The Eh Game

What’s on Olympic athletes’ playlists?

Andrew Bucholtz
Eh Game

View gallery


The Canadian women's soccer team has one of these Games' more unusual musical preferences.

It's not just your average jogger that likes cranking a few tunes for motivation. Plenty of Olympic athletes are using music to fire themselves up before their events, and some scientific research suggests it may help their performance. What do they listen to, though? Well, as you'd expect from a group as diverse as Olympic athletes, the musical tastes are pretty widespread:

[Michael] Phelps and his fellow American swimmer Ryan Lochte are said to be big Lil Wayne fans, while their Chinese rival Sun Yang was also sporting a set of headphones as he headed for the starters' blocks at the Olympic pool. All three have won medals already.

Gymnast Louis Smith listens to reggae music before competing on his signature event, the pommel horse. "It might seem like an unusual choice and it might not work for others, but it calms me down and gets me focused," he told Reuters.

Table tennis player Jorgen Persson, who was playing in his seventh straight Olympics - and last - says he also prepares for games with his iPod turned high.

For the 46-year-old Swede, it's mostly rock, or rock and roll, that hits the spot. "It's good for the action," he said. "I have some special songs. At the moment I am listening to The Gaslight Anthem and Alabama Shakes.

[Slideshow: Celebrities cheer on athletes in London]

Beyond the "rock and/or roll" reference suggested by the choice of words used by Reuters' Kate Kelland in that last paragraph, there's some interesting information there. It appears there's far from a consensus on what music's the most effective. That would fit with some of the other choices relayed by American Olympic athletes to ABC News:

For many Olympians, blasting their favorite tunes is as much a part of the pre-game ritual as is slipping on their uniforms.

Silver medalist diver Abby Johnson listens to Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville," while shooter Amanda Furrer likes Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run."

Track champion Lolo Jones likes headbanger rock.

For one member of the U.S. rowing team, something a little different is in order.

"It's the Olympics. My playlist was leaning a little bit toward the USA," said coxswain Zach Vlahos.

His choice? Miley Cyrus' "Party in the U.S.A."

View gallery


Metal fan Stan W. Decker did this great drawing of Iron Maiden mascot Eddie at the Games.

Miley Cyrus may not fire everyone up, but the endless proliferation of athletes singing Canadian Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe (including the U.S. swimming team!) suggests there's plenty of love for pop out there as well as rap and rock. It's not just those radio-friendly genres, though; consider German swimmer Paul Biedermann, who hangs out with Swedish metal stars Amon Amarth. Music fans are getting into the Olympics, too; one great entry along those lines is Stan W. Decker's artwork at right of legendary British metal band Iron Maiden's famous mascot Eddie competing at the Games.

[Related: Canada's Paula Findlay unsure how hip will hold up]

What about Canadian athletes? Well, they're into music from all over. Triathlete Simon Whitfield listens to podcasts and audiobooks while training, but uses music from Canadian band Hey Rosetta, Canadian artists Hawksley Workman and Jim Cuddy (of Blue Rodeo fame) and American folk singer Iron and Wine to prepare for his races. Boxer Mary Spencer likes peaceful music like that from Enya and Chris Tomlin, while canoeist Mark Oldershaw fires up The Beatles, The Clash and AC/DC and swimmer Ryan Cochrane prefers the house/electronic stylings of fellow Canadian deadmau5. The most unusual musical choice for Canadian athletes, though? That might go to the women's soccer team's tradition of listening to and singing Celine Dion's "The Power of Love" after matches...

[More: "Own the Podium" program paying dividends]

More London Olympics coverage on Yahoo! Canada Sports:
Watch: Ryan Lochte talks about his best friend Carter
Photos: Prince Harry drops by Canada Olympic House
Canada women's basketball into quarter-finals in London

View Comments (2)
  • Athletics-Farah surges to year's fastest 10,000 metres

    Olympic and world champion Mo Farah kept his four-year winning streak over 10,000 metres intact in running the year's fastest time of 26 minutes, 50.97 seconds at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting on Friday. Briton Farah, challenged by … More »

    Reuters - 3 minutes 6 seconds ago
  • Posey's 2-run HR, 3 RBIs power Giants past Braves, 4-2

    Posey's 2-run HR, 3 RBIs power Giants past Braves, 4-2

    Tim Hudson enjoyed beating his old team, more for bragging rights than anything else. Buster Posey hit a two-run homer in the first inning and drove in three, Hudson pitched seven strong innings and the San Francisco Giants won their fifth … More »

    AP - Sports - 10 minutes ago
  • Asia chief hails Blatter re-election as FIFA head

    Asia chief hails Blatter re-election as FIFA head

    Asia football chief Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa congratulated FIFA president Sepp Blatter on his re-election for a fifth term -- a victory the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) played a major role in delivering. The AFC leadership's … More »

    Reuters - 11 minutes ago
  • Pujols, Santiago power LA Angels past slumping Tigers, 2-0

    Pujols, Santiago power LA Angels past slumping Tigers, 2-0

    Albert Pujols and Hector Santiago got off to rough statistical starts to the season despite solid work. Pujols had his 530th career homer among three hits, and Santiago pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning of the Los Angeles Angels' 2-0 … More »

    AP - Sports - 12 minutes ago
  • Walker, Smith lead Mariners to 2-1 win over Indians

    Walker, Smith lead Mariners to 2-1 win over Indians

    Taijuan Walker showed the Seattle Mariners how good he can be. Walker allowed just two hits over eight innings and Seth Smith hit a two-run homer to lead the Mariners to a 2-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Friday night. Walker (2-5) got … More »

    AP - Sports - 16 minutes ago