Tag Archives: Vladimir Vukicevic

Deja Vu: 2010 World Juniors 110m High Hurdles Final

My initial reaction after seeing Liu Xiang 刘翔 and Dayron Robles make contact at that controversial sprint hurdles final last night was one of sympathy for the two hurdlers. Stuff like these happen all the time in the hurdles.

A good example is the 110m high hurdles final of last year’s World Junior championships. The United States’ Caleb Cross was leading the race until the fast-finishing Pascale Martinot-Lagarde caught up at the ninth hurdle. Lagarde was running in lane eight, with Cross in lane seven, similar in circumstances to the Daegu sprint hurdles final.

Cross lost his rhythm for a split-second. As he dropped out of the lead, Lagarde, Jack Meredith and Vladimir Vukicevic overtook the erstwhile leader. Like Robles, Lagarde immediately apologized to Cross after the race. The Frenchman wasn’t happy with the unintentional contact, but then again, such occurrences are part of the high hurdles.

Cross and Lagarde both led with their right legs. But Cross, being a raw junior athlete, still displayed a wildly flailing trail arm (his right arm). Cross’ upward-jerking trail arm was bound to hit Lagarde’s lead arm (his left) – which swung at a wide “C” – at some point in the race.

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Nuances of the Lead Arm Action

Although I employ a crude hybrid of the single- and double-arm shifts, my ideal hurdling form is most certainly the former. I just don’t have the necessary skill level to employ an efficient single-arm hurdling action. In terms of hurdling skill, it is obvious that I’m a big fan of Liu Xiang 刘翔, as well as Allen Johnson and Colin Jackson.

When it comes to arm action, I’m a stickler for the lead arm extension. As the lead leg straightens, the lead arm stretches out as well – as if reaching for the lead foot. Such arm action provides balance, by countering the extension of the lead leg. Swinging the lead arm outwards is a common error amongst beginners. It obviously increases the hang time of the clearance.

There are some hurdlers who bend the forearm all the way inside, with the lead forearm running parallel with the chest. For a hurdler, this is a matter of preference. I, for one, try to keep my arm action as faithful to the simple up-and-down movement of sprinting. Taking the lead arm all the way across the chest, in my opinion, complicates the hurdling action.

But then again, this is a matter of preference. So long as the arms aren’t wildly flailing and the center of gravity remains level, various nuances of hurdling are acceptable. Perhaps such an arm action enables the hurdler facilitate a more forceful trail leg snap, thanks to the increased leverage provided by the lead arm.

Practitioners of this style include the Vukicevic siblings – Christina and Vladimir. Trained by their father, the hurdling technique of the Norwegians are strikingly similar. I stumbled upon clips of their South Africa training session, one can say that they are mirror images of each other!

The older Christina, taller than most women hurdlers, is gradually making a name for herself in the international scene. In an event where speedsters tend to get away with flaws in technique, Christina’s hurdling is most efficient. The younger Vladimir, the 2010 World Junior silver medalist, is on-track to following her sister’s footsteps (or shall we say, three-step?).

Hurdlers aren’t chipped from one single block. One physical activities determines one’s hurdling style. The big and powerful David Oliver for instance, is more aggressive, in light of his background in American Football. Liu Xiang and Colin Jackson, in contrast, are pure technicians, relying on a fluidly classy form. The difference is technique and, ultimately, style makes the sprint hurdles a lot more interesting to watch.

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