For the past couple of weeks, you could say there were two groups of people: Those who watched the Olympics and those who followed the Olympics. Not all watchers were followers, but it’s safe to say most followers were probably watchers as well. And while some of the followers may have been bored (or irate) by the tape delays that aired on NBC prime time, they still had front row seats to some unprecedented online action. Even if you weren’t on nbcolympics.com trying to catch the live streams, it was impossible to miss the amazing shenanigans happening all over the web.
Just a few favorites:
And then there was Twitter. If you’re like us and wanted to truly participate in the play-by-plays, it was probably your go-to spot. There were more than 150 million (!) Twitter conversations about the Olympics since the Opening Ceremonies. There were more than 2 million tweets about Gabby Douglas, as well as Ryan Lochte, and it wasn’t uncommon to see celebrities tweeting at Olympians or about them:
So. While it’s lovely that NBC broke their ratings – averaging 31+ million watchers each night — we kinda expected that, especially if you’re getting a ton of free, user-generated promotion around one of the most beloved events in the world. What’s genuinely exciting is that this year’s overall activity by outlets, spectators, and athletes was just a taste of what’s to come. By 2016, there will be even more followers instead of basic watchers, and coverage of the Olympics will be more integrated (rather than trying to straddle both old school TV practices and new media trends). As a digital director at a fitness magazine, I’m pretty pumped for 2016. I’m thinking 2012 was just a warm-up!
But until then: Thank you, Internet, for making these Olympic Games so ridiculously fun.
“Faster, Higher, Stronger.” “Faster, Higher, Sarah Robles.” Because if you want a synonym for “stronger,” look no farther than the 23 year-old U.S. weightlifter.
It’s not just that she’s technically the strongest woman in our country—Robles will compete for her place on the international podium on August 5th—but it’s the other challenges that have shown the world just how mentally tough this girl is. In the weeks leading up the Games, many of us learned about her financial struggles…and were thrilled to see the online community cheer her on.
But no amount of money, medals, or media attention changes the fact that the 5’10”, 275-pound, 23 year-old has had to overcome a few body issues. On behalf of every woman in America, I’m just gonna go ahead and say that’s where I think her most enduring, admirable strength truly lies. Here, a few questions and answers with the Olympian.
FITNESS: How did your life change when you began accepting your shape and body type?
SARAH ROBLES: My life changed for the better when I decided to be okay with who I am. I knew I wasn’t going to change, nor really could do much about it anyway. I cared more about being the best athlete. It didn’t matter what my body looked like, it mattered more to me how it performed.
FITNESS: What are your best confidence-boosting tips for other women?
SARAH ROBLES: First, stop caring about what other people think. They probably aren’t thinking what you think they are, and most likely, you’ll never see them again.
Next, surround yourself with positive people. Negativity is sticky. It sticks to you and is hard to get rid of. Once you do (find those positive people), you will feel clean, happy, and free!
Lastly, do things you really love or try new things. You never know what you can be good at unless you try. When you learn new skills or further develop the ones you have, you will be more confident.
FITNESS: Which athletes or celebrities do you relate to the most? On a related note, who are your role models? Read more
Fewer than 500 people have competed in five different Olympic Games. Among them: 38-year-old archer Khatuna Lorig, who carried the flag for the U.S. at the 2008 closing ceremony. Lorig’s other claim to fame? Training Jennifer Lawrence, who played Katniss, to look authentic using a bow and arrow in The Hunger Games film adaptation (which is available on DVD and digital download on August 18).
We caught up with the accomplished athlete, who is currently ranked fourth after the women’s individual ranking round, to learn more about her quest for gold and what it’s like to train a tribute.
How does it feel to be competing in your fifth Olympic Games? What does training look like leading up to the competition?
It feels great! Typically, we train from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with an hour for lunch. Since we’re getting to the last minute, we do about four hours a day now.
What qualities make for a medal-worthy archer?
You need a very strong upper body. Women usually use bows that weigh 43 or 44 pounds, while men use 49-pound or heavier bows. I use one that weighs 47 pounds.
Wow, that sounds intense to be lifting that during all of your training and competitions! Do you cross train to build strength and stay in shape?
Any free weight exercises for shoulders and arms are great, but I like to make sure I work my legs and heart too. I lift for about an hour, then finish with two or three miles of running. And of course a soak in the jacuzzi!
To find out about a fun mutual admiration society between Lorig and Lawrence, click below.
Next Tuesday, the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team will go for the gold in the Team Finals. (Yes, we’re already counting down.) And while Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin may have recently retired from gymnastics, she’s as busy as ever! We caught up with her for a few minutes to find out her predictions for the upcoming Games, her future plans, and more.
Marlen Esparza was only 11 when she first stepped into a boxing gym, and it took her days to convince trainer Rudy Silva to allow her to participate in his group workouts. After watching her throw some sloppy but passionate punches at a bag and seeing what Rudy describes as a “spark,” he allowed her to join his sessions with advanced boys.
But that spark doesn’t mean Rudy welcomed her with open arms. “I tried to push her really, really hard,” recalled Rudy during a recent interview at Nike’s campus in Oregon. “I would push the groups really hard, mainly because I wanted her to just quit. After a while, some of my guys started quitting. She just kept showing me every day that she was there to stay and this is what she wanted to do.” Eleven years later, Rudy is still her trainer and Marlen’s tenacity paid off. Not only has she won six national titles, winning her first at age 16, but she was also the first woman to qualify for the US Olympic boxing team.
This honor is not lost on Marlen. In a quick interview in Houston she told us, “To be the first woman to qualify for the Olympics is everything to me. People say to me, ‘Boxing is not who you are; it’s what you do.’ But to me, it’s who I am. I’ve never felt this good in my entire life, ever.”
The road to qualifying wasn’t straightforward, though. The announcement that women’s boxing would be included in the London games also included the news that four weight classes would be combined. Rudy explained, “At the time that they announced the 112 flyweight class, the weight classes that were going to merge into 112 were 106, 110, 114, and 119. Those four weight classes had to compete at 112.” Until the International Olympic announcement, Marlen had fought in the 106-pound weight class. “I had to gain weight,” Marlen told us. “In 2010 I started competing at the 112 Olympic weight class and figuring out who was gonna make it to the games. I was fighting girls down from weighing 119. It was intense. Luckily, I beat them all.”
Keep reading to learn details of how the young boxer eats and trains.
More From FitSugar:
This week’s fit links from around the web:
- Donning a swimsuit will be no sweat with these tips from Dr. Oz! — iVillage
- Go for gold! We can’t all compete at the Olympics, but we can train like we are on the team with exercises from some of the best U.S. athletes. — Refinery 29
- You know we love Bob Harper, so it was extra-fun to get to live vicariously through this blogger who hit the gym with him! — Fit Bottomed Girls
- Where’s the beef? Your barbecue guests won’t feel deprived one bit with these DIY meat-free burgers. — Iowa Girl Eats
- Match the weather to your (work and workout) wardrobe with the relaunched iPhone app, Cloth. Index your closet, then it automatically provides suggestions based on predicted temps. — N.Y. Times
- Cheesecake for 87 calories?! This is one treat too sweet to pass up. — Snack Girl
It’s safe to say by now that we have full-fledged Olympic fever. With just over one month until the lighting of the torch, teams are being fielded and the final training push begins! To hold us over until the official competitions begin, we have been speaking with competitors and checking out their covetable uniforms. We also recently watched a super-inspiring film, Warrior Champions, about wounded Iraq veterans chasing their dreams of competing the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.
Melissa Stockwell, one of the film’s amazing stars, tells a fellow injured vet, “I’ve done more in life than with one leg than I would have done with two.” Talk about motivation to get off the couch and track down your own fitness goals!
Check out the trailer below and click here to find out when the full movie airs on Documentary Channel in your area.
Now tell us: Which athletes or events motivate you to get moving?
With U.S. Olympic Team track and field trials just steps away (they begin on June 21), the competition is heating up. Still, for one of the country’s greatest runners, she’s not worried about the sprinters in the other lanes. “My biggest competition is myself. I am the only one who will get in the way of winning the gold. It is up to me to deliver in London,” says Carmelita Jeter, who has posted the second fastest time in the 100 meters ever (behind only Florence Griffith Joyner, who passed away in 1998).
Now, in full training mode—and kicking around in her signature hot pink Nike Free 3.0 sneaks when she’s not wearing her racing flats—Jeter is ready to make her way to the podium. Here are her top five tips for getting into speedy shape, staying motivated and taking advantage of days off.
- Put in the time. Jeter lifts weights for two hours a day, and then hits the track for another two hours. Four or five days a week, she’s training for about four hours a day. “I know what it takes to be a great athlete and I constantly push myself to be better,” she says.
- Pump yourself up. Before a big race, she has eclectic music choices—including anything from Maroon 5 to Lil Wayne—depending on her mood.
- Visualize success. When the gun goes off, Jeter doesn’t let distracting thoughts sidetrack her success. “I try to think about executing a great race,” she says. “I can hear my coach’s voice in my head telling me to swing my arms and drop my chin.”
- Don’t forget to eat. Jeter fuels her competitions with granola bars before and Muscle Milk protein drinks after.
- Reward yourself. Just like many of us, she pampers herself after a week of hard work. “On rest days, I like to rest and relax on the sofa and watch Lifetime network. If I’m not doing that, I’m at the nail salon getting a mani and a pedi, or getting my hair done,” Jeter says.
Now tell us: What is your favorite rest day splurge?
Some athletes aim for sports glory from a young age. Cyclist Evelyn Stevens is not one of them. In 2007, when she was seeking a casual way to stay fit as a Wall Street associate, Stevens discovered—and fell in love with—cycling. Within three years, she was racing on one of the best female teams in the world and had finished first at the U.S. National Time Trial.
This year, as Stevens is gearing up for London, she was voted onto the BMW Performance Team, which helps Olympic and Paralympic athletes focus on making the team and reaching their goals. “It’s allowed me to continue to focus on making the Olympic Games, but also because it shows I have fan support,” Stevens says.
In her own words, here’s how Stevens made the transition from trading to training in one year flat.
- “When I first started biking in June 2008, I absolutely fell in love with it. I found it to be the most freeing activity, plus it got you fit very quickly! A year after I bought my first bike, I decided to take a big risk and make a big change by following my heart, passion and dreams.”
- “I am fueled by challenges and immediately I was driven to become the best cyclist I could become, I didn’t know if that would just be at the amateur level or at the professional level, I just knew I wanted to push my limits”
- “I will always remember my first 10-day stage race in May of 2010, as my body was suffering, I couldn’t help but think that only a year ago I was spending my day in front of a computer, instead of racing up mountains in the Pyrenees!”
- “In order to thrive in cycling and in finance, you have to be driven and competitive. You have to be able to work well with a team and in stressful environments. Also, attention to detail is hugely important in cycling as it was during my career in finance—all of the small things make a big difference.”
- “I love my Specialized Amira SL4 road bike, and a comfortable saddle pair of shorts are an absolute must. If you are just getting into riding, definitely take the time to find a saddle that is comfortable and don’t be afraid to try out a variety of different ones in a shop. And I never get on my bike without my helmet.”
More from FITNESS:
Written by Brittany Vickers, editorial intern
In just a couple short months, you’ll be watching the best of the best from across the world compete in London for gold. Among the contenders? America’s own Meb Keflezighi, a distance runner who took top honors at the trials in Houston with a marathon time of 2:09:08 (yes, that’s an amazing sub-5-minute mile pace for 26.2 miles!).
Besides being an all-star athlete, Keflezighi is passionate about helping others through the organization he founded, the MEB (Maintaining Excellent Balance) Foundation. His career has taught him the importance of chasing your passions. “You have to believe in yourself. That is number one!” Keflezighi told us. “Many people told me I couldn’t do this, but I knew that I could. So can you.”
We caught up with Keflezighi—thank goodness he didn’t have his racing shoes on—to gather his top three tips for runners training at any speed.
- Find your support system. “The people who are counting on me, supporting me and encouraging me give me great motivation! I’m representing them and I can’t let them down,” Keflezighi says. “Another great way to stay motivated is to find accountability. Meet someone to work out, and then you know you’ll be there. You would never not show up for a coffee meeting. It’s the same for an exercise meeting!”
- Give yourself a break. “It’s OK to mix up your training. Always cross train! It’s a great way to keep pushing your body and work different muscles, and it helps reduce injury. Also, you’ll have days where rest will do you good and may be the best thing for you. Take advantage of that free time, and if you’re feeling off remember: there will be brighter days,” Keflezighi recommends.
- Step two will never happen without step one. You’ve got to go for it! “Don’t be too intimidated to try. Running gives you this therapeutic energy. Just start with one mile and see how it goes, he says. “If you run one half-marathon, it’s such an accomplishment! I ran my first 10K in college and said never again. And then I ran my first marathon, and I also said never again, but look here I am. Once you get into a good habit you’re used to it and it’s easier to keep it up.”
Now tell us: What’s the best fitness advice you’ve ever received?