Monday, September 1, 2008
Throughout the Modern Games there have been several barefoot competitors in track and field events. The most famous were marathon gold medallist, Abeb Bikila (Ethiopia) in Rome (1960) and Zola Budd (GB) in 1984. Rivals Zola Budd and Mary Decker (US)were pitched against each other in the 3,000m race in Los Angeles, Decker took the lead early but Budd stayed with her. When Budd veered in front of Decker the two runners collided. Trying to keep their balance Decker put a spike through Budd’s left heel. Decker fell injuring her hip and although Budd jogged to the line she came in seventh. Few elite runners compete shoeless but many will train barefoot. Australian, Herb Elliot was encouraged by Percy Carroty (1895-1975) to run barefoot through sand and grass to strengthen his muscles. Cerutty believed barefoot running was an ideal preparation for the body to run long distances fast. He revolutionised running training in Australia and introduced sand dune running at Portsea, Victoria. These ideas are still commonly shared among the successful coaches, worldwide. Barefoot training led Nike to design the Nike Free which according to the manufacturers allow the foot behave naturally and are used by many athlete as training footwear.