Monthly Archives: July 2012

Olympics 2012: Usain Ready to Bolt

They call him the Lightning Bolt for one reason and one reason alone: he’s faster than any man alive. Usain Bolt is currently the World and Olympic Record Holder for the 100 meter (9.58 sec) and 200 meter (19.19 sec) dash. And to put his speed in perspective, Bolt can run the length of a football field (100 yards) faster than it takes to zap fry a pop tart (10 seconds). Go figure.

But lately, Bolt has been struggling with a bad back that has had some indirect consequences for his hamstrings. Officials representing his spot in the 2012 London Olympics have expressed concern in recent weeks, but the announcement was just made on their official website that Bolt is in.

Referring to the concerns about his potential injury, Bolt said, “I had slight problems but nothing too serious. I got that fixed. I came to camp today and I felt that vibe.” In other words, he showed up in London and talked himself out of any lingering hesitations. For anyone to repeat or surpass their prior Olympic performance would be something of a miracle, but gold or not, Jamaicans will be proud to see him carry their flag when the opening ceremonies begin at 4pm on Friday, July 27.

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Olympic Committee: Rodgers Out, Demps In

The most traditional lesson of the Summer Olympics is that there are winners and losers. During a race, if someone comes in first, we recognize that someone must inevitably come in last. We empathize with the athletes who give everything they have and come up short, we cheer for the champions who always seem to give just a little bit more, and our hearts break for those who wanted to compete, yet found themselves hampered by injury.

So it goes for Mike Rodgers and Jeff Demps, two American sprinters who just swapped places for the London games that start on Friday. Rodgers endured a stress fracture in his left foot, making the very idea of running sound painful. Understandably frustrated, he claimed not to have any pain in his foot, but doctors insisted that the X-ray suggested otherwise. USOC rules indicate that an athlete cannot enter the games if there are concerns from a doctor, however small or large. “I probably won’t be going now because of this stupid rule,” said Rodgers.

He’s right on one account. He won’t be going. But whether or not it’s a stupid rule is another issue entirely. Replacing him on the track will be Jeff Demps, a former running back with the Florida Gators. During his early college career, Demps was able to match the world junior record time of 10.01 seconds for the 100 meter dash. So who knows? Perhaps the loss of Rodgers means a greater chance of gold for the United States, hanging on the legs and feet of Jeff Demps.

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The Weightlifter’s Thigh

Andrei Aramnau, a weightlifting gold medalist from the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, will not be competing in London this time around. Due to a torn muscle that caught him by surprise, he had to withdraw his name from contention.

“Unfortunately I pulled a muscle in my thigh,” he said. “It’s quite serious. It would take me about two months to recover, so London is out of the question.”

Since winning the gold in ’08, the 24 year old Aramnau has made some dangerous decisions that cost him a degree of personal confidence. Within two months of the ’08 Olympics, he was nabbed for driving under the influence. The following year, having learned nothing from the first offense, Aramnau received another DUI, only this time it meant giving up his license for two years.

Needless to say, the Belarussian athlete is not in the best of moods right now. In fact, he deflected much of the concern over his injury withdrawal on the coach.

“I was in great shape, but for whatever reason my coach had asked me to compete in a meaningless competition, where I first suffered the injury. Then this weekend, in my last competition before leaving for London, I tried to jerk a record weight and just aggravated it. That was it. The Olympics are now over for me.”

While London may be over for Aramnau, there’s always 2016. But he’s got a lot of baggage to resolve before that chance comes again.

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Princeton Alum No Longer Hamstrung

So few of us make it anywhere near the Olympic stage that we can easily imagine how gutwrenching it would be for an athlete to get remarkably close to the games but fall short of the mark. That was the case in 2008 for Soren Thompson, whose Olympic fencing dream was crushed during the qualification process when he completely tore his right hamstring. Thompson is a 2005 graduate of Princeton University, where he had become a star in this incredibly unique, but underrated sport.

To be fair, the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing would not have been his first foray onto the world stage. In fact, Thompson placed seventh in the men’s individual epee during the previous 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, achieving the best result for the United States since 1956 and second overall. He was hoping that 2008 would be a chance to repeat or exceed his accomplishments from 2004, but alas, found himself working at Hycrete, a clean technology company in New Jersey for the better part of three years.

Then last fall, Thompson began feeling an urge to return. And during the Spring of 2012, he officially left Hycrete to give all of his attention to a singular goal. Now that he’s back, the Princeton alum can’t wait for the games to begin.

“There is no limit to what I can achieve, but that being said, fencing has a lot of great athletes and it is going to be tough. I need to put myself in a position to succeed and execute. I expect to be prepared.”

An injured hamstring can often end careers, but on occasion, overcoming it can be gold. We wish him well.

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No More NBA Players in the Olympics?

The risk of injury is simply too great, some are saying. They are paid to represent their basketball organization, first and foremost, say others, not the entire country. With Blake Griffin now the third player behind Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to be at risk of sitting out the Olympic games, many are speculating that contracted players in the United States shouldn’t be encouraged to risk their bodies on an international stage.

Griffin, who plays for the Los Angeles Clippers and was ranked as one of the Top 15 Rookies of all time in 2011, signed a contract with Los Angeles last Wednesday, a mere $95 million for five years. But on the same day, within hours, he left a practice with Team USA, saying he had an injury to his left knee. During practice, Griffin got his foot caught under the body weight of James Harden, causing him to twist the leg awkwardly and stumble to the side. Just after their win over the Dominican Republic on Thursday, U.S. Coach Mike Krzyzewski admitted it was a “big loss”, saying that the team would press forward with or without him.

Still, it’s the Clippers who have to sit and wonder about a man they just agreed to pay big money to have on their roster. If he doesn’t come back in top form by the 2012 Season, perhaps more will argue that there needs to be a salary limit on NBA Players who can represent their country in the Olympics.

But whoever said that athletes were invincible? Kobe Bryant, speaking at a panel discussion, explained the matter more simply. “I could get hurt just as easily playing pickup basketball in the gym somewhere.” In other words, Olympics or no Olympics, there’s never a cloak of invicibility on any player, no matter how much you offer to pay them. All of us are human.

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Sanchez Shoulder May Have Prompted Tebow Signing

Deep down, no one really hates the New York Jets the way they might hate the New England Patriots, the New York Giants, or the Dallas Cowboys. Somewhere deep down, there’s a Joe Namath in every football fan, hoping for a day when ‘Gang Green’ shows up in the Super Bowl and guarantees a victory against the bigger, better team. But for now, the Jets are fodder for growing controversy. Not the least of which is last year’s starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez.

We say ‘last year’ because no one knows what will happen in 2012. According to Plaxico Burress, who played with Sanchez in 2011, the once famed rookie was battling a shoulder injury that he chose to conceal and has yet to address.

“He definitely has enough arm,” said Burress. “He was battling some injuries last year, shoulder-wise that a lot of people didn’t know about… different things like that.”

And different things like that? What other injuries did he conceal? We’d really like to know.

During the offseason, the Jets acquired Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos, creating a quarterback controversy that’s likely to carry through the season as much as both men try to be friendly. Neither man wants the bench, but neither man has proved to be awe-inspiring at their position on a consistent basis. Add a bad shoulder to the Sanchez image and he might just be out of New York before he knows it.

Brett Favre used to push himself through shoulder injuries as well, but most of us recognize the need to care for our ailing bodies. If you’ve got a shoulder injury, get some support right away.

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Firefighter Injured During Philly Disruption

When the four alarms went off in North Philadelphia on Tuesday at about 2:30am, the warehouse blaze caught everyone’s attention, including some who had been sleeping in the surrounding neighborhoods. Even though the fire was declared ‘under control’ by 4:15, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) had to suspend service along the Market and Frankford route during the morning commute. A firefighter was rushed to Hahnemann University Hospital after sustaining a back injury from a fall in the 75 foot warehouse.

The decision by SEPTA to halt their trains was a result of speculation about what would happen to the building after the fire was contained. Should the building collapse, as some believed, it would fall directly onto the tracks and risk further danger and potential injuries to commuters. In order to protect residents from these risks, the Department of Licenses and Inspections arranged for an emergency demolition, leaving the grounds full of worn bricks and debris by the mid afternoon.

Inspectors are unclear as to how the fire started, but they are confident that their firefighter, who is currently unnamed, will be perfectly okay. His back injury did not appear to be life threatening or career compromising.

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Williams, Federer Take Wimbledon

Serena Williams and Roger Federer are both in the thirtysomething category and both took home the honor of being called 2012 Wimbledon champions. Federer turns 31 in two months and has officially earned his seventh Wimbledon victory. Williams will turn 31 just a few weeks later and has won her fifth Wimbledon title. They are both at the top of their game, earning praise as two of the best tennis players to ever step on a court. But this was not the case for Federer just one week before the tournament.

Federer is known around the tennis world as an athlete who rarely, if ever, gets injured. And if he does, he conceals it very well. For someone who takes the kinds of twists and turns around the court that he does, Federer is incredibly agile. But last Monday, fans were alarmed by his casual reaction to a seven minute departure after the seventh game to have his back examined.

“I felt it going at the start of the first set. I guess it must be a mix of the five-setter in the last round, the two days off and the cold wind today. I’m honestly not too concerned, I’ve had bad backs over the years, they go as quickly as they come. Of course I have to keep an eye on it but two good nights’ sleep and I’ll be 100 per cent on Wednesday.”

Talk about someone being in tune with their body. Athletes are not always so fortunate, but he sure did put on a good show. As one player put it, “There’s no shame in losing to Roger Federer.” Especially when he puts his back into it.

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Firework Safety is Mostly About the Children

There may be no better celebration in American life than the Fourth of July. Even Governor Romney and President Obama could probably shake hands for a few minutes over a barbeque dinner on the lawn of the White House (we’ll believe it when we see it, right?). Grills come out, volleyball nets go up, and the summer is in full swing.

Perhaps what’s most unifying to Americans is the moment when fireworks are set ablaze, igniting the sky and causing us to remember that this tradition is one of the few we can actually date all the way back to the beginning, when men like Washington, Adams, and Jefferson stood together to draft and conceive a new nation.

But with the use of fireworks comes a nasty possibility of injury. In 2010, the National Fireworks Related Injury Statistics recounted some interesting and sometimes shocking data.

  • Children under age 15 account for at least 40% of the estimated injuries
  • Children and young adults under age 20 account for 53% of the estimated injuries
  • Nearly 2,000 injuries were connected with sparklers and bottle rockets, often perceived to be the safest and least dangerous fireworks for children.

In other words, firework safety is, more than anything, about the safety of our children. Usually the best fireworks of the day are from the city you live, when the community comes together to watch a carefully planned celebration by adults who have been trained to handle and manage their presentation.

From all of us at the Brace Shop, please have a very safe and happy Fourth of July.

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Heat Falling on Summer Olympics

Not the temperature. We’re talking about the Miami Heat.

Two weeks ago, doctors officially made clear that the Heat’s Dwayne Wade would be out of the Summer Olympics so that he could finally have an overdue surgery on his knee. Then last week, forward Chris Bosh, also from the Heat, had to call his USA Basketball coach and say that he was out as well. Dare we start drawing comparisons between the NFL’s Pro Bowl, when the best players usually bow out for fear of injury before the real Super Bowl, and the Summer Olympics, when the reigning NBA Champions start dropping like flies in order to avoid playing in the Olympics?

No. It’s a little early to go on about the Pro Bowl and the Summer Olympics. But Bosh is still the second player from the Heat to step out. During a game against the Indiana Pacers on May 13, he strained his lower abdominal area, but it was Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. He rested for nine of their playoff appearances and returned to the court for their final eight games, a series in which they took on the Oklahoma City Thunder and won the NBA title.

Right now, Team USA has also lost four other players to injury: Chauncey Billups, LaMarcus Aldridge, Derrick Rose, and Dwight Howard. With Wade and Bosh off the roster, that makes for a weak chance at gold for the United States. Then again, with replacements like James Harden of the Thunder and Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, anything is possible.

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