A Rainy Day With the Olympics

July 13, 2012 at 4:05 am (Education, Events, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Gabby Douglas, Winner of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials 2012

Bright and early this morning, I went to my best friend’s house to watch the Olympic Trials (old news, we were watching what we missed of the Women’s Gymnastics Team Trials on the DVR).  It had been pouring down rain most the night and well into the morning, keeping my sweet baby asleep much longer than usual.  So by the time I was heading over for some Olympic goodness, kiddo still cozy in her pajamas, the streets were quite flooded.  It was a delightful morning, sipping coffee, hanging out, watching the best athletes in the country do their thing.  It set me up for my whole day.

First, while watching Gabby Douglas rock day two and Sarah Finnegan do that fancy beam skill she shares with Terin Humphrey (Click to see the awesome beam skill I’m talking about: Sarah,  Terin), I heard a commentator say something that got me pretty curious about Olympic rules and regulations I wasn’t familiar with already.  They were talking about how young Sarah was.  Young? I thought. Dominque Moceanu was young.  This girl is normal… right? Nope, not anymore.

Dominique Moceanu was the youngest to win nationals at 13.  She was allowed to compete because she would turn 15 during the Olympic year, which means she was actually 14 during the summer Olympics when the Magnificent Seven awed the world.  That was 1996.  In 1997 the rules were changed.  Instead of gymnasts being required to turn 15 in the Olympic year, the eminent “they” that makes important Olympic rules added an extra year to that requirement, and now girls must be 16 (or turning 16).  So Dominique Moceanu will remain the youngest for quite sometime, because it will be impossible for any equally talented 13-year-old to even have the same chances to prove themselves.  In addition to that, there are rumors that the age may be increased to 18! I, personally, am not a fan of these rules.  Yes, our children should be protected, but I think there is a higher risk of injury for training that intensely after an athlete has peaked.  No, I was never an Olympian, but I am very familiar with peaking as an athlete and then things going downhill from there, no matter how hard you train.

Of course, I discovered all this and formed all these opinions today during kiddo’s nap time, while also polishing off my assigned reading for the day:

Title: The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games

Author: Tony Perrottet

Publisher: Random House

Genre: Sports, Ancient History

Length: 214 pages

Perrottet takes an already fascinating subject and presents it in the form of riveting history.  I was surprised how much detail had been discovered regarding the ancient games, and was impressed at how well Perrottet presents it step by step, without leaving anything out.   There were so many things included in the games back then, beauty contests, poetry readings; it wasn’t just for athletes, it was an all out ancient world pagan party honoring Zeus and Eros.  A lot of this information (though it makes perfect sense and fits right in with what I already knew about the times) was new to me.

I was fascinated by how often names I knew popped up in the commentary… Plato, Socrates, Herodotus… I didn’t expect them at the Olympic games!  I also was ignorant of the role the Nazi’s played in our modern view of today’s Olympics, and the lighting of the torch.  An interesting tidbit about the Nazis being so fascinated with Sparta kept popping up, along with tales that put shivers up my spine.

Regardless of the Olympic Games origins and history, and how much of it goes against my personal world view and moral standing, I still find the Olympics wonderful.  Should you purposely breed Olympians? No.  But if someone has the drive and talent and has a passion for it, competing in the Olympics is a beautiful dream and an awesome thing to behold.

Perrottet has done a great job portraying the Olympics for what they are, presenting a well-rounded quick study of the origins of an event which everyone is already familiar.  As I plan to educate kiddo classically, I think this would make a fun optional read during the summer games when she hits her teens.  I see us doing what we did today, eating tomato, avocado, honey mustard, parmesan cheese sandwiches on toasted wheat, sipping coffee, watching the trials, and doing some research.  It could be a fun study/ study break from regular school assignments.

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4 Comments

  1. mefoley said,

    Very interesting comment on gymnasts’ ages! Deng LinLin, who looks about 12 this year, is said to be 20; in 2008 she was entered as 16, but still had baby teeth missing! I’m guessing she was probably 8 back then, and while I respect the stuff about the dangers of training after your peak, I wonder what training that hard when you’re that little does to joints and ligaments that are still just forming…

    • Anakalian Whims said,

      I think it would depend on what you would define as ‘damage.’ You definitely don’t want to train too hard too young if you don’t want to stunt growth or are keen on making sure your kid’s body develops naturally. Which is why you need to be very clear and sure, in my opinion, that it is truly your child’s dream and not your own. But with flexibility and conditioning, it is much safer to do that as you grow rather than after the fact. You are training your bones and muscles to be strong and bendy before they get a chance to know otherwise. When you train as an older person, those bones are more likely to break. As a martial artist, I received most my injuries at 17 and older. Granted, I’m not an olympian by any stretch of the imagination, but my body was much more resiliant prior to puberty.

  2. mefoley said,

    Oops — though I could reply separately to the two posts (gymnastics, etc., and then the book). Re the book: I thought I read that the original Olympians didn’t compete for their nations (or nation-states), but as individuals, but recently I’ve read the opposite. Did that book settle the questions? Maybe nobody knows.

    • Anakalian Whims said,

      If I remember correctly they competed individually, but certain nations were known for putting out exceptional people. An interesting factoid, though, is that it wasn’t all athleticism… they had poetry reading competitions and beauty contests and all sorts of stuff happening. It was more like a huge pagan party festival of extravagance and excitement.

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