Friday, July 27, 2012

The Olympics

In an attempt to further Mr. Mothershead's goal of discovering "Truth, both Ancient and Modern, one post at a time", I am excited to point out that the peculiar combination of things "both Ancient and Modern" known as the Olympics starts this weekend.

If you like the Olympics (and what right-thinking person does not like the Olympics?), then Slate has an interesting and entertaining feature by which you see how Olympic heroes from various Olympic games would fare in competition against each other.  The feature is here.  Everything from this point on will be a spoiler for that feature.  Consider yourself warned. 

Most of the events in the Slate feature finish the way one might expect.  Swimmers and runners are a lot faster than their counterparts in the early Olympics.  The winners in the three most recent Olympics finish in some version of  1-2-3 in the competition between them and previous winners.  The exceptions, however, give you a sense of how thoroughly some Olympic records were demolished by the current record holder.  For example, Florence Griffith-Joyner's record in the women's 100-meter dash is more than .25 seconds ahead of her nearest rivals. Her record is 24 years old.  By way of comparison, Usain Bolt is less than .2 seconds faster than Justin Gatlin in 2008.  Of course, Mr. Bolt's Olympic record might be a tad slow because he stopped running hard before the finish.  As an aside, the guy who finished last in the 100 meter final in Beijing, Darvis Patton, would have beaten five of the Olympic champions featured in Slate's race.

The record that really stands out is Bob Beamon.  His men's long jump, which you can see here, broke the existing world record by nearly two feet and is still the Olympic record.  The 2008 Olympic winner in the event comes in fifth.  In a similar vein, Jackie Joyner-Kersee's 1988 gold-medal winning effort in the women's long jump is more than a foot longer than the 2008 winner's jump.  Perhaps my colleagues will have a theory on why long jumps are shorter in 2008 then they were in 1968 or 1988.

In any event, I hope everyone takes the opportunity to watch some sports that one rarely gets an opportunity to see during the four years between each Olympics.

1 comment:

  1. My theory on the long jump is the expanding universe. Since the universe is bigger now, it's harder to jump as far.


Comments on posts older than 30 days are moderated because almost all of those comments are spam.