Readings: Highest Paid Athlete, Trying Again, Usain Bolt

Some short (but interesting!) reads over the last few of days:

1) “Greatest of All Time” [Lapham’s Quarterly] – who is/was the highest paid athlete of all time? Hint: it’s not Tiger Woods or LeBron James. According to Peter Struck, associate professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, that honor goes to a Lusitanian Spaniard named Gaius Appuleius Diocles, who worked as a charioteer in Ancient Rome. According to Struck:

Twenty-four years of winnings brought Diocles—likely an illiterate man whose signature move was the strong final dash—the staggering sum of 35,863,120 sesterces in prize money…His total take home amounted to five times the earnings of the highest paid provincial governors over a similar period—enough to provide grain for the entire city of Rome for one year, or to pay all the ordinary soldiers of the Roman Army at the height of its imperial reach for a fifth of a year. By today’s standards that last figure, assuming the apt comparison is what it takes to pay the wages of the American armed forces for the same period, would cash out to about $15 billion.

2) “At First She Didn’t Succeed, but She Tried and Tried Again” [New York Times] – teachers: this is the story you forward (or discuss in class) to your students…How one lady in South Korea didn’t give up after repeatedly failing to pass the driving exam. Remarkable:

This diminutive woman, now known nationwide as “Grandma Cha Sa-soon,” has achieved a record that causes people here to first shake their heads with astonishment and then smile: She failed her driver’s test hundreds of times but never gave up. Finally, she got her license — on her 960th try.

Talk about motivation:

For three years starting in April 2005, she took the test once a day five days a week. After that, her pace slowed, to about twice a week. But she never quit.

3) “Usain Bolt: Fast and Loose” [The Guardian] – the world’s fastest sprinter sits down for an interview and explains that he actually wants to play football (soccer):

Ultimately, he [Usain Bolt] says, he’d love to make a go of playing football professionally. He’s being deadly serious. One of the perks of being Usain Bolt is that sporting stars love to meet him, so whenever he’s travelling and there’s time, he tries to train with a top football team. Last year it was Manchester United, a few days ago it was Bayern Munich. He’s still carrying a copy of the French sporting newspaper L’Equipe, which features a spread on his football skills and praise from Bayern manager Louis van Gaal. He shows me a photo of himself with his arm wrapped round the dwarfed 6ft German forward Miroslav Klose. “If I keep myself in shape, I can definitely play football at a high level,” he says.

A question I asked recently: will the 100m sprint be ever run in under 9 seconds? When do you think it will happen? In the next ten years? The next twenty? In other words, I am wondering if we’ll see the 10 second barrier become the nine second barrier…