It's the freakin' OLYMPICS! You don't just "quit"!

Well, where’s all the anger over the marathon runner who was at the start of the pack but didn’t finish and collapsed on the side of the road? Is it just because she wasn’t part of a team? If so, why do people keep bringing up the story of the marathon runner who crawled across the line?

Of course in a team sport there is an expectation that even when you feel like dying, you will push on for the sake of your team. In an individual event, you will only incur the wrath of your own conscience (and perhaps some stern words from your country’s olympic selectors). Nothing at all to compare to seven fuming female rowers.

Hmm, from what I’m reading, apparently the reason for Robbins quitting was NOT physiological. That may go some way to explaining why some people are so angry.

I can understand the fury of her teammates. Those eight women trained for years to get to that final and rowed their hearts out, only to have their efforts dashed by one member seemingly throw in the towel.

OTOH, I confess I was surprised to read Robbins’s teammates slagging her off in public. The typical Australian ethos is to support one’s mates (at least in public), even when they stuff up.

The whole team appeared in public today in a show of unity. They drew back from their earlier comments, but it seemed like a bit of a PR sham.

I had a brief, moderately disastrous career as a coxswain a few years ago in college. (I was terrible! Awful! Hideous! You don’t want me anywhere near a regatta except on the sidelines. Trust me.) Had somebody on our team done this without a damn good medical reason, I think they’d have been kicked out. I hope there’s more to the story than her just quitting, but if there isn’t, that really pisses me off.

On an entirely different note, I watched the women’s beach volleyball bronze medal round where the Americans McPeak and Young beat Austrailia’s Cook and Sanderson. Natalie Cook had some kind of shoulder injury which will require reconstructive surgery. She was in obvious pain from the beginning of the match, but she repeatedly dove for the ball and hyperextended her arm. By the end of the match, she could only serve underhanded, which is apparently unheard of at this level of competition. And yet she was still winning points. After her first medical time out, the Aussies won the second game and forced the tiebreaker. You could see the pain on her face. When she took the bandages off at the end of the game, it looked like her shoulder was swollen and terribly bruised. It was a valiant performance–the kind of thing you watch the Olympics for. Sure they lost, but her honor was intact.

And does anyone remember the female American gymnast from either 2000 or 1996 who stuck a vault in the team competition despite having a broken foot? She hurt herself after her first vault and could have quit, but the team needed the score so she did the vault knowing that she was going to injure herself and that it was probably going to put her out of the singles competition. That’s fucking gumption. And this little girl was like 16 years old. Damned if I can remember her name, though.

Well, yes, it is all about the team. Letting down yourself is one thing–individual failure is acceptable (even endearing)-- but letting down your mates is something else entirely. I’d argue this distinction is particularly important for most Australians, perhaps more so than than in other countries.

Kerri Strug. The irony is that the first vault would have been good enough to win them the medal and she really didn’t have to make the second one. She had to to the second one in a certain amount of time so there was no way for her to know that.


From here

Kerri Strugg, I believe. She had a sprain, not a broken bone. Not to diminish her gumption…

A Japanese male gymnast back in the late 60s - early 70’s did the rings on a broken leg and stuck the dismount, clearly in agony, to give his team a medal. I’m pretty sure it was gold.

What’s giving you that impression?

Oh, he wasn’t in obvious agony that’s one of the awe-inspiring things about his dismount. He nailed it perfectly and his face was perfectly emotionless. Everytime I’ve seen that footage I’ve wanted to puke because the very idea that his leg was broken makes me whoozy.

The Simpsons parodied this but he did his perfect dismount followed be a crazy, eye-popping “EEEEYARRRRRRRGH!”

Hm. I also recall that Canadian rower Silken Laumann broke her leg (I think it was a compound fracture with the bone showing :eek: ) when her boat was hit full force by a men’s pair. That was just 10 weeks before the Barcelona Olympics. She spent a week in hospital with her leg wound still open (… whoozy). Three weeks before the Olympics she was back in her boat and went on the earn a bronze medal with her leg wrapped up in heavy bandages.

A couple years later, I almost ran her over on my bicycle as a bike courier.

Shun Fujimoto CBC

Kerri Strug actually did her second vault with two torn ligaments. Just FYI.

Yeah, Capital’s really cool. We used to rent their training barge at the beginning of the season for the new rowers. The fun part is that they only got a boathouse a year ago - before that it was a crude yard surrounded by a chain link fence underneath a bridge in one of the worse neighborhoods in DC. They do a ton to promote rowing in the area.

You’ve gotta be kidding. My freshman year we had a stroke who gave up in the middle of a head race. Not as bad as this, he kept rowing, but it was clear he had given up about halfway through. He wasn’t stroke anymore 45 minutes later. And not on the crew two weeks later once it became apparent he wasn’t going to be anything except an alternate - and the last choice at that.

No, no, no! If she was hurt, the last thing she wants to do is pull her oar - she’d probably end up clashing oars since she wouldn’t be able to keep the pace. She needs to move to the catch and tuck her oar in between her knees and chest and try not to mess up the set of the boat.

Anyway, Sally Robbins is looking more and more indefensible the more I learn.

And in an off topic, God, I miss rowing.

Some of you seem to think this sort of thing is commendable. I think it’s fucking nuts. Why should someone risk permanent, even crippling injury, for the sake of a chunk of metal and ephemeral glory? It’s not like they were doing anything really important, like runnng into a burning building to save a life.

Everlasting glory?

I’d go with the glory. Everyone remembers the American girl and the Japanese and the Mexican guys (and the American guy at Barcelona). Certainly as much as you could want from an athletic career if you don’t get a medal.


Hardly. They made Achilles’ choice, and will be remembered for it. Pain is fleeting - quitting is forever.

But then again:

The greatest sin that Robbins committed, and this is something that non-technical sports fans can easily overlook, is that after she “blew” she then left her oar dragging - thus, not only no longer contributing to her team’s effort, but actually creating a burden on the rest of her team. From a rowing point of view, THAT is the greatest sin of all. People can argue for the ages the various merits and pros and cons of this whole furore, but to leave one’s oar dragging is quite simply indefensible - point blank indefensible.

Now, all that being said, I recall being in the 1985 World Cycling Championships in the 4 x 100klm Team Time Trial and a teammate “blew” at about the 70klm mark - and this guy was a champion. He tried and tried but could no longer come through for a turn. We ended up 8th or thereabouts.

It turned out later that the guy had an undiagnosed heart disrythmic problem and within a year he was out of the sport for good. Nobody knew, least of all my teammate himself, that he had the heart problem and we simply assumed on the day that it was purely rotten luck. Certainly, nobody questioned his guts. But imagine if you will, that our teammate had decided to start hanging on to our jerseys and get pulled along to the finish. Now THAT would have been a sin. Such a burden on our team performance would have been unacceptable, and analoguously, that’s what Sally Robbins did by leaving her oar in the water - in particular, AFTER her teammate had demanded she lift it out.