David Bruce: The Funniest People in Sports: 250 Anecdotes — Motivation, Names

Motivation

• Gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi understands how to motivate gymnasts. At his gymnastics training camp in Houston, Texas, there were three gyms. Two were tan, and one was blue. The tan gyms were for ordinary gymnasts, while the blue gym was for the elite gymnasts who compete in the National Championships, the World Championships, and the Olympics. All the young gymnasts who trained with Mr. Karolyi hoped someday to train in the blue gym.

• Figure skating coach Gustave Lussi was a master of motivation. He coached Dorothy Hamill when she was very young, and each time she learned a new jump, he rewarded her with coins. After long hours of training, young Dorothy managed to land both the double lutz and the double flip at the same practice session. She took the coins, framed them, and hung them on her wall.

• Back when figure skater Tiffany Chin was competing, she had little trouble motivating herself to practice. She figured that the choice was between not practicing and falling down in front of an audience, or practicing and not falling down in front of an audience. She strongly preferred to practice in private and not fall down in public.

• Gymnasts have different ways of motivating themselves to perform well. Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes writes the words “Determination,” “Dedication,” and “Dynamics” on her bathroom mirror to motivate herself before meets. These words make up what she calls her “3-D philosophy” of competition.

• Soviet gymnastics champion Ludmilla Tourischeva used to mark the days of the World Championships on her calendar — and on each day she would mark “VICTORY!”

Names

• In 1976, the Atlanta Braves began to print each player’s nickname above his number on his uniform. Andy Messersmith wore No. 17, which was the number of the channel broadcasting the programs of WTCH, a television station owned by Ted Turner, who also owned the Braves. Because Mr. Messersmith didn’t have a nickname, Mr. Turner decided to put “Channel” above the 17 on Mr. Messersmith’s uniform. Unfortunately, the National League President didn’t like the joke, regarding it as advertising, so he forced the Braves to remove “Channel” from Mr. Messersmith’s uniform.

• Golfer Tiger Woods’ real first name is Eldrick, which was specially chosen by his parents, Earl and Kultida Woods. His mother says that she and her husband took the first letters of their first names and put them at the beginning and end of Tiger’s real first name in order “to show that no matter what, we will always be at your side.” Where did the nickname “Tiger” come from? Tiger was given his nickname by his Vietnam War veteran father, who wished to honor a South Vietnamese soldier who had saved him from being killed by a sniper.

• Jair Lynch says that he became a successful gymnast — he is the first black gymnast to win an Olympic medal and only the second black gymnast to compete at the Games — because of his name. In Senegalese, Jair means “one who sees the light.” According to Jair Lynch, “Joe” Lynch would not have become successful.

• Ice skater Dorothy Hamill is nearsighted, and in her competitive days she wore oversized glasses to help her see well enough to do such school figures, aka compulsory figures, as a figure eight. Because of her poor eyesight, her fellow performers in the Ice Capades nicknamed her “Squint.”

• In 1996, Jaycie Phelps won Olympics gold as a member of the United States “Magnificent Seven” women’s gymnastics team at the Atlanta Games. Her parents are Jack and Cheryl Phelps, and Jaycie got her name from the initials of her parents’ first names.

• Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson has a lisp and so, when he was growing up, other children called him “Fairy Boy.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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