Friday, August 27, 2004

I saw it on TV 

Everyone else is doing it so here goes…
You get a very twisted perspective on the Olympics depending on where you view it from. As far as South Africa is concerned, the Olympics so far is all about swimming, since our boys won gold in the 4 x 100m freestyle, breaking the world record and – bonus – beating the Yanks and the Aussies in the same race. In a day or two, our attention will move to the athletics arena (it may have already, but I have spent far more TV time with the James Bond festival on eTV), and our girl Hestrie in the high jump and a couple of runners: Hezekiel Sepeng and somebody else. As far as the Brits are concerned, it’s all about sailing and Paula. There seems to be some rather impressive boxer too, who I haven’t been able to catch from over here yet. It’s weird how every four years a couple of beers and a remote control makes you an expert on the straight right with a twist, the tumble turn or the Fosbury Flop.

From a statistical perspective, if you were a multi-talented athlete, you would have to go for swimming as your best option for a medal. You’ve got dozens of options at various lengths with different strokes, plus a set of relays. If you are, say, a sprinter, you have two. There is no 100m backwards, or 50m hop. On the other hand, if you want to focus it may be worth picking something that only a tiny portion of the world’s population bother with. Everybody runs at some point in their lives, so there is a reasonable chance that the 100m champion (an American again, I believe) is the fastest guy in the world. Lots of people have tried it, found out they are too slow, and gone back to whatever they do better. If you go for a sport like rowing, or horse-riding, then you immediately cut down on the potential opposition, since only a tiny portion of the world’s population bothers with these sports, due largely to their cost.

If money is all that matters, then forget the Olympics – play golf. If you make it, you’re sorted. Have you heard, for example, of Kent Jones? Me neither, but he is number 122 on the PGA money list, and has made more than half a million dollars playing golf this year alone. There are 72 who have made a million bucks already, with plenty more to come before the tax year closes. That’s the way to do it – do something you love, at which you can make a good living from the age of 20 until about 60 – you even have a caddy to do the heavy work. Now if someone would just pay me to write…

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