One-Minute Book Reviews

August 21, 2008

Australia Was the Best Modern Olympic Host (Quote of the Day / ‘The Olympic Games’)

Filed under: Nonfiction,Quotes of the Day,Sports — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 10:43 pm
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If the International Olympic Committee gave awards for hosting the summer games of the past quarter century, China would deserve the booby prize for embarrassments that began with lip sync-ing at the opening ceremony and keep unfolding. What country was the best recent host? The editors of The Olympic Games: Athens 1896–Athens 2004 (DK, 2004) vote for Australia:

“The Sydney 2000 Games were one of the greatest success stories in Olympic history. Over 10,000 athletes from 200 countries delivered the ultimate sporting even in a suberb venue.

“At the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Games, outgoing president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Juan Antonio Samaranch declared to the host nation, ‘I am proud and happy to proclaim that you have presented to the world the best Olympic Games ever.’ Quite a plaudit, but one few would argue with. Everything seemed perfect – the organization, the athletic performance, the setting, the climate …

“The only blot on the Sydney Games was the rash of athletes removed after failing drugs tests – a record total of 35. However, it is undeniable that the Sydney Games were the high watermark of the modern Olympics, and something that future Olympic hosts will have to live up to.”

This comment comes from a publisher that, though well-respected, is based in London www.dk.com. Do you agree with the editors? Or do you think their comments show a Commonwealth bias?

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

August 19, 2008

What’s the Difference Between Being a World Champion and an Olympic Champion in Your Sport? (Quote of the Day / Steve Redgrave in ‘Athens to Athens’)

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 9:37 pm
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Steve Redgrave of Great Britain was the first person to win gold medals in five successive Olympics, a feat he achieved in men’s rowing events in Los Angeles, Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney. Redgrave has also been a world champion in his sport and compares the two honors in Athens to Athens:

“The Olympic Games are the ultimate challenge. Richard Burnell, himself a gold-medal winner in 1948, said to me after the first time I won in 1984: ‘You’re world champion for one year, you’re Olympic champion for life.’ That sums it up.”

As quoted by David Miller in Athens to Athens: The Official History of the Olympic Games and the IOC, 1894–2004 (Mainstream, 2003). Miller is a former chief sports correspondent of the Times of London. Steve Redgrave’s Web site is www.steveredgrave.com. Richard Burnell won a gold medal in the double sculls with Bert Bushnell.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

August 15, 2008

Why ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is Bad Poetry and Other Literary Thoughts on the Olympics

Random literary thoughts on the Olympics:

1. Michael Phelps’s underwater dolphin kick is sports poetry.

2. NBC should fire the swimming analyst who keeps saying “he has swam” (as in “he has swam much better than this”).

3. The first word of “The Star-Spangled Banner” (“Oh”) is an example of the literary device known as anacrusis, a lead-in syllable or syllables that precede the first full foot.

4. The national anthem is written in anapestic meter, Dr. Seuss’s favorite. (What, you’ve never noticed the similarity between “And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air” and “I meant what I said / and I said what I meant …”?)

5. Why is “The Star-Spangled Banner” bad poetry? Take in the last line: “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” In a good poem, words are not interchangeable. You can’t switch them around with no loss in meaning or effect, because everything in the poem essential. Apart from a rhyme, what would the national anthem lose if Francis Scott Key had written “home of the free and the land of the brave” instead of “the land of the free and the home of the brave”?

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

August 13, 2008

How Do Gymnasts Know When They’re Ready to Do Those Really Scary Routines? (Quote of the Day – Mary Lou Retton via Dave Anderson)

Filed under: News,Nonfiction — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 10:36 am
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How do gymnasts know when they’re ready to do one of those white-knuckle routines we saw last night in the women’s gymnastics final? Mary Lou Retton, who won the gold medal in the women’s all-around at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, once said:

“If you’re a gymnast, someone should be able to sneak up and drag you out of bed at midnight and push you out onto some strange floor, and you should be able to do your entire routine sound asleep in your pajamas. Without one mistake.”

As quoted by Dave Anderson in The Story of the Olympics (Morrow Junior Books, 1996), with a foreword by Carol Lewis. Written by a Pulitzer Prize–winning sportswriter for the New York Times, this excellent introduction to the Olympics for ages 9 and up came out in a revised an expanded edition from HarperCollins in 2000, shown at left.

During the Olympics, One-Minute Book Reviews will post occasional quotes from books that give context to the sports taking center stage in Beijing. These posts will appear in addition to the usual reviews. The quotes are intended partly to guide you to good books that you may want to read during or after the Olympics.

(c) 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

August 12, 2008

Gymnastics Is a ‘Contact Sport’ (Quote of the Day / Jennifer Sey in ‘Chalked Up’)

Filed under: News,Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:37 am
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Jennifer Sey, the 1986 U.S. National Gymnastics Champion, argues in her new memoir Chalked Up that gymnastics is a contact sport:

“In football, it’s another player who crushes, bruises, breaks the athlete. In gymnastics, it’s the floor. Or the beam. Or any piece of unmoving, unforgiving equipment that meets the body on its descent through the air from great heights.”

From Chalked Up: Inside Elite Gymnastics’ Merciless Coaching, Overzealous Parents, Eating Disorders, and Elusive Olympic Dreams (Morrow, 289 pp., $24.95). For more on the book, see Sey’s site www.jennifersey.com and this review www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/06/02. Read an excerpt from Chalked Up here www.jensey.com/excerpt.htm.

[During the Olympics, One-Minute Book Reviews post, in addition to reviews, frequent quotes about marquee events in Beijing. These quotes will generally come from good books about sports. Another comment about women's gymnastics will appear later today.]

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

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