Olympic rings on the Tower Bridge, London

Olympic rings on the Tower Bridge, London. (Photo: Jose “Pepin” Rivera)

One day before the Opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, everything in the world of sport turns around this major event that will gather more than 10,000 athletes from all over the world. For the first time in the history of the modern Olympic Games, women will be allowed to take part in all Olympic sports, and all participating countries will be represented by both male and female athletes. Almost half of the 10,490 Olympic athletes are females (4,850). A significant improvement that has taken over century, considering than less than 2% of the athletes were females in the London 1908 Games. Out of the 302 competitions in the London 2012 Olympic Program, 161 are for male athletes, 131 for female athletes and 10 are mixed. Only two sports, synchronized swimming and rythmic gymnastics are exclusively female sports.

As my friend Wayne Goldsmith indicated in a recent post, winning a medal in London will be tougher than ever. The reasons for this are summarised here:

  • Continued sporting improvement in emerging sporting nations.
  • Northerm hemisphere games and the central location of London.
  • Economic issues.
  • Peak performance of the host nation.

In Wayne’s words “medals will be harder to find than an honest used car salesman, a real estate agent with integrity or a humble politician”.

With medals being so hard to get, and considering that according to another friend of mine, endurance sports expert Bobby McGee, 90% of athletes underperform under pressure, 9% perform within expectations and only 1% transcend expectations, it is not surprising that some athletes may try to find a shortcut and rely on illegal doping practices. In this respect, it is worth indicating that half the 10,490 athletes competing in London will be tested by the antidoping authorities. More than 1,000 people will be involved in doping control, and over 400 samples will be analysed every day for 240 banned substances. The lab will operate 24 hours a day every day of th week, and all medal winners will be tested. In the six months leading up to the Games, more than 100 athletes have been suspended for doping violations. Hoping the London 2012 Olympic Games will be doping free would be naive, but hoping they will be the cleanest so far may not be.

Enjoy the Olympic Games!

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