Archive for the ‘sports’ Category

From  Elitefeet.com

cliff-young-waveThe legendary story of Cliff Young is already known to many runners. If you’re aren’t familiar with it, you’re in for a fascinating read.

An Unlikely Competitor

Every year, Australia hosts 543.7-mile (875-kilometer) endurance racing from Sydney to Melbourne. It is considered among the world’s most grueling ultra-marathons. The race takes five days to complete and is normally only attempted by world-class athletes who train specially for the event. These athletes are typically less than 30 years old and backed by large companies such as Nike.

In 1983, a man named Cliff Young showed up at the start of this race. Cliff was 61 years old and wore overalls and work boots. To everyone’s shock, Cliff wasn’t a spectator. He picked up his race number and joined the other runners.

The press and other athletes became curious and questioned Cliff. They told him, “You’re crazy, there’s no way you can finish this race.” To which he replied, “Yes I can. See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or tractors, and the whole time I was growing up, whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 sheep on 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I’d always catch them. I believe I can run this race.”

When the race started, the pros quickly left Cliff behind. The crowds and television audience were entertained because Cliff didn’t even run properly; he appeared to shuffle. Many even feared for the old farmer’s safety.

The Tortoise and the Hare

All of the professional athletes knew that it took about 5 days to finish the race. In order to compete, one had to run about 18 hours a day and sleep the remaining 6 hours. The thing is, Cliff Young didn’t know that!

When the morning of the second day came, everyone was in for another surprise. Not only was Cliff still in the race, he had continued jogging all night.

Eventually Cliff was asked about his tactics for the rest of the race. To everyone’s disbelief, he claimed he would run straight through to the finish without sleeping.

Cliff kept running. Each night he came a little closer to the leading pack. By the final night, he had surpassed all of the young, world-class athletes. He was the first competitor to cross the finish line and he set a new course record.

When Cliff was awarded the winning prize of $10,000, he said he didn’t know there was a prize and insisted that he did not enter for the money. He ended up giving all of his winnings to several other runners, an act that endeared him to all of Australia.

Continued Inspiration
In the following year, Cliff entered the same race and took 7th place. Not even a displayed hip during the race stopped him.

Cliff came to prominence again in 1997, aged 76, when he attempted to raise money for homeless children by running around Australia’s border. He completed 6,520 kilometers of the 16,000-kilometer run before he had to pull out because his only crew member became ill. Cliff Young passed away in 2003 at age 81.

Today, the “Young-shuffle” has been adopted by ultra-marathon runners because it is considered more energy-efficient. At least three champions of the Sydney to Melbourne race have used the shuffle to win the race. Furthermore, during the Sydney to Melbourne race, modern competitors do not sleep. Winning the race requires runners to go all night as well as all day, just like Cliff Young.


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Group cycling in Hyderabad

By Jake Siegel

Amidst the chaos of Hyderabad’s crowded streets, covert signs are popping up around town and pointing the way out. To escape the city, you just have to know how to read them and own a bike.

Those trail signs are the work of Shay Mandel, a Program Manager with the Microsoft India Development Center (MSIDC) and current leader of the Hyderabad Cycling Club. On Microsoft’s campus in India, Mandel is leading an effort to get people out of their cars and on the path to tranquil scenery and good health. This merry band of 50-plus bikers operates under a simple philosophy summed up by their motto: Just ride. “We don’t have very ambitious goals for the club or anything,” Mandel said. “We just want people to come ride and enjoy the country.”

The club spins both on and off the 54-acre Microsoft Hyderabad campus, which houses three businesses, more than 1,500 employees, and a multipurpose sports field that sets the scene for some fiercely fought soccer and cricket clashes. As Mandel discovered, there is also an appetite for other activities. “I am amazed at the openness of people at MSIDC who want to jump on this opportunity to go green and start cycling to work. I believe this not common in corporate India,” he said.

Not long ago, the cycling club suffered from a lack of interest. Before Mandel arrived in Hyderabad three months ago, he checked out the club’s Web site from his native Israel and found about 20 riders who didn’t get out that often. When he landed in India, he contacted the club’s organizer, who handed the reins—or handlebars—over to him, and he began inviting people out to ride.

One of the early enthusiasts was Ed Martinez, a Program Manager with Dynamic CRM also at MSIDC and a recent transplant from Redmond. Even though Mandel and Martinez were both shocked at the traffic when they arrived in India—“You don’t understand how it works and why there aren’t constant accidents,” Mandel said—the two braved the chaos and started pedaling to work. Because the streets leading to the Microsoft campus were so congested, they were a bit surprised when security told them they were the only two people who commuted by bike. They began promoting the idea of cycling to campus, and employees responded to the point where security set aside parking areas for bikes. “For us, it’s just a tremendous amount of fun,” Martinez said of cycle commuting. “It’s not a sacrifice at all. It doesn’t have to be.”

The club also began organizing frequent rides into the countryside. Before his bike arrived from Israel, Mandel would jog around town and identify potential cycling trails. Once the bike came, he began to explore—“Shay gets this high pitch in his voice, and you know he’s lost” is how Martinez describes this exploring—and he blazed more and more of the longer trails now at the heart of the club’s activities. It’s getting away from the crowded streets and into the rolling hills and a more peaceful India that makes cycling there so wonderful, according to Martinez. “The minute you leave the city, the people are so incredibly friendly,” he said. “There hasn’t been a single time that school kids don’t run along and say ‘Hi!’ or motorcyclists don’t pull alongside and practice English with us.” He adds they’ve never taken a ride without stopping for some local fare and delicious chai tea served in “those little plastic cups like you get at the dentist’s office.”

Mandel keeps marking more trails—with unobtrusive dashes of paint, of course—and hopes to see more and more people on the club’s rides inside and outside Hyderabad. The club caters to all skill levels, with easy spins around town for beginners and multi-milers for the advanced. The club also offers classes on buying bikes as well as basic maintenance “so people don’t have excuses and come out,” Mandel said.

Ultimately the club and its trips are about getting out of the city and having a little adventure. Think about the definition of being lost, Mandel suggested. “If you want to get somewhere and you don’t make it, then you’re lost. But if you never have any intention of arriving somewhere, you can never be lost.”

In other words, just ride.

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Why sled dogs are super dogs

Sept. 25, 2008

Study: Athleticism of Alaskan huskies is superior to most other mammals

Alaskan huskies that participate in the grueling Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race must run 1,100 miles while enduring heavy blizzards, temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit and winds up to 60 miles per hour, all of which earn the hearty canines status as the world’s premier ultra-endurance animal athletes.

How do they do it? New research suggests the canines are superior to most other mammals, including humans, in at least three key areas: They are unusually adept at adapting to exercise, they have superior aerobic capacity and are unusually efficient in using food as fuel.

Michael Davis, a professor at Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, and his team have been studying Iditarod-racing dogs for 10 years.

He added that as the program developed, thanks to the support of mushers, he and his colleagues started studying dogs in other races and even began to conduct simulated races that could employ more scientific controls, such as monitoring the dog’s heart and lung function.

“Overall, in the past 10 years, we’ve probably studied well over 5,000 dogs in various studies,” he said.

Davis and his team noted that Iditarod dogs, which compete each March by running from Anchorage to Nome, do not usually suffer the adverse effects that are more common in other athletes. These include immune suppression, fatigue, muscle damage and stomach ulcers.

Husky vs. human
Probing deeper into the dog’s physiology, they made three other determinations, which will be outlined in a presentation at this week’s American Physiological Society conference in South Carolina.

First, they found that the dogs rapidly adapt to sustained, strenuous exercise. Four days into the Iditarod, the dogs’ biochemical profile returns to where it was before the race began, as though nothing had happened. Elite human athletes, in contrast, show signs of fatigue after continuous exercise and require recovery time.

Second, Iditarod dogs possess an enormous aerobic capacity, which refers to the ratio of volume of oxygen to body weight per minute. A fully conditioned sled dog’s aerobic capacity is twice that of an untrained sled dog.

Finally, each approximately 55-pound sled dog can burn up to 12,000 kilocalories per day, which is the equivalent of 24 McDonald’s Big Macs. A human would have to consume and efficiently process the equivalent of 72 Big Macs to fuel a day’s Iditarod run.

Davis believes the dogs possess very thin cell membranes within their muscle fibers that enable the canines to absorb nutrients from the bloodstream while exercising.

“The muscle has two choices for the source of energy — use what is abundant in the bloodstream, or use what is stored in muscles,” he explained. “The latter is limited, and the more the muscle taps into those limited stores, the faster it fatigues.”

He suspects sled dogs can consume a commercially-produced racing diet, supplemented with everything from salmon to congealed lard balls, and quickly convert it to usable energy.

Yet another animal could be nipping at the canines’ top status, however, as man’s most attentive follower.

In a separate study, Clive Wynne, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Florida, and his colleagues compared the performance of wolves against stray domestic dogs, to see which would be better at following human signals in a “watch and point to a can” test.

The wolves won.

“When it comes to watching humans, anything dogs can do, wolves can do just as well,” Wynne concluded, adding that, “arguably, the wolves are better.”

With their wild ways, wolves aren’t exactly lining up for the Iditarod, though, which requires training runs that began this month.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26889282/

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By Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock brings his edgy and thought-provoking style to FOXSports.com. Columnist for the Kansas City Star, he has won the National Journalism Award for Commentary for “his ability to seamlessly integrate sports and social commentary and to challenge widely held assumptions along the racial divide.”
September 11, 2008, 3:39 PM EST

(link back to original article)

I’m going to do my best to avoid turning this into an I-told-you-so column.

But the truth is, I told you before the 2006 draft that Vince Young was primed for NFL failure. He entered the league with an attitude, mindset and supporting cast totally unprepared to survive the pressure, challenge and responsibility that goes along with the most prestigious and difficult job in all of sports.

When I explained all of this in 2006, my naive and misguided critics called me an Uncle Tom. Yeah, they ripped me for attempting to issue a young black kid a warning about what awaited him in The League and the attitude he would need to cope and excel.

Some people foolishly think it’s every black media member’s job to assist in the mental and emotional crippling of black youth. We’re supposed to blow rainbows up the asses of every black athlete who “makes it” and assure him/her that anyone who utters a word of criticism is a jealous bigot or irrational sellout.

So, no, I’m not surprised Vince Young tried to quit in the middle of Sunday’s game after throwing a second interception and hearing boos from Titans fans frustrated by his inability to read a defense or throw accurately. I’m not all that shocked that two days later Jeff Fisher called the police and asked them to hunt down his inconsistent quarterback. I’m not surprised the Titans team psychologist is apparently worried that Vince Young is suffering depression.

And I’m really not surprised that Vince Young’s mother told The Tennessean that her baby boy needs a little space and a lot of love and support.

The question is, when Young rebounds from his emotional abyss and recovers from his knee injury, what kind of love and support are we going to give him? Are the people who already love Young going to replant their heads in Young’s rear end and their hands in his wallet? Or will a few people within Team Vince do the right thing and level with him about what he needs to do to make it in the NFL as a quarterback?

Vince Young, like a lot of young African-American men, desperately needs to hear the truth from the people who love him. Too often we pave the road to failure for black boys by believing the cure for bigotry — and there is still plenty of bigotry in America — is the ability to recognize it in (and blame it for) everything. That cure has more negative side effects than most of the drugs trumpeted by the pharmaceutical companies in television commercials. That cure serves as a convenient crutch, and turns a talent such as Vince Young into a quitter the moment adversity strikes. That cure helped land Michael Vick in jail.

Everyone told Vince Young and Michael Vick the NFL would be easy. They’d revolutionize the QB position with their legs, and they could pop bottles, roll with a posse and pretend to be Jay-Z in their spare time.

It just doesn’t work. Not for Young or Vick. Not for Matt Leinart. Not for anyone who wants to star at the position and avoid the boo-birds.

No one revolutionizes the starting quarterback position. The position revolutionizes the person playing it. Just ask Donovan McNabb. He figured it out and changed his game. Over the objection of idiots, McNabb developed his skills as a pocket passer. He concentrated on becoming a student of the game. If he can stay healthy over the next three or four years, McNabb will surpass Warren Moon as the best black quarterback ever to play the game.

Unfortunately, there are still people, especially black people, who don’t appreciate McNabb. They think he let “us” down by de-emphasizing his athleticism, and they criticize him for being cozy with his organization the way Peyton Manning is with the Colts and Brady is with the Patriots.

McNabb doesn’t get to enjoy the luxury of being a company man the way other franchise QBs in their prime do.

But McNabb has never threatened to quit or asked out of a game because the Philly fans were too rough. McNabb understands that in some instances the scrutiny of a black quarterback might be a tad more intense than that of a white one. He also understands that the best way to combat it isn’t whining. It’s performance. It’s work ethic. It’s professionalism.

It’s not a coincidence that McNabb comes from a supportive, two-parent household.

I bring that up not to castigate Vince Young and his mother. I don’t even know the story of Young’s upbringing.

I raise the issue to point out that in modern professional sports — with the astronomical players’ salaries — ownership and management examine the upbringing of the athletes and factor that into their decision-making.

Vick’s failure, Young’s potential failure and the guaranteed money they were given will make ownership more reluctant to anoint another kid from the ‘hood a franchise quarterback straight out of college.

It’s not about color. It’s about fitting the profile of someone who can handle all that goes along with being an NFL quarterback. If I’m an owner, I spend my quarterback dollars on young men who were raised by strong fathers. It wouldn’t be an infallible system, but on average I bet I’d hit more winners than if I turned over the leadership of my team to a kid who isn’t used to having a strong male authority figure.

As black people, we need to ask ourselves whether we are doing a good job preparing our boys for positions of immense leadership, responsibility and scrutiny. 

You are going to get criticized playing quarterback. If your instinct is to dismiss the criticism as racist, maybe you shouldn’t play the position. If you are surrounded by people who spend every waking minute telling you that you can do no wrong and that everyone who criticizes you is a bigot, then maybe you shouldn’t play quarterback.

The position requires thick skin and genuine self-confidence. If you need four or five male groupies with you at all times, a half million dollars of jewelry around your neck and wrists and a dozen tattoos to feel confident, then maybe you should play wide receiver or start rapping.

The average NFL fan has no idea how much time a franchise spends working on self-esteem issues with a typical player. You think these guys are self-assured. Many of them are not. They self-medicate with booze, drugs, steroids, bling, women and attention-getting stunts such as name changes.

Remember when Terrell Owens’ assistant claimed he had 25 million reasons to live? It was an accidental moment of clarity and honesty. Too many players have their whole sense of self-worth tied up in their contracts.

It doesn’t take much to crack a man with no real identity, especially if he’s grown accustomed to having all of his shortcomings rationalized.

You can e-mail Jason Whitlock at Ballstate68@aol.com.

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Bolt 100M World Record

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Nice pass!

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