This is an interesting article. They come down pretty hard on sports science here. Interested in your thoughts and reactions, I have mine, but I will hold back on this one.

Athletics: Welsh ace’s hopes in lap of the gods

Jun 17 2007

by Peter Shuttleworth, Wales On Sunday

TIM BENJAMIN has gone from ballerina to Incredible Hulk as he bids to be an Olympic super-hero.

The Welsh athletics ace has been transformed by new coach Colin Jackson as the hurdling legend has ditched the 21st century sports science approach to go back to the ‘old school’.

Britain’s top 400m runner continues to be dogged by injuries but Jacko’s intense weights programme is geared to help prevent niggles – as well as unleash Benjamin’s power over the one-lap distance.

His season starts properly on Saturday as Benjamin competes for Great Britain against Europe’s best at the European Cup in Munich – and the 25-year-old star wants to put all his injury nightmares behind him and give British athletics fans finally something to shout about before next year’s Beijing Olympics.

The World Championship finalist said: “Colin has taken me back to basics; he’s very much an old school coach.

“The gym has become my second home as I’ve been doing strength work by the ton. It has been damn hard work but Colin insists my core strength must be strong so I’m stable when running.

“There’s none of that sports science interference or the latest 21st century training fad. I haven’t had people telling me I won’t be able to run fast unless I can balance on one leg with my hands on head.

“Previously I’d go to the gym, spend an hour trying to balance on the stability board and go home and not even break sweat.

“I sometimes felt I achieved nothing. All I wanted to do was lift some steel.

“Colin’s view is you can’t look like a ballerina coming up the home straight. The sports science routines made you run that way.

“Colin thought if I looked like a ballerina, then I wouldn’t be fighting hard enough.

“You can get carried away by these training fads or you can concentrate on doing the basics right – and that’s bulk up and be strong.

“Colin wants me to get strong, get fit and get fast. The strength work will hopefully help keep my injuries at bay and allow me to train more.”

One-lap wonder Benjamin left GB coach Tony Lester and the bright lights of London to join former world 110m record-holder Jackson’s training camp back in Cardiff with fellow Welsh athletics ace Rhys Williams last autumn.

Jackson admitted he was ‘shocked’ by their basic fitness levels and even called his legendary mentor Malcolm Arnold in horror, explaining that neither could complete a mammoth session of sit-ups or pull-ups.

Benjamin admitted: “Colin has spent most of the time body sculpting me so I’ve been doing bench-presses, sit-ups and single-leg squats all of the time. My upper body now feels strong.”

Benjamin proved he is one of Britain’s few world-class talents when the Cardiff athlete beat Olympic and world champion Jeremy Wariner in 2005 as he dipped under the magic 45 seconds mark for a 400m runner.

Benjamin was officially ranked No 2 in the world as he narrowly lost to Tyree Washington in the World Athletics Final in Monaco later that year.

But since then injury has ruined his Commonwealth Games and Euro Championship hopes.

Benjamin – preparing for the European Cup and August’s World Championships in Osaka – suffered a second epidural leak in two years last month after a pain-killing injection to cure a nerve problem in his back went wrong.

“The chances of having of having an epidural leak are one in 200 people,” said Benjamin. “I’ve suffered it twice. That typifies my injury curse.

“I’ve had a sinus problem as well but I’m pushing my body to the limit so injuries and illnesses are going to happen. If I couldn’t cope with that, I’d play darts.

“There is a void of athletics superstars in Britain and I want to fill it. I know I can run fast but I have to keep reminding myself I’m only 25 and Roger Black and Kelly Holmes had to wait until their 30s to celebrate glory.

“This is an unforgiving sport and I’m not lucky enough to be one of those guys who doesn’t suffer injuries but I can’t control that. I’ll just keep coming back for more.

“With the 2012 Olympics being in London, winning a medal there is an opportunity I won’t let go without a fight. I might not win an Olympic medal but I’ll die trying.”


At 6/18/07, 12:29 PM, Anonymous David Hinchliffe - Cricket Fitness said...

I didn't realise lifting weights had stopped being considered sports science.

At 6/18/07, 2:12 PM, Anonymous tlanger said...

David Hinchliffe made a very poignant point above...

Talk about throwing away the baby with the bathwater. It's always all or nothing and people are either into "functional" fitness or "old school" methods…it’s that very mindset that creates more obfuscation around sports science….

Todd Langer

At 6/18/07, 3:44 PM, Blogger Joe P. said...

We see here that sports science is being confused with the basterized version of functional training. In an article Vern wrote a few years back he emphasised that sprint training must include a good amount of "traditional" weight training. Bosch & Klomp include traditional weight training in their repatoire. Who says traditional is not functional? A guru is not a sport scientist; rather a schmuk that comes up with exercises and tests that look different than what everyone else is doing. I know from working at the high school level that athletic development is long term process/commtiment with no quick sexy fixes.

At 6/18/07, 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Benjamin went from ballerina to hulk but is plagued with injury. Perhaps the context would advocate a balance between his former training techniques and the latter training techniques. Without know ing the details it's hard to say. He needs strength, yes and balance, yes but not to the exclusion of the other and it has to be appropriately proportioned to tailor the needs of the athlete. The artcle mentioned nothing of technique training. It's difficult to produce a world champoin when he's a rehab case more often than not.

Jonathan Hewitt

At 6/19/07, 2:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just out of interest, some of the strongest adolescent girls I ever coached in athletics and field sports were also ballerinas - ballet developed a very strong core, great posture and balance, and made them very athletic.


At 6/19/07, 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do ballerinas and gymnasts have in common?

Kinesthetic awareness! Where it involves core strength, balance, weight transfer, and movement activities.

It is taught at the elementary school level in PE classes, BUT we all know which direction PE classes going in the states. In some Florida schools, the gymnasium becomes a storage facility.


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