Imagine you dedicate your whole life to becoming the best in your chosen sport. You put in the work, make big sacrifices, and finally make the Olympic team. You have a shot at a medal — and all the money, fame, and influence that comes with it.
Then, someone offers you a magic pill with two guarantees — that you won’t get caught and that you’ll win everything. There’s just one catch: you’ll be dead within five years from the pill’s side effects.
While it was a huge sporting event in the United States in the years after the Civil War and was an early Olympic event, racewalking has been regarded for decades as something of a joke – at least in America. An episode of the sitcom “Malcolm in the Middle” was devoted to poking fun at it. The NCAA doesn’t hold a racewalking championship. Sports broadcaster Bob Costas once compared it to a contest to see who could whisper the loudest.
Still, racewalking is an Olympic event, with three medal events held at every Summer Games – and each of the golds counting just as much as the ones that adorn the neck of Michael Phelps.
Today, the races contested at the Olympics are 20 kilometers for both men and women and a 50-kilometer race just for men. The 20-kilometer men’s race was won on August 12 by China’s Wang Zhen with a time of 1 hour, 19 minutes, 14 seconds – a 6:20 mile pace that would win a fair number of 5-kilometer running races in the United States. The other two events take place August 19.
It may look odd, but racewalking has an interesting past and a controversial present, along with quirky rules that make it unique among track and field events.
On August 12, Dutee Chand became just the second female sprinter to represent India at the Olympic Games. Her road to Rio has been anything but easy.
In 2014, the International Association of Athletic Federations banned her from competition on the grounds that her body naturally produced too much testosterone, a condition called hyperandrogenism. It wasn’t her fault, the organization explained. But her condition gave her an unfair edge over other female athletes, according to the IAAF policy.
Chand appealed the ruling, and in July 2015, the Court of Arbitration for Sport determined that the IAAF:
“was unable to conclude that hyperandrogenic female athletes may benefit from such a significant performance advantage that it is necessary to exclude them from competing in the female category.”
Social media exploded earlier this week with a bevy of tweets and memes featuring a rather unimpressed Olympian – and this time, it wasn’t McKayla Maroney.
On Monday night, cameras captured a hooded Michael Phelps appearing to brood and snarl in the direction of South African swimmer Chad le Clos, who was shadowboxing in preparation for the 200-meter butterfly semifinal.
Many contact sports leagues — from junior high and high school sports teams to the NFL — require their athletes to undergo baseline testing before the season begins. Establishing a baseline is important so that doctors can test against it should the athlete experience a traumatic brain injury, or concussion, during the season. Concussion testing can be mentally draining, whether a person is concussed or not. Continue reading Establishing a baseline→