Since 1982 I've written a newsletter, Running Commentary. A new issue appears here each week, and material is archived.

Wed, 15 Nov 2000 12:31:56 -0500

Suzy's Fall

(from RC 330)

Suzy Favor Hamilton fell. She wasn't tripped or pushed, and I refuse to believe-- as more than one reader does -- that she took an intentional dive.

The first of many comments on her Olympic race came from Al Hromjak. "Does Suzy's dive in the Olympic Women's 1500 meters deserve an Oscar for acting?" he asked.

"Watch the race in slow motion and judge for yourself. Runners begin to pass her, she looks around and then, to get sympathy, she decides to 'fall' to the track." Other readers have suggested that she appeared to look for a safe place to land before going down.

Her doctors blamed dehydration, but Hal Higdon doesn't buy that explanation. "Can anybody tell me how someone can become dehydrated in only 1500 meters?" he wrote.

Martin Dixon echoed a thought of mine: "I keep telling people that if you saw Suzy on the NBC coverage, she did not look right before the race." Closeups at the start revealed a haunted look, verging on panic.

I don't claim to know Suzy, but I've watched her run since high school -- including the years she lived in my neighborhood. I've seen her stumble at the finish while leaning for a final edge.

Even while losing some big races, she has never been anything but a tough, honest competitor. It's unbelievable that she would choose to take her first dive at age 32 and in her third Olympics.

After returning to the U.S., Suzy said, "I just kind of blacked out. The dizziness, I found out later, was from the fatigue and dehydration." She blamed this condition on the hefty doses of anti-inflammatories she'd taken for muscle soreness.

Details of the fall, what led up to it and its aftermath appear on her website: This is her own explanation, and I have no reason to doubt it.


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