Different Strokes

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

What a different place he world of high jump would be had Dick Fosbury not thought of having a go at it backwards.

I’m a dreamer. I’m reliably informed by John Lennon that I’m not the only one, but still, that’s what I am. One recurring daydream that started shortly after I came upon the notion of doing all this involves discovering that far from being blunderingly inept at all things Olympic, there might just be an event that I’ve never tried before but turn out to be astoundingly good at.

In idle moments I imagine the Great Britain pole vault coach scratching his head and looking at a clipboard as I fall back to earth having cleared the bar by a foot. He is confused and exclaiming “But… that’s a British record. By half a metre. You’re in the team for Beijing.”

I confessed this dreaming habit just now to my colleague and friend Statue John while we smoked very un-Olympic cigarettes in the alleyway beside our office. He confessed in his turn that he has spent many idle hours thinking about “doing a Fosbury” – coming up with a revolutionary technique for performing one of the events that ensures victory despite a lack of what is commonly held to be the usual physical requirements of an Olympic champion.

At the 1968 games Fosbury revolutionized the sport of high jumping with just such a new technique, which became known as the Fosbury Flop. Instead of leaping facing the bar and swinging first one leg and then the other over the bar in a scissoring motion - the dominant method of the time - Fosbury turned just as he leapt, flinging his body backward over the bar with his back arched, following with his legs and landing on his shoulders.

The best John and I could come up with was some new swimming technique that would allow you to win the 50m Freestyle despite having a massive beer gut, baggy swimming trunks and (John insisted) a lengthy mullet unrestrained by anything so naff as a swimming cap.

Certain events heavily regulate techniques – for instance, I’m fairly sure that John’s suggested new long jump technique involving landing headfirst and rolling forwards (anyone who has seen the A-Team will know that such a technique can carry a man far enough to land a safe distance from and exploding jeep) would not only result in a concussion but also be against the rules of the event.

But others (like freestyle swimming and most of the track events) just involve covering a set distance as quickly as possible. Michael Johnson has a fair claim to being one of the greatest track athletes of all time, and he modelled his running style on that of an ostrich. His coaches told him it wouldn’t work, but he refused to listen (his training partners had to tell him he had gone a bit far when he started burying his head in the long jump pit mind you).

So rack your brain, loyal reader, and post a suggestion – be it pole-vaulting with a pole twice as long as the ones the experts use, or paying homage to Dick Fosbury by running the hundred metres backwards – all suggestions will be heard. And then roundly mocked, no doubt.


Anonymous said...

A 10m platform dive in the style of the John Smith 'Running Bomb'?

Statue John said...

Hmmmm, its a bit tricky when you put your mind to it. I'm sure you could make a better effort at many events while wearing some of those shoes with built in roller skates...

Reading this article this morning it would appear that cheating may be the only way to get that elusive world record!

Anonymous said...

As always, I have to relate these things to the sport I know best - basketball.

In the 1970s, a future NBA Hall of Famer called Rick Barry developed a free throw shooting technique that worked so well that he set numerous records with his immense accuracy using his new technique. See picture: http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nba/goldst/BarryGSW.jpg

Surely, then, the rest of the world's basketball players would copy this legendary new technique?

Well, erm, no, because he looked like a big lanky fairy. In a world where image is apparently everything, the underarm free throw just didn't catch on, despite it's obvious advantages.

So, Mr McClure, upon undertaking your Olympic basketball training, may I suggest you resurrect Rick Barry's technique? If you can hit 90% of your free throws I'm sure there's a damn good chance you'll represent us at the next Olympic games. Worth a try anyway.


John said...

"Big lanky fairy" sounds about right, regardless of how I execute my free throws.

Poll Star said...

Big Lanky Fairy indeed. Anyway, glad to see you're back. Crash Bang Wallop was on top for so long that I gave up looking for new posts, so have just had 4 new blogs to keep me busy (well out of the Kitchen, where statue John is cooking pies-result).

John said...

Which brings up a second option for getting to the Olympics - invent a sport that you are particularly good at but that also attains sufficient popularity to end up being included in the Olympic programme. In this instance, were Statue John able to convince the good people at the IOC that the cooking of pies should be an Olympic event, he would also undoubtedly be the captain of the British team.

John said...

Any leftovers? I might pop up.

Amateur said...

Yes, inventing a sport is a good way to go. I would suggest a winter sport, since the path to Olympic status is a lot easier.

Another approach: think technology.

Statue John said...

Am afraid there aren't any leftovers. This time, it would certainly appear that Statue John and Pollstar ate all the pies. Apologies for that.

dora hest said...

I'm not sure of the rules of shot put, but surely roliing a la bowling is goingto be easier?!

John said...

Sadly, Dora, they measure from the point where the shot first hits the ground, not from where it finishes.

On the plus side, someone needs to steal the expression "Rolling a la Bowling" and use it as an album title. Nice work!