10 things you did not know about the Olympics
By Sophia Mora
SAN ANTONIO – The Olympics is the most viewed sporting event across the world, but have you ever wondered what the requirements are for athletes to qualify? Read more to find out.
- There is technically no age requirement. While the Olympics itself does not have a minimum or maximum age limit, each sport’s international regulatory body sets the requirements of their respective sports, including age eligibility. The youngest Olympian to ever compete was a 10-year-old Greek gymnast, Dimitrios Loundras. Anezka Indrackova, a 15-year-old Czech ski jumper, is the youngest athlete competing at the Beijing Games. Swedish Olympian Oscar Swahn was the oldest recorded Olympian at 72 years and 281 days when he competed at the 1920 Olympics in shooting.
- It is expensive for the competitors too. For some more high-profile athletes, benefits such as sponsorships will aid in the majority of costs. However, the training, equipment and travel for the Olympics itself and the preparation leading up to it often falls on the individual athletes. Kyle Tress, an American skeleton racer, estimated that he spent well over $100,000 on the road to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. For gymnastics, if a team believes a score is unfair, they must pay $300 to have it re-evaluated. If the original score is changed, the team gets their money back. If it’s not, the money goes to charity.
- Gymnasts can wear socks but not colorful nail polish. While most gymnasts who compete within the Olympics opt to not wear socks, it is actually not a requirement for them to compete barefoot. However, they are not allowed to wear any colorful nail polish. Nail polish is not completely banned as they may wear neutral colors, but they must avoid anything with color so that the judges do not become distracted.
- Boxers must be clean-shaven. While this rule might seem bizarre, it is set in place for several reasons. For instance, one reason that beards are prohibited in Olympic boxing is that they could give boxers an advantage by “hiding” their chin or facial features. This could cause some misplaced hits due to the inability to judge an opponent’s facial features. Bleeding can also be difficult to control should a boxer get cut underneath their beard. Finally, beards are also not allowed so that boxers may not rub their beard on an opponent’s skin to irritate it within a clinch.
- Track and field athletes do not have to wear shoes. Despite the fact that shoes provide the athletes with stability, grip and overall protection there are no shoes made that give any athletes an unfair advantage. Due to this, the International Association of Athletics Federations does not require track and field athletes to wear shoes. In fact, they could choose to wear shoes, no shoes or even just one shoe.
- Fencers cannot leave the field of play. Yes, in the rules of fencing, fencers may not leave the field of play in the midst of competition. Additionally, they also cannot leave the field of play during a challenge or appeal in a match. In fact, in 2012, South Korea challenged a call, and fencer Shin A-lam was forced to stay in the field of play for almost an hour before the judges came to a decision.
- Equestrians cannot use their voice during dressage competition. The reason behind this rule is due to the roots of the sport itself. Dressage is about the connection between the rider and the horse. Judges are looking for riders who can communicate precise aids to the horse. Physical aids include shifts in weight, pressure and placement. Executing these aids proves that a rider can cue their horse properly. If voice is used, judges will assume that is the only way a rider can get those transitions accomplished.
- Karate competitors must have clean hair. Not only must karate players have washed, clean hair, but they must also have clean and short length fingernails. This rule is set in place due to the standard that karate competitors are held to because the sport is also considered an art. Competitors must retain the highest standards of honor and etiquette and can be disqualified if they are not considered presentable.
- Hockey players who initiate a fight get a longer penalty than the rest who join in. As common as fights are in National Hockey League games, most hockey players avoid fights in the Olympic games. The National Hockey League’s general rule is to give each player involved in a fight a five-minute time out, but it is always up to the disgression of the referee. However, the Olympics takes note of who starts the fight. Whichever player initiates the fight in the Olympic games gets a five-minute penalty, but whoever else joins in after only gets a two-minute penalty.
- Cyclist’s socks cannot go past mid-calf. As previously mentioned, in regard to track and field athletes the lack of shoe rules is based on the fact that no advantage is given to any athletes. However, cycling socks can give athletes some advantage. So, the sock height limit was implemented. Sock height is limited due to the fact that increasing the roughness in the rider’s shin area can initiate significant aerodynamic gain.
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