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20
Aug 08

After The Goldrush

FT + TMFD14 comments • 339 views

In an ordinary Olympic games, Britain racks up 5 or 6 gold medals: this time, we have 16 and counting – marvellous news, incredible work on the part of Team GB, etc etc. But also, in a sense a slightly raw deal for some of the athletes involved, as while the pot of fame and endorsements available to successful Olympians will be bigger than usual, it probably won’t be three times as big. Please don’t take this the wrong way: I’m not suggesting that fame and fortune is the main reason any of our athletes compete, but it’s got to be a nice bonus, and the fact is that following these Games some of our winners are going to end up a lot more famous than others.

It was not ever thus – take Britain’s performance at the Barcelona Olympics. Five golds, and four of the athletes involved became more or less household names. But the Beijing mob surely won’t fare quite so well: in fact looking at the media you can already see who’s being groomed for future stardom (in the British sense of the word, i.e. a comfy berth on a daytime TV sofa whenever needed).

What is the FAME FORMULA for Olympic success? In the grand tradition of bogus equations I give you this:

F = (A * C)/R

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18
Aug 08

Swimming: Analysis (incl. GRAPHS!)

TMFD2 comments • 2,458 views

The swimming is finally finished*, Michael Phelps is reaping in lucrative sponsorship deals and everyone has started watching the athletics instead, so it must be time for some stat-cruching!

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Olympic Avoidance Log 2008: Day 8 – Of Tables

FT + TMFD/16 comments • 334 views

STOP WINNING MEDALS so called Team GB (so British to invent a teamname which tries not to actually say the contentious British word). Its relatively easy to avoid the Olympics when your radar is set for the BBC with extra Clare Balding alerts. But win medals, (or lose medals with Paula Radcliffe) and the games make the news. And I want to watch the news, as Georgia is on my mind. And whilst sports commentators can be banal, add BBC news teams to this and you could end up with some sort of explosion of idiocy.

So it appears that the “GOLD RUSH” means we are third in the Medals Table, a table where it is mainly about the number of golds (silver and bronze columns see to be there for goal difference purposes).

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17
Aug 08

No Ray Ewry…

FT + TMFD2 comments • 277 views

So, OK, Michael Phelps may be rather good and no doubt in four years time he will become the most medaltastic performer in any sport ever ever ever, BUT at the moment he still just trails the great Ray Ewry who won TEN individual gold medals between 1900 and 1908* (Phelps is currently on nine individually, the rest are relays). The reason Ewry is not famous is partially because, dude, name any athlete from that long ago, but mainly because of his specialism, THE STANDING JUMPS. He was Olympic Champion at the standing long jump, the standing high jump AND the standing triple jump (and, it sa here in my Giant Book Of The Olympics, world record holder of the non-olympic BACKWARDS standing long jump, 9 foot 3, if yr interested).

It’s good to see that some people are still keeping this great event alive though:

*two of these were in the intercalated games of 1906 which kind of don’t count, BUT ANYWAY…

Olympic Avoidance Log 2008: Day 6 and 7 – The Team, Lightweight, Coxless, Synchronised, Freestyle Yngling

FT + TMFDPost a comment • 178 views

As I move into the second week of Olympic avoidance, the game is getting considerably harder. The reason? I am no longer in charge of the television as I am visiting my parents. And they want to celebrate Great Britain’s successes and it would be sort of rude to walk out of the room whenever they flick the seemingly endless cycling on. So my awesome record attempt is crumbling due to people in funny hats cycling round and round in a circle. Occasionally they fall off, and men in jackets stare at the velodrome track. Sometimes the men put a bit of gaffer tape down on it. Being a cycling judge is clearly where roadies go to retire.

But there has been so much cycling. And so much swimming. And quite a lot of diving (though considerably less now we are rubbish at it). Put it like this, there has been more than I would expect from sports where you are racing over distances where one would think the medals may go to the best over 100m, 200m, 400m etc like in the athletics. Instead though the minor sports which make up the gravy of the Olympics are well aware that this is their one moment in the sun, every four years. And some of them have worked out the key part of making their sports seem more important: to have more versions of them so more medals are available.

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15
Aug 08

Olympic Fashion Watch: ARCHERY

TMFD9 comments • 3,624 views

Taking time out from my dedicated swimming coverage, I caught a bit of the women’s archery last night. The Koreans totally dominate this sport – possibly because the opposition take one look at them and their jaws drop to the floor:

Women's Archery

Yun Ok-Hee here is modelling a PINK bow, and a cartoon panda chest guard!

I think I might take up archery!

11
Aug 08

No Rubber and No Blow Up Dolls

FT + TMFD5 comments • 871 views

You know how I keep saying I hate the Olympics. Well there is one bit of the Olympics I like, it’s the bit which suggests that there is still room for bonkers artistry and fireworks this a po-faced search for medal Dorado. I have always liked opening ceremonies; probably from the moment that bloke on a jet-pack flew around the stadium in Los Angeles. Casts of thousands, explosions and allegorical histories presented as interpretive dance. As a child I was really into interpretive dance, and was often praised for my ability to inhabit the persona of – say – Fernando whilst leaping around the living room. In later life I discovered the cruel truth that actually no-one EVER danced like that except Pans People and they (and successor groups) were wound up in the mid eighties. There was no career in it for me. Unless – 2012…

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Swimming: Rebecca gets gold!

TMFD/7 comments • 400 views

You’ve probably seen the headlines already – in the early hours of this morning Britain’s Rebecca Adlington won the 400m freestyle, making her the first women’s swimming medallist since 1984 and the first women’s gold since 1960!

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His snatch was his downfall

FT + TMFDPost a comment • 141 views

Thanks to the miracle of the BBC streaming video I have now seen some live weightlifting – the mens’ 62kg finals. I can report that I was – as someone in the comments mentioned – quite wrong about the lack of tactics: but the tactics are as brutal and all-or-nothing as the sport in general. Do you try and lift at the limit of your ability to post a total that might get you in the medals, and risk crashing out entirely? Or do you lift what you can, get a total on the board and seek to build on it (but risk exhausting yourself?).

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10
Aug 08

Olympic Avoidance Log 2008: Day 2: Bouncyball (Giant Division)

FT + TMFD4 comments • 197 views

I saw a minute of the Basketball game between the USA and China today. Gosh Basketball is dull. Look at all the things I thought about in that minute to try to avoid engaging with the game

a) Is giganticism a kind of disability (door frames too low etc)? Hence shouldn’t basketball be in the Paralympics. Or maybe there should be a special division for people under five foot six playing basketball.
b) Basketball is a perfect example of a sport which humans have out-evolved to an extent that the game is completely different to the one originally intended.
c) In retrospect it was probably kind of dumb for the USA to have lobbied for certain sports that they were particularly good at to be involved in the Olympics. In the Baseball and Basketball they really are setting themselves up for a fall if they don’t win. (I know I am probably wrong in this, but the only way to get our Olympic loving statisticians to post is by deliberately provoking them!)

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