by AJ Gold
While some may consider race walking to only be a hobby, it is actually a competitive sport for many around the world. In fact, WHS freshman Melissa Endy is ranked first in New Jersey and second in the country in race walking for her age group.
According to usatf.org, “Race Walking, [otherwise known as speed or power walking], is a progression of steps taken that the walker makes contact with the ground so that no visible loss of contact occurs.”
Additionally, the front leg must be straight from the initial contact with the ground until the leg is in the vertical upright position, according to usatf.org.
With the Olympics in sight, Endy has her bar set high. Endy said, “[I want to be] the first American to ever get a medal in the Olympics for race walking.”
Said Endy’s coach from the Westfield Area YMCA, Wayne Baker: “Melissa’s level of dedication is remarkable. Her understanding of the mechanics has really improved.”
“She [has] also developed physically into a bigger, stronger athlete, [which] has greatly contributed to her ability to walk faster,” added Baker.
But it’s not just the competition that drives Endy. “Making friends and having the opportunity to travel the country competing and being able to do things I never thought possible before [keeps me motivated],” she said.
After coming in second in this past summer’s Junior Olympic National Championships, Endy is determined to come back stronger.
However, after recently suffering a tendon injury, Endy is currently in a walking boot. Said Baker, “Assuming she’s healthy, Melissa should be able to capture her first national championship [next summer].”