Monday, August 25, 2008

Owimpians of Poland

No, I don’t have a speech defect: I mean oWIMPians. Polish athletes came home from the Beijing Olympics, a little shame faced, today, bringing with them just 10 medals - three gold, six silver, one bronze. That’s poor. I’ve seen more medals on the chest of an old age pensioner on Remembrance Day.

What a bunch of wimps!

And the statistic of just ten medals gets worse when you consider only two of them came in the proper sports events - the track and field (by “proper sport” I exclude ‘synchronised nose picking’ and the like).

The ’blame game’ started even before the athletes touched down at Warsaw airport. reports:

During the games, Polish athletes, including fencer Sylwia Gruchala and runner Marek Plawgo, said that their poor results in China were due to the ubiquitous irregularities in their respective sports associations, such as alcoholism in the Polish Fencing Association and favouritism in the Track and Field Athletic Association.

Alcoholism in the fencing association? Scary! Can you imagine someone coming at you from the Polish fencing association, dressed all in white with that strange face mask, brandishing a sabre, or whatever, while dangling on the end of a piece of string and at the same time being completely pissed out of their heads!

Surly a few health and safety issues there?

MP’s like Jaroslaw Govin (Krakow, PO) have waded in, repeating the accusations against the sports associations, made by athletes …who failed.

I am sure it is partly to do with funding and a lack of good people to administrate sport. Blah! But that can be said for administrations in Poland, generally. Maybe, however, what Polish athletes really lack is the balls to win - even the synchronised beach billiards squad could do with those.


Anonymous said...

Lets not get carried away with this until we can review some serious data. In all fairness would medals per population represent the measure of performance? The key to stellar performance at the Olympics is based on a number of factors. Some of these factors being:

-competent administration of the various sports organizations
-funding i.e. deep pockets lots of money
-a scouting program to identify the best talent in the population
-a population base large enough to provide the raw material
-a national commitment to bringing home the medals

I don’t think any of these fundamentals are in great shape in Poland.

After I looked at the numbers, with respect to the population base. Considering the performance of the top ten countries. Polish efforts weren’t even close to get into that league; a 300% improvement would be in order. However looking at Poland in a broader picture it still under preformed in it population group unless you consider some of the third world countries in that group.

Sausage is not a health food!

beatroot said...

Why can't Poland organise infrastructure needed for sport to develop? Why can the Ukraine even do it better? Etc?

Why can Serbia do it even better? It's not about population size. The Great Britain team were fourth in the medal table with a medium population. GB got the usual bounce nation's get when they are going to stage the next Olympics. So its about psychology, national character...that kind of thing.

In other words: balls.

Anonymous said...

Well we all know that that given the Polish football team (the only sport that really matters)got into the EuroCup finals, Poles still have bigger balls than Brits.

WTF cares who won more medals in sports like badminton, fencing, baseball, the balance beam and the like?

Anonymous said...

beatroot you’ve asked good questions and a proper response means we have to look at a painful truth. The problem rests with an under developed civil society. You can build new hotels, suspension bridges and factories but you cannot recover at the same rate, your human capital. We lost the best of our society in the first half of the last century and have had but 20 years to recover; the process will take decades if such time will be available to us. You make a comparison to Britain a country with centuries of uninterrupted development in its civil society.

I have watched this closely with the pre-39 Poles, the post 39 Poles and now the post 89 Poles, the cultural differences are huge.

This is still a country in recovery.

beatroot said...

the civil society thing is it, jan. And that problem causes lots of other problems more serious than sport. It's a problem in most post-communist countries. I suppose why it appears worse here is the partitions etc?

Geeza! Yo! I would argue that GB - especially the England football team - have very very small balls but a very big bank balance. That can't be right, can it?

Unknown said...

Now if you would count golds per inhabitant (diagram), the worlds average is 0.045 gold medals per million people. Coincidently this is almost exactly China's result. Poland, at almost 0.08 is a bit better. GB ends up on 15th place in the list and Jamaica is by far the best.

However, you can of course instead argue that a rich country has more to spend on sports. In that case (diagram) both GB and Poland are rather average nations whereas mismanaged Zim is in the lead. The US, naturally, is found towards the end of the list.

No matter how you count India, with a billion inhabitants and one measly gold medal, is the worst. There's no getting around it: India is crap at (Olympic) sports!

Of course the result in the Olympics is very much a combination of many factors like culture, money, cronyism and not the least, luck. The whole blame game is more than a bit silly since every nation expects to actually win all the medals they even have a remote chance of reaching.

This was a brief version of a recent post of mine (in Swedish). And don't get me started about our results....

Anonymous said...

and why bother :) olympia medals won't fill my stomach :) who needs golden medals to survive (i mean those won by some strangers who just share your nationality) - it is enough from my point of view that the system is mostly enough for people who want to be the best (or among the best) in the world in some sport (and they really want it and are ready to sacrifice other things) - which means opportutiny seems to be mostly there for those who really want

beatroot said...

mjn - great stuff!

anon - but look, you can;t eat a van Gough painting but are suggesting the world would be a better place without them? the thing about food is that is just a necessity. We are not animals - we need more nourishment than bread and water.

Anonymous said...

Again, who cares about medals in power walking, silly walking, badminton, goodminton and about 100 other competitions?

Is a gold medal in badminton equivalent to a gold medal in one of the swimming events?

So even as good an attempt at balancing things out as MJN's effort still doesn't include consideration of such equivalences.

beatroot said...

Is a gold medal in badminton equivalent to a gold medal in one of the swimming events?

Is 8 gold in swimming worth one 100 meter Bolt gold? I would aay not.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...” olympia medals won't fill my stomach :) who needs golden medals to survive”

Getting a job will !

Anonymous said...

ge'ez said... “Is a gold medal in badminton equivalent to a gold medal in one of the swimming events? “

Forget that, those sports pale in comparison to Women’s Beach Volley Ball a great but under-rated sport.

Unknown said...

ge'ez said: "So even as good an attempt at balancing things out as MJN's effort still doesn't include consideration of such equivalences."

What I tried to say in the last paragraph was of course that there is no simple way of analysing the medal distribution that takes all relevant factors into account.

In the end, if someone gets a medal or not is often decided by chance, a bad call by a ref or a slight mistake at crucial point in an otherwise flawless performance. The games, like handball or badminton, where you compete in a series of longer matches are in this respect more forgiving than a one-off event with tiny margins, like gymnastics or the 100m dash.

Just look at the fact that no matter how superior a pole vaulter (e.g. Bubka in his heydays) is he can never take more than one medal.

And Bolt definitely is the king of the Beijing Olympics!

Anonymous said...

Once every thousand light years, 57 and I agree.

Thumbs up to women's beach volleyball!

beatroot said...

Women's Beech Volleyball has all the ingredients for the perve sports lover. Women in swim wear...jumping about...and as they give signals to the server behind their back, the camera gets a chance to zoom in on their buttocks!

I mean...instead of Pole vault ín the Olympics why don't we have Pole dancing? Beach pole dancing...synchronised...

Anonymous said...

You mean you only watch women's beach volleyball for the sport of it, BR? C'mon!

As for Pole dancing, that's always been a bit too blatant and/or outright silly for my tastes.

beakerkin said...


You should have entered the Gin drinking event.

The Olympics are a bore.

Then again in the current era with niche programing it remains one of the few events that can gain a mass
audience. The days where every one watched a common show like a MASH or even a Seinfeld are over.

beatroot said...

You should have entered the Gin drinking event.


I don't drink gin.

Anonymous said...

"Just look at the fact that no matter how superior a pole vaulter (e.g. Bubka in his heydays) is he can never take more than one medal."

Actually I once meet Bubka. I said "Are you a Pole vaulter"

He replied

"No, I'm Ukrainian and my name's not Walter" .....

beatroot said...

boom boom!

Anonymous said...

scouting program in poland is horrible they don't even have a web site!!!! A lot of scools their probably don't have tracks