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  • Injury: the bane of athletics.

    After seeing Savante Stringfellow's freak injury last Saturday, knocking him out of the Olympics, I was reminded that the unpredictable, devastating, bane of athletics is injury.

    We have all had time of great frustration when our favorite star(s) is (are) taken out of contention not because they lacked desire or talent but because of chronic or acute injury. Unfortunately the human body can break down--especially the body of a high level athlete who is training on that precarious line between break down and top shape.

    Feel free to share on this thread when the bane of athletics struck you down as an athlete or one of your favorite stars.

    Mine is Marty Liquori: Both in 1972 and 1976 he was kept off the Olympic team with ill timed injuries.

  • #2
    Re: Injury: the bane of athletics.

    Debilitating injury is the worst. The worst-case scenario, especially when an athlete has never come close to reaching his or her potential, and suddenly the whole quest is gone, meaningless.

    I'm no youngster, and I've seen tons of great track and field athletes over time. But one person who always resides in my mind is someone that no one has ever heard of. At least, except for me and a few other people.

    When I was in junior high school (Back in my day we had junior high schools, not middle schools.) I was really small until the ninth grade, but I was always faster than anyone I knew. Except for Ray. He was a year older, and he made me look like I was running backward when he ran, he was so fast.

    Ray was an Indian guy I knew who was basically just a very down-to-earth humble person, somebody who happened to possess a gift to run so fast you could hardly even imagine how fast it was.

    When Ray was in the eighth grade, he ran a hand-timed 9.3 hundred yards in a meet. In my days, metric races were some ways away still, except at big international competitions.

    Because I'd always been the fastest person I knew anywhere close to my age, it was a mesmerizing experience to watch "old Ray" run. He didn't just come out of the block fast, it was like he exploded from a cannon. Every time I saw him run he was at least two yards ahead of everybody by the seventh step.

    I was just starting the eighth grade and Ray the ninth. We were both working out and warming up for practice that day. As was usual for that time of year it was pretty cold and windy, so we had to be careful to make sure we didn't do too much until we were completely warmed up.

    The coach wanted to do some baseline timings on Ray from the beginning of the season, to get a better picture on what kind of goals he could set for that year. He already was way faster than anybody in high school in my state, and bound to get much faster.

    It didn't seem to me like Ray has warmed up all that long before the coach got him in the block for a timing at about 50-60 yards. In his usual style, Ray blew out of the blocks like he was already running at full speed, as though he had just busted through a paper barrier at full speed.

    Ray got about 30 yards away from the start when he didn't pull up lame, he just stopped. What I mean by that is, he dropped like he'd been shot. I've never seen anything like it before or since. It's like the mainspring of a watch just broke.

    Ray had blown out his hamstring. I couldn't even imagine it happening, because his legs were just huge - like frog's legs. Without a muscle to control his running he just plowed right into the ground.

    His hamstring had totally detached at the hip. I won't go into the details, but in the sixties an injury wasn't an injury unless it was really bad, and this was much worse. Two years later after major surgery Ray still walked with a pronounced limp.

    His career was over. He was then, and is until this day, the fastest human being I've ever seen. He got zero from his gifts, nothing. I've long since lost track of him, but he never seemed the same after that day.

    It seemed like more than his track career left that day; he had a huge piece of his heart ripped away as well.

    Fast, fast Ray, I hope you are well.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Injury: the bane of athletics.

      Ah, I think you mean the bane of 'poor' coaching. Granted there are those athletes who are their own worst enemy, especially the milage monsters who can never listen to a coach, yet never figure out why they don't perform as well as they know they can. Too many times, coaches (living vicariously) through their athletes, plan workouts that are just plain short sighted. IMHO the worst offenders are university coaches who live for the day. Before you start hurling my why, I do understand why ( it's been discussed in another thread).
      Too many athletes have paid the price. There is a well know Canadian coach on the west coast who, for years, has been known for having his athletes ready when it counts, for keeping athletes healthy and running, and yes, perfoming to their best. Hats off to him. His record speaks for itself. Don't know of an athlete that suffered to the extent of Ray or Marti. Just my .02$ worth

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      • #4
        Re: Injury: the bane of athletics.

        Excuse me, 9.3 for the 100yds in the 8th grade? Pure B.S. Yes, I'm saying you have a terrible memory, or you are a plain liar. I have YET to see ANY KID, ANY WHERE, run the equivalent of a 9.3 for 100 yrds in the 8th grade. Unless, of course, the kid was a 15-16yo flunky who should've never been allowed to participate in after-school sports in the first place!

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        • #5
          Re: Injury: the bane of athletics.

          David Grindley, a British 400m runner - some ten years ago, was destined for a glittering career until injury ended everything. He had it all. A great attitude and a massive natural talent. Sub- 44? - it would have been no problem.

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          • #6
            Re: Injury: the bane of athletics.

            Would Michael Johnson have run even faster over 200m/400m than his WR-times had he not suffered so many injuries while at Baylor?

            Steve Lewis back problems derailed a promising career.

            Does Andy Powell deserve mention on this thread?

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            • #7
              Re: Injury: the bane of athletics.

              Staying along the 400m vein...didn't Danny Everett's career end prematurely with an achilles injury?

              I also thought I heard that William Reed's career was derailed with a broken leg (don't quote me on this one).

              An obvious career-ender was Lewellyn Starks. A fantastic long jumper who's career ended abruptly with a compound fracture. Truly sad.

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              • #8
                Re: Injury: the bane of athletics.

                Kurt, I said he was the fastest person I have ever seen, and stand by my statement.

                In the eighth grade he was faster than any other person high school and younger in the state. I thought he would break the world record when he was a little older.

                He was very mature for his age, so he might have been held back for a year, I really don't know.

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                • #9
                  Re: Injury: the bane of athletics.

                  >David Grindley, a British 400m runner - some ten years ago, was destined for a
                  >glittering career until injury ended everything. He had it all. A great
                  >attitude and a massive natural talent. Sub- 44? - it would have been no
                  >problem.


                  He ran 44.47s when he was 19 (in the '92 Barcelona OG Men's 400m semi-final) so he was indeed a talent, but his career was cut-down by injury, and said that 'the medical support was just not there to help him'

                  http://sport.guardian.co.uk/print/0,385 ... 61,00.html

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                  • #10
                    Re: Injury: the bane of athletics.

                    If I could drop in a U of Tennessee name here, Richmond Flowers' injury likely kept him off Oly team in '68. He had beaten eventual gold and silver winners in high hurdles just recently before the games.

                    http://espn.go.com/classic/biography/s/ ... hmond.html

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                    • #11
                      Re: Injury: the bane of athletics.

                      Freak injuries like ripped achilles, broken legs and so on are always going to occur to a few unlucky athletes; such things can strike completely by chance. Always sad, but rarely preventable or predictable.

                      Some athletes are just injury-prone, this is so in all sports. Some people have oddities of running action which cause problems - my own running action includes excess ankle rotation which is not only inefficient but makes me very prone to shin splints. World-class athletes can have their actions analyzed and re-modelled, but few get such opportunities.

                      At a wider level, it is clear that some countries suffer far more than their 'share' of injuries because of climate, poor facilities and inadequate medical support. The UK has a terrible record here - the number of UK athletes struck down by injury each year is breahtaking. This is really unforgiveable; even worse is that it has been a problem for many years but little seems to have changed, as the article in King's post so well illustrates.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Injury: the bane of athletics.

                        If I may bring this discussion to my unbelievably amatuer level, at my last meet thsi seasn I hurt my hamstring pretty bad (not Derrick Redmond in 92 bad, but it bear with me) over the first hurdle and I has a long 355 meters to go. For the rest of the race I was able to cruise, but not sprint and ended up about a second off the winner who I had beaten handedly a few weeks earlier. The time wasn't too bad (for me), but the winner had run my goal time for my season (which is now probably over). Like I said, I'm nowhere near the level of a Savante Stringfellow, but I know how much effort and sacrifice I put into my training and to be in shape and willing to put it out there and not be able to because of an injury is probably the most frustrating thing I can think of.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Injury: the bane of athletics.

                          9.3 IN 8 TH grade ? Measure the track, auto time, get a hurricane gauge, and drug test. Did RAY CHARLES time ?

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                          • #14
                            Re: Injury: the bane of athletics.

                            9.3 IN 8 TH grade...Did RAY CHARLES time ?

                            For once, I agree with Satch.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Injury: the bane of athletics.

                              400ih...you really captured the point of why I started this thread when you said, ..."I know how much effort and sacrifice I put into my training and to be in shape and willing to put it out there and not be able to because of an injury is probably the most frustrating thing I can think of."

                              It doesn't matter what level you are competing at, if you've put in the work and have a goal that goes south because the body breaks down...that's an all too common scenario in athletics.

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