Olympic Notes

bob_baldwinI had been looking forward to the Olympic Games of 2004 with the hope of being able to see some of the fencing, the sport I’ve been competing in, off and on, for about 50 years. This year’s games were expected to be special because for the first time, the United States was going into battle with a strong chance of winning several medals over the traditional powerhouses of Italy, France, and Hungary.

Unfortunately, I missed most everything because I was traveling and the hotel did not have the channels I needed for middle-of-the-night viewing of an obscure sport. However, I thought I could at least check out some of the action over the high-speed Internet connection in my room, but the Olympic feed did not take American Express, only Visa, which I do not have. Unable to identify myself as an American eligible to view the Olympic Internet feed licensed to the U.S., I had to settle for basic broadcast coverage, and very little fencing.

Now, let the sports metaphors, similes, analogies, and comments begin:

  • Success in not always proportional to available resources. Although the U.S. garnered more medals (103) than any other country, fourth place Australia was able to take home half as many medals (49) despite having less than one-tenth the population. Australians are effective in the maintenance and reliability arena, too. Monash University (www.monash.edu.au), Australia’s largest, offers a number of distance learning opportunities in maintenance and reliability engineering at the graduate level in cooperation with the University of Tennessee.
  • Past success is no guarantee of future success. The favored American men’s basketball team went into the competition with a 109-2 record and came out with a 114-5 record, holding on to a bronze medal. If you have a great maintenance and reliability program and your equipment is in great shape, don’t assume it will continue as such. Performance will degrade unless you invest enough energy to resist the downward trend (check out “Time’s Arrow” on page 11).
  • Stars typically start early and train hard. Mariel Zagunis, 19, who won the women’s saber event, earning the first gold medal by an American fencer in 100 years, started fencing when she was 10 years old. Although we cannot begin training our maintenance stars that early, we can certainly train members of our current team, including ourselves, to Olympic standards. Tom Byerley’s comments on page 26 provide some suggestions of where to begin.

What is your training plan for 2008? How about the rest of 2004? MT


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