Olympics 2021

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Isn't this fairly typical, though? I mean, sports which require some kind of expensive equipment tend to favour wealthier countries and disproportionately favour the financially well-off within those countries too. It's perhaps no surprise that developing countries are more easily able to bridge the gap to the wealthier countries in the sports that don't require such significant financial investment from their participants than in things like sailing, cycling and equestrian as a result.

The other thing that needs bearing in mind when looking at these medal counts, also, is that you have to remember that many of the countries above Germany in the medal table don't see their Olympic sports funding needing to be split across summer and winter games quite so evenly - only really Russia and the US are direct competition in that respect, and they have the financial might to be ahead of Germany anyhow. Japan has some wintersport interest, but this tends to be in specific disciplines (ski jump, for example) as they are peripheral nations in many of the other events, plus they will have invested more heavily in this Games as the host. The Dutch - and I know it hurts to be behind the Dutch on the medal table (Germany had more total and the same number of golds, but the Dutch had an extra silver) - only have one sport they pay any heed to in the winter Olympiad, although like the track cycling being focused on by the British, it does have a high number of medals in a fairly shallow pool of competition. Across a combination of both Summer and Winter games (going by position rather than total medals, as there are far more available in the summer games), Germany rank 2nd across Pyeongchang+Tokyo, after the USA - although of course this is not the easiest of cycles to fairly judge the Russians on due to the politics and controversies surrounding eligibility of athletes especially at Pyeongchang.

In the US the federal (even state governments) don't really finance sports. The bigger sports you can start participating in in Jr High or High School depending on what sports the school you are going to offer (sometimes even elementary school). Then of course we have the colleges with their different sports programs. Some cities have city leagues for different sports, others don't. As for Olympic financing that is basically through corporate sponsorship. There are so many commercials that include the tag of Official Sponsor of (fill in the blank).
 
Winter sports are definitely very important here... I don't have any real insight, I just know that in the winter they get broadcasted practically 24/7 during the weekends, a treatment which otherwise only football gets. I think a lot of people enjoy watching the snow... And maybe it's because people in winter sports are often from more rural areas (in southern Germany), where there's not much else to do. :tearsofjoy:
Sorry, stereotypes... honestly I think most winter sports require expensive equipment, too - and of course the opportunity, so many countries don't have the chance to compete in those...
As I'm virtually half-Dutch I don't mind the Dutch being in front. ;)
But in the end it's also a question of inhabitants, Germany has 80 million people, they "should" be ahead of some countries like the Netherlands... also of Australia...
New-Zealand! How many inhabitants does New-Zealand have?? 5 million? Slovenia is also over-performing... ;)
Then, if we are going that route, of course India should be really up there...
Well, what I mean is, we clearly don't have structures like many anglophone-countries, with sports and school so closely connected. Usually you go to school until 1 or 2 or 3 pm, and then you can persue your hobbies, so whether you get involved in any sport is totally up to you - and your parents. It's a very private and individual decision. Sometimes there are certain clubs at school, but those are just spread here and there and usually happen on quite a low level, for fun, without any competitions. School teams and such are rather rare. So if the country says they want some elite in sports that is able to compete on a level with the best world wide, they have to support the individuals that think about going that way, but instead they are rather discouraged. I think the general sentiment here, though, is that that is not worth the money and even the support that wouldn't cost much or even nothing, isn't really there.
Well, it's a decision that society makes, but then nobody should complain about a lack of medals.

What is it like in Spain?
Interesting re: school teams. So do you mean your equivalent of high schools (I know it’s a different system than ours) dont’t compete with each in team sports like futbol, athletics, wrestling, etc? Wow, those inter-school competitions ( especially between rival schools) are such a big part of many teenagers lives here. Even the kids who hates sports and wouldn’t be caught dead near a sports event also makes that part of their identity.
 
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I think Hungary went through the transition the least affected... the economic indicators should confirm that.
Hence, their ability to support sports, invest and create turnover through it kept the high quality of performance.
And, probably, the affirmation through sports means to their officials more than to others mentioned.
Wasn’t Hungary also the one most open to the West prior to the breakdown of the Soviet system? (aside from Yugoslavia which was a special case) I traveled to both Hungary and Bulgaria in 1980, and while we had complete freedom of movement in Hungary I seem to remember that we were more restricted in Bulgaria, which was one of the “most” Soviet states. In fact, I remember in Sofia just as I was about to snap a photo of a giant Lenin poster, several folks walking by wagged their fingers at me and shook their heads. The meaning of as clear: I could get in trouble doing that.

ed. Oh yeah, my point is that perhaps the change to economics, culture, and even sport seemed less abrupt to citizens there?
 
Aug 10, 2021
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Interesting re: school teams. So do you mean your equivalent of high schools (I know it’s a different system than ours) dont’t compete with each in team sports like futbol, athletics, wrestling, etc? Wow, those inter-school competitions ( especially between rival schools) are such a big part of many teenagers lives here. Even the kids who hates sports and wouldn’t be caught dead near a sports event also makes that part of their identity.
One of the big things many people that come to Germany struggle with is that most things are done by clubs. You go to school or work and during this time you learn or work and afterwards you go home and do your hobbies with a club. You then identify then with your local club which competes with the neighbour towns. There are university teams and some of them also compete against each other but nobody who is not part of the teams cares about it.

Regarding the reduction of medals for Germany I think a big part is just the internationalisation of the sports. Sports like fencing or rowing which ususally delivered a lot of medals for Germany where never particularly popular and had no professional structures, but few clubs where enough to earn a lot of medals. Now that a lot of countries invest some money in olympic sports the competition is just much higher. Equestrian and the winter sports are relicts from these times since it is expensive and/or harder to adopt for other countries. Besides football there is no sport which is popular across the whole country. A lot of sports are done a bit so that some talented people come through in various competitions, but not on a reliable level like Belgians in cycling, Dutch in ice skating, Norwegians in skiing or Australians in swimming to name some smaller countries.
 
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Interesting re: school teams. So do you mean your equivalent of high schools (I know it’s a different system than ours) dont’t compete with each in team sports like futbol, athletics, wrestling, etc? Wow, those inter-school competitions ( especially between rival schools) are such a big part of many teenagers lives here. Even the kids who hates sports and wouldn’t be caught dead near a sports event also makes that part of their identity.
Yeah, I've seen enough American high school movies to have an idea, but here school teams don't play a role at all. At my school, I don't think we had any school team. Now it's starting to get a little bit more common, I think my son's elementary school had a football team, but they had one tournament at the end of the year, now his school does have a handball team I think, there was an e-mail, but that's it...

Also, by the way, I was a bit surprised by the "pay to play" approach, I don't think something like that exists here, at least not on any bigger scale. Sure, there are always exclusive clubs and training camps with former athletes that you have to pay for and such, but they have nothing to do with the Olympics or a pro-contract or anything like that. I suppose connections and money will always help you, in every situation in life, but I would be so bold to say that money plays no role in whether you get successful or not in a sport like swimming or athletics or football in Germany. Motivated parents who support you and are willing and able to drive you around and spend much of their time, those are really important...
 
Wasn’t Hungary also the one most open to the West prior to the breakdown of the Soviet system? (aside from Yugoslavia which was a special case) I traveled to both Hungary and Bulgaria in 1980, and while we had complete freedom of movement in Hungary I seem to remember that we were more restricted in Bulgaria, which was one of the “most” Soviet states. In fact, I remember in Sofia just as I was about to snap a photo of a giant Lenin poster, several folks walking by wagged their fingers at me and shook their heads. The meaning of as clear: I could get in trouble doing that.

ed. Oh yeah, my point is that perhaps the change to economics, culture, and even sport seemed less abrupt to citizens there?
Your impressions are more reliable than my knowledge in this case since they're firsthand, and I can only speak on the basis of reports.
Hungary's environment (Austria mainly) and its economic base were probably more favourable starting points in transition than those of Bulgaria.
I wouldn't disregard the cultural factors either. Hungary was half of the empire before the Great war, while Bulgaria struggled under the Ottomans and never really managed to establish a functional system and always was prone to authoritarian (even totalitarian) leadership.
That pattern of coercion (oppression) runs across all social spheres and generations, maintains for a long time if considerable efforts aren't invested or there's no will for a change.
In the era of EU membership, migration statistics are a good indicator of functional systems.

More of a socially political crossover, but applies to the sport too.
 
Well, what I mean is, we clearly don't have structures like many anglophone-countries, with sports and school so closely connected. Usually you go to school until 1 or 2 or 3 pm, and then you can persue your hobbies, so whether you get involved in any sport is totally up to you - and your parents.
Well, this isn't so bad.

When I was a teen I usually left school around 5 p.m. and had to do the practices after that hour. Until I went to university I had the luck of being in a school who had that sport, because if I would need to go to a club on the nearest city, I would lose an additional 2 hours on top of that.

We have a great program (Desporto Escolar - "Sports in School") where the schools choose the sports they want to have and then compete against each other. In athletics he even had a nationwide program from kids aged 10 to 17, where nearly everyone would have the opportunity to compete in 40m, long jump and 1000m at the school level and then progress to the "state" championships and then to the National Championships.

But this program is underfunded (it's not strange for the kids to have to sleep on classrooms or in the school gyms) and with the pandemic the activity dropped to zero. I don't think that there has been any sports activity in schools for the past 2 years.

Two of our olympic medallists, Patrícia Mamona (Triple Jump) and Jorge Fonseca (Judo), started doing their sports in this program.
 
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Cycling, women's road race, Mens Madison, women's omnium. Pole vaulting,weight lifting both sexes..especially German and Filipinos..wresting and martial arts both sexes..I had to real time study to try and find out the scoring for martial arts..
I enjoyed lots of events..from what I read I was one of a few thousand people watching world wide. NBC did everything they could to make it impossible to watch. The over the top cheer American athletes undeserving was bad. You tube and Claro sports network saved what little opportunity there was..
I don't see the Olympics business model working for another @20 years
 
Cycling, women's road race, Mens Madison, women's omnium. Pole vaulting,weight lifting both sexes..especially German and Filipinos..wresting and martial arts both sexes..I had to real time study to try and find out the scoring for martial arts..
I enjoyed lots of events..from what I read I was one of a few thousand people watching world wide. NBC did everything they could to make it impossible to watch. The over the top cheer American athletes undeserving was bad. You tube and Claro sports network saved what little opportunity there was..
I don't see the Olympics business model working for another @20 years
Then they also did everything they could to make it the least user friendly program/app possible. I'm one of those odd people who prefer men's gymnastics to women's due to just liking the apparatus they use better. They hardly showed any of that and again mostly the Americans. Um, why didn't we see all of the Russian, Chinese and Japanese men compete? Trying to find the indoor volleyball games instead of the beach ones wasn't easy either.
 
Aug 13, 2021
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Also, I read this interview with sport climber Alex Megos and found it very impressive because he sounds super honest and reflective, totally different from your usual sports interview: https://www.kicker.de/alex-megos-manchmal-dachte-ich-was-mache-ich-da-fuer-einen-mist-mit-877244/artikel

A few excerpts, google translated:

Alex Megos is a passionate rock climber. Nevertheless, in 2018 he decided to focus his career on the goal of the Olympics for three years.
Because Corona led to the one-year postponement of the games in Japan's capital, the 28-year-old from Erlangen was able to turn his back on the competition walls and "celebrated" in autumn 2020 by climbing the "Bibliography" route in Céüse, France (highest level of difficulty 9c, now graded by mutual agreement 9b +) a widely acclaimed success.

Mr. Megos, how satisfied were you with your performance in Tokyo?

It's going ok. To miss a place in the final is of course crap. I should have done a better place in bouldering or lead, then I would have made it to the final. I am particularly dissatisfied with my lead performance. The bouldering performance was actually better than expected with sixth place. I already thought to myself, ey blatant, that could have been a lot worse. On the other hand, it should have gone much better in lead climbing than sixth place, which really excited me.

Keyword bouldering: You had reached a top and four zones. Others made two tops and got nothing baked on two other bouldering problems. How do you rate the rating scale in bouldering, where only zones or tops are counted?

This rough grid in the evaluation is often disadvantageous. Someone who struggles to get to the zone rating is rated the same as someone who cannot hold the top grip. For us climbers this is a huge difference in performance, but in the end it doesn't matter at all in the rating. Clearly, I don't think it's that good.

Changes in the evaluation of the bouldering performance are apparently on the way.

Yes, that's up for debate for the next Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. I think the Americans have a good system in their national competitions. Reaching the top grip brings 25 points and then there are three more zones with five, ten and 15 points. This system would have been cool for Tokyo too. For us athletes, because even we didn't really see who's now where - but it would have been much more understandable for the audience as well.

The confusion was then especially visible in the last competitions, when in the lead qualification and even more extreme in the lead final nobody really knew what was going on in the ranking.

With the lead, every climber has completely shaken up the ranking with his performance. Even we athletes and the coaching teams had no idea what would happen in the ranking if someone managed one move more than another. In short, it was totally confusing. For example, Adam Ondra felt gold or a medal almost certainly, and then Jakob Schubert comes as the last climber and pushes Ondra off to sixth with his performance. There's too much drama in the rating system and it doesn't feel good anymore. And I can also imagine that Adam is frustrated.

Back to your lead performance in Tokyo. How did it happen that you screwed up your entry into the Olympic finals in your favorite discipline, of all places?

I was in a really good mood in the training camp shortly before the Olympics in Innsbruck, I was able to assess that because Schubert also trained there. But when it came down to it in the lead qualification, I just didn't feel good climbing the wall. I was a bit nervous, and at the beginning of the route I grabbed hold of the handles. I don't know exactly what it was, but it wasn't a good performance on my part.

...

Also due to these blatant differences in performance: How did climbing at the Olympics look to the spectators?

I think speed climbing went down the best with the audience. Even the greatest layman understands immediately what is going on - whoever is first at the top has won. What was really bad was the route setting when bouldering. For people who know something about bouldering, it was very boring to watch, for people who know nothing about bouldering, it was an absolute disaster. With the bouldering world cups before the Olympics, the route screwdrivers should have had enough experience in my opinion to see that the bouldering problems were hopelessly too difficult for both women and men. A grip in the toilet, there is no other way of saying it. It's a shame that this discipline was destroyed a bit at the Olympics.

...

At World Cups you hang out with all the climbers and coaches, you can watch the others after your own performance, exchange ideas and cheer each other on. That actually belongs to the togetherness in competitive climbing. In Tokyo, on the other hand, you were picked up directly from the wall, almost transported away, then pushed through a media channel, where you were picked up by the journalists at will and then transported back to the isolation zone. In terms of atmosphere, that's a huge difference. Ultimately, I didn't see a single person climb in Tokyo - except for Jan in training.

Many of these measures were due to the pandemic - what remains of the major Olympic event?

It definitely opened my eyes to how the sports industry works when it comes to more money. What a blatant effort was made in Tokyo, only for the fact that we did a little bit of climbing in two days. It's crazy how much money was spent on a competition that was mediocre. You have to ask yourself whether you want to go along with it or whether that makes climbing for you.

...

Are you referring primarily to the amount of time it took to prepare for the Olympics after qualifying in August 2019?

Yes, but I am also concerned with the environmental aspect. From this point of view, these Olympic Games were a disaster. The air conditioning behind the climbing wall was a blatant symbol of this, as the outdoor area was cooled down for us athletes - with a heat of almost 40 degrees. When I saw that, I decided I didn't want to be a part of it anymore. To fly to China for the World Cup for a week is just not worth it to me anymore. And even while preparing for the Olympics, I sometimes thought to myself, what the hell am I doing there?
 
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Also, I read this interview with sport climber Alex Megos and found it very impressive because he sounds super honest and reflective, totally different from your usual sports interview: https://www.kicker.de/alex-megos-manchmal-dachte-ich-was-mache-ich-da-fuer-einen-mist-mit-877244/artikel

A few excerpts, google translated:

Alex Megos is a passionate rock climber. Nevertheless, in 2018 he decided to focus his career on the goal of the Olympics for three years.
Because Corona led to the one-year postponement of the games in Japan's capital, the 28-year-old from Erlangen was able to turn his back on the competition walls and "celebrated" in autumn 2020 by climbing the "Bibliography" route in Céüse, France (highest level of difficulty 9c, now graded by mutual agreement 9b +) a widely acclaimed success.

Mr. Megos, how satisfied were you with your performance in Tokyo?

It's going ok. To miss a place in the final is of course crap. I should have done a better place in bouldering or lead, then I would have made it to the final. I am particularly dissatisfied with my lead performance. The bouldering performance was actually better than expected with sixth place. I already thought to myself, ey blatant, that could have been a lot worse. On the other hand, it should have gone much better in lead climbing than sixth place, which really excited me.

Keyword bouldering: You had reached a top and four zones. Others made two tops and got nothing baked on two other bouldering problems. How do you rate the rating scale in bouldering, where only zones or tops are counted?

This rough grid in the evaluation is often disadvantageous. Someone who struggles to get to the zone rating is rated the same as someone who cannot hold the top grip. For us climbers this is a huge difference in performance, but in the end it doesn't matter at all in the rating. Clearly, I don't think it's that good.

Changes in the evaluation of the bouldering performance are apparently on the way.

Yes, that's up for debate for the next Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. I think the Americans have a good system in their national competitions. Reaching the top grip brings 25 points and then there are three more zones with five, ten and 15 points. This system would have been cool for Tokyo too. For us athletes, because even we didn't really see who's now where - but it would have been much more understandable for the audience as well.

The confusion was then especially visible in the last competitions, when in the lead qualification and even more extreme in the lead final nobody really knew what was going on in the ranking.

With the lead, every climber has completely shaken up the ranking with his performance. Even we athletes and the coaching teams had no idea what would happen in the ranking if someone managed one move more than another. In short, it was totally confusing. For example, Adam Ondra felt gold or a medal almost certainly, and then Jakob Schubert comes as the last climber and pushes Ondra off to sixth with his performance. There's too much drama in the rating system and it doesn't feel good anymore. And I can also imagine that Adam is frustrated.

Back to your lead performance in Tokyo. How did it happen that you screwed up your entry into the Olympic finals in your favorite discipline, of all places?

I was in a really good mood in the training camp shortly before the Olympics in Innsbruck, I was able to assess that because Schubert also trained there. But when it came down to it in the lead qualification, I just didn't feel good climbing the wall. I was a bit nervous, and at the beginning of the route I grabbed hold of the handles. I don't know exactly what it was, but it wasn't a good performance on my part.

...

Also due to these blatant differences in performance: How did climbing at the Olympics look to the spectators?

I think speed climbing went down the best with the audience. Even the greatest layman understands immediately what is going on - whoever is first at the top has won. What was really bad was the route setting when bouldering. For people who know something about bouldering, it was very boring to watch, for people who know nothing about bouldering, it was an absolute disaster. With the bouldering world cups before the Olympics, the route screwdrivers should have had enough experience in my opinion to see that the bouldering problems were hopelessly too difficult for both women and men. A grip in the toilet, there is no other way of saying it. It's a shame that this discipline was destroyed a bit at the Olympics.

...

At World Cups you hang out with all the climbers and coaches, you can watch the others after your own performance, exchange ideas and cheer each other on. That actually belongs to the togetherness in competitive climbing. In Tokyo, on the other hand, you were picked up directly from the wall, almost transported away, then pushed through a media channel, where you were picked up by the journalists at will and then transported back to the isolation zone. In terms of atmosphere, that's a huge difference. Ultimately, I didn't see a single person climb in Tokyo - except for Jan in training.

Many of these measures were due to the pandemic - what remains of the major Olympic event?

It definitely opened my eyes to how the sports industry works when it comes to more money. What a blatant effort was made in Tokyo, only for the fact that we did a little bit of climbing in two days. It's crazy how much money was spent on a competition that was mediocre. You have to ask yourself whether you want to go along with it or whether that makes climbing for you.

...

Are you referring primarily to the amount of time it took to prepare for the Olympics after qualifying in August 2019?

Yes, but I am also concerned with the environmental aspect. From this point of view, these Olympic Games were a disaster. The air conditioning behind the climbing wall was a blatant symbol of this, as the outdoor area was cooled down for us athletes - with a heat of almost 40 degrees. When I saw that, I decided I didn't want to be a part of it anymore. To fly to China for the World Cup for a week is just not worth it to me anymore. And even while preparing for the Olympics, I sometimes thought to myself, what the hell am I doing there?
I'm sure there will be some pushback from the traditionalists, but it's good the removal of horse riding from the Modern Pentathlon is at least being considered by the organization. (It sounds like there was a secret vote and it's not been made official yet.) Cycling is totally not the same, and granted it would take some time for people to adjust to the idea, but it can be done.

I don't really understand competitive rock climbing, but it sounds like it just needs some fine-tuning as far as the Olympics are concerned. It sucks some climbers had a bad time in Tokyo, but baby steps and all that. Hopefully come Paris they'll have it figured out.
 
Yeah, bouldering was kind of boring even when I finally managed to understand how it worked, but the combination of three different disciplines was interesting. With some fine-tuning and more immediate scoring system it could be a great Olympic sport.
 
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