Rob Wood

Rob's Sports, Fitness & Science Blog

Funny Fitness

July 9th, 2014 · Fitness

Fitness and sport is not all serious. On Topendsports we have a whole section on sports fun such as Funny Sports Quotes, as well as my favourite Apt Sporting Names – such as 1986 400m hurdle WR holder Marina Stepanova and Chuck Long the former NFL quarterback for the Detroit Lions and the Los Angeles Rams.


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Vessyl the Smart Cup

June 18th, 2014 · Sports Nutrition

vessyl drinking cupHey this is cool. A drinking cup that monitors your hydration status plus other intakes. It recognises any liquid that is poured into it – identifying and reporting back the fluid volume consumed as well as nutritional content like calories and caffeine.

There is a wide range of possible uses for this, and the nutritional intake and hydration status of athletes is just one of them. The idea is great, but maybe it is not the ideal solution yet.

The problem is that in order for it to accurately track your intake you need to put all your fluids into the same cup. It does not seem very good for an athlete, it is not something you could easily carry around while exercising. It would be hard to mix drinks too. You can’t just have a drink of water while waiting for your coffee to cool down. You’ll be forever washing this cup (it is not dishwasher safe). What about at the pub after a game? You will get a few stares when you get the barman to fill your own cup, and you can’t beat a beer from an ice-cold glass.

I look forward to seeing more innovations along this line, it could be the start of something.

UPDATE: the company that produced this product has shut down. Hopefully, the idea is not dead and there will be something similar one day soon.

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Creative World Cup Team Nicknames

May 22nd, 2014 · FIFA World Cup, Football (Soccer)

Looking through the list of Team Nicknames of the teams of the 2014 The FIFA  World Cup, I have to question the imagination of many of the people who have come up with the names. There is a group of teams that basically don’t have a nickname, they just have a variation of the term ‘the national team‘ in their respective language (e.g. Germany, Iran, Switzerland). Equally uninspiring, many nicknames are derived from national colors – such as the Blues (France), the Reds (Chile), Orange (Netherlands) and the Tri-Colors (Ecuador, Mexico). At least some add a bit of spice to the color name game, such as the Red Fury (Spain), Red Devils (Belgium), and the Black Stars (Ghana).

Not all the names are so bland. If you could create an nickname, wouldn’t you want one that would strike fear in the opposition, like the Dragons from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, and and my all time favorite The Pirate Ship (Greece)? There are also Super Eagles (Nigeria) and Elephants (Ivory Coast) to contend with. But there is nothing as fearful as my team’s nickname – the Socceroos! Unfortunately a fearsome team nickname does not necessarily equate to success, as the tournament favourites are commonly known as the Little Canaries (Brazil). Whaoo scary!

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Unusual Ways To Carry The Olympic Games Torch

July 29th, 2013 · Olympic Games

torch-relay-runEach Olympic Games torch relay begins with a torch being lit by the sun’s rays at the ancient site of Olympia, after which it is passed by torch from person to person all the way to the Olympic stadium in the host city. The torch relay tradition started in 1936 and this is one of the few times where just runners have carried it all of the way (it also happened in 1948 and 1980).

Recent Olympic torch relays have been a competition to see which host can have the most bizarre transport method. I have come up with a  large list of alternative transport types for the torch. Some of the more unusual transportation types include space ships and along a zip wire. In 1976 the flame was sent by radio signal between Greece and Canada and in 2000 it went underwater at the Great Barrier Reef. For the Sochi Games the Russians are taking it into space again. It will be interesting to see where else it goes, and also what the Rio organisers can come up with. Any suggestions?

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Are These Sports?

July 15th, 2013 · Sport

What is a sport? There have been a few posts on the page about the most demanding sports, suggesting that some activities such as cheerleading shouldn’t be considered a sport. I have searched for the best definition of what is a sport and have come up with these three criteria:

tenpin bowler

A sport must be:

  • a human activity involving physical skill and exertion
  • governed by a set of rules or customs
  • undertaken competitively and capable of achieving a result

Here are some activities that are often called sports, but for some people it is debatable whether they are actually sports.

What do you think? Are these sports?

billiards, bowling, cheerleading, dancing, equestrian,  figure skating, fishing, golf, horse racing, motorsports, parkour, poker, surfing, and synchronized swimming.

There is only one of these that I think is not a sport, and a couple of others that are “sometimes”. Maybe you have others that you think should or shouldn’t be classified as a sport. Let me know.

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Review of the Dirtiest Race in History

March 25th, 2013 · Olympic Games, Sports Medicine, Track & Field

Book: The Dirtiest Race in HistoryThe title of this book (The Dirtiest Race in History, By Richard Moore) refers to the 1988 Olympic Games 100 m sprint final (see a video of the race). This was perhaps the most thrilling sprint in Olympic history, but within 48 hours the gold medalist Ben Johnson had tested positive for anabolic steroids and the scandal and stories had begun. However, the full story did not begin with this race, but many years earlier.

The book follows the development of the two main combatants, Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson, from when they started sprinting; building a deep rivalry between them that fascinated the athletics world, culminating in the infamous race referred to in the title. The author Richard Moore was able to interview Johnson who gave some interesting insights into that period, but unfortunately Lewis was not available.

In the concluding pages of this book, we are given details of each of the competitors in this infamous race. It may be no surprise that ultimately most of them were tainted by drugs at some point in their career, possibly this is the message the book is trying to make. This may be the story about Ben and Carl, but it also defines the period in athletics history where drug use was widespread, and the fledgling anti-doping program had only started the game of catch-up.

More Info

  • The Dirtiest Race in History by Richard Moore.
  • Inside Track: My Professional Life in Amateur Track and Field, by Carl Lewis and Jeffrey Marx.
  • Speed Trap: The Inside Story of Ben Johnson and the Biggest Scandal in Olympic History, by Charlie Francis and Jeff Coplan.

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Battle of the World’s Fittest Sports

March 4th, 2013 · Fitness, Sport

Formula One FlagESPN SportsNation recently held a competition to determine the World’s Greatest Athlete (won by Bo Jackson). We have decided to hold our own competition using a similar format, but this time comparing the sports themselves rather than the athletes, to determine which world sport is more physically demanding.

I started by selecting 32 sports, from which a draw was created so there are one-on-one match-ups which you can vote on, which will continue until only one sport remains – The World’s Fittest Sport! See our full list of nominated sports.

The first sport comparison is between Formula One and Team Handball – which one is more demanding? The physical demands of formula one often goes unappreciated, requiring a high aerobic capacity and good upper body and leg strength. Drivers perform with heart beats of up to 200 per minute for extended periods. Team Handball is not well known outside of Europe, where it is a popular sport.  Similar in many ways to basketball, however the demands are possibly greater for handball as the players move faster up and down the court and throw the ball more powerfully.

UPDATE: see the full results

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Oscar Pistorius the Anti-Hero

February 15th, 2013 · Olympic Games, Track & Field

It is with no surprise that we hear the news that another sporting hero has fallen foul of the law. Although the full details are yet to emerge, it seems like the 2012 Olympian and multiple-paralympian Oscar Pistorius, also known as the ‘Blade Runner’, may have murdered his girlfriend.  I posted about him recently, saying he was not the first disabled athlete to compete at the Olympics. Not only that, now he may also not be the first sporting hero to cross to the dark side. Is Oscar Pistorius our next anti-hero?  I have complied just a short list of athletes who have done something bad, labeling them anti-heroes (my title). I don’t think there are more bad people in sports, probably the opposite. There maybe a higher level of arrogance in some sports stars, but generally being the focus of public attention keeps them on the straight and narrow. When one slips up, it is big news, as it is now with Pistorius.

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The Need to Modernize Modern Pentathlon

February 14th, 2013 · Olympic Games, Sport

Modern pentathlon is not the most popular of world sports, but maybe the International Olympic Committee can see that it has potential. The sport, which was created for the Olympics, was highlighted by many as the one to be dropped from the Olympic program, but was saved for now when wrestling was dropped from the core sports list.

Despite being modern by name, the sport based on the skills of the ideal cavalry soldier is not currently relevant to many people. It has been trying to modernize itself, looking at changing the event so it can be completed in a single day and all at the same venue, making it more spectator friendly. The concept of the sport is great, the challenge to find the ultimate all-round-athlete – competing in the very different disciplines of shooting, fencing, swimming, equestrian and running. Lets get it on prime time TV, add some dancing girls and loud music, and they could be onto a winner.

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Wrestling gone from the Olympics

February 13th, 2013 · Olympic Games, Sport

The IOC have voted to drop wrestling  from the list of core Olympic Games sports, a necessary step to make room for more relevant sports for today. Wrestling still has a chance to be on the program, though it will now join the seven shortlisted sports which are aiming for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic program: baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding and wushu. You can vote for which sport you think should be included in the Olympics. It is very unlikely that wrestling will be added back on the program, maybe something cool like climbing should be added. Dropping wrestling was a surprise to me, as it seemed like modern pentathlon was on the chopping block. There are a few other sports that should possibly be eliminated. Our poll of which Olympic sports should be dropped had equestrian as more unpopular than wrestling and modern pentathlon, and equestrian also topped our list of Least favourite Olympic sports. The word from an IOC inside source indicated that wrestling was voted out from a final group that also included modern pentathlon, taekwondo and field hockey, which gives an idea of which sports may next be on the chopping block. It seems like there is a bit more culling to do.

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