Tagged with "olympic"
2012 Olympic Gold Medalist - MO FARAH Tags: olympic gold medalist mo farah sports entertainment word life production new qulaity entertainment featured
Long distance running, a discipline dominated for so many years by African athletes, has not had the highest of profiles in Britain. But all that changed at London 2012 when Mo Farah became the first Briton to win both the 5,000m and 10,000m.

Farah cemented his place as an all-time track great and endeared himself to sports fans across the globe – particularly in his adopted home country and city, where he arrived as a refugee from Somalia at the age of eight.

Landing in London knowing only a handful of English words, Farah has joked about losing cross-country races as a schoolboy because he was unable to read direction signs – but the language barrier was never going to hold back such a gifted, determined star.

After switching his focus from football – an early ambition was to play for Arsenal –he won the junior 5,000m at the European Championships in 2001. But it was only when he moved in with a group of Kenyan runners in 2005 that his rise to greatness began.

He set a British 3000m indoor record in 2009 and broke it weeks later at the Grand Prix in Birmingham, going on to take gold in the event at that year’s European Indoor Championships. And he captured the attention of the wider world in 2010 when he took gold in the 10,000m at the World Championships.

Farah relocated his family in 2011 to Oregon in the USA to train with long-distance guru Alberto Salazar, who broke down his running style – and at that year’s World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, Farah won gold in the 5,000m and silver in the 10,000m.

Though Salazar has helped Farah to a new level of excellence, Africa was also to play a key role in his coming success.

After a disappointing Beijing Games in 2008, where he failed to make the 5,000m final, Farah took stock of his career and began travelling to the continent to train each year.

He began 2012 at a training camp in Iten in the highlands of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, a village known as the Home of Champions as it has produced so many top distance runners.

There, he followed a gruelling regime that saw each day begin with a bowl of Ugali – porridge – and involved huge running sessions on the area’s dusty roads, 8,000ft above sea level.
The hard work was to pay off in spectacular style as Farah took gold in the 5,000m with a thrilling, strategically perfect run, capping a spectacular Saturday for Team GB at the Olympic Stadium and introducing the watching world to his signature pose, the ‘Mobot.’

Seven days later, roared on by a capacity 80,000 crowd, he achieved the unthinkable and took the 10,000m title, becoming one of the few men in Olympic history to do the distance double, with a time of 13:41.66.

After the race, Farah said: ‘Its an unbelievable feeling – the best feeling ever. It’s been a long journey grafting and grafting, but anything is possible.’

Farah has set his sights on moving into marathon running – and given his dedication it seems certain he’ll give Africa’s elite runners a run for their money in that event too.

Source: Olympic.org

Florence Griffith Joyner was known as one of the fastest competitive runners of the 1980s. Tags: florence griffith joyner olympic star word life production feature blogs

"[Florence Griffith Joyner] was someone who wanted to make a fashion statement, as well as do it while running so fast you could barely see the fashion," says Phil Hersh of the Chicago Tribune on ESPN Classic's SportsCentury series.

Florence Griffith Joyner

Florence Griffith Joyner still holds the world record in the 100- and 200-meters.

With her outrageous looks and lightning speed, Florence Griffith Joyner captivated the world. Her racing attire consisted of a variety of outfits -- some lace, some fluorescent, some bearing one leg. Her nails, sometimes longer than four inches, became a trademark.

In 1988, FloJo arrived in Korea for the Olympics as the favorite to win the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Just two months earlier at the U.S. Olympic Trials, she obliterated Evelyn Ashford's world record of 10.76 seconds in the 100 with her time of 10.49 and ran the four fastest 100s ever (though one was wind-aided). She also set an American record in winning the 200.

In the 100-meter final in Seoul, the 5-foot-7, 130-pound Joyner bettered the Olympic record with her 10.54, but because it was wind-aided it didn't go into the record book. On the way to the gold medal, she broke the Olympic mark three times in four races -- which gave her the seven fastest 100-meter times in history.

She blistered Marita Koch's world record of 21.71 seconds by running a 21.56 in the semifinals of the 200 meters. Then, less than two hours later, she bettered that mark with an amazing 21.34 in capturing her second gold medal.

But the drug scandal at the 1988 Olympics overshadowed her achievements. When the men's 100-meter winner, Ben Johnson, had his gold medal stripped because he tested positive for steroids, FloJo's races were looked on with skepticism.

Some suspected her of using performance-enhancing substances because of her incredible physique and stunning improvements in the past year. Brazilian middle-distance runner Joaquim Cruz accused FloJo of using performance-enhancing drugs. Magazines ran two photos side-by-side depicting her facial differences between 1984 and 1988.

Through it all, FloJo maintained that she never used drugs. Although she tested negative on all of her drug tests, the rumors kept swirling. And soon she left the sport she loved.

The seventh of 11 children, Florence Delorez Griffith was born on Dec. 21, 1959 in Mojave, Cal., 90 miles north of Los Angeles. When she was four, her mother Florence, a seamstress, left her father Robert, who was an electrical technician, and moved the family into the Jordan Downs housing project in the Watts section of Los Angeles.

As a child, Florence attempted many things. She sewed together her own clothes for her Barbie dolls and constantly tried on her mother's dresses. She had handstand competitions with her siblings and neighborhood kids. She rode to the store on a unicycle. She even trained a pet rat, and once was asked to leave a mall when she came with a pet snake around her neck.

Her speed was shown at an early age. The Griffith children spent some time with their father in the Mojave Desert and when Florence was five, he dared her to chase jackrabbits. Eventually, she caught one. She ran potato-sack racing in a park. By the time she was seven, she was running track.

At Jordan High School, she set school records in the sprints and long jump. After graduating in 1978, she helped California State Northridge win the national championship the following year. Her sprint coach was Bob Kersee.

After the title, she dropped out of school for financial reasons and worked as a bank teller. In 1980, she enrolled at UCLA, where Kersee had become an assistant coach.

Florence Griffith Joyner

Florence Griffith Joyner's world record of 10.49 in the 100 meters has stood since 1988.

As a junior in 1982, she won her first individual NCAA title, taking the 200 meters in 22.39 seconds. In 1983, although she slipped back to a second-place finish in the 200, she won the 400 in 50.94. After graduating UCLA that year with a degree in psychology, she finished fourth in the 200 at the World Championships.

At the 200 at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, she ran a 22.02 to take the silver medal, beaten by Valerie Brisco-Hooks, who set an Olympic record of 21.81.

After the 1985 track season, without financial means of support, she again went to work at a bank. At night, she often styled her friends' hair and nails. Depending on the style, she charged between $45 and $200 for braids that would last five months. Meanwhile, she still found time to train under Kersee, and at the 1987 World Championships she won the silver medal in the 200 with a time of 21.96.

On Oct. 10, 1987, Griffith became part of the first family of track and field when she married Al Joyner, the 1984 Olympic triple jump gold medalist and brother of heptathlon Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

The following July, FloJo exploded into national prominence at the 1988 Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. With her 10.49 seconds in the 100 meters, she crushed Ashford's four-year-old world record. Controversy came immediately when the wind reading of 0.0 appeared. Just 30 feet away on the triple-jump anemometer, winds swirled at an unacceptable 4.3 meters per second, and almost every sprint that day had a wind reading.

But Joyner's record was upheld. The next day, she won the final in 10.61 with a legal wind of 1.2 meters, leaving no doubt that she was the "fastest woman in the world."

A week after the Trials, Joyner left Kersee's training camp and hired a business manager. Her husband Al took over as her fulltime coach. Financial differences and a lack of attention were the reasons given for the switch.

On Sept. 25, 1988, FloJo won her first Olympic gold medal. She got a terrific start in the 100 meters and past the halfway point she was smiling. Finishing in her wind-aided 10.54 seconds, she easily defeated Ashford, the defending champion.

Four days later, she astounded the track world with her world-record performance in the 200, pulling away in the second half of the race to beat Grace Jackson by .38 seconds. FloJo capped her Olympics by winning a third gold in the 4x100-meter relay and a silver in the 4x400 relay.

 

But four months later, the word's fastest woman was gone from track and field.

In February 1989, the 29-year-old Joyner made the stunning announcement that she was retiring from competitive running to concentrate on business opportunities, such as acting and writing. Although she had invited anyone to test her every week if it would prove she didn't use drugs, some felt that she was fleeing the sport while she could.

The rumors, though, wouldn't cease. Later in 1989, sprinter Darrell Robinson told a German magazine, Stern, that FloJo paid him $2,000 for 10 cubic centimeters of human growth hormone the previous year. She denied the accusations vehemently. Appearing on The Today Show with him, she called Robinson "a compulsive, crazy, lying lunatic."

After her retirement, FloJo wrote children's books, poetry and a romance novel. She began an acting career, making guest appearances on the sitcom 227 and the soap opera Santa Barbara. She established her own clothing design and cosmetics businesses. She fulfilled a lifelong dream as a fashion designer, even designing uniforms for the Indiana Pacers in 1989. While she trained for long-distance running, she never made a serious comeback.

On Nov. 15, 1990, she gave birth to her only child, Mary Ruth Joyner.

In April 1996, Joyner was rushed to Washington University's Barnes-Jewish Hospital after suffering a seizure on a flight to St. Louis. Two-and-a-half years later, she suffered a much more serious seizure.

Ten years after capturing the admiration of America, while sleeping in her home in Mission Viejo, Cal., she died of suffocation during a severe epileptic seizure on Sept. 21, 1998. Florence Griffith Joyner was 38 years old. While questions resurfaced about drugs, the autopsy did not reveal any use of steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs in her system.

FloJo still owns the world records in both the 100 and 200 meters.

Source: ESPN Classic

 

THE LORETTA CLAIBORNE STORY Tags: loretta claiborne story special olympics kimberly elise

Loretta Claiborne was the middle of seven children in a poor, single-parent family. Born partially blind and intellectually challenged, she was unable to walk or talk until age 4. Eventually, though, she began to run. And before she knew it, she had crossed the finish line of 25 marathons, twice placing among the top 100 women in the Boston Marathon. She's carried the torch in the International Special Olympics, has won medals in dozens of its events, and also holds the current women's record in her age group for the 5000 meters at 17 minutes.

Today, Claiborne is a celebrated athlete who was honored in 1996 with ESPN's ESPY Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. Her life is recounted in Walt Disney Productions The Loretta Claiborne Story (originally broadcast on ABC-TV and now on videocassette) and in the biography In Her Stride published by WorldScapes. Considering all of Claiborne's achievements, these are just small steps in her life's mission to show that persons with mental and physical disabilities are equal to those without.

"I figured if my story could change a person's mind about another person, or especially a child's mind about another child, then it was the right thing to do," Claiborne says. Now in her early fifties, the athlete recalls a time when children taunted her for being different and how the taunting turned her into an angry young woman who was expelled from high school and fired from a job. Although she loved to run and used her speed and strength to protect herself in fights against cruel classmates, she credits the Special Olympics with helping her realize that her tremendous athletic talent could be used to do good.

Claiborne was first introduced to Special Olympics by social worker Janet McFarland (played by Emmy Award-winner Camryn Manheim in the movie). She credits McFarland as well as her family, community, educators; Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her own strong spirituality with giving her the confidence necessary to become a world-class runner.

"If it weren't for sports, I wouldn't be the person I am today. I was very angry before and sports were the arena that turned that around for me," Claiborne says. "I got support from family, community and God -- he is the strength of all and can make anything possible." The Loretta Claiborne Story not only outlines Claiborne's personal and spiritual journey, but it shows her joyful, sometimes mischievous personality.

"In the simplest terms, it's about possibility," says executive producer Suzanne de Passe. "Loretta Claiborne's life is uplifting and full of a sense of renewal. But it's not humorless. It doesn't hit you like a freight train with a somber, one-note refrain. This is also about a very engaging, funny personality."

Running is not the only part of Claiborne's life. She holds a black belt in karate, communicates in four languages, including sign language, and holds honorary doctorate degrees from Quinnipiac College and Villanova University, making her the first person with an intellectual disability known to receive such honors, according to the Special Olympics organization.

However, Claiborne says the most rewarding part of her life has been her involvement with the Special Olympics, and she wants to continue helping people with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities succeed. She advises them, "Find an opportunity and seize it. Be the best you can be, and never let anyone doubt you."

Claiborne runs every day -- often about 5 miles, even when she plans to go only three or four. Just for the joy of it, the joy of the moment. It's how she lives her life. "I don't really look toward the future because you don't know what tomorrow will be bring," she says. "You have to live your life for today."

 

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