domingo, 17 de julio de 2011

Bianca Perie, a future Olympic champion

Bianca Perie, the future of the hammer throwing event

           I am sorry I am not really enjoying the Diamond League meetings this year.  Maybe it has something to do with the TV coverage.  They probably forget the name of the sport is Track and Field, because they break completely the balance between races, jumps and throws, whose combination makes the beauty of Athletics, and offer just a succession of track races, with very little field coverage.  There is the cold blue diamond turning in the centre of the stadium and the athletes running around in their Adidas and Nike uniforms. Everybody is East African at distance races and all come from USA and the Caribbean at the sprints. Thanks to the monotonous pacemaking, every race looks the same.  Yet the rabbits seem useless this year: with Bekele and Dibaba injured and Rudisha half-fitted, nobody seems good enough to threaten any of the existing records. Bolt is also thinking more in peaking for Daegu than in the economic Diamond League rewards.
If I had to choose, I would rather watch the up-and-coming generation of runners, jumpers and throwers in contests like the NCAA and European under-23 championships.  There is a freshness and spontaneity, which cheers you up.  The athletes, who are still trying to make a name, surprise themselves with their huge improvements, supported for an enthusiastic crowd made up mainly by their own teammates.  The teens are learning how to compete, how to handle glory and failure and how to behave in front of  audience, mates and rivals.  
    We watched many amazing performances this week end in Ostrava, witnessed remarkable breakthroughs of some emerging athletes, who are going to become celebrated sport stars soon. (1) (2)
Romania was one of the most favoured nations in the final results of this European under-23 contest.  Only Russia, Germany and Ukraine were ahead in the female medal table. The latter country is progressing this year to one of the most fearsome powerhouses in Athletics.  Elsewhere, Turkey is the revelation of the season, getting for the first time to be promoted to the European Team Super League.  Romania, which once belonged to Athletics aristocracy, is struggling to make the way back, after some lacklustre years. Some amazing youngsters are up for the miracle.  Some like Angela Morosanu or Ancuta Bobocel are already consolidated into the world elite, while some others are expected to shine in senior competition in a near future. 

Bianca Perie competes at the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona
Romania obtained no less than three gold medals and one silver in Ostrava, in female events.  Esthera Petre was the most amazing surprise, winning the high jump, after improving thrice her PB, from 1.92 to her final 1.98, which put her straight in Daegu’s medal picture.  Andreea Ograzeanu, added the under-23 triumph, to the one she got in the junior category two years ago, this time at the 100 metres event. Bianca Perie once again proved she has no rival in her age group in hammer throw.  Carmen Toma is also progressing well, and was a good second in triple jump, after Greek sensation Paraskevi Papahristou.  The only disappointment came from ex World Youth and Junior champion Mirela Lavric, who finished pitifully the 800 metres final, after being unable of sustaining Elena Arzhakova’s last powerful outburst.  Nevertheless she will have plenty of occasions to mend this wrong in future competitions.  Still younger, Bianca Razor, has already collected medals at World Junior and Youth Olympic level and finished a praiseworthy fifth at the recently held World Youth Championships in Lille, in front of an outstanding field.
Among all this young Romanian hopes the most solid contender for future senior medals appears to be Bianca Perie. When you watch a junior, youth or under-23 championship you are tempted to name who is going to be the new brand star of the sport, the man or woman everybody is going to talk about for decades.  Just some months ago, Angelica Bengtsson was seen like the new Isinbayeva.  However, Briton Holly Bleasdale, not yet in her twenties, has improved now to 4.70, and now things do not seem so plain.  Jacko Gill has been compared because of his precocity to no less than Usain Bolt, as a genius you only see once every ten or twenty years. Yet, he will have to face in future shot put challenges, another youngster, German David Storl, who at just 20 years of age is already claiming a spot in major championships podiums.  Nevertheless no obstacle seems to be in the way of Bianca Perie.  She is the strongest candidate right now, among the whole athletic field, to the 2016 Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro.  Yet she wants to win already in London, next year.   
Bianca, born in June 1990 at the Northern town of Roman (3), was raised in a sport -loving family, where the father was an accomplished amateur boxer. Her original passion was tennis but she joined soon the athletics family, initially practising shot put and discus throw, until her lifelong coach Lucian Cucos realised her speed fitted perfectly for the hammer event, which she adopted at 9 years of age, as she would also do later her little sister Roxane, the recently minted Youth bronze medallist in Lille. There are plenty of anecdotes about kid Bianca's efforts to handle the difficult implement and some small accidents in the way.
Bianca, sharing her time between Hammer and School duties
           As soon as 15,  Perie obtained her first victory of note in Marrakech, on occasion of the World Youth Champs, and she went on further the following year, crowning herself World Junior Champion in Beijing, after defeating athletes up to three years older, as Moldovan Zalina Marghieva, one of the best hammer specialists in the world right now, always improving the previous championship record. At 14, she had already delivered an outstanding age-best of 65.13 and by the end of 2006 she was already over 69 metres; but she must also be proud of beating for the first time her compatriot Mihaela Melinte, the 1999 World Champion and once the event record holder, before reaching 16 years.
Interestingly, Bianca Perie does not hold any World or European overall record in Youth, Junior or Under-23 categories: Zhang Wenxiu, the untimely death Kamila Skolimowska or Tatyana Lysenko are some metres ahead in the record books. Yet, she owns the championship record in most of the age major global contests, and almost each time has won the gold medal improving the previous best.  It speaks clearly about her stunning consistency when it matters most.   
Perie is the only athlete in history in any event, who has achieved the feat of defending the World title in both Youth and Junior categories, as she did at Ostrava-07 and Moncton-08 respectively.  Furthermore, she has been twice a European Junior champion too, and this week end has completed a clean sheet of age major victories, again in Ostrava, at the under-23 European contest.  It means seven gold medals out of seven competitions and unbeaten in her category for seven years. She is amassing victories for her curriculum, the same way she likes to do with jewelry, which she is quoted to own no less than ½ kilo in gold.
Bianca owns an excellent technique and is able of a speed and final acceleration inside the circle, almost nobody else can compete with.  She is also very strong mentally as she showed for example at Moncton World Juniors, where she kept focused and relaxed, and could deliver a championship record, despite awful atmospheric conditions; or this week end, as Sophie Hitchon’s national British record put her under pressure and she responded with a massive 71.59, her third best throw ever.
Notwithstanding, Perie’s biggest efforts are in order to gain muscle weight.  She is now 1.70 metres and 70 kilos.  Maybe this is the reason why her best throw is “only” 73.52, from last year.  She had needed time to adapting to senior challenges.  Bianca did not pass the qualifying round at Osaka-07, Beijing Olympic-08 and Berlin-09, but, for the first time, last year she faced successfully the best at Barcelona European Champs, finishing an excellent fourth, with a best throw of 71.62. 

Bianca Perie only wants gold for London Olympics
            This season she has won every international championship she has entered: European Winter Cup, European Team League, Balkan Championships and the European under-23 contest.  She is still not producing 75 metres plus throws, which will be required to win medals in both Daegu and London, against the likes of Betty Heidler, Tatyana Lysenko, Yipsi Moreno or Anita Wlodarczyk, but who knows she is going to achieve it at the same World Championship and Olympic dates.  It would not sound strange, acknowledging her pedigree.  She feels ready and full of confidence. I am craving for the answer in one month and a half time.