Gabby Douglas doesn’t care what you think about her hair
By Maggie Hendricks | Fourth-Place Medal – 10 hours ago
A bit of an (incredibly silly) kerfuffle erupted over Gabrielle Douglas' hair after she
won gold, as she was criticized for the state of her hair as she competed in the most
important athletic event of her life. Tweets linked to here called her hair undone and
said it was too much on camera. Like Fourth-Place Medal, Douglas found the
"I don't know where this is coming from. What's wrong with my hair?" said Douglas,
the first U.S. gymnast to win gold in team and all-around competition. "I'm like, `I
just made history and people are focused on my hair?' It can be bald or short, it
doesn't matter about (my) hair."
Here is how she did her hair for the all-around final.
And here is how she wore her hair during the uneven bars final.
That's right, she didn't change it at all. She doesn't care what you think about her
"Nothing is going to change," she said. "I'm going to wear my hair like this during
beam and bar finals. You might as well just stop talking about it."
Well said, Gabby.
Gabby Douglas' hair
Updated: August 3, 2012, 7:52 PM ET
By Jemele Hill http://espn.go.com/olympics/summer/2012/espnw/story/_/id/8232063/espnw-
On Friday, espnW intern Skylar Diggins, one of the NCAA's most accomplished college
basketball players, shadowed me for the day to gain insight into the sports media
But a considerable portion of our conversation wasn't about sports media, but
electrifying gymnast Gabby Douglas, who won an individual gold medal in the all-
around event and also helped the United States win the team competition. It was the
first team gold for the U.S. since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
I wish I could say that Diggins and I simply gloried in Douglas' inspiring
accomplishments, but unfortunately we spent a lot of time talking about Douglas' hair.
That's because too many people took to Twitter and Facebook -- and sadly, many of
them were African-American women -- to denigrate Douglas because her hairdo
apparently wasn't up to some people's standards.
"It's sad," Diggins said, shaking her head.
Instead of basking in the fact that Douglas became the first African-American woman
to win the individual all-around competition, people on social media were making
jokes about how this 16-year-old phenom was in need of a perm or, at the very least,
a more kempt ponytail.
"It makes me absolutely sick to see these comments about Gabby's hair," said Swin
Cash, the decorated Team USA forward who is in London for her third Olympics.
"What sickens me more is that it's mostly people from our own community. She is a
beautiful, talented young lady. I hope she ignores the ignorance because she's an
Olympic gold medalist. Enough said."
Fair or foul? Experts split over whether
Pistorius has advantage
pistorius-london-olympics/index.html#ixzz22ot6DKoOLONDON-- Before he changed into his
racing legs, South African double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius made sure to greet each
and every photographer who showed up to shoot his training session last Sunday at St.
Mary's University College in Twickenham, far in the south of London. At the very same time
that one of his PR reps was insisting that he wouldn't be talking at all today, Pistorius was
busily talking to everyone he could see. He greeted every onlooker with a handshake, going
back when he missed one person. "I think I forgot to greet you," he said softly, and extended
his hand. The display prompted a British photographer to remark: "I've never come across
that. He doesn't need any PR, does he?" And it's all the more remarkable considering that
such manners flowed from a man who is an A-list celebrity in South Africa. Pistorius has
owned white tigers and racehorses, and the gossip pages recently reported that he's dating a
Russian supermodel. (Two days ago, a zealous fan showed him a photo of "Pistorius 2012"
tattooed on her arm.)
That Pistorius is charismatic is beyond questioning. Nor is there any doubt of the magnitude of
the inspiration he engenders. Pistorius's Twitter picture is a shot of him -- in his crescent,
carbon-fiber Cheetah Flex-Feet -- leaning down and jogging beside a little blonde girl whose
own Cheetah legs are protruding, adorably, from beneath her tiny yellow sun dress. Or how
about this scene, which sounds like the Paralympic variation of a bad barroom joke: guy with
no lower arms or legs walks up to a guy born with no fibulas and starts asking about
sprinting. But that actually happened, last year, the day before Pistorius ran in a Diamond
League meet in New York City. Pistorius was gracious and patient in giving advice to the man,
Andre Lampkin, a 23-year-old former football player who had recently lost parts of all four
limbs to bacterial meningitis, and was still extremely wobbly on his new Cheetahs.
When the "Blade Runner" steps onto the track Saturday, it will be as South Africa's top
quarter-miler of 2012 and the first double-amputee (and first male Paralympian of any sort)
to compete in the Olympics. And even though Pistorius -- who had both lower legs amputated
before he was a year old -- is a veritable fount of inspiration, questions about his carbon fiber
racing legs have followed him to London. Just before the Games began, Michael Johnson --
Pistorius's friend and the 400-meter world record holder -- said that Pistorius should not be
competing against able-bodied runners.
"My position is that because we don't know for sure whether he gets an advantage from the
prosthetics that he wears, it is unfair to the able-bodied competitors," Johnson said. "That is
hard for a lot of people to take and to understand when you are talking about an athlete and
an individual who has a disability."
The questions started almost as soon as Pistorius began racing, even before he earned the
moniker, "fastest man on no legs." In the summer of 2003, Pistorius injured his knee playing
rugby for Pretoria Boys High School and took up track as a form of rehabilitation. The
following summer, at age 17, and just eight months into his track training, Pistorius donned
Cheetahs for the 2004 Athens Paralympics. He won gold in the 200 -- an event that combines
single- and double-leg amputees -- shattering the world record. According to a former U.S.
Paralympics official, single-leg amputees, feeling that they were at a disadvantage against
Pistorius, began to complain.
In 2007, with the blessing of the IAAF -- the governing body for track and field -- Pistorius
competed in the 400 in a Golden League meet in Rome, against professional sprinters with
intact limbs. It was not only a history-making event, but also an athletic success. Pistorius
came from dead last in the final 70 meters to finish second in his heat. But the way he ran the
race only intensified the questions. Nearly all elite quarter-milers burst out of the blocks and
spend the race trying to slow down as slowly as possible, but slow down they do. Pistorius
"negative-split" the race in Rome, meaning that he ran the second 200 faster than the first,
an unheard of strategy for elite quarter-milers. (Pistorius, though, no longer negative-splits
Among track aficionados, certain statistical comparisons have raised eyebrows: Pistorius's
100- and 200-meter bests are similar to those of U.S. sprinter Allyson Felix, but he is 4.5
seconds faster than her in the 400. As Pistorius progressed to where he could compete for a
spot on South Africa's national team, another South African 400 runner who was also fighting
for a spot, Sibusiso Sishi, gave his opinion: "I don't mind racing [Pistorius], but I'm still a bit
skeptical about his legs because they are man-made. They are carbon fiber, which means
they are nice and light. I would just like him to do the tests so at least we know where we
With Pistorius knocking on the Olympic-qualifying door, in late 2007, the IAAF asked Peter
Brüggemann of the German Sport University to test Pistorius and his blades. Brüggemann
subsequently reported to the IAAF that the Cheetah blades allow Pistorius to expend less
energy than other runners, and, as result, Pistorius was banned from able-bodied
Pistorius appealed the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). He went for more
testing, this time in a lab at Rice University run by physiologist Peter Weyand. The data from
that testing found that Pistorius fatigued at a normal rate. Not to mention that energy
efficiency has about as much to do with sprint performance as fuel efficiency does with drag-
racing performance. University of Colorado physiologist Rodger Kram and Hugh Herr, a
professor at MIT and world-renowned designer of prosthetics -- both members of the scientific
team that did the second analysis of Pistorius -- presented the data to the CAS.
Herr, whose own designs have been commercialized by Össur, the company that makes the
Cheetah Flex-Feet, has been Pistorius's most vigorous supporter. And his life narrative bears
an uncanny resemblance to that of Pistorius. Herr was a mountain-climbing prodigy, known as
the "Boy Wonder," until he suffered frostbite on a climbing trip as a 17-year-old in 1982 and
lost both lower legs. Rather than accept the end of his climbing career, Herr immediately
began designing climbing-specific prostheses that could change length mid-ascent and find
purchase on nooks too small for human feet. And, almost as quickly, some of Herr's
competitors who saw a potentially unfair advantage called for him to be disqualified from
In May of 2008, based on Kram and Herr's testimony and the data the team collected in
Weyand's lab, Pistorius was reinstated. The CAS ruling explicitly noted that though the
prostheses give no energetic advantage relevant to sprinting, future scientific findings could
still show that the Cheetah Flex-Feet give Pistorius a mechanical advantage. Eighteen months
later, Weyand and Matthew Bundle, a biomechanist at Montana and one of the other scientists
who did the testing that got Pistorius reinstated, came out and said that the Cheetahs do just
"It was dead obvious as soon as [Bundle and I] saw the data that Oscar has an advantage,"
says Peter Weyand, who now directs the SMU Locomotor Performance Laboratory. "We
haven't wavered from that interpretation since."
Because the CAS hearing examined specifically -- and only -- the IAAF's previous claims
regarding Pistorius, it was not until the following year, when the scientific team published its
full findings in the Journal of Applied Physiology, that the researchers who helped Pistorius
earn the right to compete split into groups, with Weyand and Bundle contending that Pistorius
has a massive advantage. To understand Weyand's reasoning, it helps to know a bit about the
mechanics of sprinting.
All sprinters run essentially the same way. Sure, Usain Bolt is 6-foot-5 and flies down the
track smirking, while Tyson Gay is 5-11 and runs with his eyelids peeled back. But
biomechanically they are doing the same thing. At top speed, each piston pump of a sprinter's
leg slams a foot down on the ground for less than a 10th of a second. In that instant -- much
briefer than the blink of any eye -- the sprinter applies enough force to lift his body back into
the air for slightly more than a 10th of a second. That's how long he needs to bring the other
leg forward and pound the track once again. And it's not just top male sprinters such as Bolt
and Gay who have this in common. It is also female sprint stars such as Allyson Felix and
Carmelita Jeter, not to mention all those other sprinters, male and female, who have no hope
of getting past the first-round heats in London. (The high-speed video below shows the
contact time and force application of an Olympic sprinter.)
Oscar Pistorius Advances in the 400 Meters. Do
the Blade Runner’s Artificial Legs Give Him an
By Josh Levin
Posted Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012, at 1:12 PM ET
South Africa’s bilateral amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius finished second in his heat in
the 400 meters earlier today, advancing to tomorrow’s semifinals with the first
round’s 16th-best time. The 25-year-old Pistorius, who ran a time of 45.44 in the first
round, will likely have to improve on his personal best of 45.07 to make the final.
Even if he doesn’t get through, he’ll run again this coming week as part of South
Africa’s 4-by-400-meter relay team. And Pistorius, who won gold in the 100, 200, and
400 at the 2008 Paralympics, will also compete at the 2012 Paralympic Games, which
begin later this month in London.
It seemed for a time that Pistorius wouldn’t get the chance to pull off the
Olympics/Paralympics double. In January 2008, he was banned by track’s
international governing body from running against able-bodied competition, with the
IAAF arguing that his artificial legs gave him a biomechanical advantage. But a few
months later, the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned that decision, saying there
was no proof Pistorius had an unfair edge. That opened the door for Pistorius to run
against all competitors, no matter their lower body type.
It’s still not clear who was right. As Rose Eveleth lays out in a comprehensive
Scientific American story, the IAAF’s initial ruling was based on a series of tests
conducted on Pistorius at Cologne Sports University in 2007. The German scientists
concluded that the amputee’s Flex-Foot Cheetah legs allowed him to use less energy
than naturally limbed sprinters while moving at the same speed. As a consequence,
the IAAF decreed that Pistorius’ prostheses fell in the category of a “technical device
that incorporates springs, wheels, or any other element that provides the user with an
advantage over valid athletes.”
In advance of his appeal hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Pistorius went
to Rice University for a new series of studies. In these tests, the Texas group found
that the South African was "physiologically similar but mechanically dissimilar" to
runners with flesh-and-blood legs—that, in Eveleth’s words, he “uses oxygen the
same way natural-legged sprinters do, but he moves his body differently.”
With both studies in hand, the CAS ruled that the Germans had only looked at
Pistorius’ possible advantages—his straight-line acceleration—rather than weighing
them against the disadvantages his legs might confer—the speed at which he comes
out of the starting blocks, for instance. (To wit, only four of the 47 men who made it
through the 400 meters on Saturday had a slower reaction time than Pistorius.) The
CAS also said that the fact no other amputees had run as fast as Pistorius
demonstrated “that even if the prosthesis provided an advantage … it may be quite
limited.” But the court did leave open the possibility that, “with further advances in
scientific knowledge,” Pistorius and his Cheetahs could be re-evaluated down the line.
As Eveleth explains in Scientific American, the Houston group didn’t agree about the
current state of scientific knowledge, much less what future studies might show. The
team splintered after Pistorius was deemed OK to compete, with physiologist Peter
Weyand thinking that “Pistorius' prosthetics allow him to move in a way that no non-
prosthetics wearer could, giving him an advantage.” On the other side, biomechanics
guru Rodger Kram “believes that the Blade Runner's blades hinder him just as much
as they help.”
There’s evidence to support both arguments. Since Pistorius’ lower legs are lighter
than typical limbs, it takes him less time than elite able-bodied sprinters—0.28
seconds vs. 0.37 seconds—to swing his leg back and forth. But Kram says that
because the Cheetahs are so light, they don’t impart as much force when they strike
the ground. The counter-argument from Weyand: “Pistorius simply doesn't need to
push as hard to run just as fast.”
Eveleth finishes her story by noting that to “complicate matters further, science
doesn't totally understand how running works.” Well, great! But in the end, with leg
technology in its current state, it’s hard to argue that allowing Pistorius to compete
does anyone any harm.
What could Pistorius potentially accomplish? At the end of the Scientific American
piece, a physiologist raises the tantalizing possibility that, because “Pistorius’
Cheetahs don’t tire,” the South African might be the best in the world at the 600
meters if such an event existed. So what’s stopping us? Let’s get the 600 meters on
the card for Rio.