Tuesday, August 30, 2016

What eugenicists did for women's sport?

Summer holidays is a traditional time to rest and feast. Unfortunately most of us spend the rest of the year trying to lose the excess pounds we gain during the mid winter break. Spare a thought then for those athletes who need to keep in training during the holiday period. Whilst we might take women in sport for granted today, this was not always the case. Indeed during the early nineteenth century it was quite unthinkable for young ladies to be seen engaging in physical recreation. All this changed thanks in many ways to an eccentric man by the name Bernarr McFadden. He was a Darwinist and eugenicist and had made his fortune from writing and selling pulp fiction and magazines. Born in 1868, he was a prolific author and publisher of popular books and magazines. The self styled professor of kinesitherapy,wrote in his journals on the health the benefits of physical activities for men and women. Titles like Woman's Beauty and Health, Physical Culture, National Brain Power and Muscle Builder all became instant successes. McFadden’s publishing empire had another side to it and that was the sensational journal titles. True Story, True Romances, True Lovers, and True Confessions all came from the same stable. Men were more likely to read them but the journals did sell well and were the equivalent of today's soft porn.

Like contemporary eugenist, William Keith Kellogg inventor of the corn flake, cereal manufacturer, McFadden’s had many eccentric beliefs. Both men were of the opinion physical weaklings should not marry without first reaching an acceptable level of fitness. The ethos for Physical Culture, founded in 1899, was longevity of life and related to good living and appropriate exercise. McFadden often used himself as model for his publications and soon earned the title 'Bare Torso King'. Needless to say the popularity of his publications brought nothing but condemnation from the medical fraternity with much of their criticism directed toward encouragement of women taking exercise. It is not clear whether he was exploiting women or just preparing society to accept the importance of physical health for all. McFadden recognised how ignorant the general population was to the human body and cited better understanding would stop female degeneracy and make for a more physically fit and healthy nation. He encouraged young ladies to take up some of the more gentle outdoor pursuits such as walking, dancing, skating, croquet and cycling. He also advocated riding horses astride and for the more robust female frame women's baseball and basketball was ideal. This had major implications on the shoe industries.

As the popularity of physical culture societies spread throughout English speaking countries the middle classes flocked to them in their droves and of course needed the apparel. The first American Olympiad in 1904 included physical culture activities for women but females were not allowed to participate in the track and field events. The world was not quite ready for women doing physical jerks and it took another four years before the Olympic committee agreed to include ladies events (1928). Eugenics became a philosophical pillar of Nazi Germany in the thirties and mass exercise programs were openly encouraged. This again created a ready market for leisure shoes and as walking became a national past time; walking shoes took on the air of respectability and became the sensible shoes with its nemeses the heeled pump. It was only in the 1970s when the aerobic craze fronted by Jane Fonda was there as much interest in designing sport shoes for women. In the 21st century it has been left to the Soccer Moms to drive the shoe companies to cater for better fittings for girls’ soccer boots and now thankfully women in sport are better fitted than ever before.

Reviewed 31/08/2016

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Team GB's flashing shoes for sale (Limited Edition)

The Team Great Britain’s flashing shoes from the Rio Olympics’ closing ceremony are now on sale. The limited-edition light-up kicks by Simon Jersey , are available for online.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Etenesh Diro: One shoe hero

Etenesh Diro (Ethiopia) finished her 3,000-meters steeplechase heat with one shoe on and one shoe off. During the race in the pack with a couple of laps to go the Ethiopian athlete got clipped from behind and tangled up with some other competitors and her right shoe came half-off. For precious seconds, she knelt on the track and tried to pull the shoe back on.

As runner after runner passed her by she finally give up and negotiating the barriers and the water jump, finished the final three laps of the race with one bare foot. The crowd loved it and urged her on. Diro finished seventh and fell exhausted to the track, clutching her foot. Following protests by the Ethiopia, Ireland and Jamaica teams, Diro, Ireland's Sara Treacy and Jamaica's Aisha Praught were advanced to the final.

Friday, August 12, 2016

What shoes will adidas Olympic Champions be wearing ?

adidas sponsored Olympians who win medals in Rio will receive tailor-made pairs of the 3D-printed adidas Futurecraft. The exclusive footwear has breathable Primeknit uppers with outsoles crafted by 3D-printing based on the contours and unique arches of the particular athlete’s foot.

The custom made-to-order shoes are engineered through a 3D web construction and ditches the traditional glue and stitch process and includes a supportive heel.

The Triple Black adidas Futurecraft 3D also features unique accents on the laces, as they will be speckled with either metallic gold, silver, or bronze accents to represent the medal won by the athlete receiving the exclusive pair.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Weightlifter Oscar Figueroa retires

The best and most enduring way to retire from competition is for a competitor to remove their shoes and leave them where they finished their career. The latest athlete to do this is Oscar Figueroa of Colombia, who won the gold medal in men’s 62 kilogram weightlifting and then immediately retired.

Removing your shoes is a powerful metaphor. A symbol, part of you will always remain with the sport long after active competition. The most famous example of this retirement was wrestler Rulon Gardner at the 2004 Athens Olympics where he won bronze. The US Olympian couldn’t hold back his tears after walking away from the sport he loved and competed in for 11 years.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Michael Phelps : The shoes of a champion

At the Rio Olympic Games’ opening ceremonies, United States flag carrying superstar, Michael Phelps was wearing boat shoes designed by Ralph Lauren, but he will be heading to the pool wearing 3D-printed customized shoes by Under Armour. The sole of the shoe, as well as an outside panel display a 3D-printed image of the footprint of his 3-month old child. The imprint of his infant footprint is there to bring him good fortune in the pool. This personalised model is not available to the public, but plans are afoot (sorry for the pun) to release a new colour for the 3D concept, which falls under its ‘UA Architech’ brand later this month.

The UA Architech trainer was introduced earlier in the year and consisted of a 360-degree performance training shoe featuring a 3D printed midsole and 3D ClutchFit auxetic upper designer. According to the manufacturer, the lightweight shoes have an upper design to enhance fit and sold out in under twenty minutes.

Olympics Opening Ceremony Rio 2016