A Silver Or A Bronze Or The Potato Medal?

Synek, Drysdale, and Campbell – three happy Olympic medallists?

Yesterday, in the A final of the men’s single sculls at the Olympic Regatta at Eton Dorney, Mahé Drysdale (NZL) took the gold medal, Ondřej Synek (CZE) took the silver, and Alan Campbell (GBR) took the bronze. Lassi Karonen (SWE) came in fourth. Of course, as a Swede, I wanted Karonen to grab a medal in this exciting race, but alas he and the rest of us rowing interested Swedes have to be satisfied with what the Danes call Kartoffel Medalje, the Potato Medal. This is probably the most unwanted place in a rowing final, in that you are so very close to an Olympic medal, but after all the hard work, you get Nothing!

Let’s have a look at these scullers’ times:

M. Drysdale 6:57.82
O. Synek 6:59.37
A. Campbell 7:03.28
L. Karonen 7:04.04

At least between Campbell and Karonen it was a close race at the finish line.

Yesterday on the American radio station NPR, its science correspondent, Shankar Vedantam, made an interesting observation regarding the ‘happiness’ of winning a silver or a bronze. Scientists have done research that proves that silver medallists are ‘unhappy’ with their performances while bronze medallists are ‘happy’. Read the article and listen to the story here.

So, did Campbell look happier than Synek at the prize ceremony? I don’t know, but Campbell was very pleased, no doubt about it. After all, he nearly won the unwanted Kartoffel Medalje but did not.

Congratulations to the three medallists!

Update 5 August, 2012: A good-hearted man, the British bookshop owner David Mitchell, has taken the matter into his own hands and solved it this way!

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