UA hosts heptathlete development program

By Melanie Klein

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Twelve women vying for three open slots at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta attended a two-day Heptathlete Development Summit Friday and Saturday at the UA to undergo intensive training and evaluation.

"The results are used to form a nutritional and body composition profile of the women who are the best in their sport, as well as to be used for new women in the sport who aspire to be one of the best," said Dr. Linda Houtkooper, College of Agriculture nutrition specialist.

Houtkooper said the UA, which has hosted the summit for the last seven years, is highly regarded in sports nutrition and possesses a state-of-the-art body and composition laboratory.

Virginia's Sharon Hanson, who placed eighth in the 1988 and fifth in the 1992 Olympic tryouts for the heptathlon, has attended the summit five times.

"When you make it your life goal to go to the Olympics, you don't realize how much other people appreciate that," Hanson said.

In individual counseling sessions, Houtkooper evaluated the stress on the athletes' bodies from high intensive workouts, analyzed the data and gave advice on how to reduce stress through their nutritional intake.

"When I first started coming to the summit I did not take the nutrition counseling very serious," said five-year participant Jamie McNeair from Lafayette, Ind. "But over the years I have found how beneficial it turned out to be."

Female athletes often are too critical of their self-image, said Ali McKnight of Long Beach, Calif., and tend to cut out valuable aspects of their diets because they are struggling with the female image.

"The counseling promoted a healthy body rather than a skinny one," McKnight said.

The summit focused on training skills for events in the heptathlon the 100-meter hurdle, high jump, shot put, 200-meter sprint, long jump, javelin and the 800-meter run to hone the women's skills in the seven track and field events, and also consisted of body composition tests, blood draws, and a diet analysis.

Said Hanson, "It's amazing how much you think you know . and then you get here and you learn something new."

Read Next Article