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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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June 24, 2008 5:07 PM

Track trials, packed with local athletes, begin Friday

Posted by Ron Judd


TrackTown USA is in the spotlight for the next two weeks. The 2008 Beijing Olympic Trials begin Friday afternoon at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field in Eugene.

Local athletes, headlined by champion pole vaulter Brad Walker and former WSU distance runner Bernard Lagat, will be out in force.

For a complete list, see local track and field writer Paul Merca's tabulation here.

Here's the event Web site. And the competition schedule. And the TV schedule.

Happy viewing.

Comments | Category: Beijing 2008 Games , Olympic Trials , Running Sports , Track and Field |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 16, 2008 12:41 PM

Double-amputee's Olympic door opening: Victory or bad precedent?

Posted by Ron Judd

First, let's get this out of the way: The fact that artificial limb technology has advanced to the point that we're now arguing whether replacement legs give a double amputee an advantage on the running track over the best athletes in the world is true cause for celebration.

But you can also argue that the decision by the International Court of Arbitration for Sport to allow "the Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius to compete for a spot on the South African Olympic team is a bad legal precedent.

Nobody and nothing should diminish Pistorius's accomplishments: Born without fibulas, he is an amazing athlete who posted a world-class time in the 400 meters wearing carbon-fiber running blades fitted to his legs. His fastest time, 46.56, is a Paralympic record, but still slower than the Olympic qualifying standard of 45.55.

CAS, in its ruling, reversed the international track and field governing body's decision that the carbon "Cheetah" blades gave Pistorius an unfair mechanical advantage, saying that advantage had not been documented scientifically. It's difficult to see how that's so, given that studies showed the prosthetic devices return some 90 percent of the "impact energy" expended by the human body, compared with 60 percent for human legs. It's not clear what "burden of proof" CAS required in the case, but the decision came to many as a surprise.

Arguments will fly both ways about whether the prosthetics are an advantage in averting injury to lower leg bones and feet, as most able-bodied athletes face in training, or a disadvantage in their propensity to overwork other body parts.

But a lot of the furor over the decision, it seems, is a bit premature. The argument that the court decision opens the door to all sorts of mechanical "cheating" in sport -- fins for swimmers missing a hand is a commonly cited example -- is a compelling one. But let's wait and see.

If there's a flood of athletes who have the stones to compete at an elite level against the world's best using prosthetic devices, the sports world can take the issue on at that time. We'll be surprised if and when that happens.

Meantime: Whether you agree with the decision or not, it'll make for quite the story if Pistorius earns a spot on the Olympic team, either by posting a fast enough 400-meter time or being named to his nation's relay team. Even if you're convinced his fake legs are "cheating," at least you'll know who has an "unnatural advantage" in his races.

Comments | Category: Beijing 2008 Games , International Court of Sport , International Olympic Committee , Olympic Trials |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

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Blogroll and links

www.olympic.org: The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information.
www.nbcolympics.com: Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog
www.usolympicteam.com: U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site.
www.aroundtherings.com: Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription).
www.wcsn.com: News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions.
www.beijing2008.com: Beijing Organizing Committee Web site.
www.vancouver2010.com: Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site.
www.london2012.com: London 2012 Summer Games site.
www.sochi2014.com: Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site.
www.chicago2016.org: Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.