Leo Manzano’s Pre-Race Ritual

I was so glad to see Leo Manzano streak down the backstretch and get the silver medal in last night’s 1500m race.  Here is a nice piece on Manzano, who came to the United States as an undocumented immigrant.

But can someone explain his pre-race ritual?  Seriously, I would like to know more about it.  I am guessing that it is somehow rooted in Mexican Catholicism, but I could be wrong. (If it is a spiritual ritual, I have a bit of a problem with the goofy music used in this YouTube clip).

BADminton

Did you hear about the Olympic badminton teams that tried to lose?  Read all about it in The New York Times and watch the video below.  Here is a taste:

On Wednesday, four women’s doubles teams — two from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia — were disqualified. But the circumstances were complicated by the fact that the rules of the sport seemed to give the athletes an incentive to lose.
The eight players were found to have tried to lose their matches intentionally, apparently because they had determined that a loss would allow them to play a weaker opponent in the next round.
“The rules say you have to win every match, and that doesn’t mean you throw some matches and win other matches,” said Thomas Lund, the secretary general for the sport’s governing body, the Badminton World Federation.
Badminton officials introduced a preliminary round at the Olympics this year so that each team could play at least three times and not risk traveling thousands of miles only to be eliminated in the first match. But athletes and coaches have always looked for any available advantage, including throwing a match to save energy or to face an easier opponent in the next round.
There was nothing subtle about how the four teams of players — all of whom had already qualified for the quarterfinals — performed Tuesday night. They repeatedly served into the net and hit shots well out of bounds. During one match, a Danish umpire took the drastic step of flashing a black card to warn the players that they could be thrown out. 

Can Someone Explain This?

From the Daily Dish:

When 16-year-old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen won 400-meter individual medley on Saturday, she set world record by swimming the final 50 meters in 28.93 seconds. Ryan Lochte, who won the men’s event that same day, swam it in 29.10. Apparently, some people questioned how a teenage girl outswam the fastest man and broke a world record without the aid of the special water-slicing swimsuits that were banned after 2008, but we’ll just admire the feat for what it was.

A Little Olympic History

Do you have Olympic fever?  Do you have an insatiable desire to know as much as possible about the Olympic Games?  If you are a hardcore Olympic fan then you might want to read some of the books on Olympic history reviewed in Jasper Griffin’s New York Review of Books essay, “The Myth of the Olympics.”  I’ll bet you that Amy Bass has not even read these books!! Here is a taste:

…Greeks did not possess our accurate timepieces, and they had no idea of comparing the performance of this year’s winners with those of last year, or of any previous occasion. There was no conception of breaking records. There also were no silver and bronze medals for the athletes who came second and third. It was all or nothing. That is all the more striking, because in Homer’s description of the funeral games held for Patroclus there are indeed prizes, and quite generous ones, offered for the second and third. In the chariot race, indeed, prizes extend right down to the fifth to reach the finish. Number four, we see with some surprise, received two talents of gold; but the winner got “a woman, skilled in handiwork” (any erotic implication is left firmly unexpressed), and a fine large tripod with “ears,” ring-shaped handles. But in classical competitions the aim was simple: it was to win; nothing could be less true to the spirit of the ancient Games than the good Baron de Coubertin’s edifying notion that what was important was not winning but taking part. The victor was, in his moment of victory, supreme.