Sunday 24 September 2017

The Complete Book of the Olympics (2012 Edition)

This is probably my favourite book!!

My rating: 10/10 [Admittedly I have not read all of it but I can tell]

Authors: David Wallechinsky and Jaime Loucky

Publisher: Aurum Press

Price: I saw it in a bookstore for about $50, but you can get it second-hand from eBay for AUD$11 to $25.

Pages: 1300 pages

  • Provides interesting background stories of the Olympic champions (and sometimes other competitiors) for the vast majority of Olympic events from 1896 to 2008.
  • Provides as-it-happened summaries of how certain races unfolded, or how matches and events were won for most Olympic events from 1896 to 2008. Will note the intensity and closeness of important match-ups too. Some entries are longer than others.
  • Top 8 finishers, number of competitors and nations featured for all events from 1896 to 2008.
  • Brief outline of how some of the lesser known sports are played or scored.
  • Brief introduction to the Olympics and issues faced by the Olympics.
  • Highly knowledgeable and insightful write-ups for every sport and Olympic event from 1896 to 2008; the context behind the events and the leadup to the events is often examined succinctly. Each event entry usually features refreshing backstories of the athletes, random trivia or fun facts, or even at times goes on to explain what the competitors later achieved and the greater historical significance of certain events. [Eg. Just today I read about how Mohammad Ali (Cassius Clay) stood up for the USA when a Russian journalist asked how it felt to be banned from eating at certain places because he was black; his patriotism was later betrayed when he was refused service at a milkbar. I also enjoyed reading about the fanfare and enthusiasm for the USA's 1992 Dream Team.] 

Index Sample

Here are all the sports covered by The Complete Book of the Olympics (2012 Edition) for Men and Women:

  • Track and Field
  • Archery
  • Badminton
  • Boxing
  • Canoeing
  • Cycling
  • Diving
  • Equestrian
  • Fencing
  • Field Hockey
  • Football (Soccer)
  • Gymnastics 
  • Team Handball
  • Judo
  • Modern Pentathlon
  • Rowing
  • Sailing
  • Shooting
  • Swimming
  • Synchronized Swimming
  • Table Tennis
  • Taekwondo
  • Tennis
  • Triathlon
  • Volleyball
  • Water Polo
  • Weightlifting
  • Freestyle Wrestling
  • Greco-Roman Wrestling
Discontinued sports covered are as follows:

The format of each chapter looks something like this:
What the start of each chapter looks like and some entries
Short Summary 

If you enjoy the Olympics, like interesting and fun facts about athletes, including the challenges faced by each Olympic gold medal winner from 1896 to 2008 (ie. for all team and individual events, including events that were discontinued), this reference book is for you.

For example, I didn't know that Steve Hooker, the pole vaulter, was actually afraid of heights and converted from Aussie Rules Football. He had to get a hypnotist to sort out his fear of heights - he would be too scared to actually vault, often simply running in-between the sticks.

I also didn't know that Cathy Freeman's mother's father was a Syrian who came to Australia to deliver camels; and one of her great-grandfathers came from China in search of gold.

I didn't realise the 2000 badminton men's singles winner, Ji Xinpeng, had to win the gold medal the hard way by defeating the top 3 seeds.....and after winning gold he never won another major tournament. Talk about a one-hit wonder.

Taufik Hidayat - wild child of Indonesia

The book's philosophy appears to be: "If it's worth mentioning, we will mention it."

The 1904 men's marathon is a pretty hilarious read, for example. You can read about it on Wikipedia, but I think will blog on it soon. Hollywood should totally make a movie on it.

My only real issue, if I can even call it that, about this series is that apparently this 2012 edition is the last book that will be produced in the series.

There are apparently no plans to update the book to cover the Olympics from 2012 onwards :(

It would have been great to see detailed write-ups on the recent 2016 games, including, for example, Fiji, Singapore, Tajikistan, Bahrain, Puerto Rico, Kosovo, Jordan, the Independent Olympic Athletes, and Vietnam winning their first-ever gold medals.

As Mr Wallechinsky explains, there is a lot of work involved with covering all Olympic events:
"I would have to finish all the London 2012 stories, and then add in the Rio 2016 stories, where you are talking about more than 600 events.
“I would probably need to work on it for at least one or two hours every single day."
Apparently only the Winter Olympics will be covered and updated from herein on. That book is next on my wishlist, but I'm in no hurry to get it.

I have plenty on my hands right now!!

Andre Lim

1 comment:

  1. I love reading fun facts and i think this book is perfect source of entertainment for me. It can serve u great purpose like motivation and knowledge.