Summer Olympics, the old and the new
The 2012 Summer Olympics are winding down. By the time you read this, they will be history.
It’s hard to believe that four years has passed by so fast. I remember writing about the foot being such an integral part of several events in the last Summer Olympics.
Now, here it is, four years later as the closing ceremonies for this year’s events are taking place.
Time sure does fly when you’re over 50.
It looks like the good old United States garnered its share of medals, out- distancing itself from the Chinese.
I remember way back when in the 1960’s and 1970’s when we were competing with East Germany and the Soviet Union for the most medals. And how many of you remember the “women” who participated from those two countries?
I use the term loosely because I believe it was proven that some of those women took hormones or other substances to enhance their abilities. That explains why I read somewhere that one of their corporate sponsors was the Gillette Shaving Cream Company.
But it seemed to me that cheating like that defeated the purpose of the original games.
And as usual I believe a little history is in order.
The first ancient Olympics games have been traced to 776 B.C. They were linked to religious festivals. Their purpose was to show the physical qualities and the evolution of the performances accomplished by young people. They were also supposed to encourage good relations between the cities of Greece.
Married women in the ancient Olympics were not allowed to compete.
Ancient games included running, jumping, the shot put, javelin, boxing, equestrian events and pankration. The latter was a primitive form of martial arts combining wrestling and boxing. Isn’t that the same as Mixed Martial Arts where two men are put in a cage fight to the finish with no rules? Sounds like the ultimate in barbarianism to me. I’ll stick to watching American football.
The athletes in the ancient Olympics usually competed naked. That would explain the absence of the male high hurdle event (OUCH!)
Winners of the Games were crowned with wreaths of olive leaves and they were declared heroes. They also received gifts. But I found no reports of endorsement contracts with sandal companies.
After Rome conquered Greece the games’ standards began to decline. Then in 394 A.D. , Roman emperor Theodosius, a Christian who considered the Games a pagan festival, ordered them stopped. What a killjoy he was!
The games resumed in the modern age in 1896 in Athens, Greece and have been held every four years.
The aim, once again, was for different people, in this case countries, to get together on a friendly basis to compete for national pride.
And I don’t know about you but I have always felt proud of the United States, at Olympic time anyway.
As usual, the coverage has been superb. The Rochester area, of which we are a part, certainly had its share of talented athletes competing. I hadn’t caught too much of the action until a few days ago when I happened to turn on the coverage at the precise time that the U.S. women’s beach volleyball team was playing. I always thought that a volleyball team had more than two members. But I guess that’s a different event.
I had also heard that, of all the events for men to watch, the women’s beach volleyball would be the one that we might want to watch, especially considering the skills of this year’s team as well as the skimpy bikinis worn by the participants. Well, having watched the match I wasn’t very impressed. I don’t mean with the caliber of play. I am referring to the scantily attired females.
It’s one thing to wear very little. It’s another thing for it not to make that much of a difference, if you know what I mean.
But, anyway the US won that match as well as the gold metal and I guess that’s all that should matter.
I did make an effort to watch the pole vaulting because of my personal link to Jenn Suhr, America’s darling who just took up the sport eight years ago.
By personal link I don’t just mean that Jenn went to Roberts Wesleyan College which is a Rochester area college and I live in the Geneseo area which is close to the Rochester area.
The connection I am referring to is the fact that Jenn was BORN in Fredonia and I WENT to Fredonia State College (albeit 15 years earlier than her birth). You can’t get much closer to a person than that.
It was great to see her earn a gold medal this year after taking the silver four years ago. And she did it having been injured in May.
And that brings up a sticking point I have when it comes to reporting sports injuries.
It was written that Jenn tore her quadriceps muscles just three months ago. And I say, as a student of the human body (refer to previous mention of women’s beach volleyball match), WHICH quadriceps muscle?
The average person might surmise from that report that we have one quadriceps muscle.
Anyone worth his or her weight in anatomy knows that we have four — count them, four — quadriceps muscles in each thigh (upper leg). Their function is to flex (bend) the hip and extend (straighten) the knee.
Both functions are necessary for successful pole vaulting. But, if you are giving in depth coverage of these events, next time let us know which quad was injured.
And while I’m on the topic of injuries, it was reported that a track and field runner had to pull out of his event due to a small groin injury.
Now, I don’t know about you, but, if I had a groin injury, I would NOT want it to be referred to as a SMALL GROIN injury. There should be absolutely no description of small in anything located near the groin. Maybe it’s a guy thing, but all injuries to the groin area are LARGE.
The list of Olympic events has certainly expanded in modern games as comparison to the ancient ones. And one sports writer brought up an interesting fact when it comes to total medals that an individual athlete can win.
For example, pole vaulters like Jenn Suhr can only win one medal in her area of expertise. Whereas swimmers like Ryan Lochte or runners like Carl Lewis can earn several medals in their lifetime.
That doesn’t seem fair to me.
So, in the interest of fair play, I would like to purpose some new, as well as more challenging events which would benefit athletes.
What about having a relay pole vaulting competition? One member can do the initial vault and a team member can somehow be at the appropriate height to receive the pole and complete the jump over the bar? Anything is possible.
I can also envision synchronized kayaking where four members compete over stretch of water with the utmost precision of paddling. If swimmers can do it, why can’t kayakers?
Or, how about team skeet shooting? There can be one member doing the actual shooting and another one running across the field holding the clay pigeon out in front. With a little practice and a large number of team members, this could prove to be an exciting event. It would sure beat MMA!
Lou Lombardo is a NYS Licensed Massage Therapist, nationally certified and certified in orthopedic massage. He is an approved provider for continuing education courses through the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. For questions, comments or more information you can contact him at (585) 734-2200 or at lombardolm @aol.com