ambitions are different. Happy with his qualification for the Euros, his aim will be to run close to his PB – or even set up a new one.

The favourites have other concerns. Christophe Lemaitre (FRA), Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (GBR), and Jaisuma Naidi Ndure (NOR) have all run under 20secs before. The same is true for Churandy Martina (NED) who will try everything before his home crowd.

100m Women: After she dropped out of the semifinal over 200m today, Swiss attention will be again on Mujinga Kambundji. With her season best of 11.14secs, she is directly qualified for the semifinal. In a recent interview, she declared she depends on her adrenaline level. Will it be sufficiently high to make it to the final?

Very early in the season, Salomé Kora ran 11.49 and qualified for the Euros too. In more recent races, she competed strongly so hope are that she might confirm or improve her PB.

The top favourite for the title is of course Dafne Schippers. The Dutch superstar is the only sprinter who ran under 11 this year. Who might challenge her? Ivet Lalova-Collio (BUL) might have a tiny chance. It’s going to be interesting.

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400m Hurdles Men: I wrote everything about this competition yesterday, expet that the favourites were directly qualified for the semifinals. So Swiss fans will see Kariem Hussein tomorrow.

Kariem Hussein

Kariem Hussein

400m Men: Day 2 will be the day of the semifinals and Joel Burgunder will be part of them. He qualified as the fastest of the lucky losers. In a windy race the time wasn’t that fast. Hence, his hopes will be to run faster under hopefully better conditions.

100m Hurdles Women: Like for the 400mH, Clélia Rard-Reuse will start only on day 2 because she was directly qulified for the semfinal. 17:10 will be the time to cross fingers.

The same holds for the other fast Europeans like Worlds Silver medalist Cindy Roleder (GER).

Long Jump Men. Swiss Benjamin Gföhler jumped 7.72m under windy conditions in the qualification round. It was close, but eventually wasn’t enough to make it to the final.

Sweden’s Michel Tornéus was best of the qualification (8.19), followed by Radek Juska (CZE, 8.11) and Germany’s Fabian Heinle (8.11). However, other jumpers might take the lead like Britains defending champion Greg Rutherford.

100m Men Semifinal. In the second round the favourites will start. The list of the best is led by Jimmy Vicaut (FRA) who equalled the European Record recently (9.86secs). However, others are there, too like Jak Ali Harvey (TUR, 9.92) or Germany’s Julian Reus (10.03).

Alex Wilson (SUI) will be in the third heat. On paper, his opponents are too strong, but in sports a lot of things are possible.

800m Semifinal Women. Selina Büchel celebrated a victory in the qualifying round. Now it will be tough. The first two and the two fastest will advance to the final. Selina lines up against Renelle Lamote (FRA). However, five out of the other 6 starters appear capable of making it to the final. It will be a close race.

 

 

 

It counts in Amsterdam!

The season is shortly before its first peak: the European Championships in Amsterdam. So far, athletes’ main interest was to consolidate the form, do preparation races and qualify for the Europeans and/or the Olympics. This period is over. Time for a preview.

(Disclaimer: this is my very, very personal view. I sometimes lack insider knowledge and might be wrong… we’ll see. I’ll put a bias on those athletes that I personally know (most of them Swiss) and take the freedom to ignore others, even if they are the favourites.)

Day 1

Decathlon Men: Swiss hopes are resting on Jonas Fringeli who qualified earlier this year in Götzis. Back then he showed no major weaknesses and made 7862 points – a new PB. Will he deliver even more in Amsterdam? This seems quite possible. With less than 140 points missing to the magic 8000 points margin he hopefully won’t put himself under too much pressure, though.

Who are the favourites? The best of the season, Abele (GER), Mayer (FRA), Kazmirek (GER), Uibo (EST), and Auzeil (FRA) are missing. At face value (the SB list), it’s the Austrian Dominik Diestelberger. However, the strong Dutch starters Pieter Braun and Eelco Sintnicolaas will also aim at the title, as do Hans van Alphen from Belgium and Oleksey Kasyanov from the Ukraine.

 

100mH Women: Two years ago, Clélia Rard-Reuse (then Reuse), broke her leg in the semifinal of the Swiss Championships. A long way back began. The 2012 Olympian tried everything to regain form. Things started to look good in early 2016, and after many races in the low 13s she eventually ran 12.87 in Thun. Before Rio, the Europeans in Amsterdam will be more than just a test for her.*

Of course all eyes will be on the comeback of the 2006 European Champion Susanna Kallur (SWE) who was injured since 2008 and seems to return to competitive strength very recently.

200m women. Three Swiss starters are in Amsterdam. The fastest on paper is Mujinga Kambundji. So far, her season was good, but a little weaker than 2014/15. What does this mean for her prospects? She is a superbe competitor who is fastest when it counts. Well, hic Rhodos – hic salta. She must play her cards now.

Swiss eyes will also be on Ellen Sprunger who is a superbe runner in the curve and who is just above the Olympic Standard. No secret, she wants to run a new PB of 23.20 in the heat.  Fingers crossed for her!!

Much earlier in the season Cornelia Halbheer was one of the few Swiss sprinters who dared to compete in the cold and rainy weather. Back then, I posted she might run much faster and be one of the surprises of the season. In Thun she ran 23.46 and qualified for the Championships. Participating in Amsterdam will be the biggest moment of her young career.

The top favourite is Dina Asher Smith (GBR), but we will have to see if she can approach her tremendous PB (22.07) of the earlier years. The World Champion from Bejing, Dafne Schippers (NL) is not on the start list.

100m Men. It’s been a weird season vor Alex Wilson, the fastest Suisse. Last year he missed the Olympic Standard (10.16) only closely. This year he started into the season with 10.14! Alas, there was 0.1m/sec too much wind. Alex wouldn’t be Alex if he lost his mood. ‘I don’t mind’, he told me. ‘I’m injury free and it’s just a mater of time’. …

Well, so far it didn’t happen. Rainy conditions, and a pulled hamstring in Luzern. At the Europeans he and Amaru Schenkel will start over the 100m.

Outlook: It’s very simple. If Alex runs the desired Olympic Standard, he will make it into the final. If not, then not. Sad that rocketing Bastien Mouton had to waive the season because of a pulled hamstring.

Long jump Men. Benjamin Gföhler was one of the big surprises of the season. In June the 22-year old jumped 8.13m on a meeting in Germany.

400m Men. Joel Burgunder delivered some of the biggest entertainment in the early season. ‘I want to qualify for the Europeans’, that was his early announcement. And his form was good. The weather was not! So he missed his goal at the first serious race, but ran a huge 46.11 in his home stadium in Langenthal. The home crowd cheered and celebrated. So nice to document this in pictures.

Even better, shortly before the deadline Luca Flück joined Joel later when he ran 46.63 in Thun. So two Swiss will challenge the European Elite.

Outlook: Question mark. Two years ago, the two Swiss would have had no chance. It’s just uncertain who of the international competitors will or will not start this year. For them, a serious set of races in Amsterdam might be in conflict with a proper preparation for Rio.

400m Hurdles Men. The defending champion will start on day one of the championships. Obviously, Kariem Hussein‘s aim is to defend the title. In Bellinzona he ran his first sub 49secs of the season. Of course, he is hoping to be faster in Amsterdam. On paper, Yasmani Copello Escobar (TUR) will be his strongest opponent.

Recently, Dany Brand qualified as the second Swiss starter. With a PB of 51.32 his aims will be to run properly and, hopefully, improve his PB again.

800m Women: In 2015, Selina Büchel had a remarkable winning streak and improved her PB to 1:57.95. The problem was that she was over the peak of her form in the later season. This year, her start into the season was a little slower. However, not it will count. Will she do her first very fast race when it’s most important?

The pressure will be on others this year. Renal Lamote (FRA) is the fastest of the starting grid. And eyes will be on whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova who will run under a neutral flag.

*Clélia is qualified directly for the semifinal. So she won’t run in the morning.

Spitzenleichtathletik Luzern

Spitzenleichtathletik Luzern is another atmospheric Swiss meeting, meanwhile in its 30th year. It was another test of the Swiss elite against world class athletes.

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The top star of the event was Jimmy Vicaut who equalled his own European 100m record one week earlier (9.86 secs) and is currently leading the world top list. The 100m race was a drama. False start by Beejay Lee who didn’t stop running. Vicaut and Richard Kilty missed hearing the false start alarm and ran full gas to the finish line. Vicaut clocked 9.98 secs. Of course the race didn’t count and after some discussions (that stretched the regeneration period) is was repeated.

Vicaut also won the repeated race, but now “only” at 10.08 secs. There was a taint. With 9.98 secs, Vicaut would have qualified for a share of the jackpot. With 10.08 he did not. The spectators didn’t know this and cheered. And Vicaut didn’t show anger and waived into the crowd.

(The question regarding the jackpot was answered one day later. Eventually, Vicaut received “his” share. 50 percent were paid by the meeting organizers. The second half was paid by the Swiss pole vaulter Nicole Büchler who was the only athlete eglible for the jackpot. “He deserved it” she commented to me. While this is true, she deserves deepest respect.)

Sad that the Swiss top sprinter, Alex Wilson, didn’t meet his own expectations. 10.50secs in the same race were far from what he was hoping for. Later on the day, he even pulled his leg muscle over the 200m. You can do nothing but feel sorry and hope for speedy recovery for one of the nicest personalities on the track.

Some side blabla on sports photography: As you can see, I sat exactly on lane 5, Vicauts lane. I was there 30mins before the run. Photo colleagues are very respectful. Who takes the position first has the right to stay. Even the big agencies respect that rule. If you’re late, your photos are compromises.

Let’s turn to the women’s sprint events. Like one week earlier in Bellinzona Swiss hopes were on Mujinga Kambundji. The organisers put her on lane 5 (who was sitting there???), hoping she would win. However, like one week earlier, there was no breakthrough. Under wet and cold conditions, the second place and 11.36secs were not bad, but she is still waiting for improving to the absolute world class level. The race was won by Britains Daryll Neita in 11.30.

What do these times tell us? Well, it was cold, wet, and there was light headwind. So deduct, maybe, 2/10secs. So Mujinga shouldn’t feel too bad about her form. Which brings me to the B final that was won (in the same unfavourable weather!) by Ajla Del Ponte in a new PB of 11.52 and a new Ticino record. Despite of her nice performance, Ajla was disappointed because she missed the standard for the European Championships by just 2/100secs. (Photo blabla again: I knew how badly she wants the qualification. So this time I shot from behind the clock, knowing I would catch her eyes.)

Later on the day Mujinga ran the first 200m race of the season. She ran against 20 year young Gina Lückenkemper from Germany. Both looked good and fast, battled side by side. In the end, Gina was 1/10sec ahead, but both were happy with their race.

Talking about the Swiss athletes – there were three Swiss victories. First, Nicole Büchler won the pole vault under super difficult conditions. 4.70m in Lucerne qualified her for the jackpot (see above). The second Swiss vaulter, 19 year old Angelica Moser finished with 4.40m. One year ago this would have been almost a PB, this year she has a streak of 4.40s and she’s still hunting 4.50m (which she cleared indoor). The even younger Wilma Murto (FIN) jumped even higher in the indoor season and mastered the 4.50m for the first time in an outdoor competition. 4.85 vaulter Fabiana Murer from Brasil also cleared 4.50m, taking rank three.

The second Swiss victory was achieved by Kariem Hussein over the 400mH. Despite of the cold, wet, windy circumstances, Kariem looked unhappy about his 49.47secs which is not the desired step forward, compared to his performance in Bellinzona one week before. Good though, he beat strong opponents, like USA’s Jeshua Andersen or Algeria’s Abdelmalik Lahoulou.

Third, there was the steeple chaser Fabienne Schlumpf who won the last race of the night. Hiding in the field for most of the race, she was the strongest on the final lap.

The next Swiss top starters were Selina Büchel and Lea Sprunger. Selina wanted to clock below  2 mins over 800m for the first time of the season. After 100m it was clear that this wouldn’t work. The race was sloooow – every runner played chess against the others. So it was a test of the sprinting ability. Selina came in 4th and lost 1 second to the winner, Britain’s Linsey Sharp.

Lea Sprunger had her first race against world elite runners over the 400m hurdles. A few days after her first 54er in Geneva, expectations were high and you could feel the tension. After the first hurdles, Lea was behind her competitors, but on the finish straight she still had a lot in the tank. She felt that too and made a mistake. Instead of concentrating on the last hurdle, she started fighting between hurdles 9 and 10 which ended in a disaster. She had to do some short steps before the last obstacle, almost stood still, did a high jump over the hurdle and lost the race. She said she will learn from this. The winner, Sara Slot Petersen from Denmark clocked 55.20 – a benchmark for what would have been possible.

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