German 400m sprinter Alica Schmidt is one of the most popular faces of track and field. With medal-winning performances in the 4x400m relays at the 2017 European Athletics U20 Championships and the 2019 European Athletics U23 Championships, she has remained an integral part of the German Athletics team.
She was part of the national team for the Tokyo Olympics but did not compete. However, she was seen in action at the 2022 Oregon World Championships.
Most athletes believe in following pre-race routines and Alica Schmidt also has one that she swears by.
The sprinter slaps herself a number of times before the pistol goes off. She starts by slapping her cheeks, then above her chest and her thighs. While this may seem bizarre to read, but if anyone follows international races closely, many sprinters slap their hamstrings before getting on the starting blocks.
“I really like doing that, that I make myself aware, now it starts, now I have to be ready. That pushes me.”
Alica Schmidt performed her pre-race ritual at the European Championships earlier this year before the 400m final on home soil in Munich, Germany. She had broken down in tears at her selection. Ahead of the event, she spoke with German outlet Sport1 about it.
“I can’t wait to experience the atmosphere at the stadium and to compete myself knowing that my friends and family will be cheering me on at the stadium.”
Unfortunately, she finished last in the finals. However, she has her eyes set on the 2024 Paris Olympics and is training with her focus on winning a medal at the next Summer Games.
Why do runners slap their legs like Alica Schmidt before a race?
German sprinter Alica Schmidt has added her own variation to the slapping routines that many runners implement. This ritual may seem absurd, but there is a reason behind runners slapping their legs before racing.
Like any sport, running required muscles to be warmed-up, charged, and ready to explode before a race. After warm-ups, there is a little down time before the runners are on the starting line. This is a time when the muscles can get cold and stiff.
To prevent this, runners employ several tricks to keep their bodies warm. Slapping their legs is one of them. Even though it may sound weird, slapping their legs actually increases blood flow and keeps muscles loose and ready to run. It is also believed to slow lactic acid build-up.
Also, it’s not only track athletes who believe in a pre-race slapping routine, swimmers and rowers also use it before their races.