Race walkers are the penguins of the Olympic Games - to the untrained eye, their movements just don't look right. But race walkers - with their arms pumping, hips swiveling and legs barely restraining themselves from breaking into a trot - know what they're doing. These long-distance striders are constantly pushing the envelope, moving as fast as they can while maintaining legal walking form.
About Olympic Race Walking:
Few objects in Olympic track and field are more scrutinized than race walkers' legs and feet. Sharp-eyed race walking officials are constantly looking out for "lifting" violations, i.e., walkers who cross the line into running. Read more about legal walking technique and other race walking facts in the following links.
Olympic Race Walking History:
Europeans have dominated the 50- and 20-kilometer men's race walking events, which entered Olympic competition in 1932 and 1956, respectively. Women's Olympic race walking began as a 10K event in 1992, which was replaced by a 20K walk in 2000. With a pair of third-place finishes in 1968 and '72, Larry Young is the only American to win an Olympic race walking medal.
Action Image Gallery:
Get a better understanding of the sport of race walking in this action photo gallery.
Take a look at the top 2012 Olympic race walking hopefuls, from the U.S. and around the world, then catch up with some familiar names from the past with these selections.