Photo Courtesy: www.racewalk.com - Tim Seaman and John Nunn starting conservatively.
John Nunn admitted that there was a time early in life when he hated race walking, often getting dragged into training sessions with family members. When he eventually received a scholarship to race walk at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, he did so with the mindset that he could simply quit if he didn’t like it. And when Nunn made the Olympic Games for the first time in 2004, he got the sense that others felt he was lucky.
Indeed, Nunn and race walking had experienced an up-and-down relationship to that point.
Now, as Nunn prepares for a very likely second Olympic berth this summer in London, he is a torch-bearer for furthering the popularity and acceptance of a sport that he now adores. Nunn noted that the sport needs such support, especially in the United States.
“People joke about it and they make comments (such as), ‘Oh, that’s a funny walk,’ ” Nunn said of the stigma he met all too often early on. “At the same time I began to get a true appreciation for the sport and the event. I realized I really am an athlete, too.
“I didn’t just fall into this because I’m not good at anything else. I chose this, and I can pretty much hold my own at any other sport, too. This happened to be a catalyst to propel me to the Olympics and to provide a career for me.”
Nunn won the 50K Olympic Trials on Jan. 22 in Santee, Calif., setting up a likely trip to London this summer.
There exists a small chance that he could be bumped from the Olympic spot, although it would take two race walkers hitting the “A” standard of 3 hours, 59 minutes (Nunn won the trials in 4:04:41), and there won’t be any more chances for them to try again on U.S. soil.
A World Cup event in May in Russia, perhaps the last opportunity to alter the Olympic picture, is not a likely destination for any of Nunn’s closest competition.
“The way that things are set up, if it only took one person to get that a standard, then yeah, I would probably want to take a step back and reassess what’s going on,” Nunn said. “But it requires two people to get the ‘A’ standard, so second and third place (in the Trials) would be the two likely people to go after it and second place was seven minutes off the ‘A’ standard.”
Nunn said his berth is “official enough” that his family is already making London plans. Once they arrive they will be cheering on a man who, when younger, could not appreciate a sport that is so unique in the challenges it provides. For instance, when a marathoner hits a tough stretch at mile 18, he can pull back for a bit, alter the gait, and perhaps recharge.
A walker cannot always afford to do this, for the moment