North Park Woman Set to Race Walk in 2016 Summer Olympics - NBC 7 San Diego

North Park Woman Set to Race Walk in 2016 Summer Olympics

The woman set to race walk in the 2016 Summer Olympics, says there's a lot more to it than "speed walking."

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Miranda Melville moved to San Diego two years ago to train under her current coach, a two-time Olympic race walker. NBC 7's Steven Luke has more. (Published Thursday, July 14, 2016)

    A woman from North Park will be walking rapidly through Rio at the 2016 Summer Olympics, as she competes in the 20km race walking event.

    Miranda Melville, 27, works as an SAT Tutor in North Park. Like so many others, she starts each day with a refreshing morning walk.

    But her walk carries a purpose since she will be competing this summer in 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

    Melville emphasized the difference between race walking and speed walking when talking about her sport.

    "I think it's interesting that when you tell somebody you race walk , the immediate thing they say back is 'oh the speed walking', and it's not exactly speed walking. We're not just out there pumping our arms,” she said.

    Despite the proverb that suggests everyone should walk before they run, Melville can walk faster than the average person can actually run. When she unleashes her race walk at full power, she can “walk” a mile in less than six minutes and 30 seconds. At the same time, she has to carefully maintain the correct form and technique to avoid disqualification.

    Race walking is commonly misunderstood as a faster version of regular walking, Melville told NBC 7.

    There are two technique rules that create the biggest challenges for race participants.

    First, athletes must have one foot on the ground at all times that is visible to the human eye. Secondly, when the race walker’s lead leg hits the ground their knee must be straight. They must hold their leading leg straight at least until the other leg has passed under them. Then it’s no longer considered the leading leg, so they can bend it to follow through.

    “We are a very technical sport. You can get disqualified in a race for not having good technique, so we do constantly have to be working on our technique and improving it," said Melville.

    Melville moved to San Diego five years ago to train under a two-time Olympic race walker Tim Seaman, who now works as a cross-country coach at Cuyamaca College in Rancho San Diego.

    “Because of her height, she has very fast turnover. You're talking over four steps per second, so that's pretty fast,” said Seaman.

    Just four years ago, Melville was heartbroken when she barely missed the cut by two seconds for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Seaman remembers how devastating that moment was for her.

    Melville considered quitting the sport, but she ended up deciding to work even harder instead. She trained for another four years and successfully managed to shave seven minutes off of her time.

    All her hard work seems to have finally paid off, as she’s achieved the Olympic time standard. This secured a spot for her on Team USA at the Track and Field Trials.

    “The choices we've made, the blood, the sweat, the tears, it all becomes worth it in this moment," Melville said.