2008 Olympics: Random Observations


I’ve been watching the Olympics via NBC and on the MSN broadcasts. In fact, I’m watching the finale of the live broadcast of the men’s all-around gymnastics competition. It’s been great to watch these competitions and I’ve picked up a lot of interesting things. Here’s some random thoughts about the first 6 days:

  • Anyone notice the tape on many of the volleyball player’s shoulders? That’s called kinesiotaping. It’s a relatively new therapeutic modality that many athletes feel can align and adjust a joint to provide stability. It’s a much different concept than the standard ankle taping which research shows does nothing for support beyond the first couple minutes.
  • Male gymnasts are the upper extremity bodyweight strength gods of the universe. The things they can do on the still rings is unbelievable.
  • Slapping (either self or by a coach) has become an increasingly popular method of regulating nervous system readiness. There’s some evidence to suggest that such sensory stimulus as well as things like stomping can up-regulate the autonomic nervous system.
  • Gymnastics is the artistic version of track and field.
  • The coverage of Michael Phelps is getting a little ridiculous. NBC. Hello!! There are other sports and other athletes in Beijing. As great as Phelps is, no one man should monopolize Olympic games coverage.
  • Olympic weightlifting may very well be the most under-appreciated sport at the games. 99% of the people on the planet could not lift 10% of what these guys lift.
  • The commercialization of the Olympic Games is ever-present.
  • Anyone notice how there are a disproportionate number of China vs. USA first round matchups in every televised broadcast.
  • The visuo-spatial awareness of divers and even more so gymnasts is mind boggling. Can you imagine flying through the air and grabbing a bar without looking while you’re rotating. It makes hitting a takeoff board while sprinting sound easy.
  • Commentators should be forced to take a basic sport science class before getting on the air. Otherwise, they just perpetuate long standing myths like the role of stretching, the dangers of lactic acid, and the factors that affect rotation in gymnastics.
  • The swim coaches continue to make some really odd relay order decisions. I’ve repeatedly seen a total disregard for getting athletes as much rest as possible during multiple race scenarios. It hasn’t hurt them but it just struck me as odd because in many cases, you could buy an athlete 2-6 more minutes rest by playing with the relay order a little more strategically. While that may not seem like much, that’s certainly worth at least several hundredths of a second when the athletes rest period from their previous event is less than 40 minutes.
  • Does anyone know if the WR pace line overlay used in all of the swimming events is the pace of the ACTUAL world record (reflecting their race distribution) or an even distribution based on the final time of the WR?
  • If there’s any doubt that it’s easier to double in swimming than other sports, Ryan Lochte dominated his heat of the 200m backstroke and 25 minutes later turned in the fastest qualifying time in the 200m Individual Medley. In Eugene, I watched as Angelo Taylor tried to do something similar by doubling in the 400m and 400H and he DIED at the 250m mark (and dropped out) of the 400m after he had already qualified for the 400H. Taylor is a runner of roughly equivalent status in the track world as Lochte is in the swimming world and he was no where close to pulling it off at the NATIONAL level.
  • China has made some VERY intelligent investments in research, funding, and athlete development that appear to really be paying off.
  • Several sports just shouldn’t be on the Olympic schedule. Beach volleyball, BMX and trampolining all come to mind. I’d also like to see several events taken away from the swimming schedule as there is obviously too much redundancy with a handful of people winning practically everything.

More to come as the games go on…
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Mike Young

Mike Young

Founder of ELITETRACK at Athletic Lab
Mike has a BS in Exercise Physiology from Ohio University, an MSS in Coaching Science from Ohio University & a PhD in Biomechanics from LSU. Additionally, he has been recognized as a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, a Level 3 coach by USA Track & Field, a Level 2 coach by USA Weightlifting.
Mike Young


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Mike Young
Mike Young