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Olympic Legacy

One of the fencing matches of the Modern Pentathlon at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm. DE MAS LATRIE (France) vs G. PATTON (USA)

Hello and welcome back to the blog everyone, we hope you all had a good summer – we at the blog certainly did, although we’re quietly looking forward to Autumn as it means that the fairer skinned of us (yes, me) won’t have to be constantly reapplying sun cream and feeling sticky (random fact, did you know that white skin evolved in colder climates to allow more sunlight to get into the skin cells and be converted to vitamin D? The upside is that all that lovely vitamin D helps us to not feel so depressed in the winter and helps us to store calcium in our bones, but of course the downside is the constant worry of ending up like a lobster during the summer).

When it comes to this summer, there is one subject that has been on everyone’s lips for months.  The Olympics (you didn’t seriously think that we wouldn’t talk about it here did you?).  It seems the whole country has been swept away with the spectacle of it all and the fantastic success of team GB, and I think a number of us were surprised at how involved we got.  Which is great for a number of reasons.  The first reason is obviously the athletes – being an athlete is a hard job, you work long, antisocial hours for very little reward, recognition and pay and if our society can celebrate these people who really achieve something outstanding, then we at the blog are happy.  The second reason is “legacy”.

The slogan “Inspire a generation” has been thrown around a lot over the past years, but what does it mean? Why would Chris Hoy being a good cyclist or Ellie Simmonds being a good swimmer make you more likely to want to do sport? Well, it’s partly because you look at them and wonder if you could ever be as good (maybe you can!), but I don’t just mean that you’re wondering if you could win the Olympics. In early civilisation a lot more importance was placed on physical skills, if you were fast like Usain Bolt you would be more effective at bringing home dinner, or a good fighter like Nicola Adams you’d be able to protect your land and your family, and that’s before we’ve even mentioned the modern pentathlon (which is a re-enactment of a war), so maybe part of our enthusiasm for the Olympics has been an awakening of what evolution has taught us to admire in each other? At a time when we hear so much about obesity maybe it has been good for us to remember that the human body evolved to be used and is capable of amazing things.

So, dear readers, once and only this once I am going to join in with everyone else and encourage you to get active. If you hate sport at school, that’s OK, so did I (but you still have to go to the classes, I’m not going to ring your teacher for you), but find something else that you do enjoy, look at some of this summers heros and if you see them doing something that looks fun to you, ask your Mum and Dad to find somewhere that you can do it too. It doesn’t matter if you’re not the best, what matters is that you have fun, and get all those lovely endorphins (the happiness hormone) that sport makes the brain release.

End of moral lecture.  Normal service resumes next time 😮


Image from the Official Report of the 1912 Summer Olympics, specific photographer unknown, but was produced by a member of the Swedish press. Sourced from Wikimedia Commons.


Blog post by Linda Seward of Seward Technical Writing, providers of original science content.


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