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Cycling the Legs

June 9, 2015

An article in this month’s Hurdle Magazine (which comes out June 14th) will feature a training session with an athlete who needed help breaking the habit of kicking out her lead leg. Here’s a snippet of that article, which is entitled “Learning to Cycle:”

Nadia 4On top of the hurdle, Nadia’s lead leg remains bent so that she can properly cycle it, and then cycle the trail leg as well. A lot of hurdlers will flatten out their lead leg at this point in clearance and try their best to “skim” the crossbar along the length of the entire leg. That’s not what we want to do. We want to create a downhill angle like we have here, so that we are coming DOWN on the hurdle, and will therefore be able to come off the hurdle faster than we went into it. You can also see that Nadia’s forward lean is more pronounced, as she pushes her chest down over her lead leg thigh, minimizing her airtime, pushing herself back to the ground. I’ve always said that the lean is not just about hurdle clearance, but even more importantly about creating speed off the hurdle. Meanwhile, Nadia’s trail leg is in excellent position, with the knee facing the front and the toe cocked to avoid contact with the barrier. The lead arm is crossing the body, but if that’s as far across as it goes, then she’ll be okay.

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Milburn Lives!

May 17, 2015

I recently received an email from Michael Daniels of Baton Rouge, LA. Daniels went to high school with Rodney Milburn, the 1972 Olympic champion in the 110 hurdles. A biography that I wrote on Milburn, The Quiet Champion, is available to read on this website.

Daniels is the project leader of the J.S. Clark Memorial Walkway in Milburn’s hometown of Opelousas, LA. (J.S. Clark is the name of the high school Milburn attended; it no longer exists). A bust of Milburn will be a feature of the project. The bust is already completed, and was sculpted by DJ Dawden of Utah. Clark says that, “like all of us, Dawden felt a kinship to Rodney. I sent him about 10 pics. He did a composite using those and he added the gold medal. All of Rodney’s family cried when we had the unveiling.”

Below are photos of the bust, of the walkway, as well as some vintage pics from Milburn’s high school, college, and professional days.

Milburn lives!

Milburn Bust 1

Not-quite-completed bust of Rodney Milburn

Milburn Bust 2

Completed bust of Milburn

Milburn Bust 3

Completed bust of Milburn, from a different angle.

Milburn Bust 4

J.S. Clark Memorial Walkway in its current stage of development. Notice the hurdle in the middle, the bust of Milburn to the left.

Milburn Arms

Milburn clearing a wooden hurdle on the field at J.S. Clark High School in 1967. The school’s wooden hurdles were made by the shop class.

Milburn JSClark

Milburn (far left) races against teammates on the grass field at J.S. Clark.

Milburn Paxton

Milburn (third from left) with his high school coaches. I’m not sure who all of them are, but the one on the far left is Claude Paxton.

Milburn MOC

Milburn receives his award after winning the Louisiana Meet of Champions in 13.9.

Milburn Davenport

Milburn (middle) with 1968 Olympic champion and fellow Southern University hurdler Willie Davenport (left) and another Southern U. teammate.

Milburn UTEP

Milburn relaxing at the track. Not sure where or when this one is from.

Milburn Blocks

Milburn showing his start technique. Not sure of the where or when of this one either.

A Coacher’s Life

April 15, 2015

At my new teaching job I gave the students an extra credit assignment that involved writing a one-page response to an episode of Spike TV’s reality show “Coaching Bad.” If you haven’t seen it, it features a group of about six coaches from various sports (including one track coach) and shows how they have serious anger issues and control issues and can be very abusive to their athletes. The host is former NFL star Ray Lewis, who tries to get the coaches to see the errors of their ways, and tries to get them to change for the better.

So I was reading through my students’ responses, when I came across a line in one of them in which the student referred to one of the coaches as a “very bad coacher.” Coacher? At first I thought it must’ve been a typo, but then I realized that this student, who had no athletic background whatsoever, assumed that “coacher” was the right word to identify someone who coaches. When I returned the papers I asked him about it, and he said “Yeah, coacher.”

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