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Animal Olympics

The Olympics are in full swing. And while they are a spectacle of the best of human ability, there are animals who would win the gold hands down with minimal effort. That is, if we could get animals to compete in organized sports. Let’s look at some Olympic events and the animals that would win them.  

The long jump is an event where athletes attempt to leap as far as possible from a take-off point. The world record of 29 ft. 4 ½ in. was set by Mike Powell in 1991. Snow leopards have been known to jump more than 49 feet.  

Artistic swimming can be an individual or a team sport. Athletes perform elaborate moves in the water, receiving marks for technical merit and artistic impression. The mating dance of the hooded grebe is one that I’m sure would receive high marks from even the toughest of judges. Check out this YouTube video of the “Tango in the Wild”.  

The picture below is pulled from the video.  

The Olympic marathon swimming event covers 10km (6.2 miles) in open water. At the 2016 Olympics, Ferry Weertman won the gold for this event with a time of 1:52:59.8. The sailfish, who has been clocked at 68 miles per hour, would finish the 10km marathon swim in about 5 minutes. Veljko Rogosic set the Guinness World Record for the longest swim at 225km (139.8 miles) in 50 hours and 10 minutes across the Adriatic Sea from Grado to Riccione in Italy. One gray whale has been reported to have traveled from Russia to Mexico and back again for a total distance of 13,988 miles in 172 days. Considering those numbers, the gray whale would cover 139.8 miles in just over 42 hours, and Veljko Rogosic would travel 13,988 miles in 215 days. The Sailfish image below is public domain.  

We have all heard that ants can lift 10-50 times their own body weight, but in any weightlifting category, the elephant wins every time. With its prehensile trunk and robust frame, elephants are better equipped to hold their own bulk plus any load. An adult elephant’s muscular trunk can easily lift more than 700 pounds. The highest weight ever lifted in the clean and jerk event is 586 pounds.  

We know some animals are built to swim and some are built to jump, but Olympic athletes really do demonstrate the peak of human ability. There’s a viral quote from 2016 by Bill Murray that says every Olympic event should include one average person competing for reference. Imagine yourself performing your gymnastic floor exercise only to be followed by Simone Biles, or stepping up to the block, ready to swim your hardest only to see Katie Ledecky next to you. While it’s fun to imagine how animals would compare, for humans, there really is no comparison to these amazing athletes.  

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