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The Development of the Internet and its Impact on the London 2012 Olympics
Although the internet has been with us for some time and has played an important role at previous Olympics, the internet has continued to develop and for London 2012 will play a greatly enhanced role in expanding the reach of the Olympics and enhancing peoples experience around the world.
Since Beijing in 2008, video streaming via the internet has significantly improved in quality, speed and reliability of broadcast. Live sporting events can now be viewed reliably online without interruption that used to spoil the experience for the user. With broadcasting over the internet now much similar to that of normal television broadcasting, the advantages and benefits of the internet can now be integrated with high quality viewing. Multi-option viewing that is commonplace with television broadcasting can now be replicated, and even enhanced, with internet viewing. For London 2012 all events will be broadcast live over the internet, giving users much greater control over which events they want to view, even allowing for multiple, simultaneous viewing of events in a way that is not possible on television.
This will have important consequences in brining the London Olympics closer to people and make them feel more involved not just in the UK, but around the world. With the ever increasing portability of computers and other mobile devices that can access the internet, such as mobile phones and pads, people will be able to watch any event live wherever they are in a way that has not been possible before. Watching an event unfold live is a unique experience that can never be replicated viewing a replay. Knowing that the event has not been decided yet, and that anything could still happen to affect the outcome, that the person or team that the spectator is supporting still might just win through, greatly enhances the excitement and experience of the spectator. For London 2012 people will be able to experience this many more times than they have previously due to the much greater access to very high quality live video streaming via the internet. As a result, people all around the world will feel much closer and involved in the London Olympic Games, able to watch their preferred events live and cheer on their country’s athletes.
Not only will people around the world be able to watch any event live, but they will also be able to watch any event again whenever they like. Some people will still not be able to watch some events they want to live but instead of missing out, at London 2012 they will be able to go online and watch the events they missed anytime. This is something that has not been available at past Olympics to the same degree, and something that is not yet available on normal television broadcasting. As a result, fewer people will feel like they have ‘missed out’ at the Olympics, enabling everyone to watch all the events and all the competitors they had been looking forward to seeing, brining people closer to the games even more.
Interaction and Understanding Through the Internet
Perhaps the greatest success of the internet has been to allow people to connect and interact with each other all over the world in a way never before possible. With the development of social networking, blogs, forums and others, information can be brought to people incredibly rapidly and also allows people to comment and pass analysis of their own. With live streaming of events over the internet, people will now be able to watch the events while communicating with people around the world at the same time while the events unfold in a way that has not been possible before. People from all corners of the globe can watch the same events live together at the same time, while talking and commenting. As a result, London 2012 will bring people around the world closer together than ever before, enabling people to watch any event when they like, and with who they like.
People around the world will also have access to information about the games on a whole new scale. Preview programs, build-up, documentaries, interviews, analysis and much, much more will be available in even greater quantity then at previous games, and with greater access via the internet people will be able to read and view this whenever they like. Also, with the ability to watch events again at any time, people all over the world can relate all this information much more closely to the events and athletes themselves, giving people a much greater understanding of the sports, their events, athletes and the games as a whole.
The increased development of the internet will also give people a much greater ability to directly influence the games. With new networking such as Twitter and increased use of others such as Facebook, people around the world can now directly contact the athletes taking part at the Olympics. As well as this, broadcasters and organiser use these new mediums to reach out further to spectators, not only providing greater information to them but also to get feedback from them. The speed at which people can now comment and critique on almost any aspect of the London Olympics allows organisers to adapt and make changes quickly to the mood of the public, giving people a direct influence on the London Olympics in a whole new way. As well as this, people will be able to get involved in events, both sporting and cultural, much more easily than before, as well as organising their own events and occasions to enhance their enjoyment and directly influence the overall feel and uniqueness of the London Olympics in 2012.
The Internet and the Olympic Legacy
The improvements in internet technology and its dramatically increased ability to bring the London Olympics to more and more people around the world will have a significant role in producing a lasting legacy of the London Olympics in both the UK and around the world. Just one moment at an Olympics can inspire a whole generation, a single child can be touched and in a way no one could imagine that changes their life forever. It is therefore a key aim of the London Legacy objectives to reach out to as many people around the world as possible, and the internet will play a vital role. Not only will the internet be able to bring the live events to more people than ever before, but it will also help bring communities closer together and allow people to directly help in the many projects that will be taking place around the world before, during and after they London Olympics to improve the lives of people in some of the most deprived areas in the UK and around the world.
Bridging Cultural Barriers and Bringing Nations Together Through the Olympics
The idea of brining nations together in peace and developing increased understanding and tolerance between different cultures lies at the very heart of the Modern Olympic movement; indeed, it was the very purpose for its formation. The Peace Movement, developed during the latter half of the 19th century, chose the Olympics as its main tool to develop its cause and spread its message as the very principles of the Ancient Olympic Games were ones of peace, unity and the celebration of mankind.
During more than a century of competition, in which the Olympic movement has expanded to become the biggest peace time global event in history, the Olympics has played an important part in both symbolising and actively enhancing the quest for peace and togetherness.
Even during its infancy, the Olympics at its first few games at the turn of the 20th century grew rapidly and attracted huge numbers of spectators and participants from across the world. The Olympics in London and Paris in the first decade were hugely popular and brought people together from all over the world, and the Olympics has continued to expand ever since.
However, the importance and reach of the Olympics quickly made it an attractive target for political influence and manipulation. The Olympics soon became an important opportunity for nations to show to the world how good and successful they were, and success at Olympics was soon to be closely associated with the success of a nation as a whole. As a result, Olympic Games throughout the 1930s during the rise of fascism and those throughout the Cold War period and the standoff between capitalist and communist countries were often blighted by political and radical influences. However, the principles of peace and unity shone through on most of these occasions, often against the attempts of those who tried to manipulate the Games for political purposes.
The 1936 Games were held in Berlin under a relatively newly formed Nazi Regime. Hitler saw it as a key opportunity to showcase to the world the strength of his ‘New Germany’ and that of the Aryan above all other races, as well as win support from like-minded people in other nations. However, the Berlin Games only served to highlight the radical nature of the Nazi Party and further unite and strengthen other nations in opposition to the fascist movement. This was symbolised in one of the most famous Olympic moments, when the Black Sprinter ‘Jesse’ Owens from the USA won an unprecedented four Gold medals in track and field. With the games supposedly meant to show to the world how Hitler’s new, Aryan Germany was vastly superior to those of African origin, the German leader was left with world humiliation as he refused to shake Owens’ hand and later withdrew himself from the Games altogether.
Arguably the most significant Olympic Games in the spreading of Peace among nations was that of the first Olympics held after the Second World War. With the world still recovering and many tensions still remaining between nations, the Olympic Movement resumed in 1948. Many nations were unable, or unwilling, to hold the Olympic Games at this time but London stepped in to host its second Games and what would prove to be perhaps the most successful of them all. Although many stadiums, such as Wembley Stadium, were ready and waiting, the cost and toll of the war meant that little money or resources were available but despite this, millions of people travelled to watch the Games, with countries from all over the world coming together in peace to take part in the biggest Olympic Games to date. Although Germany and Japan were not invited, and the USSR did not send athletes, coming so soon after the end of the War, this is largely seen as an important step in the rebuilding of the world and peaceful relations between nations that had only recently been fighting against each other in battle. It also provided a change in focus for many people of the world who had for so long been concerned only with survival, and helped renew the spirit, hope and ambition of many people across the world.
Throughout the Cold War, the Olympics were the focal point of tensions between capitalist and communist countries, mainly between the USA and what was then the USSR. Though it can be said that some Olympics in this time heightened the tensions between these nations, most notably the US boycott of the Moscow Games in 1980 and following Boycott of the Los Angeles Games by the USSR in 1984, it is undoubted that the Olympics helped improve understanding between the two nations.
These Olympics, with high political tensions, have in the end only served to highlight and bring focus to problems between nations and prompt action to resolve them. This has been the case in many other areas, such as protest against the Apartheid Regime in South Africa during the 1976 Montreal Games and the Boycott of North Korea and other communist countries during the South Korean Games in 1988. Perhaps the most famous, and worst moment of they Olympics came in 1972 when 11 members of the Israeli Olympic Team were murdered by Palestinian separatists. These, and other incidents, though totally against the Olympic ideals, in the end served only to highlight the need for action through peaceful means and ultimately contributed to resolutions in these areas.
Overcoming cultural and racial differences have also been a prominent part of the Olympic movement over the years. As well as those of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, the Olympics have played an important part in the advancement of both black equality and the Women’s equality movement. Women’s equality at the Games has been a prominent topic for many decades, and London 2012 will be the first Games where women can truly compete on an equal footing in all sports. The advancement of equal rights for black people has equally been of high focus at the Olympics, with notable occasions such as the ‘Black Power Salute’ by Tommie Smith and John Carlos during the 1968 Games in Mexico City. The Olympics has arguably played an important role in not only maintaining focus on the improved equality of Black people around the world, but also increasing tolerance and acceptance of black people on an equal footing in wider society and hence advance the black equality movement that in some cases has taken so long to achieve. Indeed, sport, and particularly the Olympics, has often been there first arena for many nations where black and white people have worked on an equal footing.
Greatest Individual Olympic Achievements
Since the first modern Olympics in 1896 there have been many individuals that have left a lasting mark on the Games. Some have also defined an Olympics, while others have helped shape and change the very course of the Olympic Movement itself.
In 1936 the world gathered in Berlin as the Olympic movement proceeded to perhaps its most controversial Games ever. With Germany under the control of Hitler and his Nazi regime, Hitler set about using the Olympics to promote his Fascist ideals and his prejudices against those he saw as inferior races; mainly Jews and black people, among others. Keen to promote the superiority of the German, Aryan people, Hitler was determined that Germany would become triumphant. With Germany topping the medals table, this would have been achieve if it were not for one men; Jesse Owens. A black man from a poor family in the south USA, Jesse Owens outshone all at the Berlin Olympics by winning four Gold's in the 100m, 200m, long jump and 4 x 100m relay, a feat unheard of and not equalled until Carl Lewis half a century later. This amazing feat of unique sporting achievement and the refusal of Hitler to shake Jesse’s hand, humiliated the German leader and completely reversed the propaganda message he sought to gain from those games.
Commonly regarded as the greatest long distance runner of all time, Emil Zatopek not only dominated his sport throughout his career but also revolutionised its training, so much so that the training methods he used in preparation for events are still common place today. He set 18 world records, including the first to go under 29 minutes for the 10,000m and the first under an hour for 20,000m. In 1952 he won the 5,00m, 10,000m and the marathon at the Helsinki Games, a truly astonishing achievement.
Sir Steve Redgrave
Though five Olympic Gold Medals is an incredible achievement by any standards, it is not a unique one and many have won many more. However, look closer and what Sir Steve did at the Olympics is nothing short of astounding. As a rower, Sir Steve competed in his first Olympics in 1986. Rowing is considered to be one of the toughest sports of the Games, requiring huge amounts of physical endurance and power. However, Steve won gold in his first ever games, and never looked back. 4 years later, he won Gold again. Gold’s at consecutive Olympics is a rare achievement, but Steve went one better, winning again 4 years later, making it three in a row, almost unheard of. Not stopping there, Sir Steve went on to win again in Atlanta in 1996, and won a 5th consecutive Gold in Sydney in 2000. 5 Gold medals at 5 consecutive Olympic Games has never been done by anyone else, and in a sport as physically demanding as rowing makes it even more remarkable. To remain at the very highest level of competition and be the best of them all for over 14 years is something we will likely never see again.
Eric "The Eel" Moussambani
Look down the list of Olympic Winners and you won’t find Eric ‘The Eel’ Moussambani, but none the less he has gone down in Olympic folk law and arguably had as great an impact as some of the greatest medal winners. Coming from Equatorial Guinea , a country with no Olympic sized swimming pool, Eric only trained for 8 months prior to the Olympics, and it showed. Quite probably the worst swimmer ever at an Olympics, Eric was struck by good fortune and a moment of Olympic history was made. After several turns of events, Eric found himself in a heat with only two other athletes. Both international swimmers, and Eric barely able to complete the 100m distance, both the other athletes only had to finish. However, both false started, leaving Eric to start the race again on his own. This he did, and finished in a time of 1 minute 52 seconds. This, although a national record, was well over a minute outside any sort of competitive time for the distance. However, Eric has become the embodiment of the Modern Olympic Movement. With the progression into a more and more professional setup, the focus on winning ever increases. Eric’s achievement reminded the world that although the Olympics is about celebrating what mankind can achieve, the coming together of nations is more important and the taking part of all should be celebrated. Eric had earned the right to be there as the best in his country, and duly humbled the sporting world by progressing against the odds, reminding us all that playing the game is more important than the result.
Fanny Blankers Koen
Widely regarded as the greatest female Olympian, and voted the greatest female athlete of the 20th century, Franny Blankers Koen was a Dutch multi discipline athletics athlete who held word records over 100 yards, 100m, 200m, 80m hurdles, long jump and the high jump, as well as her national shot-put record. However, when primed to compete in her first games, and in her prime, in 1940, the War halted the competition and it seemed that Fanny would never have the opportunity to fulfil her Olympic destiny. However, in 1948 the Olympics resumed, and although Fanny was now 30 and widely believed to be past her best, she wowed the crowds be winning the 100m, 200m, 80m hurdles and 4 x 100m relay. Many believed she could also have won the high jump and long jump but for the restriction on women to only compete in three individual events. Being the first games after the war, the Olympics needed a star, and Fanny became that star, as well as significantly enhancing the role of women at the Olympic Games for future generations.
Carl Lewis is often regarded as the greatest Olympian of them all. Not only did he win multiple Gold medals, he did so in many different events and across many consecutive Olympics. Already an international star by the early 1980s, in 1984 Carl won four Olympic Gold’s in the 100m, 200m, long jump and 4 x 100m relay, the first time this had been achieved since Jesse Owens half a century before. In 1988 in Seoul he won the 100m and long jump again, narrowly missing out on the 200m Gold and only missing the 4 x 100m again as the USA team were disqualified. 4 years later he won Gold in the Long Jump again and the 4 x 100m relay, and in Atlanta in 1996 he won the long jump Gold again at the age of 35. This took Carl’s tally to an incredible 9 Gold medals over 4 consecutive Games, with 4 consecutive long jump Gold’s and repeating the achievement of the great Jesse Owens. All this at a time when the Olympics was the subject of intense political influence during the 1980s, as well as several high profile drugs scandals that threatened to do irreparable damage to the reputation of the movement. Although Carl later admitted to failing a test just before the Seoul Games, this was a minor infringement and his reputation remains intact, with his iconic status throughout that time as the leading light in the Olympic movement at a critical stage in its history firmly in place.