Category Archives: Running/Sport

Silver

It’s the colour of moon-light, doorknobs, and Slytherin — and it’s a colour Australia has been seeing a great deal of lately. At both Sydney and Athens, Australia placed an amazing 4th at the Olympics. This time they are placing 4th on only one tally: silver. So far, Australia has a whopping 12 silver, 7 bronze — but only 1 gold.

That we are 19th on the table is bad in itself, but certain individual nations we are losing to make it worse. Not only are we being beaten by less famous sporting nations — such as Kazakhstan — but we are being beaten by our cousins and rivals, the Kiwis! New Zealand is probably the only nation which could well be more sporty than Australia for its population, but their population is about 1/5th of Australia’s, so it’s a bit embarrassing to lose to them. Furthermore the British, who were without gold for several days, are quick to laughingly rub their eight gold into our losses.

Losses. Perhaps “losses” is not quite the right word. We have, after all, won 12 silver. Olympic silver is a truly remarkable achievement, but some how it often seems like a bit of a disappointment: rather than thinking of the multiple athletes which you have beaten, you think of the solitary athlete which you have failed to beat. Here is an article on the subject which was quite interesting.

(One of the best races of my life ended this way. I was leading the field for nearly a kilometre in 1500 metre of the ACT Little Athletics championships, and with 70 metres to go — by which time I felt utterly spent — the favourite for the race sprinted past like I was standing still. It was a bit disappointing, of course, but I reckon the next best thing to finishing like that myself is seeing someone else do it. In the end, actually, I got gold, because he was younger than me!)

Personally, I like Alicia Coutts’ attitude is better: she basically said that since she has worked really hard, anybody who beats her must also have worked hard — so she doesn’t begrudge them. Others might argue that it’s easy for her to say: in addition to her silver she has a bronze and is one of the ones who one our only gold. Nevertheless, I think she has a good attitude.

It is not all over for gold just yet. Despite being much weaker on the track than in the pool, we have got a few chances left. Hopefully Sally Pearson can get us a meddle tomorrow night with her 100 metre hurdles — and the sailor, Tom Slingsby, should easily get gold too.

But at the end of the games, I bet Australia will have the greatest silver to gold ration of any top 30 team.

Advertisements

Olympics 2020

One day, as we sat in a cafe half-way through a road-trip, my Dad, my sister and I started discussing where the 2020 Olympics should be held. I’m not sure how we got started on that topic — I was almost certainly the culprit — but in the pent-up expectation that precedes an Olympics, it is not surprising that we discussed such things.

Choosing a location for the 2020 games, you must understand, is no small responsibility, because it is the first Olympics that I might have acquaintances competing in! I know it is far too early to predict anything with any confidence, but I think fellow Canberra resident, Joshua Torley, runs as good a chance as any (look out for him in the 10 000 metres or the Marathon). And a girl I used to train with, if she improves significantly, might have a chance in the Pentathlon or Heptathlon. Once we get to 2024, of course, there will be more potential candidates.

As I discussed with family members, it was impressed upon me that Rio De Janeiro in 2016 will be the first Olympics in South America. In fact even Asia, despite its massive population, has hosted only 3 Olympics (Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing) — and Africa has not hosted any Olympics at all!

So it seemed to me that the 2020 Olympics should be held in Asia or Africa. Naturally, my thoughts went to cities near where I live. My first thought was Bangkok, and my second was Ho Chi Minh City. Neither would be a stellar location, but they are possibilities. Cambodia is clearly not suitable. Even if the country was developed enough, a good chunk of the games’ budget would inevitably go towards a new Lexus for the son of the Minister for Sport’s third cousin. This might not be helpful.

Not having thought of any great locations close to home, my thoughts wondered to Africa. But the only real candidate there is Johannesburg: most of the countries in Africa are rather too poor to host an Olympics. The other big cities I could think of (Cairo, Lagos, Addis Ababa…) probably won’t be up to the challenge.

Then I thought of Kuala Lumpur! This city fits most of the boxes: it’s in Asia, it is reasonably well developed, it has a decent population (although it isn’t super big like Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh), and it is fairly close to home. Of course Malaysia is not much of a sporting nation (which could be a slight drawback), but I think it is a legitimate option.

This is all just my speculation, and I don’t know what countries are looking to bid for the 2020 Olympics. Indeed, genuine enlightenment was not the purpose — the speculation was an end in itself. We humans (or perhaps I should speak for myself) enjoy speculating on topics about which we have little knowledge, even though it would be wiser to check Wikipedia (although I probably will in the end — after posting this).

I was thinking of putting in a poll here to see what city my readers would choose, but there are far too many potential cities to make a poll practical. So please merely leave a comment (unless you have no opinion).

Defining Elements: Do you like to Run?

Who we are, as humans, is defined by our hobbies, our beliefs, our choices. If a guy goes to basketball practice twice a week after school and plays on Saturday – but he doesn’t stick around to chat for long afterwards, because he needs to be home in time to watch the seniors play on TV – then basketball is a defining element in who he is. If you were to earn a lot of money, would you send your kids to a private school – or would you go on lots of fancy holidays – or would you give a lot to charity? Your choice would help define who you are. I think the most important defining element is whether we believe that we are sinners and that the only way we can be saved is by in trusting Jesus, who was punished in our place. More in line with the smaller defining factors, but a big one by that standard, is whether or not you like to run. The reason is because those of us who like running tend to like it very much; but people who don’t enjoy running can’t even understand how anyone could like it. Even within runners, however, there are several types: different runners have different reasons for running – and this defines them further.

Exerciser. The first group of runners are the who who do it just to keep fit. I’m sure none of us shun the health benefits of running – no one would count it as a blemish on the sport – but this group of people only run to keep the bathroom scales from insulting them. Often exercisers can’t  runners who don’t do it just for exercise: In some ways they are more like non-runners. For them, running is penance. It is the way they redeem themselves from a cheese burger at Maccas, or an extra piece of chocolate cake at a birthday party.

Socialiser. Not all runners are exercisers, however: for some it’s a great opportunity for a social occasion. These guys don’t like to run by themselves very much – for them, a run is an opportunity for a good conversation. They love the community feel, and for them fun runs with breakfast afterwards are a great place to make friends. This personality type appeals to me, I must say, and even those of us who would gladly run on our own love to have a bit of company every now and again.

Competitor. These are the gladiators, the deranged warriors who train every day to conquer the world. Few actually achieve this – and some competitors are not even that fast, but they will train hard and harder and seek fast and faster times. Their only limitations are their imperfect bodies, and only injury will prevent them from reaching the goal. Those who toe the start line (and, more importantly, cross the finish line) at international competitions are the more fortunate of these madmen (and women). You know that you’re a competitor if the face of your watch displays you value of your run.

Purist. These are only understood by their own kind – they just like to run, no strings attached. They’re not out there primarily to lose weight, nor to hang out with friends, nor even to win race. These are the people you’ll see running in the hottest days of summer, or on cold and frosty morning – or in the sleet (not that you’d be out in the sleet to see them). I remember a brief conversation I once heard, the context of which I do not remember. A girl said, “running releases endorphins; that’s why you feel good when you run.” The boy she was addressing didn’t agree, “I don’t feel good when I run,” he said, “I feel dead.” I was quick to interject: “but!” I said, “if it’s a worthwhile run, you’ll feel good and dead at the same time!” Most people do not understand this reasoning. For them, “good” and “dead” are not synonyms.

I don’t know which type of runner appeals most to you. Maybe none at all? In our family, believe it or not, we have all four! Mum is an exerciser, so I guess she is the most sensible of us. She doesn’t really like running – she just does it to keep down her chances of diabetes and heart disease and high blood pressure and obesity (not that obesity’s likely in the near future anyway)… and to keep the rest of us company.

My sister is a socialiser. She goes to running clubs to catch up with friends, but until we were invited by a coach to train under him with other kids, she didn’t train midweek. Even in her ambitions to go to nationals cross-country, she admitted that she wouldn’t mind if they left out the cross-country part: what she really wanted was to travel and stay with the team. That’s not to say she doesn’t train hard, because she does – which may be why prefers the social aspect. The “dead” overrules the “good”.

Dad is a mixture of competitor and purist. He likes to race, but even if their are no competitions to train for, he’ll still run.

And myself… at first I thought I was mostly a competitor (albeit a relatively slow one) – I am crazy with times. I can recite my entire 800 m Personal Best progression without batting an eyelid. Lately, though, I am realising that I do actually like running for the sake of it too. For one thing, I really can’t be bothered with race-walk training, even though at one stage I appeared to have more talent for it than for running. And for another thing, I don’t mind running slowly every now and again these days – a run is no longer wasted if I don’t do a Personal Best. And I understand the good feeling of the purists – but, being a competitor as well, I push it until I also feel dead.