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High Jump--American Style : Lee Balkin Hopes to Help the U. S Regain a Measure of Prestige in His Sport

January 21, 1988|HEATHER HAFNER

"In the past, I had rarely prepared ahead for the competitions. This year I have a four to six week period where I want to jump well and then I'm going back into the training mode. Then I'll come out again in May and I'll be ready to jump well at that time.

"I may lay low all year but when the Olympic trials come around, I'll be at my best. If I improve two or three percent, I'll be among the best in the world."

That minimal improvement could come with a refinement in technique, Balkin said. Sneider believes that the best way to learn is to teach. For the past two years, Balkin has been an assistant track coach at Glendale College.

"He inspires these kids a lot," Glendale Coach Tom McMurray said. "He trains with the student-athletes and they see how hard he works and how it pays off. Sometimes people have injuries and people give up. But he's never given up. He's a great inspiration to our program."

Said Sneider: "The way to learn it faster than anything else is to teach it. He can almost improve 25 to 50% in a year in terms of understanding technique."

Balkin has learned technique from the inside out. He has studied more than the physical techniques of jumping and has learned to visualize success.

"I'll do a lot of that this week before the Sunkist meet," Balkin said. "But the meet that I'm going to take seriously this year in American track and field is the Olympic Trials."

Said Sneider: "I think he has a very good chance of making the Olympic team if he does not overtrain, continues to believe, and peaks himself for the nationals. He has a tremendous ability to image. The most important thing is that once he sees himself over the bar, he can do it. He is a very intellectually developed athlete. Put him in the right circumstances and if he wants it bad enough, he is frightening."

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