You and your sport

23rd June 2000 at 01:00
What sport are you best suited to?

Athletes are often made by their training. Emil Zatopek, who in 1952 won the 5,000m, 10,000m and the marathon, trained by running up to 25 miles a day in army boots. Harold Abrahams, the British sprinter who won the 100m in 1924, would run down a track spiking papers laid down by his coach. Paavo Nurmi of Finland, who won three medals in 1924, would race mail trains.

Which body shape are you?

The training would be in vain, however, if these athletes had not chosen the sport to which they were best physically suited. Tall, long-legged people have a natural advantage in jumping competitions and some basketball positions. Shorter, broader athletes can be more successful in weight-lifting. But body shape isn't everything. US high-jumper Yolanda Henry is 1.68m tall and jumped 2m - that's 32cm above her own height.

Which sport suits you?

You may be someone with real stamina, suited to long-distance running or rowng, or you may be someone who can perform best for short, explosive moments, such as a tennis or table tennis player.

Disability is no bar to entering. The paralympics include wheelchair races, which are conducted alongside traditional events (the paralympics record for the 1,500m stands at just over three minutes). Maria Runyon, of the US, jumped 1.80m, although she was blind and unable to see the bar. Nigerian runner Ajibbola Adeoye covered 100m in 10.72 seconds on one leg.

Is it too soon to start?

It is never too soon. Barbara Jones, of the US, was a member of the winning relay team in 1952 at the age of just 15 years and 123 days. Robert Mathias, also from the US, won the decathlon in 1948 at the age of 17 years and 263 days.

What are you waiting for?

With training and dedication, you might one day equal Steve Redgrave's record. With his rowing partner Matthew Pinsent, he has won a gold medal at each of the last four Olympics.

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