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Athletes watch Olympic sports for inspiration


While some spectators view the Olympics as nothing more than entertainment, senior and future Division One track athlete Grant Morgenfeld watches every race from the pre-race interviews in order to study the runners’ mentality, from the quick burst of speed after the gunshot to the post-game questioning, all to better his performance on the rubber.

“I watch races to see the strategy and also because it is enjoyable. A lot can be learned from observing the pros compete.”

With the 2024 Olympics approaching, Morgenfeld, along with many other students are ready to take a look back on the history of the games and how over time, it has become the largest and most popular sporting event in history. In 1896, in Athens, when the first modern Olympics was held, the games only consisted of 241 athletes from 14 nations across nine sports. Now, more than 10,000 people from 206 different countries participate in the games, competing in 40 different sports. 

One of the most popular Olympic sports is swimming, with 2.7 million views per night in just the 2021 qualification trials. The U.S. Olympic Swim Team not only leads in viewers, but also in total gold medals in Olympic history with 254.

Competitive swimmer and Castilleja junior Ella Detter said swimming became one of the most popular Olympic sports because of its famous athletes. 

“Swimming has become a bigger sport in the Olympics, especially with (the) big names that have been competing,” Detter said. “I think them being well known inside and outside the pool attracts more attention from viewers.” 

Detter also said swimming in the Olympics is a great opportunity for young athletes to show off their talents on a bigger stage. 

“Swimming is unique in that young kids can make a name for themselves really early in their career,” Detter said. “When I’m competing, it is really fun to watch people who are good at what they do at a young age compete.” 

Because of the four-year gap between each Summer Olympics, there are changes in the performance of athletes and the structure of the sports. These differences were exemplified in the return of four-time gold medalist gymnast Simone Biles, and in coming addition of breakdancing.

Morgenfeld said the popularity of Olympic sports are impacted by these shifts.

“One aspect that has changed is the sport has become more popular over time, (with) a lot more coverage and hype around the events, and that attracts a lot more people,” Morgenfeld said. “People in America are getting a little bit more excited about track and field.” 

Morganfeld also said he thinks Olympic track and field will continue to change. 

“We’ve been seeing a lot more high school athletes start to run faster times,” Morgenfeld said. “Technology’s gotten a lot better with training and as time progresses, athletes are only going to get faster and stronger. I think we’re going to continue seeing world records go down, we’re gonna keep seeing more and more people run fast.”

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Rahul Shetty
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