Tag Archives: Olympics

The Silver Medal Problem in Head To Head Events

In Olympic or other world/regional championship events, the top three competitors are awarded gold, silver and bronze medals. In races and most other events, earning any of these medals is an accomplishment.

However, in head-to-head events (often team events, though also fighting contests like boxing and wrestling), where a series of contests with one winner and one loser decides the event, there is a fundamental problem that cheapens the experience of winning silver:

The gold medalist obviously ends their campaign with a championship win. Even the bronze medalist has to win a 3rd place matchup to win the bronze. But the silver medalist gets their medal after taking a loss to the gold medalist.

Unlike, say, races or gymnastics where finishing 2nd out of the field is still an accomplishment, the silver medalist in a head to head event ends their campaign with a loss, cheapening the accomplishment. Often you’ll see silver medalists almost ashamed of having “backed into” their medal, or having “earned” their medal by falling short.

I have a format solution for this head to head problem. It would require one more head to head contest in the medal rounds, but would leave every medalist with a sense of satisfaction and having ended their campaign with a win.

  • You get down to the final four competitors as usual. Two pairs of matchups in this semifinal play down to a winner and a loser.
  • Don’t play a 3rd place matchup just yet. Instead, have the final two competitors play each other for the gold medal.
  • Now, have the loser of the gold medal contest play the competitor that lost to the gold medalist in the semifinal. The winner of THIS contest earns the silver medal.
  • Then the loser of this contest plays the remaining loser from the semifinal for the bronze medal.

This way, every medalist ends their campaign with a win, and wearing the silver medal doesn’t feel so much like a loser’s prize.

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Checking In 7/26/2021

I feel like a paradox: My legs feel sore, and yet I feel noticeably stronger through my lower body. This was the first weekend in 3 weeks where I stayed home, plus my long workout was indoors, allowing me to rest and nap quite a bit over the weekend. This plus aggressive protein-rich eating probably plays a role in why I’m feeling stronger than usual after a hard long run.

I’ve also been sleeping better the last several nights, consistent and at least 7 hours after too many fitful sub-7 nights. This has probably helped as well, and as mentioned before the cooler weather may be a factor in why my sleep has improved.

My plan this week is to run-train all week (no scheduled weekdays off), and then do a remote long run out of town Sunday.

Because I’m still a bit sore I probably need to take it easy today (though I’m still going to run a bit and strength train after work). Rain may still fall this morning so it may take away a work break run opportunity, which will help rein me in.

About that rain: Vegas got pelted with serious thunderstorms last night, a stark contrast to the completely dry summer we had in 2020. The current weather now is much cooler and overcast.

But like last week, while temperatures are and will be markedly lower than the recent heat waves (around 95-100°F tops), the humidity will also remain higher than normal, over 20-30% for at least the rest of this week.

In other parts of the country, 30% feels much better than the usual 50-80%… but temperatures typically are in the 70’s-80’s°F. In Vegas, you notice any humidity over 15%, especially with temperatures well over 90°F.

I’ve gotten into a good relaxing morning routine that’s set the tone, and once again I’m reluctant to resume early morning runs, even though the current weather may better allow it. But I could be tempted to run a couple times in the morning this week in lieu of a night run. We’ll see. I still like how my evening gym sessions are feeling and those runs are a part of that.

The Olympics started this week, and someone on Twitter made an asisine comment I won’t give traffic to, that these Olympics are meaningless.

I’ve talked before about how the Olympic experience may be a letdown for the participants. While I think it may be disappointing, it certainly is not a meaningless experience.

If anything, the reason it could be so disappointing and a letdown for the participants is because this Olympics are so meaningful to them. They all worked extremely hard for years to get here. This should be for many one of the biggest extended moments of their lives. To be shuttled from isolated locale to isolated locale and quarantined in an Olympic Village before performing in mostly empty venues isn’t what a lot of them were hoping for.

Meaningless? Hardly. The Olympics are still a huge deal and this edition is no exception… even if the experience in the flesh isn’t what they dreamed of.

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The 2021 Tokyo Olympics

My condolences to any elite athletes who aspired to but aren’t going to compete at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

There is for you a backhanded consolation, a silver lining: These Olympics are not going to be particularly enjoyable for the participants.

Japan is under tight COVID restrictions, having experienced an Indian Summer of the pandemic and lockdowns that most other nations are finally emerging from. They are not allowing unauthorized visitors, and they are not allowing spectators at any major Olympic events.

Athletes will compete in glorified workouts, closed-door contests, posing as Olympic events. No fans will be present. It will be the complete opposite experience of what we grew up watching on television.

And that never minds the airtight, restricted experience the athletes will have visiting the country of Japan, which will more closely resemble a visit to nearby North Korea. Athletes will arrive and immediately be shuffled to the Olympic Village, where they will not be allowed to travel anywhere except to their competition venue to work out or compete, and back. No tourism, no ramen, no checking out the sights of anything beyond the view outside their dorm window, and maybe the swimming pool at the hotel… if that’s allowed (which it might not be). And, by the way, it’s extraordinarily expensive to fly to Japan from most of the world on 3-4 weeks notice, let alone to transport any food or equipment you will need.

That’s a crappy experience, unless the athlete in question is just 100% business minded, and sees this as an important business trip. That’s basically just like another Diamond League race. How is that a special experience? In name only? If this were not the Olympics, what would be so great about this experience?

Look, it’s an accomplishment for the athletes who are attending, regardless of the context of what they’re (probably unknowingly) walking into. A medal at the Olympics is still an Olympic medal, should any of them win.

It just won’t be much of a positive experience beyond that. This is a mandatory exercise coerced by an IOC insistent on having an Olympic games rather than cancelling them outright or yet again deferring them. It’s a vast waste of Japanese resources on lavish multi-billion dollar venues (or I suppose in this case multi-trillion yen venues) that no fans will get to experience before they’re dismanted, repurposed, or abandoned.

If you’re missing out as an elite athlete, don’t feel too bad. It’s an Olympic experience in name only. Hopefully Paris 2024 will return closer to Olympic normalcy (and though it’s a subject I need to discuss in greater detail later, don’t think you’ll be too old. Times have changed, and athletes can thrive at the elite level later in life without doping).

I hope the athletes who worked hard to earn the trip and get to go have fun competing, even if the rest of the Tokyo 2021 experience won’t be nearly as much fun.

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