“I’ve Got The Metabolism Of A Dead Person,” And Other Mortifying Things About The Bodies Of Olympic Athletes
"Everything which for the Greeks is great about Greekness, comes together in the Olympic athlete... the idea that you should strive for what is best in human life...
The Olympic athlete is the most beautiful realization of the human body."
This comes from The Guardian's new, awesome interactive display, where "31 British athletes reveal what it takes to build an Olympic body on the eve of London 2012."
The video is fantastic, and here's what we learned from it:
It SUCKS to be a cox.
Well, a lot of people call it a coxswain... I assume it's a British thing. Regardless, this rowing job, where you sit at the stern of the boat and direct, sucks major cox.
Rowers eat 6,000 calories a day, scarfing down every bit of steak in sight. But Phelan Hill, tiny, 121-lb. cox, has to limit himself to 1,000-1,500. He does six-mile runs, 3-4 hours on the bike and in the gym, and then can only eat the equivalent of 1.24 Big Macs. AND he'll have to live in a village containing the world's largest McDonald's. THIS IS WHAT HELL MUST BE LIKE.
"I do get hungry. I love my food and I think about it a lot. It can be tough when friends invite me to a new Michelin-starred restaurant and I have to say, "I'm sorry, I'm just having soup this evening."
You know what hits the spot after a grueling 5-hour day of Olympic training? A BOWL OF MOMMA'S SPLIT-PEA SOUP. With a side of nothing. I'm hungry just looking at him.
But the rowers don't have it easy, either...
"When you go to a normal doctor and you show them our scan, the doctor goes, 'You look like you've got the back of a 50/60-year old.' So that's kind of scary, to think what my back is going to look like in 20 years time, I'm like, 'Is it going to look like a 100-year old's?' "
Yikes. Tracy McGrady must have been a rower on the side.
Swimmer's body: "Let's make a baby!" Swimmer: "No, I just want to swim!"
Rebecca Adlington, 400m and 800m Olympic champion in 2008:
"Women swimmers peak young. It's such a hard sport that your body shuts down when you get to your late 20s and you can't do it any more. It's such a regimented lifestyle that your brain shuts down as well. I'm 23, my body has settled and it's a lot harder for me to lose weight. None of us smokes, we eat healthily and train 10 times a week, but my body's going, 'Baby!' and I'm like, 'No, swimming!' "
Noted horndog Michael Phelps should probably stay away from Adlington. She doesn't seem like she'll appreciate his advances.
This female weightlifter sounds really sad.
We know that Holley Mangold, female Olympic weightlifter and sister of the Jets center, is comfortable with her body. But 18-year old lifter Zoe Smith doesn't seem to agree.
"I've been lifting since I was 12. You can probably tell by my legs and bum. I've had lots of injuries: a disc bulge in my back, a fraying tendon in my shoulder and all weightlifters have dodgy knees. I hope it's not permanent. Sometimes I feel a bit strange. My friends are just 17- and 18-year-old girls. They don't have any muscles. I feel out of place. Maybe one day I'll look normal again. I eat very little. I sit at around 61kg but I'm trying to get down to the 58kg class. I've got the metabolism of a dead person, so I'm calorie-counting every day."
You can tell she's a lifter by her bum, mate! But seriously, this is sad. "Maybe one day I'll look normal again?" Sure, she doesn't have the model/actress look, but, who cares? She's a world-class athlete, and really doesn't look all that weird...
As you'd expect, Paralympic athletes are awesome.
Jon-Allan Butterworth, 26-year old cycling world champion:
"I was serving in the RAF in Iraq when I got hit by shrapnel from a rocket attack and lost my arm. I accepted it quickly. I was determined to get well and find a new normality. I found cycling through a Paralympic talent day. My body has completely changed. Through cycling, my legs have got bigger and my top half has shrunk. I now have a cyclist's physique, and with that comes acceptance from other cyclists. I'm one of them, rather than someone who has lost an arm and rides a bike."
Shelly Woods, 26-year old wheelchair-racer:
"I was a very sporty youngster. Then one day I was climbing a tree when the branch snapped. I fell 20ft and broke my back, damaging my spinal cord and becoming paralysed from the waist down.
I could have sat around feeling sorry for myself, thinking my life was over. But it wasn't – I was only 11. In hospital I saw people worse off than me. One lady had tripped over a phone wire when she was answering the door and couldn't move from the neck down. That put things in perspective. I've gone on to win two medals as a Paralympic wheelchair racer."
Long jumping gives you the thrill of flying, as well as the danger.
Chris Tomlinson, long jumper:
"Being a long jumper is the closest humans can get to flying without aid. You're up in the air and you're like, "Woah-woah-woah-woah-woah!" It's only for a second, but it feels like a long time...
Once, in Barcelona, the sandpit hadn't been dug properly. I took off, jumped 8m 20cm and landed with my man's bits right underneath me. I got out of the pit and was literally bent in two, badly winded. I didn't put on a brave face, I just felt the pain."
So I guess the British translation of "balls" or "nuts" is "man's bits." Always classy, those Brits. "Oi, you 'it me in my man's bits, you wankah!"
Basketball players eat a lot.
British basketball player (yes, apparently they have a team), Daniel Clark
"For a typical meal, I might have a kilo of meat and still be able to have dessert. It's nice knowing I can burn it off. My parents must be happy they don't pay to feed me any more."
"I'll have 8.8 quarter-pounders, mate! And add three ice-cream sundaes while you're at it!"
Cyclists shave their (massively-muscled) legs.
Sir Chris Hoy, four-time Olympic champion cyclist:
"The thing that marks me out as a cyclist is my shaved legs. It's a tradition in the sport and makes us more aerodynamic. It might sound ridiculous, but when you're winning races by 0.001sec, everything counts."
But you'd be eaten alive in middle school!
Jenna Randall is hot, but you can't tell in the pool.
Apparently, Jenna Randall is a pretty good synchronized swimmer. Here's a primer on her looks, and how they aren't showcased at all while she competes.
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