How many of you remember the great British hurdler Colin Jackson? Twice world champion, four times European champion, twice Commonwealth champion, and World record holder for 13 years. Such a talented athlete.
However, Colin describes himself as “one of the greatest hurdlers to never win an Olympic title“. He may not have won a gold medal at the Olympics, but he indeed went down in history as one of the greatest hurdlers of all time.
Power, grace and coordination
Hurdling is considered one of the most complex and challenging events in athletics. This is because you need power, grace and coordination to integrate the forward movement to clear the hurdles. It involves not only physical strength but also mental strength.
As highly talented athletes hurdlers require the speed of a sprinter, the stamina of a tennis player, the coordination of a rower and, of course, the determination and desire to excel.
Hurdling is often confused with jumping. This is wrong. The aim of this sport is not to clear the obstacle but to glide over it. In fact, knocking the hurdle is not cause for disqualification.
It is all a question of leg coordination and strategic rhythm for a comparatively short distance. Therefore, it is absolutely fundamental to maintain the same pace for the whole distance. However, if you don’t use the correct technique, you are in trouble. In fact, it seems that whatever you do is going to be wrong.
Look at it this way. If you jump too high will slow you down, whereas if you don’t jump high enough, you will simply collide with the hurdle. So how is an athlete supposed to finish the race without putting a foot wrong?
Speed, flexibility and rhythm
From the moment the starting gun fires, quick reflexes and coordination are all you need. Lead leg knee up, driving leg down. Trail arm up, lead arm down. Synchronize yourself! Sounds easy, doesn’t it? If you ask me, it doesn’t sound easy at all. That’s probably why some of the top athletes refuse to even try this event.
While many athletes and spectators consider the 100m to be the blue ribbon event in athletics, hurdlers argue that 110m and 400m hurdles are the most challenging races of all. Anaerobic power, endurance, flexibility and stamina all in one event. Not everyone possesses these abilities.
Next time you watch athletes competing for the 110m hurdles title, just remember how much hard work goes into this sport.