Some Olympic insights
By. David Duffield
ike millions of other Australians I’ve be
en gluedto the box over the last two weeks watchingmany of the greatest athletes in the world
compete at the Olympics. Hopefully you’ve beenenjoying it as well and I also hope if you’ve been
backing the Aussies that you are an each-waypunter.While wa
tching the world’s biggest sporting eventit’s hard not to switch back to a betting perspective
and look at both the similarities and differencescompared to the sport of kings.Here are a few of my thoughts:
Champions rise to the occasion on the big day
Following a defeat in the Jamaican national trials,Usain Bolt had his doubters before the race andactually started at pretty enticing odds. But he hadtimed his preparation to perfection and scored adominant win in the race he really wanted.Some horses are set for one race only andeverything in their lead-up is about having them attheir absolute peak on that day. Clearly BartCummings has been a master at this over manyyears.
It’s all about performing the best on the day, not
who is (potentially or historically) the best in therace. Many current world champions like JamesMagnussen were hot favourites based on the bestform coming into a race, but the only thing thatreally matters is who performs best on the day.
They don’t pay on margins
Speaking of the missile, many events have been
decided by 1/100 of a second but when we’relooking back the margin doesn’t really matter. The
winner gets the same gold medal as a totallydominant victor.The same applies to racing
Might And Power,Viewed or Dunaden winning Melbourne Cups by the
barest possible margin doesn’t detract from their
Trainers should train smarter
The Olympics has become a sports science andinformation technology arms race with countries likeGreat Britain and China leading the way andgetting results that validate their efforts.
Horse racing is very different though and I can’t
help but think that many trainers still operate much
like they did 10 or 20 years ago. I’m aware of
small incremental improvements but there is a realopportunity for great advances in the use oftechnology, sports science, nutrition, race planningand more.
Jockeys need to train their mind as much as theirbody
There are many sports psychologists employed bythe various Olympic teams because they understandthe importance of mental preparation and the effectof the mind on raceday performance.Jockeys have to make split-second decisions often
under immense pressure but I’m not aware of many
who get proper training in this area. All elite levelsporting teams such as those in the AFL and NRLhave sports psychologists either on staff or on
contract, but most jockeys don’t s
eem as open-minded to improving their performance above theshoulders.
Go the mighty mare
Michael Phelps will go down as the greatest everOlympian despite losing a few races along the way.It just reaffirms my strong desire for the connectionsof Black
Caviar to continue her racing career. I don’tbuy into the ‘she has to stay unbeaten’ story becauseshe’s already proven her greatness and nothing can