Daily Archives: December 13, 2010

My Deficient Hurdling Form

A few days ago, I stumbled upon an excellent feature by Trans World Sports on Norway’s reigning World Youth and World Junior Champion, Isabelle Pedersen. The powerfully-built Pedersen reminds me of a young Susanna Kallur, with her raw sprinting power and technically-sound hurdling fundamentals.

In the clip, Pedersen was doing hurdle walk-overs. I noticed that her trail arm (her right arm) had an open palm ala Carl Lewis throughout the entire arm action. Then it hit me, why not do the hurdle walkovers Pedersen style? Instead clenching my left arm in a loose fist, I could make an open palm to instill the proper relaxed arm swing motion on my left trail arm.

During the formative months of 2005, when I overhauled my entire hurdling technique thanks to Coach Toto, I never corrected this blatant flaw in form. I’ve always had a problematic trail arm. Instead simply swinging backwards and forwards during clearance, my trail arm always jerks towards shoulder (or chin!) height, before the resumption of a more orthodox arm swing. As a result, the path my center of gravity travels during the hurdling motion becomes mildly erratic, instead of being as stable as possible. The arms, after all, are key in providing balance against the enormous torque produced during the hurdling action.

Sprinting-in-between becomes harder, in light of this split-second break in momentum.

Nevertheless, I corrected all the other aspects of my hurdling: (1) lead arm (whereas before, it used to swing from a high arch, I corrected it to mimic Liu Xiang’s sword-like arm swing) and (2) trail leg (the squaring of the trail knee become more forceful, the foot became parallel with the hurdle top bar). Despite my troublesome trail arm, I improved dramatically because of the hours I spent drilling over the hurdles.

At left is my deficient form. At right is the proper trail arm action, courtesy of non-other than Liu Xiang himself!

Photos from Karla Lim and BBC/AP

The flaws of my hurdling technique becomes even more apparent during the lead leg action. By this time, the trail arm had settled beside my hip, albeit quite tensely. As you can see from the photo below, I bring my lead knee up too high. The result is more hang time, as the lead leg needlessly exerts excessive upward force.

Photos from Karla Lim and Xinhua

Mind you, I wasn’t like this before. In the summer of 2006, I remember how my thighs almost always graze the hurdle top bar – a good feeling for a hurdler! However, a spate of injuries (hamstring and a terrible forearm fracture) stunted my hurdling finesse. From then on, I couldn’t seem to replicate the sensation of precise clearing. Even if I ran faster times, the hurdling clearances almost always felt lacking.

Despite the aforesaid flaws, my hurdling technique has some good points too. I am particularly proud of my squared lead leg and parallel trail foot. My lead arm swing is also efficient, enabling my trail leg to smoothly clear the hurdle. Needless to say, I am quite proud of my overall trail leg action!

Photos from Karla Lim and IAAF

I am light-years away from an efficient hurdling technique, much less to even approach Liu Xiang’s form – or any other world- or regional- class hurdlers for that matter!

As soon as I wrap-up the 2010 season and take a breather, I’ll head out to the track again to correct the deficiencies in my technique. I believe that a smoother hurdling clearance can shave off as much as two-tenths of a second from my personal best.

I’ll start with the most basic of hurdling drills – the hurdle walk-overs. Hopefully, an open-palmed trail arm would promote a more relaxed arm action.

Coping (12 December 2010)

I didn’t get to train much the past few days. I went out on a blind date on Wednesday, I took the day off on Thursday and I went to my friends’ wedding on Friday. I was supposed to resume my regular routine last weekend, but since my mom went to the province, I had to stay at home with my dad.

I must admit that all these distractions and interruptions had sapped a major chunk of my juice. Ever since late October, I have been hard pressed to take in some measure of consistency. In any other circumstances, I would have been utterly pissed off. Needless to say, this isn’t just any other real-life hurdle.

Family comes first.

Hence, I have to make do with what I have. In an effort to salvage what was left of my competition sharpness, I worked out twice yesterday. I ran around the subdivision shortly after lunch. I was unable to go to my usual haunts since I had to be near my dad. It was a lackluster workout since I couldn’t really get into the zone whilst training at the subdivision. I missed the regularity of the oval and the familiarity of the Ateneo campus. Ironically, in training terms, I fell more at home in Ultra and Ateneo than in my very own subdivision!

My mom got home earlier than usual that night. After a light dinner, I headed out to the gym for a much needed weights/plyos session.

If I’m not mistaken, this week’s PATAFA Weekly Relays includes the 100m dash. It’s about time for me to compete!

Home workout:

Light run

5x50m uphills


Gym workout:



Single-leg Shoulder press

Standing long jump (dynamic)

Deep squats

Leg curls

Various ab exercises


Amir Khan retained his WBA Light-Welterweight title against Argentina’s Marcos Maidana last Sunday. The 24-year old Briton seemed en route for an easy night, as he felled the South American knockout artist with a vicious body shot in the dying seconds of the 1st round.

But come the 10th round, Maidana landed a looping right to Khan’s head. The reigning champion staggered at the blow. What ensued was a merciless attempt Madaina to finish off Khan. For almost two minutes, the Briton of Pakistani descent took in the best of the Argentian’s punches.

As I watched Khan dance his way around the ring, doing everything humanly possible to keep himself in the fight, the bout reminded me of that Japanese anime/manga, Hajime No Ippo. It seemed as if the 10th round was culled exactly from the action-packed series, with Khan playing the role of a beleaguered Ippo Makonouchi hanging on to dear life.

Watch the rest of the fight here

As the seconds ticked by, an even more frightening image came into mind – that of Z Gorres. Gorres, in similar circumstances, got clipped in the head by a monstrous punch from his Colombian opponent. He survived the final minutes of the last round, only to collapse shortly after the final bell. Gorres undertook a series of brain surgeries, his promising fight career brutally sidelined by a circumstances of this exciting, yet oftentimes cruel sport.

The Guardian’s Kevin Mitchell put it succinctly: “Who knows what toll the 10th round of last night’s fight will take on Amir Khan? He may not discover that for years.” Fortunately, Khan did not collapse after the narrow unanimous decision over Madaina. It speaks much of his conditioning – and fighting heart.

Read “Amir Khan wins his third defence – and a million hearts”

It was an entertaining fight pitting two warriors at the prime of their lives. No quarter was given; the focal point of the match was heart.

Maximus asks: “Are you not entertained?” Indeed we are.

But amidst all the fanfare, all the pre-fight and post-fight hype and the millions of Dollars worth of prize money, boxing remains a modern-day version of gladiatorial combat – a sport that has the terrible potential to maim or even kill.

With the aforesaid facts in mind, I tip my hat off to the prizefighters around the world. I salute you all.

Video credits:



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