The news was awash with raunchy reports after the London 2012 Olympics – with reporters claiming that the Olympic village was “one big sex den” or a village of pleasure. There’s no surprise that the world’s finest athletes have strong libidos and aren’t afraid to explore their sexual side, but some athletes have raised the concern that sex may not be as good for you before an event or a race as you might expect.
Big sporting names like Muhammad Ali reportedly went without sex for a month and a half before a big fight. Berti Vogts, a German football manager, banned his team from having sex before a match. Even Sly couldn’t get a late night up (despite his previous performance in adult-oriented films) in his movie Rocky, where his trainer drilled in the mantra, “women weaken legs”.
So, why is that some athletes don’t like to hit the sack, figuratively speaking? Is it because lovemaking leads to lower testosterone, as some studies claim? Scientific research argues otherwise. "The night before has no effect on strength or endurance or any of the physical abilities of the athletes," said Dr Ian Shrirer, former president of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine. This was researched and confirmed by independent physicians and reported by National Geographic, too.
However, the same can’t be said for female athletes. Alexander Olshanietzky, an Israeli physician, argues that women perform best after orgasm. “Generally, it's true of high jumpers and runners. The more orgasms, the more chances of winning a medal,” he said. Perhaps that’s why bed notches were as desirable in the Olympic Village as the elusive gold medal.
Triathlete Jimmy Riccitello recently wrote an article debunking his experience of the myth. “Personally,” he wrote, “I don’t believe sex is a detriment to athletic performance—quite the contrary. I’ve had some of my best races after a night of lovemaking.”
The evidence, it seems, is that having sex the night before won’t have a physical effect on your performance. It can, however, affect you psychologically – especially if your coach was akin to Rocky’s, and prevented you from sexual intercourse before any competitions. At the end of the day, it’s simply down to the athlete’s performance and personal preference. Strong convictions and firm beliefs can be a powerful motivator or inhibitor, and can be as influential on an athlete’s performance as a testosterone boost.
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