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  • Ace Walker Dies Days After 50 Trials

    from USOC release

    Subject: U.S. Race Walker Spc. Albert (Al) Heppner Passes Away





    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    February 19, 2004

    U.S. Race Walker Spc. Albert (Al) Heppner Passes Away

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The United States Olympic Committee has been
    notified that U.S. race walker Spc. Albert (Al) Heppner passed away last
    night. The California Highway Patrol is overseeing the investigation into
    Heppner’s passing.

    Heppner was 29.

    A member of the United States Army World Class Athlete Program, Heppner
    was a resident athlete who trained at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in
    Chula Vista, Calif. He placed fifth in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for the
    50 km Race Walk this past
    Sunday (February 15) in Chula Vista.

    In addition to his training, Heppner worked part-time as a cashier in the
    dining hall at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and took graduate classes at
    nearby San Diego State University.

    One of America’s most accomplished race walkers, Heppner began competing on
    the national level in 1993. His top finishes included placing first at the
    USA 5 km Race Walk Championships in 2002, second at the USA 30 km Race Walk
    Championships in 2004,
    second at the USA 15 km and 20 km Race Walk Championships in 2002, and
    second at the USA 50 km Race Walk Championships in 1999. He was an NAIA
    All-American and the NAIA 5 km Race Walk National Champion in 1997 while
    competing for the University of
    Wisconsin-Parkside, from which he graduated in 1997.

    Born April 24, 1974 in Columbia, Md., Heppner graduated from Howard High
    School in Ellicott City, Md., in 1992.

    “Al served his country with pride and honor, both on the field of
    competition and as a member of the United States Army World Class Athlete
    Program. His many contributions to the sport of race walking will endure
    and serve as a reflection of his
    commitment and dedication to the sport. It is during this difficult period
    of sudden loss that we extend our deepest sympathies to Al’s family, his
    teammates and his many friends,” said USOC Chief Executive Jim Scherr.

  • #2
    Re: Ace Walker Dies Days After 50 Trials

    Apparently a suicide

    <<
    Despondent speedwalker jumps to his death
            
    SIGNONSANDIEGO NEWS SERVICES

    1:40 p.m. February 19, 2004

    JAMES BAIRD / Union-Tribune
    Racewalker Al Heppner on the course Sunday at the Chula Vista Marina.
    SAN DIEGO – A South Bay man apparently despondent over his failure to qualify for a U.S. Olympic race-walking team turned up dead today at the foot of a towering East County freeway bridge, officials said. ....>>

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metr ... lker2.html

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Ace Walker Dies Days After 50 Trials

      This reminded me of the Ormsby story and in poking around looking for something about her found this:

      http://www.dolfzine.com/page562.htm

      "For the next three days, Brian was in a despondent state; he could not eat or sleep and worse yet, he had trouble communicating with others. I tried to talk to him a number of times, but he would never respond. Apparently, when the depression was too much for Brian to handle, he went up to his attic, put a rope around a ceiling beam and hung himself.

      I was totally shocked and so was everyone else who knew him.

      Amazingly, less than a week later, a similar tragedy occurred just a few thousand miles away when Kathy Love Ormsby, a twenty-one-year-old junior from North Carolina State, was attempting to break her own collegiate women's’ record for the 10,000 meters at the N.C.A.A. Championships held at Indiana University."

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Ace Walker Dies Days After 50 Trials

        Having known Al for over 10 years, I'm still in shock over the whole scenario. All of his friends are completely at a loss over this tragedy. It certainly puts everything in perspective.

        Today, we lost a great athlete, a great friend and a great son. What a shame.

        Anyone wishing to send condolences to his family can do so at www.racewalk.com, which has had normal operations shut down temporarily to show respect to Al and the entire Heppner family.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Ace Walker Dies Days After 50 Trials

          The article cited about Ormsby is interesting. I had been aware of her tragedy but it had slipped out of my consciousness.

          There is a dangerous irony here that all coaches and fans need to be aware of: the more perfect, the more competitive, the more driven and determined young athletes seem to be, the more emotionally fragile they may actually be. All of us who have coached have learned that too many athletes in recent years have been motivated to succeed on the unfortunate belief that they neeed to prove their worthiness through success and acclaim. Self-destructive behavior as manifested in over-training, over-stressing, eating disorders and over dependence on coaches runs rampant in our sport. These topics need to be dealt with more openly and directly by coaches, athletes, and parents.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Ace Walker Dies Days After 50 Trials

            A terrible and shocking story. We all love it when athletes devote themselves 100% to their sport. But there's a clear danger in anyone putting all their emotional and psychological eggs in one basket...

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Ace Walker Dies Days After 50 Trials

              Anyone ever seen any follow-up stories on Ormsby?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Ace Walker Dies Days After 50 Trials

                >Anyone ever seen any follow-up stories on Ormsby?

                A little out of date and with lots of religious overtones so be forewarned but there is some stuff in here.

                http://www.suffering.net/ormsby.htm

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Ace Walker Dies Days After 50 Trials

                  I also seem to recall that this story was covered in Frank Murphy's book "The Silence of Great Distance."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Ace Walker Dies Days After 50 Trials

                    >>Anyone ever seen any follow-up stories on Ormsby?

                    A little out of date and
                    >with lots of religious overtones so be forewarned but there is some stuff in
                    >here.

                    Why would you feel compelled to "forewarn" people about a story that contains references to faith? Is it that frightening/offensive to people?

                    I can see if sex, violence and depravity dominated the story it might warrant a heads-up, but I just don't understand your point. Sorry.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Ace Walker Dies Days After 50 Trials

                      Why would you feel compelled to "forewarn" people about a story
                      >that contains references to faith? Is it that frightening/offensive to
                      >people?

                      I can see if sex, violence and depravity dominated the story it
                      >might warrant a heads-up, but I just don't understand your point. Sorry.

                      I with you 100% gm. Believe me. I just wanted it to stay up. Look at some of the warnings from the moderators when the topic veers to religion. I may have been overly paranoid-that's all.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Ace Walker Dies Days After 50 Trials

                        I AM with you...edit function...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Ace Walker Dies Days After 50 Trials

                          >>Why would you feel compelled to "forewarn" people about a story
                          >that contains references to faith? Is it that frightening/offensive to
                          >people?>>

                          It certainly shouldn't be offensive, but the fundy christians have done such a superb job of trying to ram their beliefs down people's throats that it has become that way to many people.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Ace Walker Dies Days After 50 Trials

                            Realist:

                            Thank you for that slam against those of us "fundy" christians who happen to believe in the Bible and that there is forgiveness for all in Jesus the Christ. Your remarks seem to make you rather intolerant of us. Isn't this quite ironic given how "intolerant" many of you accuse Christians of being? How kind of you.

                            Kurt Francis

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Ace Walker Dies Days After 50 Trials

                              Let's talk track !

                              Comment

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