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Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Hidden Face of an Angel

It took maybe two full days before the news came out.

And another 30 minutes for me to tire of all the umbrage.

If you haven't heard the news, Lin Miaoke - that cute little girl from the opening ceremonies - was not really singing (well, she was but you couldn't hear her). That privilege went to Yang Peiyi, the winner of a national contest, who was being boomed over the loud speaker and drowning out Ms. Lin's tiny voice. Ms. Yang, unfortunately, had the misfortune of being the winner but not being 'pretty' enough to represent her country. So they recorded her voice and put a prettier little girl out there in her place.

And, frankly, that doesn't surprise me.

What has raised my eyebrows though is the weak-kneed, slack-jawed, 'holier-than-thou' reaction from the media.

Here in North America, we live in a society where almost every magazine cover we see is a lie, where the news itself has been shown (repeatedly) to be a carefully selected window into what someone else thinks is worthy of air time.

And yet when someone else follows in our footsteps, well don't them knees get all knobbly.

China, like any country who has the eye of the world entirely on them, wanted to show you the best side of themselves. Like any man or woman on a first date or any person out there looking for a job, you're going to put the best of 'you' out there. Granted, China's got a lot to try and hide - Human rights abuses, horrible pollution record, etc. - but it's not like they're the only one, just the most noticible example (see 'eyes of the world' comment above).

And it's not like we're exactly innocent ourselves *cough* Oil Sands (Canada), Yucca Mountain (US) *cough*.

Now, I'm not defending China - I'm laughing at all of us who're pointing crooked fingers at them with disdain.

To hear some of the comments, the righteous indignation that these newscasters have (let alone the General Public... ugh) THAT's something to be ashamed of.

Since we're on the subject, while everyone is currently fawning all over Michael Phelps (and his eating habits), can I just say that no, he's not the fastest swimmer in the world.

He's a fast swimmer in a great suit, a suit which some have called "technological doping".

How would he fare without it? Well, let's just say there's a reason them World Records are dropping like flies. And that's the trick: The human body, shorn hairless and trained to perfection can only go so fast. No matter how good you are, the water itself holds you back. That's what makes swimming hard.

So, how do you fix that problem?

You take away the water.

Here's my favourite bit from the LZR Razor press release:

"Speedo has harnessed the expertise of the United States space agency NASA amongst a number of international research institutes to create a faster suit which has 10% less passive drag* than Speedo’s FASTSKIN FSII launched in 2004 and 5% less passive drag* than Speedo FS-PRO, which was launched in March 2007 and has seen swimmers break 21 World records as a result.

The LZR RACER’s unique design also provides swimmers with up to 5% more efficiency** in terms of their Oxygen intake, enabling them to swim stronger for longer. “It makes it easier to swim faster,” says Rick Sharp, Exercise Physiologist, Iowa State University"


So, instantly, any country that can't afford a LZR (you know, most of them) is out of the running. And then add in the fact that anyone who emptied the piggybank for an earlier version is still fighting 15% harder against things like passive drag, AND isn't getting the benefit of having their lungs being held in an 'optimal' position. That's 5% less air you're able to suck down while competing in the one event you've been training the last 18 - 20 years of your life for.

And that's the thing. If it was 'just a race' it wouldn't be a problem, but these athletes have spent, in some cases, decades preparing for this. They (yes, all of them) have sacrificed and put themselves through insane schedules and dieting routines that you or I would never even consider. They've trained and been injured and endured; they've worked and struggled and suffered - for YEARS. All so they can run or jump or race against the rest of the world and LOSE by .01 of a second.

Which, again, would be fine if you were REALLY racing that person and not their corset.

Bringing it back to square one: I just want to say that I love how the media loses it's shit because China put on its best face for it's visitors while glorifying a man who, as far as we can reasonably tell, only won because he didn't have to swim as hard to get the same result.

Here's a deal: Let's take the final 8, throw'em in a pool naked, blur out their naughty bits and let them race. If he still wins, then hey, good on him - at least he can honestly say he is the fastest swimmer in the world.

Tho' between you and me, that Frenchman and that Chinese guy looked like they were pretty hot on his heels.

Just sayin'.


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