August 8, 2012

More unasked Olympic questions answered

Q. What’s the oddest thing about Jamaican 100 meter sprinter Usain Bolt?

A. Although Bolt epitomizes West African-descended sprinting talent, he has the face of an East African distance runner. (Here’s a picture of Bolt with his more conventional-looking Jamaican rival Yohan Blake.) Nobody seems to know why Bolt looks like an immense Kenyan.

Q. How much of the track success of former British colonies like Jamaica and Kenya originates in British Chariots of Fire-style sporting culture?

A. A fair amount. It's taken ex-colonies of other European countries much longer to catch on. For example, the Dominican Republic, which isn't lacking in athletic talent as its baseball success shows, has only recently become an Olympic power in the long sprints and hurdles. (Of course, it doesn't hurt that you can buy PEDs in the Dominican Republic without a prescription.)

On the other hand, ex-colonies tend to take what they like and forget the rest. For instance, although the South Asian countries remain heavily influenced in some ways by the British Raj (for example, India represents one of the world’s leading concentrations of P.G. Wodehouse fans), South Asians are the world’s least interested in sports – except for that most Wodehousian of English games, cricket.

Q. Some black women took to Twitter to criticize gymnast Gabby Douglas for not having expensively processed hair like they do. In contrast, black women sprinters, such as 400m gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross, often wear extravagant hairdos, jewelry, or nails. (Remember Florence Griffith-Joyner’s and Gail Devers’s jeweled claws?) How come?

A. Compared to gymnasts (or to swimmers or long-distance runners), sprinters have a lot of time on their hands. Endless workouts don’t help much. For example, to get ready to win four gold medals at the 1984 Olympics, Carl Lewis worked out eight hours per week (not per day, but eight per week). Thus, Lewis had time to become a disco star in Japan, and Richards-Ross appears to have had everything imaginable done to her hair, plus that of whichever lady in India grew her weave.

Personally, I am happy that sprinters don’t have to train five hours per day like Michael Phelps did. I like the old tradition of the sportsman, the notion that competing can be part of a non-monastic life. 

Q. You say that Southern California's long history of sports success is suspect due to its proximity to Muscle Beach. Hey, America’s sweetheart, 200m runner Allyson Felix, grew up in Southern California!

A. I think it’s fair to say that Felix has, over the years, resisted more temptation than most people could withstand. She’s twice lost the 200m Olympic gold medal to massive Jamaican women. So far, she hasn’t totally Jeterized herself. While Jeter signed up with John Smith, the Dark Side of sprint coaching, Felix recently teamed with Bob Kersee, who has somehow remained the respectable face of muscularity over a long career coaching his wife Jackie Joyner-Kersee, his in-law the late Florence Griffith-Joyner, Gail Devers, and Shawn Crawford.

65 comments:

Anonymous said...

'Personally, I am happy that sprinters don’t have to train five hours per day like Michael Phelps did.'

The trend towards high intensity lower duration training has its own problems. What to do with all that leisure time, all that energy, all that testosterone? A relatively high IQ might help with this converse 'time management' problem. There must be legions of fastest men who never were, but for the distractions...

Gilbert Pinfold

Anonymous said...

South Asians are the world’s least interested in sports – except for that most Wodehousian of English games, cricket.

Actually, that's the second most Wodehousian sport. The first, based on P.G.'s amount of print devoted to it, is golf. And before you say Vijay Singh, remember he's Indian Diaspora (Fiji). Golf never really caught on in India the way cricket did, although the middle class there certainly likes the idea of it:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/12/sports/golf/12indiagolf.html

WhaDaF said...

"Thus, Lewis had time to become a disco star in Japan.."

- Based on the video, he had time to fulfill his fetishes by jumping in the hot tub with fat elderly women blowing bubbles too.

Renauld said...

Female gymnasts can't have weaves, long painted claws, etc- and still be able to do their sport. Not that facts matter to the black commentators.


Then again, Gabby didn't exactly 'do her sport' last night either, and that was with a pony tail.

Tanner said...

Chris Rock doing an Oprah expose on Indian hair cutting- looks like his career jumped the shark...

Indira said...

Surprised you haven't have a bit on Lolo Jones- she was the result of a white woman with children left to fend for themselves by her black husband. Lolo lived in a Y and even had to steal TV dinners.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you haven't noticed that Allison Felix has become quite muscular.

Anonymous said...

What’s the oddest thing about Jamaican 100 meter sprinter Usain Bolt?

He looks like Manute Bol.

Dahlia said...

Off topic, but here is my favorite London Olympics-related quote:

"Watching London’s opening ceremonies. Hard to believe my ancestors were conquered by theirs." tweeted by Conan O'Brien

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfkO0sjv-Z0&list=PL60D6D71E71B66B3D&index=2&feature=plpp_video

Anonymous said...

o/t - astronomer and physicist Bernard Lovell dies :

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/aug/07/sir-bernard-lovell

"Lovell is survived by four of his children, 14 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren."

Prolific in every sense.

peterike said...

Speaking of Mr. Bolt, you notice how the picture of the Swedish chicks in Bolt's room is absolutely everywhere in the media? The story is being shoved down on throats at every opportunity. I wonder what agenda this might be serving?

as said...

Indians are very interested in sports. They're just lacking in athletic ability.

stacy said...

They are nothing but drug cheats. Its been proven over and over many times but the Chinese get away . Apart from the terrible human rights violations within china the reason the olympic committee turns a blind eye toward them chinese drug cheats has to be because every thing we buy in these times has the mark 'made in china' even when most of these cheap products are made using chinese children, sick people and political prisoners as slave labour right?

Anonymous said...

We were discussing the same hair and make-up thing about the female sprinters. A competing theory is that most look extremely masculine by a combo of training, genetics and/or PED that the Kabuki is a costuming to cover up or distract watchers from the masculinity and potential drug accusations.

Anonymous said...

We have separate women's and men's sports due to men's overwhelming physiological advantage. On the basis of the last few decades, should we not also have separate running events for blacks and whites?

Anonymous said...

Steve, we need some analysis of the Leo Manzano story. Born in Mexico. Pride of the longhorns track squad. If anybody is paying attention he should adressing the convention instead of Sanchez.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonel_Manzano

jgress said...

I read somewhere that they tested Jeter and she was clean. How easy is it to dope and still pass the test?

DaveinHackensack said...

Richards-Ross's husband is NFL cornerback Aaron Ross. They'll have some fast kids.

Anonymous said...

swpl rock

Greenidge said...

I find it interesting that France, which has fewer people and a smaller black middle class, produces more good black male tennis players (Noah, Monfils, Tsonga) than the US. The only post Ashe black American male players of note have been Washington and Blake. I do not count Young because he was only good as a junior.
It is equally curious that white Americans, who were #1 and #2 in 1995, are no longer to be found in the sport's upper eschelons; Sampras has had no successor. I am aware of Allen, Garrison, McNeil, Rubin, and the Williams sisters, but women's tennis is an altogether different kettle of fish.

Anonymous said...

http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/track-and-field/highlights-pearson-wins-gold-in-100m-hurdles-sets-olympic-record.html

honkeyass ho wins

pat said...

I think the most extreme training regimens are actually in competitive body building which thus far is not an Olympic event.

I think it was Flex Wheeler's training regimen that first alerted me to this issue.

Arnold Swarthenegger was one of the new boy builders. He and Ferrigno were bigger and more densely muscled than previous builders like Steve Reeves. When I saw "Hercules" as a kid I was stunned by Reeves' physique. I'd never seen anything like that before. Recently I watched it again on TV. Reeves no longer looked exceptional. I had subsequently seen Arnold in movies with his shirt off in too many movies.

But today Arnold would be too light to be competitive. He may have been as tall as 6'2" when he was Mr. Olympia. He weighed about 240. Today the top guys are about 280 and are only about 5'9" or 5'10".

Arnold of course got that physique with steroids. But there seems to be a limit to how much muscle you can add to your frame with only weight lifting and anabolic steroids. Arnold was just about at that limit.

The new crop of builders have to change their whole life to get bigger. The first thing to go is sleep. At least sleep for a full eight hours at a time. Someone figured out that the way to keep all that extra muscle was to adopt a four hours awake - four hours asleep regimen.

Flex Wheeler can't have normal friends because he's up in the middle of the night when everyone else sleeps. He also can't eat normal meals. He has a completely artificial life style invented to keep his weight up.

This won't last. Gorillas are heavily muscled and share about 98% of our genome. Someone - in the spirit of Lyle Alzedo - will try to exploit that. Hormonal doping has reached a ceiling. Now it's on to genetic doping.

Albertosaurus

dave chamberlin said...

I wonder when some swimming coach will get the bright idea to start recruiting black kids to the sport. If they dominate in sprinting short distances they should be equipped to be equally dominant in swimming short distances. Please don't follow this comment with some ignorant crap like blacks can't swim because they are denser and prone to sinking, please don't.

Anonymous said...

http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/diving/highlights-german-diver-lands-on-back.html?chrcontext=top-nbc-moments-1b

lol

Anonymous said...

http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/gymnastics/highlights-aly-raismans-gold-medal-floor-exercise-routine.html

Jumping Jewess

Anonymous said...

http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/gymnastics/highlights-krisztian-berkis-gold-medal-pommel-horse-routine.html

cool

ChrIstopher Burchfield said...

Steve,
What is your fascination with women in sports these last two days? From a physical standpoint they are so critically impaired. Embarrasingly so in so many sports: tennis, basketball, soccer, football--oops, did I mention football?
Martin B. Lewis

ChrIstopher Burchfield said...

Steve,
What is the story regards your fascination with women's sports these last two days? Women are so critically impaired. It becomes embarrassingly so regards to fast moving team sports--basketball, volley ball, soccer, football--oops, did I make note of football?

Martin B. Lewis

Anonymous said...

http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/diving/highlights-ilya-zakharovs-gold-medal-3m-springboard-dives.html

Russia yeah!

Anonymous said...

http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/track-and-field/2011-worlds-anna-chicherova-wins-high-jump.html

Anonymous said...

http://www.nbcolympics.com/nations/nation=india/index.html?etx=medals&etx2=2012-medalists

India wins another one!

Anonymous said...

http://www.nbcolympics.com/athletes/athlete=mary-kom/index.html

But she don't very Indian.

Indians got beat by Aryans, Persians, Alexander, Mughals, Brits, and Chinese(in border war), but they go on.

Anonymous said...

http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/basketball/highlights-nicolas-batum-cheap-shot.html

French team all black.

And fans of OW MY BALLS!

Anonymous said...

http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/boxing/full-fight-marlen-esparza-defeats-karlha-magliocco.html

catfight

Anonymous said...

https://www.google.com/search?num=10&hl=en&safe=off&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1024&bih=653&q=biting+gold+medal&oq=biting+gold+medal&gs_l=img.12...1170.13854.0.14905.17.3.0.14.14.0.455.564.2j4-1.3.0...0.0...1ac.nZDJ3IFAkWs

I'm so sick of players biting their gold medals. Pass out cookies instead from now on.

Anonymous said...

Indians are bigger and stronger than Japanese. But like Brazil, India doesn't invest much into programs.

Anonymous said...

"I find it interesting that France, which has fewer people and a smaller black middle class, produces more good black male tennis players (Noah, Monfils, Tsonga) than the US."

I guess football and basketball aren't big there and so blacks go into other stuff.

DaveinHackensack said...

"What is your fascination with women in sports these last two days? From a physical standpoint they are so critically impaired. Embarrasingly so in so many sports: tennis, basketball, soccer, football--oops, did I mention football?"

Women's tennis champions are great athletes. They aren't "impaired" at all. They're also entertaining to watch, which is why top-rated female tennis players can earn a fortune. Women's tennis looks a lot like men's tennis (though the women get to have shorter matches).

The same can't be said of women's basketball and men's basketball, though.

As for women's soccer versus men's soccer, I never cared enough about women's soccer to watch it, so I couldn't say. But lots of people do care about women's tennis, so it's stupid to lump it in with women's basketball and soccer.

Lugash said...

I am Lugash.

I think the most extreme training regimens are actually in competitive body building which thus far is not an Olympic event.

Yep. Endurance athletes take EPO and blood dope at the most; strength athletes are probably on HGH and various form of testosterone. Testing and negative performance effects keep the worst of it in check.

Professional weightlifters are on massive amounts of test, estrogen blockers, HGH, diuretics, injected oils and insulin(!).

Flex Wheeler can't have normal friends because he's up in the middle of the night when everyone else sleeps. He also can't eat normal meals. He has a completely artificial life style invented to keep his weight up.

Didn't he quit years ago due to a failed kidney? At the beginning of his career his physique was still somewhat proportional, but then he started getting the bloated belly that probably comes from HGH use.

Ronnie Coleman had to have his spine fused to keep bone growths from pinching off nerves. He looks like he's still as massive as ever, despite not competing for 5 years or so. Kind of strange, you would think he would slim down.

I am Lugash.

Anonymous said...

http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/wrestling/highlights-greco-roman-96kg-medal-ceremony.html

BITING THE GOLD MEDAL MUST END!!! I'M SICK OF IT, I TELL YOU!! SICK OF IT!!

eah said...

Looks like testing must've gotten the blue flag as doping appears to be lapping it.

Anonymous said...

http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/weightlifting/highlights-behdad-salimis-gold-medal-snatch.html

Another big strong mofo from Iran.

Truth said...

I'd love to be a fly on the wall on you and Allison's first date though:

Jody: "Alison, baby I love you, but you know that you are inferior to white girls in intelligence, personality and looks, and that the only reason you ever win a race is that the mass media and the drunk white fans fix the results to make white athletes look bad..."

Allison: "Rufus (her bodyguard) please escort this gentleman outside and punch him in his face."

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that they tested Jeter and she was clean. How easy is it to dope and still pass the test?

Given enough money and connections, it's pretty easy. It's usually the poorly funded, unconnected athletes who get caught, because they don't have access to the latest generation of PEDs and masking agents.

for real? said...

ChrIstopher Burchfield said...
Steve,
What is your fascination with women in sports these last two days? From a physical standpoint they are so critically impaired. Embarrasingly so in so many sports: tennis, basketball, soccer, football--oops, did I mention football?
Martin B. Lewis

TENNIS? Don't embarrass yourself Mr. Burchfield or Lewis.

Basketball, football, soccer, ok. So what. But women can be phenomenal in tennis, and about as fascinating to watch as men. I prefer watching them in gynmastics and some of the swimming also. Maybe even some the running, and some of the more esoteric sports involving horses. I'm not into sports myself, but I know what people watch because they are fascinated by the grace, skill, speed and precision.

Whiskey said...

FWIW, the FT had an article on genetic doping -- gaining competitive advantage by using viruses to alter one's genes. Presumably for oxygenation, lactic acid toleration, etc. This has already been tested on mice. Currently there is no regime to detect it in humans.

Tony said...

My question is why don't blacks do as well in the 100 m hurdles as they do in the 100 m sprints? It's just more jumping which blacks are also good at.

Anonymous said...

Blacks will never dominate swimming for the same reason they DO dominate sprints. Swimming is all about having a long UPPER BODY -comparatively speaking- and sprinting is all about having a long lower body - comparatively speaking.

Plus having an EXTREMELY low percentage of body fat is a plus in sprinting, but its less helpful in swimming, where you need a CERTAIN amount of fat for bounancy.

West African Blacks seem to excel in running faster and jumping higher, but in positions and sports and where that speed/jumping height isn't crucial, they don't dominate.

Anonymous said...

I have just checked the number of medals won by the United States with a population of just over 300 million compared with the old Britain and the four old Dominions , South Africa (white),Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with a population of less than half of the U.S.
US Gold 30 Total 71
Old Commonwealth Gold 34 Total 101.
Cheers,Terry.

Anonymous said...

Indians are bigger and stronger than Japanese

I'm a white guy, grew up with mostly Japanese kids. Plenty of them were very strong, tough (physically and mentally), fast, quick, and often bigger than you'd expect from what we normally think about East Asians.

I work in a company and area with lots of Indians. I think I've known one guy that is strong.

Indians tough/fast/big - no way.

Maybe there's some selection bias in immigrants to the U.S., but still.

Name the sport, I'd bet a good chunk of change on a high school team made up of Japanese vs. one of Indians. I'm pretty sure you'd don't know what your talking about.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 8/8/12 7:10 AM,

That was the most random, OT link ever. Brings me back to Physics 101/102. Thanks for the memories.

Anonymous said...

"Blacks will never dominate swimming for the same reason they DO dominate sprints. Swimming is all about having a long UPPER BODY -comparatively speaking- and sprinting is all about having a long lower body - comparatively speaking."

What do you mean by blacks? They come in all shapes and sizes.
Indeed, I think sub-Saharan Africans should be seen not as one race but several races. Ethiopians/Somalians should be considered a different race from Bantu West Africans. And Xhosa people should be seen as belonging to a different race.
Seeing all black Africans as one race is like seeing Asians and Whites as one race since they all got light skin.

DaveinHackensack said...

"Personally, I am happy that sprinters don’t have to train five hours per day like Michael Phelps did. I like the old tradition of the sportsman, the notion that competing can be part of a non-monastic life."

You might have liked Corrie Sanders, the South African heavyweight boxer. He gave the impression of being a traditional sportsman type. Unlike the scientifically sculpted Wladimir Klitschko, Sanders looked like he never lifted weights -- just a natural athlete who happened to be a talented boxer (and golfer, I think). He knocked out Wladimir, but was stopped by Wladimir's brother Vitaliy in a later fight.

Truth said...

Corrie Sanders may have been the most naturally talented heavyweight who never really amounted to anything. He had speed! If he had worked he could have been a white Ali.

DaveinHackensack said...

Speaking of talented heavyweights who never amounted to anything, I wonder what Ike Ibeabuchi would have done if he hadn't ended up in the Pokey.

Ron Woo said...

"I'm a white guy, grew up with mostly Japanese kids. Plenty of them were very strong, tough (physically and mentally), fast, quick, and often bigger than you'd expect from what we normally think about East Asians."

I'm assuming this was in the West? The high-protein, red-meat heavy diet of Western countries makes an immense difference to stature and build. Most of the 2nd-gen southern Chinese I know in the USA clock in at around six feet, yet their provinces of ancestral origin are generally considered to be home to the shortest people in the PRC.

I think the same rule will apply to Indians in the West as well - they will be far taller and heftier than their immigrant forbears.

Truth said...

He was crazy, and he would have ended up there eventually. I thought Ibeabucci was impressive against Tua, but not unbelievably so. The whole thing about him being the next superstar heavyweight was probably a little overrated. He was only 6-1, 6-2, and he would have had problems with the bigger guys like Bowe, Lewis and the Klitschkos.

Anonymous said...

Most of the 2nd-gen southern Chinese I know in the USA clock in at around six feet, yet their provinces of ancestral origin are generally considered to be home to the shortest people in the PRC.

Are you sure you don't mean northern Chinese? Southern Chinese, even the west, are not particularly tall. Not midgets either, more like 5'7" or 5'8" for men.

not a hacker said...

don't follow this comment with some ignorant crap like blacks can't swim because they are denser and prone to sinking

I was in Berkeley's Spieker Pool one day in 1995 when two black guys came onto the deck. I heard one say to the other, "we blowin' they minds; they don't think we can swim."

Anonymous said...

I'm assuming this was in the West? The high-protein, red-meat heavy diet of Western countries makes an immense difference to stature and build. Most of the 2nd-gen southern Chinese I know in the USA clock in at around six feet, yet their provinces of ancestral origin are generally considered to be home to the shortest people in the PRC.

I think the same rule will apply to Indians in the West as well - they will be far taller and heftier than their immigrant forbears


Yes, this was in the US.

In my current area there are plenty of ABCD's. They do not impress me as athletic specimens in the least. Maybe many are vegans and don't have good musculature as a result. Parents probably made them study more than is healthy, too.

Maybe giving tougher Indian field workers high protein diets would produce something, don't know.

Still, all things equal, I'd bet on the Japanese.

Chinese, not sure - knew a lot of them too, a few were impressive, but not like the AJA's.

Anonymous said...

My question is why don't blacks do as well in the 100 m hurdles as they do in the 100 m sprints? It's just more jumping which blacks are also good at.

It's 110m hurdles. The hurdlers are noticeably skinnier and less muscled than the sprinters.

Anonymous said...

"My question is why don't blacks do as well in the 100 m hurdles as they do in the 100 m sprints? It's just more jumping which blacks are also good at."

Seems to me looking at the medal winner's podiums of various sports over the last few olympics it's becoming more and more about having the ideal body type for that particular sport. Often, if you ignore ethnicity and just focus on the physical shape, the three medal winners could be clones.

I think this is what you'd expect from a mechanics point of view.

Keil said...

"In contrast, black women sprinters, such as 400m gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross, often wear extravagant hairdos, jewelry, or nails. (Remember Florence Griffith-Joyner’s and Gail Devers’s jeweled claws?)"

There are some black male sprinters who like to flash it up as well. I'm thinking of not just Carl Lewis, but many others who like sparkly shoes, wearing large necklaces, etc. I think ghetto fabulous is the concept at play here- they grew up in it, so it comes out in everything they do. Its foolish to risk hampering your run or throw away buckets of cash on it, but logic isn't exactly an sub-saharan African thang...

Sword said...

I crunched the numbers on the USA medalists in individual events. For now, I have deleted the team and pair events, since those can have mixed-ethnicity teams. For people of mixed ancestry, I have given half a medal to each ancestry.

Here are the results:
Non-Hispanic Whites: 18,5 Gold - 10,5 Silver - 8,5 Bronze

Blacks: 9,5G - 9S - 8,5B
Blacks: not counting track&Field: 4G - 1S - 1,5B

Asians: 0,5G - 0S - 1,5B

Hispanics: 0,5G - 1,5S - 3,5B

If each gold is assigned 3 points, silver 2, and bronze, then the races earned these total medal points:
Hispanics: 8 points
Asians: 3 points
Blacks: 55 points
Non-Hispanic Whites: 85 points