OT - Olympics Day 15 (do we even need the spoiler tag at this point?)

Submitted by Yeoman on August 11th, 2012 at 10:30 AM

In honor of today's 5k:

50 stunning Olympic moments No 41: Emil Zatopek the triple-gold winner

I was going to cut and paste something out of this but there are so many great stories in one short article I don't know what to choose. Maybe this:

Also on the Czech team in London was the javelin thrower Dana Ingrova, who finished seventh. She happened to be precisely Zatopek's age, both having been born on 19 September 1922. They knew each other already but the relationship blossomed in London, where they passed time playing a long-distance, high-stakes game of catch using her javelin. He bought two gold rings from a shop in Piccadilly Circus. "So, we were both born on the same day," he told her. "What if, by chance, we were also to get married on the same day?"




rob f

August 11th, 2012 at 11:50 AM ^

you'll see celebrations of the like you've probably never (or rarely, anyway) seen, anywhere with a sizeable Mexican-American population.  I have some hispanic friends, co-workers and/or acquaintences who were totally geeked yesterday in anticipation of this Gold-Medal game.

Oh-oh, Brazil just scored to draw to 2-1... 


August 11th, 2012 at 11:55 AM ^

That's interesting.

The Olympic soccer tournament isn't taken seriously in Europe--there's hardly any coverage of it in the press and none of my European friends even watch it--and I'd assumed that was true in every soccer country.

Of course Mexico cares enough about youth tournaments to have gotten caught using over-age players so I suppose I should have known better....

rob f

August 11th, 2012 at 12:30 PM ^

This is the first time Mexico ever medaled in Mens Olympic Soccer, besides never winning the World Cup.  Mexico has long considered itself a force in international soccer but never had the hardware or medals to back up their claim, as (arguably) the Olympics are second only to the World Cup in international importance.

snarling wolverine

August 11th, 2012 at 2:54 PM ^

I'm not sure what Mexico's geopolitical importance has to do with any of this.  Men's Olympic soccer is not all that big of a deal.  I'd have said the same if Brazil (or the U.S. for that matter) had won gold.

The correlation of Olympic success to World Cup success is limited at best.  Past gold medalists include the Soviet Union, Nigeria and Cameroon.  Argentina won it in 2004 and '08 but their senior side hasn't won anything lately.



August 11th, 2012 at 1:16 PM ^

The Olympics are a youth tournament; they're about as important internationally as FIFA's U17 and U21 tournaments. To give you an example of how intense the interest is: today's headline on the Kicker webpage is a preseason friendly between Fortuna Duesseldorf and Benfica and the gold medal match is buried under reports from the German Regionalliga (fourth division).



August 11th, 2012 at 1:19 PM ^

So, if the matchup for the final was Great Britain vs Brazil, no one in Europe would watch? The Olympic basketball tournament is bullshit too, but plenty of Americans will watch, and plenty more would if it would be competitive. I promise you that to Mexican people, it is a big deal (my wife is from Mexico, and watching the game with a Mexican friend was a blast).

snarling wolverine

August 11th, 2012 at 1:42 PM ^

That's not a good comparison.  The Olympics is to basketball what the World Cup is to soccer - the most prestigious international competition, open to players of all ages.  

Olympic soccer, because it's restricted to players under 23 (save three overage guys), doesn't have most of the sport's big names.  It still has some cachet, but it's on a very different level from the World Cup or continental championships.


August 11th, 2012 at 2:24 PM ^

It wasn't just that the US women dominated softball--it's that games were basically played between Americans and Americans who happened to have other citizenship. It's a sport that had barely crossed national borders--sort of like having Olympic Australian Rules or Olympic Hurling.

I think to some extent baseball got caught up in the backlash against softball. Next time the Olympics are held in a baseball country it might make a comeback. The difference between baseball and, say, handball, which also is basically only played on two continents, is that handball doesn't require a specialized facility. When the games are over, what would London do with a baseball diamond?


August 11th, 2012 at 5:14 PM ^

No, cricket fields are far bigger (and also a different shape), which along with the interminable length of the matches is probably why cricket isn't an Olympic sport. Quoting wikipedia:


It is worth noting that based on these guidelines, a cricket field must have at least 16,000 square yards ((150+3+3)/2*(70+70+3+3-22/2)/2*pi) of grass area. A more realistic test-match stadium would have more than 20,000 square yards of grass (having a straight boundary of about 80m) . In contrast an association football field needs only about 9,000 square yards of grass, and an Olympic stadium would contain 13,500 square yards of grass within its 400m running track, making it impossible to play international cricket matches unless the stadium was specifically built for cricket. However the Stadium Australia which hosted the Sydney Olympics in 2000 had its running track turfed over and 30,000 seats removed to make it possible to play cricket in the stadium, at a cost of AU$80million.  This is one of the reasons cricket games generally cannot be hosted outside the traditional cricket playing countries, and a few non-test nations like Canada, the UAE, and Kenya that have built test-match standard stadiums.


If you're ever flying over Chicago and look down on Washington Park (the park immediately west of the University of Chicago) you can see the outline of what was once a cricket field. It's enormous--the field alone is bigger than US Cellular and all its parking lots put together.

snarling wolverine

August 11th, 2012 at 3:47 PM ^

The home-country advantage in the Olympics is remarkable, especially in terms of winning gold medals.  

China went from 32 gold medals in 2004 to 51 in 2008 (and now, away from home, they're at 37).

Canada doubled its gold medal total from the 2006 Winter Games (seven) to 2010 (14).

And now Great Britain has won 27 gold medals.  To put that into perspective: from 1924 to 2004, they never won more than 11.  In 1996, they won one gold medal!

Brazil has 3 golds right now.  I wonder how much they can improve when they're the host.