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Olympic track & field events explained

Olympic track & field events explained

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Published by The State Newspaper
An explainer on Olympics sprinting, hurdling, relays, high jumping and shot putting.
An explainer on Olympics sprinting, hurdling, relays, high jumping and shot putting.

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Published by: The State Newspaper on Jul 27, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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On your marks, set, fly ...
A proper start can make the difference between winning or losing a sprint race, where success is often measured in split seconds.
In the starting blocksHeart of the startPushing off
Weightrestsequallyon rearknee,handsForwardlegextendsforcefullyBack,headformstraightlineFeet incontactwith theblocksAt the “on your marks”call, athlete getscomfortable in theblocks, then ismotionless, breathingsteadilyAt set command, athleteinhales and holdsbreath, becoming like acoiled spring; proper setposition is crucial to apowerful startAt the sound of the gun, athleteexplodes into action – legspushing against the blocks,arms working to counterbalancethe force of the legsShoulders rotatedforward, 3-4 in. (7-8 cm)ahead of handsHands justbehind theline; thumb,other fingersform a “V”
© 2012 MCT
Body isinclined forfirst 5-6 m,becomesfully uprightby 40 m
Source: “Coaching Track & FieldSuccessfully” by Mark Guthrie,“Fundamentals of Track andField” by Gerry Carr, Track andField magazine
A good hurdler in proper position should need only three seconds more to run the race with the hurdles than without.
Clearing hurdles
Getting the job done
© 2012 MCT
Leads withknee, not foot
First strides set rhythm 
Bent trail leg helpsdecrease clearancetime and allows easylanding
sprintto next hurdle
Tipped upper body helps racer maintain momentum 
Lands on outside of footand rolls inward onto theball of the foot
Lead legHurdleClearingTrail leg
Clearance must be active tomaintain momentum andproper sprinting formRotates lead arm outward,causing body to straightenand lead leg to drop
about3.3 ft. (1 m)after hurdle
Takes off
 6.5-7.5 ft.(1.9-2.3 m)before hurdle
Continuing the race
Landing after last hurdlemust be powerful tocreate maximum speedShoulders leveland parallel totop of bar
Source: “The Hurdles from Start to Finish”, “Sports: The Complete Visual Reference”
Passing the baton
Winning relay teams exchange the baton at top speed and use various passing methods, including the downsweep exchange described here.
The downward sweep
Incoming runnerIncomingrunnerOutgoing runnerOutgoingrunner
In position
Check markAcceleration zoneExchange zone
© 2012 MCT
Source: “Coaching Track & Field Successfully” by Mark Guthrie, “Fundamentals of Track and Field” by Gerry Carr
About 6-8 m (20-26 ft.) before the acceleration line(outgoer starts running when incomer hits this mark)10 m (33 ft.) ahead of the exchange zone line(gives outgoer room to get up speed)20 m (66 ft.) 10 m before and after the start for each leg(outgoer reaches back for the handoff)Gripping the baton at itsbase, incoming runneralerts receiver, then passesbaton into his or her handwith a forward-pushing,downsweep motionReaches arm back,palm facing upwardand takes baton, grippingthe upper portionPoor handlingof the baton orslowing downduring theexchange cancost the raceRotates receivingarm down, underand forward, toready the baton forthe next exchange

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