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Sports | Zooming In

August 3, 2012

Zooming In: Olympics Day Eight

Bringing you the top Olympic stories that aren't covered in the USA! USA! USA!

Justin Adler

Zooming In London Olympics 2012

If hyperlocal was the journalism trend of 2011, then hyperinternational is today's hotness. (It's also possible we just made it up.) That's why Gelf Magazine and Deadspin have decided to showcase the best—or at least the most interesting—foreign-produced journalism with our new feature—Zooming In: The Olympic Edition.

Throughout the Games, we’ll comb through hundreds of international news publications to bring you stories and local perspectives that can’t be found stateside. Each day, we'll give you our top five finds, giving you the chance to be as globally cultured as foreign-government-controlled papers permit.

Today we check out what happens when Rowing Australia lets loose, the newest viral meme in India, and a Soviet-Canuck alliance.

Aussie Rowing Team Breaks No Olympic Records, Two London Windows | Australia

After a disappointing sixth-place finish in the men's rowing final, Australian coach Andrew Matheson (who apparently knows his players quite well) took his team aside and warned them not to completely let loose now that the racing schedule had concluded.

The Age reports that the warning did not work, as the team went out drinking in the village of Egham (near the Lake Dorney Olympic rowing venue), where 21-year-old-rower Josh Booth allegedly destroyed two storefront windows. He was subsequently arrested by London Police at 1:40 am. After being taken to the Station, he fainted (whether from shock or as a euphemism for "passed out drunkenly" isn't clear) and hit his head on something in Egham police station. He spent the rest of the night in the hospital. Rowing Australia CEO Andrew Dee is withholding his comment on the incident until he is fully aware of the details.

In response to that incident, and to cyclist (and British Olympic hero) Bradley Wiggins announcing on Twitter that he was "blind drunk," IOC spokesman Mark Adams released a statement suggesting that athletes "drink wisely."

Opening Ceremony Crasher Apologizes for Error of Judgment | India

It’s never good to be accused of embarrassing your country in front of the whole world and "[hogging] all the limelight," but those are the allegations against Olympic ceremony crasher Madhura Nagendra from chef-de-mission of India's Olympic delegation, Muralidharan Raja, according to the Agence France-Presse.

Nagendra caused quite the stir when she strolled up beside Indian team’s flag bearer in her out-of-place red top during the opening ceremony.

She was one of 7,5000 volunteers taking part in the opening ceremony, when Olympic spirit got the best of her and she made an "error of judgment."

"I'm a proud woman of India and I was taken aback seeing all the comments. I hope this will be forgiven," she added.

India, however, is still hung up on the incident. Several people have taken to Twitter to vent about this injustice while, inevitably, someone has even created a Facebook page about Nagendra "dropping in" on other important events around the world.

Nigerian Olympic Funding: Too Much, Too Late | Nigeria

According to Vanguard, the Nigerian government has allocated 2 billion naira ($12.4 million USD) for the country's Olympic team, but one "official who begged for anonymity" said the funds were released far too late to truly help the Nigerian team.

The official claims that the funds were turned over to the team at the last minute, rendering them effectively useless as they could not be used for the training or improvement of Nigerian athletes. The official also believes that releasing the funds so late greatly increases the likelihood of corruption, as the money can more easily be used for things that have nothing to do with Nigeria's Olympic team.

So why is the Olympic team receiving its money now rather than, say, four years ago, when it could have been used for the training of athletes? The problem rests with Nigeria's bureaucracy, which makes it very difficult for money to be allocated and spent quickly. The process of approving and implementing funds is so arduous that the Nigerian National Sports Commission actually had to borrow money in order to compete in some Olympic qualifying events, even though it now has more money than it needs with the release of this latest round of funds.

The anonymous official hopes to convince Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan to restructure the funding process for the Nigerian Olympic team.

Raising Standards Improves Quality of Competition. Who Woulda Thought? | France

As recently as the 1996 Olympics, the French swim team was more of a laughing stock than the powerhouse it is today. After the debacle in Atlanta—in which no French swimmer brought back a medal of any color—Claude Fauquet, the swim team's technical director, overhauled the entire system.

No longer were local swim clubs allowed to send their champions to regional meets; instead swimmers had to meet rigorous qualifying standards to have the opportunity to advance.

That severely limited the pool(!) of athletes, but those who made it through were battle tested and prepared, and the entire culture of the sport has been refocused on beating specific times.

In an article in France24.com, Tresor Kibangula explains how the now-revered Fauquet method has produced impressive results, including at least six French swimming medals in the last three Olympics.

The French stars of these games, 22-year-old Camille Muffat who set a new Olympic record in the 400m freestyle, and 20-year-old Yannick Agnel who powered past Ryan Lochte to help the French get revenge in the 4 x 100m freestyle, both started their careers at the Olympic Nice Natation training centre, one of the government-subsidized swim clubs to first adopt the Fauquet method.

Legendary Soviet Hammer Thrower Coach Teaches Kamloops Competitors | Canada

In 1972, Anatoly Bondarchuk won a gold medal in the hammer throw. Four years later, he won a bronze in the same event while at the same time serving as coach to Yuriy Sedykh, his countryman and the eventual gold medal winner.

Bondarchuk's Wikipedia article says he's "regarded as the most accomplished hammer throw coach of all time," and we are not in a position to disagree. He has been awarded both The Order of the Badge of Honour and Order of the Red Banner of Labour, which both sound very prestigious and very, very Soviet.

Bondarchuk has coached athletes to medals in five different Olympic games, and has a PhD in pedagogical science (education, broadly speaking). He wrote this well-regarded book about athletic training and performance.

And now, for reasons the locals don't entirely understand, he's landed in Kamloops, British Columbia, where he's been coaching shot putter Dylan Armstrong. He applied for what the Globe and Mail describes as a "lowly assistant track and field coach [position]." What did the aforementioned locals think? "They thought it might have been a joke or a different Anatoly Bondarchuk."

As it turns out, aside from wanting to be closer to his daughter in Calgary, Bondarchuk had heard of Dylan Armstrong. At the time, the mountainous Armstrong was struggling as a young hammer thrower, laden with potential but unable to make the leap to the elite level. Bondarchuk switched him to shot put and started coaching him in "limited English." Canada's Athletics head coach Mike Gardiner said of the communication between Armstrong and Bondarchuk, "It was a series of hand movements and looks and single-syllable words. And everything seemed to work out. It was a code they were using, there's no doubt." Bondarchuk also has some unusual training methods: the coach has suspended a medicine ball against the ceiling and has Armstrong bat at it like a tetherball, and Bondarchuk has Armstrong and the other athletes he coaches throwing weight plates around. Those techniques don't generally make it into other Olympians' regimens.

This morning, after a close call that included a foul and one less-than-stellar attempt, Armstrong gathered himself and qualified for the shot put finals. Presumably his head will be full of the the broken-English of his coach as he goes for gold tonight.

Kate Bennert, Isaac Rauch, Dan Gartland, David Goldenberg and Tom Ley contributed to this article.

Justin Adler

Justin Adler is a graduate of the University of Arizona. He blogs here.







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Article by Justin Adler

Justin Adler is a graduate of the University of Arizona. He blogs here.

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