Just like every four years, with the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics I'm pumped to watch the best athletes in the world do what they do.
In case you've ignored all social media lately, the Opening Ceremonies were on Friday the 27th, and events will run through August 12th.
The history of the Olympics is somewhat interesting... the first ancient Olympic Games can be traced back to 776 BC, and were actually closely linked to religious festivals and rites of passage for young people. It also encouraged good relations between the cities of Greece. Traditions began, some of which we still see to this day: the torch ceremony to honor the Greek god Zeus; palm branches and olive tree wreaths for winning athletes; spectators throwing flowers to participants; and red ribbons tied on the head and hands as a mark of victory.
The ancient Games were simply a one day event and the events included running, long jump, shot put, javelin, boxing, equestrian, and pankration (martial art combining wrestling and boxing).
Crazy Old Footage from London 1908
The Olympic Games have obviously expanded into summer and winter competitions, and looking at this from a spectator's point of view, I'm a fan.
It can be hard to look past the sporadic violence and political and religious upheaval that has occurred throughout the years, especially since inequity still exists where citizens of some nations do not have the freedom to train or compete at this top level. But a generally peaceful worldwide competition is fun and inspiring. Especially cool is to see the "post-battle" respect between athletes of competing countries (ie: soccer players exchanging jerseys after their match).
Best of the Olympic Games
The London 2012 Trailer
From a CrossFit and physical fitness standpoint, the athleticism we see is impressive-- I can pretty much watch anything and everything TV and internet coverage provides. Maybe you're like me... some of the performances make my jaw drop.
In seeing the sports/exercises we use regularly in our own CrossFit training, these are the events that really catch my attention. But we have to understand these athletes are specialists. Many Olympians are overall great athletes, but it's their skill(s) in their specialty area that has allowed them to get to the elite level. Perhaps a Decathlon/Heptathlon track athlete has the versatility we might strive for in functional fitness training, but even these athletes aren't put through weightlifting, gymnastics, swimming, or other events. This is no knock on any Olympic athlete-- the contrary in fact.
This is what a base training program focusing on overall strength and conditioning can allow-- high end, elite sports.
Because we've put ourselves through some of these movements (in some cases, not very well), it's easy to drool over the physical skill and the times/numbers posted by the elite.
Let's check some awesome performances in a few Olympic sports/exercises that we commonly use at Amplify...
Track & Field:
The 2012 schedule is here: http://www.london2012.com/schedule-and-results/
I know I'll be watching.