Originally created 07/25/99

Starting blocks give child edge



WAYNESBORO, Ga. -- It didn't take long for Christopher Davis and starting blocks to become best friends.

Christopher, 10, has learned that by using starting blocks at his age, it gives him an advantage when competing in sprints. Christopher was the only participant in Saturday's bantam boys 400-meter race in the Georgia Game track-and-field competition to use starting blocks.

The end result was top honors in the 400-meter race, with a time of 67.82 seconds.

"I started using starting blocks so I could get a quick start (in sprint races)," said Christopher, a member of the Atlanta Excellerators Track and Field Club. "It gives me a fast start so I can hopefully take first place."

Christopher said he doesn't know any sprinters his age who use starting blocks in sprint races. He said he doesn't use the blocks to try to make himself feel older or to be fancy.

Alphonza Griffin, volunteer coach for the DC Flyers Track and Field Club in Augusta, said it isn't uncommon for younger sprinters to use starting blocks. He said he believes many youngsters would use them, but they don't know how.

"A lot of younger kids are a little nervous about using them (starting blocks)," Griffin said. "We tell them to use the 1, 2, 3 method. You place your blocks 1 foot from the starting line. Your front leg is 2 feet from the starting line, and your trail leg is 3 feet from the starting line.

"Once you get that down, it's pretty simple. A lot of colleges use that method."

Saturday's competition was the end of youth competition. Today's final events will feature competition in the open (ages 19-29), masters (30-over) and physically disabled divisions. The first event is scheduled for 8 a.m.

Griffin, like Christopher, said using starting blocks forces runners to stay low at the start of sprint races.

"The blocks put you in a running position faster than anything," he said. "Plus, when you start running in the Junior Olympics, you need every kind of advantage that you can get."

At Christopher's age, he already has a leg up on the competition.

Tim Morse can be reached at (706) 823-3216.