I recently attended the Pre Classic track meet in Eugene, Oregon (AKA Track Town, USA). It’s one of just two Diamond League events in the USA and has been, arguably, the most competitive professional track meet held in this country. A great day of watching track with the Rasca twins, fellow track junkies and Pre nuts.
Upon entering Hayward Field I took a place standing right at the fence at the south end of the track across from the high jump area. After the national anthem, up walked a fairly imposing 6’6″, broad-shouldered, salt ‘n’ pepper-haired man who took a place next to me. I looked up and said, “How ya doing?” He gave me silent, polite nod. He wore a red polo and multiple meet credentials around his neck so I ventured a conversation starter, “Are you a meet official?”
In a thick Eastern European-esque accent he replied, “No, I am agent.”
A secret agent? Wait, if he’s Russian, is he KGB? The mob?… The reality of my surroundings sunk in quickly enough however and I replied, “Oh, who are your athletes?”
“Chicherova.” Which, in his quick Russian speak sounded to me like “Chchhhvuh.” After reading my face, which may have given away my lack of total comprehension he added, “She is champion”. A snarky version of me would have countered, “Well, aren’t we all?” But a quick search on my iphone revealed, yes indeed, he was referring to the Russian, Anna Chicherova, both the reigning Olympic and World Champion in the high jump. If you come across the world for whatever “agent work” there might be in an afternoon of track for a single athlete, she is not a bad one to represent. He was happy to chat and talked about how he like liked the area and what a great meet this was.
While all the women warming up for the high jump competition looked similar – tall and slender with long pony tails and many wearing matching magenta Nike warmups, I was, indeed, able to find his muse, who walked around the red track surface, not unlike a giraffe, with a slow, measured grace.
Later as I watched from the stands as Chicherova easily cleared 2.01m (6’7″) to win the meet I quickly looked over to the south fence and saw the giant Russian give a silent satisfied nod and clap politely. His girl is champion again.