Simpson first Kangaroo Kid to hold mark
By Carol Gralia, Howard County Times
As a youth, Scott Simpson tried soccer and gymnastics. Neither sport caught his fancy like a sport that's a little out of the mainstream of athletic endeavors -- jump rope.
"It's one of the most creative sports that I have been involved with. Jump rope is perfect for me and it gives me a creative outlet," he said.
Jump rope has also made the 19-year-old from Howard County a world record holder in two events. Simpson set the records at the FISAC World Rope Skipping Championships in Loughborough, England earlier this summer. He was one of 11 Kangaroo Kids competing as members of Team USA at the event.
Jim McCleary, longtime coach of the county's Kangaroo Kids, says the club has had international champions, but Simpson is the group's first world record holder. He set new marks in triple unders and 30-second speed.
If it was creativity that attracted Simpson to jump rope 14 years ago, it was quick feet and gut-it-out endurance that earned him the two world records.
The 30-second speed is a timed event.
"You jump as fast as you can," McCleary said, which sums it up.
Jumpers use a jog step, and the judges count each time the jumper's right foot strikes the floor. Simpson, now a sophomore at Yale University, had 99 right foot jumps, breaking the previous record of 97. Shane Winsor, from Boise, Idaho, also jumped 99 to share the record with Simpson. If both feet were counted, the two each made 198 steps in the 30 second time limit.
At 6-foot-2, Simpson is at a disadvantage in the speed events, McCleary said, because the rope has to travel farther. Most jumpers are shorter.
And keeping up the speed of the rope to make it go faster isn't easy.
"You can feel it in your forearms and triceps and in your shoulders," Simpson said.
Triple unders, which is an untimed event, is pure endurance. The rope passes under the jumper three times for every one jump.
"You do as many as you can do until you can't do any more," Simpson said. "It's hard to train for; it's not fun or exciting."
Simpson got a solid rhythm going in England and he kept jumping as his competitors dropped by the wayside. He completed 450 triple unders to shatter the previous record of 364.
"To put it in perspective," McCleary said, "I can do one triple under."
New technology has resulted in thinner ropes; Simpson used what he called a lightweight airplane cable.
This year's World Championships had a new twist. The counters were hooked to laptops and the real-time scores were projected for the audience to see.
"I could see it but I tried not to focus on it," Simpson said.
Simpson said his world records surprised him because he hadn't had much opportunity to train. He had been in Ohio for a few days to practice with a jump rope team there, then he'd spent a week in Texas to teach at a jump rope camp before going back to Ohio.