Monthly Archives: June 2008

Silver – First Loser?

Second place can hurt, as witnessed last night at the European Championships. Michael Ballack ended on the losing side in a final again. The Daily Telegraph headline Nearly man settles for silver is not one any athlete would wish for:

“Having scored the winning goal against South Korea in the 2002 World Cup semi-final only to miss the final through suspension, and then being denied consolation four years later by a rampant Italy at the same stage, not to mention losing two Champions League finals with Bayer Leverkusen and Chelsea, one of the best players in this tournament might have believed his luck was about to change.” This season Manchester United pipped him to the Premier League awell.

As noted in a previous post: “Silver? It means nothing here; you might as well finish last.” Not quite the Olympic spirit when, for many, it is about competing and being there…

So what is the difference between first loser and an honourable silver medal? Some examples…

Honourable silver – what more can you do?

Vaclav Chalupa, Single sculler.  Second in 1992 to East German legend Thomas Lange. Many other World silvers. His only mistake was to be great when someone greater was around. Legends.

Roger Black, Silver to Michael Johnson, 400m 1996. A gold any other year.

First Loser – a missed opportunity?

Jonathan Edwards In 1996 Edwards went into the Olympic games as World Champion (1995) and WR holder (18.29), but it was American Kenny Harrison who took the gold with a jump of 18.09 m. Edwards walked away with the silver after a leap of 17.88 m (the longest ever jump not to win gold). His for the taking.

If you have an opinion on this subject or any other example – please comment here and I will post.

“The silver medal represents a total achievement that I feel extremely proud of.” Xeno Muller, 1996 Gold, 2000 Silver.

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From the East End of London to Beijing

I love to read stories of endurance and perseverance. It is inspiring to see how individuals have dedicated themselves in pursuing a dream: To go to the Olympics and to win a gold medal.

In this case, I know Mark. We rowed together at junior level and won Henley in 1995. Back then we all dreamed. Today, it is a reality for one of us. According to Facebook he is ‘off to collect his Olympic kit.” Fantastic.

“If life had taken a different turn, Mark Hunter would now be plying his trade on the River Thames as a licensed waterman and lighterman – an ancient profession to which he was apprenticed for six years before gaining the qualification to skipper passenger and freight boats on London’s waterway.

But in six weeks’ time Hunter will be propelling a very different vessel on a very different stretch of water. The boy who grew up in London’s East End and dreamed about a life on the river is one half of the lightweight double scull that will be going for Olympic gold at the Shunyi Rowing Park in Beijing….” More.

Hunter and partner Zac Purchase are one of Britain’s best hopes for a gold medal, following and unbeaten season and Gold in the final world Cup in Poland.

Rings of Gold

Revisiting the Most Controversial Olympics of All

The most controversial Olympiad in history, the 1936 Summer Games were held in Elstal, a small village west of Berlin. The games were awarded to the German capital over Barcelona in April 1931, before Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party came to power in 1933. But they quickly became a massive propaganda tool for Hitler. Under the direction of Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, Germany successfully used the games to project an image of a tolerant and peaceful nation, even as Nazi concentration camps were under construction. To reach the largest audience possible, Goebbels saw to it that the games were the first to be broadcast live on television.

Foreign Policy has a great photo essay here.

Hitler wanted the Berlin Games to prove the supremacy of the Aryan race. Germany ultimately won the most gold medals, but his plan to showcase Aryan superiority was foiled in large part by Jesse Owens’ four gold-medals—in sprint, long-jump, and the 4×100 meter relay. Drawing huge applause from the German audience, Owens’ wins enraged Hitler.

It’s difficult to keep politics from the Olympics with a history like this…Then there is also Munich 1972.

200m WR to fall soon?

Michael Johnson’s 200 meters world record could soon fall to Jamaican Usain Bolt, the former Olympic sprint champion said on Saturday.

“I’m ready to kiss it goodbye … if he keeps on doing what he’s doing,” Johnson said at the U.S. Olympic trials.

Previously known as a 200 specialist, Bolt broke the 100 world record last month when he clocked 9.72 seconds at a meeting in New York:

The Jamaican is now likely to chase Johnson’s 200 world record of 19.32 seconds set by the American at the 1996 Olympics:

“If he is as technically sound at 200 or the improvement at 200 in technique matches what we have seen at 100, there’s no telling what he is going to run,” added Johnson.

The question is – will it be at the Jamaican Olympic trials where the two fastest men in the world will go head-to-head on Saturday when world record holder Usain Bolt runs against Asafa Powell or in Beijing?

…The pair have never faced off in a 100 meters race before.

Athlete Blogs allowed

Blog says blogs will be ok at Olympics…

Under the new rules, blogs are allowed as long as they are used for personal expression and not journalism, meaning “it be confined solely to their own personal Olympic-related experience”…

Amnesty HR Packs for Athletes

The Epoch Times reports that Amnesty International have information packs they are sending out to Olympic athletes.

New Zealand President Carole Curtis is urging athletes and spectators alike to speak out.

“Let’s not separate out sport and politics, because sport is political. People go in there marching, waving their flags, so it’s nonsense to say it’s not political.

“If you are willing to go to a country where gross, inhumane practices occur, don’t pretend it is something different than what it is,” Ms Curtis said. She said the CIPFG continues to investigate the state-sanctioned organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners.

“And it’s something that really the world has conveniently chosen politically to ignore.