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Hurdles as Problems or Building Blocks for One’s Life

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    Hurdles are tall, short, medium sized and overall a crash point. A hurdle is also an obstacle; an obstacle that one will have to be strong and powerful to overcome no matter what it takes and no matter what the situation is. The inner strength is what makes that kind of person; that kind of person that will fall but get right back up.

    People can either see hurdles as problems or building blocks for one’s life. Also, hurdles are used in track and field competition, jumping obstacles for steeple chasing with horses, handling livestock, decorative fencing and training. Hurdles are unique sources where people can use it and see it differently. Hurdles are pure intensity. They are obstacles in which people are forced to overcome them, literally and metaphorically.

    For example, in track and field, to complete a race, you would have to overcome a series of hurdles. In life, hurdles; which would be considered obstacles or problems, will come in contact with mostly everyone and that is when one will have to decide what they need to do in order to overcome those hurdles.

    The history of track and field goes way back to the beginning of early mankind. The first official competition (no hurdles) was recorded in 776 B.C. Afterwards, in 1880; a phenomenon named Gallaudet o3o was the one who invented hurdles in George Hancock. Hurdles though were introduced and originated in Greece. Additionally, throughout the years, the hurdle has been modified due to technology. Though, during the time they were first originated, they were first used in the first Modern Olympics in 1896. Of course, it was not easy to run a race that was 110-meters long which consisted of 10 hurdles.

    However, it also required technique. In the early days of track and field, hurdles were much more than a barrier in the 21st century. There was no such thing as “running through” them and knocking the hurdles over. The hurdle was most likely to knock the runner over due to it being tall, heavy and stationary. Therefore, early technique was primitive.

    The first technique that was introduced was that runners would jumping over the hurdles like they were about the do a cannon ball in the pool, they executed the “bundled” jumps by tucking their legs under their bodies. Then, the L shaped hurdle was introduced in 1935 where athletes glided over the hurdles which became the modern technique. The modern technique was developed by American Alvin Kraenzlein which was used in the Olympics.

    By this modern technique being used, records were continuously being shattered. However, even when the lighter hurdles were first introduced, a runner is not obligated to successfully jump over every hurdle; it was very common for athletes to strike more than one hurdle. Though, if a runner deliberately knocks down a hurdle, then he or she will be disqualified. When it is race time, every hurdle race begins with a sprint out of the blocks.

    The same techniques employed by a conventional sprinter are those used by the hurdler, each emphasizing an explosive drive with the legs pushed against the fixed starting blocks, with the hips positioned above the hurdler’s shoulders in the starting crouch. After learning technique, there were two key major facts; strength and power. Also, the reaction time to the starter’s pistol was very crucial. If the athlete has a bad start, basically the race will be over for him or her. To meet the requirements for starts, physical abilities will have to be met and improved by athletes. For example, plyometric exercises are an enormous benefit to achieve a strong start. As for the running, interval training is a great way to keep the athlete fit and in shape.

    Many combinations of speed, strength and power are very beneficial to athletes who run and hurdle. Also, starting blocks may be adjusted by the hurdler depending on how comfortable they are in the position. Another principal is coordination. Basically, the runner has to pick a leg that they are most comfortable with enough to lead over the hurdle. Next, the other leg will be the “trail leg” that goes over the hurdle.

    As they practice, they athletes will know precisely how many strides they will have to take in order to get to the first hurdle. After overcoming the first hurdle, they will also need to determine how many strides to take between each hurdle until they have finished the race. They start to create a rhythm. If the athlete takes an efficient amount of strides, the more likely the success will be for them.

    The hurdler will start with the lead leg positioned furthest back in the blocks to ensure the necessary pattern of strides culminating with the predetermined lead leg first over the first hurdle. Some coaches tell hurdlers to “attack” the hurdlers in order to be successful meaning, make it into a fluid motion. If the hurdler goes to high, precious time is wasted. If they go too low, then there may be a disruption in their rhythm. On the women’s side, the first women’s hurdle races were run in 1926, over a distance of 80 meters.

    In 1932, the event was surpassed. American Babe Didrikson Zaharias won the event in a world record time. That being said, she was named best female athlete in the world from 1900 to 1950 by the Associated Press. Other champions consisted of; Nawal El Montawake. In the inaugural Olympic race for women in 1984, became both the first African woman and the first Islamic woman to capture the gold. Then, the event was extended to 20 meters more than the one in 1926 which made it to 100 meters.

    At the Olympics, beginning of 1972, it became permanent. In 2008, Joanna Hayes was the first American woman in 20 years to win an Olympic hurdles gold medal when she triumphed in the 100-meter event. However, women did not run the 400 meter hurdles until 1984. On the men’s side and as stated before, American Alvin Kraenzlein was the one who invented the technique of striding over hurdles instead of jumping over them.

    It required taking 3 steps between the barriers in the 110-meter hurdles. Americans kept sweeping away the hurdle events throughout the Olympics, which were every four years. For example, in 1972, American Rod Milburn had won gold medals in the 110-meter hurdle race nine consecutive times. In the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games, held in London and Helsinki, Harrison Dillard established an unprecedented record by winning gold medals in both the 100-meter dash and the 110-meter hurdles.

    When the Olympics games were held in London and Helsinki in 1948 and 1952, Harrison Dillard did a phenomenal job by smashing records in both the 100-meter hurdles and 110-meter hurdles. Then, in the famous 400-meter hurdle race which Edwin Moses had pure domination of, he won 122 consecutive races from 1977 through 1987. Also, in the Olympics in 1976 and 1984, he was a gold medalist as well. He could have won three consecutive gold medals but due to a 1980 Olympic boycott, it cost him a huge chance to win his third medal, unfortunately.

    Not many athletes were as successful as Edwin Moses which makes him unique. He was one of the select few which made him a phenomenon. These legends are role models to hurdlers now-a-days. Hurdlers spend a significant amount of time training on the individual components of the event. First off, body strength is a priority. This can include; conditioning, free weight training, plyometric exercises, box jumps, benching, squats and lunges to work on the enhancement of explosive speed. Second, flexibility is what is needed in order to glide over the hurdles.

    Plus, to stay healthy and promote joint health and recovery from high intensity workouts, stretching is highly crucial. Injuries are avoided by warming and stretching before an intense workout and cooling down then stretching after. In addition, knee lifts should be practiced consistently in order to get the feel of the lift necessary to take the lead leg consistently over the bar, with the trail leg smoothly clearing behind.

    Looking back at history, most of those records were shattered by runners who are competing now. Everything is advancing. Especially, since hurdling is one of the toughest and technically challenging forms of running, people try to do as much research on trying to get better, faster and stronger in order to be successful. Though, running in general is tough. It is one the most elemental and instinctive of human movements.

    It requires the musculoskeletal structure permitting the body to move forward or backward. Also, it does not require just the athletic ability to generate muscle power; it requires the science of integrating the speed of maximum forward movement with the efficient grace necessary to clear the hurdles. As you can tell, hurdles are highly important and used more in the sport of track and field. However, hurdles are also used in hunt racing which consists of horses jumping hurdles, fences or ditches.

    The official name given is; Nation Hunt racing. The sport was very popular in the United Kingdom, France and Ireland. In the UK, National Hunt racing is divided into two major distinct branches; hurdles and steeplechases. Also, there are “bumpers”, which are National flat races. In the hurdles race, the horses jump over the obstacles called hurdles; in a steeplechase race, the horses go through many obstacles.

    For example, it includes plain fences, water jump or an open ditch. But, the biggest event in the UK is considered to be the Grand National at Aintree and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Even today, National Hunt racing is still very popular. Given the sport’s origin, Irish-bred and trained horses remain a dominant force. In 2005 and 2006, Irish-trained horses captured the three main prizes at Cheltenham and won the Grand National.

    The Cheltenham Gold Cup was captured three successive times in 2002 to 2004 by Best Mate. Best Mate was a famous Irish-Bred but trained individually in England. Hurdles played a significant in history and they still do as of today. They are primarily used for hurdlers in the sport of track and field but also horse racing. Both track and field and horse racing use these obstacles as crashing points.

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