DFL

Celebrating last-place finishes at the Olympics. Because they're there, and you're not.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Money for Medals

Free meat for life. A free car. And, of course, a metric arseload of money -- in the neighbourhood of tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Olympic athletes who win medals can reap bountiful rewards from their grateful nations; Tracy McCoy has a roundup. Other examples can be found if you poke around a little online, but you get the idea. This is as clear a message as can be sent to athletes: it's all about the medals. We don't care about how hard you've worked all these years, just bring us home a shiny.

What's perverse is the other message being sent: that athletes are somehow insufficiently motivated to win unless you dangle lots of money in front of them. As though that was the only thing holding them back.

The economics are those of trial lawyers who work on contingency (you know, the personal injury lawyers on TV): A big payoff if you win, lots of ramen if you don't.

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Visa's Derek Redmond Ad

American readers may have seen Visa's television featuring Derek Redmond's injury during the 1992 Olympics, where his father helped him limp across the finish line. (If you haven't, it's available on , though you'll have to dig a bit to find it.) It's heartening to see this blog's argument about finishing last ("better DFL than DNF") expressed in a nationally broadcast ad with a Morgan Freeman voiceover. "He -- and his father -- finished dead last. But he -- and his father -- finished."

A search for Derek Redmond on YouTube also generates some interesting results.

Previously: Derek Redmond in 1992.

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Results for Sunday, August 10

Cycling: The had a lot fewer DNFs than the men's race did yesterday: 4 vs. 53. I wonder if that means conditions were better today. But then there were also fewer competitors over a shorter distance (126 km). In any event, 21-year-old Aurelie Halbwachs of Mauritius came 62nd with a time of 3:52:11 -- nearly 20 minutes behind the winner, and 20 seconds behind the penultimate cyclist.

Diving: We start with synchronized diving, where, in the , the British team of Tandi Gerrard, 30, and Hayley Sage, 22, finished eighth. The fact that there are only eight teams should give you an idea of what it's like even to qualify for this event. Their score of 278.25 was 65.25 points behind the gold medallists.

Shooting: Carolina Lozado, 37, of Uruguay finished 43rd in the qualifying round of the event, with a score of 367. It took a score of 384 or better to make it to the final. There was one DNF. In , Filipino Eric Ang, also 37, finished 35th with a score of 106; those who advanced to the finals has scores between 119 and 121.

Swimming: Four swimming events had their finals today, but for my purposes I have to go back to yesterday's heats to find my last-place finishers, who I will somewhat arbitrarily define as the person putting in the slowest time in the heats. (This is a little problematic if the slowest time in the event is in a semifinal or final, but I have to pick something, if I can.) In the men's 400-metre individual medley, the slowest time was produced in heat one by 22-year-old Hocine Haciane Constatin of Andorra: 4:32.00. (The gold medallist, you may have heard, put a time in of 4:03.84 in the final.) Heat one is also where the slowest time came in the men's 400-metre freestyle (this does not appear to be an accident); Kazakh Oleg Rabota, 18, put in a time of 4:02.16. (For comparison, the gold medallist's final time was 3:41.86.) There was one DNS in another heat. In the women's 400-metre individual medley, it was heat one again, where 18-year-old Thai swimmer Nimitta Thaveesupsoonthorn's time was 5:02.18. (The gold medallist's time was 4:29.45 in the final.) There was one DNS in Nimitta's heat. And finally, the women's 4×100 freestyle relay, which had only two heats: in the second heat, the South African team of Melissa Corfe, Wendy Trott, Mandy Loots and Katheryn Meaklim finished seventh (there was a DNS) with a time of 3:51.14; the gold medal team's time in the final was 3:33.76.

Weightlifting: 22-year-old Venezuelan Judith Andrea Chacon finished ninth in a field of nine in the ; she had a score of 181, compared to the gold medallist's 221. In the , Moldovan Igor Grabucea, 32, finished 15th with a score of 239; the gold medallist's score was 292, and there were four DNFs.

A medal was awarded in archery, but it does not appear that I'll be able to award a last place in that sport -- at least not in the team events.

Standings to date: No country has more than one last-place finish at this point, but since Andorra has fewer athletes at the Games than the others, it displaces Nicaragua for the nominal lead.

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