birdienl: (Winter)

The Olympic Games have finished, unfortunately. But what memories were made! And what history was written!

For us Dutchies: a record haul of 24 medals and a number 5 in the medal count! The highest number of medals won by one country in one sport ever! But also: our countries first ever shorttrack skating medal, the first time we ever won gold at the Men's 500 meter speed skating, our highest ranking ever at bob sledding. And, just as important: many beautiful stories about (almost) giving up and then starting again, about family and friends, about the sheer force of human willpower.

For everyone: two weeks to enjoy great sports (some very familiar, some you've never seen before) and getting to know wonderful people. Two weeks to learn from the athletes determination, to share in their joy or their disappointment. Two weeks in which the world felt smaller than usual :-)

Sotsji 2014: Thank you, I had a blast!
birdienl: (Winter)
While the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896, it wasn't until 1924 that the first edition of the Winter Olympics was held in Chamonix in France, at the foot of Mont Blanc. Winter sports had been a part of the 'normal' Olympic Games on and of before they got their own special event. Alternatively, there were the Nordic Games, held for the first time in 1901 and then every four years afterwards, but these were very much a Swedish affair.

Because of the difficulty of hosting winter sports at the 'normal' Olympics held during the summer, the IOC asked of the Olympic host country of 1924, France, to organize a separate 'Winter Sports week' in the same year. This proved to be a great success, as over 250 athletes from 16 different countries competed. Finland and Norway won 28 medals, more than all the other countries combined... The 9 sports practiced during this first Winter Olympics were ice hockey, speed skating, figure skating, curling, bobsleigh, ski jumping, cross-country skiing, Nordic combined and military patrol (a predecessor to the current biathlon).

The IOC did not yet call this 'Winter Sports week' the first Winter Olympics until retrospectively. In 1925, they decided to make the Winter Olympics separate from the Summer edition and designated Chamonix, 1924 as the first Winter Olympics.

Also: check out this really funny interview in which one of our Dutch speedskating coaches has a lively discussion about Olympic success on American TV! (I don't necessarily agree with everything he says, but I do like to see how passionately he defends The Netherlands and the Dutch sports system)

birdienl: (Winter)
You might have heard that at the Olympics this weekend, the Dutchies won no less than 4 speed skating medals (gold, silver AND bronze at the men's 5 km and gold at the women's 3 km). So some skating related information seemed like an apt topic for this meme.

Archeological evidence has proven that people already tried to cross frozen surfaces by skating in the prehistoric era. In many areas of Europe sharpened bones were found, thought to be from around 3000 BC. These bones, often from horses or deer, were punctured and strapped to the feet with tendons or leather strips. In this way, people could glide across the ice, although they also often used a stick to move themselves forward. These types of skates were used until as late as the 1700s.

'Real' skates with iron blades were probably made for the first time around 1200 in what is now The Netherlands or Belgium. The oldest pair ever found dates from 1225, from the Dutch city of Dordrecht, but drawings of people skating point to an earlier invention of skates with a steel blade.

birdienl: (Tea answer)
A wonderfully entertaining two weeks have ended. London 2012 is over. This amazing event deserves a recap post.

Therefore; thank you Olympic Games for making the world seem very small and very peaceful for two weeks.
Thank you for (at least in The Netherlands) relieving us for two weeks from squabbling politicians. 

Thank you Dutch medal winners for making us proud and ending our slightly disappointing sporting summer on a very positive tone. 
Thank you all the Dutch athletes for giving your best and letting us share in your passion for sports which we often know very little about.

Thank you every Olympic athlete for letting us share in your amazing achievements and emotional moments.
Thank you London for giving us two fabulous shows, the opening and closing ceremony, which enclosed two weeks that I for one enjoyed very very much!

birdienl: (Default)
Some of you might have heard that Zara Philips, granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth, competed in the 2012 Olympics. She even won a medal silver medal with the Eventing team! She was however not the only royal taking part in this Olympics. Also in the equestrian sport Prince Abdullah Al Saud competes for Saudi Arabia. He also took a medal,  with the Jumping team they won bronze.

There have been royal Olympic participants in previous Olympic Games as well. Zara Philip's mother Princess Anne took part in the 1976 Olympics as part of the Eventing team. Prince Albert of Monaco has been taking part as a bobsled athlete from the Calgary 1988 to the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympics.

Somewhat farther back, Prince Constantine, later to become the last King of Greece, took a gold medal in sailing in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. Also a sailing athlete was the current King Harald of Norway, who took part in the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympics. In this way, he was following in the footsteps of his father King Olav V of Norway, who sailed during the 1928 Olympic Games. 

And the first royal to take part in the modern Olympics (as far as I've been able to find), was Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia, who competed in the 1912 Olympics, taking part in the Jumping event of Equestrian sports and winning a bronze medal with the German team.

I think in general you can say these royals do quite well during the Olympics!

Prince Abdullah Al Saud

birdienl: (Default)
During the first modern Olympics in 1896, the athletes competed in 10 sports. Since then, many sports have come and gone and in 2012, 26 sports are part of the program. In order for a sport to be included in the list of the Summer Olympics, the current rules are it must be widely practiced in at least 75 countries, across at least four continents. 

Golf was an Olympic sport in 1900 and 1904 and will be reinstated as such during the 2016 Olympic Games. Baseball and softball were Olympic sports from respectively '92 and '96 until the Beijing Games of 2008, but were then excluded. A few sports were just played during one version of the Games, such as criquet (1900), croquet (1900) and jeu de paume (1908, sort of cousin of tennis). Tug-of-war was played from 1900 to 1920 and was considered a part of the athletics programme. The idea of this sport is to pit two teams against each other in a test of strength by pulling a rope and trying to pull the other party over a pre-determined line. 

Some strange events were also ones part of the Olympic swimming competition, such as obstacle swimming, underwater swimming and team swimming. The same goes for athletics, where people once gained medals in standing long jump, standing high jump and throwing with 56 pounds weight (of the sort still used in the Highland Games)

birdienl: (Default)
As you know the Olympic Games started yesterday in London. I love the Olympics! I'm still full of the epicness which was the opening ceremony yesterday evening. I caught the Olympics virus in 2000, when I had to make a report about the Sydney Olympics for PE. For the first time I then realized that this event was about so much more than just sports and since then I watch every Olympics with a lot of attention.

I wanted to dedicate the 100 things challenge to facts about the Olympics for the coming 2-3 weeks. all say: please no, I've heard more than enough about the Olympics already. Well, for today an Olympic fact anyway ;-)

If you've watched the opening ceremony yesterday, you might have noticed a group of athletes entering under the banner Independent Olympic participants. These are athletes belonging to a country which has not yet been recognized by the IOC. In 1992 athletes competed under this name for the first time. At that time, these were athletes from Macedonia (because their NOC had not been formed yet) and Yugoslavia (because the country was under United Nations sanctions). Three athletes won medals, all in shooting.

In 2000, four athletes from East Timor competed as Independent Olympic participants and this Olympics, the Olympic flag will be worn by athletes from the former Netherland Antilles (as the territory was dissolved) and South Sudan (as the country does not have a NOC yet). 

birdienl: (Default)
At the moment, two people in my f-list are doing the 30-day movie meme, so I thought, let's be very unoriginal and start it as well... Hope you'll like my movie talk for the coming month.

But first things first, let's end World Cup 2010 on a positive note:

I didn't want to spend a post on the fact that the Dutch team lost the final. But today, it was a day full of celebration for them. First a visit to the Prime-minister, next the Queen (see picture, don't they look adorable in their suits?), next to Amsterdam, where a boat-trip down the canals was followed by a big celebration on the Museumplein. It was wonderful to see the joy gradually coming back on the faces of the boys during the day, wonderful to see their pleasure at all the Dutch people who came to thanks them for what they've achieved in South-Africa!
Day 1: Your favourite foreign movie )

Oh yes!

Jul. 6th, 2010 11:20 pm
birdienl: (Default)

We made it: the finals of World Championships 2010! What an achievement!

Congratulations coach Van Marwijk, scoring players Van Bronckhorst, Sneijder and Robben and ofcourse the rest of our great team!!
Looking forward to Sunday. Let's write history!!!

birdienl: (Default)
Nicolien Sauerbreij, Dutch competitor in the Snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom, just won a gold medal! This is her first Olympic medal and the first Olympic medal for The Netherlands in a snow sport. Usually, we only win on speed skating medals, so this is huge news, but also hugely deserved for Nicolien. The 30-year old athlete competed in two previous Olympic Games, but never raced beyond the quarter finals. But today, everything went well, despite the terrible weather conditions at Cypress Mountain. Nicolien Sauerbreij was the best!

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