Before I get into controversy, I want to acknowledge Meb’s incredible performance in the Olympic marathon yesterday. He finished in 4th place with a time of 2:11:06.
And, of course, major kudos to Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda who took the gold by running the race in 2:08:01.
Much of the Olympic marathon spotlight, however, has been on Ryan Hall, who dropped out of the Olympic marathon at the 10 mile mark, in 50th place. He blamed his DNF (did not finish) on a hamstring injury. His tweet after dropping out:
Hall has taken some heat for not finishing the race. Many believe that if he knew he was injured (Hall reports he has suffered from plantar fasciitis for 7 months and hamstring problems for 2 months leading up to the race), he should not have “taken someone else’s spot” at the Olympics. Others think that regardless of his injury, he should have gutted it out and finished, even if it took him 4 hours. Many speculate he dropped out once he knew he would not medal.
Hall’s supporters think he did the right thing by not injuring himself further. After all, running is Hall’s livelihood and he should not jeopardize his career for “one” race, even if it is the Olympics.
Another American marathoner, Abdi Abdirahman, also dropped out citing a “pop” in his knee. Desiree Davila quit the women’s marathon at the 5K mark due to a hip flexor injury (incurred five weeks prior to the race – she knew she would not make it the full distance).
I think more emphasis has been put on Hall’s DNF because he has been one of the most promising American marathoners in recent years, and people wanted to see how he could do. Also, Hall has been very public about not having a (non-eternal) coach, but using God as his guide throughout his training. This has raised some eyebrows and tweaked curiosity about what he would be able to accomplish.
After Meb crossed the line yesterday, I kept waiting for Hall. He never came. Ken finally looked it up on line and that’s how we found out he DNF’d. I was disappointed. It seemed to me that he must have come to the game pretty compromised. I thought of Paula Radcliffe and how she stepped down a week before the race due to injury. Part of me felt like Hall should have done that as well, and maybe given up his spot to someone else.
I do understand the fine line pro athletes walk (run) with injury. They have to know when to say when to protect future races and their careers. It is not uncommon for them to drop out rather than risk further injury. Must be a very tough spot to be in.
The truth is, I’ve never been in Hall’s shoes so I don’t entirely get it and can’t and shouldn’t judge. I don’t completely understand, however, why he came to race when he knew he was injured.
Any thoughts on Hall’s decision yesterday?