Olympics 2004: Gary Hall, Jr and Diabetes
August 10, 2004 Los Angeles, before Athens
Our patients often teach us more than we could ever teach them. Gary Hall, Jr, currently an 8 time Olympic medal winner, is one such patient. I was there with him when he won four of those medals, and am heading to Athens to see if he can win more. This is the first in a series of reports as I start on my journey to the birthplace of the modern Olympics and is a recounting of the past 6 years as the physician on the team of an elite athlete.
The Olympics are in Gary’s blood. His father, Gary Hall, Sr, is a three time Olympian and an uncle on his mother’s side was on an Olympic team. All swimmers, built with long lean muscles. But Gary also has some extra-fast twitch muscle mass that makes him a fantastic sprinter. His best race, the 50-meter freestyle sprint, is, as he puts it, the classic race that every kid who leaps into the water with his best friend and challenges ”race you to the other side” is talking about. The event is one lightening fast flash of eight men, springing into graceful action, leaping from the starting blocks, churning through the water, hearts beating, lungs breaking, racing until they hit the wall. The difference between winning and losing is measured in hundredths of a second. Hard to tell who wins from watching; only the electronic scoreboard knows for sure. Read more
I’ve been involved in swimming my whole life, but I’ve never been so excited to be a part of it as I am now. Joining Team Race Club was a big decision…I now have to put up with my big brother, Gary, all of the time and keep him in line, but I am also re-immersing myself in all of the little things of swimming that I had slowly forgotten over the last three years.
I swam for USC from 2001-2002, but happily retired during my sophomore year. Other than following my brother’s career, I have to admit that Maria and swimming have had nothing to do with each other since then. But when Gary was changing management with The Race Club and asked me to be a part of this group – a group that I consider to be pioneers for the sport – people who have done and will do more than anyone could ever imagine, I jumped at the chance! So here I am a few months later, after tying up many loose ends and helping to launch the new and improved website, I am ready to take on any challenge that comes our way… Read more
It is with great enthusiasm that I punch the keys, eager to tell you about the what not’s. First I should say that I no longer work with David Arluck. It has taken some time to reacquire 100% of The Race Club, a project that was spawned from my heart’s desire and sprinkled with the dreams of this half mad swimmer. I then decided to make The Race Club a family affair. My father, my brother Brian, my sister Maria, and my other sister Bebe will run the daily to do’s. Bebe and her boyfriend came all the way from living in New Zealand for the job. Now we are all settled down, well equipped to take this project into Phase II.
I owe an apology to those that have tried since the Olympics to reach us at The Race Club website, or phone line. During this timely transition the daily’s were neglected and I thank you for your patience. We are now operational and will continue to develop. If you haven’t noticed already, the website is completely different with a different server. The e-store merchant is different. The merchandise soon will change (thank you to all of you who ordered us out of stock). The phone lines and banking accounts too. And my hairdo has changed at least twice since I won the fifty free last summer in Athens. We have retained our A-team coaching staff and now are looking at putting together our new crew of sea dog swimmers. Arrrgh. Read more
Can you imagine being ranked 12th in the world at anything? 12th best in baseball or basketball or football or soccer or NASCAR or golf? 12th most money? 12th fastest swimmer on the planet?
Now imagine being the 12th best and having the ability to turn it on when a lot of others drop out. Imagine having the ability to beat the guys who are ranked 10th, 9th, 8th, etc in the world when they are up on the blocks next to you because you know how to turn it on.
Finally, imagine being ranked 12th in the world in 2003 and placing second at World Championships that year. Winning your country’s Olympic Trials and finishing the race over half a second beneath the Official Olympic Qualifying standard and yet being denied a place on your country’s Olympic team because a self described ”unathletic” paper pusher decides that the Olympic qualifying standard in the 50 meter freestyle for his country alone should be 22.42 when the actual Olympic qualifying time is 22.7. Read more
Swimming is my line of work – only it really doesn’t pay very well.
In 1999 I was told I would never compete at an elite level again because of the diabetes I was diagnosed with. Because I learned to manage the disease that could kill me and because of sponsorship support from diabetes focused companies, I was put in a position that enabled me to win four more Olympic medals and today I remain among the fastest swimmers in the world. Ironically, if it weren’t for diabetes – I wouldn’t be able to continue swimming today.
Most swimmers stop competing because they can no longer financially afford to stay in the sport or their shoulders were blown out by overzealous college and age group coaches. Fact is, all people are physically (barring injury)and mentally stronger at 30 than they are at 20. If swimmers and other athletes are given a chance to swim to an ”older” age they will certainly compete at a higher level. I actually believe that a new crop of champions will blossom. Read more