Monday, August 18, 2008

Olympic Thoughts

As you hopefully know, the Olympics are well underway in the great city of Beijing, China. One thing that has really struck me this year watching the Olympics is the athleticism of the competitors in the games. Of course this seems like a very obvious statement, but let me explain what I have been thinking.

First, being an athlete, especially one competing at this level means a lot of training. In my opinion, the biggest aspect of the training is gaining more control over your body and what it can do. This is especially noticeable in sports like gymnastics and swimming, but most Olympic events require some degree of adhering to form. Form, for example, is making sure every stroke in the freestyle swimming event is maneuvered perfectly, or in rowing making sure every motion of the oar is executed without mistake. The greater control you have over your body the better form you should have, and the better you should do. Of course, a certain level of physical fitness is required, but that is another aspect of getting your body to do what you want it to.

It is these minute aspects of form that allows Michael Phelps to win 8 gold medals, or allows a gymnast to hold herself hanging in mid-air on the rings for longer than what seems humanly possible, and I believe is what separates Olympic athletes from regular people (like me).

Mastering form is common place in many things we see everyday, and doesn't necessarily have to do with sports. It could be a bus driver being able to turn a tight corner and know exactly how much she has to move the steering wheel to avoid the line of cars, or the card dealer at the casino shuffling the deck with precision.

Here's a video showing slow motion HD video of skateboarders. It is really amazing what people can do with practice, and how they can make these pieces of wood with wheels move in the air.

skate - shot on red - 120 fps from opus magnum prod. on Vimeo.


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