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Life & Style
Jun 21 2012 4:45PM
 
Sex – an Olympic sport?
Cameron van der Burgh Picture: GETTY IMAGES
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Mia McDonald

London played host to the Olympic Games in 1908 and 1948 and now hosts the games this year from July 27 to August 12.

There’s a lot on an athlete’s mind in the build up to the games. Am I ready? Have I trained sufficiently and will I win? But what about – will I or should I get laid?

The athletes, the main attraction of the entire event, have strict schedules and protocols to follow, all in the name of victory, of course. But living in an enclosed security village for the duration of the games, the imagination can only picture what goes down.

Olympic villages are infamous for alleged saucy relationships that spark between athletes from different countries. Aren’t they supposed to be abstaining?

Is it just an old myth that sex before a big competition will deplete the hormones necessary for a great track performance?

Superhero status goes with being an Olympic competitor – they’re young, virile and endowed with talents to entertain with their superior skills. We love to watch them in action, but are they getting any action off the track?

The belief that sex depletes the body of testosterone and inhibits performance on the track is a myth, says Dr Jeroen Swart, national coach of the South African Olympic mountain bike team, said: “Science is catching up with the previous myth about sex impairing athletic abilities. Athletes are allowed to have sex while they are training for the Olympics. In fact, sex enhances performance by reducing stress levels, and alleviating pressure and anxiety. As long as athletes don’t engage in all-night parties, it’s fine for them to have sex.”

US baseball manager Charles Casey Stengel (1891-1975) famously said: “Being with a woman all night never hurt no professional baseball player. It’s the staying up all night looking for one that does him in.”

Logistics often prevent athletes from taking their spouses along to overseas events. And if you’re going to be away for a long time, in a possibly chilly place, then anyone might be tempted to prowl.

At the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010, 100000 condoms were issued to the athletes, 15 condoms per athlete. Free condoms were first handed out to athletes at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Games.

Prof Tim Noakes agrees that sex before events doesn’t affect athletes “as the physical effort is irrelevant. However, there is something called love that seems to have been forgotten about. More love equals better sporting performance, whereas cheating or bought sex means less love and less performance on the field. One must dissect the physical from the mental effects of sex. No one does this.”

Looking at the mental effects of sex on an individual, as Noakes suggests, sex connected to love can be seen as beneficial, while one-night stands or sex with prostitutes can result in an athlete being scatter-brained.

Running coach Jean Verster believes every athlete has individual needs. He said: “Some athletes will be more relaxed and happy-go-lucky if they engage in sex before competing, but sometimes athletes perform better when they’re stressed. Differences in time zones have a great effect on athletes. But each athlete is different and so it’s really a case of trial and error to figure out what works for an individual.”

miam@thenewage.co.za

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