Diet and Food in the Olympic Village - Seoul 1988
An Olympians opportunity to shine only comes around once every four years, so diet and exercise are crucial for success. For myself, training 2x per day for the better part of 1,450 days was only supported by the quality and volume of my food intake (“intake” literally meaning “taking in a lot of food to support the training”). In order to keep my weight over 188 pounds and maintain my strength, I was eating more than 6,500 calories per day!
So upon arrival at the Olympic Village we were presented with an incredible array of foods prepared by some of the best chefs in the world, that cater to virtually every nationality, region and taste. We all know that it’s important to eat during training. But it’s also important not to upset the body. So what does one do? The team and I decided to only eat the foods that our bodies were used to (despite the mouthwatering aromas of the various Asian cuisine, especially the Korean Bulgogi and Thai Pad Thai) and stick to American foods. Others, however, were a little more adventurous and sure enough they paid for it – big time.
When our races concluded and we had a week left I bee lined directly to the Kimchi station (we were told we absolutely had to try it). Kimchi is made of vegetables, mostly cabbage, fermented and spiced and buried underground for months at a time. Very pungent, very spicy, a bit hot and oh-so-good. I ate it, enjoyed every bite and paid for it dearly the next morning.
The next day was Bulgogi. A little more familiar, this is Korean marinated beef and sides grilled on a personal table top grill, along with a side of Bap (rice). Very good and easier on the tummy. Pairs great with Korean beer.
Getting a little more adventurous
As we wandered the streets of Seoul, we tasted everything but could not seem to acquire a taste for Ojingeo-Twigim, also known and “giant squid fried”. It was everywhere on the streets, but looked like the squid was run over by a truck and dried up on the spot. Pass!
In the end we acquired quite the taste for Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and other cuisine that were totally foreign to us at the time. We got very venturesome with spicy foods and today love these food from afar more than the rest.
And since we are no longer in training, we can eat whatever we want.