The elite athlete is a finely-tuned machine.
It starts with good genes. There are years of training and conditioning. Coaching and facilities are top-notch. And of course nutrition, which fuels the energy and stamina needed to achieve peak performance, is managed with the same precision as the rest of the training regimen.
Olympic athletes might consider every bite, but for all that care and attention, some athletes make bizarre dietary choices. They are often obsessive and superstitious about the foods they eat. Like anyone, they've been known to give in to their unhealthy tastes and predilections; unlike the rest of us they can easily rationalize a big haul from the fast food drive-through because they're training so hard.
Here's the eccentric consumption that is taking some Olympians to London:
Michael Phelps has swum his way to enough Olympic gold that it's tough to knock his his 8,000+ daily caloric intake that treats McDonald's as a major food group.
American marathon runner Michael Arnstein is a full-time raw fruitarian- uncooked fruits and vegetables only.
The Olympic team from Kazakhstan is fed a protein-rich diet of horse meat sausages. Britain's import controls on horse meat are posing a challenge to their mealtime.
Sprinter Usain Bolt, a.k.a. the world's fastest human, eats yams: steamed yams, roasted yams, yam stew, yam soup, yam cakes; and not just any old yams, but the Trelawny yam from his native Jamaica. Presumably he likes yams, but this particular yam contains high amounts of naturally occurring steroid alkaloids and have been used to synthesize testosterone since the 1930's.
Team USA gymnast Jonathan Horton fires up his blood sugar with swigs of honey straight from the jar.
South Korean gymnast Son Yeon-jae must have the strictest diet of the Olympic Village. Her coaches monitor the teenager's weight down to the gram (that would be 3/100ths of an ounce), and in an interview with Korea's daily paper, The Chosun Ilbo, she said she 'eats a sparrow's breakfast and lunch and skips dinner.'
At 71, Japanese equestrian Hiroshi Hoketsu will be the oldest athlete at the London Olympics and the second oldest Olympian ever to compete, surpassed only by a 72-year old Swedish shooter who won a silver medal in the 1920 Summer Olympics. And he eats whatever he wants.
Phelps Credit Image: © Armando Arorizo/Prensa Internacional/ZUMAPRESS.com
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