Hello and welcome to Mental Floss video.
Today we’re going to talk about the Olympics,
because the Winter Olympics are beginning soon.
Before we get into the Olympics proper,
interesting side note about the Winter Olympics:
It’s the only Olympics in which I cannot do
any of the sports even at an extremely amateur level.
Like I can do most of the summer sports,
比如说 我可以参加100米短跑 但我玩不了冰球
for instance I can run 100 meters, but I cannot hockey.
MISCONCEPTIONS: ABOUT THE OLYMPICS
Okay, let’s kick off this episode with some misconceptions about the Olympics.
Starting with a really common one
that women couldn’t watch the ancient games in Greece.
This misconception is more of a generalization of something that actually is true
that married women weren’t allowed to watch the Olympics
and the punishment was a harsh one for women who tried–death.
But unmarried women were allowed to watch the games
and the priestess of Demeter was a VIP
who got to watch from the stadium altar.
Some women even participated,
like Kyniska, the daughter of King Archidamus of Sparta,
owned a four-horse chariot that won two Olympic races.
And there was also a very obscure companion to
the ancient male Olympics called the Heraean Games
which was for women and also held at Olympia.
One chronicler said that it involved a foot race
and the winner received an olive crown and some sacrificial cow meat,
which is actually not that much different from contemporary Olympics.
It’s just now you get money, the main purpose
of which of course is to purchase sacrificial cow meat.
Moving on to our second Olympic misconception:
Commercialism is a modern phenomenon.
Attendees of the ancient games bought souvenirs.
They could get statues of the competitors
or vases with images of their athletic feats
and of course there was food and drink available for purchase as well.
Misconception number three: The marathon race dates back to ancient Greece.
Now it is said that a runner ran the 25 miles
from Marathon to Athens to tell the people of Athens that
the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon around 490 BCE.
But that’s not the definition of a marathon.
A marathon is a 26.2 mile race that
people finish not in order to deliver a message,
but for no particular reason.
Anyway the first time the marathon was run was at the Olympic Games in 1896.
French philologist Michel Bréal suggested the long-distance race.
And that 1896 marathon featured 17 runners
who actually traveled 24.8 miles.
It didn’t become 26.2 miles until 1908.
It’s believed that it was extended to give the Royals
a better opportunity to view the race.
Okay, let’s move on to our final misconception
that modern Olympians are financially supported by their country and their sponsors.
Nowadays about 11,000 athletes compete in a given Summer Olympics
and almost 3,000 participate in the Winter Olympics.
Obviously they’re not all earning the same amount,
say Aly Raisman with her Ralph Lauren sponsorship.
But an American athlete does get a bonus
for winning a medal, $25,000 for gold,
$15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze,
and the US Olympic Committee does provide some financing.
But most Olympians need jobs.
Emil Milev, an american pistol shooter, taught physical education.
Cyclist Mara Abbott works at a farmer’s market.
Curler Pete Fenson owns a pizza place
至于我嘛 我负责主持心理牙线频道 怎么啦？
and of course I host Mental Floss video. What’s that?
Oh, apparently I’m not going to the Olympics.
By the way, all those examples were Americans,
but the same is the case all over the world.
Most Olympians don’t do their sport for a living.
They do it because they love it.
And also because there is the ever-present dream of
winning some sacrificial cow meat.
SCIENTIFIC STUDY: DO OLYMPIANS LIVE LONGER?
Maybe there’s something that makes all of that
pizza flipping work worth it though,
it’s time to delve into a scientific study,
my least favorite subject.
The authors examined 15,174 Olympic athletes
who won medals between 1896 and 2010.
They included both male and female athletes from nine different country groups.
There is also a mix of Winter and Summer Games competitors.
The researchers looked at an athlete thirty years after they had won a medal.
That athlete was compared with a non-Olympian
of the same age from the same country.
The researchers found that Olympic medalists lived
2.8 years longer on average than the general population.
Thirty years after winning at the Games,
8% more medalists were alive than regular non-Olympians.
奥运奖牌获得者更长寿这一点 无关地区 也无关体育运动
And Olympic medalists live longer regardless of country or sport.
因为长跑运动员 足球运动员 摔跤运动员都受益匪浅
Long distance runners, soccer players and wrestlers all got benefits.
Medalists also lived longer regardless of
不管他们获得的是金牌 银牌 还是铜牌
whether they’d won gold, silver or bronze.
But some athletes did receive more benefits than others.
Like endurance athletes and mixed athletes live the longest,
power athletes had the least advantage.
对不起 混合健身者们 你们可以去要求退钱了
Sorry, CrossFit folks. Get your money back.
Just kidding, don’t come after me.
It’s easy to make assumptions based on these findings.
So here’s an important note from the conclusion.
“This study was not designed to explain this effect,
因为奥运选手的寿命长可能是因为遗传因素 体育运动 健康的生活方式
but possible explanations include genetic factors, physical activity, healthy lifestyle…
and the wealth and status that come with international sporting glory.”
In other words, we don’t know exactly
why Olympic medalists live longer on average.
But in an article in the British Medical Journal
about this study and another similar one,
the author points out that people who spent 150 minutes per week exercising
have a survival advantage compared to non-exercisers.
Oh, I need to go and pump some iron now.
TIMELINE: THE OLYMPIC VILLAGE
Athletes competing in the Olympics stay in a place called Olympic Village,
but that wasn’t always the case.
In 1874 CE, construction on the Zappeion in Athens Greece started.
It housed the fencing events in 1896.
Ten years later, the Zappeion housed many athletes
during the so called Intercalated Games,
a short-lived idea for a second set of Olympics.
They were widely considered an Olympics at the time, but aren’t really today.
It is excessively complicated.
Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin is considered the founder of the modern Olympic Games.
In 1910, he gave a speech about the future of the Olympics
in which he said “We might open a camp or a military camp
nearby the competition terrain to provide housing for athletes during the competition.”
The 1912 Games were held in Sweden.
There was housing for the Swedish athletes, with meals included,
for an entire month leading up to the Olympics.
About a decade later, the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee announced
that athletes had to be given housing.
So for the 1924 Olympics in Paris, cabins were built for the athletes.
This is considered the first “Olympic Village”.
Then in 1932, the Los Angeles Olympics
gave athletes slightly better accommodations in Baldwin Hills.
There were 550 total bungalows,
but the female athletes didn’t stay there.
They lived at a hotel.
The first time male and female athletes lived in the same village
was the 1956 Olympic Village in Heidelberg West, Australia.
The 1980 Winter Olympics were held in Lake Placid, New York
and Congress gave them 28 million dollars for the construction of Olympic Village.
But there was a catch.
After the Olympics, the village had to be converted into something else.
Today, it’s a federal prison.
One stat that often gets reported is
the number of condoms provided at the Olympic Village.
At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, that number was first reported.
8,500, for those of you wondering.
And 18,000 athletes, coaches and other officials
有1.8万运动员 教练 其他官方人员住在奥运村
lived in the Olympic Village at the 2016 Rio Games.
It contained 31 buildings and cost 700 million dollars.
Today, most of it is totally abandoned.
FACT LIST: 7 ATHLETIC TIPS
If you too want to stay in an Olympic Village
that may become a prison someday,
you’re gonna need some help.
So let’s go straight to the sources and learn some athletic tips from Olympians.
American swimmer and five-time gold medalist Katie Ledecky
is a big fan of practicing at 100%.
Her coach Bruce Gemmell once said,
“There are days she fails catastrophically…She’ll start out like,
‘This is the pace I need to swim in the race,
so I need to replicate it in practice.’
And she’ll go six repeats like that…
And the tank just goes empty and she falls off.
But you know what?
She’ll come back the next day and try it again.
And on third day, she’ll nail it.”
And that’s my Bruce Gemmell impression.
But what do you do when you’re not exercising?
Canadian bobsledder Lyndon Rush is an advocate of visualization.
In his words, “I try to keep the track in my mind throughout the year.
I’ll be in the shower or brushing my teeth.
It just takes a minute, so I do the whole thing
or sometimes just the corners that are more technical.
You try to keep it fresh in your head,
so when you do get there, you’re not just starting at square one.
It’s amazing how much you can do in your mind.”
USA gold medallist swimmer Natalie Coughlin is all about recovery.
In 2016, she cited four things that she does during her time off:
按摩 按压 拔火罐 喝复健奶昔
massage, compression ,cupping and a recovery smoothie.
The smoothie recipe by the way is
杏仁乳 杏仁黄油 冰冻的黑樱桃 半根香蕉
almond milk, almond butter, frozen dark cherries and half a banana.
Usain Bolt who has eight Olympic gold medals for sprinting
agrees that downtime is important.
He’s a big fan of taking it easy between training.
As he put it, “The majority of the time I’m chillin’.
I’m always with friends and laughing…and if I’m not doing that,
then I’m playing video games and still relaxing…
The more relaxed you are, the smoother and faster you’ll run.
Your muscles get tight when you tense up.”
28 time medalist Michael Phelps made news in 2012
for his high altitude sleep chamber.
He described it as a giant box in his apartment
that mimicked the conditions of about 9,000 feet above sea level.
High altitude is supposed to boost red blood cells
and be good for recovery.
Maybe there’s something there.
Okay so now you might be thinking
that all you need to do to be an athlete
无非就是喝喝奶昔 好好放松 然后睡个觉
is drink a smoothie and chill, then sleep.
Not really the case.
So let’s move on to four-time gold medalist Simone Biles.
In an interview, she explained that in addition to
all of the gymnastic specific training,
the US women’s gymnastics team incorporates cross training.
In 2015, that included swimming almost a mile twice a week and running.
The year before, that required biking ten miles outside every week.
Julie Chu of the US women’s hockey team encourage
knowing the difference between injury and soreness.
As she put it, “If you feel discomfort during an exercise,
our strength coach Mike Boyle suggests asking yourself one question:
Is it pain or soreness?
Work through soreness, but if it’s pain,
stop and pinpoint the cause.”
SHORT STORY: THE JAMAICAN BOBSLED TEAM
One of the most popular movies featuring the Olympics is
the 1993 Disney film Cool Runnings,
which tells the true story of the Jamaican bobsled team
that went to the 1988 Winter Olympics.
The film grossed 155 million dollars worldwide,
but popular doesn’t necessarily mean accurate.
For today’s short story, let’s learn a little more
about the actual bobsled team.
A man named George Fitch founded the team.
He was one of the real-life people who inspired
the character played by John Candy in the film.
Fitch spent about 92,000 dollars of his own money on the bobsled team.
And he once said, “I was personally offended by the film
because I’m not a disgraced Olympic bobsledder who’s a drunk,
who’s spending the rest of my life in some pool hall.
But that’s Hollywood.”
I can’t argue with that.
He also had a cofounder William Maloney.
They were both Americans and they got the idea after
talking to another friend about how Jamaica wasn’t a winter powerhouse,
despite being great at the Summer Olympics.
Then they stumbled upon a pushcart derby in Jamaica
and thought that it kind of resembled bobsledding,
perfect for the country’s strong sprinters.
In the film, the bobsled team is assembled of a group of sprinters,
but in reality, Fitch did try to recruit some athletes
who were already training for the Seoul Summer Olympics.
But understandably they didn’t want to get hurt,
so the team ended up being made up of members of the Jamaican army.
The team trained in Austria and Lake Placid, New York
and they had coaches from both Austria and the US.
The movie doesn’t tell you that they had to qualify in order to compete,
which the real team did in Austria.
But 10 days before the 1988 Olympics were supposed to begin,
the International Olympic Committee tried to stop Jamaica from competing.
They were worried that the team would be an embarrassment.
Prince Albert of Monaco who’s a Winter Olympian himself
and a few others intervened, reminding the IOC that
they couldn’t ban a team who’d qualified fair and square.
As for what happened during the Games,
the team didn’t embarrass themselves.
They ranked 30th in the two-man bobsled, beating 11 other teams.
They hadn’t planned on competing after that,
but they decided to go for the four-man sled.
That four-man sled did crash,
which brings me to the most accurate part of the film.
The crew couldn’t crash an actual sled,
they were only able to film some close-ups.
So there’s actual footage from the real Olympics crash in Cool Runnings.
As for how Jamaica’s bobsled is going now,
despite the movie’s inaccuracies, it made the team very popular.
They needed money for equipment and other expenses,
in order to compete in Sochi in 2014.
And they did, with 170,000 dollars they raised.
As for 2018, the plan is to compete again.
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looking forward to about the 2018 Winter Olympics.
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