Your Running News Roundup

Posted by Filed Under: News and Opinion

newspaper-box.jpgThe Olympics are Underway

I can’t begin to highlight all of the articles related to the Olympics. The printed media are full of articles related to the environmental conditions in Beijing. It’s also difficult to keep up with last minute withdrawals and suspensions. There are three worth noting, however.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Mizuki Noguchi, who won the 2004 Olympic marathon, has withdrawn from Sunday’s race with a thigh injury. World record holder Paula Radcliffe, who dropped out of the Athens marathon, has decided to compete in Beijing. She has been recovering from a stress fracture in her left femur. According to Eurosport, Radcliffe says she wishes she had more time to recover, but she still feels better than she did in Athens. Finally, a clutch of Russian athletes have been suspended for doping violations. One of the most notable is Yelena Soboleva, who was a favorite to win a medal at the 1500 meters. This will benefit Shannon Rowbury, the top U.S. runner at that distance. Look for Rowbury to win a medal.

Some people treat U.S. wins almost as a given, as though Michael Phelps is sure to win eight gold medals. Many people thought Michael Johnson’s gold medals in the 200 and 400 meters (two very different kinds of races) at the 1996 games were a sure thing. Some even treated Carl Lewis’s four gold medals as a lock. We should remember that in many events, the Olympics frequently demand peak performance over two or more heats (e.g., sprints and some middle distances), or sometimes on a single day (e.g., the marathon).

Olympic history is filled with athletes who came out of nowhere to win the gold, often by defeating better-known favorites. That’s part of what makes the Olympics so compelling. At the 2000 Olympics, wrestler Rulon Gardner defeated Alexander Karelin, who had not been defeated in the previous 13 years. Remember Sarah Hughes who won the gold medal in figure skating at the 2002 games in Salt Lake City? She skated the performance of a lifetime and beat Michelle Kwan, the heavy favorite. Many will remember the much-hyped 3000 meter final at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. The race featured two of the most famous athletes of the day: Mary Decker and Zola Budd. Decker tripped, fell, and was unable to finish the race. She talks with the New York Times about what has happened since then. Jim Ryun fell at the 1972 Munich games and never won an Olympic medal. Vanderlei de Lima of Brazil was leading the 2004 Olympic marathon at 22 miles until a crazy spectator tackled him. The New York Times looks at how Brendan Hansen, who has won multiple medals in swimming, but never a gold medal for an individual race, is dealing with his fourth-place finish in the 100 meter breaststroke.

Bottom line: a lot of crazy things can happen at the Olympics, so the pre-race favorite isn’t always the winner.

So What Does Running Do For You?

A couple of studies on running came out recently. A Stanford study observed that middle aged runners in a running club were half as likely to die over a 20-year period than non-runners. It seems that any form of vigorous exercise is beneficial. You can find an abstract of the study from the Archives of Internal Medicine here. U.S. News and World Report summarizes the major research, including studies related to heart attacks and skin cancer. The New York Times has another piece on the question of whether stretching is beneficial.

Quick Hits

The Los Angeles Times considers whether protein supplements are beneficial for athletes. The LA Times also looks at a strange group of people: athletes who smoke. The New York Times examines the pollution that athletes will have to endure in China. U.S. News and World Report studies elite athletes in order to identify lessons for recreational athletes.

One Comment
  1. Enviormental Cleaning on September 13th at 10:52 am

    I agree with your post. Which is not something I will usually do! 🙂 I enjoy reading a post that will make one think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!