Money, culture and the chase for Olympic gold


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Although some countries offer financial incentives to its athletes, a genuine sporting culture may be the best guarantee of success at the Games.

SHOCK and awe just about sums up the stunning achievement of young Singaporean swimmer Joseph Schooling at the Rio Olympics.

His victory is classic David beating Goliath; he was the underdog from a tiny country that had never won an Olympic gold.

What made it all the sweeter and remarkable is that Schooling beat the mightiest, most decorated Olympian in history – American Michael Phelps who has won 23 gold medals – and set an impressive new record of 50.39 secs for the 100m butterfly event.

When news of Singapore’s first gold medal broke, it quickly overtook other stories emanating from Rio and became the talk of the world.

It eclipsed its Asean neighbours’ own Olympic gold successes: Vietnam’s shooter Hoang Xuan Vinh in the 10m air pistol competition and Thailand’s weightlifters Sopita Tanasan and Sukanya Srisurat in their individual weight classes and certainly overshadowed Malaysian diving duo Pandelela Rinong and Cheong Jun Hoong’s silver in the women’s synchronised 10m platform diving.

All are no small feats but there is a total of 28 sports in the Games, not counting those with multiple disciplines, and the most popular ones for a global audience are gymnastics, track and field and swimming, according to topendsports.com.

Among Asian nations competing in the Games, China and Japan are traditionally strong contenders in gymnastics and swimming although the Chinese gymnasts seem to be doing poorly this time around.

For most other Asian competitors, the sports they excel in tend to be the ones with less mass appeal like archery, shooting, judo, badminton and for some strange reason, women’s weightlifting.

Apart from the Thais, Taiwanese, Filipina and Indonesian female weightlifters have also won medals for their countries.

China remains the sporting powerhouse of Asia, sending its largest delegation of 416 athletes to Rio this year, but they have failed to defend their gold medals in sports they used to dominate like badminton and diving.

As for the glamorous track and field events, there doesn’t seem to be any Asian athlete who can challenge the likes of Usain Bolt.

Meanwhile, the other Asian powerhouse, India, with the second largest population in the world, has never done well at the Olympics, which has been the subject of intense debate among Indian and foreign sports pundits.

India also sent its biggest ever contingent of 118 sportsmen and women, and has so far won only a bronze medal in wrestling.

Winning an Olympic gold medal is the Holy Grail of sports.

The pomp that surrounds the Games gives the gold medallists unparalleled honour and prestige. And the nations they represent go into collective convulsions of ecstasy and nationalistic joy, which make their governments equally happy.

That’s why many nations pour millions into sports programmes to nurture and train promising talents and offer great financial rewards to successful Olympians.

Schooling will get S$1mil (RM3mil) from the Singapore government for his gold medal. Vietnam’s Hoang reportedly will receive US$100,000 (RM400,000), a figure, according to AFP, that is nearly 50 times greater than the country’s average national income, of around US$2,100 (RM8,400).

Malaysia, which is seeing its best ever performance in Rio, thanks to its badminton players and divers, rewards its successful athletes handsomely under its National Sports Council incentive scheme.

An Olympic gold medal winner will receive RM1mil and a monthly pension of RM5,000; a silver medallist, RM600,000 and a RM3,000 pension while a bronze winner gets RM100,000 and a RM2,000 pension.

Taiwan, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand have similar monetary reward schemes. North Korea uses a carrot and stick scheme: huge rewards for medal winners and hard labour for the failed ones.

Several western countries have the same financial bait, including the United States, France, Russia and Germany, but at a lower rate.

Does it work?

The Technology Policy Institute looked for a correlation and was mindful of variables like country size and income, “since those are surely the biggest predictor of how many medals a country will win: more populous countries are more likely to have that rare human who is physically built and mentally able to become an Olympic athlete, while richer countries are more likely to be able to invest in training those people.”

The researchers found no correlation between monetary payments and medals and said it was not surprising in some countries. In the United States, for example, a US$25,000 (RM100,000) cash award would be dwarfed by million-dollar endorsements the athlete could get.

The researchers also set out to see if the results were different for countries with lower opportunities for endorsements. Their conclusion: “overall the evidence suggests that these payments don’t increase the medal count” either.

Rather, countries that do well are those with a longstanding sporting culture that values and nurtures their athletes long before they qualify for the Olympics.

That is evident in Western societies where sportsmen, even at the college level, are feted and idolised. In Asia, however, the emphasis is more on book-learning and earning prestigious degrees.

The BBC quotes Indian Olympic Association head Narayana Ramachandran as saying India’s sorry performance is more than just a shortage of cash or organisation.

“Sport has always taken a back seat vis-á-vis education. Most Indian families would prefer their children became dentists or accountants than Olympians,” he says.

But that attitude is surely changing as more Asian sportsmen and women go professional and are able to make a good living.

In Malaysia, its most popular sportsman, badminton star Datuk Lee Chong Wei, is highly successful with a number of endorsements under his belt.

For now, it is still the Western countries that dominate the Olympic medal tally table. But it’s only a matter of time before more Asian nations, once no-hopers at the Games, rise up the charts.

It’s already started. The Rio Games will go down in history as a watershed for Asean, with two member states – Singapore and Vietnam – winning their first gold medals. May it be so for Malaysia, too.

By June H.L Wong Chief Operating Officer (Content Development) The Star, Malaysia.

The writer was the former group chief editor of The Star Media Group Malaysia. This is the eighth article in a series of columns on global affairs written by top editors from members of the Asia News Network and published in newspapers across the region.

Heartbreak again for Chong Wei, Chen Long takes gold

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RIO DE JANEIRO: Lee Chong Wei, the king of Malaysian badminton, will leave the Rio de Janeiro Olympics without the crown – and so will Malaysia without the coveted gold.

The 33-year-old lost his third Olympic final after going down 18-21, 18-21 to Chen Long at the Riocentro Pavilion 4 on Saturday.

It was indeed a painful end for Malaysia as it was the third false dawn. Earlier, Malaysia had also lost in the men’s doubles and mixed doubles finals.

Malaysia thus will return home with a total of four silvers and one bronze.

The other three silvers came from Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (mixed doubles), Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong (men’s doubles) and divers Pandelela Rinong-Cheong Jun Hoong (women’s 10m platform synchro). Cyclist Azizulhasni Awang contributed the sole bronze through the men’s keirin.

Both Chong Wei, playing in probably his last Olympics, and Chen Long went onto the court to loud cheers from their countries’ supporters.

Chong Wei, who lost to Lin Dan at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London finals, looked tentative in the beginning to allow Chen Long to open up a 4-0 lead. But he recovered his composure to lead 5-4.

After that, they traded point until it was 7-7 before Chong Wei pulled away for an 11-7 and then 14-10 lead.

But Chen Long refused to go away and managed to level at 14-14.

Twice Chong Wei surged in front but Chen Long capitalised on the Malaysian’s mistakes at the net to lead 20-17. Although world No. 1 Chong Wei managed to save one match point, his failure to return a smash gave Chen Long a 21-18 win in 35 minutes.

Oozing confidence, Chen Long was always in front in the second game – leading 4-1 and 5-2.

But Chong Wei fought back to go 8-5 up. Chen Long then went on a smashing spree, winning six points for an 11-8 advantage.

The 27-year-old world No. 2 never looked back after that as he always had at least a three-point lead.

Everything looked lost for Chong Wei as Chen Long reached 20-16. The Malaysian saved two match points but then sent the shuttle out to lose 18-21 in 38 minutes.

For Chen Long, it was his first Olympic gold to add to his two All-England and World Championships crowns.

Chong Wei can only look in envy as he’s still without a world or Olympic crown. He also lost in three World Championships finals.

Chen Long’s gold was only China’s second at these Games after Fu Haifeng-Zhang Nan triumphed in the men’s doubles.

Earlier, two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan fell from grace in probably his last Olympic outing after losing 21-15, 10-21, 17-21 to Dane Viktor Axelson in the 70-minute bronze medal playoff.

Medals By Countries – Rio 2016

London 2012 Olympics – Medal Table

Rio 2016 Asia Regional Aug 21 Medal by Countries

 

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Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal, dreams do come true !


Video: https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/-JTwPEutLdY

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Joseph Schooling won the men’s 100 metres butterfly final on Friday to secure Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal and deny Michael Phelps a 23rd in the last individual race of the American’s extraordinary career.

Phelps, the defending champion and world record holder who is heading into retirement — again — after Rio, finished second in a three-way dead heat with two of his greatest rivals — South Africa’s Chad Le Clos and Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh.

Astonishingly, all three touched out in 51.14 seconds, behind Schooling’s Olympic record 50.39 in the second dead-heat in a final in two days.

“I’m just ecstatic. I don’t think it has set in yet. It’s just crazy,” said Schooling.

Straight after his historic golden feat, Schooling told Singapore media: “This swim wasn’t for me. It’s for my country.

“Some people believe that Singapore has a lot of talent. I believe that. It doesn’t matter where you’re from really. I hope this opens new doors for sports in our country and I hope I’ve set a precedent for the young in our country.

“It’s been a hard road, I’ve done something that no one in our country has done before. I’ve received a lot of support and that’s phenomenal, that’s great. I can’t really describe what that means.

“But it’s been a tough road, I’m not going to lie, the first guy through the wall is always bloody. I had to take that blow.

“I’m thankful and I’m blessed that I have the ability to accomplish this. This moment is not about me, it’s really for my country, it’s all about my coaches, my family, my friends who believed from when I was a six-year-old kid, that I could do it.”

In Singapore, cheers broke out across housing estates and social media erupted in celebration as Schooling won in Brazil.”

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Tony Tan, who was in Rio to cheer Team Singapore, led an outpouring of congratulations for Schooling.”

“It is an incredible feat, to compete among the world’s best, stay focused, and emerge victorious,” Mr Lee said in a Facebook post.”

Schooling will receive S$1 million for his gold medal as part of a programme aimed at encouraging studious Singaporeans to excel in sport.”

“Schooling winning shows that even homegrown athletes can win an Olympic medal and I think it’s a good example for our youth that sporting greatness is possible,” said real estate agent Michael Tan, 35, who cheered on Schooling at a coffee shop in a residential estate.

“It’s amazing that Singapore finally has a gold medal at the Olympics, I don’t think anyone thought this was possible,” Madeleine Lim, 62, told AFP.”

Video: https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/0C6XrjKPvCE

Dreams Do Come True

 

It was back in 2008, a 13-year-old teenager Joseph Schooling got to meet his hero, one of the all-time greatest Olympians, Michael Phelps, who had visited Singapore before the start of the Beijing Olympics. Eight years later, Schooling, now 21, creates history by beating Phelps to bag the gold in the 100m Butterfly finals. The specialty of the occasion is double great as this is for the first time a Singaporean wins an Olympic gold.

It was a dream come true for Schooling when he got an opportunity to swim in the same race with Phelps at London Olympics 2012. That was the year Joseph first qualified for the Olympics in London, but then disaster struck when he was told his goggles weren’t Olympics standard just before the race. He rushed to get replacements, but ended up getting a poor time in his heats and didn’t get through to the semi-finals.

He pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Rio, interrupting the 31-year-old Phelps’ quest for what would have been his fifth gold in Brazil and 23rd Olympic gold of his career.

Schooling’s father Colin, who hosted a viewing party at his home in Singapore, wept when his son won.

“If I cry in front of all of you all, it’s because I have nothing to be ashamed of,” he told reporters.

“My love for my son is nothing I can describe to you all.”

Related stories: 

Left: A young Schooling posing with Phelps, whom he idolised, during a training camp in Singapore in 2008. Below left: Phelps congratulating Schooling as they leave the podium after the 100m butterfly victory ceremony. Gold medallist Joseph SchoolingOlympics: Joseph Schooling’s win is shaking up everyone’s world 

 

 Mr Poon, 70, remembers Schooling's insatiable quest to win even while attending his swimming classes as a child.Schooling learnt to be fearless from first coach Vincent Poon

 Medals By Countries – Rio 2016

 Rank by: Gold TOTAL

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Rio 2016 Olympics sets good example; Smug Aussie swimmer won’t cloud Rio

The Olympic flame burns in Maracana Stadium during the opening ceremony at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug 5,
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Rio 2016 Olympics sets good example; Smug Aussie swimmer won’t cloud Rio


 

Congratulations, and many thanks to Rio de Janeiro, for the innovatively choreographed and beautifully executed opening ceremony for the Olympic Games, which was mesmerizing, inspiring, and thoroughly entertaining.

From supermodel Gisele Bundchen’s elegant walk across the stadium floor and the first-ever refugee team to the all-green Olympic rings and the Samba, there was indeed plenty to enjoy and remember.

What amazed us even more is the way Rio has achieved it, and in such a graceful manner, when so many thought it was impossible.

The Rio Games could not have come at a worse time for Brazil, under the triple pressures of an economic recession, the like of which the country has not seen in decades, a domestic political crisis and the Zika threat.

The prospect of Rio hosting a decent Olympics once seemed so bleak that some even suspected the International Olympic Committee had made a bad choice awarding the city the 2016 Summer Games.

With Beijing and London setting a high bar for opening ceremony theatricality, few had anticipated anything this impressive from Rio. After all, opening ceremonies are increasingly costly these days with host countries competing to invest in effects they deem commensurate with the self-image they intend to project.

Rio, on the other hand, had a budget that was reportedly 12 times less than London’s and 20 times less than Beijing’s. It was operating on a comparative shoestring.

But the show they presented was nothing short of spectacular. Which prompted one Chinese commentator to gasp in admiration, “Who needs money when you have a conscience?”

Money does matter when it comes to hosting an international sporting event like the Olympic Games. But Rio offered a loud reminder that money is not everything, and conscience and creativity can go a long way.

Besides visuals that were hardly less fabulous than what we saw in Beijing and London, and the strong message about climate change, this aspect of the opening ceremony challenges future hosts and the Olympic community to rethink the way the world’s largest sporting gala is handled.

We particularly admire the organizers’ idea that it was unnecessary to spend large sums of money on the opening ceremony, when such undertakings as education and public health in Brazil are crying out for funds.

Like the “Avatar-like allegiance” to the environment demonstrated in the opening ceremony, this is a poignant Brazilian statement on conscience and social responsibility we sincerely wish will reach the hearts of all future Olympic hosts. Including those in Beijing, who are preparing for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics. – (China Daily)

Rio 2016 medals tally


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Medal standings
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United States
5 7 7 19
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5 3 5 13
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Australia
4 0 3 7
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Italy
3 4 2 9
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3 0 7 10

Smug Aussie swimmer won’t cloud Rio

 

The Chinese Swimming Association (CSA) has called its Australian counterpart, to demand Australian swimmer Mack Horton apologize to Chinese swimmer Sun Yang, against whom Horton initiated a personal attack. To no one’s surprise, the Australian side declined, saying Horton “is entitled to express a point of view.”

The CSA’s protest is a consolation for Sun, and the one voice from the Chinese media and public backing Sun shows the unity of Chinese society and the people’s human touch.

Horton won the first gold medal for Australia at the Rio Olympics, and has become a hero for the country. It is understandable if Swimming Australia finds it difficult to teach him a lesson right now for his rude and irresponsible words.

The problem is that it seems the entire sports circle and media in Australia do not have a problem with Horton’s ill-mannered and provocative remarks. In a response to the CSA, Swimming Australia didn’t forget to flaunt the “freedom of speech” cliché with a swaggering ego. According to their logic, it seems that no matter how derisive and slanderous the remarks could be, it is all free speech, which should be praised.

If so, the focus of the squabble will go beyond Horton’s ill manners and silliness. The whole level of Australia’s awareness of sports ethics and glory is as low as that of a young and brash kid.

Australia’s aberrant response is confusing not only to the Chinese, but also to many other Westerners. How come the Australians are not ashamed of Horton’s personal attacks, but are shamelessly climbing to the moral high ground in this case?

From China’s perspective, Australia, an English-speaking and developed country, is a typical part of the Western world. But actually, Australia has always been a “second-class citizen” in the West, and many people from Western Europe, especially the UK, feel condescension toward Australians.

Australia used to be a land populated by the UK’s unwanted criminals, and this remains a stigma attached to Australian culture.

Eager to be completely accepted by the Western world and afraid of being overlooked, Australia has grown docile and obedient in face of the US and the UK.

However, in front of Asian countries, it cannot help but effuse its white supremacy. The tangle of inferiority and superiority has numerous reflections in Australia’s foreign exchanges.

We don’t have to take seriously the tinge of barbarism that comes out of some Australians, nor should we pay keen attention to some vindictive provocations. China cannot be distracted from its own path of development, so it should turn a blind eye to what should be despised.

Horton and his backers represent the dark side of Australian society, and it is time for us to look at the bright side of the Olympic Games. This trifling botheration won’t ruin our beautiful memories of this grand event. – Global Times

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Healing through hiking mountains


The arduous Pacific Crest Trails offered the author of The Girl In The Woods the chance to take back control of her life after being raped.

The first time I heard of the Pacific Crest Trail was at the recent George Town Literary Festival, when a friend expressed interest in hiking it. Stretching across mountains running along the western coast of the United States, it is a challenging trail that should be attempted by only the hardiest of hikers.

My own experience with hiking is limited to beginner trails in national parks and forest reserves. Hiking is fun, but I know well enough of its dangers – years ago, another friend of mine had gone hiking and disappeared. The friend at the festival who wanted to hike the Pacific Crest is a man in his 30s. In Girl In The Woods, the hiker, who goes by the name “Wild Child”, is a young woman of 19 and a survivor of rape.

Wild Child grew up as Deborah “Debby” Parker, a sheltered child who lived under the wing of her protective mother and influential, high-achieving brother. On the second night of her stay at college, she was raped.

The emotional and psychological effects of the rape, compounded with the lack of empathy from her college and her family, became the catalyst for her decision to hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail.

For Wild Child, the hike was both a method of escaping a society that made her feel vulnerable and of confronting danger and, through that, regaining her sense of control and trust.

Author: Aspen Matis
Publisher :
 William Morrow/HarperCollins, non-fictionNature and the wilderness is often portrayed as a place of peace and isolation, but any illusion that the wilderness of the Pacific Crest Trail is isolated and peaceful is proven false in Wild Child’s experiences along the trail. The Pacific Crest Trail hiking line is a male-dominated environment, peopled with strange men and women, and offers very little protection from physical or verbal violence stemming from racism, misogyny, or sheer sadism.

Following Wild Child’s journey along the trail brings us to very close intimacy with her personality, her decisions, and her pain. Although survivor accounts and articles on the way rape affects psychology exist in abundance, Girl In The Woods vividly shows how rape shatters one’s sense of safety, trust, and control over one’s body and environment; more importantly, the book allows readers to witness the challenges of regaining that lost sense of security and control.

As we follow her journey, we are also made to confront rape culture – both when it is perpetrated by the people around Wild Child and when we are tempted to criticise her lack of self-preservation. Wild Child exposes herself (at times literally) to strangers and dangers, and readers may find themselves finding fault and blaming her for “tempting rape”. We are made to confront and encouraged to unshackle from our own preconceived, perhaps subconscious, perpetuation of victim blaming and rape culture.

The topic of rape may frighten some readers away from the book, but the harsh desert beauty of the Pacific Crest Trail and Wild Child’s own personal resilience tames its violence, so the experience of reading the book is not unpleasant.

Girl In The Woods is a powerful testament of nature’s healing qualities and an intimate examination of surviving rape.

It is an elegant narrative of loss of innocence, regaining of strength, and finding love and self-acceptance.

It is not merely an account of a survivor but an adventure book, a record of a coming-of-age, and a story of personal growth as the protagonist transforms from the insecure Debby Parker to Wild Child the hiker, before finally emerging as Aspen Matis (the name that she answers to now, and the pseudonym used to pen the book), a fully fledged survivor.

The only arguable weakness of Girl In The Woods is that the description of the landscape along the Pacific Crest Trail is rather sparse.

Perhaps this was omitted because it was unnecessary to the narrative, but I would have appreciated more details on the desert, mountains and forests that were traversed.

I tend to notice the beauty of natural landscapes when I travel, and keenly felt the omission of detailed descriptions on the beautiful American rural landscape.

But this is a minor complaint in an otherwise outstanding memoir.

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Beijing wins to host Winter Olympics 2022


Beijing Winter Olympics 2022

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Chinese captital celebrates victory

The National Stadium, or Bird Nest, is seen with giant illumination showing a message celebrating Beijing and Zhangjiakou’s winning of the right to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

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Beijingers celebrate Olympic victory

Beijing last night was the scene of jubilation and cheering. People celebrated the news from Kuala Lumpur.

Games offers new drive to opening-up

Beijing and Zhangjiakou have won the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. It’s great.

Seven years after Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Games, Chinese people get to embrace the Olympics again. Many still remember the passion and joy after winning the 2008 Games. Our optimism and happiness has come alive again. Chinese society is still actively seeking to host major international sports events. Such sentiment fits the country’s rising momentum.

Countries in the developed world are no longer enthusiastic about holding the Olympics like they once were. They have their own calculations. But over 90 percent of people in Beijing and Zhangjiakou support their cities’ hosting of the Winter Games. Such high rates of support is generally true in other parts of the country in hosting major international sports events.

Chinese people long for progress and more contact with the outside world. Many people consider the hosting of major sports events an opportunity to enhance a city’s development level and help it become more international.

But there are also many who oppose hosting the Winter Games. Some of them are just following the voices of popular Western-style opponents. Others have their marginal reasons. But these opinions are not mainstream in China.

It is great that many stadiums and other pieces of infrastructure built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics can still be of use for the 2022 Games.

The 2008 Summer Games can be seen as a coming-out party for China. China has made significant progress in the seven years since it hosted the event. China’s GDP leapt from the third place globally to second. Chinese people have seen more of the world.

To be frank, when Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Games, many Chinese people were nervous that they might mess up the event. That is why the 2008 Games emphasized pomp and ceremony in order to demonstrate China’s capabilities.

This time when we host the Winter Games, we may be able to be more relaxed, focusing on the beauty of the sports instead of laboring ourselves in ensuring a perfect event. We can try to make the 2022 Games a big party.

The 2022 Winter Games is also likely to bring concrete benefits in the coming seven years. “Olympic blue” may become a new target in dealing with air pollution. A high-speed railway between Beijing and Zhangjiakou is likely. Winter sports may become more popular.

The Winter Games will become a lasting drive for China’s further opening-up. Chinese society will seek greater balance between outside criticism and China’s own principles and traditions. This project will help China further integrate with the world. – Global Times

Science on high intensity interval training: HIIT, or SHIIT?


Man_30-minute-hiit-mainLet me pose you a question: would you rather go down to the video store (if it hasn’t yet gone bankrupt) to hire a DVD, or stream it from the comfort of your own home? You’ve probably answered: the comfort of your own home, unless of course you get all nostalgic about walking down the street to hire discs. I know I do!

Okay, okay, now let me pose you a further question: would you rather spend one hour exercising, or 30 minutes? Stop, don’t answer that just yet. What if I were to say that both workouts would give you equivalent results? Unless you’re a time wasting enthusiast, pain junky, or DOMS devotee you’re probably going to answer 30 minutes. Well a new (old) exercise regiment known as high intensity interval training (HIIT) is offering just that.

Yes, if you believe one of the internet’s many great fitness prophets, then you will be aware that HIIT is the shit! Slow endurance training is the DVD for hire and HIIT is Netflix, which is of course, the shit. So is HIIT truly the shit, or should you beware of false fitness prophets?

HIITWorkout

What is HIIT?

Before I answer your previous question. What is HIIT? Simply put, HIIT involves performing intervals of highly intense exercise followed by either complete rest, or low intensity exercise. The high intensity-low intensity combination seems to be the more popular of the two currently.

How about an example? Sure, here’s one. Let’s say running is your game. Your HIIT may involve a ratio of a one minute sprint, to 45 seconds of slow jogging, repeated for a total of 15 minutes. It certainly doesn’t have to follow this exact ratio, or duration and these variables change greatly from protocol to protocol, that was simply an example. I should note, however, that scientific data to date has found minimal difference between different interval ratios thus far (9).
HIIT (1)

Why HIIT might be the shit?

HIIT is proposed to lead to multiple complex physiological changes to the skeletal muscle system that promote fat burning efficiency and preference, and more efficient oxygen utilisation. In turn, this is proposed to: make you skinnier, fitter and it will likely give you the ability to fly! But probably not the last one.

Science and HIIT (SHIIT):

Of course theory means little unless it translates to real world, real life changes. So, does it? Spoiler, it generally does.

Aerobic health:

A review paper analysing studies on individuals suffering from various different lifestyle diseases found HIIT to be effective. Specifically, cardiovascular fitness, as measured by Vo2 max, was 9% higher when individuals performed HIIT as opposed to moderate intensity continuous exercise (1). Another large scale review paper on scientific studies to date found HIIT to improve: aerobic fitness level more so than normal, moderate intensity exercise in both sedentary and active individuals. But it was only as effective as continuous exercise training in athletic persons (2). If that wasn’t enough science for you, a third study found HIIT to improve aerobic fitness as well as moderate intensity continuous exercise in a relatively fit group of people (3). This basically tells us that the lower your fitness level is, the better you will respond to HIIT and if you only want to do one sort of training, HIIT will be more effective than continuous training for aerobic fitness. Conversely, if you’re really fit and only want to do one form of exercise, then HIIT is as good as continuous moderate intensity exercise for aerobic fitness.

beautiful fitness woman

Muscles, muscles, muscles:

What about those muscles? Can you skip the separate weight sessions and do an all in one HIIT session? Well, the scientific data is very limited on this. But the one study that does exist on this topic, found that when having an active rest period was compared to having complete rest, complete rest won. Yes, complete rest led to greater work output, which in turn would likely mean improved: muscle mass, strength, power, looking shredded bro (4)! This makes sense and says that resistance training HIIT will likely provide you with some nice adaptations, but not as good as traditional weight training where proper rest between sets is taken.

Weight loss:

What about weight loss then? The data ain’t crystal clear on this. One study found HIIT boxing was better than continuous brisk walking at improving body fat percentage (5). Another study found participants had a decreased waist circumference following HIIT, but not following moderate intensity continuous exercise (6). Yet, in complete contrast, continuous moderate intensity exercise was found to decrease trunk fat more so than HIIT in another study (7). All in all, the science isn’t certain on whether HIIT or continuous training is best for weight loss. But if you base your workout on the number of calories you’re burning, based on average heart rate or a similar method, then you should be no worse off than performing continuous exercise, as average heart rate tends to be higher for HIIT and stays elevated for longer following exercise.

Adherence:

If HIIT is quicker to do, then you’d think people would do it more and stick to it. And they do! High intensity interval training led to a greater level of adherence (89% vs 71%) than moderate intensity continuous training (8). Grouse!

HIIT

Is it healthful? 

Ladies and gentlemen, HIIT is the shit! Or at least it is pretty darn good and very relevant to our time-centric society:

  • HIIT is likely as good as endurance exercise for aerobic fitness and if you’re of a low fitness level it’s probably better.
  •  Resistance training HIIT won’t get you as ripped as traditional resistance training with structured rest periods. But it’s probably not a great deal worse.
  • HIIT will lead to at least equivalent weight loss to continuous moderate intensity exercise in a shorter period of time, likely due to an elevated average heart rate.
  • HIIT generally leads to higher adherence, so you’re more likely to stick with it.

Our verdict :Highly healthfull. If you’re time poor and unfit, HIIT’s the most effective way to turn things around. Although if time is less of a factor and you really want to optimise your health you should combine HIIT, anaerobic exercise and aerobic exercise as part of a proper periodised program. Especially, if you have sport related goals.

I hope this has been healthful!

Isithealthful

I hold a Doctor of Physiotherapy, Bachelor of Exercise Science and am a qualified personal trainer. I have extensive clinical and research experience and a strong passion for all things health. This has driven me to write the blog: Is it healthful, in order to analyse sound scientific research to determine if a product, service or intervention is healthful, or simply a waste of money or time.

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Hiking with children is good for the whole family


Hiking_family

Hiking as a family has built strong bonds, made beautiful memories and improved health. And everyone has learnt to be more creative in tackling obstacles as they are no longer couch potatoes!

THE day I traded my high heels for hiking shoes, the malls for hills and the stale city air for fresh jungle air, my life was never the same again.

It all began when my dear hubby Adrian Yeong took up hiking. He had been hiking close to six months to improve his health and fitness when I saw the changes in him: he had shed 13 kilos and was much fitter and healthier than before. Finally one day, I agreed to join him.

Wasting no time, he got me my first pair of hiking shoes. I had my first taste of hiking at the Challenger trail in Gasing Hill, Petaling Jaya, on August 1, 2010. Since then, Gasing Hill has become our regular training ground.

Friends who heard of our hiking activities thought we were crazy to hike three times a week and when they learnt that we also brought our younger four children along with us, in their dictionary, we were well…insane. Why bother doing such tiring activities?

Many would not consider hiking with kids, supposedly because: “They will complain!”, “They will cry!”, “They will not want to walk!”

Our children being city kids were no angels either. They were always trying to find excuses to escape from hiking so that they could spend time at home instead, watching television and playing computer games. But as parents, we had the last say and so our hiking journey began…

The writer carrying her youngest son, Joseph, on her back, while climbing Gunung Datuk.

By training our children, who were then one-plus, three, seven and ten years old to hike, all of us eventually got fitter and stronger. Our speed and endurance improved. In a short span of five months, Adrian and I did 50 hikes while our kids went on 30 hikes with us.

We had explored almost all the hills and a few waterfalls in the Klang Valley. After a while, it felt a bit boring hiking the same hills. I dreamt of exploring further but often doubted if we were up to the challenge of hiking more than an hour plus with our young kids.

Little did I know that one day I would get to know a Facebook friend, Michael Mui, and that our feet would soon hit real mountains. Mui got to know of our family hiking activities and invited us to join him to hike Gunung Angsi and Gunung Datuk (both in Negri Sembilan).

In his own words, he described these mountains as “a stroll in the park!” That was our first event with the Freewill Hikers Club, a dynamic hiking group based in Johor led by Captain Richard Yeoh. My husband, being an adventurous guy, took up the idea immediately and the rest is history.

On August 11, 2012, Adrian and I, together with our young hikers, hiked our first two mountains Gunung Angsi and Gunung Datuk, on consecutive days. My two kids Audrey (then aged 12) and Dylan (nine) hiked on their own accompanied by our new friends while I carried Joshua (five) on and off as he happened to be a bit moody in the beginning.

The writer with her husband, Adrian Yeong, and their kids on the peak of Broga Hill, Selangor.

My capable hubby backpacked Lil Joseph (three years old and 12kg in weight) up to the peak of Gunung Angsi and back. Hiking more than an hour with heavier loads than other hikers made it tough.

To make matters worse, wearing the new hiking boots I got him as a surprise, he twisted his ankle during the hike. Despite having applied some ointment over the night, he still had not recovered from the injury and so I volunteered to backpack Lil Joseph up Gunung Datuk the next day.

I remembered assuring my dear hubby that I would hand the little boy over to him should the going get too tough. My hubby agreed to my suggestion. That was my first hike carrying my son up a mountain.

It was my first experience and I found Gunung Datuk to be a steep mountain, with endless roots along the way. Carrying my little boy up weighed me down though I found it quite easy to go on all fours, pulling myself up by tree roots.

Our new friends from Freewill Hikers were very helpful and took care of our two older kids, Audrey and Dylan. While Audrey was slow and steady, Dylan flew up with them and managed to reach the peak in 1 hour 40 minutes; whereas, with my load, we took about 30 minutes more.

It was tiring and our friends kept bluffing us — “You are almost there”, “15 minutes more to the peak”, “Just another 15 minutes more” — in the name of encouragement.

To reach the actual peak of Gunung Datuk, the writer’s family had to clamber up these ladders.

Nevertheless, we made it. At the false peak, I told my husband: “Darling, you take over. I am too tired!”

I handed my little boy over to my hubby to tackle the metal ladder that leads to the actual peak of Gunung Datuk as I was just too exhausted. We had all made it up to Gunung Datuk!

Those were our first two mountains — tough but rewarding. The next few months that followed saw us at Gunung Lambak, Gunung Belumut and Gunung Panti (all three in southern Johor, near Kluang).

Our toughest hike with Lil Jo was Gunung Belumut. Our little boy now weighed 15 kilos and he had not been trained as he was small. He also often pretended to be a 4WD stuck in the mud whilst hiking with his siblings, an idea he got from the multiple off-road trips we had gone for.

I uttered a prayer in the morning, “Dear God, I don’t know how we are going to make it hiking up Belumut but I ask for your help and enablement, in Jesus’ name.”

I came up with a plan. Conserve our energies, get the boy who normally walked only for half an hour to hike as far and as fast as he could. Motivating him, I said, “Jo, you need to look for 10 ant trails and you will get an ice-cream.”

The writer (centre) with her children, husband (right) and Lee Keam Keong of Freewill Hikers at the peak of Gunung Belumut (1,010m) in Kluang, Johor.

So I promised him and we went hunting all the way. He played with twigs, pretending they were rifles and he was soon blasting and shooting away, chasing his brother Joshua and another a new friend, a boy about six, named Rain, who was the grandson of Captain Richard Yeoh of the Freewill Hikers Club.

He played all the way and when he was tired, I gave him some drinks to boost his energy. I also talked, joked and laughed with him in order to distract him from the distance we had to cover. Lo and behold, my four-year-old boy successfully hiked up to the peak in four hours without being carried. It was a miracle indeed. My prayers were answered.

On the way down, Lil Joseph was now tired and had to be carried by his strong daddy. Adrian later shared that it was easier to carry a 15kg bagpack rather than our little boy as he kept swaying to and fro in the baby carrier as he tackled the tough steep terrain, squeezing through tight spots and at times jumping over gullies and large tree roots. After descending for over two hours, his neck and shoulders were stiff.

Nothing worthwhile comes easy, and we’ve had to build up our strength as well as our endurance in hiking. Being positive has made us conquerors. With sufficient training and preparations, we’ve tackled various mountains.

Our conclusion on hiking with kids: it’s not easy and did not happen overnight. But it’s not mission impossible either as kids have new engines and are fast learners.

By clocking the hours and allowing them to master hiking skills, we’ve built up their fitness and confidence. After time, they have become capable hikers.

Hiking together as a family has been rewarding as we’ve built strong bonds and made beautiful memories. We’ve inculcated healthier lifestyles and our children have learnt to tackle obstacles, to never give up and be optimistic.

It has taught them outdoor skills and built their appreciation of nature. It has made them strong, courageous and creative.

This is a win-win situation and I strongly encourage families to take up hiking as a regular family activity. Just make a change in your life and that of your family. Bring them out hiking. All you need is a good pair of hiking shoes, determination and motivation.

Go for it folks, don’t be a coach potato!

Backpacks, trekking poles, head lamps, a dry bag, a sleeping bag and a poncho are among the prizes being offered for those who write in about their Star2 Adventure Challenge.

By JESSY PHUAH The Star/Asian News Network

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