LONDON Aug 9 Trampolinists whistle, tennis
players grunt and Chinese women's superheavyweight weightlifting
champion Zhou Lulu screams "Fung shong!"
Those are just a few of the noises athletes competing for
medals at the London 2012 Olympics make in an effort to run,
jump, lift, hit and shine at the top of the sporting world.
A packed crowd in London's ExCel arena roared as Zhou
approached the platform to set a new world record on Sunday,
screaming back at her as she shrieked in preparation.
Later, a demure and bespectacled Zhou smiled as she told
reporters that far from a war cry, she was actually saying
"So I can lift the weight, relaxing," she said.
At the trampoline, many of the athletes emit a short sharp
whistle while sailing high in the air to execute the twists and
somersaults which score them points with the judges.
Mental Performance Consultant Andy Barton told Reuters that
some noises may be involuntary, but others such as the whistling
may help athletes to stay in the performance zone, be part of a
mental routine or are a trigger for movement.
"Noises are fantastic triggers," Barton said, adding that
making noises may help some athletes remind their bodies of the
next move to be executed.
"Some people are quite auditory and they feed off external
Barton said that athletes who have highly developed auditory
senses can use external noise for their advantage.
"I was working with a showjumper the other day and she talks
to herself, talking herself around the course."
He said Olympic silver medallist tennis player Maria
Sharapova's grunting may be part of a routine, which may be why
the Russian shot down questions about whether she might stop
after complaints about her noises on the tennis circuit this
"Certainly not now as I have been doing it since I was four
years old," Sharapova told reporters during Wimbledon in June.
"It's definitely tough and impossible to do when you've played
this sport for over 20 years."
Fencers shout and scream, stomp and argue, whipping off
their masks to prance after a successful point, intensely aware
that this is psychological warfare as much as it is physical.
It is common for both fencers to turn on the referee,
shouting exuberantly in the hope of swaying a point their way
even though there is now slow-motion replay to separate the
great actors from the true winners.
In hockey, some of the Asian women's teams - China and South
Korea - pretty much jabber throughout the whole game.
While most teams talk, shout and communicate with each other
to direct players around the pitch, these sides literally just
go on with no end, some have suggested to disrupt their
opponents so they can not hear each other's directions.
Barton said that there are bad external sounds which can put
auditory athletes off their game, but one sound helping host
nation Britain at the London Games has been the cheers of the
home crowd, pointing to the deafening roar for six-time gold
medal cycling champion Chris Hoy in his last race on Tuesday.
"That noise just drove him around that last bend."
(Additional reporting by William James, Kylie MacLellan, Annika
Breidhardt, Tom Pilcher, Daniel Bases)