Archive for category sports

Unimaginable Unbelievable Athletic Accomplishments

The People are Awesome series shows amazing physical stunts. Mind-boggling. Check out its website.

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Ping Pong Kids

mini ping pong

I was teaching my seven-year-old grandson how to play ping pong using a mini version of small paddles and teeny tiny net. Lots of fun. A few days later, I sent him some videos of kids practicing the game in Asia. I wish I could hit as well and consistently as these children…

Jason Brown Knocks Us Out

Never heard of Jason Brown until I read this article.

The writing by Patricia Lockwood is a bit over the top, but it sure expresses enthusiasm that’s rare:

Suddenly, here come the goose bumps. The elasticity of his Russian splits belongs to ballet; his flexibility is less like rubber bands than ribbons. His spins are so beautiful that they look as if they might at any moment exit his body completely and go floating off like the flowers in “Fantasia.” And running alongside the joy is something grave, which seems to me to be respect for the gift.

The audience begins to clap as well as its overwhelming Caucasity will allow. “He’s got ’em,” the longtime commentator and Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton exclaims as the fiddle picks up. At other points, onlookers burst into the spontaneous laughter of babies. I love that laughter. It happens when the viewers overlap so completely with the athlete, with one another, that they don’t know where their own bodies end anymore. We watch sports for these moments. They’re why, every two years, the planet stops spinning and everyone turns their eyes to the spectacle of the Olympics.

This ice skater is extraordinary. He is exciting and memorable. Goose bumps.

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The Great Islay Swim

Chad gets a drink

You never really “know” people or what they are thinking. So it’s easy to be amazed, when you find out new facts about someone.

I was blown away the other day after finally reaching Chad Anderson. My calls for a week were not returned, and I hoped this new business acquaintance was okay. He calmly informed me that he had been unable to call back, because he was swimming around the wild coast of the Isle of Islay, one of the Inner Hebrides islands of western Scotland. This was a 100 kilometer swim (62 miles), and it took him and two other adventurers seven days to become the first hardy guys to achieve this distinction.

I have spent two weeks myself in the Outer Hebrides islands, and visited Scotland a number of times. So I can easily imagine how rough those seas and shores are. Plus the weather isn’t ever sunny like a Caribbean paradise. Islay has the Atlantic Ocean to its west and is as far north as Newfoundland. It’s often cold, windy and rainy. This swim sounds daunting.

Battling the Waves

If you check out some of the videos on this facebook link, you will be blown away (literally) by what you see and hear.

There is also an article that describes benefits to a local charity. There are eight whiskey distilleries on the island, and as the swimmers passed nearby, each distillery contributed some spirits to a single oak cask that will marry the blend for months until it’s bottled and sold. Some of the proceeds will go to the Royal National Lifeboat Institute.

Fighting all the way

The photos give you a sense of the challenges faced and overcome: rain, 35 mph winds, 12 foot waves. I am awed…but now read this post from the fb page:

Ok stage 5 was a 4 hr gamble, the forecast for tomorrow was not good at all 35 mph westerly left the north stage of the journey (a key part) not being possible, BUT there was a wee wee window of 4 hrs late this afternoon, yes a big gamble but the boys agreed to give it a go with the help of Peter and Steve in the canoe and Harold on the boat. The guys set off south of Nave island, and as the weather had it, we had a weather window. the swell was 12 ft the tide 2 knots with the wind and tide going the same way, the boys nailed it. I must admit I have the utmost respect for all 3 of them. they are true athletes and have earned the respect of doing this challenge. A cracking day and well done lads.

Islay shore

Three badass swimmers lagoon relaxing after the second day at sea

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Extreme Treadmill Exercise Styles

This guy has a goal to reach a running speed of 24 mph. For months, he has been consistently training to reach his goal. He slowly walked up the top of the treadmill and began running as fast as he could reaching 23.5 mph. He didn’t quite reach his goal leaving him frustrated but he was a step closer.

This man has a different take on extreme exercise: relax…life is short…

WHICH ONE DO YOU PREFER?

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Humbled Again

I have been playing a lot of tennis…for ME. During the summer, I was on the court 4-5 times a week. Sometimes twice in one day. That’s doubles, two hours at a time…so 8-10 hours.

Then I learned that one of the men I play with had a week of 14 matches, two times each day…a total of 25 hours. I think he is around my age. What a guy.

Don’t think I will ever play that much this time around. Now if I come back as a super jock…

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2017 Extreme Sports Compilation

We have seen some of these video shots before. But there are some breathtaking clips that are not common, from around 4:14 to 5:36 that I found scary and incomprehensible. Clearly these are NOT ordinary people. I really can’t relate to their mentality.

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I Have A Trick

Here is a clever solution to improving at sports that I believe is transferable to all of one’s life. I complained to Greg Reiss about my weak tennis backhand. Greg coaches squash and tennis at Millbrook School in upstate New York.

When we met for a lesson, he said that he had a trick for dealing with my problem. Instead of focusing on the poor backhand, he would work on my much stronger forehand. He told me to move a step to the left, when I was receiving serves, so that I could have more chances of using my forehand. He said to give up on a hard topspin backhand, which I couldn’t do, and only hit a backhand lob, which I could do. He said to focus on my strengths, instead of debilitating attempts to master a stroke that continued to elude me.

And it worked. I felt better about my game, odds of winning points, self confidence. Maybe if I weren’t so old and coming so late to the game, Greg would have given me different suggestions. But this was sound advice at my stage of learning.

Clearly this can be applied to everyday life. You just have to know what your strengths and weaknesses are. You might have to accept that you are good at speaking, but not at fixing car engines. You need to know yourself and pursue those paths that mesh with your skills.

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Would You Jump From 33 Feet Or Chicken Out?

Would you jump?

https://www.nytimes.com/video/opinion/100000004882589/ten-meter-tower.html

This psychological experiment shows people confronting their fears of height and injury. Paid just $30 to participate, only 30% of the 67 subjects chickened out. Amazing to me that so many actually jumped. Very amusing to watch scared people reason with themselves out loud and make their eventual choices. What would you do?

Growing up in Florida and working at hotels during high school, I was proficient at diving off a three-meter board (10 feet) and doing somersaults and other tricks. I can’t recall if I ever jumped from a higher platform. I did parachute jump out of airplanes at 1250 feet in the army, when I was 21. Not sure what I would do today. Below is the NY Times article that explains all.

Our objective in making this film was something of a psychology experiment: We sought to capture people facing a difficult situation, to make a portrait of humans in doubt. We’ve all seen actors playing doubt in fiction films, but we have few true images of the feeling in documentaries. To make them, we decided to put people in a situation powerful enough not to need any classic narrative framework. A high dive seemed like the perfect scenario.

Through an online advertisement, we found 67 people who had never been on a 10-meter (about 33 feet) diving tower before, and had never jumped from that high. We paid each of them the equivalent of about $30 to participate — which meant climbing up to the diving board and walking to its edge. We were as interested in the people who decided to climb back down as the ones jumping.

We filmed it all with six cameras and several microphones. It was important for us not to conceal the fact that this was an arranged situation, and thus we chose to show the microphones within the frame. Ultimately, about 70 percent of those who climbed did jump. We noticed that the presence of the camera as well as the social pressure (from those awaiting their turn beside the pool) pushed some of the participants to jump, which made their behavior even more interesting.

In our films, which we often call studies, we want to portray human behavior, rather than tell our own stories about it. We hope the result is a series of meaningful references, in the form of moving images. “Ten Meter Tower” may take place in Sweden, but we think it elucidates something essentially human, that transcends culture and origins. Overcoming our most cautious impulses with bravery unites all humankind. It’s something that has shaped us through the ages.

‘Ten Meter Tower’ appeared at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. It is part of a series produced by independent filmmakers who have received support from the nonprofit Sundance Institute.

Maximilien Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson are documentary filmmakers based in Gothenburg, Sweden, who have worked together since 2013.

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2016 GoPro Best Extreme Sports Clips Compilation

Made it to the local ski slopes this month for the first time in three years. I was never a natural growing up in Florida, so it was a treat to watch my 27-year-old daughter and my 6-year-old grandson learn to snowboard. I stuck to skis. So beautiful to watch the fluid motion across snow. And then I bumped into this GoPro video of all kinds of sports in addition to those on snow. Magnificent. It does make me wish I were younger and could easily learn how to do some of these without big body risk.

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Humans Are Amazing

I am awed…by the talent above and the unusual tennis serve techniques below:

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Backwards Running?

This video shows Aaron Yoder setting a Guiness World Record for running the mile backwards! He did it in just under six minutes. Aaron explains the sport and how he got into it here . Below are some excerpts from his article.

…running backward is just fun. One of the biggest rushes I’ve ever gotten in life is when I’m running backward in complete darkness and going downhill. Your awareness is so high because you can’t see a thing.

I’ve been running — first forward, now backward — my whole life…I didn’t slow down until I’d been working at Bethany College as a track coach for seven years. It got to the point where my knees felt like they were grinding whenever I ran. Three years ago, my doctor told me, “You should never run again.” While I ignored him, I was in a lot of pain and started to wonder, What am I gaining from this?

That’s when I had an epiphany. It was as if a voice said to me, “Just turn it around and make good of the bad.” I decided then and there that I was only gonna run backward for six weeks, and see how it went.

I didn’t change anything else about my training — just the direction I faced. I’d do a speed day. I’d do a hill day. I’d do a tempo day. I’d do a distance day. I’d do an acceleration day. All backward. After six weeks, my body and mind felt so much better.

A few months later, I traveled to Essen, Germany, for the International Retro Running World Championship, the Olympics of backward running. I’d never raced backward around a track before, but I quickly discovered that it’s the opposite of racing forward in some ways. When you’re running forward it’s an advantage to be right behind the leader so you know when to start making your move — because if you’re out in front you don’t know where everyone’s at. But in backward running, the best position to be in is the front. That way you can see where everyone is. The sprints, though, can be difficult because you’ve gotta worry about staying in your lane, which is hard when you’re going around turns.

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Surfcasting In Nantucket

I caught one!

I caught one!

We spent a week in Nantucket in early October. Not too many folks around then, and I finally realized my dream of having a go at surfcasting. The first afternoon attempt was a complete bust. The inn provided an experienced guide at no cost who let the air out of his tires to 15 pounds and drove us on the sand. Nada for two hours. But I never give up.

Two days later I tried again, and this time I hooked five and landed three. Of course I wanted to eat them, but Captain Rob preferred to throw them back. It was very exciting to reel them in with the cold water crashing around and the nearby seals waiting to steal my hooked fish. I’m not much of a fishing enthusiast, but this was definitely a thrill.

And I didn’t mind at all that my guide knew where and when to go, what kind of pole and lure. I felt very satisfied and proud.

not too crowded

not too crowded

When I was actively turkey hunting with a shotgun, I use to make fun of those who hired a guide to take the hunters to exactly the right place, do the calling, bring the bird into easy shotgun range and then pat the client on the back when it was time to take a shot. I was doing everything myself: the scouting, locating the roosts, knowing when to arrive in position, calling after watching videos and hearing the hens in the woods. A long and challenging process.

But a few-days-a-year visitor to the ocean or the woods is handicapped. Can’t learn all it takes. Guides are good. I accept my limitations and have more respect for my colleagues from out of state. It was great fun, and much better when I caught fish, even if I had Captain Rob’s help.

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Danny Macaskill Cycles Through Spectacular Scotland

His trick biking moves are always a delight to watch and admire. But the video above is truly extra-ordinary–for the danger and the scenery. Over 45 million youtube views.

I am especially appreciative having recently borrowed a 3-speed bike in Nantucket and struggled unhappily against the slight inclines and the brisk 17-mph winds. My puny 13-mile, 3-hour trip was a major effort that took all my fortitude NOT to hitch a ride back from friends in a car who offered. And I was really shamed by a buddy who received my whining texts and wrote back unsympathetically, “Gosh Ira, you just rode a bike, not trek to the North Pole.”

Here is another, more recent Macaskill video. I have more of them on this site.

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Some Of These Tricks May Be Real!

Even if this is all doctored, which I don’t think is the case, these stunts are very entertaining…amazing what people can do…even if it took them hundreds of tries to succeed!

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Rafaela Silva Rises From Slum To Olympics Gold

Perhaps you have heard of Rafaela…she just won the women’s gold medal in Judo. Her rise is a great achievement worth appreciating, and this 2014 video spells it out beautifully.

Her story is outstanding: raised in the City of God favela (shanty town or slum), she played and fought in the streets. She was always in trouble. But at age eight, her father took her to a local judo academy, and her coach saw her talent and cultivated it. He said she was used to seeing crime, drug dealers, dead bodies. She knew that the struggle in the dojo (training gym) was nothing compared to that.

She became so good that she competed in the 2012 Olympics in London. But she was disqualified there for using a leg move that had recently been declared illegal. She almost considered quitting judo after that…and the racist words hurled at her. But her judo friends and coaches supported her and encouraged her to stay with it…then she became the world champion in 2013 and the Olympic champion in 2016.

Lots of young people want to follow her and be like her. Silva tells them to be themselves and follow their own dream. Good advice.

Another great part of this story involves the gym she went to that was founded in 2003 by Flavio Canto, who won a bronze medal in men’s judo at the 2004 Olympics. He was a Brazilian who had grown up partly in England and the US and saw the extremes of rich and poor in Rio and wanted to do something about it. So he offered free judo classes to kids from the favelas. He saw that the discipline and achievements in the dojo led to improved performance, values and attitudes in all the rest of the kids’ lives. In school and at home, judo’s teachings of bravery, determination and humility were transforming the kids. They were improving and bettering themselves. Canto’s dojos are in five different favelas catering to around 1000 students.

“In life we always seek for an activity that makes you complete. Until then my life was all about judo and the Olympic dream. When the Instituto Reação came into my life I found a new way, which made me feel accomplished. This social project prepared me to leave the competition behind. In my last years as an athlete I no longer felt so motivating to have results and winning medals. I knew within me was born a desire to do more important and relevant things,” said Flávio.

“When this project started I began to live the reality of the slums and that shocked me a lot. I realized that there were generations getting lost to violence, in the drug dealing war. It was common to see young boys of all ages carrying weapons very close to our academy here in Rocinha. I still wasn’t sure if my intention of bringing sport and education (literacy) closer to these kids could work,” he explains.

There is no doubt about it now. He certainly has made a difference way beyond discovering and training an Olympics gold medalist.

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Understanding Fencing

This is very helpful.

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Life-Threatening Hobby Taking Pictures Of Lava

Kawika Singson is a Hawaiian-born “lava-enthusiast” photographer who risks his life to take close-up photos of flowing lava. He walks on mostly-cooled, but still very hot, surfaces to take his pictures.

The video above shows him running through the lava field. Singson’s run through the lava is just one part of his seven-mile hike that leads to the active flow. He usually starts his journey at night, so he can clearly see the orange glow of the lava beneath him.

His decades of lava running and living on Hawaii has made him an expert in this extremely dangerous and niche hobby that most people should never try, as Singson is at pains to point out.

Kawika Singson takes a lava picture

Kawika Singson takes a lava picture

I definitely feel that this athletic, life-threatening achievement is definitely worthy of applause and admiration. It may not be as highly skilled as traditional sports competitions, but it is a lot more unique and memorable than many of them.

You can read more about him here . And you can also see more of his videos here

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Luke Aikins Jumps From 25,000 feet With No Parachute

On July 30, 2016, Luke Aikins, age 42, became the first person ever to attempt a skydive with neither a parachute nor a wingsuit, and this feat was broadcast live on Fox.

Mr. Aikins began his dive at an altitude of 25,000 feet, just 4,000 feet short of the summit of Mount Everest. Viewers watched him plummet, legs and arms spread, stomach down. Around 18,000 feet, he removed his oxygen mask and passed it to one of the three parachuted assistants diving with him. He aimed for the center of a 10,000 sq ft net, guided by GPS and lights. Seconds before impact, he flipped onto his back and landed safely in the California desert.

Aikins had been the backup jumper in 2012 when Felix Baumgartner became the first skydiver to break the speed of sound during a jump from 24 miles above Earth. He has made 18,000 skydiving jumps since he was 16.

Below is an interview of Aikins explaining his jump before he did it.

100 X 100 (10,000 sq ft) net to catch and trap Aikin

100 X 100 (10,000 sq ft) net to catch and trap Aikin

Aikins was able hit the net with pinpoint precision thanks to GPS alerts in his helmet and a sophisticated lighting setup on the ground that was visible from more than 25,000 feet up. If Aikins veered off course the lights appeared red, but when he was on target they shone bright white.

“They’re very similar to the lights that a pilot sees when landing a plane at an airport.”

Aikins was able to alter his course with just the slightest adjustments of his hands, because experienced skydivers have “incredible control” over where they land.

Here is an article with more pictures. Aikins said that the net IS his parachute. It’s just that it is below him, rather than above him.

Helluva trick! Want to go for a little ride???

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Freerunning For Calm Amidst Death And Tragedy

I have written about freerunning/parkour before. But this example is much more powerful. It talks about some young men in Kashmir, where I have visited decades ago, before tourists were beheaded and military conflicts were so common. These youths are angry and scared. But after learning and practicing their art, they are calm. Watch it for the context, not the beauty of the moves. And feel blessed that you do not live there.

“The long political conflict in Kashmir has taken tens of thousands of lives, and in July 2016, at least 30 people were killed by armed forces. Trust between Kashmiris and the Indian state that controls them continues to decline, especially among youth who’ve seen violence their entire lives. “The generation that was born and brought up post-nineties, they didn’t have a childhood at all,” says the human rights activist Khurram Parvez. This short documentary, Freerunner, follows a young man and his troupe of friends who practice parkour in the Kashmir Valley. The film is part of a larger project on youth who grew up in a militarized Kashmir; you can learn more about the project here .”

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Outstanding Gymnastics Moves

This is truly a breathtaking video showing some of the most extraordinary moves in women’s gymnastics. It includes floor exercises, horizontal bar and balance beam with captions identifying the different moves. Never knew there were so many variations. Very helpful in understanding what I see next time.

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Cyclist Almost Dies But Laughs About His Near Miss

This cyclist doing stunts at Gooseberry Mesa in St. George, Utah, fell while trying to jump a crevice. He landed right at the edge of a sheer drop, one wheel of his bike hanging precariously over the edge. What amazes me about this video is that the rider has nearly killed himself, but he is laughing and seems not to be aware of any danger. There is definitely a side of me that is jealous of such fearlessness. Or maybe I am a bit smarter.

I have written about a number of cyclists who ride along cliff edges and ridge tops. Still can’t understand how they all do it so casually…

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Jogging Is A Recent Activity For Normal People

Here is a surprising article by Phil Edwards on Vox. Who would have guessed?

Today we’re so used to runners that we practically ignore them. But as the above video shows, it wasn’t always that way.

Back in the 1960s, jogging was typically reserved for athletes. Normal people mostly didn’t do it — and when they did, it was cause for concern. The New York Times ran an amused trend piece in 1968 about the handful of unusual freaks who chose to run in their free time.

Running wasn’t just socially awkward, either — for a while, it was a form of punishment for prisoners, via the treadmill. Throughout the 19th century, treadmills were occasionally used as a form of hard labor, including for prisoners like Oscar Wilde.

But in the mid-20th century, running crept into respectability, thanks to a confluence of trends in the late ’60s. Jogging, once unusual, surged to “fad” status before becoming the fixture of life it is today. The interesting part is that, as the above video shows, all those runners pushing past us on today’s sidewalks would have been strange just 50 years ago.

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More Daredevils

These hikers I can relate to…only because I once walked– and sometimes crawled–on a similar ridge that was like a knife edge maybe 100-200 feet high. The Pacific Ocean was on either side of the rise in northern California. And there was a trail that others with more confidence would walk along. My companions called me crazy, waited in the flat areas and yelled at me for making THEM nervous. But I wouldn’t have died if I’d fallen. Just broken some bones and maybe drowned in the powerful surf. Oh to be young like that again…or actually, I am glad I did it and survived and know that my sense of balance isn’t what it used to be.

This next clip of city thrill-seekers does convince me that some people really are nuts. But I am sure it was pretty thrilling. Not everyone can make it to a mountain in the wilderness. So you use what the city has to offer:

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Fearless Spirits Inspire And Humble Us

What kind of humans take these risks? Check out this unicyclist (around 45 seconds in) riding inches from certain death. For what? Is it even a thrill to this kind of person? He can’t be too scared from the danger…or he wouldn’t do it. Does he simply think he is invincible? A superman who would never be in an accident?

This website has lots of other dare devils in action. Here is one of a parkour guy walking around the high parts of a building he managed to sneak into. No fear of heights or a slip to his death.

It certainly motivates me to test my limits…a little bit. But never to this extent. Is it purely genetic? These kids are alone…not trying to show off to buddies who are goading them. It really is insane!!! They definitely must love doing it…

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