TLV Deep Dive: We Interrupt The Olympic Games to Bring You...More Olympics«Back

Interested in receiving our newslettersClick here to sign up.


TLV Deep Dive: The Olympics—Past, Present, and Historic Moments in Between

February 24, 2018

 
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE OLYMPIC GAMES: 3000 BC TO TODAY
 
The Ancient Olympic Games
The Olympics, born in Greece, were thought to be both a devotion to the god Zeus and an opportunity to unite the Hellenic world. Per mythic legend, Heracles started the first Olympic Games about 3,000 years ago in Olympia to honor his father, Zeus, king of all gods.
 
The first written record of the Ancient Olympics dates back to 776 BC. At the time, Greece was a collective of warring city-states. The Games were strove to bring all Grecian people together in a peaceful event every four years.
 
Ancient Olympic athletes trained and competed in the nude because this, apparently, showcased the ideal harmony between body and mind. Only by training the body, it was believed, could the mind be developed. This ideal is often depicted on ancient Greek vases and paintings.
Ancient Olympic athletes, portrayed here on a terracotta drinking dish from about 500 BC,
are identifiable by their nudity.
 
Male athletes trained at the gymnasium (Greek for “place to exercise naked”). To prepare for competition, they lathered their bodies in oil and dusted them in fine sand; this acted as a sunscreen—and protection from the stick their trainers would beat them with if they performed poorly.
 
The Romans conquered Greece in the mid-2nd century BC. The Games continued, but their status and quality declined. In 393 AD, Christian Emperor Theodosius I banned all pagan festivals, which included the Olympics. After nearly 12 centuries, the Games came to an end.
 
The Modern Olympic Games
Nearly 1,500 years later, a French aristocrat sought the Games’ revival. Pierre de Coubertin was seven years old when he watched Germans swarm his country in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War. de Coubertin developed an interest in France’s defeat, attributing it to, it is believed, French soldiers’ “lack of vigor.” He studied education in Germany, Great Britain, and the United States and concluded that physical exercise and sports made the well-rounded man.
 
For years, de Coubertin lobbied the return of the Olympics to encourage more vigorous Frenchman. In 1894, he finally convinced a delegation of 79 men from nine countries to revive the Olympic Games. The delegation charged de Coubertin with organizing what would become known as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to operationalize and oversee the Olympics. The competition was designed on the Ancient Games’ idea of promoting international peace and harmony.
 
The first modern Olympics were held, appropriately, in Athens in 1896 with about 250 athletes from 13 nations competing in nine sports. The Winter Olympics didn’t debut until 1924 when 16 nations competed in just five sports in Chamonix, France. Both the Summer and Winter Games were held every four years in the same year until 1992 when the IOC put the Games on the two-year alternating schedule.
 
Follow this link for a list of all host cities, how a city is chosen, and Olympic factoids.
 
The United States has taken home the most medals, with a total of 2,804 from both the Winter and Summer Games. The Soviet Union, even though it hasn’t existed since 1991, still stands in second place with 1,204 medals. Great Britain is third with 875 medals and is the only country to have won at least one gold medal in every Summer Games since 1896.
 
American swimmer Michael Phelps remains the most decorated Olympian of all time, with 28 medals, 23 of which are gold. Soviet Union gymnast Larisa Latynina is next, with 18 medals, 9 of which are gold.
 
For all country medal counts, click here. For a list of individual medal winners, follow this link.
 
THE MOST HISTORICAL OLYMPIC MOMENTS
 
As an event meant to celebrate peace across the world, political and social turmoil have hindered that Olympic goal numerous times. Several moments, though, have also helped the Olympics promote inclusivity and tolerance.
 
1936: The Nazi Olympics & African-American Runner Jesse Owens
To signal to the world Germany’s return after its WWI defeat and consequent isolation, the IOC awarded the 1936 Olympics to Berlin in 1931. But by 1933, the Nazi party had risen to power with Hitler as German chancellor, turning the country’s tenuous democracy into a one-party dictatorship.
 
When the official Nazi party newspaper wrote, in unambiguous terms, that Jews should not be allowed to compete in the Olympics, several people across Europe and the United States called for the first ever boycott of the Games. In keeping with German laws that prohibited any non-Aryans from participating in sports, Hitler solicited the IOC to ban Jews from the Olympics. In 1934, the IOC privately gathered to discuss moving the Olympics to another city.
 
Hitler, though, was determined not to miss the opportunity to assert his power and propaganda to the world and feed his expansion dreams. So he agreed to let Jewish athletes compete, saying he’d even allow Jews to compete on the German team. As a token, Hitler asked one Jewish athlete to represent Germany—star fencer Helene Mayer, deemed “non-Aryan” because her father was Jewish. In September 1934, the US Olympic Committee accepted Berlin’s Olympic invitation, and talks of boycotts were largely put to rest.
 
For the two weeks of the Berlin Olympics, Germany’s infamous propaganda machine went to work to make the country appear benign and peaceful. By this time, Germany’s towns were littered with anti-Semitic propaganda and graffiti. Anti-Semitic chants and slurs were regularly heard in the streets. But for the Olympics, all such propaganda and speech were banned, leaving many tourists clueless to the extent of Germany’s persecution of Jews and non-whites and believing such stories were exaggeration and gossip. Tourists were also unaware that in the weeks leading up to the Olympics, 800 Roma, or Gypsies, in Berlin were arrested and put in internment camps. 
 
What did remain during the Olympics, though, were images glorifying Aryan athletes and hundreds of Nazi symbols and flags spread throughout the grounds. 

Glorification of the Aryan body, Berlin 1936

Nazi flags drape the Olympic Stadium
The intent was to portray a unified German people to tourists and journalists. Despite Hitler’s promise not to use the Games to push Nazi ideology, pamphlets and speeches about the inherent superiority of the Aryan race were commonplace. No less, most journalists largely bought into the façade of harmony presented to them and reported on the tolerant Hitler regime (similar to how many journalists seem to forget North Korea is a brutal, murderous regime as they glowingly report on Kim Jong Un’s sister’s attendance at the PyeongChang Olympics this winter). Of course, once the Olympics were over, the anti-Semitic signage and chanting resumed, and the German persecution of Jews and non-Aryans got steadily more horrific.
 
The 1936 Olympics were, to Hitler’s delight, the first to be filmed and distributed via Zeppelins as newsreels and televised in theaters. In allowing non-Aryan Germans to compete. Hitler saw an opportunity to prove his belief in Aryan dominance. Surely Aryans would win all the medals, allowing him to show the world Aryan supremacy. The Germans did dominate that year’s Olympics, winning 89 medals, the most of any country. Americans came next with 56.
 
But there was one area where Germans roundly fell short: track and field. Hitler and his racist henchman had to watch as black American, Jesse Owens, pummeled the Germans in four races. The twenty-eight-year-old Alabaman took gold in the 100-meter race (running a record time of 10.3 seconds), the 200-meter race, the long jump, and the 4x100 relay. In the 200-meter race, Owens beat silver medalist, Mack Robinson—older brother of future baseball star, Jackie Robinson—by 0.4 seconds. Owens’ record setting long jump of 8.06 meters (26.4 feet) wouldn’t be broken until 1968.
 
Altogether Owens and his track and field teammates won 12 gold medals. Of the 18 black Americans who competed in Berlin, 10 of them won a total of 14 medals (8 gold, 4 silver and 2 bronze), causing Hitler to throw fits. Jesse Owens, son of a sharecropper and grandson of slaves, became a cultural icon for unequivocally obliterating Hitler’s grand vision of showcasing Aryan supremacy at the Nazi Olympics, as they would become known.
Jesse Owens salutes the American flag after winning gold for the long jump.
Germany’s Luz Long won silver, and Japan’s Naoto Tajima took bronze.

Two other interesting facts from the Nazi Olympics:
 
While a torch had lit a flame in prior Olympics, there had been no torch relay—until 1936. This, too, was a propaganda tool for the Third Reich. The relay began in Greece and traveled strategically through European countries Germany sought to influence. The flame passed through Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, which Germany would later invade. It went through Hungary, from which gypsies would eventually face deportation to Nazi death camps. And when it arrived in Austria, there were no pro-Nazi demonstrations to welcome it, which contributed to Germany’s annexation of the country just two years later.
 
In 2008, with 1936 in mind, a degree of outcry erupted when China, preparing to host the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, announced an intention for the torch to pass through Taiwan and Tibet. Because of historical tensions between these regions and China, Olympic authorities successfully pressured China to omit Taiwan from the relay. Ultimately, the torch did pass though the Tibetan Autonomous Region, spurring pro-Tibetan protestors to line the relay path at many international points along the way.
 
While the relay tradition was born under dark circumstances, another Olympic tradition met its end in 1936: the Olympic Salute. Up to this point, modern Olympic athletes saluted the host country and Olympic flag with the “Roman Salute”—an extension of the arm, with open palm down and fingers connected, towards the flag. Benito Mussolini would co-opt this salute for his fascist party in the 1920s, and Hitler did the same 10 years later. The “Roman Salute” was never used at another Olympics again for obvious reasons.
 
1900: Women are allowed to compete in five sports
Women were welcomed to the Olympics in 1900—partially. They could compete in tennis, sailing, croquet, equestrianism, and golf. At the 2012 London Summer Olympics 112 years later, with the introduction of women’s boxing, women officially competed in every sport for the first time in Olympic history.
 
1948: The Paralympics begin
After WWII, neurologist Sir Ludwig Guttman was working with war veterans who had sustained spinal injuries. He thought to incorporate sports into their rehabilitation, an approach so successful that hospitals all over the world adopted it. In 1960, Guttman and 400 of his wheelchair-bound patients traveled to Rome to compete in what he called the Parallel Games at the Summer Olympics.
 
Fast forward to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, 4,328 athletes from 159 countries competed in what was eventually rebranded as the Paralympics. At the Sochi Winter Olympics, 547 athletes from 45 countries competed. The 2018 Winter Paralympics will take place at PyeongChang March 9 - 18.
 
1968: African American medalists do black power salute at the Summer Games
To bring awareness to the Civil Rights movement engulfing the United States, 200-meter gold medalist, Tommie Smith, and bronze medalist, John Carlos, put their black-gloved fists in the air as the American flag rose and the anthem played at their medal ceremony. They also stood shoeless to signify the poverty plaguing their community at home.
 
Silver medalist, Australian Peter Norman, showed his solidarity by wearing a small badge that read, “Olympic Project for Human Rights,” an organization born a year prior to combat racism in the Olympics. While Smith and Carlos were forever banned from the Olympics, many Americans fighting for civil rights welcomed them home as heroes. Norman, however, was forever despised and mocked in his home country for his protest. It was thought he could have won gold medals in future Olympics, but he never competed again.
 
American medalists, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, give the black power salute
at the 1968 Mexico City Summer Olympics
 
1972: Palestinian terrorists kill 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Village
On September 5, 1972, the Black September terrorist group stormed the Israeli lodgings at the Summer Olympics, killing two and taking another nine hostage. They demanded that 230 Arabs held in Israeli prisons be released. After negotiations failed, the terrorists fled to the Munich airport, where a shootout resulted in the death of all nine hostages, five terrorists, and a West German police officer. All competitions were suspended for 24 hours to hold a memorial for the slain athletes. Golda Meir, then Israel’s Prime Minister, would later hire Mossad agents to kill all the Palestinian terrorists who survived that bloody day—the subject of Steven Spielberg’s 2005 “Munich.”
 
These Games were profoundly scarred by the murders. Yet some positive moments emerged. Teenage Russian gymnast, Olga Korbut, would forever change gymnastics with her “Korbut flip,” a stunning series that had never been seen before and would get banned for its level of risk. Nonetheless, she brought unprecedented popularity to the sport and inspired girls all over the world to become gymnasts. American swimmer Marc Spitz won a record-breaking seven gold medals, the most ever awarded in a single Games. He would hold this record until Michael Phelps surpassed him with eight medals in 2008.
 
1976: 28 African countries boycott the Summer Games
Weeks before the Montreal Summer Olympics, 28 African countries threatened to boycott the Games. That summer, the New Zealand rugby team had completed a controversial tour in apartheid South Africa despite an unofficial and widely recognized international athletics embargo on the country.
 
The prior June, the South African government killed 350 anti-apartheid protestors. South Africa had been disallowed from competing in the Olympics since 1964 and was outright kicked out of the IOC six years later. This wasn’t enough to these 28 African countries; they also didn’t want to compete alongside any country that legitimized South Africa’s government. The IOC refused to bar New Zealand from competing, and the 28 countries went through with the boycott.
 
The boycott greatly hampered the Games; they are remembered for smaller and less competitive races. But they are also remembered for Romanian Nadia Comenici's perfect 10s (the first ever) in gymnastics. Additionally, they brought international attention to the racism plaguing South Africa and gave power to the anti-apartheid movement.
 
THE SCANDALOUS, THE SURREAL, AND THE STRANGE
 
The Olympics have been rife with scandal and strangeness since they began. Tonya Harding. Lance Armstrong. The Russian doping scandal that got them banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics (while “clean” Russian athletes have been allowed to compete under a neutral flag). All the doping scandals. The maybe 14-year-old (and thus too young to compete eligibly) Chinese gymnast. But what of the lesser known scandals and strange moments?
 
Playing to lose
Beginning in 1920, all Olympic athletes take the Olympic Oath. In 1999, it was updated to reflect the changing nature of sports (read: the widespread availability of dope) and now says:
 
“In the name of all competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.”
 
At the 2012 London Summer Olympics, eight female badminton players from China, South Korea, and Indonesia were disqualified from the Games for defying the sportsmanship, glory, and honor of the sport and their teams. Due to how teams progress through badminton matches, all three teams saw that their best shot at winning was by losing. The teams were accused of trying to lose early matches so that they could face off against easier teams in future rounds.
 
In the qualifying matches at the Olympics, it appeared that a Korean team and a Chinese team had both taken this strategy of losing the same round. The problem happened when these two teams, unwitting to the other’s perilous ploy, were matched against each other. The result was comical and scandalous: two pairs of Olympic caliber athletes playing as though they were taking their first hand at badminton—laughably missing swings, purposefully hitting out-of-bounds, intentionally tripping over shoelaces—as they steadily revealed the other’s plot. Onlookers moved from dumbfounded to angry, booing the athletes as they became hip to their game. It’s a match you have to see to believe.

Both teams were kicked out of the Games. For an entertaining and interesting debate about whether these teams’ strategy to play to lose to ultimately win is unethical, check out this episode of Radiolab: Lose Lose.
 
The funniest cheater in Olympic history
Marathoner Fred Lorz did not make his America proud in the 1904 St. Louis Olympics.
 
Many of the 1904 runners were noted marathoners who’d earned their place in the race. But the rest were a rag tag bunch of middle-distance runners and “oddities,” including ten Greeks running their first marathon and a Cuban mailman who’d raised money to come to the Olympics by traversing his home island. Upon arriving in New Orleans, Mr. Mailman gambled away all his money and had to hitchhike to St. Louis, where he was immediately known by his less than aerodynamic running outfit of a voluminous long-sleeved shirt, long pants, boots, and a beret. And then there was American Fred Lorz, a bricklayer by day who’d trained at nights and qualified for the marathon in a five-mile race.
 
As an early Games and the first in the United States, the Olympic marathon course hadn’t been perfected yet. An official described the course as, “the most difficult a human being was ever asked to run over.” The roads were thick with dust and crossed seven hills ranging from 100 to 300 feet high. Runners had to negotiate cracked stones littering the path. They had to dodge trains, cross-town traffic, trolleys, and even people walking their dogs—all of which would kick up dust so thick, runners would have bloody coughing fits. The Games’ chief organizer wanted to use these men to advance research on purposeful hydration in sports, so the runners were offered only two water stops along the course—on this 90-degree, humid day.
 
Once the starting gun fired, this sadistic race became what reads as utterly miserable…and pretty funny: “[American] Fred Lorz led the 32 starters from the gun, but by the first mile Thomas Hicks edged ahead. William Garcia of California nearly became the first fatality of an Olympic marathon when he collapsed on the side of the road and was hospitalized with hemorrhaging; the dust had coated his esophagus and ripped his stomach lining. Had he gone unaided an hour longer he might have bled to death. John Lordon suffered a bout of vomiting and gave up. Len Tau, one of the South African participants, was chased a mile off course by wild dogs. [Cuban] Félix Carvajal trotted along in his cumbersome shoes and billowing shirt, making good time even though he paused to chat with spectators in broken English. On one occasion he stopped at a car, saw that its occupants were eating peaches, and asked for one. Being refused, he playfully snatched two and ate them as he ran. A bit further along the course, he stopped at an orchard and snacked on some apples, which turned out to be rotten. Suffering from stomach cramps, he lay down and took a nap. Sam Mellor, now in the lead, also experienced severe cramping. He slowed to a walk and eventually stopped.”
 
And then, at the nine-mile mark, Lorz, also crippled by cramps, hitched a ride in a passing car, waving to spectators and runners as he zoomed by them. Eleven miles later, the car broke down, so Lorz had to walk to the finish line—and shaped up to be the first to cross it. To the elated Americans in the audience, he appeared the victor. Alice Roosevelt, daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, was just about to place the gold medal around his neck when someone ratted him out. Before a now booing crowd, Lorz reportedly gave a wry smile and claimed he never intended to accept the honor and crossed the finish line only as a “joke.” At least today, it is a pretty funny one. 
 

Egg whites and booze
At the same 1904 St. Louis marathon, American favorite Thomas Hicks would go on to be the actual gold medalist—but not without being the first known Olympic athlete to use performance enchaining drugs, even though there were, at the time, no rules against them.
 
Ten miles in, Hicks’ pleas for water were denied. But officials did sponge his mouth with distilled water, for some reason. With seven miles to go, his trainers gave him a mix of egg whites and strychnine, a stimulant. Reacting to the concoction and despondent at the news that Lorz had finished, Hicks grew ashen and weak. His handlers pumped more egg whites and strychnine into him, this time with whiskey to wash it down. When Hicks heard Lorz was disqualified, he was given more eggs, more whiskey, and got just enough energy to cross the finish line—essentially shuffling, with limbs that were described as looking as heavy as lead, and hallucinating that he still had miles ahead of him. His trainers propped him up for the last mile.


Fast forward to the 1968 Mexico City Olympics—the first year an athlete tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The athlete in question was Swedish pentathlete Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall who tested positive for…alcohol. You’d think he would have learned from Hicks that liquor isn’t the most ideal performance enhancer. Liljenwall had to forfeit his bronze medal.
 
The rules have since changed; given all the reports of serious partying at Olympic Village, they would have to. Today an athlete is only disqualified if blood-alcohol surpasses 0.1 and the athlete plays a sport where alcohol would create danger, such as archery.
 
Too good for a woman
Back to the Nazi Olympics, Polish sprinter Stella Walsh lost to American Helen Stephens in the 100-meter dash. Walsh’s sore loser supporters demanded that Stephens submit to gender testing, claiming she was too fast for a woman. A humiliated and degraded Stephens permitted the physical exam, which confirmed her female gender.
 
In a tragic and strange twist, Walsh, who became an American citizen in 1947, was shot to death in an armed robbery outside a Cleveland mall in 1980. Autopsy reports confirmed that Stella Walsh, in fact, had male genitalia. Walsh’s medals would have been posthumously stripped from her were it not for her family’s pleas to keep her legacy intact. Chromosomal testing would reveal that most of her cells contained both the X and Y (male) chromosomes, but some had only X (female). Walsh has since been recognized as intersex. She is a major reason the IOC has ceased gender determination testing. Follow this link to read the story of Stella Walsh’s life and death.
 
1936 Olympics: Helen Stephens (left) and Stella Walsh (right)
 
THE MOST INSPIRING AND HEARTWARMING OLYMPIC MOMENTS
 
A fierce determination
Little is more inspiring in recent Olympic history than Kerri Strug’s extraordinary vault at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The American gymnastics team—dubbed the “Magnificent Seven”—had one last chance to beat the dominant Russians and take team gold for the first time. But it was all up to Strug; her vault would make or break first place. On her first vault attempt, she missed the landing and heard a snap thanks to two torn ligaments in her ankle. Strug had 30 seconds to decide if she would take another vault. Famously demanding gymnastics coach, Béla Kérolyi, weighing the need versus her injury, told Strug, “Kerri, we need you to go one more time.”
 
The rest is golden history—and a vault that both never gets old and never gets easier to watch.
 

Even Olympic athletes need their parents
One of the sweetest and most heartbreaking moments came during the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics. Star British runner Derek Redman was favored to take gold in the 400-meter race. Halfway through the race, he tore his hamstring and nearly collapsed. A pained Redman decided to try to hobble to the finish line—and then a man in a baseball cap and t-shirt was seen running to his side. It was Redman’s dad, who—after pushing away security—hugged his crying son and propped him up as they walked together across the finish line. It’s a get-the-tissues sort of video, and one well worth watching.
 

Weightlifting that took more than physical strength
Matthias Steiner wasn’t a favorite in the super heavyweight lifting competition. But as he trained to represent Germany in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, he promised his wife he’d take gold. A year before the Olympics, his wife died in a car accident, giving his promise new meaning.
 
Having failed to lift enough to earn a medal position in the snatch part of the competition, Steiner would have to increase weight for the clean-and-jerk. In the practice area, he attempted and failed a 235-kg (518 lbs) clean-and-jerk lift. His coach told him he would have to lift 246 kgs (542 lbs) if he wanted to reach medal territory. Even though the clean-and-jerk was his strength, he missed his first attempt. In a 30-second decision, he decided to attempt 248 kgs (546 lbs), as his coach reminded him that 248kgs would secure a medal. Something clicked, and Steiner was able to lift and hold 248 kgs in his second clean-and-jerk attempt, landing him in at least a bronze position. One of his competitors then took the lead with 250 kgs, forcing Steiner to increase his last attempt to 258 kgs (569 lbs).
 
In one of the most emotional victories the Olympics have seen, Steiner successfully lifted 258 kgs—30 kgs over his best prior to this competition. After the valid lift, he collapsed to the ground consumed with joy—and grief over his late wife’s absence from his gold-medal moment. 
Watch the whole video for his Olympic story or fast-forward to 5 minutes, 15 seconds
for his dramatic winning lift and moving eruption of emotion.
 
 
Matthias Steiner overcome with emotion upon winning gold at the
2008 Beijing Summer Olympics (left).
Steiner on the winner’s podium, dedicating his gold to his late wife (right).
 
The ‘Greatest of All Time’
At the Rome Olympics in 1960, 18-year-old boxer Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) took home gold in the light heavyweight competition. It is said that when he returned home to the United States, Ali was refused service at a “whites-only” restaurant, which prompted him to throw his medal into the Ohio River.
 
Thirty-six years later, at the 1996 Atlanta Games, the IOC was celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the modern Olympics. There was great suspense as to who would be the final person to light the Olympic torch at the opening ceremony. Muhammad Ali, suffering from Parkinson’s, surprised the crowd in a moving moment as his right hand steadily held the torch and his left shook. The IOC also bestowed him a replacement medal for the gold he’d won in 1960. Both controversial and beloved, Ali is undeniably the Greatest of All Time, putting up some of the toughest and most iconic boxing fights the world has ever seen.
 

Sacrificing gold to save lives
At the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics, Canadian sailor Lawrence Lemieux started the race amid dangerous winds and unexpectedly choppy waters. This was Lemieux’s year to lose. He was in second place when he spotted a capsized boat and could see only one of its two-member crew. He eventually saw the other sailor desperately trying to swim to the capsized boat. Lemieux felt he had no choice but to help these men.
 
Lemieux’s coach, losing sight of his boat and fearing the worst, set sail to look for him and eventually found him rescuing the two sailors. His coach took over the rescue mission. Lemieux returned to the race, placing 21st out of 32nd. He lost out on gold, silver, and bronze, but he was awarded something even rarer: the International Olympic Committee’s Pierre de Coubertin Medal for true sportsmanship, an honor that’s been conferred to fewer than 20 competitors.
 
The elite and small triple axel club just got a new member
Last but certainly not least, last week in PyeongChang, 24-year-old ice skater Mirai Nagasu was the first American woman, and third woman overall, to complete a triple axel in an Olympics. Only eight women have landed the triple axel in any competition. (Tonya Harding was the first American to do so in 1991. Lost in her crazy story is the fact that she was an incredible skater.)
 
The triple axel is so rare and astonishing because of how it seems to defy the laws of physics. In this brief video, it’s explained that the skater has to generate enough vertical velocity to be in the air long enough to rotate three and a half times in less than a second—a rate that would amount to more than 300 rotations per minute.
 

FOCUS LIKE AN OLYMPIAN
 
To watch Olympic athletes is not only to watch improbable physical prowess, endurance, strength, and potential. It is also to watch an unbelievable capacity to focus. Most of us aren’t going to win Olympic medals anytime soon. But we can practice a little Olympic-level focus. Some tips from the pros:
 
3 ways Olympians focus and succeed (and how you can, too)
 
Understanding focus in sports
 
How Olympians stay motivated
 
4 strategies used by superstar athletes to become super focused
 
THE GREAT OLYMPIC HOPE
 
Hopefully you have been able to enjoy some of the Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. They have been packed with all the drama we hope for in an Olympics: inspiring victories, stunning upsets, surprising underdog triumphs, heartbreaking disappointments, and many proud moments for fans around the world. These Olympics in particular—taking place 50 miles from the North Korean border and giving way to some cooperation between the South and North Korean teams—have also underscored in a profound way the great hope and original intent of the Olympic Games: peace and harmony amongst nations.


  •  
    • LEAVE YOUR COMMENT BELOW
    • Name:
    • Email:
    • URL:
    • Comments:
    •  
    • security code:

    • Please write the code as it is written above