Olympic Reflections

Written by

By Chad Wesley Smith

Today the 2012 London Olympics comes to a conclusion and I have been watching it religiously. The Olympics are definitely a favorite event of mine, as they are the culmination of so many people’s life’s work and a showcase of the ultimate in physical performance. These musings are all over the place so I’ll just list them out…

Here are what I considered the most impressive performances in no order…

-McKayla Maroney’s vaulting in the team competition. Even though she couldn’t bring home the individual event gold, Maroney (who lives about 5 minutes from Juggernaut, in case she reads this and needs a new strength coach) was so far beyond the other competitors. When they overlayed her vault with the Men’s champion and she was about 2’ higher in the air, I was blown away.

McKayla Maroney doesn’t approve of shenanigans or falling on her butt in the individual vault final, but her performance in the team competition was amazing!

-David Rudisha’s 800m world record was amazing. Two laps in 1 min 40.91 seconds, essentially back to back 50 second 400s, is a feat to behold, even moreso when you consider the difficulty of leading the race the entire way. That guy can withstand pain like very few others in the world because the 800 in my opinion is the toughest single event in Track. When they showed the conditions that Rudisha trains in (ie. Dirt track covered in rocks) it made everything he does all the more impressive. Check out his more Rudisha here.

-Kim Rhode hitting 99/100 skeet for Gold is particularly remarkable to me because I have terrible aim. I’m not totally on board with the different shooting events being included in the Olympics (more on that below) but I was still impressed by that.

Lu Xiaojun brought home a Gold Medal, World Record Snatch and World Record Total and he did it with one of the more impressive physiques I have seen for an Olympic Weightlifter.

-There were so many impressive weightlifting results that I’ll just list a few, Om Yun Choi (N. Korea) clean and jerking 168kg at 56kg bw, over 3x BW!! Ilya Ilyin (Kazikstan) Clean and Jerking 233kg at 94kg for a World Record was remarkable but the most impressive for me was Lu Xiaojun’s (China) 175kg WR Snatch and 379kg WR Total at 77kg BW. Lu was so impressive to me not just because of his record breaking strength but he combined it with a very impressive physique, which is more the exception than the rule in Olympic Weightlifting. Behdad Salimi the Gold Medalist SHW is also remarkable in his stature (6’6” 365 pounds) and strength at a young age.

-Everything that Usain Bolt did. Bolt isn’t just the best sprinter of all time or the most dominant, he is also the most entertaining. He has a great personality and though some may call him cocky, his swagger is a part of what makes him great and why he performs at his best on the biggest stages. 9.63, 19.32 and the anchor leg (in which he probably split in the 8.6-8.7 range) on a world record 36.84 WR 4x100m were all jaw dropping. What makes Bolt all the more impressive to me, is how loose and relaxed he is and how he makes everything look so easy. Coming down the final meters in the prelims/semis of the 100 and 200 he toys with the competition, seemingly jogging speeds that others can only dream of. Bolt is a perfect example of the important of rhythm and relaxation to success in speed/power sports.

Not much to say here, simply the best!

Here are some performances that I just enjoyed…

-Seeing Dwain Chambers (GB) run in the heats and semis of 100m were a great sight to see. A few years ago I had the great opportunity to spend time with Dwain while he was in California training. He is a hard working, kind and very open about his training and past. I was extremely happy that Great Britain decided to lift the Olympic Ban on this great athlete who has endured punshiment that went beyond his doping ban. I’m glad that Dwain was able to sort out all of his coaching issues and get back to what makes him one of the World’s best pure power sprinters.

-Alysia Johnson Montano, the US’s top 800m runner aka the girl with the flower in her hair, is a friend of mine and we were in the same recruiting class at Cal. She is so talented, hard working, funny and sweet, it was great to see her run (even though I know she is disappointed with her 5th place performance) in the Olympics, particularly because she failed to qualify in 2008 due to an injury. Even though she is married now and has changed her name, she will always be AJ to me and the same crazy ass girl that I used to hang with in the dorms and at the track.

-Christine Ohuruogu (GB) is just an absolute stud. Christine is the Beijing Gold Medalist at 400m and has had a series of injuries since. I had the opportunity to spend time with Christine each Spring since 2009, when she comes to train in California and at Juggernaut. Her perseverance through adversity is remarkable. She is so sweet and unassuming, you would never imagine that she is one of the World’s greatest sprinters. Christine is the epitome of a racer, having run under 50 seconds only 3 times in her career, for the World Championship Gold in 2007, Olympic Gold in 2008 and Olympic Silver in 2012. Check out this interview I did with Chrissy during her time here a few months ago…Click Here (Juggernaut Members, Click Here to view the full 30 minute video)

Here are some things that frustrated me in 2012…

-The performance of the US Throwers was disappointing. Reese Hoffa’s bronze medal is a great accomplishment and I’m happy for Reese to breakthrough onto the Olympic podium but 1 medal isn’t enough for America. Maybe my expectations are too high but something needs to be done about our development system for the Discus, Javelin and Hammer. Our men’s shot putters are remarkable and I know that they can’t be expected to sweep every big international meet but the other events are just not up to par. We had 3 finalists total in the 7 throwing events besides Men’s Shot, that is just unacceptable. I understand the issues presented by the popularity of the NFL, NBA and MLB and how kids aren’t getting exposed to the sports early enough (read more about that here) but answers need to be found. A 19 year old from Trinidad won the Men’s Javelin! We need to do better! Our discus throwers need to stop chasing the wind from La Jolla to Salinas to Maui and getting inflated marks that make us feel better about our place in the discus throwing world and get into stadiums and learn how to throw when it matters. Kibwe is a great representative of the Hammer and I think will do great and help bring things around there. The Crousers give us hope in the Jav and Michelle Carter is a great women’s shot putter but we need more, we are the United States of America. We need coaches who can develop great gliders because apparently that’s what wins Major Championships in Men’s Shot and it is without a doubt the only way to be a medal contender in the Women’s, considering the difference between the WR (Over 74’) and the best ever rotational woman (Jill Camarena at around 20m) is over 8 feet!! I’m not saying I have the answers but there is an answer and we need to find it.

Congrats Reese! Really happy for you, but you shouldn’t be the only American thrower on the podium.

-Frankly, there are things that shouldn’t be in the Olympics like shooting, archery, equestrian, rhythmic gymnastics, race walking, synchronized swimming and sailing, I’m on the fence about Ping Pong. I know the people who compete in them work hard and are as dedicated to their sport as swimmers and track athletes are to their’s, but I can’t call the competitors, athletes, in shooting, archery, equestrian (the horse is the athlete) and sailing. And I can’t call the competitions, sports, in the cases of rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming because their outcomes are purely subjective, (and yes I know that artistic gymnastics is too, but come on are you gonna make that argument) so I would consider them exhibitions or possibly spectacles. As for race walking…they are just reject distance runners.

-There needs to be some tweaking to the medal count to reflect success in team sports. A basketball, volleyball, water polo, team handball (awesome sport, let’s get that more popular here) swimming/track relay and soccer medal that is won by 4+ people shouldn’t be weighed the same as a medal in an individual sport. Now I know that the medal count is just an arbitrary thing and doesn’t mean anything beyond some nationalistic pride, but dammit I want more nationalistic pride! I also think that it would be cool to have a team scoring component to Swimming/Diving and Track and Field, just like there is in College team competitions, so that there would be an extra Gold medal for the team with the highest combined points.

-Michael Phelps isn’t the greatest Olympian of all time, there I said it. There are too many events in swimming and they aren’t measuring skills that are varied enough and that is why he can win so many medals. I’m not sure how to better organize the events but there is a better way. The velocities that the athletes are moving in swimming aren’t greatly differentiated enough (as they are in track) to necessitate having a 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, etc freestyle events and the strokes aren’t different enough to warrant awarding medals at the same distances in different strokes. It is the equivalent of having a 100m Sprint and 100m Backpedal events in track and field, of course Usain Bolt would win them both, because they just aren’t that different. Phelps is great, don’t get me wrong, but for people to consider him the greatest athlete ever or greatest Olympian ever just isn’t right. Track and Field athletes are without a doubt the best athletes in the Olympics and winning medals there is just harder than it is in swimming, I think the fact that Mark Spitz had a Phelps-esque performance prior to Phelps proves that. It would be physically impossible for a human to withstand the physical punishment of 8 different events on the track (along with prelims and semis for each), just due to the nature of being on land and the velocities at which their bodies are moving in Olympic track & field. For now, I would give that title of Greatest Olympian/Greatest Olympic Athlete to Carl Lewis, Usain Bolt, Bryan Clay or Roman Sebrle, with Bolt and also Ashton Eaton ready to grab hold of the title for themselves in 2016.

Random Thoughts…

-Kirani James will break the 400m World Record soon, repeat in 2016 and be the greatest 400m runner of all time. Dude is so smooth! Also a cool moment with him and Pistorious exchanging bibs.

-Carmelita Jeter is a beast, very impressive!

-The 5000m and 10000m runs in track are interesting to watch because you don’t necessarily win by running as fast as you can. Also, Mo Farrah’s kick is nuts and it was cool to see Galen Rupp pull out that Silver because let’s face it, when was the last time you saw I white guy in the mix there.

-The men’s gymnasts are crazy ripped and I bet they could do 75+ pullups, 100+ dips with their bodyweight and probably do 3x bodyweight dips and 2x bodyweight pullups for a max.

-All the US Swimming girls seem really sweet and down to earth, I was very glad to see them have such great success.

-Ryan Lochte, I wish you nothing but the best and would have like to seen you and Phelps bring home all the medals possible, so I’m sorry that you were disappointed in your performance, but I called it here.

-Allyson Felix, what a stud! Breaking through into the 100m with bronze then getting over the hump in the 200m to finally win gold and then topping it off with the fastest split on the team in the 4x400m domination!! I remember seeing her run when we were in high school, she is a babe too!

-It was great to hear US Men’s Basketball team talking about playing for their country and each other, maybe they will start playing for their team and teammates when they come back to the NBA.

-If you are still naïve enough to think that Olympic athletes aren’t using PEDs and getting away with it, just follow @VictorConte on Twitter.

-Glad to see the US get their act together in the 4x100m sprints for both the men and the women, getting the baton around the track for the first time in a while and doing it in style with a World Record for the Ladies and an American Record for the Men.

-Serena Williams, crip walking after she wins Gold…Coming Straight Outta Compton Crazy Motherf’er named Serena!!

-Over the next decade, Womens’ US Olympic Weighlifting will get a huge boost in performance and sex appeal from women who were introduced to Olympic Lifting by…Crossfit! Later Holley Mangold, hello Katie Hogan!

This is what needs to happen for US Olympic Weightlifting to become popular and successful.

-Nice for the US Women to get that soccer gold, especially since Japan won the World Cup over them, but I always figured that they gave it to Japan then because of that whole earthquake thing. Plus Hope Solo and Alex Morgan are among my top Olympic Babes.

-Ashton Eaton is amazing and will only be getting better

-Final Hottest Olymian Roundup: Georganne Moline (US Track), Chloe Sutton (US Swimming), Julia Rohde (Germany Weightlifting), tons of eastern European and Brazilian girls in a variety of sports and last but certainly not least Jessica Ennis, the greatest female athlete in the World.

As if there wasn’t enough info out there already to show why weightlifting and sprinting was the best way for women to achieve the body they want, this should do the trick.

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