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Track and Field Sports

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    American athletes in track-and-field sports have been able to maintain their dominance as a result of the emphasis colleges and universities place on the sport. Backed by the NCAA and an elaborate system of sports scholarships, colleges and universities have been able to offer opportunities to athletes to compensate for the sport’s amateur status (a status that no longer remains). Nike LeBron 11 Mujeres T Rex W621712-300. The significance of the college-based system on the lives of athletes has been explored in numerous movies from Personal Best (1982) to Without Limits (1998). The pressure to succeed created by this system has given rise to the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs.

    The widespread attention given to track and field derived in large part from its association with the Olympic movement, which provided a forum for the expression of nationalist sentiments. As such, the efforts of athletes competing against countries with which the United States is in competition (economically and ideologically) have often taken on considerable significance. During the Cold War, Nike Air Max 90 Hyperfuse Mujeres Rojo Rose W454446-006, therefore, considerable attention would be paid to Americans competing against athletes from the Soviet Union and East Germany. Owing to the prominence of African American athletes in many track-and-field events, the possibilities of harnessing patriotic fervor to racial advancement were commonly acknowledged. Jesse Owens’ success at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, winning four gold medals in front of a furious Hitler (who would have been more furious still had the Americans included their Jewish sprinters on their relay team), was just one example of this. Owens (1913–80) became a nationally recognized and celebrated athlete and, along with Joe Louis, helped pave the way for Jackie Robinson’s desegregation of baseball.

    Wilma Rudolph (1940–84), the first American to win three gold medals in the 1960 Rome Olympics (100m, 200m and 400m relay), continued this tradition. Her achievement, a triumph also over childhood polio, made her one of the most celebrated female athletes of all time. Air Jordan 13 Oreo Costumbre 131101-002. Her celebrity also helped to begin the process of breaking down gender barriers in previously all-male track-and-field events prior to the passage of Title IX.

    The identification between athletes and their country opening up opportunities to black athletes that might otherwise have been closed, remained in place at least until the end of the Cold War. President Carter’s boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, was considered by many a major blow to African American athletes, not merely on the grounds of their pursuit of gold medals. But African American track-and-field athletes also used this spotlight to make comments about racial conditions in the United States. Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Mexico Olympics raised their fists in the Black Power salute during the medal ceremony to make the point that while they were representing their country, Nike Hyperdunk 2013 Naranja Negro Amarillo 131030-001 , that country discriminated against them (both were suspended from the US team).

    The 1968 Olympics also witnessed major trackand-field landmarks: Bob Beamon won the gold medal in the long jump with a world record (29ft, 2½ in), shattering the old mark by nearly 2 feet (unlike most records, this one remained unbroken until 1991 when Mike Powell jumped 2 inches further); and Dick Fosbury fundamentally altered the high jump with his “Fosbury Flop.”

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