Posts Tagged ‘Usain Bolt’

Bjørndalen – and the “sense of Wow”!

February 9, 2014

Ole Einar Bjørndalen40 years old, 6th consecutive Olympic Games, 20 years of competition at the highest level, 12 Olympic medals, 7 Olympic Golds  (so far), all in the biathlon. Wow! On only the second day of the Sochi games and my “sense of Wow” has been well and truly engaged.

I watched the 10km biathlon sprint yesterday at Sochi and Bjørndalen, in spite of missing one target in the shooting, was strong enough in the skiing sections to win. He was not the favorite since his results this season have not been spectacular and he has generally been considered the veteran in the twilight of his competitive career. Wow!

His Olympics career has been both long and spectacular:

Bjoerndalen Olympics medals (2014-02-09) Wikipedia

Bjoerndalen Olympics medals (2014-02-09) Wikipedia

He still has the chance of winning a few more medals.

BBCNorway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen equalled the record for most medals won at the Winter Olympics as the 22nd Games got under way in Sochi, Russia. Bjoerndalen, 40, won the biathlon 10km sprint to take his tally to 12 medals, matching compatriot Bjoern Daehlie. 

Bjoerndalen finished ahead of Austria’s Dominik Landertinger and Czech biathlete Jaroslav Soukup to claim the seventh Olympic gold medal of his career.

“This victory has been a four-year job and it has been many years since I won (an individual gold medal), but life is too short to give up,” said Bjoerndalen. “I think this is one of my most important victories.” The Norwegian will get the chance to break Daehlie’s record in the men’s pursuit on Monday, but he played down comparisons between the pair. “It’s difficult to compare us at this time because Bjorn was some years ago and now we have a lot more disciplines,” he said.

The only faint shadow I perceive is that the achievements at Sochi not be later spoilt by revelations about doping. Whether or not Lasse Viren ever indulged in blood doping, some other Finnish athletes of his day did but it was not illegal at the time (1970’s). The Norwegian ski team in the 1990’s have also been accused of dirty tricks. The intense Alpine skiing events have had their share of rumoursMarit Bjoergen also won a gold yesterday in the skiathlon. She takes asthma medicine and has had dispensation to do so when it contained a banned substance (which is no longer banned upto certain quantities). In any event she has also faced accusations from her peers that her asthma inhaler was performance enhancing. I suppose being able to breathe is performance enhancing. But I thought that Pistorius being allowed to use blades to run in the summer Olympics was ridiculous. Why not allow a javelin thrower with a weak arm to use a “spear-thrower” attachment to his arm?

Usain Bolt generates a sense of Wow and there are no indications that he is anything but “clean”. But so did Ben Johnson generate the same sense of Wow when he won. And even Lance Armstrong. More often than not rumours of dirty tricks have – much later – been found to be true and sometimes banned.

I have a feeling that athletic team directors and doctors are continuously looking for legal performance enhancing methods and it takes a little time before any new methods discovered become widely known, spread and are then banned (like blood doping).  For an armchair spectator like me it is “the sense of Wow” which attracts and captures my imagination. I just hope that my  “sense of Wow” – not just at Bjørndalen’s fantastic achievements are not deflated and destroyed by later revelations of dirty tricks – even if they are not illegal for now. 

Noted in Passing – 28th July 2013

July 28, 2013

Friends under a banana leaf: Photograph by Kendisan Seruyan (via twistedsifter)

I tend to take alarmist claims about the demise of species with a large grain of salt. As supported by this story about a species of North American bumblebee which virtually disappeared and which has now reappeared.

I don’t believe the scientists who say they know the secret of Usain Bolt and his speed.

Matt Ridley compares HS2 to Hadrian’s Wall.

For a “settled science”, there is a great deal which is still being found about how carbon dioxide affects plants. Wetland plants are found not only to absorb more carbon dioxide with high concentration of the gas but they also then emit less carbon dioxide.

John Hawks considers the Denisovans and the pre-Toba, post-Toba question.

Joschka Fischer who was German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor from 1998-2005 considers Egypt after Morsi.

Global population of polar bears keeps increasing (about 5,000 since 2001) even though some vested interests keep adjusting the numbers to try and show that there has been no significant change. They seem however to have abandoned efforts to show numbers declining.

That science is self-correcting may be true in the long term (more than a few decades) but it is largely a myth within the lifetime of scientists.

In the New Yorker, Atul Gawande considers the contrasting speeds at which anesthesia and the use of antiseptics spread and generally how ideas disseminate in the practice of medicine.

His involvement with Muammar Gaddafi is no great surprise but I suspect that we have not yet heard the full history of Tony Blair’s venality.

Any even natural number greater than 2 can be written as the sum of two prime numbers. Plus Maths on the Goldbach Conjecture.


The Bolt Games are coming to an end …… and some events need to go

August 10, 2012

Three days of competition left and then I can get back to a normal routine again. But Usain Bolt and David Rudisha were well worth waiting for last night. And behind David Rudisha in the 800m came two unheralded teenagers. What is left to say about Usain Bolt? The sprint double at successive Games is unprecedented and will not be repeated for a long time. From day one – and long before the athletics had even begun – it has been the Usain Bolt show even if the Team GB performance has been quite remarkable. Almost a fairy tale for the host nation. The organisation of the games has – to all appearances – been a great success. Journalists still look for negative stories but London has coped and coped quite easily. But London 2012 will be – should be – known as the Bolt Games.

Of course Usain Bolt has the 4 x 100m relay yet to come but that does not carry the majesty that the 100m and the 200m does. Rudisha vs. Bolt at the compromise distance of 400m could be interesting.

But – and without any disrespect to the proponents – there are far too many events which just don’t feel Olympian to me. I think I would prefer to see the emphasis on the performance of individuals. Faster, higher, stronger. All team events then feel wrong. This would remove football and hockey and volleyball and handball and basketball and beach volleyball. Even the doubles events in the racquet games would go (and do we really need three racquet games?). Wrestling and boxing are surely enough of the “combat sports” without having to suffer the judo and Tae-kwon-do bouts. Even wrestling has become quite unintelligible for the uninitiated. Pairs and fours in rowing could go. Events where performance is entirely subjective have no place here I think. This would remove artistic gymnastics and synchronised diving for example. And synchronised swimming would die a natural death if it was not an Olympic event. The equestrian events are interesting and dressage is an equine ballet that can be a joy to watch. But for riders to be feted for the performance of their horses seems a little ridiculous.

The Olympics must be the celebration of individual performance – I think – rather than team performances (with their nationalistic overtones).

Faster, Higher and Stronger!

And Tae-kwon-do, Wrestling, Judo, Water polo and all team events would be the first to go if I could choose.

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