London Spy

Top five odd Olympic questions answered

London Spy

Why do divers shower? Why do athletes bite their medals? We look at (and attempt to answer) the top questions of the Games.

What is that tape athletes are wearing?

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Kinesio tape, developed by a Japanese doctor over 30 years ago, is much more than just a fashion statement -- though athletes like German beach volleyball player Katrin Holtwick use it for both. It takes a special certification just to be licensed to apply it and once on, it separates the upper layer of the skin from muscle tissue. This extra space allows for muscles to fire and recover more quickly.

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Why do divers shower after getting out of the pool?

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Since the water in the diving pool is typically warmer than the conditions in the venue, divers like Canada's Riley McCormick and Britain's Tom Daley will take a warm shower (or sit in a hot bath, or both) upon exiting the pool to keep their muscles warm. Without it, they could cramp, preventing the flexibility and agility required to execute their dives.

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Why do track events run anti-clockwise?

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There is no consensus on why this has been the accepted standard for nearly a century. In the ancient Greek games the track was just a single straight, and events were run up-and-back, as in the swimming. Despite British athletics trailblazers Oxford and Cambridge originally running clockwise, track events in America were run anti-clockwise on horse racing ovals. In the early part of the 20th Century many nations adopted this convention, leading to the IAAF adopting it.

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What exactly is a countback in boxing?

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When boxing matches end in a draw we often hear the commentators say that the fight will be decided by 'countback'. The system was used when Britain's Anthony Joshua beat Italy's Roberto Cammarelle to win the men's Olympic super-heavyweight boxing gold medal. The only problem is that commentators never explain what that actually means.

Here's how it works: in each fight there are five judges who score each round, but the highest score and lowest scores are disregarded in the interests of balance. However, if the fight ends up being level, they then go back and look at (or countback) the disgarded scores as a tie-breaker. If the scores are still level then the fight comes down to "judges' preference", where each judge votes on who they think was more deserving of the win.

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Why do athletes bite into their medal after winning gold?

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The main reason for most is because photographers ask them to but the practice traces its roots back to 19th century commerce when merchants used to bite into gold to make sure that it was real. Since tooth enamel is harder than gold, silver and bronze, athletes, like Irish boxer Katie Taylor, can bite their medals to leave impressions of their teeth in their precious medals. This practice can also serve a few purposes: For one, if you win multiple medals of the same type, you can use the bite marks to differentiate which event each medal represents; it's also a great way to safeguard against theft.

Eurosport / John Parker, Yahoo! Sports

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